The Revolution Is Over, Welcome To The Status Quo
As a college student living in Baltimore County, I had finally gravitated away from piss yellow lagers and into the world of English ales. Nut Browns and ESBs were my choice. As poor as a college student can be, I still made sure I had the funds for decent beer.
I’m not sure how my roommates and I discovered Oxford Class Ale, but when we did, it quickly became a favorite of ours; I believe I still have a faded pint glass from Oxford. I’ve carried this glass across the country twice and around North Carolina more times then I care to count.
It has sort of become a craft beer totem for me.
After graduation, I moved west with one of my Baltimore friends to southern California. It was there our eyes were opened to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Redhook Ballard Bitter. We were turned on to a bottle shop through a friend-of-a-friend and quickly started making our way through various styles. We had friends who lived in Seattle and we were told tales of a town littered with craft beer.
Our first Thanksgiving there, my roommate Lee and I drove to Seattle to visit these said friends, our fellow Balwmerians. While a trip to Redhook was an obvious expectation, a trip to Thomas Kemper Brewing Company on Bainbridge Island was a must. We were in town less than 48 hours but squeezed in a 35 minute ferry ride across the Puget Sound to taste a beer we would never taste again.
That’s what you had to do to get your hands on a good beer back then.
Just the other day I noticed a vast, empty hole in the beer aisle at my local Kroger. By the time of my next visit, it was filled with singles and a “Build Your Own Sixpack” sign. The selection isn’t stellar by any means, but there is LoneRider (local beer), some imports (Pilsner Urquell, Stella Artois ) as well some can’t-go-wrongs (Bell’s, Dogfish Head).
Sure there’s plenty of awesome bottle shops around me, places that I go to often. But to go into my local grocery store and see sixpack carriers with style descriptions and the option (and understanding) that someone like myself might not want a whole sixpack of one style of beer just makes me giddy.
And it makes me think of that ferry ride so long ago…