Mmmm … beer

By Jonathan Koepke

Raise your glasses, everyone.

“To alcohol: the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.”

-Homer J. Simpson

Such a profound statement has been hard to find in all of modern satire. For those of us who appreciate the finer things in life (raucously stumbling around with friends while inebriated), there was an event like no other last Saturday at Amnesia’s night club. This event was none other than the Beer Tasting International.

This event brings together some of the finest brews from across Europe and North America. For some, this sounds something like heaven in DeKalb (if such a thing is possible), and of course, it was. The event, though, was one that was for the more refined palate. For a more detailed description of such a palate, let me elucidate.

If you have any of the following opinions, this event or any other like it would be a bad idea to attend. Then again it may be an opportunity to taste what real beer is like.

1) Splurging on a fine beer for the evening includes moving up from Keystone to Old Style or Old Style to Busch Light or Busch Light to Bud Light. All of the previous are not good beers.

2) When asked what your favorite beer is you respond, “PBR Me ASAP”. (That’s Pabst Blue Ribbon Me As Soon As Possible for the laymen.)

3) You drink Milwaukee’s Best Ice Light on any kind of regular basis. (Your taste buds will be too corrupted to be saved.)

4) You opt for a bottle of Boone’s Farm over a glass of Bass Ale.

5) You no longer have a functioning liver.

For those of the reading audience that have passed this gauntlet of college drinking prerequisites here are some suggestions about what to pick up next time you are looking to try something new. My favorite beer would have to be a split between two.

The first, is Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout brewed in England. Now a stout is a beer that was first brewed in England that is extremely dark, almost black, and has a full-bodied, creamy flavor. Stouts range in taste from bitter, found in a beer like Guinness, to more sweet. This Oatmeal Stout is smooth and slightly bitter, yet its aftertaste is more sweet than most stouts. If you have never tried an oatmeal stout and you like dark beers, this is an excellent choice.

My other top beer went to a mixture of two brews in a concoction that sends the taste buds for a beautiful excursion. The drink was three quarters Beamish Stout, a dark brew from Ireland, and one quarter Lindeman’s Framboise Lambic. The Lindeman’s Lambics are fine brews ranging in flavor from raspberry to cherry and peach. These are favorites for those who do not like the more traditional beer flavor and are especially popular among the ladies.

The Framboise Lambic has a raspberry flavor, and when mixed with the Beamish it leaves a sweet aftertaste and adds flavor to the stronger stout. It is a unique drinking experience and comes highly recommended. Other patrons also seemed to appreciate the brews available and the tasting extravaganza. Kristopher Koehler, an anthropology graduate student, was pleased by the event.

“It was the best event to ever grace the desolate wasteland we call Dekalb,” Koehler said.

Evidently, Mr. Koehler takes his beer drinking rather seriously.

As far as domestic breweries go, the selection was limited, but one line of brews stands out amongst other domestics. The Wild Onion Brewery of Lake Barrington, Ill., featured four beers that all passed the mark as worth buying. Their Jack Stout and Golden Lager were very tasty and were impressive enough to rank in the like of the Leinenkugel’s brews of Chippewa Falls, Wis.

Aside from the variety of beer to taste, the festival also featured various foods to soak up some of the alcohol. The soft pretzels and garlic roasted potatoes were delicious and were fabulous sides to go with the liverwurst and corned beef sandwiches. Add in some Irish drinking songs and a cozy atmosphere, and you have an event well worth the $20 price of admission.

Next time you are at the local liquor store and you get a hankerin’ for something special, I suggest you look to the beer section and pick up a bottle or two of one of these fine brews. There are many other notables that are worth tasting. Among them are Stella Artois, Theakston Old Peculiar, Tennent’s Scottish Lager, Goose Island Hex Nut and Ayinger Maibok.

By the way, don’t drink and drive, and always enjoy the finer things in life.