Just two years ago, I couldn’t stand beer.

My uncle ordered this bottle. When he wasn't looking, I stole a few swigs. I recommend it.

Hops. Barley. Water. Some other bitter stuff. I didn’t want it. If I tried to choke it down, it had to be when it was cold. Warm beer was an absolute no no.

Now, after being in the business world for a while and traveling a bit, I realize the importance of beer. When I was working the conference in Phoenix last week, I learned of several business transactions that took place at pubs. If someone came up and offered us a bottle or a pint, even while we were working, we accepted. One beer was so hoppy I could’ve been chewing on flowers, but I finished every last bit.

One of the best places to meet people when you travel? Bars. Pubs. Places where you can go, sit, and nurse a pint. Or two. Or a few.

The bartender and I may have flirted a bit, but he lost all interest when he saw me attack the Scotch eggs they brought out. His loss.

Beer drinkers are perceived as more approachable, more laid back. Wine is great with fine dinners or for nights when I’m curled up on the couch watching movies in my pajamas. I tackle hard liquor when it’s time to party hard. But beer is easy and more everyday. No fuss, nothing to clean up.

I know jack squat about beer. I think I know what hops are thanks to some Sam Adams Brewery commercials that aired a few years ago. Barley… maybe that looks like wheat. It’s fermented, or something. Ales versus IPAs versus stouts versus lagers versus dark versus light versus Guinness, which is in its own category. I actually quite like Guinness.

When I first started drinking, it was wine coolers and Smirnoff and the fruitiest, sweetest drinks I could get my hands on. Now I wouldn’t drink that stuff even if it were offered to me for free. I guess that means I’m growing up.