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Happy New Beer!

I will be the first to admit I am behind the times when it comes to trends. First off, I really don’t care what’s popular and when. Secondly, the more popular something is, the more expensive or harder it is to find. I’m not the biggest penny-pincher by far, but I do comparison shop and use coupons; I’m not going to pay more for something just because it’s trendy. Also, I rather spend time on a hobby, than waste that time keeping up with trends. You won’t find me watching any of the style shows or tabloid shows, nor will you see me reading Vogue or whatever the “in” magazine is these days. And lastly, trends change too often to keep up with, so why try?

I just wear, eat, and drink whatever I like at the time. I was a huge nerd when it was very uncool to be one; today, people are nerdy and proud, and they flaunt it. I’ve gone through my “mom jeans” phase when all the other women my age were wearing low-rise jeans. I loaded up on carbs when everyone was on the Atkins diet. And I was sipping wine with my dinner while my other friends were drinking Zima on an empty stomach…Ick! Was Zima every really “cool” to drink though? I’m happy to have missed that fad.

I liked wine because it really can change the flavor of a food; likewise, food can change the flavor of wine. I learned a little bit about wine in culinary school, and love the flavor it imparts when deglazing a pan. Others are not so enthusiastic about wine, maybe I was just serving it when it wasn’t the “in” beverage. I have set out a counter-top full of foods and wines, yet still was asked if I had any beer. It just became easier (and cheaper) to go along with the trend and get beer. I started off with the Strawberry Hill of beer though, and drank things like Bud Light, or Coors Light. Wow, was I naive.

After I found out that I’m allergic to many foods, I cut out beer because it hurt my stomach and the reason? It contains corn, and I’m very allergic to corn. So I went back to wine, only to realize that I was reacting to it also because it is commonly aged in oak barrels and one of the trees I’m allergic to is oak. I couldn’t win. I would go to a nice dinner and order water with lemon… That’s no fun.

What saved me from my boring and blah drink choice? A co-worker (who also happens to be a good friend and fellow blogger) introduced me to microbreweries. Unlike large commercial breweries, who brew more for social-lubricant than for flavor, many microbreweries do not use corn. Now some may use corn, corn syrup/corn sugar, or grits as an adjunct, but because these breweries are so small, I just email them. Many are more than happy to answer right back when they are corn-free and proud of it, and I put them on the Won’t Kill Me list. Prior to this year, I had tried a “supposed corn-free” beer here and there, like Sam Adams, but didn’t think much of them- the Boston Lager tasted like a pine tree to me. Not that I have ever chewed on a pine tree, but you know the scent of a pine tree? Yeah, that’s what it tasted like.

On top of the fact that I can drink most of these beers without dying… They are delicious! I can’t believe I ever drank that cheap watery rodent pee that the big commercial brewers try to pass off as good beer. Champagne of beers? Whatever! I’m glad I cannot drink that vileness. I have learned to appreciate hops; that is what gave the Boston Lager that pine taste. My coworker and co-beer drinker explained to me flavors to expect, and what created those flavors. I understand beer better now, and can appreciate the flavors and different processes the brewers use. I would drink the hoppiest double IPA (which is way too bitter for me) ever brewed before I drink Budcoorselob Ultra or Michbudcoors Light, whatever that crap is called!

Mmmmm... Beer.

Mmmmm… Beer.

This very untrendy chick, seems to finally be on the trendy team, and she wasn’t picked last! I recruit friends to the good-beer-side every chance I get. Restaurants in my area are starting to serve more microbrews too; a lot of those beers are brewed locally. I was actually surprised to learn that I’m surrounded by small breweries – at least thirteen of them. I’ve only toured two so far, but plan on visiting more when I can. There’s such a convivial atmosphere – everyone gets along – and I’ve yet to see any drama. How could anyone not be agreeable? You get to go on a tour of the facility (which I find very interesting). Only a small amount is charged for the tour at which point a collectable glass is typically given along with any number of tokens or tickets ranging from two to six. The tokens or tickets are then traded in for beer. Since this is such an inexpensive way to enjoy beer, I have seen people come in groups and bring board games. I think it’s a nice way to spend a Saturday.

Let me stress that drinking alcohol is not something I have done, or currently do with the intention of getting drunk. I don’t like to feel that I lack control over my body or my mind. I would like to think the trained chef in me is what sparks my curiosity when it comes to alcohol. I’ve learned that beer can be paired with food just like wine. Try an amber ale with some barbeque basted beef ribs, or drink a porter with a nice rich piece of chocolate cake. You may be surprised how well beer compliments food, maybe even better than wine.

I’m not a beer expert, but I’m learning all sorts of interesting things. Like wine, there are different types of glasses used depending on the type of beer. Pre-beer me thought that all beer could be consumed from a typical pint glass; now I own six different types of beer glasses, and I know there is more than one kind of pint glass. I have also learned that some beers reach their hoptimum flavor if they are served a bit warmer than normal. Ale keep learning by trying new beers because I have barley begun to try every kind. I still want to try chili beer, sour beer, barley wine, and a good mead. I hope the chili beer doesn’t make it burn when IPA. I keep going bock and froth between dark lagers and ales, but I can’t decide which one I like best.

I’m a beer girl now, and I plan on staying that way no matter how the trends change. Never did I imagine how many types of beer existed; I’ve tried many since last January and have only scraped the surface. That’s saying a lot, knowing that I have tried 148 different beers since then! Yes, I’m keeping count. I use an app on my phone that allows me to “check-in” my beer and rate it. This way I know which ones I like and which ones to avoid. This app also makes suggestions and allows me to follow my favorite breweries so I know when a new beer is on its way to a local bar or store. I’m surprised that in my marriage, I’m the one asking my husband to bring me a beer from our beer fridge. Well, it started out as my cake fridge but beer is slowing taking over. Writing about beer is making me thirsty… Can you beer me now? Good!

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