“Home” can be a very subjective thing.
Currently, my home is Durham, NC. But Home, where I grew up, is Geneva, NY.
I’ve been far from Geneva for a while, forcing my definition of “home” to slowly become judged by my ability to remember the names of streets I would walk, ride a bike or drive a car during the almost 20 years I lived there. I barely remember those names any more, but I can still get around Geneva on muscle memory, my hands guiding a steering wheel along city streets that look foreign to me now with new homes and faces sitting on the porch.
Castle Street was always a favorite. It runs from one corner of Geneva to another, a near-perfect cut of the northeast portion of town. Depending which direction you come from, it’s either all uphill or all downhill, ending at the outskirts of town where farms and open land reigns supreme or nearly at the water’s edge of Seneca Lake, where a Ramada hotel now takes up space where I used to play.
It’s currently winter in Durham, but it’s Winter in Geneva, a season my small, but not frail, body never enjoyed. Snow has drifted along my childhood streets for weeks, whereas the clear skies and bright sun in North Carolina has taught me that there are all sorts of winters to be had.
No matter the season, there’s one thing that can easily thaw my memory. For as much as I adore the place that is now my home – weather and all – I can’t deny the siren song echoing from the gorges of Upstate New York: Ithaca Apricot Wheat.
Is there something special about this beer? Not really. It’s a wheat ale with a dose of natural flavoring for good measure. It’s light and refreshing. It’s like hundreds of other beers of similar style or substance.
But to me, it’s a perfect 100. It’s the Best Beer in the World. It’s my Home.
There was a morning in the fall of 2006, probably a Tuesday, when I found myself driving around the streets of Burbank, Calif. I was listening to sports radio when a host for a show on ESPN Radio opened a segment by talking about Ithaca Apricot Wheat. They had recently visited Upstate New York and were surprised to find a beer they liked in the middle of wine country.
Tell me about it.
Bias is a strong feeling. It twists and contorts our viewpoints, making our beliefs something akin to a master yoga instructor. Seeing things flat, straight and objectively is hard when memories and experiences are busy doing Sirsa Padasana poses on your decision making.
At the moment I heard the sports radio host talk for almost two minutes – an eternity in unscripted air time – I felt vindicated. My beer! Picked from all the others! Given national awareness!
Every now and then I’m lucky to have an Apricot Wheat delivered to me in North Carolina by a traveling friend or family member. It reminds me of spring and summer at Home in Geneva and makes me thankful for missing Winter. That beer is a subtle reminder of all the memories I compiled growing up, a collective databank in a bottle. Twelve ounces of Home.
It’s a reminder of what I felt like running up Castle Street’s hill for nearly two miles and the feeling of accomplishment at the top. When my Apricot Wheat is gone, it’s a trudge back down the hill to where I came from. A reset.
Ithaca Apricot Wheat is a taste of Home, here.
Today’s post is part of “The Session,” a monthly event where beer bloggers from around the world collectively write on a predetermined topic. January’s post is about taste bias and inflation, nominated by Rebecca at The Bake and Brew. If you want a more empirical look at bias, check out this post about ratings bias.
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac