Today is my Dad’s 75th birthday. Or it would be if he were still with us. He passed away in ’98 and since then I have taken this day to drink a beer with him. I don’t know if it’s to make up for all those I didn’t get to drink with him or just my way of remembering him, but wherever I am I hunt down his beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and drink it in his remembrance. Today I picked Gainesville House of Beer for this annual event.
Most of us probably learned about beer from our Dad’s. Even though there are lot more female beer drinkers today than have been (at least in the US) in the last couple hundred years, I would bet even most of them learned about beer from their Dad’s. The same way we learn a lot of things from our fathers, they do, we watch, we repeat.
I can remember as a kid helping Dad work on the car or some other work around the house and he would take a break and crack open a bottle or snap open a can, then slowly pour back the container and let it roll down then would stop and tip his head back up and slowly let the beer roll around on his tongue before he swallowed it. Then I would hear the inevitable, yet interesting “Aaaaaaahhh!”
I may not have known what he was having the first time I heard that sound but I certainly knew he was enjoying it. I catch myself doing the same thing occasionally. It’s that sound you make when you feel that quench being satisfied or the pang being quelled.
I just finished his PBR and am moving on to 3 Daughters Key Lime Cider because in Florida in July light and refreshing is the way to finish on a hot day. Having said that while it did help cleanse my pallet it was not quite the “Aaaaaahhh!” I was hoping for.
You see there a couple others things I learned from Dad. He wasn’t afraid to try something new.. at least not when it came to beer. After I got back from the Air Force or any time I went up to PA on vacation we made it a point to at least go out to a bar together at least once and have at least one beer. And it was always a draft, never a bottle or can. I learned from him that draft beers usually taste better than packaged, something that usually still holds true today. At least for me. We also tried to find a beer that we hadn’t had before.
More than a few people have asked me if I thought my Dad would have liked Craft Beer or stuck with his go to. I can answer that easily. His go to beer was for sitting around the house on the weekend and doing odd chores like working on the car or helping relatives build something, or having with a family picnic. But whenever he and I went to a bar together we would always have something different. I get the tendency for that from him.
Rowdy came in and joined me when the cider hit the bar in front of me. She stuck around and we philosphied a bit while supping suds. When I finished the cider I ordered an Old Rasputin Nitro, which I had had before but not as a nitro, which changes the texture of the beer certainly, but the flavor a little bit too.
I like the coffee flavor of Old Rasputin tempered slightly with the hint of chocolate, but when you add the nitro you take what could be to some a heavy feeling beer and add a nice malty feel to it. Now that’s the “Aaaaaaahhhhh!!!’ I was looking for.
So, Dad, I started this out with your go-to Macro beer, but ended up finishing it with a great Craft Beer I think you would have enjoyed trying with me. Order another round at that bar in the sky and give Mom a hug from me. Cheers!!
So part of my July 4th weekend was spent doing the usual, grilling food and spending time with friends and family. Part of this involved visiting a couple of new places in Gainesville as well as some of our regular haunts.
On Friday, June 30th, the Maestro and I met up at First Magnitude to begin Supping back some Suds and begin some earnest Philosophying. I started off with their Dunkulla Weizenbock which was a great example of a good roasty Weizenbock flavor. I also sampled their Kemp’s Ridley Radler and it tasted good but sweeter than I expected. But the highlight for me at First Mag that evening was their New England Style IPA Trop Hop, which had strong citrus and floral notes in the nose but a great IPA flavor with a clean finish, a very refreshing beer.
While there, the Maestro and I started up a conversation with two other gents, both Gator Alumni and one was visiting for the first time in many years. We discussed a lot of the changes that had happened around town since he had been here last. Then they eventually told us they had just left another brewery called Cypress & Grove Brewing that had just opened up.
Now I knew there was a new brewery opening, that was originally going to be called Rainstorm Brewing but they had to do a name change for some reason, but I never heard the new name. But when these gents told us where it was located I knew it was the same place. So the Maestro and I wrapped our conversation and decided to head over there and see what offerings they had available.
