Sunday, June 03, 2007

Summer Begins and thoughts of Beer

The first wave of Summer has had the Pacific SouthWest basking in sunshine for the last 10 days or so, you know summer has hit Vancouver when:

1) People start complaining about the heat after 8 months of complaining about the rain

2) There is media coverage of either impending water shortages or impending floods

3) People you haven't seen in the restaurant since October start showing up and acting like they own the place (again)

4) I start drinking "Dark and Stormys"

For many people summer is "beer season" but in truth, for me, every season is beer season. Beer is the world's oldest (dating back to at least 3500 BC) and most popular alcoholic beverage, and one of the simplest requiring only water, starch, hops, yeast and a refrigeration source - actually it doesn't need refrigeration but I really like it that way.

Beer Geeks are every bit as weird, passionate and ridiculous as wine geeks, but they don't get anywhere near the respect. I drink it all year long and my consumption really doesn't go up much in the summer, but the overall sales spike by about 20% in June, July and August so somebody's crackin' more bottles in the summer.

Beer was always the drink of choice of my father and his friends and I have clear memories of backyard events when I was a toddler with large tubs full of ice and brown bottles of beer. German neighbours made their own and as a young boy it was considered ok to have half of a beer at an afternoon event. The women drank beer in those days and many do today as well, but when I was a student it was rare to see girls drinking beer. One of wife's very few flaws is her inability to appreciate a hoppy pilsner but she will toss back a Coors Light on a hot day so I guess I'll keep her.

I am an equal opportunity Beer drinker, though my preference runs to the above mentioned pilsners, some dark British brews and IPAs, I have rarely met a beer I didn't like (although I made a mistake with a lavender ale once that I choose not to speak of). Beer is the lingua common of my industry, after work you don't "go for drinks" you "go for a beer" and "a beer" is rarely one, in fact I have a patent pending on the "real man's guide to beer calculation" which I will now relate to you:

"One" is two

"A couple" is three or four

"A few" is four to six

"A bunch" is more than six
, as in "I'm not feeling great, I had a bunch of beer(s) last night.

Note that the plural of beer is beer but I have no problem with those who add the "s" on the end.

I keep my beer glasses in the freezer because they are more important than most food items and it is a rare night indeed when I come from home from work and do not "crack a beer" within 10 minutes of arrival. Beer is known by many names:

A cold one
pops - and the lesser form "wobbly pops"

I went to University with a guy who told time in "beer" as in "Oh geez I don't have to be in class for another 2 maybe 2 and a half beers".

Like many things we remember the beer of our youth more fondly, it was colder, crisper had more flavour and it was definitely cheaper. In University we drank "Cinci", "Old Vienna", and "Black Label" all brands either dead or dying, Molson also made a Blue and maybe they were no better than today's Kokanee or MGD but in my eternal memory they were.

Travel in Europe after my third year of university not only opened my palate to food and wine but also to the depth and breadth that beer had to offer, from a "Kolsch" in a test tube glass on tap in Cologne to a an ice cold bottle of Sagres on the beach in Portugal.

This blog would not be complete without a listing of my Top Ten Beer

1) Pilsner Urquell

1A) Guiness

3) Grolsch

4) Bass Pale Ale

5) Nelson Brewing "PaddyWhack" IPA

6) Bellhaven "Wee Heavy"

7) Dos Equis Clara (Lager)

8) Marston's Oyster Stout

9) Hoegaarden (hot day only)/Radeberger Pils/Konig Pils

10) Old Vienna - circa 1978

All this beer talk has made me thirsty so ..............

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