Beer Memories: The good, the bad and the ugly

I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic about beer lately. I don’t remember my first beer but I do remember my first six pack — not a pretty story.

I was 15 and went to a house party — a handful of teenagers hanging out drinking and watching an old horror movie called Q about a prehistoric bird in New York City.

I drank my way through half a dozen of somebody else’s Molson Canadian. I had the odd notion that I inherited my father’s alcohol tolerance and that I, a 120 pound girl, could pack away two litres of lager and remain coherent.

My math was off.

Unfortunately bad beer memories sometimes cling more tightly than good ones.

My first smoked beer was a German-style rauchbier brewed by a novice homebrewer. It tasted like charred molasses steeped in tar, with a slap in the face of dirty exhaust fumes.

“Rauch” means smoke in German. Smoke in beer is an acquired taste. Smoked, homebrewed beer is even dicier, especially when the “brew master” raids his condiment shelf to make it.

I suggest you only drink it from reliable sources, like from your buddy who drives a crappy rusted-out Tercel but has a walk-in beer cooler, a yeast propagation room and who spends more time tweaking his brewing recipes than learning how to cook real food.

Yeah — that guy’s smoked beer is probably solid.

During the late 1980s I remember a proliferation of dry beers. I was a young beer drinker and the marketing sucked me right in. I was a Molson Dry gal for a while — a total victim of advertising.

I think the Japanese started the dry wars – a hyper-competitive era in the Japanese beer world when a few breweries battled one another to produce the super-fun dry beer of choice.

Asahi Super Dry was the ultimate victor and you can still buy it today. Others, like Labatt Extra Dry, died sad and alone, like so many ill-advised beer experiments.

Can you say Zima?

Then came the ice beers. Or maybe that was before the dry wars. Well, whatever — in geologic time, there were virtually simultaneous.

Eisbier is a classic German beer style that went through the American character-stripping machine and became a conduit for increased alcohol content without finesse. You freeze the beer, remove the ice crystals (alcohol has a lower freezing temperature than water) and then re-carbonate it.

But these beers were advocated by hefties — the Extra Old Stock drinkers who couldn’t get their buzz on quickly enough.

Everything above has been about bad or marginal beer memories. But that’s because the good memories are too numerous to mention.

Just like my favourite beer, my favourite memory is the one in progress right now.

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