When I was 18 I came to the conclusion that I was a Toohey’s New man. I arrived at this nonsensical and, now baffling, decision because I told myself the TASTE was superior to others and also because all my friends at the time drank Extra Dry and I desired to stand out like a massive fucking clown.
At the student bar, where jugs of XXXX Bitter, Super Dry or Toohey’s were all under $7, I only drank the latter. At parties I buried a six-pack or two deep within an esky and drank from the bottle. I carried on in this way, like a completely unbridled twat, from 2005 to 2007 until I realised I actually hated Toohey’s New and by association all other beers.
Had a kolsch presented itself to me at just the right moment I might not have spent 2007 to 2009 drinking bourbon and cola. I might not have gone around mispronouncing Bulleit ‘booll-aye’.
Like many others I was moulded by limited choice. Plus I was a stupid arsehole.
My dad drank Power’s Gold for at least two decades, so to say that I can righteously sun myself on the riverbank because I have swam across the stream of shit would be a dramatic overstatement.
What and how I drank before I came across good beer, my liquid Jesus, has etched itself into my identity and the way I consume alcohol. It is with this mindset that I am completely fascinated when I see especially young punters drinking craft beer.
For one, what shit-kicking, 19-year-old turd with a name like Zane can afford to drink craft beer? At that age, a bottle of Brooklyn Brewery Black Ops is equivalent to a five hour shift at Red Rooster. More to the point, what kid is drinking a wheat saison when their robust and supple liver can amply handle getting trashed on an entire sack of goon? Something is changing, be it trends, taste or accessibility and I want answers dammit.
I am awed and slightly unsettled by the idea that we will see youngsters who have only ever known good beer and the possibility that one of them exists and is alive and drinking in your bar now.
My discomfort is completely driven by jealousy and is almost entirely irrational. Because I was uneducated and limited by choice and drank Toohey’s New and bourbon and cola, I am thus more worthy of a fine beverage. I know this is a stupid and unreasonable view to hold. Treating alcohol as a means to an end was a formative part of my young adult life. It also probably primed me towards an enduring predisposition towards binge drinking.
I am awed at the idea that in some young circles, drinking Extra Dry might be as uncouth and out-of-place as ordering a shandy or a Tia Maria. Even more astounding is the possibility that some kids on the cusp of this shift - whether they know it or not - are trading away volume for quality.
I can’t say how this level of choice would have affected my life. Would I love the good shit half as much? Would I be less of a snide little prick to others? Would JTT be alive and well today? Whatever the outcome, I guess I’m happy for the little blighters and their freedom to choose and develop their own drinking identities in these strange and beautiful times.