Harvey Penick a golf pro from Austin, Texas lived to the age of 98. Fifty of those years were spent teaching the game of golf. Over the years he accumulated his wealth of knowledge into what he called his “Little Red Book.” In 1992, Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons And Teachings From A Lifetime In Golf was published and became the greatest book ever published on the game of golf. This is not up for debate.
Beyond just it’s obvious lesson on golf Penick’s book of advice, rules, anecdotes, observations, and quips has broader applications.
One of the lessons centers on knowing and trusting one club. The basic premise is you need to have one club, that you know and can hit correctly every time. You know the length, the movement of the ball and the shape of the shot perfectly. This one club has all your trust.
For me, back before kids truly killed a game nearly countless surgeries couldn’t, my trusted club was my 7 iron. Time and again I would go to the range and spend an entire bucket of balls on my 7 iron. I loved the club. I hit it endlessly. When I was having a bad round (many of them) I always knew I could rely on that club. If I needed to lay up, dig out of some rough, or just get some confidence back, my 7 iron was there for me.
I loved this club so much that when I happened upon an old, used but matching one within a stack of abandoned clubs for sale I bought it. I own two; just in case.
It is great advice and I have on occasion applied it to other parts of my life; in cooking, work, music appreciation, and movies. I have one “thing” that is my go to, that I know better than any other.
When it comes to beer, my “go to” is the once-a-year Nugget Nectar by Tröegs Independent Brewing. Nugget Nectar is my 7 iron. There is no beer I know better. I have been drinking it every January and February for years. When Troegs releases its much beloved imperial amber ale, I scoop up as much of it as I can. Other beers fall to the side and I focus on Nugget Nectar.
I know Nugget Nectar through and through. The piney, citrusy, resinous flavors with a strong but subtle malty backbone help me define what I like about craft beer. It’s a steady post from which I can pin my taste, feelings, and thoughts about other beers. The juicy fruitiness, the bittering hops and the long lasting finish just work for my palate. When Nugget Nectar comes out, I buy a couple cases and drink it consistently until it’s gone. I hunt it down on draft when I visit the local bars and I drink both the cans and bottles. While I rarely drink the same beer twice in a row, I focus on this one beer for six to eight weeks each year.
Craft beer drinkers have a tendency to always be seeking out what is new or what is different; and that is great. I love trying new beers. Hunting down the newest release and finding new exciting offerings is part of the fun. Who doesn’t love building a mix-six of new, untried brews? But when was the last time you bought a case and drank them all without mixing it up, allowing you really focused on that one beer and learned it front to back? Does the beer change from the day it is freshest to two months old (Hint: They do. I bought a case of Nugget Nectar canned on January 11th. I had my first sip that day and after these weeks it’s different.) How does that change affect your interest or enjoyment of the beer?
Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book is for my pathetic golf game as Tröeg’s not so little red ale is for my beer drinking. I suggest to you that you find a beer you to can truly know… that you know better than any other beer. Go buy a case of a beer you really like and drink it over the next few weeks with little interruption by other beers, you might be surprised what it does for your taste.