Beer at Her Bar
Kirsten and I began our interview at the Ungs’ family Christmas on December 18th, 2016, with the warmth of family chattering in the background. We were only interrupted a few times by family members departing the festivities, cousins wanting to play toy-cars, and uncles grabbing the Coors light that is sitting in the outside refrigerator – the sub-zero Iowa weather dubbing as a cold box. Kirsten and I enjoyed a few beers during our time together, but we began with a Potosi Cave Ale, a Wisconsin-brewed beer. Kirsten’s love for beer flows through her veins,
“There are so many different levels of drinking beer that I love… I think a big turning point for me was seeing beer as sacred in one way, but then again just a good buddy when you need to feel relaxed in this moment.“
Her passion speaks from the edges of her eyelashes to the tips of her toes. We spoke about beers and the Ungs Manhattan (1 1/2 oz brandy, 1/4 oz dry vermouth, stir and serve on ice with 2 olives) and how much we both enjoy our Bud heavy – the light and refreshing classic, “if it’s cold even better. And if it says America on it, double the better!” But Kirsten’s unforgotten moment that beer “kicked it for her” was drinking beer in Denmark with her Danish Father and Uncle, in an underground and secretive wine cellar. Kirsten was the only American in a table full of suspecting Danes during a country-of-the month beer tasting. To her luck, this month they were featuring America. As many of us can sympathize, Kirsten was the first to pour her drink, and not realizing the strength of the beer (12% ABV), she pours her 16oz glass almost full. Her brows raise as she passed beer to the next person, and the next person, each only taking about 2 tablespoons. Giggling as she tells me, she was thinking, “oh shit, clearly they don’t have a lifetime supply of this beer”. Four hours and 20-or-so tastes of beer later, the weird and foreign Americans together with the Danes, submerged out of a dark basement as friends.
Beer can change people’s perspective of each other and it can really open people up. Maybe in a way that nothing else can. And it’s not about rosy cheeks and it’s not about getting a little bit tipsy, but it’s about gathering people and sitting down for one purpose, and that’s beer. But in turn it can bring about much more than that.Kirsten Sogaard
We continue the conversation talking about non-beer topics. I like to know two things about a person, why do you come alive? and what makes your heart break? Kirsten tells me how she comes alive when she rides her bike, Cherry Rose (Cherry for short). If she could, she would even make Cherry her lifelong means of income, delivering goods or tours on bikes – possibly even in Madison, WI where she currently resides. What breaks Kirsten’s heart is something I think everyone can relate to, and that is people in a power position taking advantage of the vulnerable, specifically when it comes to mental illness. We talked a lot about how this can mean a variety of things, but we ended deciding that if we start in small ways, discussion, and being present, we can create change. She is 26, an artist, a beautiful soul, and – stealing her own beer words from our interview – is inspiring as hell!
Just sit and listen to each other talk, and hear what the other people have to say, and cheers to something cold or room temperature. It can do beautiful things.Kirsten Sogaard
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