Interesting Conversations


You never know when a conversion you just strike up with someone will get
interesting and turn beer related and I’ve had a couple of more interesting ones

We headed out to Milwaukee for a wedding. As an added excursion traveling up to
see Green Bay would have been nice, but you really need an extra two days to do it
right and not kill yourself so we settled for a day early and an afternoon Brewers vs
Cardinals game at Miller Park. Miller Park is supposed to be one of the best parks to
see a game with great food and hopefully some good brews. Aesthetically it’s not
much at all; Camden Yards blows it away easily, but it’s nice; the food is good and I
get to try a couple of Milwaukee craft beers. The tickets were amazingly reasonable
and of course I was in the front row with Bob Uecker.

We’re back at the hotel and they have a free evening wine hour, which okay when
you’re charging what they are they can easily afford to give you a glass of wine.  I’m
pleasantly surprised as it’s not just wine they have a Third Space Brewing Scotch Ale
on tap! I just tried the Third Space Happy Place (a hoppy pale) at the game and
really enjoyed it. We grab our drinks and a piece of delicious pizza they brought out
and sit down. A few minutes later my friend and his wife (parents of the groom), a few
other couples and the bride and groom show up, so bingo we have a small party
going! We’re greeting everyone, catching up and my beer’s almost gone. I thought
this was “a” free glass but the hostess says no and is happy to pour another as I’m
happy to accept.

I’m hanging out with the other guys, John and Dan who I just met and Capt. Ed who
I’ve met before and we’re gabbing. It went something like this:
"Ever been to Milwaukee?
"No nor anywhere else in Wisconsin."
"Well I can cross it off my bucket list."
"Looks like an interesting town, trying to come back as many cities are."
"Famous for its breweries and beer years ago".
"What was the beer that made Milwaukee famous?"
"Schlitz of course."
"The Pabst Mansion is here in town and open for tours."
"Some great local craft brews, like this Third Space"
"We went to Miller Park, it was ok not great; would have been nice to get up to Green
Bay and check out Lambeau Field, but that’s a two hour drive.
"Milwaukee’s right on the lake."
"The lake is so big it looks like an ocean."
"Chicago is only an hour and a half drive."
"Didn’t realize it was that close."
"Isn’t Wisconsin America’s Dairyland?"
."Yea they’re supposed to make great cheese here."
"But you can get great cheese really anywhere."

And then John hits us with the best line: “remember when we thought Velveeta was
good cheese!” OMG, do the memories and laughs start flying. We all had the box of
Velveeta in the frig growing up as kids, it made the best grilled cheese sandwiches,
which yes our Mom’s all made for us. Then we got older and got to taste “real”
cheese. Hard to imagine we liked that “stuff” aka “pasteurized processed cheese
food” But then again as kids we liked bologna and hot dogs and not filet mignon, so
our taste did have to refine.

And then he hits us with another good one: “beer is like food; just like we learned that
Velveeta isn’t real cheese, we learned that Bud and Schlitz, etc. weren’t real beer.”
What an analogy!! Now it’s doesn’t totally correlate since there wasn’t the abundance
of good craft beer many years ago when we were imbibing those fuzzy lagers. Back
then we thought “imports” like Heineken were high class. Of course we didn’t realize
that it tasted like skunk beer and that it wasn’t the real Heineken as they had to
change it to be allowed to import it based on our laws. But taste wise it’s a great
analogy; when we started to try quality craft beers with the great aromas and flavors
and higher ABVs we begin to really appreciate beer as opposed to just drinking it; as
we now appreciate some of the finer cheeses.

The conversation continues and someone mentions non-alcoholic beer. Well John is
on a roll and he hits us again; “non-alcoholic beer is basically beer fraud.” Not only
does he have us rolling, but he is spot on! Hey beer is an alcoholic beverage, so
what is a beer without alcohol…a fake, a fraud, someone the majority of us never
want to drink!

This is too much! The evening hour, which lasted longer than that, is wrapping up
and we all need to find a place for dinner.  I have a more desperate need; to find a
paper and pencil and take some notes so I remember the gems John came out with,
as I’m thinking this is Beer Beat material. Oh and yes John is not a big craft beer guy;
but he sure knows us!

Back home I’m doing what I vowed never to do; standing on a line at a beer release. I
do have an excuse! I stopped in to Magnify Brewing  in Fairfield on Tuesday as I
wanted to see what cans they had available to bring up to a family reunion. The door’
s open but they’re closed Mondays and Tuesdays. The owner tells me they’re doing
a release of their Peak of Ripeness IPA and Peak Oil DIPA on Wednesday at 4:00,
but be prepared for a line. I frown and tell him I don’t do lines; he says if you come
around 5:00 the line should be gone and there will still be beer. So a friend and I plan
to meet there the following day. I’m running early so get there before 5:00 and there’
s still a line of probably 25-30 and there are others just pulling in and getting on line.
So what am I going to do, sit in my car and wait till there’s no line; of course not I get
on and my friend shows up momentarily, so he joins me. The guy behind us drove
there straight from work and I’m gathering others are doing that as the line is getting
longer, not shorter.

My friend points out we’re probably the oldest people in line. I look around and yup,
that’s probably true. Maybe it’s because some of us older folk don’t have the stamina
or maybe some just plain forgot! It’s not because we don’t like our craft beer or that
we don’t have the time. I tend to think it’s probably because we’re smarter, been
around longer and realize we don’t want to waste our precious time standing in lines!
Magnify has developed a name for itself in only a couple of years. They have a
dedicated line at the CloverLeaf, which constantly rotates, so I’ve had quite a few and
agree they’re good. We’re chatting with the folks around us and hearing this next
iteration of each beer, with slightly altered recipes, should be as good as or better
than the first. The conversion changes to trading beers and a couple of these guys
have been doing it with others around the country, with sometimes mixed results;
meaning you have to depend on the other person packing it correctly and hopefully
not getting it confiscated by UPS.

Back to Magnify, the young guy in front of us says the Peak Oil is our East Coast
version of Bell’s Hopslam, which I’ve never had. We all comment about why Bell’s isn’t
yet in NJ, as it’s in both NY & PA. We liken it to Cigar City, which was well know but
had just recently arrived in NJ. At which point he says, “We should see them in a year
or two, but it could be too late.” To which I reply “WHAT??” Luckily I was leaning
against the building so don’t fall down. So here’s this young guy who obviously loves
his beer, has made numerous trades with others around the country and he thinks
the #7 Craft brewery by volume in the country, that’s been around for 30 years
couldn’t make a foothold in NJ if they wait another couple of years. From someone
who sounded like he knows his beers that seemed like an illogical statement.
So let’s step back a minute. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale is an iconic IPA. When the best
craft beer survey comes out every year, it’s usually either Piny The Elder or Two
Hearted Ale at #1. And their Hopslam is usually also in the top five! I’ve had Two
Hearted and had some brought back for friends who haven’t. I’ve never had
Hopslam, so need to check it out. It’s a DIPA with six different hop varietals then dry
hopped with massive amounts of Simcoe. It’s seasonal, released in January. I’m
going to have to get some next year!

Maybe he’s jaded because he’s tried many beers we don’t get in NJ and thinks when
they finally get here they won’t be a hit with those who haven’t?!? I guess that’s the
difference between knowledge and wisdom. He definitely has tried more craft beers
than I, but his perspective seems more limited. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see
when they finally do come to NJ.

So you never know when the conversion will turn to something interesting…

Glenn DeLuca writes about beer and culture of drinking. He may
be reached by writing

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Glenn DeLuca
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