I have decided to put The Doors in the tape player to write this one. For, you see, I recently had an “‘all-American” experience, and the accompaniment of truly American music provides the pen with a familiarity that allows it to find its way across the page a little easier, or more naturally you could say.
It all starts back a few years when I started to discover and appreciate the beauty of beer. Growing up and continuing through my adolescent years, I viewed the fermented intoxicant as el Diablo itself. I was disgusted by it.
Then, with much surprise and looked-back-upon thankfulness, I happened upon stouts, pale ales and porters.
Wait. Hold on. I need to explain a little. Before my university days, beer was only Coors, Bud and Miller. I had no idea that an entire selection of drinkable art existed.
Ok. Now, moving on .. .it was those times in Happy Valley, and those with friends after a day of hiking or mountain biking, that beer became a part of the social experience for me. I realized that beer is cultural, that it need not be looked upon negatively.
And so, as the appreciation grew deeper, I began to explore the world of beer. I frequented that fine establishment on Poplar Street. Before I
knew it, I bad become a self-proclaimed “beer snob.” I drank only microbrews and imports. I threw a scowl at anyone who drank the mainstream, mass-produced American beers. I was a beer yuppie.
For the past year and couple months, I have been drinking the Honduran national beers. Nacional, “a blonde of grand class” as the billboard says, is by far the worst. Port Royal always tastes like it is skunked. Imperial, a pilsner, is ok. It’s a little sweet, but bearable. It is the beer of the campesinos, as it can be found all over Honduras, including remote mountain villages where it is carried in on mules. My personal favorite, Salva Vida, rounds out the four Honduran beers.
(Do understand, dear appreciator of cerveza, that while Salva Vida may be my favorite, it is kind of like picking the best apple out of a basket of rotten apples.)
On a beautiful, sun-drenched, Sunday afternoon in late September at the Ranch House-a house that serves as a retreat of sorts for those of us who rent it-two volunteer friends and I contemplated the walk down the hill into town to pick up a supply of food and some beers. We sat on the back porch looking out over Sierra de Agalta National Park, the mountains sitting like Buddha before us, and decided “yes,” a beers would make for a pleasant evening of conversation and sunset -watching.
We set out for the market where we bought some vegetables and beans to make a pot of chili. On the way back we stopped at a little eatery for the beers. Only Port Royal (the skunked beer) and Budweiser were available. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t like either. Remembering the words of a friend when he said “Try a Bud here … it’s really good,” I opted for the Bud.
What was I doing? If it had not been for the fact that my advice-giving friend, too, had an aversion for the mass-produced beers, I would not have bought any.
The walk back to the house was uneasy. I just bought Bud. I thought, “I’ve never drank Bud. I come all the way to Honduras and buy Bud. This is crazy. Absurd.”
We arrive at the house. I crack open an Imperial, a leftover from a previous gathering, and force a lime wedge down its aluminum mouth, anything to give it flavor. We hang out, look at the mountains, and listen to music. Soon enough, I was at the bottom of the can.
With trepidation, I reached for a Bud. There it was, in its red, white and blue regalia, resting in my greasy hand. It (my hand) was scorning me. I put the tab between my right thumb and forefinger and gave it a snap. The pressure released and little, foamy bubbles oozed out.
I looked at my two friends (who already knew what was about to take place) and smiled. Silence. I put the silver opening to my lips. I took a sip. A swallow.
“That is sooo good.” What did I say? “Holy shit,” I said with resounding cheer. “How can it taste that good? It’s Bud.”
My friends and I agreed that Budweiser, in comparison to the Honduran beers we’ve been drinking, tastes better because the water quality in the States is better than that of Honduras. This makes sense considering that the main quantitative ingredient of beer is water.
I now find myself asking for a Bud from time to time. And strangely, I feel a bit patriotic when the bottle is in my hands.
Nevertheless, you can be assured that when I’m Stateside this holiday season, I’ll be drinking nothing but the microbrews and imports.
Order me up an oatmeal stout, please!