When returning to a place you've known intimately following a long separation, it is, oddly, the small changes that are most discomfiting. The slice joint down the block has become an anonymous third-wave espresso shop. The trim of your former apartment building is now slicked in a lurid green. The small grocery store you used to frequent has inexplicably moved up half a block.
It’s been five years since I lived in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and walking around the brownstone-lined streets one solitary afternoon evokes a rush of complex feelings. Not every change is unwelcome, though. The beer selection at that grocery store, for instance? It's much better than I remember. It’s a pattern I encounter all over the city: vastly increased plenitude and variety and quality of beer compared to back when these were my stomping grounds. Here, at Greene Grape Provisions, Maine Beer Company’s MO and Mean Old Tom sit side-by-side in the fridge. Bourbon County rubs shoulders with a Brett Saison from Blackberry Farm. Grimm’s vibrant Berliners are within easy reach.
As a UK resident, it’s hard to know what to do with such abundance. It's also strange to encounter beers that are normally bundled into suitcases and carefully cradled at bottle shares just, like, sitting so ordinarily on the shelf. In the end, I take as many bottles as I can carry. Some I’ll share during the holidays and some I, too, will roll up in my softest sweaters to carry back overseas.