I know I’m supposed to drink high-quality beer outta high-quality glasses, bulbous squat things that open like flowers in bloom and that allow the aromas and effervescence to mingle and frolic. I know that the glass brings out flavors and textures in the brew that I’d otherwise miss, or, if I’m drinking from a straight-up highball glass, that it suppresses them like the elite’s thumb on the proletariat. Whatever. That over-contextualization of stemware leaves me cold, has kept me away from appreciating good wine—well, that and the expense, and the look-over-my-shoulder feeling that I have to dress up just to swirl around a $25 claret in a glass that costs more than my knife set. So, though I have a strong, distinguishing palate for beers, I drink ’em from bottles or in juice glasses.
Hey, at least I don’t drink from cans (much) anymore.
It’s autumn, Athens is cooling, I’m feeling better after a weeklong illness—and this after getting my flu shot two days before Halloween. The welcome tinkling of Salvation Army bells brings Christmastime to the city. There’s not much Christmas music I like(see: here) but I love those bells. I add to them by plunking loose change into those red cans every chance I get. A mid-morning grocery-store run brought me in front of those bells, which reminds me that it’s time for my semiannual donation (clothes, books) to the Salvation Army, and that it’s time for me to actually be grateful, damnit, for my blessed life. So, while laundry ran at home, I spent the early afternoon picking out items to give away, boxing and bagging them up, and hauling it all to a smiling S.A. worker who was thankful for the giving.
I didn’t give away much, compared to many, but I felt a little better. So, a little treat was in order.
Now, those jingle bells reminded me that, yes Lord, Terrapin’s “So Fresh & So Green, Green” seasonal ale was in stock. Normally, I stay away from over-hoppy brews, and it annoys me that IPA’s are so damn popular right now. But Terrapin’s a local microbrewery, and “So Fresh & So Green, Green” is, um, different. Any beer that’s named after a classic OutKast song gets a leg up, right? Sure, it’s hoppy but that sweetgrass and bitter herb gets cut by honey in a subtle way that refreshes and refuses to leave the usual aftertaste. I’d found the beer last autumn, and I’ve been missing it since then, too.
So, I bought three bottles of it, and went home.
Now, the thing about “So Fresh & So Green, Green” is its fragrance. It’s rich, spicy, and velvety. And, I decided, all that deserves to be sampled fully. So, finally, it was time to upgrade the beerware. I headed back out, this time to J.’s Bottle Shop on Prince Ave., where I walk to for my monthly bottle of liquor.
This time, I drive. Pulling up into the parking lot, I see a scruffily-beared man leaning out of the doorway, chatting across the way to a customer who’s leaving. I can’t hear him, being still in my car, but facial expression and gesture tells me that he’s busting the customer’s chops. He flicks off the dude with a wave, walks back inside with a grin. I come in next.
“Whatcha need?” he says.
“OK, so I’m looking for, I guess, a couple of beer goblets,” knowing instantly that that’s the wrong word.
“Goblets?! Like some Knights at the Round Table, with mead and wenches?”
“Look, man, you know what I mean. I don’t know the word; I just said the first glassware that came to mind that wasn’t ‘tallboy’ on ‘pony beer.’”
“Sure, Lord Gryffindor.” He starts scanning a shelf behind the bar. “I used to keep more glassware in stock but”–and here he shrugs, giggling–“it’s been a while. Got these tulips here.”
The two glasses have Christmas gnomes on them.
“Perfect,” I say.
“Wait’ll you see ’em up close first, milord,” he says, pulling them down. There’s more dust on them than in The Grapes of Wrath. He blows, and a cloud wafts over the cash register.
“Still perfect,” I say. “I’ve got a dishwasher.”
“Cool,” he says. “Look, since you’ve been so patient with all this, have ’em.”
“For how much?”
“Free, my man,” he says. “They’re clearly not, um, flying off the shelf.”
And so I walk out with two new tulips, and finally my “So Fresh & So Green, Green” has a vessel appropriate for it.