April 21, 2010

What you've waited three years for : The Raging Panda on "Beer"

I asked women out there a few q's about beer- and the first one that got back to me was my roomie, the Raging Panda.  She took time out of her day to share her beer story.  And now I want to share it with you. It's lonnnngg. She's obviously all caught up on work at the office today;) I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

For the love of beer!  by the Raging Panda

When i think about beer the first "things" that come to mind are 
1.) Having craft beer poured down my throat by that mischievous Casey Hughes because he has a sick sense of humor and finds my drunken antics amusing and
2. the impressive array of specialty beer that fills my refrigerator thanks to my favorite roommate, you beerlass.  every time i come home with groceries i get a little excited to rearrange the fridge so i can just admire the labels and become humbled by how many different styles there are lining the shelves - at any given time there could be 30 different types of beer at our house (and that's being conservative...).  

I was lucky to be born as the youngest child with two older brothers who liked to drink.  I first realized there was a whole world of booze when I went to some concert with my brother's friends and all these hippies had these weirdo beers in comparison to my Yuengling.  The first beer I was handed was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and some dude had a variety case of Sam Adams in a cooler on a skateboard that he was selling for $4 a beer.  What's THAT about, I wondered....  Hippies are good for something apparently.  

When I got to college and wasn't drinking 40 oz in the dorms we were traveling.  The summer after freshman year brought me all over the country to more hippy places with strange local beers which was awesome.  We got a keg of Fat Tire when we got to Colorado and a case of Anchor Steam was in the fridge in Oakland.  Everywhere we went there was something new and different. Brother John was brewing beer during this time and the whole world of beer had just sort of arrived in front of me. That was 2002.

There are many things that I love about beer.  Here are a few:
1. the science of it - the chemistry behind why different beers have different qualities. As a liquid, beer certainly takes on many properties and it's exciting. Different viscosities and textures, flavors, aftertastes and carbonation levels play with your senses as you drink.

2. the craft of it
it's an art form, to make beer one needs to have a passion for it. As Suz and Mashington show, you've got to have a passion to sell it also.  I've been lucky enough to get to know some great people who make beer for a living and they are so dedicated to the craft of it. this is something i admire about it.  the pursuit of perfection in brewing on the most basic level.  This craft, there's something ancient about it.  i love it. they study intensely, they get up early and spend an entire day sweating and brewing, researching; it's almost like the old alchemist perfecting a potion, or a shaman mixing a healing concoction. that's right, beer is healing if you ask me.

3. the health of it
As a full on advocate of selzter water's health benefits (see http://www.drbriffa.com/blog/2005/01/23/sparkling-water/)   (As her room mate I can totally attest to this) I can say that there is something settling about a having a beer with/after dinner.  At times, it almost acts as a digestive. In addition, as a person with low blood pressure, alcohol has been known to raise blood pressure, which I appreciate (until i'm hung over so badly that my heart wants to jump out of my chest, but besides that).

4. The taste of it.  grey goose is grey goose. Jaegermeister is Jaegermeister. and, unless it's a really amazing wine (or a really shitty wine), you know what to expect with the common fermented grape beverage you can order by the glass in most restaurants.  Don't get me wrong, I will get down with a box o' vino (fish eye 3 gallon all day, oh yeah), however, there are flavors that come through in beer that you would never expect. And, more impportantly, in Philly the trend has been for restaurants and bars to carry more and more local and specialty beers  This equals more variety, another thing I like). Remember when Fava made that beer with wormwood in it? There was no mistaking it. There's the rice in the exit 11. The cherries in that one Bell's?  Outstanding. 
A day that stands out in my memory was a day I was breaking up with an ex-boyfriend and I had a Blue Point Blueberry beer.  I know it sounds cheesy- and it was- but I remember tasting it thinking that I wasn't bitter and neither was my beer.  ha. 
The chocolate-y, maltiness of Founder's Breakfast Stout, PAH-lease! That ish is so rich and delicious I can't even take it.
The hint of grapefruit in the seasonal spritzy Saisons is also something I love and it's something that brings on a certain feeling of nostalgia (also a plus). 
5. social lubricant.  Sure I can drink cocktails all night with my ladies, but there is nothing better than beers to bring me down the home stretch of a marathon of drinking.  These marathons usually include a stop at the Piazza for an old go-to of Bell's Two Hearted, Stone's IPA or maybe something a bit more fancy like a firkin of something local. I might grab some bottles at the Foodery and head to the park or a house party- something Pils, something Corona 22, something Old E? yeah.  If there's a dance party happening, I'm probably drinking Philly's distilled water, aka PBRs because they are cheap, and well, like water.  By the time a dance party gets into full effect I've already had my fill of big beers with dinner, and as a person on the smaller size it's a trick I've been forced to learn when hanging with some of the brewers (see C. Hughes reference above)  Suz I hope you don't kill me for admitting my love of 40 oz. and gross beer. But it gets the job done sometimes. 

There is nothing better than trying the one-offs that come into town with a couple good friends at a great bar with a familiar face pouring them. The hilarity that ensues when you go from a snack and something malty and mild at Varga to full throttle triple IPAs with a whiskey chaser at Good Dog by the end of the night is something I cherish. Seriously though, the different effects different beers have on a person are strange and intriguing, sparking curiosity in me about who in their right mind would make a 10% beer so easily drinkable to getting to meet that brewer and hearing the story to how they got the hoppiest of beers to have such a smooth aftertaste.  
The stories and the innovation are what get me.
It's an industry where innovation is praised as a market driver, and I appreciate that as an American.  

It goes well with our courtyard. It's a nice accessory for company.  It's a great gift to give and receive.     


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