I live in a dry town. Although that may sound like a weather condition, it actually means that there is no alcohol sold within the town limits. Considering that we began as a Methodist meeting camp that took root and grew into year round bungalows, it’s not surprising that the drinking of alcohol was frowned upon. What is surprising, considering our dry condition, is that apparently, microbreweries don’t fall under the same law that keeps our town free of bars and liquor stores. We now have two up on Main Street and a few others in neighboring towns. I am definitely a fan of these cozy little watering holes. They promote casual gatherings, and a provide friendly welcoming atmosphere for the nearby college students, young couples and even old folks like us. The D-man and I have been known to stop by occasionally to meet with friends or just to have a “lets welcome the weekend” drink.
But here’s the thing,
Microbreweries sell fancy beer.
Beers with names like *Peach Brulee, Crimson Skull or Pink Guava Lime Gose. Beers with discriptions that say things like “The 5th iteration of our revolving hop, house pale ale features Simcoe, Amarillon and all-new Cryo Lemondrop*” I’m pretty sure most of that is English but I have no idea what any of it means.
Now I certainly enjoy an ice cold beer, especially in hot weather or down the shore accompanied by fresh crabs (YUM!) but, I lean towards basic beer. It’s how I was raised. I grew up imersed, if you will, in beer. My dad worked for Schmidts Brewery in Philadelphia his whole life as did all his brothers. Cases of beer or a tapped keg were basics at family barbeques and holidays. There was no wine or hard liquer, and the only beer allowed was Schmidts. That’s what put food on the table in our family so it was the only brand they would drink.
When I was older and on my own my friends and I drank Coors Light. We liked it because it was cheap and we were in our early twenties and therefore broke. We didn’t know the difference between imported or domestic beer. We didn’t care if it was an ale or pale. We drank what we were used to. The fanciest I get these days is when the D-man and I order a Blue Moon and it comes with a little slice of orange. Classy, right?
What I’m saying here is that I am not, by any stretch of the imagination a beer connoisseur. In fact, I’m probably about as far from one as you can get. The beer I grew up with was just basic beer, beer that anyone who knows about brewed beverages of that sort would probably shudder at the thought of.
That means that on those occasions when my hubby and I visit one of these cool new microbreweries, I’m completely out of my comfort zone, totally intimidated by those hand chalked signs over the counter. I stand there trying to figure out what the difference is between a lager and a brown ale or what exactly is a black and tan? Turns out it’s a cream ale mixed with coffee. Who knew, right? Standing there, shifting from one foot to the other, I contemplate the benefit of having a Pummel (as naked as a larger can get) over a Silver Queen (made with 20% white corn) or possibly a Not For Anything IPA (an iteration of our hazy methodology features a meg-adjunct grist thanks to our indomitable mash filter*) Yikes!!
I’m certain these are all amazing beers and that all this “brew speak” makes total sense to most of the other patrons. Just not me. Luckily most microbrewes offer something called “flights” which are sample sets of several different beers of your choosing. That’s my fall back and most times I come across one that I like or that at least tastes close to what I’m used to.
The whole idea is to try new things. I get that and I do most times but, what I’d really like, and I think I’m going to suggest this to the owners next time, is a post script on that chalkboard menu that says:
<BORING BREW– For those patrons with unadventurous taste buds who mostly just came for the atmosphere.>
Wouldn’t that make sense? It would save me all that indecisive anxiety and I bet I’m not the only one. What do you think?
*All photos and beverage descriptions are courtsey of the BONESAW GRILL and NECK OF THE WOODS microbreweries here in NJ. Both have excellent brews and are really cool and welcoming establishments. Visit if you get the chance!
Mmm… Beer…. That first photo made me want to jump on a plane to NJ. I love a different beer. I was late to the beer party, learning to drink it on a European bus tour when I was 23. Grolsch was my first experience so maybe I started out with slightly fancy tastes. But I also grew up with wine so I guess I was used to experiencing different flavours for essentially the same thing (‘this’ shiraz differs greatly from ‘that’ shiraz).
Microbrewers are big here too and the ‘flights’ or ‘tasting paddles’ as they’re often called here are a great way to get to know what a particular brewer makes. Now it’s the gin distilleries that are taking off locally so…. mmm….. gin…..
I can barely handle wine and beer. Gin would put me under the table for sure! Apparently I’m a light weight!!