What has it been? Ten years? I remember the first time I saw you that summer, dancing in the sinking sunlight of that orange-stained evening. You were wearing nothing but your label and that brownish-gold bottle cap I adored so much. The fading rays of light refracted through the green of your glass as I held you high and to my lips. Our kisses were sweet, under-aged surrender; both of us willing, happy, just wanting to have fun.
It was love at first sip.
This last decade is a torrent of memories that I wish I could bottle and seal and store forever. You’ve done nothing but support me when life’s problems bubbled up. You were always there to comfort me during the hardest of times, pouring yourself into my soul and lifting me up like a lover and an old friend. I’ll never forget you or those tipsy Pennsylvania nights so long as I still have a thirst to quench.
And that’s what makes this so hard.
Yuengling, baby, I think it’s time I drink other beers.
I know that is hard to hear after all the pints we’ve shared, all the times we’ve stumbled drunkenly down the streets of DC towards home, but I feel it is the best thing for us both. I’ve given it a lot of thought and can’t keep seeing you, drinking you, or pretending I’m happy.
I’ve grown up so much since those millennial Julys; I’ve drunk deeply from the keg of life, smelled the intoxicating lupulin drifting from hop farms, and witnessed the beauty of beer being born in the depths of a mashtun. When I was a teenager you were new and wonderful – and you are still wonderful, in your own way – but I didn’t really know myself. I was just a kid who’d never seen the inside of a brewery, whose taste buds hadn’t matured, who was happy to be drinking any beer at all.
My adoration of beer in general has grown into a deep respect for the craft, the art, the science. I appreciate the rolling cascade of hops that are like citrus symphonies playing melody to my tongue and harmony to my nose. I’m looking for bold new conventions, and you’re the same old brown lager that your great-great-great Grandpa David Gottlob Jüngling was making back in 1829.
We’ve grown apart over the years. I changed. You didn’t.
I also have a confession to make. I haven’t been faithful. A few years ago, in a moment of weakness, I gave into my baser desires, my budding curiosity, and tasted the forbidden fruit of a Belgian lambic. As soon as those raspberry notes hit my tongue I was instantly changed. I flirted shamelessly with the blonde ales, kissed the effervescent lips of sweet browns, spent many long nights by the side of delicate reds. I felt like a beer-bachelor reborn, and filled my cup time and time again in a veritable orgy of new tastes and smells.
I didn’t mean to hurt you, smash your bottle and leave you broken on the floor. But I can’t pretend that we’re still living in those glory days of youth. I can’t untaste what has been tasted. I can’t pretend you’ll ever be so pure and delicious again.
If you see me at the liquor store, picking up a six pack of Dogfish Head 60 Minute or Troegs Hopback Amber please don’t get all weird. I expect you to find new men who love you for your sour-malt flavor and low price tag. I want that for you. I want you to be happy, not glaring at me from the cooler in the back while I walk out with some other beer on my arm. You need consistency, faithfulness, a one-beer kind of man, and I can’t give you that. My palette has been awakened to the full breadth of styles and flavors. I can never go back to only drinking brown lager. And that’s just not fair to you.
Please, don’t cry; I’ve seen how you sweat and how the tiniest bit of water ripples your label. Try to remember the good times. Like that night you and I hung out with Captain Morgan and ditched him with Jack Daniels at that terrible frat party. Remember that night? I carried you home across the girls’ soccer field because you were too drunk to walk. Or was that me? That was a night I’ll always remember, I think.
Even though I’m leaving, that’s what I want to hold on to. The love we shared and the twelve ounces of my soul you’ll always occupy. I may have grown up, but you’ll remain a part of what made me into a beer lover until some crazy brewer uses my mortal dust is used to make an especially potent batch of chocolate stout as per my last will and testament.
Anyway, Yuengs, I’ve rambled on enough. I’m going to take some time to really focus on my work and figure myself out. Maybe after we’ve spent some time apart and let the boiling wort of our feelings chill, we can get together over a drink, as friends.