Meticulous planning, strategic execution, a highly controlled environment.
A how-to for brewing beer? Nope: a guide to getting your kid to eat a piece of broccoli.
I’m not breaking any new ground here when I say that being a parent is a big job—one that’s often as exhausting as it is rewarding. And just like any job, whether it’s a backyard-landscaping project or a 9 to 5 grind in a cubicle, it sometimes calls for a beer. As a dad of two boys ages 4 years and 16 months, respectively, I hereby appoint myself an expert in the area of parental beer pairings and feel it’s my duty to share this information with you.
Now, before we get any further, it’s time for a quick disclaimer (let me pull out my dad voice for this—ahem): Since the Internet has yet to adopt an official sarcasm font, let’s make perfectly clear that much of what follows was written with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I’m not advocating for parenting under the influence. Be responsible out there, folks (or so help me I will turn this car around!).
Without further adieu, let’s get to it.
Parenting Situation: The Morning That Came Too Early
Beer Pairing: Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner, Founders All Day IPA, Badger Hill High Road Everyday Ale
Sleep. It’s the first thing to go when you become a parent. I’m not talking about those first few weeks when your infant needs to be fed every three hours and you drift through life in a non-alcohol-induced-but-still-sort-of-drunken haze, doing things like accidentally eating a fortune cookie without taking out the fortune first (true story). No, I’m talking about the times when your four-year-old comes into your room at 5am asking for a bowl of cereal and isn’t buying your play-dead-and-maybe-he’ll-go-away routine. Unlike the T-Rex in “Jurassic Park,” for some reason evolution saw fit to equip toddlers with the ability to see things even when they’re not moving.
On those days, 9am feels like noon and noon feels like the time happy hour should be getting underway. If by some miracle from on high or through sheer will and grit you make it to noon on those days without using a game of hide-and-seek as an excuse to nod off in the attic crawl space, hoping your kid gets distracted by something loud and/or shiny while looking for you, you deserve a beer.
This situation calls for something sessionable, because—I hate to be the bearer of bad news—you’re not even halfway through your day and you need to keep your wits about you. Reach for a lighter pilsner or session IPA and savor it as much as you’re able to while trying to accomplish the brain surgery-like task of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. From there, get ready to concentrate on the most critical challenge you’ll face today: getting your kid down for a nap.
Parenting Situation: The Mid-Day Reprieve
Beer Pairing: Castle Danger Danger Ale, Surly Doomtree, Bad Weather Windvane
Ahhh, nap time. It’s simultaneously a parent’s greatest source of eager anticipation and mind-bending consternation. We parents become military strategists at nap time, using every weapon in our arsenal to get our kids to wind down and go to sleep, and, equally as important, stay asleep long enough to clear the battlefield from the morning’s skirmish.
It begins with a little psychological warfare: the right book read in the right calming tone, or the right song sung in just the right way to make the eyelids on those beady little eyes start to droop. (My four-year-old’s tastes have now matured to include a rotating selection of library books and Michael Jackson songs, but for a long time the classic “Goodnight Moon” and Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” were our Pavlov’s bell.)
When all is quiet on the western front, the battle shifts to one of shadowy stealth maneuvers. Parents know the audible characteristics of every piece of flooring in their house—creaky land mines lying in wait with the ability to obliterate the day’s nap.
Tread carefully to the kitchen and reach for a beer that requires a little extra thought and examination to fully enjoy it, because the next hour or two will be the only time you’ll have for a luxury such as pondering brewing ingredients. Beers that don’t fit squarely into a traditional style are best for this time. Rest up, recharge, and get ready for the ultimate showdown that’s yet to come: dinnertime.
Parenting Situation: “It Eats The Food Or Else It Gets The Hose Again!”
Beer Pairing: Tallboy of Lift Bridge Hop Dish, Fair State Hefeweizen, Summit Hopvale
“Everyone Poops” is a classic children’s book that most kids revel in reading. “Everyone Eats” is a non-existent utopian state that most parents only ever dare to imagine in their most vulnerable moments of wistfulness. (If you’re a parent whose toddler eats whatever you put down in front of them I have two things to say to you: I don’t believe you. And, just kidding! Please teach me your mystical ways!)
With little control over their day-to-day lives, eating is the one time most kids know they can dig in their heels. We can’t make them eat. Which is why mealtime, especially dinner it seems, often becomes a test of wills.
Something as simple as a single baby carrot can sometimes turn into a 15 -minute stare down. Make sure to bring enough provisions to the table for yourself so you can settle in because you might be there a while. The extra four ounces in a tall boy can make the whole ordeal just a little more tolerable.
Finally, on a more sincere note, being a dad is the best job I’ve ever had (which is saying something, because I get to write about beer all day at my other job). I try to savor every moment of my kids’ childhood—the highs and the lows—because I know that, just like a good pint, it’ll be gone before I know it.