4 Days in a Beer Desert: A Survivor’s Tale

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4 Days in a Beer Desert: A Survivor’s Tale

So apparently, I’m an entitled asshole. I always suspected as much and my family and friends have certainly hinted at the fact, but my sense of entitlement was driven home recently during a family trip to the beach. I’m not gonna name the town we were in. Let’s just say it’s a southern beach town known for its putt putt courses and pirate themed restaurants. Coming home from our scurvy- fighting buffet one night, I decided to hop into a gas station to pick up a six pack of something local. It seemed like a fairly benign errand at the time. I often try to stimulate the local economy in such a manner when I travel. What can I say, I’m a giver. But the stab n grab only had Budweiser and Coors products. I thought it was odd, but I moved on to the next store, only to find a similar selection. And the next one and the next one. Five stops at various gas stations and the most interesting thing I could find to drink was Smirnoff Ice. There were plenty of shriveled hot dogs for a buck, but no craft beer. Flabbergasted, I sat in our minivan and asked Siri to find the nearest beer store. It was 50 miles away.

That’s when it hit me: I was in a Beer Desert.

You hear about “Food Deserts,” those wastelands without nutrition where families don’t have access to affordable, fresh food, or really anything that doesn’t come out of a drive through window. Apparently, there are also Beer Deserts where privileged dudes with Untappd accounts can’t get access to stouts aged in bourbon barrels.

Crazy, right?

I live in a Beer Town (capital “B” capital “T”), so I’ve been operating under the assumption that everyone in America could walk to the nearest brewery or specialty beer store where dudes with mustaches and ironic T-shirts with yeast strain puns could make you feel like an idiot for not being able to name the fifth key ingredient in all beer (Heart. The fifth ingredient in all beer, is heart). But Beer Deserts do exist. And some unfortunate bastards have to call these deserts home.

Can you imagine waking up every morning and knowing that at no time throughout your day will you be able to order a Berliner Weisse? The horror.

We’re living in the golden age of beer, and there are still people who live in towns who have to drive to other towns in order to get a good beer. Picture gas stations with nothing but different flavors of Budweiser. Restaurants where the taps are filled with Miller-Coors products. What the hell are these poor individuals supposed to drink with their charcuterie? A corn-adjunct lager!?

I know America has a lot on its plate right now, what with Boss Baby running the country and natural disasters chipping away at our edges, but can we take a minute to recognize the injustice of having to drive up to 12 or 13 miles before being able to order a porter? Can we please get these people a saison? Maybe use our fleet of drones to air drop mixed six packs, like how we used to airdrop supplies for our allies in WWII.

And that’s just one idea I have for helping these people. Other ideas: underground pipelines running IPAs from Beer Towns to Beer Deserts. Or a pen pal program where beer geeks can adopt a middle-aged man in a Beer Desert and send him a monthly beer package. In return, the beer geek will get photos and regular updates about how that unfortunate middle-aged man is impacted by the beer he is sent.

I spent four days and three nights living out of a condo in one of these beer deserts, so I can tell you that the struggle is real and these people need help. At the end of our family vacation, I drove as fast as I could to the nearest beer store, bought an over-priced farmhouse ale that was aged on peaches and white oak and poured the whole thing over my head, like a baptism to wash away the filth that I accrued during my time in the Beer Desert.

I’m worried though, that those few days without access to any fresh hopped IPA will haunt me long into the future. I’m already having nightmares. In my dreams, my wife gets transferred for work to a town in the middle of a sea of cornfields where the nicest restaurant is a Golden Corral and the only beer served anywhere is Bud Light Lime. It even comes out of the taps. When I try to fill a glass with water from the filter on my refrigerator door, Bud Light Lime comes out. I wake up every time, screaming. My wife has to hold me and sing Avett Brothers songs to me until I fall asleep again.

So yeah, I’m an entitled asshole. But I don’t want others to suffer like I’ve suffered. Send good beer to friends in need. Dig a pipeline and fill it with beer. If you’re isolated from craft breweries, start home brewing. And then sell me some if I come visit your town. End Beer Deserts now.