“I Voted” for Beer

So, it’s election day. You’ve voted, or are thinking about voting, and you deserve to be rewarded for it (GO VOTE – and don’t forget to educate yourself on who supports Sunday Sales, courtesy of MNBeerActivists).

Be thankful you live in Minnesota, not Kentucky or South Carolina, where you can’t buy alcohol on Election Day. Although it is illegal to drink and vote (obvi), here is a [CONSTANTLY UPDATED LIST OF] few Twin Cities deals that your coveted “I Voted” sticker can get you, after you vote.

Inbound Brewco: Buy one, get one beers all day with “I Voted” sticker

FREE BEER // Show us your #iVoted sticker, buy a pint, and the second one is on us // ALL DAY

A post shared by InboundBrewCo (@inboundbrewco) on

 

Sisyphus Brewing: $4 beers all day with “I Voted” sticker as well as a special barrel-aged beer from their cellar on tap.

We all deserve a beer after this election circus. #govote #mnbeer #becausebecause #vote2016

A post shared by Sisyphus Brewing (@sisyphusbrewing) on

 

Maple Island Brewing (Stillwater): “I Voted” sticker gets $2 off first pint

Town Hall Brewery: $1 for a pint at any Town Hall restaurant with “I Voted” sticker and FiveStars rewards card.

Fair State Brewing Coop: $1 off all beer and NA options in addition to a results viewing party 8-11pm. More importantly, you should consider #TonkTheVote – vote for Charlie Tonks for Best Craft Beard in Growler Mag’s Kind-of-a-Big-Deal Awards.

LynLake Brewing: $2 off a beer with a “I Voted” sticker

Modist BrewingWith your “I Voted” sticker get pPhresh – $3 for a pint, $2 for a tulip or a growler fill for $10.

Insight Brewing: Extended happy hour pricing 3-8pm ($3 pints)

Norseman Distillery: Not beer, I know, but $5 Harvey Wallbangers all night is a great idea!

 

Big Wood Brewery (White Bear): $1 off your first pint with “I Voted” sticker

 

Even liquor stores are getting into it! Lowry Hill Liquors is giving 10% off non-sale alcohol with your “I Voted” sticker.

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Every Good Brewery Has a Creation Story

As many of you know, there’s nothing I like more than a good brewery creation story, especially when I’m on my one-billionth brewery tour. But I’m talking deeply-rooted cultural beginnings type of creation story that defines the brewery’s entire life and being, not just “I homebrewed and I was good at it, then a lot of people said I should start a brewery so then I did.” Like all of the world’s cultures, microbreweries have—and need—them too.  Something that reminds them of why they’re doing what they’re doing, what drew them into beer, what makes them a brewer you the consumer should come to know, respect and even love, like you would your a person. The creation story is frequently alluded to in the brewery’s name or the taproom décor or the beers they brew or the names they choose for those brews. But it’s everything. No creation story, no soul.

Bent paddles on the brewery floor

You’ve heard them all. Half Pints brewery in Winnipeg was started by a man who began his brewing career at a Big Brewery where he would get free beer at the end of every shift. A family man (who told me that there are two types of brewers out there: scientists and drunks, he of course being the former) who just wanted to top off his day and get home, would only order 8 ounce pours, earning him the nickname, and name of his future brewery, “half pint”. Bent Paddle in Duluth was started by a man who, while brewing at Rock Bottom, and was looking for a mash paddle that would do the job juuuust right, and realized he had the perfect thing in the trunk of his car—a bent canoe paddle. It worked wonders, and beyond becoming the name of his own brewery, it is now a mainstay on the floor.

These stories are for real. These people are for real. Sure, maybe these quaint stories have been molded into the truths that are told by tour guides or bartenders or local beer nuts, but if we believe them to be true they are true and their stories become our stories. Like them, I’m sure you have a story of when you first discovered craft beer. Of when you first discovered your love for homebrew. Of when you began your journey into commercial-microbrewing. Mine to come at a later date.

I would say the stories are what makes craft beer so fascinating. But the weird thing is, the Big Guys have them too. They are some of the oldest and most historically-significant corporations of our time and their stories are deeply rooted in some of the same things our favorite craft breweries are, like the entrepreneurial spirit, elegant craftsmanship, and building a tradition based on that of our forefathers. But beyond that, they helped build statistics as we know it today, branding as we are in awe of today, and industry that many can only dream of. But what makes their stories different? My uncle, who pretty much only drinks Miller Lite connects to the brand as much as I connect to Indeed Brewing (which is, for the record, probably my favorite Minneapolis brewery) but dare I say he connects on an even deeper level. It was the beer his father, my grandfather, drank every day after a hard day of work a machinist; it was the beer he guzzled in college; and it is the beer he now chooses for his games of golf.

