Here Dad, drink this.

My dad is, to first approximation, a gun-owning construction worker from a red state. To the same degree of accuracy, I’m a tree-hugging socialist who spends most of my day in a box with climate control and fluorescent lighting. We get along — we are still family, after all — but there still exists something of a divide.

When I was growing up, there was always a case of Budweiser in the garage fridge. Never Bud Lite, never MGD, and never anything in a glass bottle. My dad didn’t brag about it — he didn’t call it “Bud Heavy” like a tool — it’s just what he drank.

I think there are cultural reasons for that. There aren’t a whole lot of nice things about Bud that I can say, but this much is self-evident: it’s cheap, it contains alcohol, and it’s easy to down three after sweating your ass off all day. In other words, he drinks Budweiser like I drink Corona.

He said once that when he was younger, he drank Michelob, but after a point he decided it wasn’t worth the extra money. This is telling; though I’m way too young to actually know this for sure, I have my suspicions that back when my dad became a Budweiser drinker, the beer options in his part of the United States were pretty bleak indeed. If all you’ve got is shitty beer, you might as well drink Bud.

But of course, this isn’t the Seventies, this is the — I dunno — the Noughties? I don’t think there’s a liquor store in the country that doesn’t have at least two different really awesome beers. And here my dad was drinking Bud.

Due to a weird confluence of circumstances, I was halfway through college before I started drinking (what’s the statute of limitations on underage alcohol consumption?), around the same time as my big political awakening. Because my relationship with my parents isn’t predicated upon me sharing the details of my personal life with them, and because drinking with your parents when you’re underage is, generally, kinda weird, the first thing my dad learned about my drinking habits was when I showed up a week after I turned 21 with a Costco case of Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

Okay, yeah. I know. It’s not Bud, but it still kinda sucks. I could defend that action, but instead I’ll just call it a novice mistake and take a mulligan. It’s the equivalent of reading Chris Hitchens; you live, you learn, and you put it behind you.

Anyway, he thought that Mike’s was okay, albeit too expensive. Once I started learning about what beer really was, that notion stuck with me: my dad’s tastes were malleable.

In hindsight it’s obvious. I mean, he’s not stupid by any stretch. He makes a living with his hands; I only vaguely know which way to turn a wrench. He has some entrenched habits, but, if he’s exposed to conflicting evidence, he is willing to think about them. Sort of like voting Republican – he did it for a long time, but he stopped once all the bodies started coming home from Iraq.

I developed an abiding love for Sierra Nevada that year, and next time I went home, it was with a couple six-packs of that stuff. He hated it — “How do you drink something that bitter?” — and was totally unreceptive to my argument that beer was supposed to be bitter. No way; that’s crazy. Sort of like arguing about gay marriage; just no way to get any traction, because there’s no fundamental agreement of any sort.

I spent the next few months experimenting with different beers, as any nascent beer-drinker might, and stumbled upon the magic bullet: Newcastle Brown. Now, Newcastle is not the perfect beer, but it isn’t at all bitter, and it does have a good flavor to it. Next time I was home, I brought some.

He liked it, no reservations. Victory. “Hey dad, wouldn’t it be cool if you had healthcare?” Why yes, yes it would be.

Next time I went home, there was a case of Newcastle in the fridge. Next to the Budweiser, but still. That was a while ago, but I was home last month, and along with the Newcastle and the Bud, there was a six-pack of some really tasty local nut ale.

There’s hope.