Welcome to Pints and Potables, people call me Beersnob. Some of you are probably thinking that it’s rather convenient that I have a nickname that nicely fits the content of the blog, but the nickname goes back over 20 years for me. It arose because people would call me a snob for not drinking domestic mass market beer and preferring the more expensive alternatives. Honestly, I would rather not drink at all, than try to drink the cheap beers.
In all my years drinking, I have never been a huge fan of the mass market lager, which is what most of the top selling beers are. On occasion, I have tried to drink them, but at some point, my body starts to refuse to swallow, almost in rejection of the beer. It was tough when I was younger and those top selling brands were the only beers available to drink at parties or gatherings. People often mistook me for someone who didn’t drink, when it was really a matter of having something that I would/could drink.
After bashing lagers, it’s surprising that the first beers that I somewhat enjoyed, in my younger years, were Icehouse and Killian’s Red. Sure, both of these were lagers, but they didn’t seem to follow the formula for the other mass-market lagers. I was young, in college, and needed something that I could drink out at the bars. So, these were my go to beers.
It was shortly after college, when I started my first professional job and had a little bit of money to spend, that I was introduced to a more sophisticated crowd of people to drink with. We used to have a happy hour at a place called B. Merrells. B. Merrells had beers from around the world and harder to get domestic beers. A door had been opened, and I thought that I had died and gone to heaven. So many types and flavors. Almost like Pokemon, I had to try them all.
I am not much for drinking by myself. I consider myself a social drinker. After I left my first professional job and as my happy hour crew convened less and less frequently, I found myself drinking a lot less. In the dry spell, I would buy a mixed six-pack at this wonderful liquor store called Market Square Liquors. Normally, these beers would last me a couple of weeks. The cool thing is that Market Square is they have staff that are specialized in different types of liquor and beers, which means they tend to carry top notch stuff. It has been my go to place for beer and liquor for over 20 years.
It was during this period, the dry spell, that I began to understand my palate. I received more enjoyment from the Ale family of beers, and more specifically Stouts and Porters. I remember the day that I found Grant’s Perfect Porter on draft at one of the local bars. It was the mid 90s. I was amazed at the richness of the flavor and the creaminess of the beer. It was unlike anything that I had to drink at that point. The night that I found Grant’s, I proceeded to drink 5 or 6 pints. It was so good. To this day, Porters are one of my all-time favorite beers to drink.
My next big discovery was when I was traveling to the Washington D.C. area for work, around 2008. One of my co-workers took a few of us out to the Dogfish Head Brew Pub in Falls Church, Virginia. It was there that I had found home. Every beer was made by Dogfish Head. Every beer was draft. Every beer was a delight to my taste buds. Different beers were served in different types of glasses to enhance the experience. This was next level type stuff for me. No matter what the cost, I had to try as many as I could. It was quite possibly the drunkest I had been since college, but through the experience I gained a whole new perspective on the Craft Beer and what it had to offer.
Up to this point, I had never actually been to an actual brewery. Of course, I had been to restaurants that brewed their own beers, which could be quite delightful if they had a good zymurgist. At some point, my brother took me on a tour of craft breweries in Jacksonville, Florida. It was here that I learned about small batch beers and doing flights of fresh draft beer, right off the line. Again, I fell in love with beer in a whole different way.
This brings us to almost modern day. In Florida, it took a while for the Legislators to catch up to other states in terms of the size of containers that could be sold. Florida only allowed the sale of specific sized containers (8, 12, 16, 32 ounce) for years, meaning that taprooms could not sell of growlers or other distributors couldn’t bring in odd sized cans and bottles. Rumor has it that Florida legislated, in 1965, that only specific container sizes could be sold in Florida to stop Miller from selling 7oz bottled beer here. I guess some Legislators were bitter about Miller building a brewery across the border in Georgia, instead of in Florida. The law has since been fixed, and the last 6 years has allowed Floridians to participate in the era of micro and craft brew. Once again, I have been filled with a whole new sense of wonder for what is out there, and I have a place to journey through the Craft Brew world.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading my background as it relates to beer. I hope that sharing my experiences will help you find the beers that you will truly enjoy.