When people offer to buy me a beer or drink at a show, I usually turn them down. That’s not because of any journalistic ethical clause about not accepting gratuities. If your music is lame, I simply won’t write about it. I usually order only a Coca Cola at venues. I need to remain clear-head, at the show taking notes, and in the morning writing up the review. I also drive out to Worcester or down to Boston or Providence from New Hampshire, and I wouldn’t want to chance getting nabbed for D.U.I. or O.U.I. when I’m an hour or two from home. None of my family or friends will get out of bed at 3:00 a.m. and drive two hours to bail me out of something I should’ve known better to get myself into in the first place.
Yet, I am not a teetotaler. I do enjoy a tasty beer, ale, mead, or glass of wine now and again, especially when there is something new or something offered for the first time. I often write while enjoying a great beer. That is beer, as in a single beer, singular. I usually prefer something by a local brewer. That takes me to Sam Adams Boston Lager. Sam Adams, is, in my humble estimation, the best tasting beer ever made. I’ve also enjoyed most of the seasonals I have when I’m out on the town. That the Sam Adams brewing company is headquartered in Boston and the recipe was invented there is another plus. There is nothing like supporting a local enterprise that I truly enjoy.
Another local favorite is Berkshire Brewing Company’s Berkshire Ale, Traditional Pale Ale. While the Traditional Pale Ale is my favorite from the Berkshire Brewing Company, they also have some other great tasting ales. Lost Sailor India Pale Ale is particularly tasty. It’s just another from a great line of products from the Berkshire area of Massachusetts.
My list of local favorites would not be complete with a mention of Moonlight Meadery, a company located in my neck of the woods right here in southern New Hampshire. My girlfriend Donna wanted to stop by their headquarters for the tour they provide any time of their business day. We ended up purchasing their flavors Blissful and Flame. The owner of Moonlight Meadery said he started making his own mead as a hobby until a light bulb turned on inside his head to make a business out of it. Now, his product is sold in major supermarkets like Shaws and Market Basket.
Harpoon IPA, also brewed right in Boston, is another favorite. It’s taste goes down well with the andouille burger I always have at Smoken’ Joe’s BBQ & Blues in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood.
I now have to move onto my favorites from outside the local area. Another personal favorite is Rolling Rock beer. Brewed in St. Louis Missouri, I’ve loved Rolling Rock since I saw Robert DeNiro offer one to Meryl Streep in The Deer Hunter. It was the wedding reception scene in a local Pennsylvania V.F.W. hall just before the volatile protagonists went off to fight in Vietnam. It wasn’t the movie that made me like the beer, but it caused me to try one next time I went out. I even use DeNiro’s line each time I offer one to someone. “It’s the best around.”
While I’m on American beers from outside New England I should mention Budweiser, a perennial favorite since I was a teenager experimenting with booze and vomiting after each party. I remember drinking so much Bud when I was out with a bunch of guys at age 15, I had to be lead by a friend on each forearm to my next destination. Lately, Budweiser has been manufacturing a brew called Black Crown. It’s a little bit richer than the traditional Budweiser, but smoother and somehow with more of a kick. The Anheuser Busch Company that has been bringing us Bud for decades is also home to the newer product Shock Top. I only bought some Shock Top at Walmart because it was on sale cheap to drink. Its Belgian style wheat I.P.A. proved irresistible to my taste buds.
Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan have a lengthy line of ale products. I’ve been drinking their Curmudgeon ale at British Beer Company in Manchester, New Hampshire for a few months now. BBC had the flier for this ale taped on their walls, and a sketch of the old man on their label proved too irresistible. I had to try one. BBC will only serve it in a 12 ounce glass because of its high alcohol content. As I’m not an experienced drinker, it kicked my ass the first time.
Next up, I have to rap about my favorite beers and other forms of booze from outside the great United States. Other countries must also be great because they have the good sense to make great beverages. My favorite import is Guinness. God bless the Irish. The taste of Guinness, especially on tap, is beyond the power of words to describe. Let’s just say it’s like drinking the nectar of the gods. That foam on top signals a great beverage experience to come.
Smoken’ Joe’s is the also the place where I discovered Weihenstephaner, beer brewed in Bavaria. I’m not even sure how to pronounce Weihenstephaner, I’ve heard different people insist on different pronunciations. I’ll have to ask someone from Bavaria or Germany next time I have a chance.
Heineken is another favorite import. I don’t know if it’s my Dutch ancestry. But this brewing company in Amsterdam has got it going on. It’s like for once the TV commercials and the full page magazine advertisements are actually telling the truth about what a great beer they have. During prohibition Americans couldn’t legally drink Heineken. Once that silly little law that helped the Mafia grow to huge proportions was repealed, the brewing company sent over a shipload. It was high time.
While I’m still focused on western Europe, I should bring up the Samuel Smith’s brewing company in Yorkshire. Their original well, sunk in 1758, is still in use. My favorite of their ales is Nut Brown Ale, a popular product in northern England. Samuel Smith’s also offers other ales, Oatmeal Stout and Imperial Stout among them. If you’re an Englishman looking for a taste of home, you can find the Samuel Smith’s ales at any local Shaws or Market Basket locations.
Moving into enemy territory, I have to recommend Baltika, brewed in Russia. I saw this beer advertised on the Facebook like page for Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett, New Hampshire. I figured it would be cool to try a beer from mother Russia. Now, I think I know what turned Rasputin mad. Baltika is a very tasty beer that would call tasters back after just one tasting. Strangely, it is closer to American beer in flavor than European. Relations might be cold between Obama and Putin but this beer goes down well on a hot summer’s day. Bert’s Better Beers is located just off route 93 in New Hampshire at 1100 Hooksett Road. They even give out these really cool tote bags to shop with.
Aside from beer, ale, and mead, I sometimes enjoy a glass of great wine. Indaba, a brand located in South Africa, made their 2010 Sauvignon Blanc extra special. Dry but at the same time with hints of citric fruit, Indaba went down well with what I was dining on and viewing at the time. My girlfriend studies with one of the one hundred wine masters in the world and she can quote vineyards and vintages like James Bond. I really have to thank her for bringing this wine to my attention.
Well, folks, there you have it. Just one music journalist’s expression of his favorite tasty beverages.