Growing up, I remember my father drinking Ballantine Ale. This was the only beer he ever drank and probably my first beer. Interestingly, most mass-produced American beers are lagers (think any of the Anheuser Bush products). Perhaps my father was onto something. The beers that make-up today's growing craft-beer/micro-brewed market are primarily ales. I personally think ales have more complex flavors. If you're downing a beer because you've been out working in the yard, a Natty Light works just fine. If you are kicking back looking to drink something yummy, go with an ale.
Yesterday, Countrymouse and I joined my parents on a tour of the Dogfish Head Brewery. We pretty much live in their backyard, so it was a fun, easy thing to do.
Our guide, John, was excellent. He is a homebrewer himself, so I think he was more invested in explaining what we saw.
My EC Brother is a certified beer judge and homebrewer. He is somewhat critical of Dogfish, but I like them. I think some of his wariness is focused on their more experimental beers. Take their Theobroma, for example. It's brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs, honey, chilies, and annatto (fragrant tree seeds). The Immort Ale, one of their more popular brews, is made with juniper berries, vanilla and maple syrup. Probably not what your average Joe wants in his beer. Those are the kinds of beers I will have one of and move on to something else.
I love wine but beer definitely has a place in my life. Beer is easy. Popping open a bottle of beer is no big deal; opening a bottle wine can turn into a production from what do you open to how do you get it open. (Make no mistake, this is generally an undertaking I am prepared to deal with.) What I learned during the tour was the brewing process is a complex procedure.
I thought it was cool that you can change the flavor of a beer by brewing it in different containers... just like wine.
Part of the fun yesterday was that my parents enjoyed themselves. My mother is the most NOT A BEER DRINKER person I know, so I had some concerns. It was also a walking tour... ditto on the concerns. My father comes from that same good beer stock and it was his idea to begin with, so I knew we'd be good on that front.
The real shocker is that my mother had a good time! We each received 4 4-ounce samples at the end of the tour. (This is mandated by Delaware state law, but DFH was more than generous.) My mother tried each one of the four: 60-Minute IPA, Midas Touch, Palo Santo Marron and Immort Ale. In addition to not being a beer drinker, my mother is really not a wine drinker either. I kept wondering if they were brewing something with whiskey... that would have been a brew she'd like. She wasn't so crazy for any of them but did enjoy the Midas Touch. This is a cross between beer and mead, so it's the least beer tasting beer we tried. Cold it's okay, but after it starts to warm up it reminds me of a really sweet chardonnay. (Now I know what kind of wine to buy her.)
WC Brother's favorite beer is the Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA. (Good thing he moved to Calli after they started shipping DFH there last year.) It reminds me of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I like their Aprihop. It's surprisingly refreshing for a fruit ale. EC Brother thinks fruit and beer are two things that should never mingle. I always have a fridge full of some kind of pumpkin ale come fall. (But I always have non-fruit beers for the purists in my family, including Countrymouse.)
We bought some beer at the brewery. It's the freshest and cheapest you'll find it. We probably should have gotten more. Somehow, I think we'll find our way back to Milton a few times this summer to stock up!PS: I really did have a great time, even if I don't look like it in the photos. This was my attempt to smile gently instead of my usual full-on grin. Guess you just have to stick to who you are.