Beer Epiphany

While I’m waiting for the next step in my homebrew cider odyssey, (more on that later) I am indulging in a single bottle of Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale. While I am not the beer gourmand that I once was (meaning I used to drink a lot more beer), I do appreciate a good craft brew.

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Here’s where I spill the beans about my beer epiphany. In the Summer of 1983, I took a 6 week trip to Germany with my future wife. We stayed with her parents, who were living in Stuttgart for a couple of years. Up to that point, my experience with beer was pretty limited and basically was your typical binge and purge college experiences with Miller Beer. And then I arrived in Germany. West Germany, at the time. The regional beer was Dinkel Acker and my first one was a revelation in unpasteurized flavor and hops.

Eventually, I learned that there were, in addition to the regional beers, local beers that were specific to even the smallest town. I also learned that a 1/2 liter beer in one town, was NOT necessarily the same in the next town over. Where I am from, there was a limit of about 5% alcohol in beer. One could drive to a neighboring state and purchase beer with a slightly higher alcohol level, but none of it was particularly good. In Germany, the beer did not have a standard alcohol percentage . It varied from beer to beer, without warning! Sometimes, I could drink a liter ( two “large” beers) and have a small buzz; while other times, I would have a 1/2 liter (one “large” beer) and have a serious buzz going! And it all TASTED GOOD!!!

My understanding is that it wasn’t until 1978 that Jimmy Carter signed the law that allowed legal home brewing. Is that widely known?! I’m no Jimmy Carter fan, but he DID have one major accomplishment as President! By 1983, the “micro-brew” phenomenon was still in its infancy in the United States and microbrews were practically unknown. After 6 weeks traveling West Germany and visiting surrounding countries, I returned to the United States and, at some point, bought a six back of Miller Beer. I almost did the comedy classic “spewing of the beverage” when I took my first swig. Had someone switched my beer with a bottle of dog urine?!  I couldn’t drink it! (Sorry, Miller Beer.)

Over time, as budget permitted, I would seek out imported beer that was, while pasteurized, still very good. Eventually, the micro-brews started taking off. Home brewers were finding a new audience and stepping up. Soon, even the beer giants started offering some more flavorful beers. I did settle into a regular domestic that was okay and affordable and I drank plenty of it. Then, the doctor said that I would greatly benefit from a serious reduction in alcohol consumption! So now, I rarely have any alcohol and never more than one serving. But could that serving be more worthwhile? Well, craft brews are numerous now, but they can be pricey. What could be more affordable? One look at the internet and you will see that home brewing is still VERY popular and there are people who are seriously absorbed by it!  After an initial investment of about $100 to $150 though, basic brewing isn’t really too hard and the actual ingredients make home brewed beer fairly inexpensive. (I’m hoping my town will have a brew shop soon! Until then, I’ll drive the 15 miles or so to get my supplies.) I was actually pretty happy without alcohol; however, an abundance of crabapples has led me down the path to brewing. (I have all the jelly and crabapple butter i need for the next year.)

While out and about today, I came across the Weyerbacher Pumpkin Ale, brewed in Easton, Pennsylvania. Since I just cooked up several quarts of pumpkin puree and have been reading a bunch of brewing forums lately, it caught my eye. So, while I am far from a gourmet who is qualified to critique someone else’s product, I do know what I like.

At $3 per bottle, it's all about quality, not quantity.
At $3 per bottle, it’s all about quality, not quantity.

Technical points aside, since I wouldn’t know what I was talking about; I like this Weyerbacher Ale.

It’s a little bitter, but not overpoweringly so. It’s a pretty color and has a nice aroma. I guess I get the spices a little, but they aren’t assertive. I don’t know if actual pumpkin was used in the process, but I get the overall idea.

Nice color on the Pumpkin Ale.
Nice color on the Pumpkin Ale.

Did that sound pretentious enough? Well, at $3 per bottle, I felt obligated. Anyway, this ale is something I would like to replicate sometime in the future with a brew of my own, just a little less bitter. Okay…enough for tonight. I think I’ll drink the other half of my beer and hit the sack. (My tolerance has really dropped over the last few years!)


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