Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Go for a Pint?

Go for a pint? Grab a beer? When I lived in Ireland, me mates would say, "Do you want to meet for a pint?" Back home in the US, my friends say, "Let's grab a beer." A friend of mine from South Africa asked the question, "How about going out for a few ales?" This last one always confused me a bit, because he would always order a lager. After a few outings, I finally told him that if he wants to go out for a few ales, he has to at least drink one. He explained to me that where he was from, ale meant beer in general, not style. Needless to say, I forced a pint of bitter on him before he switched to his, dare I say it....Danish Lager. How about the Aussies? The ones that I knew, called a beer a beer. Just like us Yanks. When I eventually ended my stay in Europe, I tried to bring the vernacular to my old stomping grounds. I tried saying, "Lets go for a pint." Since most of my friends are big Guinness fans, I even tried, "Let's grab a few stouts." Niether one seemed to flow as well as, "Do you want to grab a beer?"

The other big difference I noticed concerning drinking terminology was how we address our local drinking establishments. In England and Ireland, they refer to their watering hole as the "Pub" or as their "Local." As in, "I spent the afternoon at my local." Or, as in, "We went to the Pub." The Irish and English never really used the proper name of the pub. They talked about it as if you knew exactly which one of a hundred pubs they were referring to. And as far as they were concerned, amongst themselves, they knew exactly which pub they were referring to. Overhere, it is a different ball game. We tend to use the proper name of the bar that we frequent. If it is a one word name, like Gregory's, we'll use the whole name. If it is a long name or two words, we'll chop it up or give it a nick name. For instance, Skelly's High Point Pub, would be "The High Point". The Rod and Reel Tavern would be "The Rod" and The Greater Pittsburgh Irish Pub would be "The Pitt." So rather than say, "Do you want to stop at the pub for a pint tonight?", we would say, "Let's stop at the Pitt for a few beers."

The good news is that no matter what language or terminology is used, one way or the other you will end up sitting at a bar with some style of glassware filled with a liquid made from malted barley and hops.

The Beers

I was out and about recently and managed to have a few of my favorite "Popular" Beers.

Stella Artois: The Star from Belgium, this lager is brewed with Cech hops, giving it an incredible crisps clean taste. As far as imported lagers from big breweries go, this is my favorite. If you see it on tap, give it a try.

Yuengling Lager: A well balanced lager from the oldest brewery in the United States. I actually love this beer. It is my go to choice when I am chowing down on hot Buffalo Wings at my Local's ( The Rod ), wing night. Smooth and rough at the same time.

Murphy's Stout: After drinking so much Guinness, it is nice to find the occasional pint of Murphy's on tap. What I like about Murphys as opposed to the same creamy, smoothness of Guinness is the slight burnt roasty taste. A nice change of pace.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Anticipation...All About Beer

Bump in the road. Curve ball. SNAFU. These are accurate descriptions for when a person cannot get their hands on a beer when they planned on having one.

Go with the flow. Roll with the punches. Zig Zag. These are accurate descriptions for what a person does while they are waiting to get their hands on the above mentioned, desired beer.

Friday evening around 6:30pm is the perfect and usual time for me to pour a smooth, flavorful pint of beer. Friday, 6:30pm means that I have finished the day and more importantly the week. Work is through. Chores are finished. The baby has been taken care of, and most assuredly, she is fast asleep for the night. 6:30 is the time that the pint glass gets filled up. 6:30pm is the time that the beer gets a head on it. 6:30pm is the time that satisfaction meets head on with accomplishment. Unless.......Bump in the road. Curve Ball. SNAFU.

Once in a blue moon, the wife has some sort of work thing happening on a Friday night. Once in a blue moon, on a Friday night, I am responsible for putting the baby to sleep. This entails filling up a bottle of milk and settling into the rocking chair until she is finished drinking and ready for sleep. On a typical night, she doesn't even get to finish her milk before her pretty head nods off fast to sleep. On my Friday night, she finished her milk and stayed awake. As I rocked and rocked, and rocked and rocked, my thoughts turned to my 6:30 beer. What would I have tonight? Would I pour from the tap, dip into the fridge or dig out of the celler? Ale? Lager? American Micro? Import? Strong? Light? What the hell am I going to eat with it? Snack with the beer while I am cooking dinner, or have the beer and snack in place of the dinner?

As you can see, a lot can happen while you are sitting in a rocking chair. The beauty of the whole experiance is that while I was rocking, and mind you, enjoying myself holding my daughter, man, was I working myself up into a frenzy for my 6:30pm beer. My daughter did eventually fall asleep and I'll have you know that during my rocking, I chose to have a Strong Lager and a snack as my dinner. Some nights are just worth the wait and some nights you can just skip dinner.

The Beers

Samuel Adams Imperial Pilsner 2005 Harvest: This Brewmaster's edition poured a nice thick, white head with a surprisingly darker color than I expected. Carmel in color. I took my first whiff and Bamm. Hops. Lots of them. The first taste was very hoppy, but a different kind of hop. Don't take this the wrong way, because it was very good, but the first taste had a citrus sensation to it. Like biting into the bitter end of a grapefruit peel. The hop taste stuck around swallow afer swallow. The select Bavarian hops that the big boss chose for this beer gave it a distinct taste. At 8.8% alcohol and a strong hop taste, this pilsner would please the biggest hop head in the valley. It was awesome with spicy, grilled venison sausage.

Hecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier: Speak German? German Smoke Beer. A distinct taste that appeals to only a few. But if you like smoked meats and cheese this beer is for you. I personally love this beer and enjoy eating summer sausage and bag bologna between sips.

FrostBite Ale, Lake Placid Brewing, NY: Copper colored beer with a medium head. An evident hop fume exists. Strong hop taste, followed by a dry sensation. A very good beer that would take the bite out of anyone's frost. Drank a bottle with a wedge of Gruyere Cheese. The hops complimented the cheese in a very favorable way.