Thanksgiving -- let's actually forget it's birthday and, in a rare thing these days, embrace the modern version -- is about giving thanks for our loved ones, our place in life, the things that are important to us.
It's not frivolous to put beer on that list. Not only is beer itself nourishment of the highest order, but it represents a great deal to many of us. Relaxation. Camraderie. Escape. Love. Exploration. Innovation.
These things are important to us, and beer is important to us here. And if each of those facets creates a new reason to be thankful for beer, then each of those facets creates a new beer at the focal point of our gratitude.
I am thankful for the relaxing qualites of AleSmith X. It doesn't even show up on the first page of AleSmith's excellent oevre, but this 5.5% ABV pale ale is well-balanced and fits with any situation. It fits *int0* the situation. It doesn't require planning ('how many of these can I have'), it doesn't require special attention ('will my palate be in the right state'), and it doesn't inspire regret in the morning.
I am thankful for the camraderie I find around Lagunitas IPA. This beer doesn't reach the upper echelons, but it's everywhere. You can find it in an airport bar, on the upper west side, or on the marina. If the conversation you're having is not about beer, and is more important than your beer -- yes this happens -- then Lagunitas has an easy answer for the bartender's eternal question.
I am thankful for the escape I can find in the complexities of a Maine Mean Old Tom. I can't handle it every day, I don't know if I can even handle a whole bottle by myself, but when I do get a taste, it seems to go on forever. It doesn't hit you hard. It hits you long and makes you think.
I am thankful for the love that you put into your homebrew. It's not always the best -- lord knows mine were mostly terrible -- but you made it. And you're my homeperson.
I am thankful for the exploration that Dogfish Head represents. That Mikkeller brand of crazy genius also lives in our country. If you can restrain it just a bit, you turn into monster that Stone has become. But Dogfish Head put out a ten-hopped, ten percent ABV imperial lager this year. I don't want that beer, really. I want that beer to exist, though. It's anything but restrained.
I am thankful for the innovation that Stone's Enjoy By represents. I know many other brewers have made freshness a part of their brand. Collin McDonnell of Hen House rants about it all the time. But Stone put it on the bottle. Having trouble making your distributors pull beers off the shelves that aren't fresh any more? Put. The. Date. In. The. Name. This is no hard-to-deciper alphanumeric code. This is no stamp on the bottom of a can in the middle of a closed four pack. This freshness is being screamed from the mountaintop.
What beers make you thankful? Why?