Guy goes into a bar and orders six mugs of beer. The bartender shrugs and pours all six, shoves them in front of the guy and is astounded as he watches the customer drain them in less than 30 seconds.
“That was fast,” says the bartender.
“You’d drink them fast, too, if you had what I have,” says the customer.
The bartender gets a worried look on his face and says, “Really? What d’ya got?”
The customer smiles and says, “Twenty cents.”
Let’s chalk one up for the drinking public in 1997 – a year that saw plenty of good brew, and, dammit, we chugged every drop of it. Before it’s all just a hazy memory, here’s my 20 cents worth on the Year in Beer.
The bad news was that economic experts now agree microbrewing is dead. Harping on the closings of Portland’s Nor’Wester Brewing and Manhattan’s Zip City brewpub, they assuredly huffed that Americans would rather drink the dreck served up by the nation’s industrial megabrewers.
The good news is that economic experts swill martinis, which means there’s plenty of good beer left for the rest of us.
In fact, while about 50 micros folded last year, another 200 opened up.
Yes, the growth is slowing. But remember, Philly is still catching up with the West Coast. Our region opened a half-dozen brewpubs last year, and at least two more in Center City are in the works for ’98.
Maybe the beer boom won’t last forever, but get a grip – 1997 was a vintage year.
The top event of the year? Joe Sixpack goes video, of course (at www.phillynews.com).
The achievement is mind-numbing: An army of the world’s brightest computer wonks using a billion dollars in space-age technology have made it possible for unprecedented numbers of adoring fans and cyberstalkers to click their way through the World Wide Web at any time of the day or night to watch me drink beer.
For those who enjoy beer without the assistance of a high-speed modem, here are other events that blipped across the radar screen:
Tasted like a million bucks.
The prosecution team that put killer/Teflon heir John E. du Pont into jail for the foreseeable future toasted their victory last spring with a bottle of Belgium’s Saison Dupont.
Tasted like 200 bucks.
Courage Imperial Stout hit local outlets at an astounding $200 for a case of 24 7-ounce bottles.
Tasted like Pis.
Pennsylvania banned the sale of Belgium beers depicting Brussels’ famous Mannekin Pis statue.
Hello, this is Bud from St. Louis.
Beer Philadelphia publisher Jim Anderson launched a weekly call-in radio show devoted solely to beer (12:30 p.m. Fridays, WNWR/1540-AM). Among the show’s features: “Mystery Beer,” in which Anderson challenges listeners to guess what he’s drinking during the broadcast.
They wanted to call it Bud,
but . . .
Frederick Brewing bottled Hempen Ale, the first American beer made with hemp seeds. The slick ad campaign assured consumers the beer contains no dope.
They wanted to call it Sierra Nevada, but . . .
In an apparent first for Anheuser-Busch, brewmaster Gary Eckman – describing the company’s new, hop-laden Pacific Ridge Pale Ale – said, “We had one goal in mind: Create a beer that we would enjoy drinking ourselves.”
BEER OF THE YEAR
Not to impose my taste on y’all, but here are the three most distinctive brews that tickled Joe Sixpack’s tonsils in ’97.
Dogfish Head Immort Ale (Rehoboth Beach, Del.). I’m still not certain what this stuff is. A barleywine? A fruit stout? Who cares? This is the bottle you want when you’re snowed in and the only thing on cable is QVC.
Samuel Adams Brewhouse Tart Ale (Philadelphia). Brewmaster William Reed took a shot at Belgium’s classic red ale, Rodenbach. He missed, but this remarkably tart ale was a winner while appearing briefly on draft at the brewpub (1516 Sansom St.) last summer. I’m hoping he takes another stab at it this year.
Fuller’s 1845 (Britain). Sorry to swing to an import, but this bottle-conditioned pale ale is right-on, from its copper color to its toasty malt body.