At the end of October, I let my facial hair free-range feed on my face. I wore my beard proudly, not worried about patchiness or thinning, because I am descended from a long line of bearded greatness.
My great great great grandfather, Graybeard, was a pirate of no small renown and no small beard. My great great great uncle Gisli (the Útlaginn) didn’t even have to wear armor into battle because his beard offered so much natural protection.
I loved it. I was like Samson with a pen; the longer and meatier my beard became, the more I felt like a writer who was joining the esteemed ranks of Plato, Chaucer, and Darwin. I would have grown a beard on top of my beard if such thing were humanly possible, I liked it that much.
My wife, not so much. One night she said, “you try kissing someone with a beard!” I had no witty come back.
Last week, I took blade to face and removed the hairy growth. I had, at that point, a full face-helmet and moustache, bushy and coarse and bright red. I felt stupidly manly with my beard. It made me more confident, in the same way a really nice suit or particularly fancy hat can make a person more confident.
I would stand next to other young men on the metro, silently comparing their beards to mine. “Poor patch-face” I’d think to myself, reveling in the schadenfreude and the safety of my own well built beard. I felt bad for those dudes. They wanted a beard so badly that they subjected themselves to the awkwardness of the proto-beard indefinitely.
I’d also admire a particularly fierce specimen on the rare occasion such a beard came down unto the mortal plane. There was one guy, nay a gentleman, who had a beard down to his nipples, but a completely bald head. If he wasn’t a wizard, then he was some kind of inner-city shaman.
But beards have their downsides too. With a full face of hair comes itching. Itching beyond what you might expect. Itching that erodes your sanity, minute after scratchy-ass minute, until you’re rubbing your face on the corner of a door frame like some rabid bear, just trying to quiet the storm of itches.
They hold moisture and food particles, making them prime for embarrassing outward reminders of what you had for lunch. They also tend to catch on things like bed sheets, necklaces, and jacket collars. Every time a little neck hair gets caught in the link of a braided chain, it feels like someone jabbed you with a cattle prod.
Great for shaking the grog of an especially early morning, not so great for getting through a day without yelping.
Magic Hat seems to get the whole beard thing. They even made a beer with a great big lumberjack on the label! The ESB as a style lends itself to the owners of beards; it is strong but resilient, drinkable at any occasion, during any season. They also added spruce, because nothing says “awesome bearded lumberjack beer” more than adding actual bits of trees to your beer.
After all, you can’t spell “beard” without “beer.” If you add an a. And drop that second e.
8.75 out of 10.