Colorado is definitely a beer state, and not just because Coors comes from the Rocky Mountain State. No, it is also home to New Belgium (of Fat Tire fame) and seemingly countless other micro and craft breweries. While in Breckenridge for a ski weekend, I decided I had to at least try one of these, and because it turned out to be the only one available at dinner, my choice happened to come from the creatively named Breckenridge Brewery. The brewery, by the way, is actually no longer in Breckenridge, having expanded and moved to Denver in 1992.
In the Cook Islands, 90% percent of the beer consumed is imported. Sure, most of it just comes from New Zealand, a mere three hours and International Date Line away by flight, but it is still shame when you consider the small island of Rarotonga has not one, but two breweries. One of these is the Cooks Lager Brewery and it is nothing like any brewery you’ve seen before. It resides in an old supermarket in the town of Avarua and has only existed for less than two years (replacing a defunct Cooks Lager brewing company that had shut down years before). Yet, in those two years, the five-man operation of Cooks Lager has begun to make its dent in the local brew scene.
In my continuing quest to enjoy the delicious beer flavors of the Northwoods here in Southern California, I found myself staring at a large can of beer at Whole Foods. How I wound up in Whole Foods is a sad, sordid story, but I was intrigued by a beer out of the Cold Spring brewery in Minnesota called Honey Almond Weiss. Surely, this would be the closest I could get to Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss, brewed in Minnesota’s neighbor, Wisconsin. Plus, it didn’t hurt that this beer can contained one entire quart of beer.
Ever notice that the Summer Solstice is never actually the hottest day of the year? You would think being the longest day would correspond with being the hottest, but you would be wrong. Those crazy hot days never seem to come around until July or August. But during some of those hot non-solstice days I found a beer called Summer Solstice, from the Anderson Valley Brewing Company. Could it make up for the misleading real Summer Solstice by being the hottest (by hottest I mean greatest, not literally hot because that would presumably taste terrible) beer of the year? I intended to find out.
In my continuing quest to find the perfect beer for every occasion, I happened Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve. Further research has taught me that Henry Weinhard’s has a history even older than my beloved Leinenkugel’s. I also learned that the beer is affectionately called Henry’s (as though you could call a beer anything not affectionate). Described as a Classic Northwest Lager on the label, I hoped the Private Reserve would be good for the situation I was in – namely, I wanted good beer, but I was pretty full for dinner. I had no desire for a Coors Light-esque beer, but don’t get me wrong, I know the Silver Bullet has its place. At $9.99 for a twelve pack, Henry’s was definitely worth a try.
Ordinarily, I avoid the stouts. Why, you ask? Well it’s not only because they come with ridiculous names like Karl Strauss 22nd Anniversary Vanilla Imperial Stout (you don’t exactly see bock or ambers like that). No, the real reason is that I consider beer a sort of refreshment. And being a refreshment, there should be something inherently refreshing about the beer. Sorry, stouts, you are not exactly refreshing, and it’s not just because some of your subtypes are Oatmeal, Chocolate and Coffee.
But refreshing or not, when I was offered some 22nd Anniversary Vanilla Imperial Stout, I had a hard time turning it down. Why? The vanilla. Like I said earlier, Chocolate Stout is a pretty common stout choice and I have no need for chocolate in my beer or otherwise. But vanilla is a completely different story. I claim Cream Soda as one of my favorite non-alcoholic beverages and the chance to drink that flavor combined with a high ABV percentage was too good to pass up. But first I had to get in the bottle.
Two summers ago, I went to Bridge’s Bar in Lake Nebagamon after years of drinking dirt cheap pitchers of Leinenkugel’s there. But upon arrival, I found that the Leinie’s was missing. It was just about the scariest moment of my life. As I wallowed in sorrow, a friend brought a pitcher of beer to me excitedly. “They have Spotted Cow,” he proclaimed. I was unswayed, but he poured me a glass and I drank it because it sounded better than the Bud Light that was also on tap. My disappointment disappeared and I vowed never to return to Wisconsin again without drinking some Spotted Cow.
It’s really not summer until you’ve had some Oberon. Sure, the weather may be warm, the grass may be green and the county may be forcing you to water your lawn only on odd-numbered days, but in truth, none of this matters until you get some Oberon in you. Now, you may be wondering, “What is Oberon?” If you turn to Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge), you will be lead to believe that Oberon is the king of the fairies. But this is just hogwash. In fact, Oberon is more likely to be a king of beers. No, not the king of beers…some brewery in St. Louis has that copyrighted.
French fries go great with a burger, breadsticks are delicious with a pepperoni pizza and mac and cheese is the perfect partner with some ribs, but beer is amazing with any meat. It is difficult (although not impossible) to be an unvegan without having a great taste for beer and as any real beer drinker knows, not all beers are created equal. In my world, there is Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss and then there are all other beers.