Sunday, July 24, 2005

Do you remember your first time? Plus, the fish are flying in South Jersey!

I was wondering to myself a week or so ago, "What was the first beer I have ever had?" I was very surprised with my answer considering all of the "dark years" spent swilling mass produced, watered down, canned beer. I was 16 years old on the verge of turning 17, so this puts me back in the summer of 1979. My friends and I decided to start drinking beer. The legal drinking age was 18 and I was a big guy at that time, so I was the one elected to make the purchase at the liquor store. The three of us, after perusing the aisles, decided on one six pack of Moosehead Canadian Beer. My first beer was a real beer. Go figure. At that age, I would have thought that advertisements from Bud and Miller would have went right to our heads. I can even still sing the jingles to mass made Piels, Schmidts and Schaeffer. Those beers never even made the cut.

The funny thing is, I remember our next beers being from Molson, Heineken and Gennesee Cream Ale. Not bad for a teen age high school student. I won't get into the fact that a high school student shouldn't be drinking illegally and behind his parents back, but I will say, we drank way more responsibly in high school then we did when we were in college. A six pack between three guys? And if we happened to be in a car, believe it or not, one of our friends wouldn't drink a drop. A designated driver before they even came up with the term. That's the way it was for me back then, a couple beers every now and again, sometimes a little more. I don't know what happened when I was introduced to higher education. My taste in beer went down hill, as I guess my income did ( I had a lucrative job mowing lawns in High School). I remember a story that took place at college in Atlanta, where my friends and I found a local swill beer called Drewrys. It was about $8.00 a case, plus you returned the bottles for a $1.50 refund. When we were trying to hook up with girls we would tell them that we purchased an exotic French beer pronounced Drewray`. The sad truth is that I think the beer was brewed with water (unfiltered) from the Chattahoochie River. Oh, the headaches the next day.

Those college years were fun even though they were devoid of taste. I guess it would be a waste playing Quarter Bounce with Guinness Stout or Hoegarden. I figure a college kid's instinct is not too bad. It's tough to damage yourself when the only alcoholic beverage you have during the night, even in quantity, was Miller Lite. I used to say, "Boy this Miller Lite is great, about a 45 minutes after you stop drinking, you feel like you never even had one!"

The Fish are Flying in South Jersey...

Flying Fish Brewery from Cherry Hill, New Jersey has their seasonal Summer Farmhouse Ale on select taps and in bottles all around the North East. The Farmhouse Ale is a sharp, crisp beer with just enough hop flavor to make you go, "Ahhh, hoppy!" The beer is surprising light in color compared to the full taste. I enjoyed a few last night with a beautifully grilled steak, grilled eggplant (Aubergines, for you Europeans), yellow squash and grilled red potatoes. The meal was great due in no small part to the beer which was a major high-lite.

Also, try their Belgian Style Dubbel. Nice. And I have mentioned this before, I can't wait for September, because Flying Fish makes one of the best Octoberfest beers around there.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I ate the worm and the girl cried

My wife and I were visiting family over the weekend when the conversation turned to "crazy things that were done while intoxicated." My wife turned to me and said, "remember that time you made the Girl Scout cry at the Red Bank Music Festival." When I heard that, I knew I was in trouble. As she told the story, it made me laugh. A) Because it was funny and B) because of nostalgia. It used be when you were in your late teen years and early 20's, you could come up with a story like that every weekend, now it seems you are "lucky" if something funny happens every couple of years. Now, don't get me wrong, it is nice to grow up, but I will never begrudge someone a harmless intoxication every once in a blue moon.

My not yet wife and I were enjoying a hot, summer afternoon on the river at the Red Bank Music Festival with another couple. My buddy and I were enjoying a few beers and a occasional bottle of Snapple mixed with Rum (Not a good combo, especially in the heat). After a few hours, hunger set in, so we were off to visit the food booths set up around the park. As we stumbled around, we came upon a 4H booth where the volunteer was lecturing a pack of Brownie Girl Scouts on the merits and biology of the earth worm. After the class, the volunteer asked if there was any questions. I stepped up and asked, "What do they taste like?" Before there was an answer, I scooped a few up and wolfed them down. As we ran away, I could hear one of the Brownie Scouts crying over the fate of the swallowed worm.

Later that afternoon, we took a ride on a riverboat. A discussion ensued about "time". I chirped in with my two cents that time meant very little to me. To prove my point, I ripped off my favorite watch and much to the shock of many an innocent bystander, I threw it in the river. I miss that watch. Other than the memory of the hangover the next morning, you can see why my wife bringing up this discussion would provide a few chuckles. Like I mentioned at the top of the story, a harmless intoxication can be quite nostalgic.

Now, on to the beers.

Samual Adams Black Lager: This was a very good beer. Usually I am not too fond of the Sam Adams dark beers, but this one was done very nicely. Enjoyable. It will rank up there with the Sammy lager, ale, summer fest and winter fest brews.

Blanche de Chambly White Ale from Unibroue: Big disappointment. Hoegarden is one of my favorite white beers. This beer tasted exactly like Hoegarden. That was my disapointment. I wanted to try something that would taste differently. Couldn't taste the orange that the description said I would. I give the brewers credit though. Unibroue is a Canadian Brewery that brews Belgium style beer. Well, they got this one dead on.

Pierre Celis Signature Collection, Grotten Brown: Speaking of Hoegarden and Belgium beers, Celis is the man who got the party started. The Grotten Brown was aged in the Valkenburg Caverns. The beer tasted as good as it was rugged.

La Trappe Tripel: Trappist Ale brewed in the Abbey of Koning-Shoeven. Very smooth dark, strong ale. This Monk filled Abbey is in Holland. Which now makes it one of the few beers I enjoy from Holland.

Hennepin Ale: Ommegang Brewery, Cooperstown New York. A hoopy, crisp farmhouse ale, named after the priest who discovered Niagra Falls. Worth going over in a barrel for.

Becks Premier Light: I know, why would I even try this beer? One word, marketing. The TV Commercials brag about it having the fewest calories of any real beer. 64 calories per 12 oz. I wanted to see how much it tasted like water and the other water based light beers. Guess what? This beer has taste. Tastes like a real beer. I venture to say that it tastes better than most of our big brands' regular full bodied beers. This one will take the place of any other light beer for me. You have to try it.