1990: a work team from the US comes down and stays with us in Santiago, the Dominican Republic. My parents, being gracious hosts, provide them with a few 6-packs. This is the first time I remember beer being in the household. My parents, of course, being Southern Baptist missionaries living in a fishbowl, do not consume.
1994: whilst bowling with my church youth group in Danville, VA, I accidentally pick up a cup of warm Miller-Lite-ish beer next to my own Dr. Pepper and take an almost-sip before I realize my mistake. I think it the most foul thing ever to touch my lips.
September, 1997: my college buddy Eric decides it's high time I learn to like beer. He has the 20-year-old me over to his room for a bottle of Corona, with lime. I genuinely like it. Much as I disdain the Corona now, I must admit it was a good entry point for someone who theretofore had only partaken of cheap wine and the occasional sissy fruity cocktail. I keep the bottle for almost 2 years as a souvenir of my conversion night.
October-December, 1997: My buddies Mark, theGhost, and Matt decide that Rolling Rock is good; we consume moderate amounts of the stuff and consider ourselves set apart for not getting trashed on Bud Light, Southpaw, and the Beast, as do most of our schoolmates.
January-March, 1998: sometime in the dawn of the New Year, theGhost discovers the goodness that is Guinness Draught. He spreads the Gospel, and I am a ready convert. We decide that all other brews must be set against the standard that Arthur has set. The phrase, "It's no Guinness" is born. Neither of us consume another Rolling Rock again.
March 17, 1998: theGhost and I celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a 6-pack of Corona and chips & salsa. We simply didn't know any better.
April, 1998: Killian's Irish Red enters the picture as another college favorite.
June-August, 1998: I spend the summer before my senior year in Richmond, working in the UR Music Library and at River Road Church, consuming quantities of Corona, Killian's, and Guinness whenever an of-age emissary comes around.
August 17, 1998: I celebrate my legality with a Legend Brown, my first official taste of Micro-brewed goodness. A light comes on in my head. It's followed by a party at my house where I'm gifted with Killian's and Guinness. David S. consumes 6 Guinness by himself, leading to the episode with the utterance of the immortal phrase, "I'm sorry, Perm."
August 18, 1998: I clean up David's 6 Guinni.
August-December, 1998: I discover the beauty of the design-your-own 6-pack at the Village Wine & Beer. I encounter many brews the world over, including JW Dundee's Honey Brown Lager, Pete's Wicked Ale, Sam Adams' Boston Lager, Tusker Kenyan Lager, Newcastle Brown, Harp, Bass Ale, Weienstephaner, Warsteiner, Lowenbrau, Grolsch, Heineken, Beck's, Mackeson's....I really don't know anything about what I'm buying, but I have a lot of fun trying a lot of different brews.
Hefeweizen is discovered. I go nuts.
October-December, 1998: One of my apartment-mate's buddies drinks all of my premium European brews and tries to replace them with MGD. I officially become a beer snob after this episode.
November, 1998: A visit to Duke University introduces me to my first taste of home-brew: Divinity Ale, brewed by a friend-of-a-friend at the Divinity School. It's tasty.
January-April, 1999: Bottom's Up Pizza and Penny Lane Pub provide me with good amounts of Legend Brewery offerings, and Guinness.
May-June, 1999: A trip to Scotland shows me just how much better Guinness is overseas. It also introduces me to Tennent's Lager, Caffrey's Irish Ale, and MacEwan's. I'm also intrigued by a brochure I see for "Heather Ale," but never get to try any.
August-December, 1999: Duke Music Departmental Happy Hours at Biddy Early's and the James Joyce. Guinness, Bass, and Boddington's.
November, 1999: I discover Hoegaarden. A whole new world of Belgian goodness opens up to me. Bob Parkins chides, "That's a summer beer!" I ignore him and enjoy it anyway.
December 2000: theGhost gets into homebrewing, I get into hefeweizen and witbier. Over New Years, I help theGhost bottle a batch. I'm intrigued.
October, 2002: My first beer festival (the Durham WBF). It's amazing, to say the least. If I hadn't been hooked before, I'm hooked for sure now.
April, 2004: As a cover-up for going to get Sara's engagement ring from the Fed Ex depot (long, long story), theGhost and I attempt a co-homebrew at my apartment. Something (we never quite decide what) goes horribly wrong and the brews all turn out tasting like Lysol. We conveniently forget the episode for the most part...although the marriage proposal turned out quite well.
October, 2004: Trip to a specialty beer store in Ithaca, NY introduces me to Val Dieu Belgian Abbey Ale.
May, 2005: Sara and I get married. Our friends throw us a pre-wedding party. Harpoon kegs are featured. Our honeymoon takes us to Maine, where we take time to visit a couple of breweries.
January, 2006: We visit England and France. Fun English beers: Youngs and Jennings.
August, 2006: I receive "The Brewmaster's Table" by Garrett Oliver and enjoy every page. Suddenly there's a new dimension to my hobby: food pairing.
May-June, 2007: Our household moves to Western NC and we begin the exploration of the beer offerings in the greater Asheville-radius area.
September, 2007: I celebrate the 10th anniversary of my enjoyment of beer by brewing my first batch of ale.