The quest for simple beer

I love a good beer.

My first exposure to beer was Dad drinking Budweiser. “Dad, can I try a sip?” “Sure.” “Bleck, eww, that’s gross!!” But yet somehow that sowed the seed. When it comes to beer, wine, or liquor, my preference is beer. Used to be a heavier drinker (college and all that), but now I really don’t care to get drunk. I just enjoy a good beer now and again, like any beverage (find me a good lemonade and I’m really happy). I try to pair my beer with the meal I’m eating, and many times I don’t finish the beer because it’s not that important to me… we don’t always finish the glass of water or soda or tea with our meals, so why should there be any pressure to finish the beer? It’s just a beverage, the alcohol just happens to be there (tho I of course mind it because it will affect you). I’m not a drinker, I just like the taste of good beer.

I recall back in college (or maybe it was high school?) when Sam Adams came out, and drinking it was the first foray into “hoity-toity” beer (no more “Beast” here!). From there, you try other “fancy” things, eventually discovering Guinness and then life is never the same. I certainly love going to brew pubs, micro brewerys, discovering odd beers, adoring all things Belgian styled, preference for ales. I know what it is to be a beer snob. I can appreciate that these days beer lovers have more choices than ever before.

But that’s also part of the problem.

Yesterday I went to Spec’s. What a fantastic place to go as the selection is unmatched. But at the same time, it’s also overwhelming. You can spend hours there just looking at all that’s available, trying to figure out what you’d like to try, talking with the employees to get their opinions, maybe taste tests, maybe you can take home a pack of various singles to try them out. It’s actually quite the adventure.

On the same token, it also demonstrates that things are getting kinda silly. Everyone is on a quest to make some serious sort of beer. There’s gazillions of IPA’s out there, wheat beers, fruit beers, heck… I just discovered a “barley wine style ale” (very strong, very bitter, but good). Then trying to go for some sort of special line that’s even more special than their normal special beers, hand-crafted in small batches, blah blah blah. There’s just so much available, but it’s all trying to be more complex than the next guy, more trendy than the other micro-brewery.

What happened to simple beer?

I’m not talking Beast (piss-water is still piss-water). I’d still like the beer to taste good and have some meaning in the mouth. But can we put away the beer snobbery and try to make something simple? On a hot Texas afternoon, I just don’t find IPA’s to be refreshing… they can be very delicious, but it’s not just something I want to knock back when I’m hot and tired, or just standing around the BBQ pit with my buds while the brisket smokes. I’ve actually found myself drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon lately because it’s simple and refreshing, but still has some decent taste to it.

Maybe it’s the engineer in me that appreciates true simplicity. That to make something complex just to be complex, well, almost anyone can do that…. it’s easy to keep adding things. But to take things away, to strip down until you get to the true essence of something, to have the self-control to do so… there’s a greater beauty and challenge in that, I think.

So to my readers… can you suggest a good, simple beer?

4 thoughts on “The quest for simple beer

  1. I love a basic beer, nothing fancy, but just tasty.

    For me, on a HOT day like today, that boils down to two choices.

    Dos Equis or Shiner Bock. Not the Blonde/Hefeweizen/Anniversary Edition/Black Lager/Etc. All of those are great beers, but plain old Shiner Bock is just grand.

    It has a great taste, both initial and after. It goes down smooth, especially on a hot day. It goes GREAT with good BBQ, and it isn’t too filling if you drink it at a moderate pace.

    -Rob

    • Dos Equis is one of those in the “simple beer” camp for sure. I actually went back to Tecate a few grocery shops ago and while it was OK, it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. It’s been a while since I’ve had a Dos Equis, I should probably try it again.

      Shiner Bock… good stuff. I like almost all of their stuff (that new Smokehouse is a nifty gimmick but didn’t thrill me; their Black is awesome). I would classify Shiner Bock on the cusp between simple and complex… it’s not a truly simple beer, but it’s certainly the simplest of all that the Spoetzel brewery produces. And it’s good.

    • Now that’s the sort of thing I’m looking for… something really refreshing. I never would have thought to mix beer and Pepsi, but it seems worth a try.

      Another that I have always needed to try is beer and tomato juice. I recall as a child watching my Dad at restaurants always ordering a Budweiser and a small glass of tomato juice, pouring the juice into the beer, and drinking that. Or lacking the juice, he’d actually salt his beer. I don’t know why I never sat down to try it, but it’s been on the brain lately and I will sooner or later.

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