On one incredibly hot July day in 1999, my best friend and I moved into an apartment together and started two years of many great memories. Upon sweaty completion of said move, we cracked open some cold beers. In the coming months, it would be discovered that we had a mutual love for Labatt Blue. That love would later turn into a wall. There’s no need to describe the “Labatt Wall”. The picture says it all.

Before I ever drank beer, I often heard people say that beer is an “acquired taste”. For me and many others, I’d have to agree. 13 years and 1,440 empty bottles of Labatt Blue later, I’m still drinking beer, but it’s extremely unusual to see me with a Labatt. And in regards to “acquired taste”, I not only still agree, but I’d have to say it goes much deeper than that. Some of my favorite beer styles now are ones that I tasted at some point many years ago and had no desire to take another sip.

To go to the extreme opposite side of the spectrum and highlight a style of beer I love today, Wild Ale, I have included a picture of a beer that most people would probably form an ugly face as the result of tasting…if they were even willing to after smelling it: Duck Duck Gooze from The Lost Abbey brewery. This had been made only once in 2009 and it takes three years to make. It was generously given to me by a man who came into town for the Founders Black Party. Wild Ales are made with “wild” yeast or bacteria and when added to beer, they can be very hard to manage. When it comes to Duck Duck Gooze, many oak barrels are used to age the beer. Over the three years it takes to make, regular testing is done to discover any oak barrels that had a negative reaction to the aging beer so that that barrel’s beer is not added to the final mix of all the barrels that aged the beer successfully.

The end result is a beer that that hits parts of my taste buds I never existed with earthy, funky, tart and crisp flavors. Something that defines what it means to be called craft beer. The days of quantity and crazy college apartment beer walls may be over, but the days of enjoying quality craft beers is something I will continue to do for many years to come.