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Take my wife, please, to the seasonal beer.
Troegs Nugget Nectar is so good.
Emily and I have a calm and happy marriage for all sorts of celestially blessed reasons—who but the angels above could have scheduled my final shift as the dive bar doorman to coincide with the night she wandered in willing if not eager to befriend a harmless chump with a pocket full of kryptonite and drink tokens?—and a few more mundane and crucial ones, such as we like most of the same stuff and dislike bickering. Of course no union is perfect and everyone has their flaws. Em doesn’t eat mushrooms, for instance, and I haven’t worked in 10 months. But we persevere.
Another way we were mismatched at first was in our relative enthusiasm for tradition and nostalgia, which is minor but real and due to our different childhood experiences. Nothing big, really, just that my youth was more fair-to-middlin’, while Em’s leaned more medium-good. So she allows herself more memories than I do, and as such derives a normal amount of pleasure from things like rewatching TV shows and remembering when her birthday is. True story: I realized it was my 25th by reverse engineering my reaction to seeing Magic Johnson’s birthday on the celebrity-a-day calendar on the kitchen table. I thought “Damn, Magic got old!”—it was probably his 30th or 40th, but I choose to believe 50th and shan’t look it up—before remembering that the second thing Ervin and I have in common, other than not being as good as Larry Bird, is that we were both born on August … someteenth.
Anyhow, it’s been 11 years since the night me and Em met at People’s Republik and in that time she’s made me a happier, more memory-amenable person and also taught me some nice little traditions and markers to help get through the year. Her way was always better than mine, so I never resisted it, I just didn’t really know how to look forward to eating a certain dessert to commemorate a certain event, that sort of thing. But I’m getting there, with help from my wife and seasonal beer releases.
The Troegs make beer in Pennsylvania. Their Perpetual IPA is underrated, their Master of Pumpkins if the best pumpkin beer, their Troegenator double bock is a great one to drink on the toilet at work—the 8.2% ABV is just enough to make it worth chewing off the bottle cap but not enough to cause any real trouble as long as your job is just officeboi bullshit, and I’m pretty sure it is—and their best beer is their late-winter imperial amber ale, whatever the fuck that means, the incomparable Nugget Nectar. When the Nug comes around, as it did just last night, I get positively optimistic. Cracked one in a kitchen full of garlic and olive funk and it took right over, hoss, I’m telling you, with the pine and grapefruit of course but also the overripe strawberry I associate with the very finest midwestern IPAs, neat trick since Nugget Nectar is neither midwestern nor IPA. This beer is great because it is great, and also because it shows up at exactly the right time. I’m not feeling good just yet, but I’m ready to start thinking about feeling good. It’s light until like 4:45 now.
We’re still far from sprung, but the back half of winter is lurching into view, and new Covid infections are finally trending down in my cursed commonwealth—Charlie Pierce save it!—no thanks to our awful institutions and spotty individual behavior*, and while our vaccine rollout is just as bad as everyone else’s, they do manage to shoot up a handful of people every day, so assuming they’re not actively siphoning antibodies out of anyone, we’re crawling into the black there. And on the personal level, there’s still no evidence of the virus jumping species to infect beer newsletterists, so it’s not really my problem. Plus the inauguration show was better than I expected, what with Joe’s repeated and explicit condemnations of white supremacy and the introduction of America’s new poetry girlfriend. Things are looking up! Or at least less down. I’m not a “we got this, fam!” guy, but we’re marginally less fucked than we were yesterday.
*I swear on your mother’s grave you can hold our government ultimately responsible while still wishing your neighborhood’s weekly greasy potluck orgy had better mask compliance.
The other thing I recommend is this fake bike. We’ve put 7700 miles on ours in 13 months, the dumb bastard just sits there and takes it day after day. I don’t doubt a Peloton is a more enriching experience but this costs $160, and I don’t see how spending an extra two grand enriches anyone other than Fred Peloton.