In the interim, Rowdy and the Cooler had texted us to see if we were still at First Mag so we told them where we were headed and said to meet us there.
Cypress & Grove has only had a soft opening so far and is still undergoing some construction. For instance the AC was not installed yet the night we went and they have a large game area where they will probably have Corn Hole games and other games set-up. But without the AC it was very hot in that section as well.
They had a small list of beers available, but they also had a wine and some of their own seltzer water with flavoring for any young ones. The beers listed included a Blonde, a Pale Ale, an IPA and a Stout. They haven’t come up with any catchy names yet so if you go to look the beers up on Untappd it’s just under the brewery name for now.
I started out with their IPA which had a pretty good flavor and finish. I would definitely order it again. The Maestro said they same about their Pale Ale. My second glass was their Stout which had a traditional Stout flavor and reminded me of a Guinness. I have to be careful when trying Stouts anymore as more and more folks are putting out Chocolate Stouts and Barrel-Aged Stouts and a normal Stout really doesn’t compare to those. But if you like Guinness you will probably like this one.
I asked some folks on the staff and the Grand Opening will be in August sometime. By then I suspect they will have the AC in place. But if you can take the heat I would recommend stopping by and trying some of their fare.
After our second beer there I was hungry and suggested we adjourn to Satchel’s for dinner, which the Maestro, Rowdy and the Cooler all agreed was a good idea.
Our wait at Satchel’s was short and we were shown to a table pretty quickly for a Friday evening. We decided to share a small house salad and do a Democratic large pizza. I call it Democratic because it includes 4 toppings and there were four of us present so we each got to pick a topping and each had a veto power over a topping. Democracy in action on a holiday weekend celebrating our liberty’s….
Sorry, I just felt a lump forming in my throat.
To accompany the pizza I ordered the Big John’s Apricot Wheat from Bold City Brewing. I gotta tell you I love Satchel’s, but that night the pizza, salad and beer combination really hit the spot. I left completely sated.
The second part of this blog story takes place the Monday after this visit on July 3rd. I worked that day and had a cold come back on me over the weekend so plans I had to visit a new Ice Cream shop over the weekend had been delayed. I was originally going to try and bring my sister, her husband and the kids with me, but since I didn’t go out on the weekend and this is kind of on my way home, I decided instead to see if they offered to-go quarts, which they do.
Indigo’s Homemade hasn’t been open a year yet and I actually discovered them through Twitter. But I have to say, when you first walk in the door it’s got a very nostalgic feel to it. The décor is definitely 50’s style with that old soda shop look to it. In the background you hear music from the 50’s/60’s and can see the accompanying videos on a couple of flat screen TVs.
The ice cream is in large container’s under a glass display where you can easily see them. I don’t remember the exact number but I am guessing they had 24 different flavors of ice cream to choose from. They have a waffle iron on the back counter where they make their own waffle cones. And they have enough homemade syrups and toppings to make any dish served very personally tailored.
I talked with the lady behind the counter while she filled my quarts and found out that the ice cream is made locally by a company in Tampa, but it is fresh made and uses local ingredients, except for the Caramel which comes from Peru and the chocolate in the Dutch Chocolate, which is one of the quarts I ordered. The other two were Vanilla and Strawberry Cheescake. The service was great and the décor was very well done.
The real test though came later that night after dinner. I decided again to play Democracy and give every flavor a chance at impressing me. Unfortunately, it is next to impossible for me to try and have something like ice cream without Tucker catching wind of it, no matter how hard I try. So the entire time I was scooping and sampling he was right there watching.
Now some of you may ask with 24 flavors available why I would order Vanilla. I like Vanilla, particularly good Vanilla. And I have to tell you this is good Vanilla. Really good flavor and the texture is very smooth and that buttery-creamy texture that homemade ice cream should have. It was sweet without having that over-sweet flavor that a lot of store bought ice cream has.
