I tasted beer for the first time at age fifty-nine.

We toured the Yazoo Brewery where they offered three different brews for tasting:  Dos Perros, Pale Ale, and the one I finally broke down and took a sip of, the Hefeweizen.  It’s an award-winning brew made with yeast that supposedly makes it taste like bananas with a hint of clove.  I must have an undiscerning palate, however, as I didn’t recognize those tastes at all.

My son, Chris, kept urging me to take a taste every time my glass was filled.  Instead, the first two times, I handed mine to George, giving him a double portion (and ensuring my designated driver status).  The third time, though, I gave in.


Good question.

I grew up Southern Baptist, no drinking allowed.  In fact, I seem to remember my parents telling me that beer was made of rotten, nasty things like dead bugs, so I’ve always called it bug juice.

The first time I smelled beer was at a slumber party in tenth grade.  My friend, Alta, invited a group of girls over for the night.  It was permissible for the boyfriends to be present before bedtime, but somehow, invitations were issued to quite a few extras.  (We suspected boy-crazy Robin was the culprit.)  At one point, I counted 75 boys in the house, in the yard, swinging from trees….

One of them, Joe Crook, stuck a beer in my face, offering a drink.  I backed away to escape the unpleasant smell.  (Do you suppose it’s possible the offense I felt may have been tied to my preconceived beliefs about how the drink was manufactured?)

My next exposure to beer, or at least to beer cans, was my freshman year in college.  Alta and I went to the same small Baptist college that had lots of rules, including curfews and no smoking or drinking.

One day, walking to see Alta at her dorm, I happened to pass her car, which was parked in front.  I saw empty beer cans all over the floor, which seemed to indicate that my friend had become a party girl.

I was horrified, angry and heartbroken all at the same time.

This was my best friend.

Who was obviously headed straight to hell.

I have no memory of what happened next, whether I turned tail and ran to hide in my room, or went to see Alta and (a) confronted her, or (b) didn’t mention it.

I do know that I didn’t want to end up in hell as well, so I promised myself that I would never, ever drink beer.  I stuck to that promise for many years.

Why was the day at the Yazoo Brewery different?

Because my son suggested I could blog about it and it would make a fun story?


But also because I am acutely aware that this is my sixtieth year of life.  I’m growing old and I want to enjoy whatever time I have left on this earth.  When I turned fifty I started taking risks.  I rode in a hot air balloon that year, a glorious flight above the Colorado Rockies, my father and daughter in the basket with me.  I’ve been tattooed and ridden a motorcycle.  I’ve taken a self-defense class and learned to fight.  I’ve shot guns at the range and I have even said a few curse words.

A friend did a tandem skydive a few years back, something I swore I would never do.  But when I was recently asked what was on my bucket list, skydiving is what popped out of my mouth.  No one was more surprised than me.  In fact, I’ve never even had a bucket list.  But I do now; the only thing on it is skydiving.

I’m determined to do it this year, the year I turn sixty.

Bold.  Daring.

So maybe it was time to at least taste a beer.  Everyone around me on the brewery tour certainly seemed to be enjoying theirs’.

Did I like it?  No.  It tasted bitter to me, just as wine does.

I think I’ll stick with water and the occasional Coke.  I won’t have to worry about adjusting to a new taste…or about getting drunk.

But at least I had a taste of the dark side.


  1. the daughter
    Feb 26, 2014

    You know, there’s a chocolate beer. I’m not sure what it’s called and I’ve never tasted it, but I remember Mellow Mushroom in Nashville served it. Maybe worth a taste 🙂

    • Karen Curran
      Feb 26, 2014

      Maybe I’ll have another bold moment and give it a try:)

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