2018 Beer Issue | Cover Story | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

August 08, 2018 News » Cover Story

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  • Sweet Caroline Photography

My First Swig
City Weekly staffers reminisce on their maiden taste of beer.


Who doesn't remember their first sip of beer? For me, it came after my trio of sisters employed the OG nectar known as Tecate as a natural hair lightener while sunbathing (Sun-In was a pricey commodity back then). Curious, I went in for a taste. I still remember the revolting, warm fizz. "Adults are weird," I thought. "Who on earth would willingly drink this?" A few decades later, as evidenced by the clinking of cans meeting bottles when I take out my recycling, this is who. On the plus side, the encounter launched my love affair with the stuff. On the not-so-great side, I'm pretty sure the lightning technique gave me childhood alopecia and one memorable yearbook pic.
—Enrique Limón, editor


I was such a good boy, even through my freshman year of college; never touched a drop of anything. Then I went through a breakup, and decided I was coming back for my sophomore year with a new party-guy personality. It must have been some ridiculous fraternity party I went to with some friends, where they would have been serving the cheapest keg of who-the-hell-knows-what-brand available, so I'm sure my first taste was "merciful God, how do people drink this stuff on a regular basis?" But I was damned if I was going to give up, and by the end of the second Solo cup of the pale American swill, it was easier to ignore how bad it was—although the next morning, it was not easy to ignore how much of it I'd had. It was several months before I had an experience where I thought, "Hey, this stuff can actually have flavor."
—Scott Renshaw, A&E editor


I don't actually remember my first beer. Maybe growing up in Utah County has something to do with that. But I do remember learning how to drink beer properly at 19 years old while I was studying and teaching in the Czech Republic. Drinking in a country where a stein costs 75 cents and whose population consumes the most beer in the world (142.6 liters per capita vs. the States' 75.8) provided the perfect curriculum. I lived on a cow farm in a village with 15 houses, so drinking was pretty much the only thing to do after the chores were done. And beer helped me bond with my host parents, who had very limited English skills (conversations after work mostly went like this: "Hello! Your day good? Good! You beer?). Needless to say, after experiencing the birthplace of the Pilsner, coming home to Utah was a bit of a disappointment.
—Sarah Arnoff, proofreader


"I remember my first beer," I'll say sarcastically as I tease a friend or two while they nurse their cold brews. In fact, I don't actually remember my first sudsy sip. But, my very first night of college was where I truly felt I had my first legitimate beer—as legitimate as an 18-year-old can find. My parents helped me move into my dorm room at the University of Missouri and then they left—I was free to explore the world and that came sooner than expected. One of the guys on our floor had an older brother who knew his way around the college town and was game for showing a few of us innocent freshman around downtown. We ended up at a now out-of-business local dive bar where this older brother knew the bartender. We walked into the bar and headed to the back tables. I couldn't believe we could walk into the place without someone asking for an ID at the door but this wasn't Utah, baby! This was the wild (Mid)west of the Show-Me State. This older brother, as I'm sure he explained to his friend at the establishment, was giving us a rite of passage. Before we knew it, a pitcher of Bud Light showed up at the table and to my still innocent surprise, he poured us each a glass. There we were, drinking a beer straight from the tap at an actual bar. Of course, I wasn't able to return until age 21, but I never forget that brief moment of feeling like I'd grown up only hours after moving into college.
—Ray Howze, editorial assistant


Frankly, I'm too old to remember my first beer. Who knows? I might have grown up on beer, except that my parents were more the hard-liquor types. If they had wine around the house, inevitably it had gone to vinegar. That said, I do remember a raucous high-school graduation party where we went from house to house and keg to keg. One of the boys in my class tried to climb over a wooden fence and broke it. A girl in the class was so blitzed that she pulled the toilet-paper roll out of the wall. And then there was the dad who ran into the streetlight in front of the house. Good times, but not the best to remember a good beer. That came in college where we had more discriminating tastes and in those days, joined the growing boycott of Coors.
—Kathy Biele, columnist


I'd just turned 21 and landed a summer job on a newspaper in Rexburg, Idaho—home of Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho). A couple of buddies and I spent one hot afternoon spying on a right-wing professor as he dug a backyard bomb shelter. Sitting on a pile of dirt, David offered me a bottled beer. Mysterious and ominous—but what the hell? It was ... nasty. I almost barfed. Not wanting to look like a wuss, I took another sip: Semi-nasty, now. Then another gulp. Two hours later, I awoke and the three of us stumbled down the dirt pile. The professor wasn't amused. "Tough shit," I smiled to myself.
—Lance Gudmundsen, proofreader


In what I now see as a stroke of teenage parenting genius on my mom's part, I spent most of every summer break away from home helping out on my grandparents' farm in the Midwest. After one particularly long, hot, bug-swarming, miserably humid day spent mowing from sunup to suppertime, my grandma Audra Belle said to me, "Well, that was pretty shitty. I could do with a beer." Without batting an eye at my decidedly under-21 self, she cracked open a can of cold Miller Lite, handed it to me, then did the same for herself. I thought the beer tasted pretty "meh," but kicking our feet up on that farmstead porch and being treated as an equal after a grueling day is one of my fondest memories of my gram, who respected hard work and taking absolutely no bullshit above all else. Several years later, she introduced me to gin and tonics, which I took to with much greater enthusiasm than watery domestic brew.
—Darby Doyle, drinks writer extraordinaire


A late-bloomer, I didn't taste my first beer until the end of my freshman year of college. As I stood in line in the basement of a dilapidated frat house in Pittsburgh circa 2010, I asked my friend to explain in great detail how to work the keg so my cup would be filled not with foam, but with the fruit of the gods known as "Natty Light." Mimicking a pushing and pulling motion, she told me how to pump the keg, telling me I'd be fine—I wasn't. I held that cup of foam for a while, sharing cups of actual beer with friends who were kind enough to let me contaminate their cups with my germs. Eight years later, I can work a keg with the best of 'em. Just don't ask me to tap it myself, or we'll all be drinking foam.
—Kelan Lyons, staff writer


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Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

A City Weekly contributor since 1992, Biele is the informed voice behind our Hits & Misses and Citizen Revolt columns. When not writing, you can catch her working to empower voters and defend democracy alongside the League of Women Voters.
Enrique Limón

Enrique Limón

Editor at Salt Lake City Weekly. Lover of sour candies.


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