Friday, March 5, 2010

The Session #37: When To Drink The Good Stuff

Welcome to The Session – a collaboration of bloggers writing on a common beer-related topic. For March, Greg Norris over at The Ferm chose “The Display Shelf: When To Drink The Good Stuff” as the collective topic to explore. A round-up of all blog posts for this topic can be found here.  You can read more about Beer Blogging Friday (“The Session”) over at the Brookston Beer Bulletin.

Let’s face it, we all have at least one – an uber special bottle hidden away. We guard it. We brag about it. But when do we actually drink it? There’s this drawn-out enjoyment of holding onto that special treasure; a lingering anticipation for the day it will be sampled.  But the build-up can overshadow the contents of the bottle.  So much so that finding the appropriate moment to memorialize this treasured brew can take on a life of its own.

If we peel back the layers of this materialistic obsession, it seems as if we are more afraid to lose our prize then to actually enjoy it – only the most memorable occasions are worth breaking it's seal. Is this how its supposed to be?  No. The priority should be just the opposite: to celebrate the event, not the bottle.  Celebrate being surrounded by good friends and family. Celebrate making it through the day without getting a flat tire.  Just celebrate.

There is a scene from the movie Sideways that examplifies this misdirected obsession we can all be guilty of.  Paul Giamatti’s character, a depressed wine aficionado, has a cherished bottle of 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc wine (valued at >$1000 per bottle) that he has been holding onto for a monumental occasion – an occasion his life has yet to yield. He laments about finding the right occasion that would justify uncorking such a bottle. In the end, the main female lead convinces him that just possessing such a treasure is reason enough to celebrate.  Nothing more is needed to justify opening and enjoying it. This thread in the movie ends with the scene of Giamatti sitting alone in a no-name fast food joint drinking the ultra expensive wine out of a foam coffee cup.  And his character couldn't be more content. 

Family and friends have always been a staple reason for celebrating. As many readers may know, the two authors of this blog are brothers who, unfortunately, live more than 500 miles from each other. Due to this geographical handicap, only once or twice a year are we able to get the families together and question why we really do live so far apart. But during these visits, we live it up. We break out the goodies from our cellars. Old, new, good, bad – it all comes out to be shared with the best of friends. Neither of us live affluent lifestyles, but it’s during these visits that we get to experience some of the true treasures of life.

It’s also inevitable that we strive to get in a brew session during these visits (much to the chagrin of our wives) as a means to collaborate and brew up a souvenir. Not only is there enjoyment in the actual brewing, but the fruits of the labor give us something hold onto and cherish. We typically focus on higher gravity, cellar-squatter type beers for these sessions, as the intent is to lay them down for a long period of time – to add them to the library of 'Good Stuff' that we’ll raid and taste the next time we are fortunate enough to be in the same town again.

How to sum up this little rant: life is about the experiences and memories that are accumulated along the way, not the material possessions - celebrate those moments whenever you can.


-The Wallace Brothers

“I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.”
-Winston Churchill


  1. You bastards!

    I had prepared a rough draft saying some of these very same things, and I was even going to center the piece around the same Sideways scene. I got online just to see what others were saying and clicked on your article first to see I've been beaten to the punch.

    Needless to say, I agree wholeheartedly. Well done, and I'm glad to see I'm not the only to think of that scene when writing this prompt.


  2. Daniel,

    Thanks for the comment! We're very glad to see our slant on the topic resonates with other like-minded individuals.

    That Sideways scene popped right in my head the minute I read this month's Session topic. Its perfectly suited for the point we wanted to make. However, our mention of it shouldn't have stopped you from using it in your post - there's more than enough room in the blogosphere for the two of us ;)


  3. Great reference to Sideways. I’d just like to see someone open up his most cherished bottle, pour it in a disposable cup, and drink it over some fast food.

    Thanks for participating in The Session this month.

  4. Very cool idea to do brews together. I'm surprised I haven't heard it before. I think it is an excellent way to spend your visits back and forth.


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