During my college years, “beer” was to be avoided at all costs. It was horrible, cold and even worse when warmed up a little. I would have rather had a glass of wine.
Bert Grant’s Yakima Brewing Company and Real Ales was my introduction to craft beer in 1991. And what an introduction it was! Imperial Stout, Scottish Ale, Hopzilla IPA, HefeWeizen, Perfect Porter, Winter Ale, Golden Ale, and Spiced Ale come to mind. Bert’s Brewpub, located in Yakima, Washington, was housed in a historic train depot with three rooms. On Friday and Saturday nights it was tough to get a seat. I loved the food, the beer and date nights away from the kids!
We moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1999 and were able to get Bert’s beers at our local beer store for a couple of years. That supply dried up with Bert’s financial troubles. So, we came to love Leinenkugel’s Creamy Dark and Honey Weiss, Lakefront’s Eastside Dark and Oktoberfest and other Midwestern craft beers.
A move to Delaware in 2005 introduced me to East Coast craft beer—specifically Philly and its suburbs. My taste buds exploded: Triumph Filthy Blonde, Nodding Head Berliner Weisse, Iron Hill West Chester’s Belgian-style beers, Flying Fish Exit Series, Sly Fox Pikeland Pils, Yards Brawler, Manayunk Bill’s Pils, Victory Baltic Thunder and Yakima Glory, and Earth Bread+Brewery
(never the same thing twice). I could also talk about Delaware’s breweries and brewpubs: Dogfish Head, Fordham/Old Dominion, 16 Mile, Stewart’s, Twin Lakes, Iron Hill Newark, Iron Hill Wilmington, and Argilla Brewing Company.
Recently, I learned that my paternal Czech grandfather brewed beer on his Crete, Nebraska farm in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. All nine kids were put to work: dropping tiny bits of gravel into the used bottles and scouring out the old yeast, sanitizing bottles with lots of bleach, boiling the wort, being brewer’s assistants, making sure the beer fermenting in the cellar (next to the wash tub and the mangle iron) was okay, and of course, bottling. I guess Grandpa didn’t have a hydrometer, because my father remembers bottles blowing their caps on a fairly regular basis and making a mess in Grandma’s laundry room. Grandpa also made wine, but that is another story.
My husband and I brewed our first batch (a Russian imperial stout) in the fall of 2010. Since then, we’ve brewed a smoked porter, several English bitters, pumpkin spice ale, a Wells Banana Bread Beer clone, and we currently are enjoying a Scottish ale.
So, brewing is in my genes, apparently. But I didn’t know it until I was awakened to the possibilities of great beer by Bert Grant. Thanks, Bert.