On Friday July 19, 2013, my son was born.
As is to be expected, his birth did not go entirely as we had planned it to go. It was a traumatic experience for him, for his mom, and for me. As a result of his traumatic birth, he didn’t get to stay with us for very long before he was whisked off to the newborn intensive care unit for observation.
He’s fine, but the fact that he spent his first two days in the world in an incubator on a different floor of the hospital than our recovery room made for a pretty emotional start to his life (for his parents much more than for him I’m sure—we had to wake up every three hours to come down to feed and hold him, he was warm and safe and sleeping and probably didn’t even notice).
As anyone who’s had a baby can likely attest, you don’t get much sleep in the first little while. On top of that usual lack of sleep, we had the emotionally draining experience of having to frequently visit—and then leave—our son throughout the night. All told, by the time he was actually with us in our hospital room on Sunday July 21st, we’d probably had less than 10 hours sleep in the 65 hours since we had taken a cab to the hospital at 4am on Friday morning and a good portion of the time we’d been awake had been spent crying.
Needless to say, we were frazzled.
On the night our son finally joined us in our room, my wife spent a considerable amount of time holding and breastfeeding our son until she finally slipped into what I imagine was the first real sleep she’d had in some time. When she did, I took over (the holding, not the breastfeeding) and turned on the TV. It was then that my father-in-law offered me a beer—something that my in-laws had slipped in with the food and clean clothes they’d brought to the hospital “just in case.”
It was in this state—emotionally drained, tired to an extreme I’d never before experienced, and overjoyed to finally, permanently have our son with us—that I drank what was without a doubt the best beer I’ve ever had. My newborn son was in my arms, there was a baseball game on the TV in our room—a Baltimore Orioles/Texas Rangers game that history tells me the Rangers lost 4-2—and I was finally able to relax. The beer, incidentally, was a can of Muskoka Brewery’s Mad Tom IPA, but frankly I’m not sure that matters all that much. Mad Tom is without a doubt a great beer, but truth be told, I don’t think I even finished it.
This experience has inspired me to explore the emotional component that sometimes accompanies a great beer and I’ve asked a handful of “beer folks”–brewers, writers, and industry folks–to detail their best beer experience in a series aptly titled “The best beer I’ve ever had.” I’ll share their stories with you here in the coming weeks.