I remember my first encounter with beer. I was at my aunt’s wedding with my parents and other relatives, including my grandfather. Our table was like a candy store for alcoholics, with different brands of alcohol, including some from as far as Spain! I was 8, short and innocent and all I could see in front of me was a beer industry illustrated by tens of bottles towering over me.
My uncles took a swig of their beer and what always followed was a slight wince, manifested in the pursing of their lips as they swallowed, and this tainted my view of beer throughout my formative years. The thick, black pigmentation of the beer brands in front of me suggested that it was the devil’s poison and I shouldn’t have anything to do with it.
Fast forward to when I was 19 and the closest I got to tasting alcohol was a bottle of Listerine. I always purchased a bottle of beer for my father and his friends but I never had any interest in tasting or even sniffing it. Well, till one fateful day…
It was a cold, rainy night — like something out of a horror movie, but what happened that night didn’t bear any ominous foreshadowing; it was to be a positively memorable encounter with an age-old foe. I remember being tired from work, but I wanted to catch a Champions League game, so I headed to a bar.
On getting to the bar, I was gutted because my team was a goal down and I hadn’t had a particularly good day. So I shrugged and settled down because Hey, what can a man do! The minutes after I sat down in that bar will always be remembered fondly — my team was staging a comeback and it was one of the most thrilling games I’d ever witnessed. As I watched on in anticipation of the winning goal, my eyes caught a waiter taking a tray of beer to a customer. Light shined through the green bottle and it illuminated so beautifully, inviting me to have a taste. And so I made the move.
“Sorry, what beer is that?”
“It’s Heineken, sir”
“Can I have one, please? I want it to be very cold.”
And that was it. The beginning of my love affair with beer and Heineken, especially. I always went back to it for its strong bitter taste, its inoffensive smell, and its straw yellow colour. It was beautiful, and it perfectly meshed with the memory of my team successfully staging a late comeback.
Recently, I saw the Trending Topics on Twitter and noticed my favourite beer was trending. “What could be going on?” I thought to myself. And it turned out the idea of gifting Heineken to a loved one was met with mockery. If only they had the encounter I had with it, they would respect it so much more. Gifting anyone Heineken shouldn’t be subject to mockery in my books. Rather, it should be seen as the highest gesture of love.
Well, at least to me, it is.