Howdy friends! I hope you’re ready for another monthly installment of beer-related ramblings!
This time, I’m going to share some thinky-words with you that came to my brain during a recent trip to Ohio. (Which, although it may not seem like an awesome place to visit, is pretty radass, given the beer selection!) Long story short, we’re going to discuss regional craft beer, and what makes it so great. Think of all the out of state goodies you can’t get where you live…are you drooling yet? I thought so. The question is, “WHY” are you drooling? Is there a specific beer or brewery that tickles your proverbial pickle? (I haven’t come up with a female equivalent of “Pickle”. Sorry. I’ll get on that, ASAP.) Adversely, is there a beer or brewery from your home town that you wish you could share with the world? In this blog, I’ll share my thoughts about these topics with you, and experiences involving beer, travel, and other things that may or may not make you fat. (People under 25 beware…. Your metabolism WILL catch up with you one day. Mark my words.) So without further ado, prepare for my brainfarts.
We all have that friend that knows a guy, that knows a guy, that knows another guy in another state that mails him all sorts of amazing shit we can’t get, and constantly dream about, right? Of course we do… This is why we always see those infuriating
posts on Facebook with pics of beer hauls that make us say “WHEN LORD?!?!? WHEN DO I GET TO SEE THE GODDAMN SAILBOAT?!?!?”.
Relax for a second, and think about it. WHY do we want these impossible to find beers? Is it because they’re highly rated? Is it because a friend said that *Insert name here* was “The best BLAH-BLAH I ever had”? Or is it just because we can’t get these beers we lust after? Personally, I find it to be a mixture of all three.
Take our fine state of Texas, for Example. We have some insanely tasty beers to be proud of here, including, but not limited to offerings such as the following :
I could continue to list damn tasty Tejas beers for days, until I’m blue in the face. The groovy thing about said above list is that several of said beers I mentioned have won GABF awards, or are considered highly rated on several beer-radass sites. (Remember friends, we aren’t “beer-geeks”, or “Beer-snobs”… We’re “Beer Radasses”. That should be a thing, don’t you think?)
If you’ve ever done a trade, you know damn well that everyone EVERYWHERE
wants Jester King. My question to you is this : WHY? I’d like your feedback. Personally, I love JK, and truly appreciate how far they have come not only as a brewery, but as a group of innovators and advocates for craft beer. I can also say, that come Shotgun Friday, I’d rather have a cold Hans Pils in my hand than almost anything else you can see through. So, other than the obvious, it’s pretty damned safe to say that we’re brewing up some excellence here in our fine state. Yes? Good, I’m glad we agree. Moving on.
Travel. Ah, how I love and hate it. I remember back in the day when “security” was going through the little metal detector and hopping your happy ass on a plane. When checking a bag was cheap as hell, if not free, and no one gave two sparrow-farts if you had booze in your luggage. Security these days is a nightmare, to say the least, but that’s a different topic. Any time my family and I take a little vacation, I always look forward to seeing what’s new wherever we’re going, and doing my best to decide what to smuggle back home. At the end of our honeymoon, my lovely wife and I brought home at LEAST 7 cases of Independence beer from Austin! (Mostly amber and a smattering of Bootlegger, Stash, and Convict Hill.) Bootlegging home Austin beer is one of my favorite parts of heading down that way. That being said, I also hate long drives involving the stupidity of other people who have no right owning a drivers’ license. But, as usual, I digress. No matter where you go in our great country, there is always some brewery you have never heard of that someone, somewhere, has good things to say about. It’s things like this that make travel for any serious beer-radass amazing. I’m always impressed by the amount of regional offerings that aren’t available across the country when I travel anywhere outside my little DFW home.
