“The first one is for thirst, the second one is for taste.” – Doc from Cannery Rowguinness

I’m not much for gimmicks, so when I thought to title a post “Beer” to see whether the number of readers would spike, plummet, or remain unchanged I discounted the idea. And then it hit me–beer is a topic I know a great deal about, perhaps more than I do about running.

My Beer History

My first memory of drinking beer was sneaking sips from my father and grandfather’s Ballantine Beer cans on the front steps of my row house in Philadelphia when I was five years old. During the pre-ziptop can era a can opener with a triangular point was required to punch a hole in one side of the can to drink from and one in the opposite side so there wouldn’t be a vacuum. In eight grade I graduated to drinking in the alleyways with my friends, until someone suggested drinking on the gymnasium roof in the schoolyard where we hung out so cops couldn’t chase us anymore. By high school one of my buddies became a legitimate draft card and license counterfeiter, so we were all getting served in bars by the age of eighteen. My friends threw a party for me at McNalley’s to celebrate turning legal drinking age. Ben the bartender ask what the occasion was and one of my buddies told him it was my twenty-first birthday. Ben was pissed. He was the first bartender to ever serve me–on my sixteenth birthday. He got over it pretty quickly and I drank for free the rest of the night.

Changing Habits

As a youngster I drank rotgut. We’d buy whatever was on sale at the deli. Some of the local beers were from the coal cracker region like Iron City, Esslinger, Gibbons, Reading, and Yuengling. Today Yuengling is a popular beer throughout the nation.

With age my taste buds matured, even if I haven’t. I get a hankering for a Guinness, and am partial pale ales. I usually look for a hoppy Dog Fish Head 60 Minute or Yards IPA. The reverse IPA-Guinness combination works well with Doc’s “First one for thirst and second one for taste” theory.

Regulating the Suds

“Why regulate  beer consumption?” you ask. Because drinking will catch up with you. My advice for regulating beer consumption is simple–occupy your time with something you are passionate about so that you don’t spend it all drinking.

I occupy my life with writing, running and family. I have no idea how a writer can produce a clear thought if he is always under the influence or hungover. When I’m writing I have to be clear-headed, which affects the manner in which I behave the night before I write. And these days I can no longer stay out all night at the pub with my friends and wake the next morning a run a half-marathon. I recover much slower than I did in my youth. And now that I have grandchildren, I am more conscious not to be found in a gutter somewhere, not so much for the example I’d set as for the stench they’d have to tolerate. My oldest granddaughter would surely hold her nose and tell me I stink.

So writing, running, kids and grandchildren have become my system of checks and balances against overindulging.

That said, I’m not yet ready for the monastery. In fact, I could go for a Guinness right about now.

Pretzel Park - Manayunk.

Pretzel Park – Manayunk.


About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
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10 Responses to Beer

  1. There used to be a telly advert for Foster’s beer. Paul Hogan (crocodile dundee) takes a sip then goes “Like an angel crying on your tongue.”
    I love beer, but you are 100% correct. Left unregulated it will bite me.


  2. LB says:

    Love the “beer history”!
    And the answer to blog numbers? Up, down, or unchanged?


  3. Mark Mangan says:

    “In heaven there is no beer…” I think you know the rest!


  4. Anonymous says:

    I was a teenager and my father offered me a Schmidt’s. It wasn’t my first,it hasn’t been my last but it’s the one I’ll always remember!



  5. runner500 says:

    As you’ve said before, beers are to be earned, sounds like a good check to me …. enjoying one now


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