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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

American Craft Beer Week

A couple of weeks ago, Pittsburgh celebrated American Craft Beer Week.   One of the highlights was a local tavern getting in a big ole tussle with the Pittsburgh Pirates by way of a Yuengling promotion.

Beyond that, beer aficionados celebrated the best of American Beers and I was able to partake in the festivities through a beer swap with some coworkers. 

Now, I am not a huge beer drinker.  I drank beer in college because it was cheap.   As a bartender, in a former life, I appreciated the finer whisky’s and could indulge a little more than during the poor days of quarter draft nights at the local college bar.  Into my mid 30s I have pretty much forsaken alcohol except for the occasional beer during a party or glass of Rock & Rye to lube up the vocal chords during a set with my father-in-law’s band, “We Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore”.

Still, I wanted to expand my horizons and try something different.  So, I joined the swap which had two caveats.   One, I had to choose a beer I had never tried.  That should be easy.  My palate has known few brews.  I can probably count them without taking off my shows.  There are the standards; Budweiser, Rolling Rock, Coors products, Iron City, Busch, Natural Light, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Michelob Ultra.  Then we have beers like Killian’s, Black and Tan, Yuengling, Bass Ale, Heineken, LeBatt’s Blue, Guinness, Sam Adams, Straub, and others.  I’ve even tried Lone Star beer because I did the play of the same name and we ordered a case for effect.   As far as micro brews and other craft beers, I am hesitant because I really don’t like beer.  If I’m going to drink something, it better taste good to me.   But I was willing to play ball with the group.

The other stipulation on the swap was that it had to be a American company.   Besides reading every label, I was at the mercy of the distributor to point me in the right direction.  So, I went into the first one I could find, locally and inquired about a selection.

Beer Store Guy offered me one distinct selection.  It was called Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA.  I didn’t know IPA from CPA at this point so, I took it.   When I emailed my selection to the group I received a lot of congrats.  Apparently, I made a good choice.

The day came and we all gathered around a van to do the swap.   Between all of us, we would each walk away with a full case, containing three beers of each kind.  Here is the list of what I took away. 
  • Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
  • Atwater Dirty Blonde Ale
  • Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout
  • Flying Dog Raging Bitch IPA
  • Blue Point Blueberry Ale
  • Leinenkugel Summer Shandy
  • Forgot #1
  • Forgot #2
The first ones I tried were the Dogfish Head and Raging Bitch IPA.  I am not a big fan of IPAs as it was hard to finish the Dogfish Head.  It tasted a little like Yuengling and a bit bitter.  The Raging Bitch IPA was a bit better with a little sweeter and had a somewhat piney taste to it.

The next night I tried the Atwater Dirty Blonde Ale and Blueberry Ale.  Both very nice.  The Atwater was a little like Straub, very clean and simple.  The Blueberry was clearly my favorite, although at $40 a case, I am inclined to indulge only once in a great while.

After that, I tried the Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout.  It was a very dark and heavy beer, much like Guinness.  I can see where the milk classification comes from with that one.  Then I tried the Leinenkulger Summer Shandy, which was sort of like drinking a Long Island Iced Tea as if it were a beer.    I think I’ll stick to Guinness when it comes to Stouts, although, the Summer Shandy would be a nice beer to have at the beach.

Unfortunately, I do not remember the other two flavors I had.  Suffice to say, after drinking that case inside of four days I was probably not doing myself any good.  Call me a lightweight but I needed a break from beer.  My father-in-law went back to drinking his Miller Lite and I went back to drinking water at night.  I am still trying to lose weight, you know. 

Like I said, though, I did indulge and buy another full case of the Blueberry Ale to have at home.  Broadening the horizons has given me a new respect for American Beers and I applaud those who can craft a good brew.  I even tried a Honey Wheat Ale, my uncle home brewed over Memorial Day.

Beer, welcome back into my life.  I have a new found desire to drink you a little more than I used to.


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