The Strawberry Cheesecake doesn’t just taste like strawberry cheesecake, it has chucks of strawberries and cheesecake in it. And the Dutch Chocolate doesn’t taste like store-bought milk chocolate ice cream, but dark chocolate from the Black Forest Region of Germany. Rich flavor without being sickeningly sweet with a creamy texture. I gotta say I loved all three and am looking forward to another bowl this evening.
I definitely recommend stopping by Indigo’s Homemade. I certainly will again and the next time I want one of their homemade waffle cones.
Just an FYI I couldn’t resist letting Tucker lick the bowl. And he wants more too.
So if you have seen any of the latest Craft Beer related news lately you may have seen some hub-bub both from the Macro side of the aisle and from the Independent (formerly referred to as Craft) side of the aisle.
It all has to do with the newly created seal (see below) put out by the Brewers Association which can be used to differentiate between beers created by small independent brewers and those owned by the macro beer companies.
If you have been paying attention at all then you know that the Macros (which I will use to refer to AB InBev, Molson/Coors, Heineken International, Constellation Brands, and Pabst Brewing Company) have been trying to purchase Craft Breweries (and succeeding) on the sly to stop their bleeding loss of market share. At one point these Macros owned 99% of the world market share and pretty much 100% of the American market share. But in the last 20 or so years that share has fallen to 75-80% thanks to the renaissance of Craft Beer.
This trend is also starting gain a foothold in Europe and Asia as well, potentially leading to more losses for the Macros. To try and win back those they have lost to the Craft Beer movement, the Macros have started a campaign of purchasing craft breweries to add to their brand lines. AB InBev has actually called their craft brand line their High End line (visit their website if you don’t believe me). Of the 18 brands listed there Breckenridge, Goose Island, Leffe, Shock Top and Wicked Weed were all indepenedent brewers until recently. Molson/Coors purchased Terrapin Brewing, Constellation Brands purchased Ballast Point and Heineken International has recently purchased Lagunitas Brewing. All of these were known successful Brewing companies with a good following. These purchases are meant to enhance their already burgeoning portfolio of brands (see list of brands in link below).
FYI – This list is created with information pulled directly from the websites of these Macros.
The Brewer’s Association has decided to fight back to differentiate their brands from those controlled by the Macros by creating the above seal which Independent Brewers can place on their products so their will be easily identifiable to those folks who care about who they are buying their beer from.
The Macros have responded saying that these seals have nothing to do with beer quality and are misleading to the customer.
If the Macros were making quality beer to begin with then why have they lost such a huge chunk of market share? If the Macros were making quality product to begin with then why are their bolstering their brands by buying craft breweries? And why do they use bullying tactics with their distribution channels to keep Independent Craft Breweries from being able to reach more customers?
Budweiser, which is no longer an American owned brewing company, has once again this summer changed their labels to the brand name “America” to reinforce the idea that they are still the King of Beers. Kaaachhhkk!! Sorry something caught in my throat. Budweiser is about as American as the $5 tee-shirts made by children in Asian sweatshops.
Don’t get me wrong… this is still America and you are free to choose whatever beer you like. If any of the beers listed on the Macro list in the link above are your go-to beer then enjoy it to your hearts content. But don’t try to tell me that slapping the name “America” on a beer that, in my opinion, tastes like horse piss will make it any better.
And if you really want to be patriotic, then why not actually switch, or at least try drinking, a beer made by an American owned company and generating profits that benefit not only American workers but the communities they live in, your locally owned Independent Craft Brewer.
The United States was founded on the idea of freedom. Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Taxation without representation (okay – I’m finding that one hard to swallow sometimes too), are all basic tenets of the Constitution. I am sure that if some of the Founding Fathers were here today they would easily prefer the beer available at your local brewery than the watered down product mass-produced and filling the shelves at your local store or distributor.
Let freedom ring and hoist a glass to flavor and the right to choose it!!