Food & Drink » Cuisine Feature

Still your dad's beer

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When we last talked, I gave you the head’s up on some of my favorite Irish and Irish–style beers. But, as some of my learned colleagues pointed out, St. Pat’s Day is really just about cheap, erh, inexpensive beer guzzling.

That point was driven home last week when Schlitz, the beer that made Milwaukee famous, rolled back into Georgia with its “Classic 1960’s Formula,” based on the original recipe that once made it the best selling beer in the country.

Schlitz has brought back the American lager flavor of the 1950s and 1960s long since forgotten by many major brewers. It’s the flavor that guys my age remember from sipping our father’s beer during backyard barbecues.

Oh, the halcyon days...

Brewmaster Bob Newman, winner of two consecutive Brewmaster of the Year awards at the Great American Beer Festival, got together with former Schlitz brewmasters from the 1960s to develop the classic, full–bodied brew.

Count on a maltier foundation than most mass–market beers – and a “kiss of hops” bitterness that helped the original formula stand above the crowd.

But don’t stop there. Conveniently, Crystal Beer Parlor has assembled a “Beers of Our Fathers” list comprised of what I call “heritage brands.”

Another newcomer to that lineup is Rheingold – back in Georgia after decades of exile. Born in 1883 in New York, it captured more than 35 percent of that state’s beer drinkers in the 1930s and 1940s. In the 1970s, the brand fell by the wayside, but was brought back in 1998 – brewed now in Wilton, Conn.

This is not the original dry lager but a contemporary incarnation of a legendary brand. It’s got market appeal in its nostalgic packaging – and sits solidly alongside a cadre of old–school brands in terms of flavor.

Another pair stands out for me on Crystal Beer Parlor’s heritage list. Strohs is back in its familiar can. Yeah, it’s an enjoyable cold beer, but still not the big–bodied brew I recall from college – when a “pizza–and–Strohs” diet fueled my youthful journalistic aspirations. Mickey’s Fine Malt Liquor, AKA The Green Grenade,” remains a malty alternative to the light lager style.

Other favs from the “Beers of Our Fathers” list are Genesee Cream Ale, Old Milwaukee and, of course, Dixie.
Fun beers, indeed, and even more fun to enjoy at the bar beside an old–timer who will gladly reminisce with you about his first Genesee or Mickey’s. These are easy drinking beers, with ABV of generally less than 5.5 percent.

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