The past several months have been quite a ride for the majority of Americans. In fact, ever since the market began its record breaking descent into depths that typically force nations to default on national debt, things have not gotten much better. Sure the DOW peaked it’s head above 8000 in a micro bull run, but such volatile upward fluctuations are emotionally fueled by big words from politicians and the intentional growth of the national deficit. To top it off, the government is about to own GM, unemployment, while up from April, is close to double this time last year, and the foreclosure rate hasn’t slowed down a bit and is no longer isolated to sub-prime borrowers!
Could there possibly be a silver lining in all of this, or am I just morbidly pleased with negative news? Yes and No.
Just this week I discovered that a local store that sells everything from tractor plows, to exotic birds, to fine wine and beers, was experiencing a 20+% decline in overall revenue. While this is not uncommon in trying times such as these that we find ourselves in the midst of, I was elated to hear that alcohol sales were up 17%. Keep in mind this store does not have a hard liquor license and specializes in craft beer and quality wine. You won’t find a fifth of Everclear, and the Budweiser is cleverly hidden in a corner, while a tart Belgian Flemish ale greets you early on.
I would be disheartened to know that in the midst of hard times, customers of this stores are drowning their fears and depression in a drunken stupor induced by the gulping down of a case of Keystone light. But it appears, that people are rediscovering the joy that can be found in the moderate and social enjoyment of a refined beverage like beer. In fact, as I drove to the store in mention, I passed a deserted megaplex movie theater where tickets run you fifteen bucks a person and you need to take out a second mortgage to enjoy popcorn with a film showing you mutilated bodies at the hands of a psycho killer. When I got to the store, however, the beer aisle was jammed.
Maybe the materialistic American mindset is shifting from malls to a drink shared at home with the wife or a friend; from a cheap sweater to a life long memory. Perhaps beer isn’t just a college student’s vehicle to the toilet, rather the experience it was created to embody.
A silver lining? We would be fools to dismiss the joy that is found in a bottle of beer as fleeting or evil. After all, the renowned Hebrew Psalmist rejoiced and said, “He (God) makes [...] wine that gladdens the heart of man.” I for one, despite the doomsday reports from the Wall Street Journal, am joyful as I sip on my beer!