Thursday, October 13, 2011

My week in media: October

Fake NPR piece for creative writing 101.

There has never been a better time to drink beer in America, and with the economy in shambles, it’s tempting to reach for the cheapest option on the menu, but savvy drinkers turn to craft beers for superior tastes and experiences.

My story begins at 2:30 A.M. on a Saturday morning in October, which is when my friend Marc rouses me from sleep. We drowsily get in the car, merge onto the highway, and embark on a three-hour car ride to Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founded in 1997, Founders brews some of America’s finest craft beers including Cerise Cherry-Fermented Ale and Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale. As we careen toward The Great Lakes State, only one thing comes to mind: Canadian Breakfast Stout, or CBS, for short.

CBS has a legendary reputation in craft beer circles. It is a double chocolate coffee oatmeal stout aged in bourbon and maple syrup barrels. It pours dark as oil, caresses the palate like fine wine, and commands a rabid following. When we arrive at the brewery at 7:30 A.M., a line of 300 has already formed. We take our spot at the end and wait.

The local temperature hovers at fifty degrees. The sun refuses to peak. Antsy connoisseurs jog in place to stay warm, and the smart ones drink beer. Marc and I have forgotten our stash, and so we endure the wait soberly.

At 11 A.M., after three-plus hours of waiting, of paying our dues, the line moves. It takes another hour to get to the front. There, we buy two bottles apiece at eighteen dollars a bottle. Each bottle holds 750 mL of beer, and since there are fewer than 2000 bottles total, the investment is wise. We now own one of the rarest beers in America.

In the tap room where glasses clink, Marc and I get our first taste of CBS, and it is impeccable. It goes down smooth and wows me with each sip. It is dessert. It is liqueur. No, it is beer, and it is one of the finer beers I have tried, and likely will try.

When we return home, bottles have already hit eBay. They will fetch upwards of one-hundred dollars. I list one of my bottles, and it sells for eighty-two, a return of sixty-four dollars and enough money to cover that weekend’s expenses. Leave it to Americans to buy extra beer to flip on the internet for 500% profit.

The American craft beer scene is having a moment right now. Lifelong beer drinkers have new options at the local tavern. When I drink a Miller or Bud, I mourn the people who won’t get to or don’t care to sample something better. But then I smile because artisans like the brewmasters at Founders stand up to corporate brewers and show them we can do it better. They embody the American entrepreneurial spirit. Cheers to them.