Sunday, April 22, 2012

Maybe Beer Ain't Drinkin-But it Wasn't Always So

A couple nights ago, I was at a Bells tap takeover at the Bavarian Lodge (my snobby beer hangout if you haven't figured it out yet). Drank a Batch 10,000 and a couple of other rare beers-then started gabbing with the guy next to me. He just moved out from Frisco so we started the whole west coast vs midwest beer argument til we both agreed (over a bottle of Firestone Walker Succaba) that Chicago has a much superior selection. They brew great beer in Cali/West Coast (someday I'll get my hands on some Russian River!), but Chicago gets most of the beer from the rest of the country-being a giant city in the middle of the country.

While sharing a bottle of Brooklyn Back Ops (their bourbon barrel aged imperial stout-with Champagne-and unavailable in California!), we got into a discussion about how beer was "back in the day"-ya know, when we were yutes.

I've been working in liquor stores now for about 16 years. Back when I started as a stockboy/cashier in college pretty much all that was available was Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Anchor, Pete's Wicked Ale, and a handful of imports. All were really pricey, not just for a college student-a 6 pack of Newcastle cost $11, Sam Adams-$9, Sierra Nevada-$12, Pete's-$8... and these prices are from 15 years ago!

A very quick history of the craft brewery movement-before prohibition, American brewers were generally German and did German styles. Pretty much every city had a handful of breweries and everything was local. Prohibition came (along with US involvement in WWI) which put most of the breweries out of business. A handful got along through various ways and they took over the beer market since the 40's. A local brewery in San Francisco that was about to go to under in the late 1970's was bought up by Fritz Maytag (of the Maytag family). The started brewing a weisse and a Porter-two styles that hadn't been done in the US since prohibition. Also in the late 70's Jimmie Carter signed a law legalizing home brewing for beer-and homebrewers started making beer then breweries. Slowly but surely.

My point? Right now I'm drinking a bottle of Bourbon Barreled Quad, this wasn't available 10 years ago. The first time I had a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale it damn near bit my tongue off with it's hops. We're living in the golden age of great beer right now-enjoy!