Monday, April 28, 2008
It's always a night of great fun, food and fellowship, so contact a bartender at Uno's, plunk down the ridiculously low ticket price and set May 19 aside. Bring a friend or a significant other and enjoy a relaxed night out.
Good Food, Good Beer, Good People!
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Project Graduation? Try Project Education
June is graduation time for high schools throughout the country. To counter what some parents fear is a night of unfettered revelry, Project Graduation, usually organized by a group of caring and concerned parents, is designed to allow graduates to celebrate their graduation night in a controlled, alcohol and drug-free setting.
To its credit, Project Graduation does what it was designed to do: keep the children alive.
For one night anyway.
What happens the next night, and the nights thereafter (like those in college), when the party urge is still there, but there is no controlled environment?
The answer? Tragedies, usually. Some are immediate and some don't happen until months or even years later. The reasons for the tragedies are many, but principal among them is what our society teaches its youth about alcohol--and especially about beer.
While wine coolers and malternatives (like Zima, hard lemonade and hard cola) are also frequently abused, the beverage of choice seems to be beer. Few high school or middle school kids would strap a funnel to their heads that was loaded with Smirnoff Ice.
No, the main propellant in party fuels seems to be Bud, Miller, Coors, Corona, et al. And when their parents and nearly everyone else in authority tells them not to do it, you have a recipe for guaranteed abuse.
We have made beer, an ancient, nutritious beverage, taboo rather than an adjunct to our lives. Regulation of the use of beer is absolutely essential; regulation does not mean abstention, but that's what we've been saying to young people for generations.
The effects of that policy are evident in the headlines--and obituaries--of our newspapers. No one denies that abuse of beer or other alcohol has negative consequences. How, then, to educate against its abuse while accepting the many benefits beer can provide?
We are simply not educating American young people about the proper purpose and use of alcohol. Their ignorance of proper alcohol use compels us to initiate things like Project Graduation. Perhaps if we took a different tack--from very early on in youth-- a Project Education, if you will, we could obviate the need for one-night, stopgap measures like Project Graduation, which, for all its success, is simply a temporary feel-good measure.
In Belgium, for example, where beer occupies a status much as wine does in France, young school children are given beer during their recesses instead of milk. To be sure, it's not a strong alcohol beer. In fact, it's usually around three or four percent, but it is beer and it is far more nutritious than milk. More importantly, its distribution by the authorities is a clear message that beer has a legitimate place in society. That's an important lesson for youth to learn, and it's not one that American youth are usually taught.
Telling youth to "Just Say No" means all beer use is by definition illicit. Perhaps that is why most Europeans, especially those who have grown up with wine and beer readily available "en tabella" (on the table), see alcoholic beverage as an accompaniment to meals rather than as an illicit drug designed to encourage--and excuse-- asinine and often dangerous behavior.
Beer has a 6000 year written history of being used as a social lubricant and as an important part of celebrations. Very likely, it was used that way before writing was even invented. Like it or not, graduation falls under the heading of celebration. No responsible person suggests that kids be permitted to celebrate with booze in an unsupervised setting, but that's what they're doing after Project Graduation is over.
Rather than send their progeny to the seaside for an unsupervised weekend binge (hoping against hope that they'll do the right thing), wouldn't parents be better off to have taught them at an early age what beer is for, how to enjoy it, and when to say when? Hoping they do the right thing at least has a better chance that way.
American culture waits until the magical age of twenty-one to say that beer is OK, which guarantees nothing beyond taking the excitement out of procuring and drinking beer, unless you count procuring it for underage drinkers. It would be far better that children learn about the pleasures, benefits and dangers of alcohol from their parents (who may need to be re-educated themselves) or responsible adults, rather than by watching and laughing at their buddies' antics after downing a case of Milwaukee's Best in a half hour.
Simply put, America needs to rethink its approach, because the one we're using has failed. Does that mean that we should substitute beer for milk at every American elementary school? No--at least--not yet. For one thing most people would say beer doesn't go as well as milk with cookies. But that's only because they don't know that there are beers that go very well indeed with cookies.
Like our funnel-headed adolescents, these folks need Project Education, too. It's time to move from "Just say No" to "Just say KNOW."
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
After my recent delightful surprise with AB's Bareknuckle Stout, I guess I was feeling adventurous. So when I saw a new Blue Moon beer on the shelf called "Honeymoon," I figured it might be worth a try. Oh, I knew that Blue Moon (not a bad beer, IMHO) was a Coors product, but I was game. And thirsty. So I picked up a sixer. The bottle says that it's a "classic Summer ale made even better with real clover honey, fresh orange peel and both pale and white wheat malts."
My studies in Norse lit revealed an interesting origin for the word "honeymoon," In a nutshell, the word derived from the ritual use of mead (honey-based) by newlyweds for a month--supposedly right after the bride was kidnapped, but before her family stopped looking for her. (Hey, "sensitivity" is not a word usually associated with the Vikings.) Anyway, the newly weds supposedly drank large amounts of mead and did whatever such consumption led to (use your imaginations here, or recall your college days) for a month. Thus "honeymonth" or hjunottsmanathr came into being. Though there are several etymological explanations for the word, they're not as cool as this one.
But I digress. The beer, brewed in Canada by BMBC and imported by Coors, is actually a very decent summer ale. Pale yellow, almost straw-like, the beer is light and refreshing. The honey is not cloyingly sweet, nor does the orange peel dominate the palate. Both flavors kind of "dance" through the mouth and nose, and, interestingly, the beer improves with each swallow. While it could qualify as a "Lawnmower" beer (drunk greedily after a mowing session on a hot summer afternoon) it actually deserves more attention. Tasting, rather than slugging, can bring nice rewards with Honeymoon. Kind of like a Viking bridegroom taking some time with his kidnapped wife rather than doing the old wham-bam.
I pulled out some Meier's multigrain crackers--the big suckers--and spread some of the missus' newly made tunafish salad on them. Voila! The beer and the food made a perfect pair, kind of like those Viking newlyweds on holiday.
Wouldn't be a bad choice for newlyweds to have this at their nuptial celebration, IMHO.
Blue Moon Honeymoon Summer Ale is worth your time. Just be gentle.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
April 7, 1933--a date which will live in infamy (if you were a member of the WCTU or the Anti-Saloon League)-- marked the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition--but only for beer. Other liquors got their freedom about eight months later.
OK, so today is April 8. But I say better to celebrate a day later than never. And just to see if you're up to snuff history-wise, click below for a comprehensive Prohibition Quiz. The PubScout will be the tester and you will be the, um, testees. And while you're testing, have a glass of your favorite brew, say a silent "Thanks" to Herbert Hoover and all those who worked to allow you to have that brew--legally, of course.Cheers!