Three weeks from now, I’ll be in Brooklyn, New York. Hopefully, of course, the damage and disruption caused by Hurricane Sandy will have passed, and repairs made. I’m not going there specifically for beer reasons, but being a blogger and visiting the US means I’m obliged to squeeze in a little beer-related tourism, if possible. Even just the odd trip to a tap-heavy bar, or a bottle shop groaning with craft beer from around the States would be great. Oh, and yes – I can actually use the other C-word in public and not feel like a bit of a desperate hipster.
Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to visit the US on six different occasions – however the galling thing for me is that each time was prior my conversion to decent suds. Before I saw the light, all I knew was Light. The old joke about American beer being like making love in a canoe was, to me, extremely accurate.* Bottled Miller and Bud were the choice tipples – I hid from the taps as they were too confusing, a forest of bristling strangeness.
*The beer part, that is – not the canoe part
On many a trip to Boston, I vaguely remember drinking a lot of Bass – which is, at least, an improvement. Spending Thanksgiving in the snows of New Hampshire with the NFL games on the telly and premixed JD and Coke. Stopping off en-route at one of the monoliths of booze that lie just over the border from tax-heavy Massachusetts, we ignored aisle after aisle of who-knows-what craft beer, heading straight for the Budweiser.
Even a relatively recent trip to Seattle was mostly macro-led, other than a brief stop in the Pike Brewing Company (more for food than the on-site microbrewery). Modern beer fans like ourselves scoff at other punters’ bafflement at various cask beers, when they select Tennent’s or Carling out of familiarity. But, passport ID in hand, that was my course back then. What if you end up with something awful, or something you can’t pronounce? There’s a reason macro lagers usually have only two syllables (many then being abbreviated to only one).
But, no more. I have been converted, and having moved away from mass-produced lager here, I won’t be drinking it there either. Alongside the tourist attractions, the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade and pre-Christmas shopping, I’ll be picking up as much locally-produced, well-made beer as possible. And I can’t wait.