Last night, my oldest son and his wife ended a long and exhausting day--a taxing day, by anyone's standards--by having a beer together. Lest you think that the stress caused by watching every available inch of their little townhouse fill up with boxes after the moving van arrived in the morning--while at the same time caring for time-demanding twin baby girls who haven't gotten used to their new surroundings yet--was driving them to drink, fear not. They both just really enjoy the taste of a good glass of beer. Not just any beer, however. These kids are a couple of beer snobs, and I say that with love, knowing that they would proudly agree. Neither of them would be satisfied with a brew as mundane as a Bud or--dare I say it?--a Miller Lite (did I just hear a collective gasp of horror from my Pearl sisters-in-law?). And my #1 son would literally shudder with revulsion if offered a Natty Lite, the wallet-friendly brand that was beloved by son #3 and his cohorts in their halcyon college days. He has higher standards than your average Joe Undergrad when it comes to beer, thank you very much. My firstborn uses terms that might as well be a foreign language to me, like "IPA's" and "stouts" and "pilsners" and "wheat beers" (wheat? I thought all beer came from barley and hops!), and he likes obscure microbrewery beers that his less discerning brothers have never even heard of.
To give you an idea of the kind of suds my son and his sweet bride prefer, look at the above picture of the beautiful beer bottles they opened up last night. These two flavor sensations, "Don de Dieu" ("Gift of God") and "La Fin du Monde" ("The End of the World"), are made by a company called Unibroue (pronounced "Unibrow"), which, if the names of the beers are any indication, is French. My son informed me that these particular beers taste best when served in wine glasses rather than your typical pint glasses. Ooh, la-dee-da! I can just hear what my fourth son would say about such a highfalutin' type of brewski, employing his best imitation of a pompous, nose-in-the-air, quasi-British accent: "Hmmm. Juilliard." (You must realize that for this funny son of mine, the very mention of Juilliard somehow conjures up images of snootiness and snobbery.) But my oldest son just chuckles at such jibes. They don't bother him a bit.
The Pearl family is filled with beer fans of all types. My husband's favorites are the Canadian ones, eh, like Labatt Blue and Molson Golden. All of my boys enjoy a cold one now and again, whether it be a Blue Moon or a Corona or whatever you happen to have in the fridge. And pretty much all of my husband's siblings know their way around a keg or an Irish pub. I've never been much of a beer drinker myself; in my old age, however, I am shocked to discover that I've learned to like the occasional dark brown Guinness--maybe because it reminds me of two of my greatest loves, chocolate and coffee. But my oldest son has taken beer appreciation to a whole new level: for him, it's a passion, a hobby--a science, even. He's a frugal guy, loath to spend a penny more than he has to on any new article of clothing for himself. I mean, he's still wearing a pair of shoes that he had in high school, and he graduated in 2002! But he doesn't like to scrimp when it comes to beer. He and his wife are self-avowed hoity-toity beer snobs, after all.