Huge IPAs, deeply rich stouts, smoky rauchbiers and experimental spice beers, as delicious as they may be, did not fit my mold of the appropriate transitional beer. I threw together a quick list of readily available, no frills, sans bells and whistles, flat-out good beers that I had cut my teeth on when I began to delve into the world of craft beer. During our next few gatherings, I excitedly doled out Brooklyn Lager from Brooklyn Brewery, Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, Sam Adams’ Boston Lager and Bluepoint Brewery’s Toasted Ale. Each was met with a less than enthusiastic response from my friends. My Transitional Beer Theory was being dashed, along with my hopes for a better-educated beer drinking social circle.
And then, all at once, a new year had dawned. Literally. On New Year’s Eve, gathered at a newly discovered neighborhood watering hole, my wife ordered a bomber of Unibroue’s Don de Dieu, a 9 percent ABV triple wheat beer. Intrigued by this massive, whimsically labeled, cork-topped bottle of beer, one friend dared to ask for a sip. Anticipating yet another unfavorable reaction, I allowed myself only the briefest sidelong glance at my buddy’s face. To my utter shock … a smile!
“Oooh, what is that?” he asked, coming as close to cooing as a 6 feet 2 inch, 230-pound guy can coo. Two more friends tried it. Two more smiles.
I was more than amazed. This was a beer so above and beyond anything I could ever imagine my friends drinking, it would not have been within my first thousand suggestions. Transitional beer? This was more like a metamorphosis beer! As much as I would have liked to take credit for these new developments, I could not. Nor did I care. The boys had begun to expand their horizon; the training wheels were off. I imagined that this was the way a proud parent feels watching his kid slug their first base hit in Little League or hammering out Beethoven during their big piano recital. Then, to my utter delight, my pal spoke the sweetest words I had heard since the day my wife said, “I do.”
“Bartender, can I try one of those?”