Though my reputation for alcohol consumption in certain circles has reached mythic levels reserved for naked, bearded Greek guys living on Mount Olympus, I have yet to actually discuss the matter of booze in any thorough manner. Well, I can’t allow this over sight to continue.
Imagine if you will, a parallel universe. In this alternate universe, I’m the new owner and operator of a Irish pub. And in this parallel dimension (which is heavily influenced by American television sitcoms) I’m magically able live a trendy lifestyle with comical problems that are generally resolved with in the hour.
Anyway, I have an important decision to make in my alternate universe. What beer will I put on tap? I’m not subject to weird protectionist booze inter-state/country import policies or odd restrictive laws that harsh real-life buzzes. Nor am I slowed down by limited productions of the rarer or seasonal beverages. Of course, as a resource, I can rely on the parallel real me, who drinks far more than he should, doesn’t resolve his problems nicely in an hour and faces the often unfortunate consequences of his misguided actions.
Between the two of us, we’ve come up with the following list, sorted by beer style for your reading pleasure.
India Pale Ale (IPA)
Bridgeport IPA – This hoppy award winner is a staple beer in Portland, Oregon. Recently it’s gotten a wider distribution. Seek this one out, it’s worth it. Or have your parallel self stop by my pub. My uncle from Virgina fell in love with it in one evening. He promised to never leave it, but he did have a plane to catch. The beer’s heart was broken. I think your love is all it needs to mend.
Sweetwater 420 – According to the website, this is a “West Coast Style Pale Ale” which is probably why its been my beer of choice the whole time I’ve lived in Hotlanta. It’s hoppy, it’s got a clean finish and it’s got an arbitrary number for a name. And it’s tasty. That’s all I need to tap the keg.
Amber / Red
Golden Valley Brewery Red Thistle Ale – This beer balances mysteriously between an Amber and an IPA, and is absolutely fantastic. In the real world, you better head to Oregon to find this gem. Even then, your only sure bet is heading to the sleepy little college town of McMinnville in the Oregon wine country.
Flying Dog Old Scratch Ale – I don’t know why, but I simply can’t put into words how much I like this beer. Nor can I understand why this is the single hardest Flying Dog brew to find. Fortunately, in my parallel universe pub, this guy is made exclusively for my pub. And its the most popular beer in the world. So business is good. (For research purposes only, I cracked one of these guys open. If a lightly hoppy, cinnamony malty beer sounds good to you, go pick up a cold six. If it doesn’t what’s wrong with you? Is the peer pressure not coming through strongly enough?)
New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale – This beer is sweeping the nation in real life. (I might hold that against it, if it weren’t such a great beer.) However due to the aforementioned weird voodoo booze-import policies, nearly every state in the union has this gem, except my adopted home of Georgia. This tasty “toated malt” flavored concoction of hops and yeast poop is so popular, it even appears in wikipedia. Resistance is futile, but the implants are so small, and the procedure nearly painless, you might as well get it over with.
Blonde / Hefeweizen
Caffrey’s (Official dead website) – This is the obscure Irish cousin of Boddingtons, that gets the same respect as the Irish did in the U.S. in the 19th century. The awesome thing about this beer, aside from the flavor, is the honey-colored Guinness-style cascade. In the real world, Coors owns the rights to U.S. distribution of this beer, and elects to sit on its giant corporate thumb instead of blessing us with this nectar. (If you want to see it in the U.S. again, give Coors a call at 1-800-642-6116).
Hoegaarden – With a double ‘a’ like that, you know its gotta be Belgian. It was over this cloudy, golden liquid heaven I seduced my then girlfriend with my wit, charm and fluid capacity. In the real world, this nectar is widely available in the bottle, and every now and then, on tap.
Leffe Blonde – Though I don’t get to enjoy this brew often, it merits a tap because it holds a special place in my heart. A place that probably was originally responsible for important blood circulation. In any event, this beer is responsible for my lack of memory of several Friday night chicken vindaloo trips I made to Brick Lane while I was working in London. It was also an unpleasant Saturday morning companion on the train to Edinburgh and Paris.
Stout / Brown / Porter
Guinness, Murphy’s Irish Stout and Beamish – This should come as no surprise to anybody. You have an Irish pub, you need an Irish beer. Especially for St. Patties. And I’m not going to discriminate, we’re boasting the full Irish stout trinity.
Bridgeport Porter – Not only do I love this beer for it’s caramelly-chocolaty goodness, we (meaning the beer and I) teamed up to corrupt my friend “I Don’t Like Beer” Dana. It’s a hard beer not to love. And for some reason porters are not a very easy beer to find. They’re so hard to find that you won’t even find a mention of it on the Bridgeport website!
Peroni – I first tried this in Italian train station. The kind of place that featured guys with pencil-thin facial hair and immaculately pressed pastel Armani outfits. So a typical Italian train station. I was as dry as a prune and happy to sample a local beverage. This one surprised me. For a light beer it was crisp and delicious. And the good news for those of you firmly stuck in reality, it’s probably available in your area.
Tiger Beer – This is on the list because I want a beer from southeast Asia. And I’ve had to many rough experiences with Singha. (Mark, if you’re reading this, you know what I’m talkin’ about!) This beer won by heart by virtue of being free during happy hour in the executive lounge in the JW Marriott in K.L. And the ads they ran before movies in Malaysia were so ridiculously funny.
McMenamins Ruby – This beer, like the McMenamins pub chain is a pacific northwest cult favorite. The ruby is basically a raspberry hefeweizen. But its hard to focus on the beer when surrounded by the surreal, quirky hotels, schools and theaters they serve it in. Though my parallel universe pub is Irish, it would definitely steal a page from the McMenamins design handbook.
21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat – This beer was a hit with my wife, my friend Cowan, and his wife also at the 2006 Oregon Brewers Festival. I thought it wasn’t bad either. What can I say, I’m a man of the people. I want my parallel universe customers to be happy, and this beer was out faster than any other beer at the brewfest. Wanna drink one in real life? Head to San Francisco. Hold on there! Quit the humming and drop the flowers, we’re talking about beer.
Jalapeño Chili Beer – This was a seasonal beer put out by a California brewery for the 1996 Oregon Brewers Festival. To my knowledge this beer has been lost to time (and the internet) in the real world. (I’ve seen some evidence that it might have been a product of the late Russell Schehrer, head brewer of Wynkoop Brewing Company…) But, in my parallel-universe, Irish pub paradise, I can resurrect this beer and serve it. Because everyone should have the opportunity to taste a beer that tastes like hot nacho cheese with jalapeños. Even when it’s cold. Kind of like the jelly bean that tastes like buttered popcorn. Only this guy will get you drunk, and as a bonus, will wreak havoc on your digestive system. Hey, I never said my pub had to be practical. And just try to tell me that that wouldn’t be bottled awesomeness.
So whaddaya think? Up for a trip to McBrian’s? (Maybe I should all it O’Brian’s?) Feel free to recommend a beverage to add to the list, the parallel reality Brian has no trouble with distributors!