In college, I cut my teeth on mass-produced pale yellow pilsners. Stroh’s was the swill of choice. In Pennsylvania, beer distributors sell beer by the case (by state law), and a “case” of Stroh’s inexplicably contained 30 beers. What poor college student could resist 6 free can of beer, no matter how bad?
“Then we settled into life in Minnesota. Either the micro-brewery phenomenon was over or it had never really taken hold in MN. I joined a wine tasting club. (Sigh.)”
By the time I graduated, I couldn’t do it anymore. I switched to wine, partially because I was so tired of homogenous beer, and partially because I liked how I looked holding the glass. My significant other brewed his own beer, experimenting with different flavorings. Because even if it tasted bad, at least it had a taste.
Enter the first micro-brewery boom. Dock Street in Philadelphia was an early favorite. We embarked on a pre-smart-phone cross country trip clutching regional (Printed! That I sent away for in the mail!) maps of micorbreweries. On one memorable occasion, when a brewery proved elusive, I stuck my head out the window and exclaimed “We must be close, I smell hops!“ We stumbled upon a beer festival in Portland, OR, and discovered a brewery that added wort to its delicious pizza dough. We also toured large breweries, where adorable summer interns in matching outfits could answer none of our questions about brewing beer. And we delighted in the Leinenkugel’s tour, where an actual brewer sloshed with us through puddles of beer and handed us safety goggles when we got an up close look at the bottling line. In fact, we wondered if the attorneys for new parent company Miller had taken the tour themselves. It was a pretty good time to be a beer drinker in America.
Then we settled into life in Minnesota. Either the micro-brewery phenomenon was over or it had never really taken hold in MN. I joined a wine tasting club. (Sigh.)
Fast forward 15 years. Surly changed the laws, growlers and crowlers are ubiquitous, I can take my own picnic to a tap room, and my dog can enjoy an afternoon out with me. Bars boast dozens of taps – the only downfall is that there’s often only one keg of many beers and when it’s gone, it’s gone. (Also, my dad, who used to go into a bar and order “a draught,” is overwhelmed.) My husband no longer needs to brew his own beer because taste abounds in our local liquor store.
We live in an age where the statement “I don’t like beer” is practically akin to “I don’t like food.” There’s something for almost everyone. It’s a good time to be a beer drinker in America.