Sunday, April 13, 2008

Beer

It has been hinted on this blog and blatantly stated on another blog that I like beer. Now, I'm not saying that I like hitting the beer bong and slamming back a few Buds. What I'm talking about is my growing appreciation for good beer, finely crafted lagers, pale ales, IPA's, stouts, porters, etc.

It all started back in my freshman year of college when I realized that Busch Light and Natty Light were not cutting it for me anymore. Of course, options like Rolling Rock and Mickey's wide-mouths were not much better, but I was branching out. I was realizing the trade-off of price for flavor was not worth it anymore.

I then went through my phases with various imports. Heineken was too often skunked. I always got sick on Corona...I mean always. People gave me a funny look with that tall, shapely Sapporo can. This tendency toward imports only led me to more bad beer. That is, until I found the perfect import.

Then, trying to be ironic, I picked up a Guinness. (This was way before that stupid ad campaign that has somehow tranformed Guinness into everyman's beer.) While many will argue that this stout only pales in comparison to many craft-brewed stouts or the same beer served in an Irish pub about seven degrees warmer, it is to this day one of my standard beers of choice. I know that I can always down a couple of Guinness if there's nothing else to drink. It actually got to a point in college that I wasfinishing off two 22-oz. glasses at happy hour with the teachers from the school where I was student-teaching before taking in a few more pints at Bernie's later in the evening.

This obsession with dark beers led me to branch out some more. Sam Adams was probably my first introduction to craft beers. Sure, it's not really a microbrewery, but we all have to start somewhere. Sam Adams allowed me to try more and more beers with stronger flavor. I learned that my search for good beer could coincide with my search for great indie bands. Small, locally-owned operations were able to provide a uniqueness not found in corporate packages.

Living in Columbus, OH, I found that local brewers at Columbus Brewing, Hoster's, and Barley's were all making richly flavored beer that satisfied my new interest in finer beer. Other breweries in the region began to sneak into my 'fridge. Great Lakes Brewing Company out of Cleveland makes the best lagers, something I didn't think possible in this country. Brewers from Michigan and Pennsylvania began to sneak into our stores in Columbus and it boomed from there. Nationally, the craft brewing movement took off, almost parallel to the success of indie rock.

There was another turning point when I was introduced to Bell's various brews. A couple of local bars began serving seasonal beers from the brewery which hails from Kalimazoo, MI. Two-Hearted Ale is a regular on my menu today. Their summer wheat ale, aka Oberon, is anticipated every spring. There's nothing like that orange slice in the bottom of your pint glass after downing an Oberon. This, of course, is only the tip of the iceberg of extreme beers.

I have since been exposed to a myriad of micro brews and craft beers that acheive flavor extremes that I would have never anticipated when I sipped on my first light, American lager. The so-called "extreme beer movement" has me spending way too much time and money on beer. It also doesn't help that R bought me a subscription to All About Beer and this guy moved to COMO with all his beer-snobbery (both of which are appreciated).

Now, as I await the Oberon mini-keg to make its return to Hy-Vee and contemplate which beer I shall try next at Flat Branch, I come to realize that beer is the new obsession that will undoubtedly lag once my spawn arrives. This new vice is not at the same level (nor will it ever be) as my indie rock obsession, but it's getting close.

6 comments:

jeff said...

And Sycamore. They are really turning into a great bar. They rotate good taps and have the best rotating bottle list.

Jake said...

I am a huge beer fanatic as well. My roommates and I have a bottle collection consisting of over 275 different beers. I have gotten to the point, though, that I can't remember what I like.

However, my favorites are:

Guinness
Young's Double Chocolate
Pranqster (North Coast Brewery)
Fat Tire
Old No. 38 (North Coast)
Newcastle
Duvel

When in doubt, go with Belgian Ales, Trappist Ales, or stouts. For me.

Oh, and we have the Edmund Fitzgerald Great Lakes bottle in the house, along with 10 different Bell's bottles.

Feel free to recommend if you find something good, I am always looking for something to impress me.

comoprozac said...

Check out Jeff's blog. He covers anything that may or may not come through town. He swears by Sycamore's selection.

gemmanuel said...

This post is making my mouth water. I can definitely relate to your obsession, and appreciate the evolution of it. Ever try the Ommengang beers? Their Abbey Ale is an amazing facsimile of a Belgian ale like Chimay - - made in Cooperstown!

comoprozac said...

Yes, I have. Jeff (the first guy to comment) introduced me to Ommengang. They are good.

Lauren Kilberg said...

Jake is not exaggerating when he says he and his roommates have a collection of over 275 bottles. They're proudly displayed on shelves lining their kitchen and common room. I date his roommate, through which I have tried more beers then I can remember. I try so hard to like beer, really I do, but somehow Stagg is still my top choice. Mainly, because it taste very little like a good beer.