So as much as the craft beer revolution is based around being the other, microbreweries setting themselves apart from the Big Boys by defining themselves as something they’re not, intentionally creating a cultural fission between micro and macro, I only see the two becoming more similar, more united, more one. I mean, Summit is already doing throwback labels, building a brand based on nostalgia and a history of quality – um, that sounds familiar!

But I don’t have an answer to this and I definitely don’t have a solution, perhaps because I don’t truly see it as a problem (Cocky Liz just thinks “Well, macrobreweries just keep losing market share, and clamber to gain it back to no avail, so no worries. Right?”). Maybe the issue is that as craft beer lovers we’ve built a healthy amount of hatred towards the category leaders; we want to support our local favorites, our friends, our city. But how different are they really?

Girl, You Want That Hop Bod?!

All right, so you have a deep, undying love for beer. Sure, you’re not alone in the world. But do you love the smell of hops so much you would literally bathe yourself in it? Or so much that you would want the smell to engulf you 24/7 (whether or not you’re drunk)? Then you’re in luck, because there are some people as beer obsessed as you are with a penchant for entrepreneurship.

I’ve made a list of some cool beer and hop paraphernalia that might tickle your fancy. Or if you’re looking to buy me a gift, any of these would do. Thanks!

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Candles Made from Recycled Bottles:

A cool way to reuse bottles and decorate your home, if you’re into that beer chic look (which I am). Although the candles are unscented and more akin to tea lights, the bottled candles last a long time and look beautiful. Like these Growler Lamps that I desperately want to make (considering that Fitger’s does not give you the deposit back on growlers and I have several).

beer candles

Hop-Scented Candles:

the candle labThis is probably the most intriguing to me because of the disclaimer that not everyone, even homebrewers, will like the candles’ smell. Although saying that “it’s like sticking your nose in a glass of hoppy beer” sounds awesome, it worries me that the candle is based off “one kind of hop”. Tell me the kind, even name the candle after said variety. But in their defense, hops do have a strong smell and it’s definitely not for everyone. But if this candle can replicate the smell of the moment you drop the hops in the mash, I want it. Bad.

Hops ShampooESB Shampoo and Conditioner:

hops shampoo duffys ESB ShampooYes, please. Pour it on me. Hops shampoo sounds delicious, and I bet it is good for my hair what with its preservative properties. And the branding? Swoon. I could use a matching conditioner though, I don’t know if it would go with the rosemary mint thing I’ve got going on. Duffy’s ESB Shampoo and Conditioner look pretty good, albeit a little male-oriented, which is fine I guess. What’s cool is they actually used an ESB from Elysian Brewing Company to make it and in the description, detail the hops and malts that go into the beer and how it impacts the hair product.

Hops Lip Balm:

hop lip balm

I know it’s cheap to spotlight a product from the same brand I mentioned earlier, Atlantic Farms, but what’s cool about the hops lip balm is that they offer four different ones, a Lavender, Mint, Grapefruit and Double IPA (as if there weren’t enough hops or hop smell in it already – they even name them, Chinook and Cascade). All natural and organic, they’re not cheap, but damn they look tasty. The only question is, would it be weird to drink a beer with one of those on your lips? Maybe.

Beer Soap & Hops Body Bar:

foggy brew sudsdamn handsome hop shampooFoggy Brew Suds doesn’t just use hops, but “local varieties of lager, ale, stout and porter” to hand-make the soap. Each bar has the flavor profile on it (or I guess olfactory profile, because you shouldn’t eat soap) that describes both the smell and the texture. I’m not sure if I would use it for my body, but then again a nice stout would be so creamy and soft on my skin, I couldn’t resist. Damn Handsome Grooming Co. has their branding down – slick and manly and referencing brewing companies in the name, it almost makes me want to hate them for so clearly excluding me. But I get it, guys don’t like to shower, so why not make if fun and beer-focused? Eye roll. Hence the Hop Shampoo and Body Bar, which looks damn good. But most other stuff is sold out, and this one makes me the saddest – Fall Nut Brown Liquid Beer Soap made with damn handsome beer soapspent grains. But they have it all: beard oil, hair wax, even tattoo rescue oil. The thing I want most, however, is the seasonal favorite Pumpkin Ale Beer Soap that you get free with ordering (I don’t want to put soap in my hair, but I will use it on my body, thank you). I just bought the last one, sorry for you.

