Funny thing about the rise of higher quality beer in America-- I never intended to be the kind of person who drinks expensive or sophisticated beer. (I was about to say a "beer snob," but that implies that I would look down on someone who drinks Coors Light, or whatever, which I certainly don't do. Who cares what someone else drinks?) Throughout college, I was perfectly happy drinking whatever was cheapest. A 30-pack of Icehouse for $10.99 satisfied the two imperatives of beer drinking in those days, getting me drunk and not costing me money I didn't have to spend. And I would have been perfectly content going along with that. I didn't have any particular desire to develop a more refined beer-drinking pallet.
What happens as time goes on, though, is that you end up drinking fancier beer through the force of circumstance. Sometimes you'll go to a bar that only has microbrews. Sometimes you'll have a friend that keeps buying you nice beers. Sometimes you'll be on a date and want to show the girl you're out with what a sophisticated guy you are. Mostly, though, you just drink smaller-label brews because you want to try something different. It wasn't that I was resistant to change or didn't want to try different things. I just didn't want to ever switch from primarily drinking cheap beers.
What ended up happening with me, though, is that as time went on and I was drinking more and more expensive/dark/fancy/small label beer, is that I found I couldn't go back to the cheaper stuff. As I acquired a taste for darker and more complex beers, I found it was more and more unpleasant to drink watery, bland beers. Not that, say, Bud Light ever tasted good, exactly. It just tasted like beer. And beer, back then, tasted like mildly alcoholic water. After expanding my pallet, though, and begining to enjoy darker and fuller bodied beers, Bud Light started tasting bad, actively bad. And I've found, to my consternation-- and to the detriment of my wallet-- that at this point I'd rather spend the $5 for a draft of something good than the $3 for another bottle of water beer. (Readers from New York, Los Angeles and other places with inflated drink prices are probably sighing wistfully right now.) It seems there's no going back to the Keystone Light days.
It's important to me, though, that my preference never becomes evangelism. I certainly am not going to begrudge anybody the beer they like. And I'm also never going to recoil at drinking whatever I'm given or is on hand. But when I buy my own, I'm sorry to say, it'll be something more expensive, although I certainly don't know enough to say that I drink "the best". (There are plenty of people who would put me to shame in the beer-knowledge category.) Anyway, this is just to say that, for me, the move towards more expensive beer was a matter of chance, not design.