Did you see that some of the Gawker Media rabble are trying to unionize? I have mixed thoughts on this. On the one hand, sure, good, look out for the working man. But then again, they’re fucking bloggers. This is a very, very soft gig, so maybe tone down the coal-miner act? But I admit my thoughts aren’t fully formed, because shortly after I started to consider the proposition, I realized I’d be ineligible to join anyway.
They’d claim it’s because I’m not an official Gawker employee—Drunkspin is a freelance operation, because despite the company’s libertine posturing, they know better than to pay for a beer blogger’s health insurance—but that wouldn’t be the real issue. Employment status aside, I could never get into their union because one of Gawker Media’s foundational principles is a petty, childish hatred of Boston, my hometown.
Boston has its flaws, of course. It is, for example, a city situated in these United States of America, and as such has an abominable history of racial oppression. And the busing disaster here in the 1970s was even worse than the national norm, and it’s our own goddamned fault that people still hold it against us, because we were racist monsters. We need to own that. It’s better now—a buddy of mine who played on Patrick Ewing’s team at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School recently amazed me by referring to a tournament that got cancelled back in that day “because that was back when shit was still racist, you know.” So, yeah, just one anecdote from just one black guy, but a tiny data point that suggests meager progress has been made.
And yeah, people here are generally bigger assholes than people in the other cities I’ve visited. There’s just more aggression than necessary, and the worst part is the way too many of the meatier-headed locals take pride in this constant, needless agitation. It’s pathetic to define yourself based solely on the city in which you happen to live, and infinitely more so if you take special pride in the city’s worst qualities. Too many people around here seek to ally themselves not with the world-class hospitals, universities, and Afflecks, but rather with the “Boston attitude,” which essentially boils down to, “Be a dick whenever possible, so as to remind people that you are not afraid of being a dick.” (Being a dick is very courageous, you see.)
As for the sports, who cares. Moving on, other notable demerits include our horrible accents and curious habit of celebritizing furniture salesmen. And a consistently great city might deify fewer Wahlbergs—just one, say, or maybe even zero. But those legitimate quibbles aside, Boston is a good city every day, and a great city on its best days. It’s not nearly as loathsome as the lazy critics claim; just because you drank too much when you went to B.U.—and then went through a bad breakup with a young woman from Braintree, and then moved to New York to become a big-shot typist—doesn’t mean you know anything significant about the city you happened to puke through during four of your stupidest years. Boston is good.
Boston is not, however, anywhere near as special as it thinks it is. I believe that delusion of civic grandeur (in addition to latent pain caused by young women from Braintree) is what annoys out-of-towners so much. Boston is unique to a certain degree, but no more so than Cincinnati or Pittsburgh is. Cincinnatians defend their weird chili, sure, but they don’t think it makes them any better than anyone else. And you never hear Pittsburghers bragging about their glorious surpluses of rivers and condiments; they just like their football team a whole lot. But Bostonians like to fight all day about how distinct and special our just-another-cool-medium-sized-city is.
So Boston has its strengths and weaknesses, just like everyplace else. Among our notable assets are Elizabeth Warren, America’s oldest marriage equality laws, and a police force that generally resists shooting unarmed people—even unarmed black people. Top that, New York. Another neat thing about Boston is that we have our marathon on Patriots Day, a more or less made-up holiday that makes it possible to run a marathon on a Monday morning.
This is the fourth year in a row that Samuel Adams has brewed 26.2, a limited-edition draft-only beer that can’t be found anywhere too far off the Boston Marathon course. They produce it in partnership with the Boston Athletic Association, and this is the third straight year that they’ve donated profits to the Greg Hill Foundation, which provides support for victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. That’s really cool.
Samuel Adams 26.2 is a gose, an old German style made with wheat and salt and spices (it’s not quite as weird as it sounds). It has a very light aroma—so light that I might have mistaken it for just another middle-of-the-pack wheat beer if I hadn’t remembered that you’re supposed to drink your beer once you’re done sniffing it. Turns out 26.2 is much more than artisanal ShockTop: As it opens up, the citrus and coriander notes intensify, and it has an uncommonly sweet midpalate that tastes vaguely of pumpkin spice and pears until the salt kicks in at the end to dry everything back out. It’s fun to drink.
Samuel Adams 26.2 is a good beer with an interesting history, much like Boston itself. There’s nothing particularly special or outstanding about it (it’s fairly mild for the gose style), nor does there need to be. This is a perfectly good beer, ideally suited to a special occasion in a perfectly good city.
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Image by Jim Cooke.
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and some of his closest friends have met Certified Cicerones. Find him on Twitter @WillGordonAgain.