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Monday, June 20, 2011

Grey collar : The American craft beer drinker's ethos

By Doug "the Chug" Dorda

Made of (beer) cheese
The other night, while sitting on my porch and staring at the moon, I poured myself a Liberty Ale and allowed my mind to wander. Amidst the orchestral notes of crickets and wind, I felt that primal sense of peace familiar to anyone who has taken the time to simply sit and think. In that moment of blissful simplicity, I could not help but smile as I raised my glass and the boquet of northwestern hops filled my senses. The aromatic assault triggered memories of days gone by, my journey to beer, and summers filled with nothing but possibility.

It's curious that such a simple thing -- a pint of ale -- can incite reminiscence of an entire lifetime's accomplishments. As I sipped it, I began to think in more general terms, or rather what it is that people do to make a living. Musing over the stereotypes of blue- and white-collar designations, I struggled to understand whether or not the distinction applies to the realm of craft beer. Sure, there will always be people with more money than others, and of course there will always be those who work harder than others. However, I began to notice a commonality in the two classes – each being perfectly capable of enjoying the “finer” things in life. Often times I've found myself lost in conversation over a pint at Founders, still coated in grain dust after a shift at Siciliano's, while my companion has only just left an office cubicle. We don't discuss our social status, or net worth, but simply revel in the appreciation of a finely crafted ale.

While I sipped my Liberty Ale I realized something. We that choose to drink craft beer -- the ecclectic many, the renaissance people, the purveyors of craft and expression -- we are people who have committed ourselves to seeking out and admiring what others have worked so hard for us to enjoy. With each bottle poured and pint savored, we make a silent oath to ourselves and to others: we will find decadence every day, even in something so simple as a well crafted beer. The color of one's collar is not important in this world, as we are all equal and free in our pursuit of whatever it is that brings us joy. The society created is a true melting pot of cultures, creeds, and all other forms of classification that are almost otherwise ignored the moment a conversation about beer perks up.

As I finished my pint I could not help but feel truly grateful to be involved with this “grey collar” society. The passionate and heartfelt people who comprise it are some of the most wonderful people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. My pint emptied, I smiled, for in this world there is no shortage of possibility. I look forward to having more enthralling conversations, and seeing all of you fellow beer enthusiasts out and about.

The Chug
Known in various circles as Dancing Doug, Doug the Chug, Yeti, and Pretty Boy Doug, Siciliano's staffer Doug Dorda is a man not easily defined by only one name. He lives, writes, brews, and drinks in Grand Rapids, MI.

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