Dear beer nerds,

It’s official. A trip to the liquor store – once a relaxing and uncomplicated endeavor – is now an experience rife with anxiety and booby traps. Oh, pick you up a six-pack? Something “local”? Something you “haven’t had before”? This mission is bound to be an embarassing failure.

That’s right. My husband’s joined your ranks. He and his buddies are in deep, and now when we have parties, they fill up the cooler with unidentifiable bottles and cans, because cans, I guess, are not an indication of poor quality anymore.

I’ll have, like one-and-a-half and am dancing rather enthusiastically on the patio after putting the kids to bed and it’s like, yup, I’m a cool mom! But that’s not it, is it? It’s because these double-hopped, triple-bagged, melon-washed, 190-minute IPAs or whatever, clock in at about 18% alcohol. I’m hungover before the night’s ended.

Sometimes I stand in front of a store’s beer display in a near cold sweat, looking at all the bold labels with their professional illustrations and flowery but masculine narratives (“flowery but masculine” is actually a good way to explain this entire phenomenon).

The labels explain how this unique, captivating brew came into existence. Often there’s a “journey” involved, which displays excellent creative skills on the part of the marketing team involved, and no flagrant embellishment or anything. Beer is important and political and life-altering.

The beers are named things that scare me. Stuff like, “Put You in the Penitentiary Amber” or “This Will Kill You.” Not those exact names, ok? But you get the picture.

I’ll spot an old familiar like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and think, hey, that’d taste good on a hot afternoon. But buying Sierra Nevada Pale Ale would be an enormous, unforgivable mistake, I realize. Holding one up, saying, “Have you guys, um, tried this?” because “Have you guys tried this?” is the absolutely mandatory required statement one makes upon opening a beer, every single time.

Can you imagine? Meanwhile, your friend, your friend who didn’t make an incredibly huge error at the liquor store, has the new coffee stout from those brothers who started a brewery in their bathroom right down the street from here, and now they’re selling to local restaurants. Come to think of it, you guys could start a brewery in your basement. Don’t even start.

Listen, I like these beers. They are interesting and fun. It’s all gone too far though.

The other day I was in the grocery store, where the beer selection should still be easy to navigate because it’s the grocery store, but it turns out they’ve jumped on the bandwagon, too. There was nuanced fruit beer and beer where it didn’t even tell you what style of beer it was, you were just supposed to know by the brand and name, because everybody’s extremely educated regarding these matters.

I was getting mad, to be honest with you. I felt tense and ill-at-ease, because picking a beer has become one of the more difficult tasks in my life, marked by decision fatigue and self-doubt, which is notable considering we have three children and responsibilities such as home ownership and whatnot.

So you know what I did? I reached out and I grabbed some Sam Adams Summer Ale. That’s right, Sam Adams Summer Ale. Like a fucking novice. I did it for three reasons: 1) it was summer; 2) I like it; and 3) I was mentally exhausted.

When I got home to my husband I raised the six-pack above my head in victory. “Ha!” I said. “Look what I got! Sam’s Summer. Just like old times! It’s going to be delicious!”

And, lemme tell you something. It was.