Recently, one of our close friends from Chicago was flying down to Charleston for the weekend and we planned to meet him there. A few days before he came down, he reliably asked what beers we wanted him to bring us from Chicago. I had been anticipating his question and, somewhat surprisingly to me, my first request was for Anti-Hero IPA and Eugene Porter from Revolution Brewing as well as Daisy Cutter Pale Ale from Half Acre. It wasn’t surprising because they aren’t great beers; in fact, all three are phenomenal beers. It was surprising because, when I lived in Chicago, those were my standby beers: they were readily available in cans almost everywhere and I knew if I couldn’t find something else to drink, I could always have those. Actually, in looking at my Untappd check-ins, Daisy Cutter and Anti-Hero are still my two most checked-in beers.
Because I could get them all the time, I didn’t usually get them. Anti-Hero was available in most grocery stores, as was Eugene Porter. Daisy Cutter was a little harder to come by except that it was available in cans in Union Station. Fun fact if you ever find yourself in Chicago on a Metra or Amtrak train: you can drink on the train as long as it’s not in a glass container. So cans, mixed drinks, you name it – you can drink it on your commute home (or to work, as people sometimes would). If my train was ever delayed or if I just wanted a beer because I’m an adult and being an adult is awesome sometimes, I would go to the beer cart and buy a Daisy Cutter. My commute was exactly long enough – I was usually just finishing up my Daisy Cutter when the train pulled up to my stop (every once in a while I had to chug the last bit of it, but not very often).
I also passed a little bar on my quarter mile walk home from the train. It usually wasn’t very busy and had a pretty decent draft selection as well as a variety of cans and bottles. It had two dedicated Revolution Brewing taps, so Anti-Hero was almost always on tap, as well one of their (magnificent) seasonal, like Oktoberfest or Rosa. In the rare occurrence Anti-Hero or Eugene Porter wasn’t available on draft, we would get it in cans.
However, if I went to a store to buy beer, it was rare that I would buy any of those beers, preferring instead to buy what was new or seasonal. They were always there, so I could always buy them. Until I couldn’t.
A similar thing happened with me when we moved from Charlotte to Chicago. Here, my standby was Sweetwater IPA (my fifth most checked-beer), which is still one of my favorite IPAs. Like Revolution, it was available almost anywhere in bottles. If I just wanted to grab something convenient on the way home from work and easy to drink, the Food Lion I used to pass on my way home always had Sweetwater IPA. By the by, that was also the best beer they carried as most of their selection was split between macro and crafty, which is also macro, just dressed up a little. I didn’t think much about Sweetwater IPA because it was always there, with its bright yellow label. I could get it whenever I wanted it, so I didn’t usually get it unless I was “settling” for it. It didn’t take very long after we moved to Chicago to realize that my favorite go-to beer wasn’t distributed in the Chicago area. Happily for me when I lived there, Sweetwater did begin distributing in the Chicago area, and I was invited to its Chicago release party, which was a ton of fun. We even managed to grab a couple cans of my much-missed IPA for the train ride home. Once it was widely available throughout Chicago, though, I started passing it over just like the Anti-Hero.
Now I’m down to my last Eugene Porter, my last Anti-Hero IPA, and my last Daisy Cutter Pale Ale. I look at them every time I open the beer fridge – the rest of those six packs (four pack, in Daisy Cutter’s case) went so fast. I wonder if I should just go for it and drink my old standby beers, although I frequently fall into the trap of “if I drink it, I won’t have it,” which is probably the silliest and most maddening beer enthusiast trait I have.
This has all been a textbook case of not appreciating what I have until I don’t have it anymore, something to which almost all of us can relate. Probably all of us, but the attorney in me can’t bring me to write that all of us can relate for fear the one person who always appreciates everything he has will speak up. Anyway, I encourage people who read this to reflect on what beers they know they love but neglect to buy because there is something newer or different to try. To reflect on what beers bring a feeling of nostalgia but that they haven’t had in awhile. After reflecting on those beers, pick some up the next time you’re at a store. When you get home, pour it into a nice glass and then sit down to relax and really appreciate the beer. You may find that it doesn’t taste quite like you remember it or that your tastes have changed, but I’m betting you’ll still enjoy it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go look at my last three Chicago standby beers in the beer fridge and then grab a cold bottle from the twelve pack of Sweetwater IPA I picked up yesterday.