Guest Post: Husband Talks Beer


I apologize in advance for this post. I am sure avid readers are returning to the blog for another dose of the lady’s wit and lucid storytelling. Alas, you’re stuck with husband — an altogether more ponderous and pedestrian scribe. One thing’s for sure, there will be no INTERMITTENT BURSTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS FOR NO REASON!!!

With the introduction out of the way, let’s rate the beer with which America tempted us as we meandered through her highways and byways.

Anyone who lives on the east coast is well accustomed to ten-plus craft beers on tap in even the shitty bars. We’re spoiled by it. The beers are great, but it’s expected and not all that exciting. We were looking for something more interesting on our trip. In addition to local craft beers, I was keen to discover some of America’s classic old-timey brews, otherwise known as cheap swill in a can. Brews like Narragansett, Genny Cream Ale, and the ubiquitous PBR. I was not disappointed.

Top 3 American swill:

1. Hamms (first tasted in Minneapolis)

The ultimate test of cheap swill is: does it have anything really offensive about it. Most do, but are still tolerable. But not Hamms. It has a smooth, grainy, beery flavor. No chemical traces. I can’t offer more sophisticated tasting notes because I drank it from a can so it basically skipped my palate and went directly down my throat.

2. Rainier (first tasted in Washington State)

Worth a top-3 finish if only for the awesome can which features Mount Rainier. I bought a load of them in small cans for when we were camping. Which means they sat in the car and I often had to consume them at a temperature exceeding my own body temperature. And they still tasted ok. Seal of approval granted.

3. Heileman’s Old Style (sampled in Madison, Wisconsin)

OK, this one is actually gross. But it makes it to the top three because I ordered it in a hipster bar in Madison, Wisconsin and the mustachioed 20-something barman was deeply offended that I refused the array of craft beers on offer and ordered this. He didn’t even conceal his disgust for me. I tried to explain that I liked craft beer and just had this curiosity about old timey American beers (you know, the history of the nation and all that) but he was having none of it. He thought I was an idiot and was not shy about sharing his opinion. I forced down an Old Style and then caved in and bought a quintuple IPA or something.

Top 3 Craft Breweries:

1. Lazy Magnolia, Mississippi

Nobody’s more shocked than I am about this underdog victory from the Deep South. But I have to give it to them: after thousands of miles of excellent — but somewhat monotonous — IPAs, Porters, Pilsners, etc, Lazy Magnolia just offered something different. They brew a beer with pecans and another with passion fruit — the kind of thing I usually hate, but they did it with subtlety and somehow it really worked. Plus it was 110 degrees when we were in Mississippi so beer tasted 110 times better. Still, hotness aside, this brewery is creative. Maybe it’s the lack of local competition or craft brewing history that gives them the freedom to experiment with styles.

2. Quarry Brewing, Montana

It helps a brewery’s ranking when the people there are so welcoming and cool. This was the case at Quarry in Butte, Montana. Their beers had a more British style — a little more subtle in flavor — which I happen to like a lot. The entire range at this no-nonsense brewery and pub was excellent. The porter was a particular favorite. Montana has a small but very enthusiastic micro-brew following. There are about 15 or so breweries in small towns around the state. And it was good to see an earnest local following for the brews.

3. Georgetown Brewery, Seattle WA

Seattle has dozens and dozens of breweries. Several of which we visited. Georgetown does not sell pints on site, but you can go and taste everything for free, and then fill up a growler or two. The beer was first rate.

In general, America offers incredible diversity for the beer enthusiast. Even the most isolated bar we visited, in Colby, Kansas, proudly served Kansas’s craft beer, Boulevard. This was surprising and very welcome. It also debunks a lot of myths about unsophisticated folk in the middle of the country. People enjoy good beer everywhere in America and it is universally available. There are local interesting tipples available from Washington to Florida. Many more people, it must be conceded, enjoy Bud Light. But hey, the lady and I developed a soft spot for giant bottles of Budweiser (I can’t bring myself to call it “real” or “original” Bud) while watching blues in Clarksdale so I am not one to criticize.

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One Response to “Guest Post: Husband Talks Beer”

  1. A quite enjoyable report. However, YOU DIDN’T INCLUDE EVEN ONE “AWESOME!!!!”

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