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Our beers, ourselves

A mini-manifesto; plus, bring on the half-pint
By LOU PAPINEAU  |  September 10, 2014

HANDS FULL A pair of precious belongings.

In the August issue of Wired magazine, there was a rhapsodic piece titled “How Smartphones Have Unleashed Humanity’s Creative Potential” — quite the slap at the last seven centuries! Gutenberg and da Vinci and Edison and Tim Berners-Lee were such slackers! It ended with this stretch of purple prose: “Our phones, always connected and always with us, have become incredibly personal. They belong to us, to an extent that no previous device ever achieved. Because of that we belong to them too, and it’s a bond that shapes us at the deepest level — in how we express ourselves, in what we hold out as beautiful and compelling, in how we try to emotionally connect, in ways abstract and literal, with our friends and muses. Our phones are now indelibly bound up with our aesthetic souls. And today both are always on.”

We don’t spend our waking hours with a phone glued to our hand, so we put on our editor’s hat and altered that passage to fit what we discuss here. Let’s call it: “How Craft Alchemists Have Unleashed Beer’s Potential” (and yes, that’s quite the slap at 70 centuries of brewing history): “Our beer, always flowing and always with us, has become incredibly personal. It belongs to us, to an extent that no previous beer ever did. Because of that we belong to it too, and it’s a bond that shapes us at the deepest level — in how we enjoy ourselves, in what we deem delicious and fulfilling, in how we emotionally connect, in ways abstract and literal, with our liquid muse. Our beer is now indelibly bound up with our aesthetic souls. And today both are always ready for the next pour.”

We’ll drink to that (in moderation)!

• We were diving in the Bottles & Cans archives and dug up a ’12 column about beer store gripes, and though many of the problems have abated — many stores have made it easier to find new stock, organization has improved — too many places are still guilty of selling old beer. We recently saw a Wachusett sampler that had a February best buy date, and we’ve seen bottles of Stone’s Enjoy By 7.4.14 at three stores! Which obviously undermines the whole point of that enterprise. The flip side of beer-being-sold-beyond-its-best-by-date: stores that sell slightly-past-their-sell-date brews at can’t-pass-’em-up cost. We’ve enjoyed 12-packs from Saranac, sixes of Stone’s Arrogant Bastard (a beer that ages well) at about half-price, and cases of Uinta’s Hop Nosh for $17 (not a typo).

And while we’re in Let’s-Make-Things-Better Mode, we make a modest proposal that beer bars offer half-pints. With so many places boasting so many options, the eight-ounce pour (or a five-ounce for the higher ABV brews) facilitates more diverse sipping and adventurousness (and a slight up-charge for the optional size is a win-win for the proprietors). We first encountered the half-pint option at Prohibition Pig in Waterbury, VT, and have been pining for it ever since.

Actually, at least one bar offers half-pints — well, specifically, seven-ounce pours. Six at a time. For $12! It’d been a while since we were at Stevie D’s Bar & Grill in Cumberland, and last week we were delighted to get reacquainted with their extraordinarily generous flights (ours included Ithaca Flower Power, Dogfish Head’s Punkin, and Blatant’s Imperial Stout). And we were thrilled to hear that they’ll be opening a second location in Riverside — at the former home of the legendary Lincoln Bar & Grille, at the corner of Bullocks Point and Monroe aves. They’re hoping to open the doors on September 18; check for updates.

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