There is a growing, well, for lack of a better term, “substratum” of US craft beer that’s been labeled “convenience store only”. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably seen some of ’em: tall, 19.2 ounce cans, usually cartoon or otherwise attention-grabbing artwork, and the message “9%” large and unmistakable, there on the front.
As one of those tiresome beer snots who does NOT, like EVER, buy his beer in a convenience store, I didn’t find out about these beers for a very long time. But we were taking one of our frequent day trips around this magical state of Washington, one sunny afternoon in late spring, and found ourselves in a line for a ferry, with maybe an hour to kill. As we were hungry and, on this unseasonably warm afternoon, THIRSTY, I walked out of the ferry lot to a nearby independent market and looked in their beer cooler and…it was like looking through Stargate. A whole new world was there, clearly visible…and a bit frightening.
got this sample from the folks at Double Mountain Brewery & Cidery, located in the absurdly, other-worldly gorgeous Columbia River Gorge, in quaint-but-JUMPIN’ Hood River, Oregon, and groaned audibly when I opened it and saw the label.
“What’s wrong?” asked my darlin’ new bride.
“I’ve just been PUN-ished by Double Mountain Brewing,” I replied, proud of myself, with what I felt was a justified twinkle in my eye.
“Why?” she scowled, “What did you do to them?“
I ADORE my wife, in a way that I never expected I was even capable of. But the woman is where Jokes Go To Die; the rocky shoal on which the little boat of humor runs aground. She is inadvertently funny. (Listening to her learn to pronounce “gewurztraminer” was ten days of riotous fun) And wickedly smart but not inclined to whimsy…
“Edinburgh, where have you been all of my life?” That was my very first thought when I stepped off the train at Haymarket Station on that sunny autumn day. The stone buildings, bustling thoroughfares, and convivial pub terraces overflowing with people reminded me of London. But the further I got from Haymarket Station, the more Edinburgh revealed its own unique charms, by turns cosmopolitan and whimsical.
dinburgh’s narrow wynds, vaulted stairways, and covered alleys are like a cross between going down Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole and entering J.K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley. You’d half expect to meet a wizard down one of those lanes after a few too many pints at the pub.
As for those pubs, Edinburgh’s drinking establishments are a testament to when the city was one of the world’s premier brewing centers. Edinburgh boasted around 280 breweries in its heyday during the early/mid-nineteenth century.
Salt was once white gold in the region spanning southern Bavaria and northern Austria. Like Salzburg and Hallstatt, like Bad Reichenhall and Traunstein, Berchtesgaden was built on a mountain of revenue from the salt trade. Founded in 1102 as an Augustine monastery and raised to the status of a market town in 1328, Berchtesgaden changed hands several times over the centuries. Back and forth Berchtesgaden and its hinterland went between the Archbishop of Salzburg and the Wittelsbachs until, in 1810, the area definitively became a part of Bavaria.
Nowadays, Berchtesgadener Land lies in the far southeast of Bavaria, like an arrowhead jutting into Austria just west of Salzburg. Salt has faded from view, replaced by tourism in the late nineteenth century as the region’s main industry. First came the painters and literary figures, then came the cityfolk along the railways, all drawn by the sublime and wild landscape.