>Ah yes, I am a beer snob.

I was not a huge beer fan until the day I found out my dad was brewing the stuff himself in our basement.

What he made beat the pants off of what kids were drinking in college- Coors? Heinekin? Bud? Miller? Corona? Blech! Dad’s brews were ambers, porters, dark beers; flavorful and rich, flavored with malt and homegrown hops from a microbrew supply store in Rockville. Unlike the pale watery dreck that goes right through you and doesn’t taste like anything. Much.

On a family trip to the UK I got to taste Guinness for the first time. Good stuff- you can spread it on toast and it tastes of coffee and unsweetened chocolate. Years later, as a student at Oxford, I got into Strongbow Cider, which is decadent with fish and chips after rowing on the Thames. Can’t find it in the States, though.

But you can find some really fantastic microbrews. My favorites are in New England. Magic Hat in Burlington, VT is not only a wildly fun place to visit, but they have beer soap, t-shirts and the best thing of all, refillable growlers. What is a growler? A half-gallon jug which they fill with your favorite brew, then you bring the bottle back and for $5 they fill it again. Yum.

So’s the stuff they make at The Shed, where you can get a ski of beer- a shotglass sampler on a… ski- and a really amazing burger. I bought a growler there once, but left it in the rental car on a February night and it exploded. And the Long Trail Brewing Company, which I discovered after a day of skiing at Killington. And in your local store there’s Hebrew which is rich, as well as having a witty name, and Flying Dog‘s In Heat Wheat, which rocks for a light beer.

I like microbrews because brewers are creative, dedicated to their craft, and wholly incapable of making anything tasteless and watery. Seasonal brews with blackberries, porters with hints of vanilla, ales tinged with nutmeg and other spices. Not girly foo-foo, but like fresh Southeast Asian cooking, full of a variety of flavors that open like a blossom on your tongue and explode across your palate.

Sure beats a slice of lime in a longneck, hunh?


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