Kids, I know you hate the smell of beer brewing by our hotel when we visit LA. But I think it is wonderful, and it has a special memory to me.

I know your mom told you the story of how we first met, and what a dork she thought I was. How I was wearing all black when I met her and her roommate (my close friend) to go to a movie at the Art Museum. I was really only wearing all black as a joke for my friend, I didn’t know any women would be joining us. Of course I was pretty clueless back then, so maybe I would have dressed all wrong anyway…

But I did a little better because the three of us laughed at the movie, while everyone else say stone-faced taking it seriously.

What was the movie? It was called Tokyo Decadence, you know what, it’s really not appropriate.

You remember mommy told you how afterwards the three of us went out and I kind of freaked mommy out. When she told me she was a statistician, I got all excited because I was so into baseball statistics. Mommy had never met anyone who got excited about statistics before — including other statisticians.

You want to know what this has to do with the beer smell, don’t you?

So back then, I brewed beer. Why don’t I do it anymore? Well because I have two little people living in my house who constantly need things from me and that doesn’t leave me a lot of energy for making beer. Also, I’m just not as good at it as the guys at Dogfish Head.

Making beer is pretty special, because what happens is you make a huge mix of boiled malt, seasoned with hops, and dump it into a jug of cold water. When it cools, you put in yeast. The yeast are tiny one-celled creatures that eat the malt — which is mostly sugar — and poop out alcohol.

You don’t care? Well this is my story, so you have to sit and listen to it.

Right so basically, when I drink beer I’m drinking poop. Laugh away. Here is the thing, the alcohol eventually kills off the yeast. At first it is yeast heaven in there, and the little guys are eating away and probably building advanced yeast civilizations. But then they begin polluting their world and killing themselves. I wonder if there are little yeast environmental activists who campaign to control yeast population growth. But their cause is hopeless, the yeast just can’t help themselves.

What does this have to do with mommy? Oh, right.

So I lived in a grubby apartment with this guy who I had gone to college with and was working with. We had been friends when we moved in, but after a while we were starting to get on each other’s nerves. One day I brewed a batch of beer but left the windows of the apartment closed so the beer odor lingered.

My roommate said this was disgusting (I disagreed, I thought it must have smelled way better then two gross guys). But he said it made him gag and insisted that I, “Get it out of there right away.”

So I called my good friend, he didn’t mind my bringing it over and finishing up the batch, but he wasn’t going to be home. His roommate would be. She said I could bring it by and finish it up.

And I did. You know your mom, right? There was no way I could do any kind of work and not have her start helping.

So we made beer together and drank beer together. And we talked and we kissed, and that was our first date.

That is why the smell of beer being made is so special to me — I think it is the best smell in the world.

Originally published at on February 14, 2016.

AAAS Policy Fellow, formerly @UMIACS (specializing in international security), did a PhD on vice presidents, interested in a lot of stuff

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