FRANSEN: Weeklong MKE event offers positive experiences with beer

elena color sidedIn Wisconsin, a state practically founded on beer and cheese, disliking either is basically a sin. Residents are assumed to like and consume both in large quantities. I, however, cringe whenever my roommate pulls out the Parmesan cheese and face some shame and derision as a result.

With a self-diagnosed mild lactose intolerance, I do not have the same affinity for cheese as other Wisconsin inhabitants, and I am still trying to figure out if beer belongs on my list of preferred beverages alongside Tahitian Treat and chocolate milk (it’s worth the stomach ache). Milwaukee, however, is the perfect city to start acclimating to beer and now is an even more perfect time.

April 18 through 25 is Milwaukee Beer Week, an event throughout the city showcasing the drink whose production makes our city smell oh so good. Local breweries and restaurants join together with both food and beer in an event that shows the many flavors and colors that make beer diverse and intriguing.

Beer Week emphasizes the overall experience of drinking beer. It is more than just a means to the end of getting drunk – a point of consideration for those of-agers looking to explore what Brew City has to offer.

Too often in United States culture, alcohol is depicted as a necessary evil to reach a point where it is OK to act a fool without bearing responsibility. Beer becomes less about flavor and drinking appeal and more about what can be easily found at 7-11. When most college students say they like beer, what they probably mean is they like to get drunk on the cheap stuff.

Alternatively, some people say they don’t like beer because they have only tried some no-name, watered-down version in a red Solo cup. To those people, I suggest you look at a menu and try ordering for yourself or hit up one of the many brewery tours Milwaukee has to offer. Milwaukee Beer Week may be your calling and with a variety of options through the weekend you would be bound to find something interesting.

I’ll be the first to admit that it makes a world of a difference when you know what you are drinking, what it should taste like and where it came from. Having a special glass for the particular beer also adds to the experience.

While the consumption of beer and other alcohol should not be taken too lightly and ought to be approached with caution, there is more to the hoppy drink than kegs and ragers. Good beer can be a real conversation starter and a means of connecting with other people in a bar culture that does not always promote verbal interactions. Plus, with such a variety, there are so many flavor possibilities, moving beer into the category of a delicacy like pizza and frozen yogurt.

Sure, decent beer is more expensive than a case of the cheap stuff, but you are also paying for the experience. One can just sit back and enjoy a beer rather than consuming it quickly to try to lower inhibitions and justify risk-taking. Beer can be better than that, so it is time to start treating it as such.

As someone still exploring the possibilities of beer, at least one point seems obvious to me: sometime after graduation, the statute of limitations on naming Natural Light or “whatever comes in a keg” as your favorite beer will end. To prevent looking like just a beer-chugging college kid, perhaps now is the perfect time to discover the vast difference between keg stands and beer flights.

Trust me, it’s a good difference.