The first beer I remember tasting was my Dad’s. I loved watching baseball with my Dad as a kid and he was usually drinking Genny (Genesee) Cream Ale. Genesee is a brewery from Rochester, New York. I grew up in Buffalo, it’s what everyone drank in my family. I’d ask my Dad if I could have a sip, he’d let me, it tasted terrible. Then as a teenager I mostly drank whatever was cheapest…Milwaukee’s Best, Natural Light, etc. It was a pathway to inebriation and I didn’t mind the taste. Early college was also filled with terrible cheap beer. I thought Rolling Rock was the good stuff. But eventually other thoughts creeped in.
I felt like as someone of Irish, German, and English heritage, it was necessary to be a beer drinker, to enjoy it even. And that eventually led to me feeling an obligation to drink Guinness. I found Guinness surprisingly easy to drink. Eventually I starting hanging out with people that drank better beers and tried things like Pilsner Urquell. Then I finally turned 21. I was living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, finishing my final year of college. There is a great bar there called Ashley’s and they have a crazy beer list. I remember trying all sorts of beers on the list. Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse, Spaten Optimator, BELL’S SOLSUN! And there it was, the beer that would change my world in regards to craft beers, particularly the microbrews of the USA.
Bell’s Solsun is now called Bell’s Oberon. Apparently there was already a beer with that name. At the time (circa 1995), Bell’s was only available in Michigan. Today, I can buy Bell’s in my local Whole Food’s in Los Angeles. It’s their summer beer and it’s still great today.
But now I love sours. I’m totally crazy about them, actually. To the point where I barely drink other beers styles anymore. And this has been going on for a few years now, I’m not sick of them yet. And guess what? The first sour beer I ever tried? Bell’s Oarsman. Berliner weisse style beer. Yup, that’s right, the beer I brew all the time now, a Berliner Weisse.