Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Ride on the Craft Beer Train!

The other day I started thinking of how my ride on the craft beer train first started.   For me, it started in college around the age of 21.  The transition from bud light and the other flavorless beers, to craft beer certainly did not happen overnight.  Nothing happens overnight.  Instead it was a slow, slow transition, and I can trace the beginnings back to my 3rd year (Junior Year) of college.  This is when I tried my first Guiness Foreign Export Stout.

Being in college I needed a part time job so I could have some spending money.  I took a job delivering food late night to college kids who had a case of the munchies.  It was routine for me to always stop at the convenience store, after my shift was over, to grab a 22 oz or 40 oz. beer to drink before bed.   Just something to relax me from a crazy night delivering food.  My go to choices were usually Bud Light, Coors Light, or if I was feeling a little crazy that day, I would go with a Heineken or Amstel Light.   One day, I just decided to try something new and went with a Guiness Extra Stout.   It was eye opening when I realized how much flavor that beer had compared to all the other beers I had ever had.  For the next few months the Guiness Extra Stout was my go to beer for my after-work- late- night- beer- before- bed.

The next transition came a few months later in my senior year of college.   It was then that I got some new roommates, and one of them had quite the palette for beer.   He would drink all sorts of beers that I had never heard of, and didn’t really care to try for some reason.  One day he went to Cooperstown, which was about an hour long drive from the campus, and hit up the breweries there.  Cooperstown had two breweries at the time, one of them being Ommegang.   He returned hours later with a healthy buzz and a few fancy looking 750 ml bottles that were from the Ommegang Brewery.  One was called Hennepin and the other Rare Vos.  At the time I had never heard of Ommegang, or their fancy looking/sounding beers.   I was shocked and remember finding it silly that they had corks instead of bottle caps.  As I said, he had a healthy buzz going and wanted it to get a bit healthier, so he popped the cork on the Hennepin and invited me to share it with him.  I was skeptical but decided to go with it.  It poured a light straw color, so how crazy could it be.  Well it wasn’t crazy, it was Phenomonal.    I absolutely pounded loved it and started asking questions about it.  I learned it was a Saison, which is a Belgian style of beer.  I was itching to try the Rare Vos, since the Hennepin was so delicious.  He popped the cork on the Rare Vos and poured us each a glass full, and I loved that one too.  Wow, my life was changing before my eyes.  I learned that the Rare Vos is a Belgian Specialty style of beer.  I didn’t know what it meant, but I did agree that it tasted “special!”   After that day, my fearless exploration into the world of craft beer began.  I can’t say that right away I liked the Imperial Stouts and Double IPA’s of the world, but I was starting to really enjoy Hefeweizens, Belgian Whites, Saisons, Pale Ales, and Stouts.  My mind was open, and so was my mouth.  I had no fear for any beer!  Once I went craft, I never went back!

After I completed college and moved back home, I started realizing that there were actual breweries and brewpubs within an hour or so of my house, and started to explore those.  I quickly developed an obsession with locally brewed beer.  Some notables that I frequented often were Brown’s Brewing Company, Madison Brewing Company, Long Trail Brewing Company, and Albany Pump Station.  I began to slowly like more and more different styles of beers, such as Imperial Stouts, IPA’s, and Imperial/Double IPA’s.  I pretty much found it hard to find a beer that I didn’t enjoy.  There were so many breweries out there, and so many different styles of beer out there.  I became almost obsessed and in love with beer.  I am now 33, and my love for craft beer has only grown.  I have even made it a hobby to brew my own craft beer, and usually brew a batch every month or two.   My other hobby is this website, which I spend many hours per week writing blogs and brainstorming things I can write about.  Although I have no monetary gain to show from this website, I have met many great people, and made good friends with people who also have fallen in love with craft beer.   There are many of us out there, and we are only growing in numbers.  I would love to hear back from some of you and hear how your journey on the craft beer train came to be.



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