Monday, April 18, 2011

30 years of crazy beers...how the time flies

I've told the story many times, how in my senior year of college my medieval history professor took two of us upperclassmen out for beers on Holy Thursday night in 1981, and how that was the night I had my first non-mainstream beer: Altenmünster. And I'd like to say that I loved it from the first sip, that I knew immediately that this was beer like it should be...and you know, I will, because I knew right away that this was the stuff I wanted to be drinking. I still have the bottle somewhere; it's packed away while we re-do the basement, but it's there.

And here I am, 30 years later, changed completely by that beer. I have a career, I have a reputation, and I have friends around the world, all because someone cared enough about good beer to get a kid to try something new. I've been trying to pay him back ever since. Try something new tonight, people!

14 comments:

Jeff Frane said...

Oooh, Altenmunster. Lord, I can't remember how long it has been since I saw one of the ceramic-topped bottles of yumminess.

Steven said...

As we've been discussing Lew, I feel I've rediscovered beer through the new(er) Metropolitan Brewery here in Chicago.

Finally -- someone is brewing German-style beers that I can get as fresh as those I remember in Germany -- and brewing them very, very well.

I'd been feeling pretty bored with all of the similar beers on shelves anymore (sorry all you new beer drinkers, there can be a point where the beer becomes mundane) and I wasn't exactly optimistic about Metro, but they surprised me greatly.

Their 3 regulars and 1 seasonal are only available in the Chicago area, so if you are here or coming here -- and understand the mellow goodness of German beer -- seek it out. The Metro web site has great maps telling you where to find them.

Agreed -- try something new tonight, you may be surprised!

Dan Bengel said...

Altenmunster, Dortmunder Union, where have you gone?

jp said...

ha! love that! Altenmuenster was my go to beer when I lived in Frankfurt usually the hopfing herb thay also had steinbier but you did not see that one too often at A&P or Trinkhalle

Russ said...

My "game-changer" was a Köstritzer Schwarzbier I had in a little dive bar in Weimar during the first week of my college semester abroad in Germany. I still have the 0,3L glass (yeah, I wussed out and passed on the 0,5L mug) and currently use it as the business card holder in my office.

Oh, and Steve, the Metropolitan Iron Works Altbier is going to be brewed year-round, so all four beers are now regulars. No word on when they'll start cranking out draft-only seasonals again, though I know they have one-off beers up their sleeves for Craft Beer Week.

Steven said...

"...the Metropolitan Iron Works Altbier is going to be brewed year-round..."

Sweet news there Russ. The Alt is so good -- I believe it was you who said something like, "It's not just another re-labeled Brown Ale."

I had a bottle of the Metro Flywheel Bright Lager (an outstanding German-style Pils) last night -- so hoppy-bready good.

Russ said...

Sounds like something I'd say, Steve. I think one of the reasons it's so hard to find a true, Düsseldorf-style Altbier in the U.S. is precisely because so many think of Altbier as a brown ale brewed with German ingredients. And of course, so long as that's what American craft brewers are pumping out, there won't be very much demand for it here. Fortunately, Iron Works has been getting rave reviews so hopefully this will spark more interest in the style on this side of the Pond.

Steven said...

"Fortunately, Iron Works has been getting rave reviews..."

Well deserved rave reviews I'll add, as my own opinion, of course.

Funny how this thread evolved into a discussion about German beer styles -- makes me think there's more demand out there than the usual beer geek thinks!

GARY said...

Hey Lew, I seem to remember a mention of Okocim Porter as being the beer that opened your eyes; where does that one enter in to the story? I remembered it because I found a bottle in maryland and loved it several years ago, and haven't seen another one since!

Lew Bryson said...

The Okocim didn't come along until fall of 1994, Gary. But that just opened my eyes to Baltic Porter. They were wide open to beer before that!

Gary Gillman said...

Lew, I just tried something essentially new for me, since I hadn't tasted it in 10 years or so: Rolling Rock.

It's on draft in Toronto now, and seems to be positioned for the downtown business crowd. There is a snazzy green glass to go with it (branded glasses are de rigueur for almost all beers here now).

I confess to a sneaking liking for this beer back in the day. It seemed like a cross between American lager and ginger ale - assertive it was not, but it had its own taste and I liked it especially in summer.

As far as I recall, when made in Latrobe it was never a draft beer, is that so?

What do you think of the current draft, made in New Jersey I think by A-B/InBev? I thought it was decent for what it is, but it didn't remind me of the bottled beer of years back. Of course, memory can play tricks that way...

What do you think?

Gary

Lew Bryson said...

Memory and tricks...I'm thinking, of course there was draft, but now I'm not sure! Rolling Rock was so many different beers -- mainstream, cheapo quaff, premium mystique -- depending on what market it was in, it's hard to say. I thought we had draft in my neighborhood, but now? Not so sure.

I tried some of the Newark Rock when it first came out, and thought it was pretty similar. But I really wish City Brewing, which bought the Latrobe plant, had bought the brand back from ABIB. Could have been huge for them.

Al Luccioni said...

Latrobe Rolling Rock was most definitely available on draft
used to call for it @ the polish falcons in the South Side for 78 cents a 12 oz glass as recently as 1995

Gary Gillman said...

Interesting that it was on draft in the 1990's... Something tells me though it wasn't originally, in its first decades, but I may be wrong.

It is a pity it is not made in its original plant, I fully agree.

Gary