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The real question: would you consider me a crazy person if I had every one of these products? I hop(e) not, because I really, really want them.

The Beauty and Elegance of High-Low Beer and Food Pairing

Recently I’ve been itching to go to a beer dinner, a really delicious excuse to eat too much delicious food and drink too much delicious beer, but to be honest, they’re just too expensive. I mean $50 for a four-course meal with 4 beers is pretty reasonable, assuming that each of those beers costs $5, that’s $20 and then the dinner itself is $30. However the reason person within me thinks ‘wow, when was the last time you spent $50 just on food for yourself in a normal restaurant situation?’ I feel like beer dinners should just be cheaper – you’re a captive audience and supporter and blowing $100 on a weeknight meal for two just feels frivolous to do more than once a year. It’s ok to make it expensive sometimes especially if you’re involving a renowned chef, but to really get people excited and learning about craft beer and food/beer pairings, you have to make it more accessible – lower the cost.

However, it’s a two-fold situation. Beer-pairing dinners are the little brother to wine-pairing dinners, which are arguably more expensive and, for lack of a better word, ritzy. The discourse around wine is much more sophisticated and as are the people that talk about the ‘bouquet of the wine’ and nibble crackers in between tastings (that apparently you are not supposed to actually swallow). Wine is supposed to go with high-class food while beer goes with sporting games and burgers. But as we’ve seen recently ‘everyday’ food like burgers and grilled cheeses are become more popular, more ritzy, and definitely more expensive. So why not pair beer with those things instead of the unattainable Michelin star-type food you find matched up with wine? Well, some do, but then they charge wine dinner prices for it. Sure good quality craft beer isn’t cheap, but it’s definitely not fancy pants wine and that’s not what beer is all about so why charge like it is? Beer is for the people, even craft beer, believe it or not.

If craft beer is expensive then won’t people think it’s better and more elite, like wine? So then it practically needs to have events similar to those with wine. Craft beer no longer competes against crappy American lagers, it competes against wine. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, people who say they don’t like beer just haven’t found the right one. There is a larger variety of flavor profiles in beer than there is in wine because it can literally be or taste like anything – craft brewers are getting adventurous and by over-pricing beer dinners, people are missing out. Pairing craft beer with gourmet food isn’t the ‘next big thing’ because it’s here and frankly it’s unsustainable and further alienates people that craft beer has left behind. The future of craft beer and food is high-low beer pairings, bringing the people and the beer together rather than the beer to the people.

Last summer for a friend’s birthday we went to the Lagunitas and Heggie’s pizza beer-pairing dinner at the Nomad World Pub. It was awesome. For $20 we had four (five?) glasses of Lagunitas paired with five different slices of the famous bar-only Heggie’s frozen pizza. As an appetizer we had a handful of Totino’s pizza rolls in a whiskey glass served with a tasting glass of beer and then from there, the beer and pizza were flowing. Before every new pizza and beer, the local Lagunitas rep gave us a brief description of both and why they went well together – there were no white tablecloths, no cloth napkins for that matter, just a lot of beautiful patio and tasty beers. I honestly can’t tell you why there weren’t more people there – am I the only one who likes cheap craft beer and above average frozen pizza? Perhaps.

But my point still stands. Through that event, Lagunitas got their name out in the community, we got to try more Lagunitas than I have even had at a beer festival and we ate plenty – it was a successful beer dinner by all definitions.  So now I want more but I have seen none. Unlike a wine-pairing dinner that teaches people that the only way to enjoy good wine and good food is to pay a lot at a fancy restaurant, the beauty of the high-low beer pairing is that it is inexpensive for everyone and a great way to focus on the beer and how to pair and enjoy it with everyday foods. That’s what craft beer is all about.

