I had glasses of white wine with a blueberry seltzer mixed in, so the entire night I felt hydrated and barely impacted. Doug's co-workers are fun, delightful, I had a great time meeting them. It was a fun party. And we were not the most dressed up for "Casino Royale" night (his boss and the wife were straight out of a Bond movie) but we were also not the least dressed up. All told, staying at a very beautiful hotel, and it all costing us about 50 bucks, I'd say it was a success.
We drove home on Sunday, which was Geoff's birthday. The "big" one. The 21.
Doug opened the refrigerator when we got home so we could make lunch, and he noticed a 4-pack of Guinness Stout cans in the fridge, with one missing. He called to the boy. "Geoff? Did you go to the liquor store first thing this morning and buy beer?"
Geoff stood there and grinned.
"Well, I found out the liquor store doesn't open until 10." he replied.
"What time did you go?"
"So you got up at 9am and went to buy your very first booze. Interesting. Good choice though." I had to give it to him - he didn't go get an 18 pack of Natty Ice or Coors Light or PBR. Went and chose a quality beer. We have modeled (I hope?) good behavior.
He had two more of them over the course of the day (I stole number 4). I showed him how to pour it so the cascade kind of works - not quite as right as when Guinness is pulled off draft by an expert bar tender - but they've made the experience close to it. We talked about Nitro beers, and the noise that cracking this can open makes vs. the noise any other beer will make.
Geoff had spent the better part of two weeks actually researching where he wanted to go for his birthday dinner. If we were at home*, he would have chosen some of the obvious spots -- the Tap or The Grill Next Door in Haverhill, Amesbury's Ale House. Places he's been dozens of times over his pre-legal life, but has not had the opportunity to enjoy their plentiful quality craft beer on draft.
He selected Indian Food, not a craft brewery with a food menu. They didn't have any special or amazing beers to go with the experience, but we did talk a lot about filtered vs. unfiltered; craft breweries vs. beers that used to be craft breweries that are now owned by one of the two giant beer manufacturers on earth and still like to try and convince people they are craft.
The food was outstanding, and Geoff's interest in the food and beer, and the discussion we all shared were probably the most notably wonderful things I've experienced with him since moving here.
For Doug's birthday two weeks later, we went to a place in DC called Pearl Dive Oyster Palace.
Initially, he had selected a Belgian Beer and mussels bar, but the downstairs was not open on Tuesday nights. He had his heart set on the downstairs location, so he called an audible and picked this other place.
They had some really nice breweries represented in their craft list, which wasn't big, but I have to say they made some great choices.
Geoff had three beers, and I limited myself to two, because I began to realize that I would probably have to be the one do drive us home.
Doug was celebrating with oysters, and craft beer and was in an exceptionally great mood. The two of them commandeered the discussion, talking about oyster flavors and harvest locations, why Rhode Island tastes different than Virginia; and about beer IBU and ABV and styles and flavors.
It was a pleasure to sit and listen.
Jesus, they've really connected on something. Young Geoff begins his journey into the knowledge of the magic ingredients: Water, Yeast, Grain and Hops, and all that that implies.
On the way home, three drink Geoff talked to his grandmother (Doug's mom) while I drove and tried not to crash the car from laughing. He was chatty and entertaining. He was sassy and full of questions for her about a recent trip taken to France and Germany.
"We should have given him beer earlier, I think." I said to Doug, as we listened to him say more sentences to his grandmother than I think he's said in five years.
Alcohol is a very good social lubricant when managed correctly. Four drink Geoff would be a little out of control, and five drink Geoff. Well. I think of comedian Mike Birbiglia in this case:
Two Drink Mike enjoys dancing and knows a magic trick. Whereas, No Drink Mike enjoys biographies, and has serious opinions on wildlife. And Five Drink Mike...dances with wildlife...
Three drink Geoff, that's perfect level drinking Geoff. I hope to keep him that way. We talked long and hard about how to drink, not to drink to excess, drink for the taste. If you want to sample 5 beers off a menu, get a flight instead of five pints.
I think he gets it. At least, he is enthusiastic over it. Yesterday's conversation was all about different hops, and the differences between a Cascade and a Czech Saaz. Noble vs. ... I don't even know the term but "not" noble?
Who knows, maybe we've created a hobby brewer. Maybe he and Doug will small batch brew together, the way Doug used to small batch brew when he was in his mid-20s. Jess used to help him fill the bottles and put the caps on. It was lovely parenting.
Maybe we've come full circle over a 24 year journey.
Also, here is a picture of Doug, with Dessert, for his 50th birthday.
I told the girl it was his birthday, and he was very thankful that they did not sing to him.
Happy Birthday sweetie!
* I keep referring to "home" meaning the Merrimack Valley, Newburyport, North of Boston, Boston. Not sure when I'll switch to calling Maryland "home."