Ohio was no exception. For starters, if you make it up that way, I have to say that it IS IMPERATIVE that you get your hands on some Columbus Brewing Company IPA! Being a huge fan of anything hopped with Simcoe, and also the fact that Simcoe, one of Mosaics’ parental hop-units, is the main contributor to this beer, You should know full-well that I’m down like Charlie Brown. CBC IPA pours a crisp golden-amber, with a huge fluffy head, that leaves behind wispy lace. The nose smells like angel-farts, and rich, grassy hops. The palate is awash in peach, grapefruit, pineapple, and crackery & dry malts. It’s perfect, is what I’m trying to say, I guess. This beer almost made me want to move to Ohio. For real-real. But CBC wasn’t the only amazing brewery from the great O-H state that popped my top, no Sir. Thirsty Dog brewing had some amazing offerings as well, not to mention Jackie O’s, and Elevator Brewing. As an added plus, New Holland is a “shelf-beer” up there… (See also : DRAGON’S MILK, EVERYWHERE.) And you can buy liquor in the grocery stores, which is pretty far out too, coming from Texas. Which brings me to my next point.
Down here in Texas, I’ve always been somewhat in touch with what sells well, especially in my store. As a retailer of beer and wine, that’s kinda part of my job description, right? For example, Stone Brewing. In our neck of the woods, Stone limited release stuff practically flies out the door, without any help from myself, or co-workers. Ironically, this isn’t the case up in Ohio!
On one of my many beer-forays whilst on vacation, I found several bottles of Stone Old Guardian Barleywine (2013 vintage, bottled 1-16-2013, if you care.) just SITTING on the shelf, in the cooler, at a Giant Eagle grocery store. I approached the cashier, and began to pay for the brain-exploding purchase I’d stumbled upon, I struck up a conversation. It went something like this:
<Me> Holy crap, dude! It’s not every day you find Stone OG from last year sitting on the shelf…
<Cashier> Really? I love Stone, but it just doesn’t sell here… It’s like people don’t know what they’re missing, and junk. It just sits on the shelf. (I’m Paraphrasing^^^)
<Me> Are you kidding? Stone sells like whoa down in Texas where I’m from….
<Cashier> Not kidding, Man. It blows my mind how great stuff like this can come into our store, and just sit…. I see people buy bud and coors, and think “Why in the hell do they drink that piss”?
<Me> Brother, I’m right there with you. *Shakes cashiers hand* Have a good day.
I was knocked for a loop! Here was a guy, a cashier, a random employee, who echoed the same sentiment I’ve been spouting for years. “Why do people buy crap beer like Bud, Miller, or Coors, when there is so much good stuff available out there?”. That tiny conversation was the inspiration for this whole blog. It really stuck in my head! In fact, being a Craft-enthusiast, and home brewer, I think its’ fair to say that said conversation inspired me. It gave me the drive to get off my lazy butt and write this post. It also drove me to work harder at converting the folks who come into my store every week, looking for beers from “The Big Three” to REAL, Craft, beer.
I spent a good 20 minutes today explaining to a wonderfully nice older couple, who had recently read a somewhat misleading, but slightly factual article about mass-produced beers containing certain “Chemicals” or “Additives”, and how Craft beer doesn’t have said crap added to it. (If you’re part of a dedicated Craft Beer group, or page, you probably know which article I’m talking about.) They left with a few six-packs, and what I hoped to be, a decent amount of knowledge about great beer. If they come back in a few days, I will high-five myself, and come home and have a radass Craft beer. Additives. Adjuncts. Chemicals. Crap. Yikes!
So, as for this installment, I’ve spouted off about as much as I feel the need to! (I hope you enjoyed it…) And as usual, would love to hear your feedback. Where, dear reader, have you recently traveled, and found liquid gold? What piqued your palate, and made you want to move to wherever you were, to be closer to a brewery that blew your mind? What did you NOT like, and why? Also, what did you bring home, that you would be willing to share with myself, and my pals from the Beer Drinkers’ Society? I promise we’d love you forever…
In closing, wherever you are, and whoever you are: Thank you for reading my ramblings, and hopefully, you got a good chuckle or two out of them. I hope you enjoy today, and tomorrow, as well as the beers that they may bring. If you have any questions, comments, or just want to bitch at me for how long-winded I am, you can reach me at Mattdabeerguy01@gmail.com . Have a great week, fellow Beer-Radasses, and cheers!!!