I’ve never understood shower beers.
Showering while drinking beer is multitasking and, like a 2013 study found, even though people think that they’re doing all the things well while multitasking, they’re actually doing all the things poorly.
Try as I had, repeatedly, to enjoy a shower beer, my body only ever felt half clean and my beer half enjoyed.
Then COVID-19 and self-quarantine and working from home with my wife working from home and my toddler-aged son being at home all the time hit. Time narrowed. The windows of opportunity for relaxation shut as quickly as they opened.
My daily shower was the only true, uninterrupted time I had to myself. And during one of these showers I thought: Damn, I could use a shower beer if only I was the kind of person who enjoyed a shower beer.
But just as quickly, another thought emerged, as if delivered from on high…
What about a bath beer?
As with all ideas I think might be a good idea, I ran it by my wife first.
“You mean taking a bath in beer?” she said.
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“No, like a shower beer. Only I drink a beer in the bathtub.”
“Does that mean I get time by myself?” she asked, ever the only child.
Three weeks later (because this is the way scheduling now works during COVID-19), I prepared myself for my first-ever bath beer.
On the day of, my wife, frequent taker of relaxing baths, peppered me with tips on how best to enjoy my experience. (Only later did I discover her true motivations: The more time I spent in the tub, the more time she had alone.)
And so what follows are the lessons I’ve learned, both from my wife and through my experience, as to how to fully relish a bath beer.
Bath Beer Law of Enjoyment #1: You Need a Very Specific Form of Lighting
“Light a candle,” my wife said. “Because if you use the overhead lighting in the bathroom you’re going to see all sorts of disgusting things in the tub.”
Thoughts of floating hairs, long and short, plus whatever scuzz falls off my toddler forced me to quickly adopt this tactic.
Manuel Breva Colmeiro
“And make sure its an unscented candle or else it’ll mess with the taste of your beer,” she added, as my love for her swelled and deepened.
For the same reasons of aromatic interference, it’s important not to use scented bath products—just in case you’re the kind of guy who prefers a lavender bubble bath.
Bath Beer Law of Enjoyment #2: You Need a Somewhat Specific Kind of Beer
The ideal shower beer, as friends have told me, is light and refreshing—a traditional American macrobrew light lager or a session IPA.
In my naïvety, I thought that a bath beer should strike counter to a shower beer—a Belgian tripel or IPA with some oomph.
So I selected a local beer (buying from the big guys just doesn’t seem as morally sound during these tough times): a hazy IPA called Nellie’s Cane, brewed by Well Crafted in Landsdale, PA.
Nellie’s Cane is a delicious beer, but it is 7% ABV and I am almost 35 years old. Those two factors, combined with the sweating and dehydration that occurs during a hot bath, eventually created the foundation for a dull-but-persistent, next-day hangover.
A hangover that was worth it, yes, but next bath beer I’ll go with something more like a shower beer: around or under 5% and refreshing.
Bath Beer Law of Enjoyment #3: You Need a Very Deep Sense of Commitment
Here is where bath beers differ from and excel compared to shower beers.
During a shower beer, the beer has to play sidekick to the shower. During a bath beer, you reverse the roles.
A bath beer is all about the beer and, because of that, the experience is focused, singular, and meditative.
Like a yoga session, interval lap, or your third reading of the same freaking book with your toddler after a long day of work—you have to push yourself into the moment in order to derive the benefits.
During my bath beer, I had to reorient myself several times that what I was doing was something I was allowed and entitled to do. Thoughts of work kept popping up, as did COVID-paranoia and to-do lists. But I had to push them all aside.
Or, sip them aside, rather.
Every time a thought arose, I took a slug of Nellie’s Cane, and swallowed the distraction. Soon enough, as the beaded sweat from my brow began to slide down my face, I felt my brain unwind. I watched the steam arise from the bath. I studied the dimpled condensation on my beer glass. I attuned myself to the static hum of nothingness.
And then—and only after fully committing to and pushing into the moment—something wondrous happened.
In the quiet heat of the bathroom, I could hear my pulse.
And, as I listened to the steady metronome of my lifeline, I tried to slow it. I extended my breath, took my last sips of beer, and focused on the thump-thump-thump.
Bath Beer Law of Enjoyment #4: You Need Closure
Gary John Norman
A shower has a natural end to it: You’re finished when you’re clean.
But a bath is less definitive. (And I’d argue you’re never really clean.)
You could end your bath beer when you finish your beer, but the fullest extent of my relaxation came after I’d taken my last sips.
So I decided that my bath beer was over when my body told me,”Yeah, you should probably get out.” It’s that same feeling of when being in a sauna quickly moves from “this is nice” to “this is actually kind of awful.”
But then, after I very carefully removed myself from the tub and toweled off, I still didn’t feel finished.
So I did the only thing I knew would bring me closure.
I took a shower.
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