Beer Black Hole

As I stared at the never-ending rows of craft beer at Zipp’s, overcome with indecision and displeasure, I realized that I have a problem. I am bored by craft beer in its current state. It makes me sad and grumpy and disappointed – like a parent whose child wrecked the family car and claimed it was an accident when it was clearly a case of distracted driving. I have tried so many beers, and love trying so many beers, to such an extent that it is the core element of the beer experience for me now. I no longer want to just drink a beer; I want to try a new beer. I want to evaluate it. I want to recommend it to friends and love it for that moment, for that six-pack, and move on to another. And repeat. So I just stared at the beers, settling on a tried and true brew, but I was disheartened. How many others are suffering from this illness? This I-need-a-new-brew-to-survive disease? And the answer is, I’m sure, plenty. That’s why the beer scene continues to grow and there is literally a new brewery every other week in Minneapolis. But that begs the question, when will it be enough? A sinking feeling in my stomach – never. I will endure this forever, for better or worse, until the beer industry implodes on itself from too many beers.

The Craft Beer Movement: Insider or Outsider?

“I can’t believe I became part of this movement,” I said to Hannah as we sat on the couch watching TV one lazy post-work day. I continued, “Of all the things I could’ve gotten into, it never ceases to amaze me that I got into something that is actually now a thing.” How did I know that craft beer and home-brewing were going to become as big as they are? How did I know that my love for craft beer would grow into something much more, something bordering on obsession?

The truth is, I didn’t know, but now that it has become this thing in my life I’m grateful. And I can’t help but think my own involvement helped spur the movement along. I like to think that my research and involvement helped it grow, in my own small way, as I immersed myself into craft beer culture throughout and after college. But maybe I didn’t. In 2007, craft beer was already a thing, home brewing was already a popular pastime, enjoyed by middle aged men everywhere, Minnesota already had several cart breweries and more in the works. I was just another supporter, standing watch as craft beer exploded in my face.

But Surly Brewing didn’t really open until 2006. It didn’t really become popular until the following year when it entered the main stream. It was no longer for bicyclists and beer geeks, it was for the people. People like me. Which makes me wonder, if there weren’t people like me, where would the craft beer industry be? I’m just a fangirl, going to beer fests, pretending I know more than others and that I have some claim to the movement, a little piece of the MN faction.

I could have picked anything else to devote my time to, to become my hobby or pet interest and cause in life. In the past I cared about more important things like HIV in subsaharan Africa, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, corporate social responsibility; not that I don’t care about these things anymore because I do, I just don’t blog about them. I don’t think about them on a daily basis. I don’t drink them. I don’t consume them. That’s what draws me to beer and craft beer culture. It’s more than a drink, a theory, or a product, it’s a way of life. It’s a way of life I share with many others, that gets me excited when I meet a kindred spirit who likes what I like and drinks what I drink, it’s my own little club that I can choose to share with others, and when I do, it’s oh so meaningful.

But then I meet people who are part of the movement who I don’t like: the middle aged man who loves craft beer and wants to financially support a brewery but who thinks I’m nothing more than a little girl who’s interest in craft beer is “cute.” We are not kindred spirit, we are not in the same microculture. He is everything that is wrong with the movement, elitist and demoralizing. And what about the beer snob, someone worse than me, who insists my favorite craft beer is not worthy of such title, and has plans to start the next new local microbrewery? I am them from from years past, small and stupid, my tastes unrefined and my knowledge sub-par. He is everything that is wrong with the movement, superior and disrespectful.

And then there’s me, for I too am at fault. With my knowledge I too alienate people, haughtily explaining why a room temp pint glass is better for beer than the frosty mug they grew up drinking from, scoffing at the only “local” beer on the menu at a fancy restaurant in Iowa: Leinenkugels. Have I gone too far inside the movement such that everyone else is an outsider? Such that anyone else who wants to be part of the movement, can’t be, or isn’t good enough to be?

That’s not what it’s all about, and that’s not the way to keep the movement growing and changing. That’s what keeps it stale and stagnant, the same old people making the same old beer because they know best, they know the most, they have the most at stake. Thinking that your thoughts and opinions dont matter because you just dont understand. It’s not your way of life.

In the most recent issue of the Beer Advocate magazine, on the list for what to expect in 2013 is “a stronger backlash toward those who take themselves and craft beer too seriously.” Truth. Beer is for fun, beer is for drinking, and sometimes we just need to shut the hell up and enjoy a cold one, whatever glass it comes in. So this is my goal as we move into 2013: enjoy craft beer. Love craft beer. Share the love, don’t hoard it or save it for insiders like yourself. Support knowledge and the quest for knowledge so that other people too can claim the movement for their own because it is also theirs. It is a cause worth caring about, but first people have to learn and embrace why it’s worth caring about to begin with and they can only do that if the movement is open and caring of them too.

