It started one balmy Nova Scotian summer.
I had never cared much for beer. Aside from a few sips that my Dad would give me, poured into the cap of his beer bottle when I was a child, I’d never really taken to the stuff. When I approached legal drinking age, my friends and I would drink in the basements of our parents’ homes. All of our folks knew that we were going to drink, so they preferred we did it at home. None of us drank beer. We were mixing rum and coke, vodka and orange juice, rye, and ginger ale.
The sugary drinks made for good times, but also bad times. We drank too much too fast and spent time in the washroom puking our guts out, whether it be during the festivities or the morning after. The sugary mixes and the hard alcohols, consumed so quickly, did a number on us — me especially. I don’t think that I realized that I could drink without barfing until I was in my twenties. Even after my initiation into this relationship with alcohol passed, I still stuck to the sugary, fruity tasting drinks while my friends embraced beer, cocktails, or hard liquors without the mix.
At one house party in particular, I went into the kitchen to find what remained of my ginger ale gone, rendering the remainder of my rye undrinkable. Someone had decided to help themselves to my pop, likely in a drunken stupor. I wasn’t really upset with them, it was probably for the best that I stopped drinking when I did, but it aggravated me that I had alcohol and no mix. It was the chips and dip conundrum – not even dip for my chips. I said to a friend (as she handed me a glass filled with some of her wine), that I really should just switch to beer. It was easier to bring to parties and there was no mixing involved. Plus, I was less likely to feel as terrible the following morning from all the sugar in the mixes that I was drinking.
It started as a joke, but I ended up being serious about it. The only problem was that I hated beer.
Operation the Summer Megan Forces Herself to Like Beer began.
My friends (predominantly male and predominantly down for just about anything that involved drinking) agreed to help me by starting me on lighter beers such as Bud Light and Corona. I hated them. I would nurse a beer for hours, silently hating what I was putting myself through, but too stubborn to quit. I really wanted to like beer! There were local breweries I wanted to enjoy! Pitchers I wanted to get in on whenever we went out! No more sugary drinks!
I eventually realized that it wasn’t beer I didn’t like, it was shitty light American beer that I didn’t like.
I don’t recall how or when I realized it, probably after accidentally drinking something that was actually delicious. My dislike of beer blossomed into a love for beer over the span of a few months, and my tummy and my bank account were both happier for it.
Being Canadian and assisting in the consumption of a two-four (a case of beer containing 24 cans or bottles, hence, two-four) seem to go hand-in-hand, regardless of your gender. I’m a woman that loves her beer, but it sometimes comes as a shock to men that I meet.
I once went on a date with a boy (who was dressed as Captain Kirk in the picture I saw of him so I had already begun planning our future together) who I later found out was basically testing me on our date. He didn’t quite believe that I liked beer when I told him that I liked beer. His theory was that if the sole activity of our date was sitting in a pub and splitting a pitcher of St-Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale (one of my favourites), that he would somehow catch me.
Catch me in what? A lie that I actually liked beer just as I said that I did? The notion that women tell lies or half-truths about the things that they like in order to attract men is preposterous and I really don’t understand how we got here (this used to happen with my nerdy interests as well, but that’s a conversation for another time).
After one pitcher split between the two of us, I was good. Since basically dumping hard liquor and mixed drinks I’d become more in tune with my limits and when I should stop. And, y’know, it was a school night so I didn’t want to get hammered. Somehow, only splitting one pitcher, and one that was a “fruitier” tasting one meant that I had failed his test. He joked that of course I didn’t want any more — most women can’t hold their beer like men. I smiled at him like I wanted to punch him in the throat (which he apparently interpreted as falling in love with him), and asked him how much I owed him for my half. He said it was on him. I replied, “Good,” grabbed my purse, and left with a half-hearted goodbye.
So long, Captain Kirk. Time for you to boldly go the fuck away.
Thankfully, that is the only case of outright sexism I’ve experienced when it has come to my love of beer. My boyfriend and I frequently split “tallboys” (a large can or bottle, usually 24 oz) together while sitting on our patio in the summer or while watching a movie. We make an effort to try new beers when we’re travelling, or even around town if there’s a special on tap. It’s refreshing to have someone in my life I can share my love of microbrews and perhaps strange beers with (or as my Dad calls them “blueberry goat cheese beers,” but he willingly drinks Bud Light, so what does he know).
It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while, my boyfriend will screw up his face after a sip of a beer, and extend his arm toward me. “Do you want this?”
Honey, I will happily drink your unwanted beer.
… Or at least have a few sips until, I too, realize that we accidentally bought shitty beer.