Next month will mark six years since I’ve taken a drink, and most of the time that notion sits just fine with me.

But when our annual Beer Issue comes out, I’m always struck by the irony that I pretty much missed craft beer, one of the fastest growing businesses and cultural influencers in the Triad right now.

I was born to cover the beer beat: My capacity for the stuff was legendary among the bartenders along Lower Decatur Street in New Orleans and the Corner in Greensboro alike, and I spent 15 years of my life behind the bar, much of it pushing out beer as fast as I could, which was pretty damn fast at one time.

Back then, most bars carried a full selection of yellow beers, with perhaps a Newcastle or Shiner Bock thrown in the box for fancy folk and Texans. In Louisiana people drank Abita, but even its line was fairly limited in scope and primitive in its distribution: one giant, hairy dude who lugged old, barrel-shaped, two-pronged kegs across the state in a van.

For a hot minute back at the turn of the century, I actually did cover the beer beat in my role as booze and nightlife columnist for GoTriad, back when that seemed like a perfectly reasonable gig to me.

And I remember when it all started, when the Spring Garden Brewery flipped over to Red Oak and Natty Greene’s was just an unfermented hop in Kayne Fisher and Chris Lester’s imagination. I remember when Jamie Bartholomaus created Sexual Chocolate at Foothill’s downtown brewpub and nobody batted an eye.

I’ve always believed in the power of booze to jumpstart a culture — a decade or so in New Orleans will do that to a fella — and when it first started popping I assumed I would be a part of it.

But by the time the second wave hit — read Eric Ginsburg’s piece on page 12 for more on that — I was relegated to the sidelines.

No regrets. Now I’m waiting around for craft cigarettes, which will probably hit the market a month after I’ve quit.

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