“So….What’s your favorite beer?”
This is a pretty common question that Mark and Paul, the founders, have gotten over the years. But it is not as simple a question as one would think. Their tastes in beer have humble beginnings and has significantly evolved over the ensuing years.
They were certainly around when craft beer started to be a “thing” in the United States in the late 1970s but were unaware of it. After all, they both grew up in Midwestern rural communities. Anything trendy on either coast was going to take several more years to reach them.
“To be honest, we were both underage when we had our first beer. It was essentially a rite of passage. After a hard day’s work of farming, construction, etc., there eventually was going to be a point when someone was going to hand you a cold beer because you had earned it. That first beer was certainly consumed quickly, perhaps too quickly, to rinse the dust from our throats but it felt so damn good to have a cold beer with the guys,” reminisced Paul.
In the early days, Mark was quite happy drinking Schmidt Beer (preferably in a big mouth bottle) and Paul was content pounding back an Old Milwaukee. They both remember the advent of light beers in the 80’s and enjoyed Miller Light and Coors Light. If nothing else, the light beers were thirst quenching and would eventually lead to a good buzz. They also remember interesting beer drinking games such as Quarters (an early predecessor to Beer Pong), Drink or Sink (requiring a steady hand) and Mexican (dice game).
Paul remembers the fateful day in the fall of 1984 when he first had a craft beer. A buddy of his was drinking Newcastle Brown Ale and he was buying so Paul asked to try it. The first impression was immediate and remains to this day; dark amber in color, smelled of toasted bread and caramel with a distinct nuttiness, and a hint of brown sugar like sweetness as it finished. One swallow and Paul was hooked. He could not believe that a beer could have such a rich aroma and flavor.
If his first craft beer was an almost religious experience for Paul, Mark does not recollect his first craft beer with that kind of passion. However, the one that comes to mind was most likely experienced in Fort Collins, Colorado when he visited the New Belgium Brewery and had a Fat Tire (Amber Ale) directly from the tap. The color was amber, the aroma was of biscuit and caramel, and the taste was smooth, toasted and malty with a little sweetness leading to a clean finish.
There are now over 7,000 craft breweries in the US and counting. With so many unique and different beers emerging each day, the question of what is their favorite beer is always answered with a smile and the reply, “It’s the one I am holding.”