Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More beer blogging...

Okay, first for my Foreignese readers, we'll get the dusty old joke out of the way:

Q: "Why is American beer like making love in a canoe?"

A: "Because it's f___ing close to water."

Har-de-har-har. It must suck to realize that the IPAs coming out of Cali totally pwn anything brewed on the Auld Sod... ;)

Anyhow, to continue the discussion going on over at PDB's place, on to my alleged beer snobbery, and hopefully on the way incidentally dispelling some beer myths:

1) I hate American beers.

Actually, every beer I really like is an American beer. The hoppy IPA may have been born in England, but it got its Green Card over a decade ago, and hasn't lived there since.

2) I think Budweiser sucks.

I think Budweiser, Coors, Michelob, and various other megabrews that have cheapened up by diluting their mash with filler grains like rice taste bland. But...

3) I worship microbrewed beers.

Sierra Nevada and Flying Dog are hardly microbreweries these days, and I think that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Snake Dog IPA are eminently drinkable brews. Conversely, I've had plenty of supposedly fantastic microbrewed beers that were just, well... lame. For example, I know my Texian friends will recoil at the sound of this, but after my first taste of Shiner Bock, my immediate reaction was "What was all the fuss about? This tastes bland..."

4) I like dark, chewy beers you can't see through.

While I'm not averse to a good Stout on a cold winter night, I vastly, vastly, prefer Pale Ales, India Pale Ales, and their ilk. These are not particularly dark; they tend to be of a blonde-to-golden color. Snake Dog is much more transparent than, say, Killian's. I like hoppy beers. Pilseners, Lagers, Bocks, and all manner of other beers tend to leave me indifferent at best. For me, it's about the flavor, not the pedigree: I don't care if a beer was brewed in the depths of the Schwarzwald by blind monks using an original Sumerian recipe and costs $1,000,000/oz., if it doesn't rate at least in the high 40s on the IBU scale and remain fairly devoid of too much malty sweetness, I'm not interested. (The Ruination I so enjoyed the other night scores north of 100. If you don't squirt lemon into your espresso and chase it with alum, it might seem a bit bitter to you.)

What it really boils down to is this: Having grown accustomed to extremely hoppy beers is like having gotten used to habanero squeezins on your TexMex; it can leave your taste buds a little scorched. Once that happens, it can be hard to enjoy plenty of authentic Mexican food because it's just not as spicy as you've come to expect. The same has happened with me and beer: There are plenty of good beers out there that I can really no longer enjoy because I've become so accustomed to the taste of hops, but as long as there are companies making big, hoppy IPAs, I'll just have to keep muddling through as best I can. :)


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you've discovered the "big" (higher alcohol) beers; and yes, you can only get them in liquor stores in Tennessee. We can't get them at all in Alabama, but lucky me, I live on the TN border.
I recommend that you try Rogue Imperial IPA in the 750 ml stoneware bottle.


Art Eatman said...

I gotta disagree with some of your views that center around the idea that if something isn't tasty to you, it's somehow "bad". That's the impression I get from what you wrote.

For me, there are many varieties of booze or beer that don't appeal to my taste buds. So what? Why should anybody else care? If somebody else likes what I don't, that's their business.

I grant that Bud ain't what it was a half-century back, but at the end of a hot and sweaty day it's a pretty good dust-cutter. Wathcing the light show on the Chisos at sundown, I'd rather have a Dos Equis dark. :)

Alpine now has a German guy who started a micro-brewery, ranging from light to dark. Good food at his Edelweiss restaurant, too...



Marc said...

Amen Tam.

And Art, "if something isn't tasty to you, it's somehow "bad". I didn't hear that at all. She basically said that with her accustomed ("scorched" I think she said) tongue she prefers stronger tasting foods. Once you go Hops you can't go Bock. Hehe.

Anonymous said...

Since you mentioned Delirium Tremens... Unibroue out of Canada has an excellent collection of "ale on lees." Maudite, La fin du monde, and Blanche du chambly, for starters. Awesome stuff.

mdmnm said...

Re: Shiner Bock- I agree that it is far from the best micro-brew or craft beer out there. On the other hand, my fondness is partly parochialism (even though I'm out of state now), partly thrift (it is frequently the cheapest craft or micro-brew on tap), partly circumstance (not what I choose when I'm sitting around sipping and savoring, but just the thing to wet my throat at a REKjr. concert), and partly nostalgia. As to the latter, back when I started college, one of the few beers you could easily get that wasn't one of the big brewery products or a foreign copy thereof was Shiner Bock, which had more flavor than any of the more mainstream stuff. Sam Adams was also around, but I never cared for it much. Occassionaly you would find Negra Modelo....

D.W. Drang said...

I used to get crap from the other guys in the barracks when I'd bring back a six pack of something, usually imported, (mid-80s, few micro-brews available in Monterey CA) that cost as much as the 12 or 18 pack of horse piss they were drinking. I was drinking for pleasure, they were looking to get messed up. Then one evening the loudest critic of "fag foreign beer" was sipping martinis and eating brie...
Now I live in the Pacific Northwest, where you can't turn around without bumping into a micro-brewery. Heaven!
Agree on Shiner Bock, BTW. Saws the raving on The High Road, tried it, and though "What's the fuss?"

cleanhead of alpine said...

Well, at one time Shiner Bock was the only game around for those of us who wanted something other than another version of "America's fine, light beer". Now there is a dang microbrewer on every corner.

Anonymous said...

I like the IPA's too. But you ought to consider Japanese beers too. They're grrrrate!!!

Art Eatman said...

The deal about Shiner Bock started in the early days of thefiringline.com. One of the moderators for whatever reason had become enamored of it. Well, he's a helluva good guy, so it got to be sort of an in-joke thing.

I sorta like it, in part because the Spoetzl family that started the brewery were "cousins of cousins". Us good ol' krauts from Shiner, Hallettsville, New Ulm, Schulenberg...

And it's dang sure better than most U.S. beers.

Back 50 years ago in France, Dortmunder was my favorite. Those ten-ounce bottles of 9% could get your attention. I've always been a bit hacked off at my father: He and a squad "liberated" the bank in Dortmund--with a bazooka--and took a couple of duffel bags of money to the brewery to get some beer. They asked if the money was any good. The braumeister replied, "For that, you can buy the whole brewery!"

Shame he didn't...


RHT447 said...

If the wind is right, I can get a whiff of whatever is being brewed at Sierra Nevada while at work:

Safer Arms Indoor Range
Chico, CA

My taste leans towards their Pale Ale and Wheat beer.

Todd said...

Unfortunately prohibition left us with a pretty nasty legacy in mass produced beers.

Have you ever brewed your own IPA?

Anonymous said...

You know, to be perfectly honest, I fell for the hype about Shiner courtesy of TFL.

When I finally found it on a whim in the beer case at the local grocery, I bought it and tried it.

"Bleah, this tastes metallic...what's so great about this beer?"

A couple of years later, I found a 6-pack of "Lone Star" at the local beermonger.

"Hey, this is alot better than Shiner...Tastes a little like J.W. Dundee's Pale Ale..."

To each is own, I guess.

Dave said...

First of all, I like Shiner, so consider the following recipe in light of that.

3 lb ground beef
1 small or 1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 healthy cloves garlic, minced
1 bottle Shiner Bock

Combine all of the above. Place in refrigerator or freezer until it congeals enough to hold its shape (the beer will really thin it out). Form into burgers and grill. Serve with sauteéd mushrooms and thick-sliced deli bacon.