500 words about my love affair with Stella Artois

“Give me a beer.”

One of the simplest, most-easy-to-understand phrases hits like a blunt request. It’s synonymous with baseball for me. A cold one at the ballpark always felt very Don Draper to me. As Mike Shannon would eloquently put it on a blazing hot Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium, a cold, frosty Budweiser. Once upon a time, Shannon talked about climbing mountains and Busch beer. That’s where it started for me.

At a certain age, I just had to try a beer. Pop the cap and go to town, see where the first one leads me. I remember my dad allowing me a few one night, maybe twenty years ago. I had a few, feeling the genuine rush of alcohol surge into my blood stream like an army of good time warriors. Soldiers hell bent on finding you a comfy spot to sit for about ten minutes. That’s when bottle rocket #2 commenced pouring.

Over the years, I have gone from ales to lagers, stouts to Saison, and back to smoother brews. I have tried them all, liking some and adoring others. My finest hour is learning to love Tank 7 as my lone beer. It’s a super-hybrid brew involving that very Saison element. Tough to love, but easy to keep as family whenever a cold smack in the face is required. Greet any shitty day with a Tank 7, and your mood will flip like a table, the sadness in your heart folding up like a cheaper one.

But those relationships can only last for so many moons, a hardened friendship that can sour when it gets too cold or hot-because the Boulevard special Smokehouse series turned favorite will rock you. Take too many sips on one during August in St. Louis, and a fever will rise. So I started drinking Stella Artois, first brewed in 1926 and packing an ABV of 5%.

Playfully referred to as my Jean Claude Van Damme beer, due to its Belgian roots and the way two kickbacks of this tomboy is a good way to start feeling better than a few minutes ago. It’s not a particularly punishing beer. Stella can get into you around bottle #4, pushing the body to a couch or resting area of some sort. You won’t find a smoother beer in town. At a little over 150  calories, it’s not too gentle or stern of a drink.  You can have two before the meal, and a few after.

Don’t get me wrong, this beer can rock you around if unguided. I’ve bought a 12-pack before, and went through about eight of them before the idea of slowing down hit me. It’s like if Bud Light worked out and had a sophisticated finish to its palette, or something.

More than any beer-including the KC-made Tank 7-holds up as well around the year as Stella Artois. All someone needs at the end of a tough day is a few Van Dammes to throw back, and happiness will arrive. I used to think it was too polished of a choice, but that ended a long time ago.

Now please, go have a Stella Artois.

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