Reader Francis Berger describes his discovery of craft beer.
It used to be that I was content just drinking a Yuengling Lager, but it took a trip 275 miles from home for me to realize there was something else out there. The following is a brief history of my journey into the amazing world of craft beer.
It started in May of 2007. My wife (who was my girlfriend at the time), my then 4-year-old son and I took a trip to Cooperstown, NY to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Let it be known that my wife, Cathy, asked ME to marry HER on this trip. After graciously accepting her proposal, the innkeepers presented us with a celebratory bottle of local wine. I half jokingly stated that I’d prefer a beer. They were kind enough to mention that Brewery Ommegang was only minutes away from us.
We took the short trip to the brewery and I was absolutely amazed.
Maybe it was the scenery at first, but after tasting the beers and going on the tour, never could I imagine that beer could be this good. I was hooked!
My journey into craft beer continued in Cooperstown that weekend. While ordering lunch at Sal’s Pizza on Main Street, I spied bottles of Old Slugger Ale in the cooler. Of course I had to give it a try. How could I not when there was a baseball on the bottle cap? I couldn’t believe that I was able to get a beer this good at a pizzeria. This was the beginning of my pale ale/IPA with pizza obsession. These beers I had been trying actually had FLAVOR! I then found out that Cooperstown Brewing Company was only 20 minutes away. Of course we needed to stop by. Once the trip was completed,
I had loaded five cases of Old Slugger into the back of my Honda Element to enjoy when we got home. Upon my return, I checked my local liquor stores for new and exciting selections to please my palate. My first local craft beer was PBC Rowhouse Red. I was in love again!
Next was the trip to PBC for a tour and tasting. Then, the short jaunt to Yards for pints and cases. As well as trips to Victory for lunch, followed by excursions to Dogfish Head. Of course, being a Jersey boy, there was also Flying Fish.
Over the past 6 years, I have tried more beers than I can count and I have enjoyed every sip. I have toured every brewery I have been close to. In fact, recently when going on a brewery tour, my now 10-year-old son said to me “Dad, I already know how beer is made!” I have converted my wife and several friends into craft beer drinkers. It’s almost like I am spreading the gospel of craft beer. Can I get an Amen!? I have also met many great folks with which to talk beer. I have enjoyed the fact that you can walk into any good beer bar or tasting room and have the person next to you start talking beer. Craft beer is more than just beer—it’s a community. One that I am proud to be a part of.
We go back to Cooperstown every other year and Brewery Ommegang and Cooperstown Brewing Company are always a part of the itinerary. And, every once in a while, I’ll order a Yuengling Lager and think about how far I’ve come.
If you have an interesting story about discovering craft beer, send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.