Once upon a time there were three words that stood for quality, innovation, and pride. When you read these three words you knew that you were getting a quality product. These words are "Made in America". If you were to walk into just about any retail store today you would be hard pressed to even find those words. Don't get me wrong, America still makes things but now were making products that you often don't see as a part of daily life. Things like heavy equipment or circuit boards that go inside other products. We make a lot of things that other countries aren't capable of making and that's a good thing but what about the lower end goods. Try finding any type of footwear that is still made in the U.S or good luck finding a toy in the toy aisle that is made in the states. The reason for this is simple, in order to compete with other countries we have to find ways to make things cheaper and faster but unfortunately as a result we get mass produced junk. It's my belief that if we started to make quality products again (in America) and we got back to being innovators, Americans would be willing to pay a bit more for that quality plus keep jobs in the states . A perfect example of this is the rapidly growing industry of craft beer. This industry has all the components of what makes and has always made America great. Many of these companies start with very little funding, minimal space and owners that are hands on, just a dollar and a dream so to speak; but what they may lack in resources they make up with the desire, passion and skill to cultivate a product that they're proud of and we enjoy. This doesn't just happen through hard work alone. For starters, these brewers use only the finest ingredients and go through a lot of trial and error. Such practices are admirable being that their capital is limited. It would be easy to use cheaper ingredients and cheaper processes but that would go against the whole concept of craft beer. After all.. isn't this why we are willing to pay almost twice as much for craft beer than the mass market stuff ? Which brings me back to my point, it's great to see Americans making things again, even if it's just beer... and why not beer? Beer has been around forever, it's one of the worlds oldest prepared beverages. Many historians have beer dating back to sometime B.C.. So basically beer is not going anywhere anytime soon and it's great that America is at the forefront. There used to be a time when the craft beer standard was set just across the Atlantic ocean but in my opinion (and maybe I'm biased) it seems as though the U.S is now setting the standard. Through new brewing techniques and innovative new flavor profiles America seems to be taking the lead in this craft beer revolution. So next time your about to grab a sixer of that watered down stuff remember for a few extra bucks not only will you get a quality brew made with better ingredients ( and higher ABV ) you may also be helping to keep a small business alive and if that's not enough of a reason than maybe this is , next time your wife is getting on your case about drinking too much beer, you can look her right in the eyes and say " I know on the surface it looks like I'm just sitting in this recliner watching the game and drinking beer but what your really observing here is me doing my part in the preservation of the American dream ! " ( I claim no liability for events that might happen following that comment ) . God Bless America !
One night after knocking back a couple of double IPA's, I was grilling chicken in the yard when a song came on the radio. It was Neil Young's "Old Man". Now I've heard this song many times before, but for some reason on this night Neil's voice just rang out a bit more true (could it be the double IPA's...hmm ). As he sang "old man take a look at my life, I'm a lot like you were " in his high pitched voice with the type of conviction that only he could convey, it hit me. I thought to myself, where has the heart gone in today's music? Where is the soul? Where are the lyrics that give you the warm & fuzzies? Now, I know what your thinking, as we get older (slightly) we tend to believe the younger generation has their heads up their asses and they don't know what real music is (and this is all correct). But the music I speak of is not music from my generation and yet the lyrics still resinate today and in another 50 years this will still be the case. Some lyrics are timeless and although the times they are a changing, a sincere lyric will always be felt. Okay, so it might not be fair to compare all musicians to Neil Young and I am not saying that all of today's music is crap because there are some artist's out there that will leave their mark on this world. It just seems that the musicians of yesteryear had a certain candor that is unseen today and I believe that some of the best music comes from a place deep within the soul. Whether it's derived from pain or sheer joy those feelings have to be authentic. When the artist feels it we feel it. But let's be honest, some of the artist of the 60's and 70's might have had some other forces of nature at work to help the creative process along and bring out some of those deep and brooding feelings. Just as those couple of IPA's prompted me to write this.
For me personally it does make a difference, even if it is part psychological. Let me try to explain without going into a whole bunch of scientific mumbo jumbo. You see, some glasses are designed to enhance the aromatics, some to showcase the head of the beer , others help in controlling the temperature and some plain and simply just make the beer look more visually appealing, and in my opinion if your going to spend $15.00 or so on a bomber ( 22 ounce bottle of beer ) than why not put it a nice glass to be a adorned. I usually try to use the recommended glass for the style of beer which I am drinking but to be honest on occasion I will grab any old glass that will fit the contents of the goodness that is within my bottle and after half of the glass is gone ( especially if its an Imperial of some sort with an ABV of 9% or higher ) the furthest thing from my mind is the type of glass that was used as the vessel to get that sweet nectar into my belly. So my recommendation is that if you have the suggested glass on hand, why not use it to sweeten the experience and if you don't then "drink up Johnny ! " no one is looking.
Is it just me or is it bittersweet watching your favorite craft beer go from complete obscurity to a beer that is spoke of in every craft beer aisle. There seems to be a thin line between wanting people to recognize and give props to your go-to beer and letting out your dirty little secret. After all, you guys were together from the beginning, you took a chance on that relatively unknown beer when no one else would. You can remember the first time you laid eyes on its plain and almost generic label and then taking that first sip and knowing instantly you've stumbled upon a winner. So there you are in the craft beer aisle hoping to discover another hidden gem and suddenly you hear it. You hear some dude trying to persuade his buddy to try this "new beer that is totally amazing" , you lean in hoping to get some inside information and what comes out of his mouth hits you like a ton of bricks, you didn't get the 411 on some new beer , what you got was a sucker punch to the gut, the new beer which he is talking so bragadociously about is your baby, the baby you watched take its first steps is now all grown up and moving out of the house and all you can do is smile and wish it luck. You so badly want to turn and tell them how great the beer is and how much you enjoyed it when you first tried it ( 3 yrs ago !!! ) but you don't, because just then you see a little piece of yourself in those wide eyed craft beer cubs and then it hits you, craft beer isn't meant to be hidden away somewhere and kept a secret, it should be celebrated, for without it beer would be well......just beer and somewhere in that very same aisle there is another lonely and undiscovered beer that needs a voice. So next time you discover a relatively unknown beer, cherish your time together and for at least a short time resist the need to share its beauty with others because if it's really that good than its just a matter of time before the rest of the world discovers your little secret.