Arts Devo

Confessions of a beer snob

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I drink Corona I’ve got your attention now! “Arts DEVO, what the hell?!” you say. “Is the Energy Dome pulled down too tightly over your skull? Don’t you know that Corona is poison, or piss, or the poisoned piss left to ferment in the porcelain bowl after a night of drinking Coors Light?”

Easy, easy—everything is all right. I haven’t lost my mind or my taste buds. I have simply dialed down my beer fan level from snob to simply geek and allowed for some corporate corn-fed lagers to return to the fold as circumstances dictate. And as much as it surprised me, there is a time and a place when a Corona, one of the palest of the pale lagers, is kind of the perfect beer: When John puts one in my hand.

John is my next door neighbor, and he’s currently building a huge addition to his home. When I have the time, I join the crew and do whatever John tells me to do. When the sweat and dirt and sawdust have coated me inside and out, John will hand out ice-cold bottles of Corona, and there in the heat with the smell of wood in the air, sharing a moment with my friends, that ice-cold Corona tastes like the best thing in the world.

Of course, I have stressed “ice-cold” for a reason, because if allowed to warm up, Corona’s appeal declines rapidly (see piss/poison graph above). But that never happens. One, two, three swigs and the Corona is replaced with another ice-cold one. (For the record, John is the kind of guy who regularly places cold beverages in my hands, and most of them are not cheap beers from Mexico. Life is pretty damn good sharing a fence with him.)

Lately, my drinking of popular pale lagers hasn’t been limited to construction days. During our European travels last spring, Mrs. DEVO and I didn’t deny ourselves any chance to partake in whatever fermented beverages were presented us, and we enjoyed many delicious wines and locally produced ales. But more often than not when we sat down to eat and/or drink, I simply asked for “a beer,” and as a result would usually end up drinking a Heineken—sometimes an Estrella Damm (in Barcelona) or a Kronenbourg 1664 (France)—and every single one of them was refreshing and a perfect complement to vacationing well.

What’s my point in sharing all this? With Chico Beer Week upon us and this Beer Issue coming out (and the CN&R’s Brewfork event happening tonight, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Manzanita Place) to kick it all off, I want to encourage all the beer snobs and geeks—myself included—to not be too obnoxious about something that at its best is a humble beverage that brings people together. By all means, enjoy the barrel-aged wonders and explore the IPA portfolios of obscure craft brewers (I know I will), but don’t turn your nose up to just sharing a cold one—whether Bud or Pale Ale—and maybe getting to know your neighbors better.

No matter what style you are imbibing this beer week, take a minute to raise a glass in memory of the supreme badass and champion of the disaffected and broken-hearted, Tom Petty, who died this week (Oct. 2) at the age of 66: Well some say life will beat you down/Break your heart, steal your crown/So I’ve started out for God knows where/I guess I’ll know when I get there/I’m learning to fly, around the clouds/But what goes up must come down.