Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"Drinking beer doesn't make you fat, it makes you lean"

I started drinking beer pretty late. I've heard all the old battle stories about beer and parties and tipping pools off stilts in college (true story, frat related, didn't actually witness it). If you've got any funny stories, please feel free to share!

People don't believe me when I tell them I didn't drink in college. Not because I had any moral issues with it, I just didn't like the taste of alcohol, and hadn't discovered alcohol that actually tasted good. Fast forward a couple years, my late 20s, and finally I discover mixed drinks and wine. I just started drinking beer this past fall, and all because of kickball.

I played three full seasons of kickball never drinking beer. Believe me, I tried. But I found I needed to wash the beer down with french fries, and our bar doesn't really have the healthiest fries... But then, I was missing out on the flip cup matches! And let me tell you, kickball is all about flip cup (we're more of a drinking league that happens to play kickball). I've played flip cup with water before (though my brilliant brain never considered that possibility until AFTER I'd already started drinking beer). I've seen people play flipcup with vodka drinks too (I don't know how they were still standing after the number of rounds we usually play...

Then all of a sudden, last fall, it's like a switch was flipped and I could drink beer. Not good beer. In fact, mostly just the light beer most people call water (Bud/Miller/Coors Light). Plus, I drink beer VERY slowly, so I end up drinking less, though it does go flat by the time I get to the bottom of the bottle (why is it that beer goes flat faster than soda?).

I tried a blueberry beer this weekend and it was pretty tasty. Blackberry wheat is also pretty good too. And I can pretend it's healthy for me. Or is it?

It turns out that there may, in fact, be some health benefits associated with beer. Who knew?! Just like wine, drinking beer (in moderation, dagnabit) has been shown to raise good cholesterol, raise folate levels (preventing cardiovascular disease), help prevent blood clots and prevent osteoporosis. That's the boring stuff. How about the fact that it promotes bonding ("I love you, man! You're my bestest friend in the whole big entire world!") and it's cheaper than mixed drinks (more beer's the better, right?). And apparently some researcher actually got funding to test whether beer after exercise is better than water. Apparently it is! Who knew?!

The negatives (there are negatives? Well, damnit!) - getting arrested after dancing topless on the bar. Getting the digits of some random guy/girl who looked really hot through beer goggles and turns out to be as attractive and charming as the road kill you saw last week. Having to pee every ten minutes, but the line to the bathroom is 8 minutes long, leaving you two minutes to talk to friends or chat up the hottie at the bar. (Oh, you were hoping for real negatives? Liver disease, weight gain, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome for pregnant women, among others)

Anytime you get a whole slew of people in one place with a bunch of alcohol, something interesting is bound to happen. I witnessed my first ever bar brawl at the last kickball party. Involving a beer bottle broken over the head of someone, the culprit sprinting through the crowd (picture not-so-slow-motion cups of beer flying in the air and cascading down dresses and hair and faces), and the dude hit by the beer bottle lying on the floor for a good deal of time.

Then there are the people who just go overboard.

Got any good beer stories?


JeffG said...

You might find this hard to believe, but I used to dislike beer too! It took me a while to really come around although not as long as it did for you.

There's a reason why beer has been dubbed "liquid bread", although modern macrobrews really take out all of the possible nutritional gains.

The Lethological Gourmet said...

You? You used to dislike beer?! I'm flabbergasted! ;)

I'm still progressing through the beers - I can drink light beer, but even Heineken is a little strong for me sometimes...and stouts? Forget it.

I hadn't heard it was called "liquid bread," but the way europeans have been drinking it for centuries, I'm not surprised!

Crabby McSlacker said...

It took me longer to like beer than wine or mixed drinks too (and I still can't do scotch or bourbon, yechh). But I'm the opposite, I love imports and microbrews, especially on tap, but really can't bear bud and miller etc. Somehow the lack of the other grainier, richer flavors makes the basic "beer" flavor more repulsive to me.

But I know I'm weird.

The Lethological Gourmet said...

I tried to try scotch once...I was in Edinburgh and they were giving free tastings at the castle. I tried to take a sip, but got a big noseful of it and nearly gagged. So I just stick with the beer, wine and mixed drinks now. One of my faves is Magners.

jeffg said...

One thing that took me a while to figure out was to not just look at things as a spectrum from light to dark ... having been tainted by the big american macrobrews (which you know I no longer have any problems drinking!) I just figured that was the only real range.

But all of the different styles can be pretty unique, some of them not tasting remotely like what a lot of people would consider "beer" (I had a Dogfish Head "Red and White" last night which had fruity notes, oak notes, etc with a light wheat based body).

If you haven't already, try looking at wheats - particularly fruit based wheats (if you like fruitiness in your beer).

One thing to watch for is that the US breweries are really going nuts with the use of hops these days so a lot of the American craft/microbrews are being hopped a lot more than the styles are generally known for (unless you like the bitterness from hops).

On the liquid bread thing - beer has been fueling people for a few thousand years, the legend has it that beer built the pyramids! :) Of course, beer as a form that most of us would recognize really didn't start showing up until the middle ages.

The Lethological Gourmet said...

I did, in fact, have a blackberry wheat last night at trivia, since they had run out of Magners (insert BIG frowny face). It wasn't half bad! I also tried a blueberry beer over the weekend that was ok, though I think I liked the blackberry better. Lambik's (Lambek's?) beers are also pretty tasty.

I'm not a big fan of the hops, and I think that's actually what turned me off of beer for so long. I had to taste different beers and find some that weren't so hoppy before I could actually start drinking any.

jeffg said...

If you like lambics you might not want to look at this this pic! (that's what lambics look like while fermenting).

Lambics are pretty neat, instead of using standard yeasts they're infected by wild yeast from the region of Belgium that they're brewed in.

The Lethological Gourmet said...

EEEEEEWWWWWWW! Thanks for that, Jeff! :)

That's cool that they use wild yeast though. Makes them more unique, definitely.