notes from maggie's farm
As for the rare old vintages with which we wash down our meals - they too simply do not exist. There is a carafe of red wine on our table, filled with a simple discreet wine which we buy by the gallon in the local liquor store. Occasionally there may be a bottle of chilled dry white wine. And always there is a quart bottle of good beer in the icebox. M.F.K. Fisher
I'm not sure why it thrilled me so, but being allowed a sip from my father's can of beer was one of those deliciously pseudo-forbidden delights of childhood the memory of which still elicits a naughty giggle. Surely it wasn't the taste that enchanted me. Lukewarm bitter yuck, if I remember correctly. But I'd never let on. It had to be because it was what adults drank. And in my day, it was mostly what adult men drank. I was being let into, if for just a brief moment, the secret order of beer drinkers.
I wonder when it dawned on me that the lawn mowing could be accomplished sans hops. I, for years, thought the two hand-in-hand. Of course the thought of that ice-cold can, the sliiIIIck-pop-sssssss of the pulltab, and first small guggle-guggle-guggles, must certainly have made the task more palatable. So it comes as no surprise that the tsk-tsk-tsk-ssssssssssssskkkkkkkkkkk of evening sprinklers makes me just a tad thirsty for ice cold ahhhhhhhhh.
Still, it took quite some time for this taste to be fully acquired. And bottle upon bottle, especially as it becomes lukewarm, is distasteful to me. I'm not given to overindulging in beer. Moderation is key. One (okay, maybe two) perfectly ice-cold, favorite brew is a little bit of heaven given the right circumstance--weather, particular meal, company, event, time of day.
Which brings us to the reason that beer is on my mind,
I have the distinct honor of pouring libations, today, for the Austin Food and Wine Alliance's Live Fire! Beef Supremacy and Flame Mastery event, held at the Salt Lick Pavilion in Driftwood, Texas. (Check out the menu here, and drool. Seriously.) You know that barbecue is not just a food in Texas. Barbecue is a religion. And beer fits barbecue like salt fits pepper.
The event will see esteemed chefs, wineries, breweries, and distilleries from all over the state, and a few from beyond. And me. I'll be there. That's worth at least 50 cents of the admission price, alone. It's a steal.
So given the task at hand, I decided to bone up a bit on beer basics (being a tad bit (embarrassingly) more familiar with the wine and hootch....). Here are some of the interesting tidbits, and informative websites, about beer, that I found:
Beginners Guide To......
Beer, Luke Porter
Ordering Beer, Shine
Craft Beer, The Art of Manliness
Beer Grains, About.com, and
Beer Tasting, About.com
The Historic Roots of 7 Styles of Beer, from Mental Floss, via What Are You Drinking?
Some amusing infographics like...
One Nation Under Hops, The U.S. Independent Beer Movement
How Beer Saved the World
Battle of the Beers: Guinness, and the Rest and,
The Boston Bruins $156, 679.74 Bar Tab
And I always get a lot of good info from my fellow members of Austin Food Blogger Alliance:
Matt Abendschein of You Stay Hoppy Austin, and
Matt McGinnis of What Are You Drinking?
Finally, a favorite passage from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis,
'So you've come at last!" she said, holding out both her wrinkled old paws. 'At last! To think that ever I should live to see this day! The potatoes are boiling and the kettle's singing and I daresay, Mr Beaver, you'll get us some fish.'
'That I will,' said Mr Beaver, and he went out of the house (Peter went with him), and across the ice of the deep pool to where he had a little hole in the ice which he kept open every day with his hatchet. They took a pail with them. Mr Beaver sat down quietly at the edge of the hole (he didn't seem to mind it being so chilly), looked hard into it, then suddenly shot in his paw, and before you could say Jack Robinson had whisked out a beautiful trout.
Then he did it all over again until they had a fine catch.
Meanwhile the girls were helping Mrs Beaver to fill the kettle and lay the table and cut the bread and put the plates in the oven to heat and draw a huge jug of beer for Mr Beaver from a barrel which stood in one corner of the house...
Just as the frying pan was nicely hissing, Peter and Mr Beaver came in with the fish which Mr Beaver had already opened with his knife and cleaned out in the open air. You can think how good the new-caught fish smelled while they were frying and how the hungry children longed for them to be done and how very much hungrier still they had become before Mr Beaver said, 'Now we're ready.' Susan drained the potatoes and then put them all back into the empty pot to dry on the side of the range while Lucy was helping Mrs Beaver to dish up the trout, so that in a very few minutes everyone was drawing up their stools (it was all three-legged stools in the Beavers' house except for Mrs Beaver's own special rocking-chair beside the fire) and preparing to enjoy themselves. There was a jug of creamy milk for the children (Mr Beaver stuck to beer) and a great big lump of deep yellow butter in the middle of the table from which everyone took as much as he wanted to go with his potatoes, and all the children thought - and I agree with them - that there's nothing to beat good freshwater fish if you eat it when it has been alive half an hour ago and has come out of the pan half a minute ago. And when they had finished the fish Mrs Beaver brought unexpectedly out of the oven a great and gloriously sticky marmalade roll, steaming hot, and at the same time moved the kettle onto the fire, so that when they finished the marmalade roll the tea was made and ready to be poured out. And when each person had got his (or her) cup of tea, each person shoved his (or her) stool so as to be able to lean against the wall, and gave a long sigh of contentment...