December 2004/January 2005, Beer and Politics
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on the Endangered Species List? Freedom Fighters roaming the streets?
These, and other post-election possibilities weighed on my mind when
I walked into Cole's on Elmwood
Avenue for the holiday brew tasting on November 3rd, 2004. Bill Metzger,
committed beer enthusiast and conmunity leader, arrived with precious,
seasonal beer. We greeted the constituents to a tasting of brews that
would make any liberal forget their post-election woes for a moment.
A famous musician and lover of good beer once said. "You can't
be a real country unless you have beer and an airline." For some
this may mean the ability to drink good beer and go somewhere else for
a while, you know, 'till the heat dies down. For others it may mean
having a place to get a job and good beer to go home to. Mixed in spirit
and affiliation, with the airport just a few miles away, we were unanimously
ready for a special holiday brew tasting.
Doer : Emerging up the stairs to the private balcony area, with
an upside down American flag (U.S. Navy distress symbol) safety-pinned
to his t-shirt, Evil showed no remorse for himself. He is blessed with
a nose any border patrol agent would appreciate and uses it, most impressively,
for identifying the state origin of the beer be receives. Carded at
the door by Freedom Fighters, and searched for signs of Communism at
the stairs, this serious hophead was incredibly relaxed for being such
Vinny : Restaurant entrepreneur and much-loved godfather of good
beer in the Great Lakes community. Vinny's eyes sparkled with appreciation
for the Elmwood area around Cole's. Vinny is another talented nose in
the group. Glowing with free friendly parking found just around the
corner while examining the character of the building, he simply smiled
as I asked for his take on the election results. His reply was voiced
by making his way to the table, beaming like a child on Christmas moming.
: Long time brewing geek, Magistrate arrived with an appreciation for
both side's things. Though a proud hophead, he enjoys all good beer.
Eyeing Evil's magical axis (as many of us were), Magistrate reserved
his political feedback. We did agree, though, that swinging an evil
axis around was very dangerous, and making the staff nervous, so he
put it away.
: New to the crew and undecided about a beer preference, Phillip came
without protest or prejudice, an empty vessel if you will, ready to
team about beer and find a place at the table. We were excited to watch
: Straight from backcountry hills, this hard working hop addict was
unfazed by my political probing and ready to relax. Hop-Jack settled
in right across from Evil, chuckled at his t-shirt, kicked his boots
up and looked for a glass. Having enjoyed decades of home brewing, hours
of repose and good beer, his strong peaceful awareness has been the
result, some say.
sweet, and probably from a state with 7 or 9 electoral votes,"
Vinny chuckled. Evil nodded in agreement and, with a deep whiff,
narrowed it down to "the north east; most likely Vermont."
not a swing state," offered Magistrate, "Malty and rich
with hops in the finish." Not quite quenching his hop agenda.
Hop Jack added, "Sugary, borders on Cloying, British in nature."
the excitement surrounding the northeast impact on the Electoral
College, this Pennsylvanian brew drew little enthusiasm from the
constituency. "Flowery nose, but the anticipated flavor disappears
in the mouth, though the fizz tends to keep the subtle flavors
alive for a bit," Magistrate said. Inhaling strong yeast
flavors, Vinny compared it to Ringwood or a Molson Christmas beer.
north east beer," Evil added, noticing Canadian character.
"Heavy on the yeast and not enough hops," Hop Jack added.
But a unanimous vote was out of the question before it became
one. Phillip enjoyed the malty refuge, welcoming the character
much more than the Alpine Ale, citing less bitterness.
many third party candidates, Primator aroused our senses to the
tune of 10%. Primator's bold brewing and open tank fermentation
process is credited to their status as one of the few remaining
Czech breweries that have not been bought by a foreign company.
"Ahh," sighed Vinny, "smells like someone opened
a pack of licorice and alcohol?"
Slowly coming to terms with his malty preferences. Phillip celebrated
the sweet smell and heavy flavors. Hop Jack, always a sucker for
good head retention, noticed red hues and molasses, adding that
he would blend this "one dimensional sweet beer with another
brew." Via intense wine and sherry tones Magistrate speculated
a "Double or Triplc Bock."
taste a diabetic coma coming on," Evil said, though he, like
Hop-Jack, enjoyed the nice head retention.
like a Christmas Shop next to a men's clothing store," Vinny's
capitalist tendency summarized.
Christmas," Evil translated, noting the heavy licorice aroma.
was interesling to waIch Phillip develop his preference. A malt
man in the making, he Frowned at the bitter aftertaste, looking
for more Double Bock.
taste the orange and fruit, but it's complex," Hop-Jack said.
Magistrate agreed, unable to put his finger on the flavor.
hops comes out as the beer warms," Vinny noticed. Hop-Jack
and Magistrate rolled their beer in their palms, warming their
a two-party system, you got to love the name of this beer. It really
hits you like most 10% beers will. Stone Brewing puts the gargoyle
on the label because it guards against "modern day" evil
spirits like chemical preservatives, additives and adjuncts. I wondered
if President Bush had ever gotten wind of this kind of evil.
what the hell is that?" Evil affectionately cooed, guessing
west coast imperial melon from the nose.
his malt preferences congealing before our very eyes, Philip came
to an important conclusion: "I really don't like hops."
responded with two thumbs up reflecting on a far, far away time
when hops made his nose flare. "It's loaded with citrus and
you get more burn out of it than a double hop," Magistrate
said, licking his lips. Vinny agreed there was west coast written
all over it noting a similarity with Old Guardian, but not as
As the tasting ended and we were gathered around our bountiful holiday
brew harvest and respectfully exchanging our political views, I wondered:
What could we learn from good beer? The Anchor Brewing Company's Christmas
Ale webpage announces that if
"properly refrigerated, this beer remains intriguing and drinkable
for years, with different nuances slowly emerging as the flavor mellows
slightly." What would happen if we held the same standard to our
elected officials? What if we could describe our officials as we describe
our beer? One possible political translation of the above beer text follows:
informed, this representative is, at the very least, mildly intelligent
and uncorrupted during tenure, evolving and willing to modifiy its course,
as the union between justice and intelligence requires of those who
are rooted in it.
the new prohibitionists, explored in the last issue of Great Lakes Brewing
News, should know that not only are they missing out on great beer but,
sadly, the essential evolutionary lessons to be learned from them as
well...ones that may actually inspire us to raise our political standards.
by Susan Griskonis,
Beer Beacon columnist
Listed by Brewery
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2005, Great Lakes Brewing News