Happy New Year and cheers to 2013!

Livin’ the American Dream: Opening a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Brewery

Every homebrewer dreams of one day taking their hobby one step further and living the American dream: becoming a craft brewing hero. It just seems like the logical next step, you’ve been brewing for x number of years and what else is there to do next? Sell your beer, hear compliments form the masses, grow even bigger, supply the United States with your beer and your love of beer. And why not? Everyone keeps telling you it’s wonderful and they would definitely pay for it at a bar, it’s legit, so you should open your own brewery already!

But anyone who knows anything about the craft beer industry knows how hard it is to open a microbrewery, much less a tap room or figure out how to convince distributers to sell said beer.  It’s much more complicated than the simple dream of artfully crafting the best tasting beer – which many of us believe we are already doing. But everything tells us how easy it is, the sheer number of breweries opening up makes us think, “Hey, if they can do it, so can I!” but it’s hard. Really hard. Work you to the bone and cry every night because you’re not sure if you’re going to make it hard. But once you do, you’re guaranteed to be as cool as Omar, and don’t we all want to be as cool as Omar? He’s the owner of Surly, in case you’re not in the know. It’s time to stop admiring the modern art and saying, “Oh, I could do that,” when in reality we probably couldn’t, but we want to so bad. It’s time to put our money where our mouths are. Literally. Shit is expensive.

But having said all that, the dream still lives on, even in me – especially in me. We as homebrewers and craft beer lovers can’t help but think about what could be; because we constantly surround ourselves with and support other microbreweries that grew up out of the same dream, like surrogate children, we love them, and secretly or not so secretly long for one of our own.

One day, I want to open my own microbrewery, or nanobrewery, or brewpub – I’d even settle for liquor store. And if I don’t or can’t then I want to be part of one beyond what I am already doing right now – I want to help craft the beer and build the brand of a bright and shiny new brewery in Minnesota (or wherever else is in need of one, I’m looking at you Sioux City). I want to market it and pour it down people’s throats because as anyone in in marketing knows, you can market nothing better than something you love and truly believe in. And for me, it’s not better healthcare or Totino’s pizza rolls, it’s the craft beer revolution.

The dream was born for me when I was driving with my boyfriend and his parents to a family cabin up north by the boundary waters (if you’re not from Minnesota, the boundary waters is probably the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot of landscapes. Let me rephrase: it is the most beautiful landscape that makes me proud to be from this land. It’s all majestic with eagles and shit) and in order to get there we drove through Cloquet, a small town south of Duluth that is really more of a crossroads, but less Wild West and more Iron Range. They told me about this place, but I had no idea what to expect, and then there it was, as we slowed to a stop underneath its beautiful awning: Frank Lloyd Wright’s one and only service station. It’s small, and reminiscent of the aforementioned Wild West that he sometimes alludes to with his flat roofs and Route 66 stylings, but it was different; everything about it screamed Midwest, and sadly, Struggling. Just a few pumps and a garage, it was dead. No one was fueling here, taking in the shade from the greened copper roof, but there it stood, proud of its heritage, uncertain of its future.

The gas station is part of FLW’s Broadacre City Project, a “utopian vision of a new urban landscape”: suburbs in the city, cities in the suburbs – he had plans to put skyscrapers in the middle of the plains and everything. I mean, the man was crazy, but a genius. A reaction to and embracing the push to the suburbs, somewhat socialist in theory (everyone in this city gets one acre), his vision incorporated beauty and art can still reign, all with a touch of Japan.

I don’t know why he chose to put the service station in Cloquet of all places (it actually has something to do with its namesake, R. W. Lindholm, for whom he later designed a home), but this is where my dream truly came to life. I began to daydream, transforming the mechanic’s shop into a taproom, with its glass garage doors open to the summer breeze that Minnesotan’s seek in the warmer months up north, serving elegantly hopped and perfectly heady black IPAs – the oxymoron that pairs nicely with the historical surroundings. Would there be an oatmeal stout on the menu too, you ask? Of course. Available all year round.

Since it’s a garage, the floors would be already sloped, so that would be the easy part, but the difficult part is a much larger feat: transforming a national historical site into a brewery; I’m sure it wouldn’t be allowed. But think about the delight it would bring to travelers, wanderers, passersby, and more importantly the town and Minnesota as a whole. This was FLW’s dream: to bring functional art to the people through architecture whether they wanted it or not. The pumps would stay, of course, but the gas station would be transformed into a modern fueling station of sorts, bustling with people at all times of the year, because as Minnesotans we know that even in the winter we want our beer and are willing to go out in the cold to get it.

