One thing I’ve learned in life is, always have a spare. While that is generally not recommended with wives and girlfriends, it comes in handy for beer. Although to be completely transparent I once made two dates with two different women on the same night to see which one was the better of the two. They discovered my little scheme however, and I ended up sitting at a bar alone. Moving on…quickly.
The wife and I headed up to the Lake Superior shore, among the wilds and autumn colors of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. Lately I’ve been on a bit of a Farmhouse Ale kick, and their widely varying palette from some local and national brewers I’ve come to enjoy. As a bit of a foodie and a novice, but competent chef, who spent a number of years in the restaurant business, I have found the depth of a well-crafted Farmhouse Ale works, dare I say, better than most wines of comparable quality. This is not to take away too much from wine. I have had some amazing ones, and I honed my palette for tasting, and acumen for food pairing with wine. That said, I feel I have matured into great craft beer. As I joked with a couple of good friends a short time back, who also evolved strongly to craft beer, “wine is the training wheels to great beer!”
But I digress. Eight hours on the road, and the wife and I were ready for a meal. As she put together a salad of greens and tomato from our garden back home, I tossed a couple of steaks on the grill at our rental overlooking Lake Superior. From the deck, just across the road, and through a silhouetted line of fluttering birch and tall pine, thunderous waves beat one of the most pristine and line beaches on the continent. As the steaks sizzled beneath those cloud brushed treetops, I popped the cork on a highly recommended Prairie Belgian-style Farmhouse Ale from Krebs Brewing out of Oklahoma.
It poured nicely, with a rich, golden color and an inch deep white head, but when I lifted it to my nose it was quickly apparent something wasn’t right. The first taste confirmed, that deeply soured turn indicating a bad or “skunked” beer. I was heartbroken, and this isn’t a shot at Krebs, which as I said, comes highly recommended. It happens. It was just that I cared for this beer in anticipation, protecting it from light (light damages beer), kept it at a stable cool temperature. As I said earlier, perhaps not too convincingly, I always have back up. With a Prairie Ale in hand I grabbed a bottle of Unibroue’s Don De Dieu, a top fermented Triple Wheat Ale, with a generous 9%ABV-just enough to sweep away the long hours of driving as we settled in for the night.
Truth be told, Unibroue has always been my back up, thanks to their consistently supreme quality and taste. I had been looking forward to sampling Don De Dieu for some time. In the softening light from the surrounding woods it poured to an orange-amber hue with a robust foamy white head. The aroma was of a vanilla sweetness laced with honey n fruit. The taste was rich with a malty-caramel sweetness, deepened with orange and a nutty character that played well with the grilled steak and the earthiness of the salad in a light olive oil and vinegar dressing.
So, alright, the rule of having a back up isn’t always a hard and fast one. Maybe it isn’t that best strategy with women, to say the least. But for beer sometimes it is necessity. So when it comes to having a back up, let’s just say it is a good general rule of thumb and leave it at that.