This ain’t no ball & chain, baby!
Philadelphia’s stunning light-show embraces the sky along the Schuylkill Expressway at night. Despite the moaning and groaning traffic delays, my breath is always momentarily halted by the sight of Boat House Row, the Art Museum, and Philly’s skyscrapers – from the Comcast Center and Liberty Place to the ever-changing Cira Centre and the granite twins of Commerce Square.
I can hear you jeering, Philly-style, at my opening comment, but my rose-colored glasses have been steamed and fogged this winter. With an early October snow, we rolled right into the Christmas buying-season just before Halloween, laying out the welcome mat for a robust shopping spree with time to spare. It’s never too early to make a list of New Year’s Resolutions, so this year I’ve added a twist. Let’s call them my 2012 New Beers Resolutions. No…no ball-and-chain in my world! I’m chuffed to bits over my theme based declarations this year. My list focuses on beer, and not self-denial or the shattering of vices. I happen to think a little vice in life adds spice. In keeping with the latest stats, my 2012 New Beers Resolutions are tailor-made in five luscious “flavors” that anyone can swallow:
My interpretation of this one is, “Drink More Beer.” Beer is a social lubricant. It decreases stress and opens the mind to unconventional ideas such as the Pastafarian Flying Spaghetti Monster and Pirates as absolute divine beings. “Talk like a pirate! Aarrggh, Matey!”
Beer promotes physical health. Studies at both the TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute in Europe and at SUNY College of Medicine in New York, confirmed evidence of a positive increase of HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol, in moderate beer drinkers. This translates into clearer arteries and a lower risk of heart attack. Beer is rich in B vitamins and, when used in spa therapies, has a toning effect on the skin.
Along with getting healthy, I believe in sharing good health, so beer in a champagne bottle with a cork and cage makes a superior housewarming gift. Think Bottled Reserve Series beers like The Cannibal from Iron Hill Restaurant & Brewery or Isabelle Proximus from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Delaware.
2. Become Better Educated
About beer, of course. Armed with Lew Bryson’s book, Pennsylvania Breweries, road trips to nearby breweries and brewpubs are within easy reach. Out-of-town visitors perk-up with the prospect of visiting a small brewery and drinking beer fresh out of the tanks. Providing them with background stories about beer styles raises awareness about the evolution of man. Even master beer drinkers stumble upon knowledge-gaps while telling an anecdote, which opens the door to further study of beer.
Garrett Oliver’s Oxford Companion to Beer answers all those beer geek questions, without the need to read a series of books or sit through classes about beer chemistry that make your eyes glaze over. At my leisure, I can browse through a mini-topic or one with hefty guts. As the winter season rolls along, festivals featuring Belgians and Barleywines are popping up all over the map. These provide great opportunities to taste and learn about characteristics that make beer the beverage of kings. Speaking of characteristics in beer, I vow to spend more time in spice shops and the fruit aisle at my local farmers’ market. Concentrating on each of the smells equips me with a large vocabulary when describing nuances in beer. Remember the theme: “Drink more beer.”
3. Avoid Fast Food
Knowing that beer adds flavor and a crisp edge to cookies encourages further exploration for beer in hand crafted foods. It can be used as an ingredient in mussels, beef stew, and vinaigrette dressings, or paired with appetizers and ice cream floats.
Living in Philadelphia, the Best Beer Drinking City in America, the selection of beer styles is huge. AHA Big Brew, a national day that celebrates homebrewing, is scheduled for May 5, 2012. Amidst the aroma of early spring, there’s nothing as sweet as learning a new skill. Ancient Mesopotamia worshiped Lady Pu-Abi, a royal brewer who took her drinking straw into the afterlife. A few hours of dedicated brew time is little to ask in exchange for a prominent place in history. Cook with beer,
brew beer, and drink more beer.
4. Take a Trip
Beer resolutions are easy to keep, so this one almost makes me feel like I’m cheating. I don’t have to go far for it to be considered a trip. Taking a “trip” is a relative term, but I’m not talking Magic Mushrooms here.
By exploring six beers from Belgium one week, six from Germany the next week and six more from Scandinavia the third week, I can take a virtual trip throughout Europe without leaving my recliner. Philly’s beer scene can take me there too: Monk’s, Eulogy, The Belgian Café, Brauhaus Schmitz and Farmers’ Cabinet are only the opening act to world-class beer.
The Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Beer Passion Weekend in Antwerp, The Great British Beer Festival in London, Mondial de la Bière in Montreal and Strasbourg, and Oktoberfest in Munich are but a few of the many delights on any beer lover’s bucket list. And keep the bubble wrap, plastic bags, and duck tape handy when transporting distinctive beer in the check-in baggage. It’s all about the theme: “Drink more beer.”
5. Volunteer to Help Others
Each year, my focus centers upon providing time and service for the good of the community via beer. Whether presenting beer tastings to benefit Environmental Education on the Hudson or writing a work that will provide an income stream for the Parkinson Foundation, this is a yearly commitment that is easy to fulfill.
Buying a ticket to a beer event may serve Pints for Prostates, Brews for Boobies, Shelters for Women, or the National Diabetic Foundation. Special-release beers often allocate a percentage of sales to a local charity, so “Drink more beer.”
You may notice that my 2012 New Beers Resolutions consist of flavors you have already achieved, but achievement is measured by persistence, too. Resolutions are, after all, a compendium of continuous action. Make a list worth keeping. Happy New Beer!