If you had asked me a year and a half ago how I felt about beer I would have simply told you that I hated it. I preferred wine, vodka, and the occasional hard cider. Actually, I preferred just about anything that wasn’t beer. Now, this doesn’t mean I didn’t want to like it. I had tried it on numerous occasions where beer seemed to be the drink of choice, or more often than not, I didn’t have any other options. The house party in the backyard with a keg in a tub of ice and red plastic cups stacked high on a cheap folding table. The wedding with the “open bar” that only served green beer because the wedding also happened to fall on St. Patrick’s Day. True story. I won’t name any specifics of the beers I consumed that continuously disappointed and discouraged me from drinking more beer, but I’ve often heard it referred to as “Big Beer”. Have you ever heard the song that says “I was looking for love in all the wrong places”? If you asked me now how I feel about beer, I could talk your ear off for hours.
In order to tell you how I got here I need to go back to the beginning. In the fall of 2013 my good friend, Daniel Pittman, approached me with an opportunity to help him and 2 others open a craft beer inspired restaurant in Dallas, Texas. You may now know this place as LUCK or Local Urban Craft Kitchen. Remember when I told you that at that time I hated beer? Well, as I’m sure you can guess I was a little nervous to take a job in a restaurant that was inspired by craft beer. It was like being asked to work in a library without knowing how to read. I was however looking for an exciting change in my life and knew if anyone could open up a restaurant and get a big following, it would be Daniel. So, I hit the books – or beers – I should say.
I knew absolutely nothing about craft beer, so I let Daniel and the other two owners, Jeff Dietzman and Ned Steel take me under their collective wing and teach me everything they knew. While we were busy trying to build, staff, and set up a new restaurant, mind you. Of course, sometimes we managed to do both at the same time which made the experience that much more fun.
With a little help from my new friends I was able to get pointed in the right direction. Beers for beginners, you might say. Naturally, I decided that the first step was to try beers that had flavor profiles of things I already enjoyed. Chocolate stouts, rich and creamy coffee porters with malted caramel. This wasn’t so bad after all! For me, the first beer that I really got hooked on was Rahr’s Ugly Pug. With it’s dark roasted malts and hints of coffee and chocolate, all captured perfectly in one bottle. This is exactly what I had been looking for to jumpstart my journey into the world of craft beer. I was beginning to understand what millions of beer drinkers experienced every time they lifted their glass, took a nice long whiff of roasted malts or hops, and involuntarily closed their eyes in pleasure, before letting their taste buds take over and delight in the carbonated heaven. When I discovered Boulevard’s Saison Bret I was in love. The crisp and slightly sweet taste of it had me at the first sip and I began to wonder what else was out there that I was missing out on! From then on, every time I went to a beer or liquor store I purchased beers with names and styles I had never even heard of.
It wasn’t long until I was utterly intrigued with beer. How could one brew something so complex, so delicious, with so many different flavors in one bottle? And so I began to delve even deeper. Attending classes, reading books, and studying something I never knew I could enjoy so much. And along the way I began to find that the world of craft beer was also much more of a community. I began to visit different breweries and attend craft beer related events where I made more friends than I knew what to do with. Brewers, sales representatives, bartenders, home brewers, and people that just enjoyed beer as much as I was learning to! They all seemed to know each other, and if you didn’t, you were always welcomed to sit in with a cold beer in hand and enjoy the camaraderie that you were bound to find in the craft beer community. It was like a whole new world to me.
Last month I brewed my first batch of home brew with friends. I won’t say it was the most delicious Kolsch I’d ever had, but it was far from the worst. There’s just something about making beer with your own two hands that you can’t quite taste in a bottle or draft that you didn’t put the work into. Kind of like eating vegetables out of your own garden. The process might take weeks upon weeks, but it’s all worth the wait once you actually taste the delicious fruits of your labor. It’s a craft that takes a lot of patience and dedication, but certainly rewarding and something to be proud of. Hopefully, each new batch will be even better than the last.
If you had told me a year and a half ago where I would be right now, I wouldn’t believe you. Sometimes I think if it weren’t for LUCK and the 3 men that have quickly become family, my life wouldn’t have all of the joy and excitement it holds now. I wouldn’t have met half of the friends that I have gained. I would have never imagined I could brew my very own beer, let alone know it could be so enjoyable. And I wouldn’t be able to say that I was a part of the ever growing craft beer revolution. With all of these new breweries popping up left and right in Texas my journey is far from over and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.