Beer and Pavement

Creature Comforts

Posted in Intersections by SM on August 10, 2011

Creature comforts are the things we turn to in order to help us feel at home or at ease. When we’re not into the game of chance that comes with experimentation, we turn to these experiences to help us feel grounded, whole, or just like ourselves.

Two recent conversations reminded me of this importance.

The first happened at a local punk show last week. I was sitting with a guy and all we could talk about was music from the nineties, especially music from southwestern Ohio where we both originated. Earlier that same day, I had listened to The Afghan Whigs’ Gentleman and Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville, two all-time favorites I often turn to when nothing new suits my mood.

This music qualifies as a creature comfort. Time and time again, we turn to “comfort music” to satisfy that need to feel at home. If I’m feeling ill at ease, I’ll put on Pavement, Yo La Tengo, or Swearing at Motorists (among others). This music relaxes me or settles anxieties within. Inventions like iPods has made this easier, but I’ve always carried around at least a few old standbys just in case. Sometimes we call this being “stuck in a rut,” but I prefer to look at it as turning to old standbys for inspiration instead wasting large amounts of energy searching for the next big thing.

Like music, beer offers us comforts we shouldn’t forget. It’s Just Booze Dancing… did a review on Stone IPA and called it a “comfort beer.” A comfort beer is that beer you turn to when no other option seems tempting. You go with a comfort beer because you know it will be good.

My list of comfort beers is long. There’s Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale, Boulevard Tank 7, Boulevard Single-Wide, Schlafly APA, Arrogant Bastard, or that same Stone IPA IJBD… also cited. It can depend on the context as well. I’ll go for a Two-Hearted anywhere, but I know Tank 7 is always available at one bar and Single-Wide at a burger joint I frequent. APA is everywhere. Punk and rock clubs are now featuring lots of Stone. I suppose they like the gargoyle imagery, but I’m thankful either way.

Whatever the context or beer, comfort beers are nice to find, because you know what you’re getting and with what they’ll pair best. You don’t have to worry about a beer not meeting expectations or being something you didn’t want. The comfort beer is good every time.

While these creature comforts are good for relieving our anxieties and making us feel at home, they can be limiting. If I listen to nothing but Pavement, I might miss out on something new. Ditto if I drink nothing but Two-Hearted Ale. This is where the “rut” phrase comes in. You don’t want to be stuck in a rut and never venture out beyond your comfort zone. That’s when we miss out on life.

So, the creature comforts must be used wisely. I haven’t heard a new record in weeks that I really love, but the reissue of Archers of Loaf’s Icky Mettle just arrived in the mail and I’m pretty stoked to listen to that great record again. I just had an Oberon with my dinner, another comfort beer of mine. There’s time for this, but when something new comes along, I’m ready.

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5 Responses

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  1. G-LO said, on August 10, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Yo Zac!

    Well done on the article. I agree 100%! Anything can fall into the “Comfort” category. Music, beer, food, films, etc.. They’re like family. They make you feel at home. They have your back when everything else has let you down. But sometimes, you want to experience new things, expand your horizons, learn something new. The key is to know what to have and when.

    Thanks for the pingback!

    G-LO

  2. […] The Shins shortly after. My last beer I brewed was a repeated fav, Big Black. Old habits die hard. Creature comforts […]

  3. […] comfort and sentimentality of beer cans and vinyl records just feel right in the right context. It’s […]


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