Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Beer is Good... and Stuff

This blog was mostly started as an effort to consolidate my flailing (no, not "failing" or even "fledgeling") literally career into one spot. As such, I need to keep reminding myself that this blog is min; it doesn't belong to a writer who happens to share the same name and needs to behave. If anything it's probably pretty dull because I've been cutting the rest of myself off to try and push one aspect.

So I'm here to talk about something I like.

"No nose? How does it smell?" "It Sphinx!"
Beer is often thought of as the drink of choice for  big dumb guys, which isn't necessarily wrong but doesn't tell the whole story. This is a beverage with a history. Hell, the ancient Egyptians were pretty heavy beer drinkers, and look at some of the things they made.

Obviously not all beers are created equal. I'm not here to praise the likes of Coors or Bud Light, though I'll admit to drinking the latter on those occasions when I just want something cold and bland as an accompaniment to a snack, or if it's all a friend has on hand at a BBQ. 

"Woof! How about a feces-based lager?"
But I like to try all kinds of beers. As a native New Englander, it's required by law that a significant percentage of my barley, hops and yeast drinks are slapped with the Sam Adams label. Kind of a gilded cage. Well, except for the Cranberry Lambic, which has been mercifully removed from the holiday twelve packs after causing about four or five suicides. This is a beer that my parents' dog wouldn't drink. This is a dog that at an ornament off of their Christmas tree one year and regularly eats his own crap.

I don't know much about what goes into making a good or bad beer, but I know them when I taste them. For instance, any beer that contains the word "Milwaukee" was probably brewed from creamed corn. Say what you will about like Budweiser, it's not a bad beer so much as it is a McDonald's beer: it's not great but it's cheap and it's good enough. The same probably goes for any of a number of other macrobrews.

So what do I like? In general, really hoppy IPAs, but only on occasion. Stout once in a blue moon. Blue Moon every so often. Wheat beers, hefeweizen and Belgian whites are all favorites.

More specifically, I like the following.

Smuttynose's Old Brown Dog ale. Not a huge brown ale guy, but Smuttynose really made a tasty, toasty brew here.

Stone Brewery's aptly named Ruination IPA. I first had this at a place in Cambridge Mass by the name of Redline. Took one sip. Loved it. Then the bitterness set in and I swore as I unconsciously raised the drink to my lips again that I would never have another ever a--gulp whoops, I had more. This is an India pale ale that will torture you and leave you wanting more. It's an abusive relationship with great sex... in a bottle.

I like to stick with local brewers, and I've tried Plymouth Massachusetts based Mayflower Brewing's golden ale and IPA and wasn't amazed by either. Decent, but nothing spectacular. Color me amazed at their Winter Oatmeal Stout, which is somewhere between a beer and a desert. I'm not a huge stout guy (well, I am kind of a stout guy) but this blows the rest of their offerings out of the water, perhaps onto some kind of rock. Can't wait for winter.

Sam Adams's Cherry Wheat and Winter both get top marks in my book. Boston lager is decent. There's a lot of variations from the Boston Brewing Company, but they rarely do anything bad.

Not last and not least, but this entry is getting kind of long and I'd like to bring up my hometown favorite, Ten Penny Ale, which is wonderful because it only comes in growlers and you get to feel like a hillbilly drinking from a huge jug. Is it the best scotch ale in the world? Dunno, but it's good and it's made only a few miles from where I grew up and I give it extra marks for that.

Wow, think this is going to need a part 2.

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