The topic Stan chose for this month is “Regular Beer“:
Please write about a regular beer (time to lose the quotation marks). You get to define what that means, but a few possibilities:
* It might be your “go to” beer, brewed commercially or at home. The one you drink regularly.
* I could be a beer your enjoy on a regular special occasion. When in San Francisco I always like to start with draft Anchor Liberty Ale. But it might be your poker night beer.
* It doesn’t have to be a “session beer,” but it can be.
* It probably shouldn’t have an SPE of more than $25 (that’s a very soft number; prices may vary by region and on premise further confuses the matter). Ask yourself, is it what somebody in a Miller High Life TV commercial in the 1970s could afford? Because affordability matters. I’m all for paying a fair price (which can mean higher than we’d like) to assure quality and even more for special beers, but I’m not ready to part with the notion that beer should be an everyman’s drink.
* Brewery size, ownership, nationality do not matter. Brew length doesn’t matter. Ingredients don’t matter. It feels a little strange typing that last sentence, since the Mission Statement here says ingredients matter. But I hope you get the point. I prefer beer that costs a little more because its ingredients cost more, because there’s more labor involved. You don’t have to. Beer should be inclusive.
It’s a great topic and a chewy question to consider and the timing is particularly apropos, as you’ll see in a moment. I’ve been turning this notion of “regular beer” around in my head, looking at it from different angles, and as a result I have at least three answers (solutions? points? is there even a right answer?) that are all perfectly valid.
#1. My Regular Beer is the Irregular Beer. I’m a Beer Geek (though hopefully not a Beer Snob) and my interests and curiosity are always leading me to seek out new beers to try, so as often as not I’m regularly drinking something new or different. A few weeks ago it was Deschutes Brewery‘s Giraffe on Ice Skates (which I apparently haven’t written about yet), yesterday it was Russian River‘s Pliny the Younger. (The timing on this beer showing up on the weekend of the Session about Regular Beer seemed perfect.)
Yes, I wrote “Pliny the Younger“—somehow The Abbey Pub here in Bend was able to get a single five-gallon keg and offered up a special noon tapping: $8.50 for a ten-ounce pour. I’m pretty sure this violates at least two of Stan’s rules listed above for this month’s Session, which I was reflecting upon yesterday as I sipped this beer in an incredibly crowded beer bar with friends, but to a large extent this exemplifies the “Regular Beer” experience for me: seeking out the new and/or special.
(As far as a review for PtY, I’ll have some comments for that in a subsequent post.)
#2. Insofar as having a go-to Regular Beer that I purchase or drink when I’m not seeking out the Irregular, the beer I will usually buy to drink and have on hand for “Regular” occasions is something from Deschutes Brewery, though Deschutes doesn’t get exclusive fridge space—lately I’ve picked up several six-packs of the great Hibernation Ale from Great Divide, for instance.
But Deschutes is local, it’s relatively inexpensive (because it’s local), it’s top-quality, and it’s available in six-packs. I think that’s got to be a defining factor for Regular Beer in this context: sessionable, storable, sensible portions of beer in easy-to-carry containers. (“Sessionable” not necessarily relating to alcohol strength, but for any occasion or gathering casual enough to pick up a sixer for: a party, the Superbowl, family reunion, whatever.)
I’ll be picking up some Deschutes today, most likely: family is coming over for dinner and I need to stock the fridge with something other than bombers of Barleywine.
#3. This will seem utterly at odds with answer #1 (especially to the Beer Snobs but hopefully not the Beer Geeks). My Regular Beer is also unequivocal regular beer: canned pale American macro lager. Given the choice I will usually drink Pabst Blue Ribbon or Hamms (with a nod to this comment) but if something else is offered then I’ll drink that too.
Sure, there are a litany of reasons I can give for this: I’m not a Beer Snob being overly pretentious about beer; “It’s not about the beer, it’s about the beer,” as the late Don Younger would say; as a Beer Geek I strive to drink and experience all kinds of beer, not just the buzz-worthy ones.
The reality is, it’s respecting the beer that’s offered to me. For instance, when we go to my parents’ house, nine times out of ten there is canned macro lager in the fridge: not because my Dad doesn’t like craft beer, but largely because the American lager is what he grew up with and often because it may be an affordability issue. I respect that, and I’m happy to drink the beer that’s offered. It’s the Regular Beer I unreservedly drink when I’m at my parents’.
And frankly sometimes, nothing tickles the beer itch quite like a cold can of lager.