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Monday, August 21, 2006
The Brew Lounge 'Topic of the Week': Local Beer
Do we really want to have access at our local watering holes to all the great beers of this country and beyond? I'm not so sure that I do. Don't get me wrong, I'll get in for the next great beer that I've never had, but...... A couple of factors have given cause for covering this topic. Perhaps most recently has been all of the buzz here in the Delaware Valley surrounding the Russian River Pliny beers, the Elder and especially the Younger. Apparently eight 1/2 kegs of Pliny the Younger (the more elusive of the two) have made their way to the Keystone State. While this is certainly great news (and I look forward to tracking some of it down at either The Grey Lodge, The Drafting Room, or Flanigan's Boathouse), at the same time I feel a bit deflated. This means that over the course of the next week, I can find this much-sought after double/triple IPA in three different counties around Philadelphia. It takes a bit of thrill out of the chase, if you ask me. (kinda like when the pretty girl finally agreed to dance with you in high school...oops, sorry for the personal sidebar; did I say that out loud?! ;-) So, what point am I trying to get to, you may ask? I think my point is that I like the idea of having the hard-to-find local beers out there. It adds a little something extra to traveling. Whether you travel for pleasure, business, or any other reason you know that you have a chance of getting some beer that you do not have access to at home. And, by and large, that's the way it's been with Russian River. Now that Pliny the Younger will, at least for a short time, saturate our taste buds here in Pennsylvania, some of the mystique will be gone. With the "walmart-ization" of this country (oh, and I suppose the world too, eh?), so much regionalism has been lost. Trying to bring home a unique gift or souvenir from some faraway state or land is becoming more difficult. With beer, it's kind of nice to know that I can typically only get New Belgium Fat Tire west of the Mississippi. Or Shiner Bock in Texas and nearby. Or Port Brewing ales in southern California. Or little-known Belgians in Belgium. And, when you do get a beer from one of these breweries, you know that it's been brewed the way the brewer intended it...with local indigenous ingredients like water that can contribute to the beer's unique flavor. And, that it hasn't been shipped through various channels and touchpoints that could have affected their quality. Ok, Ok...I may be overblowing this topic here. I should stop and think of the various great local Philly beer (Sly Fox, Iron Hill, Dogfish Head, Victory, General Lafayette, Yards, etc etc) that beer lovers in other parts of the countries don't have the benefit of trying unless they come to our region. So, maybe things are all equal, yes? And, if you really want to have a great beer that isn't distributed to your area, it opens up the possibility for meeting new beer friends through trading! Or, maybe just maybe, this is starting to sound a bit like Jack Curtin's recent "rant", which has similar strains (see 10 August 2006). What can I say, but "I agree." What are your thoughts?