Welcome to “Recorded Conversations,” an occasional feature where all the Addison Recorder editors contribute their thoughts about a question, idea, or prompt. Everyone will chime in, and then we see where the conversation wanders. For today’s conversation, J. Michael Bestul looks forward to a few drinks over the Labor Day weekend, and wonders aloud what might be drinking.
Prompt: You’re at a bar, restaurant, or pub that you’ve never been to before. The place has a pretty good drinks list, and on it, you notice ____________. And because this is one thing you always have to try when you’re at a new place, you order it.
Question: What is ____________, and why is it the libation you order?
To be honest, I don’t know what that libation is until I see it. Which is strange, I realize, but I don’t have a set cocktail or drink that I must try at each new establishment. Being a lover of beers I have not tried, my instinct is to order whatever is coming out of the tap I find most interesting. Now, there are certain restrictions placed upon this, and of course I have a list of them.
1. It must not be a beer I am overly familiar with. If I am in a bar where the most interesting tap is Goose Island 312’s signature telephone, that does not mean that 312 is getting the call (heh). If I am in a new bar it behooves me to try something new, so ordering a beer that I have picked up from the grocery mart downstairs a dozen times will not do it.
Addendum to 1: Seasonal varieties of brands I am familiar with count as new. If the Oktoberfest lagers or Winter Nut Brown ales are just hitting the streets that is new enough to be acceptable. Even if I have tried it before. If it’s been 9 months since I had Harvest Ale then I have no qualms about ordering a pint of it.
2. It must not be a Pale Ale. I am more than happy to be proven wrong about this at some point, but pale ales are not my thing. The overwhelmingly hoppy flavor does a number on my palate, so I always wind up disappointed with Pale Ales unless it’s part of an exquisite pairing. Put an IPA next to a half-rack of ribs, and we’re probably in business. But then, how often am I ordering ribs in a bar I’ve never been to? Not much. Hence, pale ales get a pass.
3. The less I know about the brewery, the more intrigued I am. This may come off as hopelessly hipster, but I like discovering something that I can recommend to my friends. Finding a beer that you can share with your mates is one of the best examples of this, and that’s pretty hard to do if I am drinking a Heineken. Nothing against the well-known craft breweries (to say nothing of the mega-breweries like Bud or Coors), but taking a gamble on stuff like Big Sky Cowboy Coffee Porter is more rewarding than sticking with a tried and true Leinenkugel.
This list, or at least the idea of it, is what I use when I’m in a new establishment, and it’s paid off nicelyfor me. I’m not married to this procedure, and often it will get ignored completely if there’s a special, but it’s a system that works.
Read the responses from the other editors (-J., Andrew, and Travis) as they are published throughout today.