Welcome to Beer with Baby, a new column in which beer writer Joshua Bernstein reviews craft brews through the eyes of a tired, over-stressed parent.
Much as it does in the depths of a psychedelic trip, time moves differently when an infant is screaming. Seconds become minutes, minutes become hours, and hours are the reason that beer was invented.
Screaming is an infant’s most important survival tool. Parents spring into action to do whatever it takes to quell crying. I quickly aid my five-month-old daughter, Violet, when the waterworks begin, but I also yearn for a drink to ease the aural barrage.
It’s a desire amplified by my profession. I’m a beer writer. Drinking is my job. It’s not a question of whether I’ll be drinking a beer while tending to my daughter, but rather how I will safely make it work. See, my wife works in advertising. Good pay. Bad hours. Most evenings, right in the heart of happy hour—my prime tasting time—I must snag Violet from daycare.
It’s not a question of whether I’ll be drinking a beer while tending to my daughter, but rather how I will safely make it work.
When I arrive, Violet is typically lost in dreamland, which I imagine to be a Wonka-like landscape of stuffed animals and snackable breasts. The lightest nudge wakes her. Screams erupt. Time turns sludgy. My nerves frazzle.
To short-circuit tears, I strap her into a stroller and roll off, the movement acting as Ambien. She contentedly sucks on her pacifier while I seek my own source of solace.
“It’s okay, sweetheart,” I soothed during a recent meltdown, quickly tucking her into the stroller. As I wheeled Violet down the block, her eyes fluttered shut, opening a slender window in which I could enter my local bottle shop. I scanned the coolers, skipping past double IPAs and imperial stouts, in search of a beer-drinking parent’s holy trinity: flavor, refreshment, and low alcohol. That means pilsners and pale ales, kölsch and cream ales, session IPAs and saisons. The sweet spot slinks below 6% ABV, decreasing the risk for a most unforgivable sin: dropping your infant.
I skip past double IPAs and imperial stouts, in search of a beer-drinking parent’s holy trinity: flavor, refreshment, and low alcohol.
This week, salvation’s name was Elysian Super Fuzz. I bought several bottles, shoved them into my stroller’s coffee cup holder and rapidly rolled Violet to our Brooklyn apartment. Upstairs, she roused. I fed her a bottle, then reached for mine.
I poured the Seattle-brewed pale ale into a glass, marveling at the hazy-orange hue. “Looks unfiltered,” I told Violet. She drooled. I took a sip and savored Super Fuzz’s bitter, citrusy tang—a palate-zap supplied by blood orange peel and purée. The fruity bouquet was amplified by citrus-forward Amarillo and tropical Citra hops, creating an aroma as appealing as fine perfume.
“That might become my summertime go-to,” I told my now-smiling daughter, relishing a beer that, like parenting, was full of bitterness mixed with moments as bright as sunshine.
Joshua M. Bernstein is the author of Brewed Awakening and The Complete Beer Course. He lives in Brooklyn with Violet, his wife, and a corgi named Sammy. Follow him on Twitter @JoshMBernstein.