Sean and I went to Oceanside Ale Works after work on Friday. OAW is technically a tasting room, and is only open for four hours on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. If we are working nearby, and get done at a decent hour, we'll stop in for one of the beers brewed onsite. Even though we work together all day, it is great to pause for an hour to hang out and talk.
The tasting room is located in a warehouse complex, and their location is not much fancier than a storage unit. One side of the room is dominated by the stainless steel casks, and the other by the beer cooler and taps. The only nod to customers are the bathrooms and the three wooden barrels used as a place to set your beer down. Everyone just mills about on the concrete floors, and if the weather is nice you might stand near the roll up door to the alley.
And the place has been packed the two or three times I have been there.
Last Friday was the grand opening of their new tasting room, which is just a slightly larger version of the warehouse motif. The two brewmasters are a local teacher and a firefighter, and they have been brewing for about five years. Their craft beers are featured at about 40 different restaurants around the area, so they seem to be doing well. I would imagine more than a few patrons have stood around the oak barrels, beer in hand, thinking "we should open a brewery!" I will admit that Sean and I talked about doing some home brewing last Friday.
I normally lean toward ambers, porters and microbrews, but every now and then a simple American beer is what hits the spot. I was recently working at a job site where the homeowner was sitting in a lawn chair watching me work. Normally this is pretty annoying, but he wasn't asking me a thousand questions as I worked. He would come and go, and we'd chat about things other than the cover I was building. It turns out he lived in Washington for a while, so we swapped stories about my home town.
It was a very hot day, and the homeowner was nice enough to make sure I had plenty of water to drink. And during last couple of hours of the work day, the offer switched from water to beer. While I appreciate the offer, I usually say no, but the offer was repeated and he seemed genuinely interested in having a beer with me. I waited until I was done for the day and all the tools were put away before taking him up on it.
He asked if I wanted a Miller Lite or a Bud Light, and I said just bring me whatever you have most of. And I thought to myself, "does it really matter" since most big, American brews are pretty much the same. He brought me a Bud Light, and I have to say, a beer hasn't tasted so good in a long while. It was just so hot out, and the beer was so cold, that it was better than any craft beer at that moment.
I was reminded of this when I was listening to one of my regular podcasts. The Runners Round Table is a semi-weekly show where rotating hosts get on a multi-party phone call to discuss a particular running topic. One of the hosts mentioned he had poured himself a glass of wine, and another responded with this:
"I am enjoying the King of Beers this evening...I hate to say this, and I know people give this brand a hard name, but I love the Budweiser. It has to be in a can, it has to be ice cold, and it has to be hot as hell....I love a decent, dark, tasty, chewy beer...but when it is 90 degrees and you are sweating...crack the can open and it is all there. Its crisp, its cold, its to the point, it is consistent, and it is easy. And you don't feel like you're being taught a lesson."I'll raise a glass (or can) to that.