It’s February, and everything – the sky, the ground, the trees, is a non-descript color that could best be summed up as “dull.” You feel dull on the inside, too. Winter does not have “dog days,” but their equivalent comes in February, when you’re just waiting for the suffering to end. Suddenly you realize a beer would be the perfect remedy for the lackluster feeling that has permeated your soul. Not any beer, but a heavy, rich, spicy winter beer. So you make a trip to your neighborhood pub, or liquor store, or supermarket, or wherever you go to purchase the bittersweet elixir than will chase the winter grays (winter is not deserving of its own blues, America’s greatest native art form) away.
Waiting for you is a whole array of…spring beers? What the hell? Light, fruity, airy concoctions designed to bring your cheer up to giddiness, not bring your pain up to tolerable wistfulness. Even in this, one of the mildest winters on record in much of the US, the bleakness within and without demands a hearty winter warmer, not some foofoo springtime thing that is one step away from a wine spritzer. I don’t even typically drink spring beer in the sunny heights of spring, let alone the dark depths of winter (and even mild winters feature plenty of cold and darkness).
Give Us Back Our Seasons
When even genuine “beer bars” stop pouring drafts of winter beer in late January, you know something is seriously askew with the retailing and marketing industry. There is a general war on the ability to buy seasonal products in season, and it goes beyond the age-old criticisms of Christmas sales that now begin around Labor Day and back-to-school sales that start depressing kids while they are watching (or creating) July Fourth fireworks spectacles.
Halloween candy goes on sale in August; like anyone has the willpower to stare at a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for two months without dipping into them. A fatal peanut allergy would not be enough deterrent for the typical modern consumer who has had all willpower and gratification delay sucked out of their system by the internet and home shopping. And right around this time of year the St. Patrick’s Day T-shirts (March 17 on the calendar) hit the shelves.
The one-month lead time isn’t even that outrageous, but why are there so many short-sleeved, thin-material shirts celebrating a mid-March holiday celebrating the Irish, an ethnic group from a cold, cloudy climate who largely settled in areas of this country with cold, cloudy climates? As a native of Boston, touted as the most Irish city in America, I can attest that T-shirt weather does not arrive until May at the earliest, and I don’t think it’s much different in the Irish-American bastions of New York or Chicago.
Give Us Back Our Beer
In college I was notorious for finding outrageously obscure and cheap beers nobody had ever heard of – the cans (never bottles) featured logos like American eagles and coats of arms. They were watery and tasted terrible, and got the job done but left a hell of hangover. Now that I’m older and (hopefully) wiser I have more refined tastes and like to drink craft beers. I don’t really drink to get drunk anymore, but by nature of the superior ingredients I imagine the hangovers are far less severe (maybe I’ve even experienced one or two along the way).
So give us back our seasonal beers, which are generally of the superior craft variety, in season, please. I’ll even brave the winter chill in a “Kiss Me I’m Irish” t-shirt to go get one.