Give Me Hops, But Don’t Give Me Bitter Death

Originally published in the August 2021 Issue of the Old Town Crier Magazine

“What’s your favorite kind of beer?” The bartender asked with a smile.

“An open one.” I replied. She chuckles, probably out of politeness. It’s an old joke and not overly funny.

I was visiting family and friends in Pittsburgh. Like most Pittsburghers, we are all of Irish and German descent. So, a bar is a fitting place to gather. The craft beer trend is alive and well in Pittsburgh, just like the rest of the country. There are breweries and brewpubs in every part of the area. We were in a Gastropub downtown called City Works. It’s a huge, wide open, brightly lit establishment with tons of televisions, and tons of beer. They carry over 90 beers on tap. My wife jokes that I am in heaven. She’s not far from the truth.

“What local beers do you have?” I inquire.

The bartender asks, “Do you like pale ales?”

Oh yes. The Pale Ale. The sweetheart, the little darling of the craft beer industry. The name still brings back bitter memories of the beers being brewed in the early days of the American craft beer trend.  It’s loaded with hops and can often be bitter beyond belief. I am reminded of a quote from the Master Brewer of Brooklyn Brewery in the New Yorker in 2008:

 “When a brewer says, ‘This has more hops in it than anything you’ve had in your life—are you man enough to drink it?’ It’s sort of like a chef saying, ‘This stew has more salt in it than anything you’ve ever had—are you man enough to eat it?’”

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