Enough of this “French Wine Talk“! How about a little working-class discussion of beer?!? Yeah!!!
Here’s how I break it down… There are four classes of beer:
- First are the 1970’s era Ortleibs, Blatzes, and “Green Deaths” – the stuff of frat parties and cheap fishing trips. About the best that can be said for those is that they didn’t taste any worse coming up than they did going down.
- Second come the Buds, Millers, and Coors of the world…Alrighty then… How about a beer to go with those chips? These suds aren’t horrific, and so long as you get them cold enough and add enough salty snacks (peanuts, pretzels, Slim Jims, salt licks…) they’re pretty good, especially if your team is winning. A couple of quick side notes about “The Big Three” from St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Golden… America didn’t always have a taste for “ice-cold” beer. In fact, it wasn’t until the early part of the 20th century that refrigerated freight cars made it possible to ship local beers coast to coast. Add to that the influence of WWII and the introduction of lighter-alcohol, and less-balanced beers (Rosie the Riveter was not a German Braumeister), and the need for cold beer skyrocketed. Finally, the “supermarket-standards” are good for cooking. I kid you not.
- What next? The good stuff… Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada, Tsingtao all leap to mind. Natch that different styles (ales, lagers, lights, darks, ad infinitum) may or may not appeal to you. But this is the stuff of real beer. I like to think of beer as a food, and see how it knits with other food. Taste references run the gamut from cheese and sausage for darker beers, to pretzels with mustard for lighter beers, and finally to delicate Chinese food like egg rolls for delicate beers such as Tsingtao. So much is subjective, but common sense and experimentation rule the night.
- And then there are the home brews and brew pubs. (Don’t get hung up on the glitz of the brew pub – some are great and some produce yak spit.) Once again, there is a gradient, from sub-sterno to best-on-earth… Many moons ago, I was a pretty serious home brewer, and I gotta say that a good home brew will blow away any commercial product. Two sources I used to live by were the author Charles Papazian and Midwest Supplies. Between those two alone, they’ve got you covered. BTW (and I ain’t bragging), the finest beer I ever had was a red ale I brewed myself. Did I save the recipe? Nooo!!!
So there you go, a thumbnail of real beer for real folks who don’t necessarily have a mansion in Newport.
See you by the coolers,