Free Beer

I like beer. Tom T. Hall wrote a country song with those words as its title. I know it by heart.

But something has changed in the last few months, and I don’t know why. When it comes to beer, my taste buds have either grown up or been replaced.

For all of my adult life, when I enjoyed a beer, it was your average brew: Miller Lite, Bud Light, Coors Light… nothing fancy. I’ve never been opposed to trying something else, but given the choice, I went with the popular brands.

From time to time, beer-snob friends have chided me for my choices, but I say, you drink what you like, I’ll drink what I like, and what say we both shut up about it.

Drink your chocolate porter; I’ll have a Corona, thank you.

It’s all different now. My taste for beer has flip-flopped. The question is, what happened? I wasn’t trying to change. I didn’t need to change. Nor did I hope one day I would change. But change has come.

A year ago, I didn’t care for IPAs. Now, I prefer them. Did I fall on my head? Get struck by lightning? Have a vision? (I do have visions, but they are typically associated with tequila.)

So accepting that our tastes in food and drink are ever-evolving, let’s talk about what this change has really meant. Better beer – if that’s what we’re going to call it - is more expensive.

Yep, it’s all about the Benjamins. Or in my case, the Jacksons or Harriet Tubmans or whoever else is about to be on the twenty-dollar bill.

Twenty dollars will typically buy a 30-pack of Miller Lite. But twenty bucks will only buy two 6-packs of the good stuff. I’m a man on a fixed income. Snootery costs more.

I have found a solution. To understand it will require you to know personal details of the financial set-up at our house.

When my wife and I married, we were well into our 30s with established careers. We were used to having our own money. As a means of dealing with who pays for what, we decided to each maintain separate accounts, but we would both contribute to a joint account to be used for household bills.

Translated, that meant she would pay for the house, I would buy the beer and pay for my own golf, and the ‘house’ account would pay for groceries and utilities. A more fair arrangement, you could not hope for.

Enter now the problem with my newly-discovered taste for expensive beer. I pretty quickly found out that I can’t afford it.

It is a simply, though unwritten, economic principle that one’s spending rises to – and possibly through – the level of one’s income. Put another way, you spend what you make (and then some, usually).

So I’m already tapped out, pardon my pun. I got no more to spend. Now what? A bank loan for beer? 

“Collateral? You want collateral? Sorry, ma’am, I drank the collateral.”

This is a problem in need of a solution. Critical situations require critical thinking. That’s when the tough get tougher, the strong smell stronger, the brilliant get brillianter.

I’m stepping up to the plate and swinging for the fences!

Taking a cue from government accounting, I have simply moved the beer to a different budget. No longer will I be responsible for buying the beer. It will now become a part of the grocery bill. And why not? After all, doesn’t the grocery store sell beer?

Yes. Yes, it does.

I have yet to determine what to do with all of this money in my personal budget, now that I have one less expense. I’ll mull it over while I enjoy what I call a ‘free beer.’


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