Dropping an old friend off at the airport after not seeing each other for a long time he said, “It’s good to see you living 180 degrees differently.” Back in the day, crazy dating stories were a staple of our conversations. As coworkers, some of those chats occurred during lunch breaks at a job where slacks and dress shirts were part of our business-casual attire. But shorts and running shoes were part of our after-work apparel since we used to run together as part of our marathon training.

Now he sees I’m a married man, carting around my baby boy (yes, sometimes strapping him to my chest), and my wardrobe consists entirely of T-shirts and shorts (or jeans) depending on the weather since my two jobs are fulltime freelance writer and dad. And the only chance I’d have of crossing the finish line in any kind of endurance race is inside a wheelbarrow.

But he wasn’t making fun of me with that 180 degrees comment. People change. You’re supposed to. And if you don’t, then maybe you’re doing something wrong. We can’t fight growing older, but maturing is something we work at. And part of that is that our tastes change.

My buddy’s changed, too. He still looks the same (thanks in part to constantly training for some marathon or race), but he’s in a more lucrative career, and ahead of a trip to Europe, he willed himself to like Guinness instead of the same brand of lager he always drinks. So during his visit, since I live in the land of breweries (aka Portland), we naturally hit a pub or two. I even took him to a beer fest where his favorite beer was a chocolate pale ale.

Yes, my life is completely different than it was several years ago, but in the right ways. Before, I was always looking for the perfect girl and the perfect pint. After all, I’d only trained for that marathon to catch the former while burning off the latter! Having found the former, I’ve settled down. But I’m forever chasing the latter and altering my palate along the way. Plus, I’m enjoying the hell out of taking my wife, child and friends to breweries and pubs along the route.

So what role does beer play in your life? How have your tastes changed along your journey? And are you raising glasses with old friends and the new folks in your life to measure how far you’ve come?