By : Jennifer Davis
What is tailgating without beer? 18 holes without a single beer? My game would never make that turnaround on the back nine. Alcohol is prohibited on the North Carolina rivers? How do you float five hours with friends without several beers floating next to you in a tube designated specifically for a cooler? The after-float meal and bonfire talk just wouldn’t be the same.
Beer is that companion during the best times of our lives and the worst. Beer has been a “social tool” for many years and now becoming a beverage to talk about. Beer has become more than just the refreshing farmhouse ale on a hot day after working in the fields. Beer has become respected and incorporated in many every day social activities.
“Social drinking” is part of our culture and refers to casual drinking in a social setting without intent to get drunk. People often have a few drinks in celebration. For instance, toasts are made at weddings and parties that end with the clink of the glass and a “Cheers”! It is said that beer is the oldest brewed beverage in history. There is even evidence that the development of agriculture, through cultivation of grain for beer, provided us with the foundation of civilization.
“Breaking bread” now has a new meaning or should I say same meaning, different consumption method. Once those geniuses figured out that through fermentation you could have a delicious beverage that not only quenched the thirst, but also provided a little more courage, it became an experiment. Of course back then it was more sanitary than drinking the water.
Beer aided the rise of Christianity. Monks became a major role in the production of beer because through their beer trade, monasteries were built and maintained. Pilgrims even had to stop their voyage because they ran out of beer. Taverns were not just your bar down the street. Taverns were places where men of importance gathered to make major decisions over a few inspirational brews. Our social history revolves around beer. Now there are many social groups formed around beer. There are meet-up groups, clubs, organizations, and events geared around gathering people and enjoying beer. Some of our groups here in Charlotte have really grown in numbers over the last couple years.
Beer festivals have been harder to find tickets to and besides the casual drunken idiot you run in to, they are a great way to try several different breweries in one spot. It’s like a beer reunion! It is great to see so many men and women eager to get together and drink fantastic beer while mingling with others that love to do the same. Even if you don’t know any of these people at the events, don’t worry. That “social lubricant” will provide the confidence to strike up conversation. If you have ever been to a beer dinner then you know what I mean. Everything starts out all structured and educational. Then, there’s that loud hackle and roar of conversation that fills the room after about the third beer. No one hears the actual tasting notes anymore and then lose track of what course they’re on. It’s ok though, you may not be able to recall exactly what was on the menu but you remember that couple across the table that talked about losing their luggage on their last trip to Europe or the woman that hugged EVERYONE as she introduced herself. Things just get a little “happier” when beer is involved. The social scene of beer has changed over the last few years.
Now when we talk tailgating and beer, we aren’t talking about drinking a case of Miller Light. Our local NoDa Brewing Company is now at Panthers games tailgating and bringing craft beer to the social scene of corn hole and bbq. The beer scene doesn’t just exist at games and bars though. How about the garage? Many people in Charlotte and the surrounding areas enjoy brewing their own beer and with that taking place you are sure to have eager helpers.
At my one of my first beer festivals, I was immediately welcomed and invited to a home brew session. Being a female that loves beer probably had nothing to do with it, but I wasn’t shy. I pulled up to a garage full of guys just hoping I could pick their brains and learn as much as possible. They may have underestimated my appreciation at the time, but as I helped cool the wort I think those thoughts subsided. Home brew sessions have turned into some of the best tastings I have ever been to. Everyone uncaps their favorites or those that have been sitting in the dark just waiting to be exposed. I have had some of the most memorable beers at home tastings. Memorable might be a wrong choice of words though. When you are drinking margaritas to cleanse the palate between barlywines, it catches up to you. There is always great food and friends that ensure a good time. Of course if there is beer, cheese, and bacon wrapped peppers being served, you will definitely see me there.
Many of our local breweries here in Charlotte have even found ways to get involved in their neighborhoods. There is everything from run clubs to fundraisers. I personally love going out to support some of the local music featured at the breweries. Better beer has brought us a better society.
Check out these beer related social groups in our area:
Charlotte Beer Club : www.MeetUp.com/BeerClub/
Carolina BrewMasters : www.CarolinaBrewMasters.com
Charlotte Beer Babes : www.CharlotteBeerBabes.com
Woody’s Beer Club www.1065.com/pages/beerclub.html