I was further inspired when I went to Marquette, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula where I drank at undoubtedly the coolest nanobrewery I’ve ever been to, Blackrocks. It’s a similar concept, make a house into a brewery, put in a bar, and make it the ultimate hang out place for pretty much everyone in and around the town including visitors like myself, hungry for a pint of the good stuff. They hang personalized mugs from the ceiling for the regulars and provide ever-changing wonderful beers – when I went there it was IPA week—exercising that brewer’s muscle.

Apparently the FLW gas station was recently sold and I’m not sure to whom or for how much or how well it’s doing now (according to this NPR article from August of 2008, the current owner is “not sure how long it can remain privately owned”), but I want it and I want it bad. I want to make it into a destination tap room and nanobrewery. I want the American dream.

My Beer Myopia

 

As I stared at the long list of bottled beers at the Epic tap-less taproom, my mind drew a blank. I was stunned by the sheer volume of beers and only 30 minutes in which to drink them before they closed the place down. I have never seen so many beers available at a taproom before. My friend Blackmer and I bellied up to the bar where the above-average looking bartender stood chatting with another customer. This was no ordinary taproom, this was a tap room in Salt Lake City, Utah. What was once a notoriously barren desert of craft beer (due to a strict 3.2% law with a religious bent) now has a couple cactuses and, boy, are the cactuses flowering – at high gravity nonetheless (only because they have to; the law states that if a beer is above 3.2% it has to be in a bottle, so that’s a nice loophole).

The man sitting at the bar next to me, a business man also staying at my hotel but for a trade show, was also clearly very knowledgeable about beer, suggested I try their Copper Cone Pale Ale, saying it was one of the best he’s ever had. He asked me what my favorite IPA was – not just beer, but IPA. This is not the first time I have encountered this question but it was the first time I was hyperaware of my lack of beer knowledge in this particular situation and my desire to not only seem knowledgeable but interesting in my beer tastes. Anything I said wouldn’t have resonated with him, he doesn’t know Surly Furious or the Rush River Bubble Jack – or maybe he does, but he wouldn’t have truly understood what they meant to me on a deeper level, as a proud Midwesterner; he was clearly intimate with the beers of the West, and I was dumbstruck, paralyzed by my own inability to commit and be judged outside of my flannel comfort zone. I avoided the question, saying I would gladly take his recommendation but I sat tentatively on the edge of my seat. What had I gotten myself into?

The sad truth is I am honestly used to knowing more about beer than the majority of the people around me, and even if they have a strong opinion that I would fundamentally disagree with (I don’t believe in hopped-stupid beers and I firmly believe that Fulton is a good brewing company), we’re on the same page. Naturally I am one page ahead of them, or so I like to think, but that page is definitely in the chapter known as ‘Minnesota and other upper Midwest breweries.’ It was at that moment, as I took a bite into the best prosciutto and Gruyere panini I’ve ever had (it even had honey on it, what?!), I realized – I have become too myopic in my beer crusade. If I cannot even commit to a universal, or at least national, IPA that I genuinely enjoy, I am doing something wrong.

The real kicker is, however, the realization that I am ignorant of other awesome beers out there, making me the most insufferable beer snob akin to only those who reside in Portland, complacent with their local beer selection and ever-so-gently reminding you that no, craft beer from Portland is the best. I only really know my local beers, and as I said in my Growler magazine article, my favorite anytime beer is the Summit Oatmeal Stout (don’t even go there, I already recognized in said article that it is a silly choice, but I’m just being honest). If I am to be the craft beer lover and advocate I pretend to be, I need to do more in the way of higher education; as we all know, education doesn’t end in school, it’s everything you do all the time – good thing I drink beer all the time, so that part is easy. But the hard part is going out and seeking things you haven’t tried before and not just putting beers from the coasts on a pedestal as the end-all-be-all, an attitude that I attribute to my reactive Midwestern beer myopia, which in a way is almost just as bad. It is exploring all the styles, beers and breweries you can get your hands on to get a better understanding of the larger context, and more specifically, the ability to just shut the hell up and pick a favorite IPA that everyone knows and can relate to. So, watch out, America – this beer snob is about to get a much-needed beer education.