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Complications brewing Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, Nov 09 2013 12:00 PM

When did grabbing a beer get so ... complicated?

Not long ago a plumber came to my home to fix something that required more than my Phillips-head screw driver and chewing gum.

He showed up earlier than he had said he would and, after eyeballing the problem, quoted me a figure that was substantially less than what he originally proposed over the phone.

Naturally I thought a six-pack as a gift was in order. After all, what working-class stiff doesn’t enjoy a working-class beverage?  Plumbers and beer go together like chips and dip. Steak and potatoes.

At the store an overwhelming selection of beers was available. Typically I don’t notice them. I have my brand and it makes shopping — and the subsequent consuming — easy.

However, when you’re buying beer for someone else, especially when it’s a token of appreciation, you’re apt to put a little more thought into it. But this much shouldn’t be required.

Refrigerated and awaiting selection were bottle after bottle of IPAs and ales and porters and stouts and lagers and amber lagers and on and on and on. About the only thing more dizzying than the selection was the number of San Diego breweries represented on the labels. That might explain why this week’s Beer Week festival has been treated as though the Super Bowl was in town. Some people are so giddy you’d think they were drunk. Maybe they are.

A clerk must have noticed my  panicked expression.

She asked what I was looking for. I told her I didn’t know. It was a gift and I didn’t know the drinker’s brand. She asked me about him. What were his likes? Dislikes? When would he be drinking the beer and with what? She must have liked the way I said “I don’t know” because that’s the only answer I had.

I pointed at one bottle and asked, “What about that?”

She told me it was an ale with fruit undertones (apricots to be precise). Another was a porter that tasted like dark chocolate and the one after that was brewed with coffee and would definitely give the recipient a nice buzz.

There was a time when people who spoke endlessly about beer and its nuances were called drunks. Now they’re called brewmasters. And hipsters.

Finally the clerk recommended one of her favorites. It was a porter that went well with bacon and Gorgonzola.

The plumber seemed to be pleased with the selection as well. Said he’d heard good things about it. Then he went on to tell me about a great beer tasting he went to. We spent about 10 minutes talking about the differences between

IPAs and ales and the food they complemented. It was the same 10 minutes I spent thinking I needed to find a new plumber. One who likes Bud.

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