As I sit here drinking a New Glarus Edel Pils, I want to take a minute to talk to you all about beer snobbery. Now I know a lot of craft beer lovers are all about giant beers like imperial stouts and imperial IPA’s and imperial this or that. Or maybe they’re bragging how this beer as 148 IBUs and was aged in bourbon barrels personally filled by Pappy Van Winkle himself. And I’m just as guilty of that behavior as all of you. I know I’ve driven all over town trying to snag a bottle or two of a limited-release beer, only to brag about it on Twitter. But this Edel Pils is a damned near perfect beer. All too often pilsner-style beers get over-looked by craft beer people. But that’s a mistake, in my opinion. A well-made fresh pilsner is a treat. No, it doesn’t taste like a super-hopped DIPA. And you can’t taste hints of vanilla and oak. There’s no stone fruit, raisins, or green apples.
You know what they taste like? Beer. And isn’t that what it’s all about? We all like beer. Edel Pils tastes like beer. And I like that.
Let’s turn back the clock about 10-15 years. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, cigars were all the rage. All kinds of cigars were being brought to market. Some were utter crap. Others were marketed as super-premium and commanded a high price. People would trade cigars over the Internet. They’d frequent cigar forums and review cigars, discussing why a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper was best. And, they’d seek out “whales”. Super-rare cigars that everyone wanted to try. Sound familiar? It should. The cigar boom was not at all unlike the craft beer boom we’re in the midst of today. Fortunately, cigars age much better than beers so cigars I have from the boom years are still good.
I was reminded of the cigar boom on a recent trip to Grand Rapids, MI where I used to live. I was able to play a round of golf with an old cigar-smoking friend. We smoked some great cigars and even shared some craft beers on the course (he smuggled in some Founders Breakfast Stout) and afterwards at Perrin Brewing. As we talked about beers and cigars, I was reminded of the sage advice of a mutual friend. Jeff had access to pretty much any cigar he wanted. He bought Cuban cigars from over-seas (still illegal to do in this country). He bought cheap factory seconds at local cigar shops. At one point, he had over 10k cigars. He knew as much about cigars as anyone I ever met, in person or online. He was also one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. If he knew you wanted to try something and he had it, he’d give it to you. Anyways, despite being able to smoke anything he wanted, he always held be the adage, “Smoke what you like. Like what you smoke”. If you were smoking a $.25 cigar and you liked it, it didn’t matter what others thought. Likewise, if you didn’t like it, toss it out and smoke something else.
This same advice applies to beer. Who cares what a beer’s rating on RateBeer or Beer Advocate is? Do you like it? That’s all that really matters. Did you pay $20 for that bomber only to find out you don’t like the beer? Dump it out and grab something else. Yeah, it’s hard to dump your heard-earned money down the drain. But you decide if slogging through that glass is really worth it.
So this brings me back to my Michigan trip. The trip was full of great beers. We stopped at 3 Floyds on they way to Grand Rapids. We drank at Perrin, Founders, Hopcat and Brewery Vivant. But of all the great beers I had, one stood out.
Yep. Stroh’s. Detroit’s finest. Fire brewed. I used to always have it on hand when I lived in Michigan. Now I can’t find it anywhere. So when I saw the golf course had it, I grabbed a cooler, loaded it up with and and hit the links. It went down so smooth. Granted, part of it was the location and the fact that it was really hot out and the beer was really cold. But it was still a great beer and one of many highlights from the weekend. Of course, I brought a 30-pack home. I should have bought two and save one for football tailgating.
Oh, one last thing. Poutine with an over-easy egg. Yeah, that’s a thing at Brewery Vivant.