From around the tenth century through the late middle ages beer had always been one dominant style: ale. Spontaneous top-fermenting beer utilizing practically any ingredients was de rigueur. Problem was any old ingredients usually led to cloudy, muddled concoctions with a severe lack of balance. The taste was, for the most part, lousy. Two things kept the style going: It was safer than drinking plain water (no, I’m not making that up) and the alcohol it provided.
People have been harping about the supposed 2012 “end of times” as predicted in the Mayan calendar. Books are dedicated to unraveling its mysteries, Discovery Channel has produced shows chock-full of experts to scientifically analyze any factual merit… Hollywood has even given us a pretty cheesy movie where director Roland Emmerich blows the Earth into smithereens… again.
Tim Barry, lead singer of the seminal punk band Avail, released a solo record a couple of years ago. Rivanna Junction is a collection of the sad and tough; alt-country sensibility wrapped around stories of heartbreak, the human condition and, well, ulterior methods of travel. One track in particular caught my attention.
My grandmother loved to eat healthy. It was she, in her maternal and all-knowing manner, who would insist I had, whenever possible in such non-tropical climes, fresh grapefruit for breakfast. No way I could eat that stuff raw. Such an unappealing presentation. Half a sphere just sitting in a bowl staring up at me… waiting for me to wince at its painfully bitter bounty. Reach for the sugar bowl and scoop scoop. Funny how life works out where, decades later, I can pour myself a pint of Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale and time travel back to those childhood memories of breakfast disdain only to suddenly find myself absolutely adoring this incredibly flavorful ale.