As much as I'd love to pretend I've been this cool and drinking craft beer for a decade, I can't lie. I slugged a lot of High Life's and Lite’s back in my heyday, but in reality I'm just approaching my two year anniversary on the craft scene. A common misconception is that my ginger haired boyfriend turned me on to beer when in fact it was the intelligent, lovely and extremely awesome Jennifer Slavic. Steve Mashington has just been perfecting it. Slavic and I became the inseparable South Philly duo to crash all the latest beer events. Our goal was to find my beer style. Naturally the usual suspects (Yards, Sly Fox, Flying Fish, etc) were my intro to the massive selection out there in the beer world.
Then I met Suzy Woods. (that's me;)
She gave me my first beer assignment and I spent two nights researching beer styles and the process itself. At this point in my craft beer drinking career I was quite familiar with the Yards selection and used it as a style guide (I was also attempting to woo that sassy red head). I discovered my love for hops. I put the wooing aside and began a love affair with all things IPA and hoppy. I went crazy for Ithaca Flower Power, Victory Hopdevil & anything with IPA written on the label. I reported to Suzy immediately and beerlass.com became my bible. For an introductory crash course on beer I found myself in the middle of some awesome teachers who only teach by example; Casey Hughes, Steve Mash & Suzy Woods.
Eventually I branched out and learned more about stouts (drooling just thinking about Exit 1), Belgian ales (Matilda from Goose Island & Ommegang's Abbey Double), wheats (wow, I was unaware of the subcategories here & could go on with examples) and then I fell in love with smoked beers. I like it smokey and for a hot minute I was all over Spring House's Smoked Porter and the Schlenkerla Rauchbier. I won't fail to mention the ever tasty perfectly poured beer from the hand pump (mmm ESA). I even traded in my choice of beverage for the Holiest of all South Philly holidays - The Mummer's Parade. You'll only catch me running around town with a schoolbag full of Sly Fox Pilsner. I'm beginning to approach my beverage consumption much like my food intake - no discrimination, well, at least among the craft industry. I'm partial to certain style more than others but what I've learned from Red is sometimes I just need to put aside a preconceived notion, take a big whiff and a hearty sip of something tasty. My taste palate changes as some days I just need a big 'ol hearty robust flavor and others I just need something mild yet tasty. To date, none of my teachers have steered me wrong.
I'm still no expert but I no longer need Slavic to order my beers and I have the ability to make suggestions to others now.
Recently I've delved into the world of cooking with beer. I'm obsessed with Rauchbier mussels, my infamous South Philly Brawlin’ Bacon Peanut Butter brownies (yes you read that correct, it’s not an Urban Legend) and hopefully soon stout truffles.
I'm a huge fan of beer dinners. Here's where I think a beer's complexity shines the most. Here is where you truly pick up each characteristic of the various tastes and ingredients that are described in the beers I enjoy so much. I have to pay homage to Frank Winslow, who if you haven't attended a beer dinner where he speaks you don't know what your missing, this guy is a genius. He's the perfect style guide for your taste buds. Take a sip of Yard's G.W. Porter after a cherry that's been marinating in it overnight and you'll dance with the sweet wine like characteristic, perhaps its the molasses coming through. Sip it after a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you're smacked in the face with the deeper chocolate coffee notes. This is why I love beer. What about snacking on your favorite blue cheese and washing it down with Exit 16? Delicious. The bitterness of the Chinook washing off the salty sharpness, what's not to love? Oh and it's a double IPA. I love the aspect of pulling out different notes in the beer according to what you’re eating.
Are we an anomaly? Yes. In a positive sense. We're chicks who broke the norm and are truly unique with even more unique taste buds. If we're a deviation from the Buds & Millers then YES! By all means I am an anomaly. I truly believe the ladies of Philadelphia represent a large portion of talented women who know and love their beer. Hail to the mighty IPA club, long live women who enjoy (and sometimes are more knowledgeable than their male counterparts) craft beer!
Cheers, Slainte, Salute,