500th post - Crack Open a Cold One!  

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It occurred to me tonight, while trying to decide what to put up as my 500th post, that I have never, even once that I can remember, blogged about one of my absolute favorite pastimes - BEER!!!!!

My first experience with beer came as a young kid, when my father gave me my first mouthful of Budweiser (I'm pretty sure that's what it was), which was promptly spat out all over the back stairs of our split-level home in Southern New Jersey's pine barrens. To this day, Budweiser cannot make it past my lips.

The first beer I really could tolerate (heck, even like) was Rolling Rock. Back then, this brew didn't even have a label on the bottle, which had, in its own raised letters, "Rolling Rock Premuim Beer". Nowhere near my favorite brew today, Rolling Rock sufficed as the occasional brew that a young kid might enjoy under adult supervision (well, Dad's supervision behind Mom's back - you guys know how that goes).

During my teen years, I was allowed alcohol with my folks around to supervise. I usually gravitated towards the very tasty mixed drinks my mother used to whip up. Beer didn't really have much appeal for me until college.

Once in college, though, I found beer to be much more tolerable. Most beer drinkers will tell you that it's an acquired taste, and they're definitely not kidding. Beer became standard fare after my 21st birthday, and especially so after I was reunited with my best friend from high school, when our paths crossed after some years of separation. Of course, the brew of the young and not-so-wealthy was, as it seems to be today, Coors Light. Sure, we'd take down Original or Extra Gold from time to time, but long nights with Coors Light and Nintendo Super Mario Bros. III made for some really interesting weekends - too bad I can't remember most of them! Later, we began developing our own recipes for buffalo wings (they go great with beer).

A few years ago, my brother introduced me to the joys of brewing. I had found my niche, folks. If you think this blog is good, you should take down a bottle of my brew. It's truly choice - so good that I've actually had people try to get me to start my own brewing business. Once introduced to this phenomenon, I really started to get into trying different kinds of beer - different brands and styles - in search of the perfect "shelf" brew to complement my own specialties. I actually have a beer mantle in my home which includes (empty) bottles of my favorites. These days, I try to avoid the standard fare "cliche" beers. Coors Light is still a favorite when I can't afford anything else, but how about a list of my favorite shelf brews? Perhaps you might like to try some of these ...

1. Dock Street Amber (Philadelphia, PA/Utica, NY) - The best shelf beer available, but not by a necessarily wide margin. It's smooth and hoppy, just the way I like it.

2. Victory Hop Devil - Part of a wide array of beers available from Downingtown, PA's Victory brewery, this VERY POTENT India pale ale has an awesome hop structure, and will knock you flat on your ass.

3. Samuel Adams Boston Lager - A very popular beer - almost to the level of "cliche", but with a wonderful hop structure and a finish that's to die for.

4. Bass Ale (Imported from the UK) - A very nice dark English ale. I can order this with confidence, even if it's on tap.

5. DAB (Dortmunder Actien-Brauerei) - This German import can be heavy, but is wonderful when served in a cold glass (I drink this one in "freezables"). It's also available in a 5 liter keg.

6. George Killian's Irish Red - This is actually brewed by Coors Brewing Company. It's built on a nice Irish Red Ale recipe that is quite nice.

7. Red Tail Ale (Mendocino Brewing Co. Saratoga Springs, NY) - Brewed with whole hops, this smooth brew has a dry finish and really holds its own with the likes of Dock Street and Hop Devil for taste.

8. Paulaner Original Munich (Imported from Germany) - It's been a while since I have had this one. I tend to pick it up around Christmas, for some reason. Still, it's an excellent choice if you're looking for a tasty import.

9. and 10. are both ones I make myself (not shelf beers, and if this were just my top 10 brews, they'd be #1 and 2) - 9 is a hoppy pilsner reminiscent of Vienna and Munich brewing styles (but with my own American twist), and 10 is an English- style brown ale which is a hybrid of two other ale recipes I had found in my travels.

So there you have it. The 500th post of the RWRepublic. Why not celebrate with one of the above brewskis???