It was an awesome experience… I managed to singlehandedly change a man’s love of beer! This is NOT in anyway intended to be a plug for the beer itself… just an account of a great experience.
Thursday - I was checking in my delivery at one of my local “big box, Wal-Mart of alcohol” type stores with my coworker assisting. Out of my eye’s corner, I saw some big burly guy loading up his shopping cart with Pilsner Urquell. On second glance I noticed this dude had 6 12-packs of freaking Pilsner Urquell loaded up! So, as any good Craft Beer Evangelist would do, I confronted him. Not that I have anything against one of mankind’s most influential beers; Pilsner Urquell was one of my personal “Gateway Beers” into Craft Beer, but come on… there are other Pilsner options out there that one can experiment with.
I began our monumental conversation with the obvious:
“Man, You’re a big fan of the Pilsner Urquell?” Yeah… it’s my genius intellect that conjured that line up.
In his response, I immediately noticed his accent, which I deemed to be German, but when asked, the man proudly exclaimed:
“No, I am Czech” “Pilsner Urquell?” “It is only the best beer in the world!” the man arrogantly claimed!
My response was slightly smug as well.
“There is no doubt that Pilsner Urquell is a monumental beer, but have you sampled any others out there?” As I am just not content allowing conformity, you see.
“Other Pilsners?” he exclaimed, with eyebrows raised and one eye squinting. “There are NO other pilsners that I would EVER drink! Only the Czech can make a Pilsner, the Original!”
At that, I was ready to prove this man, who looked as if he worked as a brick mason, or a cage fighter, or possibly won the Iron Man, wrong! “Well you are standing next to what I deem to be one of the best Pilsners in the world, and it is brewed outside of Czech Republic!”
“Horse shit!” The man shouted. “As I said, this is no other pilsner! Where is it brewed?”
“Adamstown Pennsylvania!” I said, with an air of cockiness.
“American… So I know its garbage. I wouldn’t even consider letting my dog drink it if it’s an American Beer! It’s Horse Shit! Let me see this Shit water.”
I must admit; I was kind of insulted. I said to the man, “Turn around, my friend,” and there sat a purple shelf full of what I deem to be one of America’s finest Pilsners, Stoudt’s Pils.
The first time I tried Stoudt’s Pils; it was a random bottle that RateBeerian DocLock had sent me in the mail, I was awestruck by its wildly fresh Saaz hop aromatics, biscuity malts, and big dry hoppy finish. A life changing beer for me indeed, as I had not yet had a well made American Pils, or a Pils of this caliber in general. Everyone that knows me on a daily level knows that I cannot help but hype Stoudt’s Pils, and this was the perfect situation.
The man picked a bottle out of the 6-pack, eyed it a moment, and said, “This is just American garbage beer, just like your Budweiser.”
Offended, as he had insulted my love, I answered “This Pils is NO such thing! You are holding a beer that could change your life! It could change everything you know about Pilsner. That Pils is packed full of hops and has a huge flavor for its style!”
“Well I know it is garbage! All American beer is trash, but I will try it just to prove you wrong,” said the Czech. “I will drink it here!” He then attempted to twist off the beers cap.
I quickly said, “No my friend, it’s not a twist off cap, besides you can’t drink it here in the store!”
“Well I must prove you wrong, look you in the eye and tell you its garbage. I cannot do that from home. But at least it’s not a twist off cap and that is a good sign,” he said.
The man then took the Pils bottle, placed the edge of its cap on the side edge of his shopping cart, and gave it a forceful, but unsuccessful slap.
“NO,” I said. Now knowing I would not be able to convince this man not to open this beer in the store, I said, “If you insist on opening this beer, at least let me get you a cold bottle.”
We walked the 10 feet to the cooler door, and swapped the warm single out of a cold one.
The man made a second effort at knocking the cap off the Pils bottle by using his shopping cart edge, and he was successful. He smelled the top of the bottle, took a large drink, looked at the bottle, took another swig, and looked at me with a most puzzled look of sadness, or maybe confusion.
“I don’t understand… it taste like beer!” Standing there, in the middle of the beer isle, the Czech man took yet another mouthful, “It taste like very good beer! This is American? I don’t believe it’s true!”
“So you like it?” I said. “I told you Americans are brewing some good beer!”
The man held out his hand as an offering, with a farm grip, he looked me in the eyes and said, “Damn, I admit… I was wrong, I take back all I said bad!”
Baffled, the man stood there for another minute drinking the beer, looking at the bottle in silence and amazement. He put the empty bottle in his shopping cart and walked away.
I had gone back about my business, yet 5 minutes later the man walked back up to me and said, “I would like a case of that Pilsner to share with my children. They will not believe this, I still do not even believe this; Americans can brew beer!” Well, I personally couldn’t believe this man was old enough to have children even near the drinking age, but I suppose that’s another story.
This encounter was a very pleasing moment for me professionally, as I wholeheartedly strive to expand people’s perception of beer. I was in an ecstatic state up until the point in time where stores management walked up to me and asked me why I allowed a man to drink a bottle of beer in their store. In which I replied, “How was I going to stop him? You saw him; he could have kicked my ass!” And that we all immediately agreed on!