Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Your Father's Beer

Last night I was in search of a cheap brew. I had $3 in my pocket and I wanted some beer.

After perusing the aisles and coolers at the nearest liquor store I decided I was in the mood for Old Style beer. Yup. Old Style. The beer that your father drank when you were growing up in the Midwest, especially in Chicago. I was also inspired by an old article on the history of Old Style beer that originally appeared in the Barfly newspaper here in Chicago. To be honest, I usually drink fancier microbrews or imports, but my budget is getting the best of me these days. Of course, there's more to drinking cheap beer than just penny pinching. Yes, there is, really! Even before the economy started to head south and my beer budget dried up, I started to look fondly at cheap beer. Sure, there were memories of college days, but more importantly it awakened a sense of history. There are a lot of brands of beer that in years gone by threatened to take a lot of business away from Budweiser and Miller. Some of these brands of beer still exist today.

In many cases, these brands are perceived by the public to be cheap products that are inferior to the likes of Budweiser and Miller or Coors. Well, I'm here to say that just because a beer is cheap doesn't mean it's going to be foul tasting. Of course, there are some brands of cheap beer out there that are pretty nasty, but the brand that is our topic today -- Old Style -- is actually a pretty fine beer. Generations of Chicagoans have grown up with Old Style beer. It is a simple beer brewed with barley, malt, hops and corn, (LOTS of corn) and of course water. Despite being cheap, it is not a light beer, it is actually fairly full-bodied for an American mainstream lager. When fresh, I think Old Style rivals Budweiser, but it has to be fresh. Such as the 40-oz bottle I picked up yesterday at the corner store. Full-bodied, light golden in color with a big head and grainy/corny aroma. A bit sweet for my tastes but very refreshing and smooth -- maybe it's that old-fashioned krausening that the marketing department at G. Heileman used to tell us about.

Now the Old Style brand is owned by Pabst and you never know when Pabst might decide to stop producing it. So, savor this beer while you can, before it truly becomes history.