Tuesday, July 12, 2016

MS and Beer Drinking

Beer and I go way back.

As a child – I can’t remember what age, but damn young – Dad would ask me to hand him a beer. I’d peel I would off the fliptop for him, take a sip, and pass the can along. Standard procedure.

In the eighth grade, my friends John, Jamie, and I somehow procured a six-pack of Colt 45. We drank it behind the movie theater. That was the first time I felt a buzz from alcohol.

During high school, I developed an intimate relationship with beer. Later, as a young adult, beer became a staple of my weekend diet. I remember a BYOB dance at the Knights of Columbus Hall, probably in our late 20s. Kim took charge of packing the cooler. At the dance, when I reached for my first beer I conducted an inventory: 1,2,3…9,10,11...15,16,17

“Kim. What the hell? You only brought 17 beers?”

“That’s all we had in the fridge.”

“Hopefully, someone will have extras at the end of the night. If not, since you’re the one that screwed up, I’m getting nine, and you’re only getting eight.”

Back then, it was all about quantity (and greed, apparently).

With age and MS, came moderation. Locally brewed craft beers became all the rage, and we learned to discriminate based on taste. By the age of 45, I had reduced my consumption to one or maybe two beers at a sitting, because being buzzed on alcohol with advanced MS isn’t fun.

A couple of years later, as my disease spread to my upper body, I struggled to lift a mug of beer, so I eschewed the craft beers on tap and settled for drinking out of a bottle again. Recently, even that task became too much. I tried sipping through a straw. Don’t do it—ruins the experience. Next, we switched to tiny glasses that I carried with me when we went out. Kim would order a beer and pour me a splash.

A new brewpub recently opened up in our neighborhood, and it's a beauty. (Yes, further evidence of my charmed existence.) The first time we visited Foulmouthed Brewing, Kim and I decided to order the sampler rack of four-ounce beers so we could try each of the six brews. After a few labored sips, I lost interest. Too much work. Kim offered to raise the glass to my mouth for me. I shrugged my shoulders.


This turned out to be a more complicated procedure than we had anticipated. Kim had to hold the glass at the perfect height, distance into my mouth, and angle. But the task that took us the longest to master was Kim raising the bottom of the glass so that I received just the right amount of beer each time. Too little – unsatisfying. Too much – a variety of problems. Things didn’t go well that first day, but we are persistent if nothing else. As much as I would’ve rather stayed home and watched reruns of Gilmore Girls, we dragged ourselves back to that damn pub and tried again, and again. We got the hang of it, even with full-sized mugs.

I was on the verge of giving up on beer, but now I’m back in the game. I’m good for maybe eight ounces per sitting, but that still makes me happy. So, if you find yourself at a Portland area restaurant, bar, or brewpub, and see a beautiful lady feeding a wheelchair guy his beers, don’t feel bad. Think about how lucky that guy is to still enjoy a locally brewed craft beer, hands-free.


  1. I always enjoy seeing you out and about, Mitch, whether it's in the coffee shop or the brewpub. We're lucky to have you in the neighborhood. Thanks for sharing your stories. Cheers!

  2. As Winston Churchill said, "Never give up."

  3. There are few things more delightful in life than the company of a beautiful woman and a glass of good beer. Now, you have combined the two in a unique and intimate way. Life is good...