I understand a great deal about beer. I understand how its made, a lot of the history behind various national traditions, even baroque stuff like the way pH affects fermentation. Before I started writing about beer, I had favorite styles and styles I didn’t much enjoy; through the process of writing about beer, I even started understanding those unenjoyed styles so now there’s basically no beer I don’t actively like. What I cannot understand is a thing almost everyone else on the planet knows by intuition: that a cold beer tastes good on a hot day.
As I write this, I am huddled next to a mediocre air conditioner in the bedroom as the afternoon sun bakes the city of Portland in this alarmingly changed climate. We are people of the clouds, Oregonians, and like amphibians, hot, dry weather causes us existential panic.
I could imagine having a beer now, here by the air-con, but the second I step into the un-air-conditioned house (or unthinkably, the deadly outdoors), it’s the last thing I want. There’s nothing about beer that slakes thirst, nevermind all the half-baked poetry (and ad gloss) devoted to convincing me it’s so. Beer, even crisp, light lagers like my summer go-to Pacifico, are relatively thick and heavy when compared to life-giving water. On top of that, the alcohol dehydrates, which is the last thing an amphibian needs on a hot, dry day.
I know I’m an outlier on this point. I was recently talking to a woman who doesn’t even drink beer, and she was mentioning how this weather causes her to crave a cold one. I nodded and agreed, knowing she was just using the opportunity to find common ground. But, as I yawned and thought about the bad night’s sleep I had gotten and the bad night’s sleep I was about to get, I was actually thinking about a cup of coffee to cut through the haze.
It’s summer, and brewers are swamped during the busiest time of the year. The whole world wants to find a shady patch and crack a frosty one. You’re crazy, the lot of you. This is the one day I don’t want a beer. Give me a tall glass of water with a java chaser. And please, rain gods, a nice low-pressure system and an inch of rain.