The Fresh Fetish
Posted by Bradford Fullerton on April 18, 2013
The clerk at my corner liquor store really hates enjoy-by dates. Leather skinned and rocking a sweet rat-tail, when he’s in the talkative mood, my guy usually just rants about how society’s crumbling all around us and no one seems to give a damn. Fair enough. Now I’ll admit, usually I enjoy listening to his brief but blistering diatribes, but every now and then, he aims his perma-scowl squarely upon all the craft beer which has gradually been taking his fridges over shelf by shelf. A recent, particularly pointed rant of his went something like this:
“Use to be, customers would look through the glass, see the beer they want, grab it, then get the hell out. Nowadays, you jackasses have to inspect each and every six pack like your Sherlock Holmes or something, keeping the fridge door open the whole time too. Then sometimes a kid’s too clumsy and/or probably already drunk and he drops a bottle. Says, ‘Whoops, my bad, yo’ ... Yeah, yo, your bad. Guess who’s cleaning it up though?”
“Uh... You?” I deftly answer back.
“No crap, me. Worst of all, soon as one of those packs with dates is ‘past due’, none of you princesses will touch it anymore. Like it’s gonna kill you or something. I once I drank a Schlitz I found in my garage so old that it still had a pull tab on the can. And I’m still standing here, right? It’s alcohol in there, what do you geniuses think they use to kill germs in the first place?”
My knee-jerk reaction is to respond by explaining how buying fresh is not a health issue, but rather just a way to ensure that we’re getting the highest quality product for our dollars spent... But then I remember he’s the one thing standing between me and drunk tonight so I keep my mouth shut.
So after I thank him and leave, I walk home thinking more about what I might have said had I actually been brave enough. I could have even fired back with a rant of my own. Insisting that the fresh movement he scorns so must isn't just a matter of convenience or quality control, but rather for the more ideological of us beer geeks, this growing trend in many ways perfectly encapsulates why we love beer, particularly IPA, so damn much in the first place. I should probably give some background before I get ahead of myself though...
I’m not afraid to admit, I’m fairly new to the world of craft beer. It’s been about four years since I had my awakening, and in the time since I've tried as many breweries and styles as I could get my hands on. But rather than just giving you a new spin on the same old craft-conversion story you've certainly read dozens of times before, I’m going to instead talk about a past fling I once had with a different liquid mistress entirely...