As a kid I always looked forward to this time of the year. Back to school meant new clothes and a spiffy new lunchbox to show off. Oh, and did you see the killer Trapper Keeper my mom got me? GI Joe!
Yes, late August was always exciting for “officially” being one year older. Never mind your birthday when you’re a kid… the evidence of age advancement was measured in moving on to the next grade. Lucky for me my birthday is at the beginning of the school year so I felt doubly important! Better than all that, at least for me, was the vacation prior to the end of summer.
Even though we were never very well off financially my parents made a point of taking us somewhere far away from California’s Sierra Nevada foothills where I grew up. By car or by plane they hauled us – and our less-than-pleasant kiddie personalities – to Disney, my home town of Tucson, our family house in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to see our grandparents… even the Bahamas one year.
Vacation meant adventure and a break from the norm. It meant exploring new forests and going out to restaurants a whole lot. Snorkeling for the first time. Granddad’s gonna spoil me rotten when mom’s not looking. Freeze-dried astronaut food at Cape Canaveral. Hey, they’ve got a POOL!
A long trip also meant two things: books to keep us occupied and chewing gum to keep us quiet. I remember one long flight where I chewed so much Trident that a tooth came loose. It always had to be a good brand of gum otherwise the flavor would disappear before the flight attendant finished demonstrating how to buckle your seatbelt. Fruit Stripe was eternally guilty of such a sin. Trident and Hubba Bubba were great for longevity of elasticity and, therefore, great bubble blowing. The king of keeping its flavor the longest was Big Red.
Today’s beer exhibits no cinnamon bite whatsoever but my thought dominoes have fallen in a path bringing me to Southern Tier’s Big Red. A wonderful Imperial Red Ale, it is deep amber with some rust red around the edges and great carbonation forming a thin beige cap. Noble Hallertau hops provide enough oil for pretty lacing and retention as well as adding a beautiful spicy note to the nose. In addition to that, this being a red or brown ale the malt is strongly emphasized and gives us plenty of biscuit, toffee, dried dark fruit and apple peel. Flavors of slightly caramelized brown sugar, dark bread and spicy citrus hop hide its alcohol very well.
Give your palate its own vacation. Big Red is worth the trip.