That Beer You Will Always Remember
By Timothy Long
There are always those beers that you will never forget. Ones that are stuck in your memory forever. It may be for a good reason. It may be for a bad reason. It may be the first beer you ever drank. It may be a beer that your family enjoyed. It may be how the beer was advertised or packaged that still sticks in your mind. Or it may be the best beer that you ever drank. Beer is a huge part of not just our culture, but the world’s culture. It’s not uncommon to have a particular brand that was a part of your life.
My first beer was Mickey’s Malt Liquor aka Mickey Big Mouth. That’s right, malt liquor. A name they generally used back in the old days for beer that was over 6% ABV. Mickeys came in a 12-ounce green glass barrel that looked like a hand grenade. It was a terrible brew. My 15-year-old self chugged it down and acted like it was delicious. As one was expected to do in those days. I also remember paying a price when I came home late reeking of it. My father was a stern task master.
My older brother and cousins drank Stroh’s, a supposed Bohemian-style Pilsner that came out of Detroit and was popular in the Pittsburgh area. I would steal it from them when I was a teenager. One of Stroh’s claims to fame was that it was brewed over an open flame, fire brewed. I don’t know about the fire, but there certainly was some burning.
Then there was Olde Frothingslosh. This beer was produced by Pittsburgh Brewing Company, the brewers of Pittsburgh’s famed Iron City Beer, every Christmas season. It was marketed as “The pale stale ale with the foam on the bottom.” (As if the name didn’t say it all.) It was just Iron City beer in the can. But the famously decorated cans were coveted by beer can collectors. Olde Miss Frothingslosh was depicted on the front. This fictional character was a large woman in one piece bathing suit who appeared to have just won a beauty contest, complete with crown and sash. The cans were always proudly displayed on store shelves at Christmas time.
Then there was the best beer I ever drank. The one that sticks out above all others. This beer changed for me as I grew older. As it does for most people. Our palates develop as we age. When the craft beer era started bombarding us with new beers, people began finding new favorites all the time, me included. But my favorite of all time did not come from the craft beer trend, although I discovered it during the trend. It was around long before the trend ever started. It’s not an American beer. I had to go on a pilgrimage to find it. I had to go to the world’s biggest keg party. I had to travel to Munich, Germany. I had to go to Oktoberfest.
What would Goldilocks have done if all three bowls of porridge were just right? She would have had a blast! She would have danced, sang songs, and joyfully devoured all the porridge. And the three bears would have found her passed out on the table when they came home. Alright, maybe not. But that’s what would have happened to her at Oktoberfest. Which is where she should have been instead of wandering around the woods breaking into houses.
This irreverent reference to Goldilocks demonstrates every beer drinker’s dilemma at Oktoberfest. All the beers are not just good, they’re great! Picking a favorite is a monumental task. It took me five trips to Munich to determine which one I liked best. It was a daunting task, but I accepted the challenge. My favorite Festbier? Augustinerbrau. This wonderful beer is light, refreshing, clean, and a delight to drink, as they all are. But the defining difference, Augustiner is just a little less sweet than the others. The malt is light, and the hops are crisp. That is why this one stood out to me.
By the way, Festbiers are the light lagers that replaced Marzen lagers at Oktoberfest years ago. Even here in the States, if a beer is advertised as Festbeir, it should be a light Lager, not a Marzen.
I figure the chances are low that you are going to head to Munich for Oktoberfest anytime soon. So here are a few craft beers that are either Festbiers or Marzens that I recommend for you to drink while you celebrate. Prost!!
Tim’s Oktoberfest Craft Beer Recommendations
Oktoberfest, Port City Brewing Company
Port City always offers a great line of German beers for Oktoberfest. Among them, their Great American Beer Festival Bronze Medal Award-winning Oktoberfest Marzen Style Lager, made with both Munich and Vienna Malt. Their Swarzbier is a black lager that is deep brown in color and smooth in taste, with notes of coffee and toasted malt. This one will run out before the others, so grab one soon. Their Rauch Marzen, a smoked version of their Oktoberfest bier, is also back again this year.
Sonnenblume Fest Bier, Mustang Sally Brewing Company
Mustang Sally does a great job. I enjoy many of their beers. This is a true festbier. This beer is light and bready. The body is smooth, and you get a light taste of hops. It’s clean, crisp, and refreshing. Great for an afternoon of singing songs and dancing.
Nautifest, Fairwinds Brewing Company
Fairwinds is a solid beer producer. The brewers never fail to please me. They use both Vienna and dark Munich malts to make this wonderful Marzen. It’s malty with a dark copper color. It has a good herbal nose and the maltiness on the palate is delightful. It finishes surprisingly dry with a hint of spice.
Tim’s Whiskey and Cigar Recommendations
Blade And Bow Bourbon
As fall approaches, I always recommend Blade and Bow Bourbon. It’s produced by Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. You’ll detect peaches, honey, and hay on the nose. But then the white pepper, vanilla, oak, and spice on the palate make for a fantastic smooth experience. I must admit that I love this bourbon. There is always a bottle of this distilled delight on my shelf. But it never seems to be there for very long. At $50 a bottle and 91 Proof, it’s a perfect Oktoberfest match.
Fratello Oro Corona
Oro is Spanish for gold, and this little gem is just that. It’s a lighter Cameroon. It’s perfect for a Fall afternoon with a liter of beer in your hand. This cigar starts off creamy and woody, with a hint of pepper. As you get into the smoke, it has a saltiness and gets nutty with citrus flavors, mostly orange and lemon. Midway through, the creaminess really comes through, with hints of raspberry. It finishes creamy with the pepper, raspberry, and lemon lasting until the end. Prost!!
This cigar, and many other fine cigars, are available at John Crouch Tobacconist at 215 King St. in Old Town Alexandria. Mention this article and get 10% off the purchase of this month’s recommended cigar.
About the Author: Timothy Long is an educator, writer, consultant, and experienced restaurant operator. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Instagram and Twitter: @wvutimmy. Blog: What is that fly doing in my soup? http://whatflyinmysoup.com