One Man’s Craft Beer Journey
By John Tisevich
I feel since this is my first blog in Arlo’s Craft Beer Guide some introductions are in order. I’m John, a middle aged, but eternally youthful (at least in my eyes) craft beer lover. But it hasn’t always been that way. Let me explain. My first experience with beer of any kind is probably not unlike a lot of you out there. Having someone buy me and my friends some beer right
around the time of my 16th birthday. Well as you could imagine it didn’t taste very good, not only because it was the run of the mill whatever was closest to the door but also because we weren’t accustomed to drinking beer. However we happily chugged it down and waited for the effect to take hold. That’s what the adults that we knew did right? I remember thinking I hope the taste gets better than this. And as luck would have it … it did.
Fast forward to still what many feel are the dark ages, the 80’s. I stepped it up a notch in having my first what I would term more cultured beer – Molson Export Ale. It was from Canada after all, so it was exotic and very enticing. It also was different and much better than my first experience a few years earlier. Moving along on my beer journey to college days, it wasn’t so much about the quality as it was about quantity I’m embarrassed to admit it. If drinking straight from the pitcher that evil swill they passed off for beer as a sin, well then I’m guilty as charged.
It really wasn’t until the late 90’s that I experienced what would you would consider a craft beer. Or at least at that time that’s what I thought Samuel Adams was. It was much heavier than the previous beers I’d had. In my neck of the woods I was fortunate enough to have encountered what I consider truly my first experience with a Microbrewery Craft beer as we know it. It was made by a company called Crooked River and the beer itself was called Black Forest Lager. As one would expect it was a dark robust beer with a bit higher alcohol content than I had had before. It was good! After that I began to experience some other local Craft beers. A Dortmunder which is still around and is always a great go to beer.
Then I began my quest for some of the Seasonal beers. The Christmas or Holiday type beers. The fall beers, specifically pumpkin. I must have gone through about 20 or so. Reading review after review and taking only the top rated ones. After conducting my … ahem … research you know what I discovered? That I really don’t care much for any pumpkin beers. Oh there is one, and only one that I will drink and I really enjoy to drink – however I won’t go out of my way to get any of them. What it all comes down to it now for me anyway taste, mouth feel and of course smell are key components. I’ve gotten much for cultured in my selections.
It’s so interesting to note too how beer has changed over the years. In a conversation with my Dad recently when we were at a local Brewery doing what they call here BOP or Brew on Premises and creating our own wonderful Doppelbock beer he casually mentioned to me how excited he is that there are so so many choices now for taste in beers. Keep in mind my Dad is in his 70’s. So he said back in his day there was what they called 3.2 beers and regular beer. That’s about it. He is so thrilled with the beers that are available today. And how beers now can be paired with food as well.
Now a days we have beers available from all parts of the country and the world for that matter. You can get German beer made in Germany, Belgium beer (a personal favorite) made in Belgium. You can get beers made from the West Coast, Rogue and Sierra Nevada comes to mind, beers made in Hawaii (Kona Brewing. Beers that are extremely hoppy – which from my experience tend to be much more bitter. Their IBU are higher. You can get beers made here in the states with a Belgium style to them as in the way of Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY. You can get beers flavored with berries of all types, Raspberries and Blackberries. How about beer made from chili’s you can get that too. Beers made from Coffee, Milk and even gluten free beer is now be readily available. 143
So over the years my journey has gotten more complicated with more choices, however since I’ve narrowed down my likes and dislikes with my extensive research (wink wink) I’ve found many suitable beers that I enjoy at various times of the year. I’m not a hop head as some folks are called, I like my beer usually darker, amber to even a darker porter. Generally lower IBU’s and higher ABV. I’ve found this to be more mellow and to my liking. You might have guessed I do like the more complex at least in my opinion Belgium style beers. The Tripels and Quads are some of my favorites. But you see we have so many different choices now, there’s a beer for everyone’s taste and occasion. So get out there and try some of what your local and maybe not so local craft breweries have to offer. You might be surprised! Until next time …. Cheers!