We try to be good neighbors and let people drink what they want, but it's hard to avoid judging and typecasting those on line with you at the beer store. We've all been there; loitering in front of the bomber section determined to only buy one bottle today and agonizing over the choices while a stream of people come in, choose something, and go off on their merry way. Eventually you grab two bottles and a six pack of some seasonal release you just noticed and think looks interesting and make your way to checkout, noticing and judging what everyone else has selected instead of your enlightened choices. In times like these I wonder what Sherlock Holmes could deduce about my fellow shoppers.
“A very intriguing collection of humanity here today Watson.” My pal Sherlock Holmes remarked to me on one evening during one of our monthly visits to the beer store.
I could see his point, as I had just watched a young couple pore over a selection of beer and walk out with a seasonal case of Sam Adams.
Holmes, deducing my train of thought, answered my unspoken query is to why they chose that beer. “They’re on their way to a party.”
“You plucked that thought right out my head, amazing!” I replied.
“Not really, pondering someone’s beer purchase in a liquor store is only natural and I know you, as a fellow Brit, has an unfair negative disposition towards the brewery named for an American Revolutionary War hero.” Holmes explained.
“How do you know they’re going to a party?” I asked.
“Oh, my dear Watson. It’s simplicity itself, though I suspect you’ll find it less amazing when I explain.”
“When they walked in they walked right to the selection of cases. The young man spent a little time peeking at the six-packs and bombers, but it was clear that they were here for a case. Now while you might buy a case just for variety's sake, it’s unlikely unless you’re trying out a new brewery, or don’t really know what you want. They spent some time looking, and settled on what can only be described as the most crowd pleasing (Boston Lager-3.45 BAR, 134 Style+) of them all.
After all, the Boston Beer Company is so big aficionados don’t even consider it a craft brewery. Additionally, despite looking right at a large stack of cases, they turned around and took one out of the fridge case which, coupled with their neat and fresh looking garb, suggests they’re on their way somewhere that the beer is going to be enjoyed immediately.”
“You’re right,” I replied. “The explanation is always so simple and yet I remain amazed at your powers.”
“Now take that gentleman over there,” Holmes said, gesturing animatedly. “What do you deduce my friend?”
Holmes was indicating a man who had just walked in, walked over to the refrigerator, picked out a case of Bud Light Platinum (-0.6 BAR, 110 Style+), and was now headed to check out.
“I don’t know that anyone actively seeks out Bud Light Platinum, so I have to deduce he’s after the added alcohol but still prefers the taste of beer. Perhaps he’s also throwing a party and wants it to be a smash?” I pondered.
Sherlock looked amused. “One second.” He said, and walked over to the man, proffering his left hand as his target’s right arm was around the case of beer.
“That’s cheating!” I exclaimed when he returned. “You can’t just ask him or it isn’t deduction!”
“I’m hurt Watson.” Holmes said in defense. “No no, I merely was testing a hypothesis. All I did was introduce myself and ask if he’d like to complete a survey, to which he declined.”
“Did that prove your hypothesis?” I asked.
“Certainly. That man is clearly a gentleman sliding towards the pitiable state of alcoholism brought on by his recently failed marriage.”
“Amazing! Failed marriage?!” I exclaimed, “How did you deduce that from a simple refusal to take a survey?”
“The man came in with his head down and shoulders slumped, and the reluctant gait of someone that’s has no real desire to get anywhere. He maneuvered right to the refrigerator case containing his beverage of choice without looking around, suggesting familiarity, and he didn’t weigh his options or price-shop as one might when bringing a case to a social gathering. The extra alcohol in the Platinum version of the beer is probably his main reason for buying it. When I shook his hand I noticed his ring finger on his left hand had a faint tan line and calluses on his proximal phalanx suggesting a long time wearing a wedding ring but that one’s been recently removed. July I would think. That case will get him through the weekend but should you happen to be in this store again on Monday evening I wager you’ll see him again. It’s a fitting beverage for the alcoholic though, I’ll have to remember that.”
“Well, what about that man?“ I started, observing a gentleman with a collection of bottles he’d pulled out of the fridge. “He’s perhaps a German here in America for work, missing his native country’s beer. That’s all the same Oktoberfest he has there. Hacker-Pschorr it looks like, which is one of Munich’s big six.
“It’s a valiant effort, but a poor result. Whether he’s German or not is harder to tell here in this melting pot of a country, but his dark blond hair and blue eyes do suggest some German ancestry. He looks to be about fifty, which makes him older than the typical craft beer drinker. His choice of a foreign beer reminds us that prior to the craft beer explosion, imported beer was the way to go if you were a person that appreciates good beer although I would’ve gone with something from England, perhaps Youngs London Special. Hacker-Pschorr's release of these specialty one-off beers that our friend has chosen, and the franchising and proliferation of Hofbrau Häuser all over the world, marks a special time in these drinkers' eyes.”
“What’s more interesting though, “ Holmes continued, “Is the way he keeps going back and forth from the fridge like he’s deciding how many to buy. He’s planning a beer tasting, and is trying to figure out exactly how many bottles he needs.”
“Well done!” I exclaim.
“Hello, look at this lady.” Holmes said, noticing a middle-aged woman pushing around a shopping cart with a six-pack of Coors Light(1.08, 117) and looking at her phone. “She appears to be in conversation with someone about what to get. Interesting, let’s observe.”
Holmes grew silent, all his focus on this woman and her quest. She seemed to exchange a few text messages with someone and then was seen conversing with an employee briefly, who shook his head but directed her to a spot on the wall where the Belgian beer was kept. Holmes and I moved closer to see what was going on, and she continued to browse.
Noticing us she asked Sherlock, “Do you know which one might be like Duvel (5.87, 119)?”
“Nothing is quite like Duvel, but I can recommend Boulevard to you. It’s a very highly respected brewery from Kansas City, and it only just arrived on shelves here in New Jersey.” Holmes replied.
The woman pondered for a moment, and then picked up a 4-pack of Tank 7 (6.38, 124). “I hope he likes it. Thank you sir.” She said as she walked off.
“That was odd.” I remarked. “I wonder why she was buying that?”
“Her daughter’s boyfriend, or at least one of her children’s significant other, is coming to visit and she wants to have the proper beer on hand. The text message was asking what this person likes, and the response was Duvel. She’d never heard of which we can deduce by the weird way she pronounced it when asking us.” Holmes explained.
“Terrific! However did you arrive at the notion of a boyfriend?” I asked, amazed.
“From the text messages of course. Whoever she was corresponding with was NOT the person she was buying the beer for, or clearly she would’ve asked after what to buy when she found they didn’t have the Duvel. That avenue of information was exhausted, which is why she turned to us and jumped at any solution we offered. The Coors Light is the beer they usually drink in the house, explaining how quickly she chose that but how out of her realm she was in searching for a beer for someone who usually drinks Duvel.” Holmes explained.
“And now Watson, it’s time to get going. Pick us out a nice English bitter and lets retire to Baker Street.”
.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0.end dream sequence.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0o.o0
Michael spends his time on Twitter and Untappd dreaming about a trip to the Sherlock Holmes Pub and wondering what Sherlock would order in a 40-tap American beer bar.