My microbrew obsession is simply the newest outgrowth of my punk rock obsession.
On the AV Club, Jason Heller has started a new series called “Fear of a Punk Decade” which chronicles the punk rock revival of the 1990s. Only one installment in, and it’s already one of my favorite recurring columns the AV Club has ever done. It’s also reminded me that I can’t keep up with new music anymore and that I’m old as shit.
On the plus side, the series has prompted me to revisit the way I used to feel about music, and how that almost never happens anymore. Certainly not with music, as no one will ever feel about music the way they felt in high school. But it has happened somewhere else.
We live in remarkable times right now. Breweries seem to pop up like mushrooms in the night. Every time I turn around, there’s a new one in some shitty part of town with a taproom, a food truck parked outside, and a lineup of increasingly quirky beers just waiting to be sampled. And people are doing amazing things with them.
Caution Brewing has a Lao Wang lager that uses Asian soup spices resulting in a taste I’ve never experienced before in beer. It’s refreshing while making you impossibly hungry for Chinese food.
Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew has a raspberry saison that I adored despite not particularly caring for either saisons or raspberries in my beer. I could have drank 12 of those in a row.
Black Shirt Brewing makes only variations on reds. You’d think that’d be limiting, but then you realize the inherent roasty and malty qualities of the red can be used to enhance those flavors in their porter, and balance the flavors of their IPA. It’s an amazing place.
And then there’s Crazy Mountain Brewing, where I had a whiskey barrel aged ESB that took me into its delicious, malty, sweet bosom and let me mouth motorboat the fuck out of it. So fucking good.
I geek out over beer. Kristin and I make it a point to find new breweries in whatever town we happen to visit, and try their beers. Our palates have expanded dramatically, and where a couple of years ago I would have listed Pacifico (by no means a bad beer) as one of my Top 5, it now is merely something I enjoy when offered.
I get obsessed with beers, buy them, make my friends come over and drink them and champion them loudly to whoever happens to be nearby. Mama’s Little Yella Pils is the best pilsner ever! Wait, I mean Prost Pils! Fuck pilsner, now it’s pale season and you should be drinking Denver Pale Ale. Or 5 Barrel. Or Redacted Rye. Y’know what, let’s talk about ambers. Have you had this beer called Serenity from Crabtree Brewing?
These neural pathways are well traveled, and it took me until I was sitting next to some bearded hipster at Black Shirt Brewing and we were talking about TRVE Brewing’s Prehistoric Dog salted wheat beer that I realized just what the fuck this was. This was my new punk rock.
Have you heard Lagwagon’s new album? So sick. How have you not seen Thrice live? Can you believe Zebrahead got a new lead singer? I’ve been listening to a lot of Joe Strummer lately… not like old Clash records, but his NEW band The Mescaleros. It’s an awesome evolution of his punk ethos into something different. Rise Against is the best band in the world. No one touches the longevity of Face to Face in terms of quality. While most bands evolve in an obnoxious way, The Bouncing Souls get better with every record.
I don’t even realize I’m doing it, but I proselytize the good work of punk rock, and now beer. The excitement overtakes me, and I can’t help but let it flow through me. I have an appetite for these things and I want to share them, and I want you to have them too.
At a BBQ recently, two people Kristin and I didn’t know showed up with a six pack of Dry Dock’s wheat beer and something from Great Divide. When I spotted that, I told them I liked their choices and then word barfed all over them without realizing it. Have you been to Copper Kettle? What do you think about Strange Brewing? TRVE Brewing is totally metal…. Etc. Etc. Etc.
In retrospect, my enthusiasm was likely off-putting and possibly came off as total look-at-me grandstanding. I’VE BEEN TO ALL THESE BREWERIES, AREN’T YOU IMPRESSED?
That was not my intent. New breweries are just so much fucking fun, sometimes I have to get up in your fucking face and lick you all over it like a goddamn unwieldy golden retriever. Beerbeerbeerbeer… love me! Let’s go to a brewery together! IPA! Double IPA! Please throw the tennis ball!
Don’t misunderstand, there are snobs out there looking to declare their intellectual superiority over you. Fuck them. This is THE time for fun and interesting beer styles. Everything is still relatively new and everyone is playing along together pretty well in the sandbox. This vibe certainly won’t last forever. It can’t. But what I love right now is the feeling.
Sorry if I sometimes slobber all over your face about it (or pollute the whole page with links).