Hops and Barley and Guava and Lime

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!

If We Were Having Coffee…2/8/20: Wind Storms and Scholars

Hello!

I’m so glad you stopped by and I’m also very glad that the sun has stopped by as well. It feels like it’s been raining for years around here! I don’t even mind the chillier temperature. In fact, since it is February and we are in the northern hemisphere, “chilly” is absolutely correct and expected.

Let me get you some coffee and a nice fresh baked donut that my husband just brought back from his morning walk. I’m always pleased when his walks take him past the bakery! Pull up a chair. Let’s chat.

If we were having coffee…I would ask you if you experienced any of the crazy weather patterns floating around yesterday? Here in Southern New Jersey we were treated to some hurricane strength winds and possible tornado activity that sent all of the adults and students in our schools into a “Shelter In Place” situation. What that means is that we all needed to move someplace safe, in this particular case that meant the interior hallways where we were away from any windows, and continue our day as best we could. Some of the students were, understandable, bit alarmed but our Principal and the rest of we adults did our best to downplay the situation and keep them focused on other tasks. Luckily, we had the forethought to grab their laptops when we left the classroom so they were able to work on some of their writing projects and math websites. Finally, after about an hour, the warning was lifted and we were able to go back into our class. Fortunately, none of the more severe weather came too close to us. There were towns near the coast (about 45 minutes south) that were hit much harder. I don’t remember having quite so many excessive weather systems when I was young. Perhaps it’s just that we can track them better but I suspect that Global Warming is the real cause.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that we have a sad social occasion this weekend. My son’s girlfriend Miss K, lost her grandmother last week and her memorial service is tomorrow evening. We never had the chance to meet her grandmother, who sounds like a very sweet lady, but Miss K and Mr D have been together for several years and we are quite friendly with her parents so we will certainly stop by to show our respects. I’m always so happy to see evidence of the fine young man my son has grown into whenever situations like this occur. He took it upon himself to purchase a nice plant and a card for her family the night after it happened. Then he spent the evening at her parent’s house talking with them and helping them with any thing he could. He is a really good person to have around in tough situations, just like his dad.

Speaking of the D-man…

If we were having coffee..I would probably brag a bit and tell you that my husband has started teaching a graduate course at our nearby university. The course is in school counseling, which is what he does for a living. It is attended by students in their final semesters doing their in-school internships. He is running an evening class once a week and also supervising the student in their placements schools. I’m pretty proud of him and so happy that he is being recognized for the amazing work he has been doing in the school system for the past 20 years. I’ve always thought he would make an excellent educator. Anyone who has the patience to counsel middle school students, with their raging hormones and tendency for drama as well as aid families in crisis and student in sad and difficult situations all these years and not lose their mind, must have the capacity for anything! Now the graduate students in his class will benefit from his years of experience as well.

If we were having coffee…I would probably glance over at the clock and realize that my Saturday has begun without me! Time to “shake a leg” as my mother would have said.

I’ve certainly enjoyed catching up with you. You should definitely stop by our host blog Eclectic Ali and visit the rest of my Coffee Share friends.

Have a great weekend!

In Search of Sleep

Sleep and I are on the outs.

It’s confusing because we used to be so close. We were always in sync, completely in tune with each other but lately he’s been aloof, distant, only stopping by when he feels like it.

I think the riff started back when I was in my late forties. Menopause came around and I started spending a lot of time with those troublesome hormones. They were always showing up unexpectedly, all flashy and hot, sometimes in the middle of the night. I think Sleep got jealous, tired of them intruding on the good thing we had going.

Whatever the cause, he sure has made himself scarce lately. I’ve tried all kind of tricks to bring him back, yoga breathing, visualization, exercise, even warm milk but it’s just no use.

Sometimes the problem is my brain, comfortably cradled on my pillow yet suddenly filled with EVERY SINGLE conversation or thought that has crossed it’s path in the last twelve hours. Sometimes the problem is more physical; aches and pains, restless legs, night sweats. I’ve become so unpredictable and high maintenance that it’s no wonder Sleep has gotten tired of me.

Most often during these lonley, Sleep-less nights I just lie in bed watching the hours pass, wondering what I could have done to drive him away. I also wonder how I’ll make it through the next day, red eyed and groggy. Some nights I’ll get up, read a book, have a snack, (write a blog post,) but usually I just wait…

…wait for Sleep to return.

He can’t stay away forever, right? I really hope not.

I love Sleep.

I miss Sleep.