My dad was a Budweiser man (accompanied by a shot of Johnny Walker). He’d come home from work and grab a beer from the refrigerator in the garage that was always stocked with a case of cans. On the weekends, mowing the lawn and gardening activities were punctuated with ice cold Budweiser beer breaks. Comparing notes with my husband, I discovered his dad had similar habits, except that his beer of choice was Rheingold (his dad was a bit older than mine).
As a rebellious, newly legal-age drinker, I refused to drink the beer my father drank. In my young mind, Budweiser carried the stigma of dad beer; budget-friendly, old-fashioned swill drunk by pot-bellied, blue-collar, middle-aged men. I’d heard stories of a special new beer, that until recently, had been brewed in the family kitchen. The lager, named for Boston patriot and brewer Samuel Adams, entered my sphere of beer-consciousness along with the terms “microbrewery” and “craft brewing”. Sam Adams was new and hip and definitely not my dad’s beer. It soon became my beer of choice.
Over the next decade I worked my way through lots of craft beers, Belgian ales, Hefeweizen, stouts, porters, and IPAs. I discovered some new favorites like Ommegang Brewery’s Abbey Ale, developed an appreciation of the artful pour of a Guinness stout, and tasted endless examples of fruity and spicy beers that were never repeated on my beer menu (except for a pumpkin beer with just the right balance of clove and nutmeg spice). All the while Sam Adams, who had out-grown microbrew status and gone to play with the big boys, remained a constant and easy fallback for weekends in the mountains and summer pool parties.
Recently we attended a birthday dinner for my brother-in-law at a quaint Italian bistro (AKA pizza joint). I sat across from my two nephews, the ones who, only a few years ago, spent Christmas at our house hiding under the dining room table and playing with a motorized helicopter in the foyer. Now my eyes beheld two earnest young men, sitting at the table like adults and ordering beer. Since the quaint Italian bistro’s wine list consisted of house red and house white, I decided ordering a beer was a good choice and went with my default, the (almost) always available Sam Adams.
Upon hearing me ask the waitress for my Sam Adams, my nephews, who had probably never seen me drink beer, looked at each other in surprise.
“Have you ever had Sam Adams before?” asked the older nephew.
“I’ve been drinking it since the 1980s,” I replied.
My answer hung in the air, as their youthful minds processed the information; I had been drinking Sam Adams since before they were born. Their facial expressions silently conveyed the assessment, “Sam Adams beer is for old people.”
It was the moment I realized that the trendy, cool Sam Adams of my youth had become today’s dad beer.