If you think about it, craft beer and indie rock are practically the same thing. One’s for the ears, and the other’s for the taste buds. But the principle is the same: an alternative to the mainstream, crafted not for the masses but rather the select few who can’t abide mediocrity. I am one of those select few. Sure, I like the classics as much as the next guy. I grew up on the Stones and The Who. I’ve seen them both in concert. But if you’re talking “contemporary” artists on my iPod, you’ve probably never heard of any of them. Something Fierce? Missing Monuments? Miss Chain and the Broken Heels? Yeah, like I was saying. Even most of the “old” music I own (Replacements, Clash) was the micro-brew rock of its time. It may be every eastern Pennsylvanian’s birthright to drink Yuengling, and I do from time-to-time. But to be totally honest (and risk deportation from the commonwealth), I gotta say I’ve lost my taste for Yuengling Lager. It’s not that I’m a snob. But having inundated myself with premium hops and malts on a daily basis for several years now, I’ve reached the point where beers that are made mostly from water and corn adjuncts just taste gross. Honestly, I want to like Miller High Life. I like the idea of the classic American beer. But the major corporate brewers, for financial reasons, chose to water down their product at some point in the 1970s. If you want a true classic beer, you probably have to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
If Samuel Adams is The Stooges of craft beer - the true progenitor of all that’s good - then Bell’s Brewery out of Kalamazoo and Comstock, Michigan might be micro-brewing’s Dictators or even Devo. Bell’s goes way back to 1985 - almost prehistoric times in craft beer terms! Literally thousands of American craft breweries have come along over the past 25 years or so and revolutionized beer drinking in this country. But Bell’s, one of the founding fathers, remains one of the very best. I love their porter, and I love the Hopslam. And come summertime, I love the Oberon. A wheat ale fermented with Bell’s “signature house ale yeast”, this is the last summer seasonal I’ll review this year. And it just might be the best! While many popular summer beers boast of “crisp” and “refreshing” qualities, Oberon is all about quality and flavor. It’s considerably hoppier than the typical wheat beer, which helps balance the citrus twang and yeasty sweetness that define this ale’s easy-drinking character. The wheat malts smooth everything out and make this perhaps the most quaffable beer you’ll taste all summer. Mmmmm! This is one of the few summer seasonals I’d drink year-round. If you don’t mind a summer beer that’s more “flavor-forward” than most, the Oberon is a must-buy. And if you do mind, go ahead and drink Bud Light Lime. I won’t think any less of you- so long as you don’t make me drink any!