Hootenanny Ribs

Hootenanny Ribs
3-2-1 rib perfection on my Traeger Pro 34 wood pellet grill

Monday, January 9, 2012

Universal Elixir

"He was a wise man who invented beer."

Man probably didn't invent beer rather he discovered it.  Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt made beer and worshiped the libation.  The laborers that built the great pyramids were paid with beer.  6000 years ago, ancient Chinese civilizations were brewing it.  Early European Christian monks mastered the craft of brewing and built breweries as part of their crusade to provide food, shelter and drink to travelers and pilgrims.  The Mayflower bringing Pilgrims to the New World settled for Massachusetts instead of Virginia because the crew was running out beer.  An entry in the diary of Mayflower passenger William Bradford explains the unplanned landing at Plymouth Rock: "We could not now take time for further search...our victuals being much spent, especially our beer..."  The Industrial Revolution brought further advances in brewing many of which are still employed today.  Beer, is some form or another, has been around as long as civilization itself.

My beer journey started in college.  Hitting the clubs and bars, drinking swill (cheap beer), developing a taste for the suds.  Usually it was Miller Lite or Budweiser or the cheaper stuff.  For about twenty years or so after my early college days, I continued to drink the Bud/Miller/Coors (BMC) macro brews oblivious to the growing trend of craft beers. Then something happened around 2005; someone had a Blue Moon and I tried that beer - Loved it!  Something different, something with flavor.  I'd always been slightly adventurous when dining out, trying a Samuel Adams Boston Lager and their seasonal Octoberfest beer.  I knew any true beer drinker needed to be able to drink a Guinness Stout draft.  So, I tried some stouts.  Gotta train that palette! It took awhile to develop a taste for the darker ales.  Then I read about IPAs.  What is an IPA? I pondered, researched, then found and tried one.

IPA is an Indian Pale Ale, originated in England when the British would ship ales to the soldiers and colonists in India.  To keep the ales from spoiling the brewers added extra hops - the flower pods that add the bittering agent  - to the barrels of ale.  The results were a bigger, stronger and more bitter beer that stood up to the long sea journeys to India.

Wow!  Big taste, big hops and big bitter; I wasn't ready for that puppy yet.  Now I wanted to try more.  Smoky Mountain Brewery was a perfect vehicle for the craft beer newbie. Sampled their offerings; loved them.  Then on to Highland Brewery from Asheville, NC: all of theirs were even better than the local ones!  That lead to more discoveries and soon I had become a craft beer lover, even learning to drink and appreciate porters and stouts and IPAs.  

St. Charles Porter from Blackstone Restaurant and Brewery in Nashville

Since adopting my beer hobby in earnest, the Internet has become very helpful.  Beer ratings sites such as RateBeer or my personal favorite beer community - BeerPal - have helped me learn about different styles.  These sites allow one to read beer reviews, ask questions in forums, research breweries and beer styles and trade beers with fellow beer lovers from all over the world.  I have made several good friends with beer trades and "meet-ups"; friends from Wisconsin, Ohio, Alabama, California, D.C., Texas - there are craft beer lovers all over the United States and the world.  Now in the East Tennessee area, there are new beer stores, like the quaint Bearden Beer Market, and craft beer-friendly bars and restaurants opening and maintaining a steady and growing clientele, catering to beer lovers, and there are thriving breweries in the area. Smoky Mountain Brewery has several locations.  Downtown Grill & Brewery is a popular nightspot in downtown Knoxville.  Marble City Brewing opened their doors to the public in the fall of 2011 after much anticipation. 

Beer is more popular than it has ever been and craft beer is gaining market share and notoriety.  Chefs on network television programs are pairing beer with their foods.  Restaurants are carrying alternatives such as seasonal craft beers and local offerings.  Twitter and Facebook have exploded with brewery sites, beer reviewers and brew lovers.  More breweries are popping up all over America and craft beer is gaining popularity all over the globe.  Now is a great time to try something different, something with flavor, something hand-craft and artisan.  Try something new next time you drink beer.  Because beer is the univeral elixir.

"They who drink beer will think beer."
-Washington Irving

Read my beer reviews at BeerPal: bluesandbarbq


  1. Awesome! Great read. Keep it up :)

  2. Great story! Enjoy the Quest, brother!