The Strip’s always beautiful at sunset. Tall palms seductively sway from the cool evening breeze just like the gals down at the Go-Go. The large sign on the hill reminds me that this is the place where dreams come true, where fortunes are made, where stars are born. Fact is though, this town is merciless: It will break you down, chew you up, and send you back from where you came — penniless and broken. For every star that makes it, a thousand don’t and some of those end up with concrete boots and a tarry demise. Sometimes just wakin’ up with your dignity and a nickel in your pocket feels like an accomplishment. Sometimes, just wakin’ up does… I feel like I’ve been walking this boulevard of broken dreams for days. A sign reading “Craft Beer Here” draws me toward the door. I walk in. A friendly voice asks, “Hey stranger, you lookin’ for a Blonde tonight?” I tell him, “No Sam, I’m lookin’ for something with a little more personality. And make it a double.” He nods and says, “Well, in that case, I’ve got A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ just for you chief.”
Read more: Beer Noir reviews: Behind the 8 Ball Stout and A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
What was once dated and lowbrow is now new and trendy. Canned beer has traditionally gotten a bad rap. Childhood memories of tin-wrapped cheap swill still abound in my clouded head. Back in those days (the 70’s and 80’s) the shelves in the Midwest were lined with cans of Miller High Life, Schmidt (with the wildlife), PBR, Blatz, Schaefer (they actually still make that stuff), and of course the king himself — Budweiser. It was all relative though, beer was beer and it was mostly cheap swill. There was no Dogfish Head or Rogue — choices were limited. The upscale brew at that time was Michelob, and if you were suave and had the funds, the night could belong to Michelob in a bottle.
Read more: Retro brew is cool: Five canned craft beers for the patio
The mention of cider in the U.S. takes most Americans’ thoughts to the cloudy, amber, delicious, but decidedly non-alcoholic beverage found in groceries and farm stands in the fall. Ask for a cider in the U.K. and Ireland, however, and you will be presented with a very different drink. There, cider is most often clear, carbonated, and most definitely possessing alcohol. Many in the states still refer to this variety as hard cider.
Read more: The wonders of hard apple cider: A substitute for beer fatigue?
Gluttonous feasts and getting together with family and friends are part of this festive day. Of course, something needs to wash down all that grub, especially with family. Wine is served and is often the fermented beverage of choice, usually a box or three of Franzia Blush could be found at our family Easter gala growing up. But beer is a great addition to the dinner table as well…especially if Franzia Blush is the vino of choice (and they should be reading more TaylorEason.com).
Read more: The Easter Bunny grabs a few beers: Aprihop, Big Easy Imperial and Alpine Spring
Since March 17th approacheth, ’tis time to sport the Irish brogue and learn a wee bit about the best Irish brews available on these Yankee shores. Tis true that the best Guinness drought is the freshest, sent o’er the local pub after brewing in Dublin but that doesn’t mean we Americans are starved for options. Here’s a list of some brilliant links for beer lovers of all levels to celebrate the impending Irish holiday. Slainte!
Read more: Happy St. Patty’s Day: Irish Beer 101
Stouts — dark ales usually brewed with roasted barley — have been hand-crafted since the 18th century in Ireland. Originally billed as “Stout Porters,” these raven-colored elixirs are basically strong, roasted porters. Most beer geeks associate these delicious black brews with the Emerald Isle. They are far and away the most popular barley beverage in the land of Leprechauns.
Read more: Three great Irish beers for Saint Patty’s Day: Guinness and Murphy’s Stout
Beer geeks cringe when anyone reaches for a Budweiser, Miller Lite, Coors or Corona. But often the lost souls who consume these — let’s face it — tasteless brews don’t really know where to turn. With this in mind, the Tampa Tribune’s Jeff Houck recently interviewed TaylorEason.com’s beer writer, Robb Larson, to find out the best craft “bridge” brews for drinkers of Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Corona Extra and Coors Light. Some choices might surprise you.
Read more: Replacement craft beers for Budweiser, Miller, Coors and Corona
The Sun Coast area has been making a splash in the craft beer world for a few years now. Only a while ago, it was a place of Budweiser and boat drinks but thankfully that has been changing at an exponential pace. A sign of the revolution: Craft beer bars, often with a salivating 30+ quality brews on tap, have been multiplying and can be found in every part of the metro. Aspiring suds snobs can now savor and evaluate fine ales from around the world. Great beer is brewed here too. The Dunedin Brewery is the oldest brewpub and craft producer in Florida. In 1996 it was joined by Ybor City’s own Tampa Bay Brewing Company. A couple of smaller restaurant and in-house beer makers such as Peg’s Cantina in Gulfport have popped up and others are in the works.
Read more: Celebrate Tampa Bay Beer Week with some of the best local brews
Cards, candy and flowers are, of course, traditional Valentine’s gifts. Chocolate and berries (usually strawberries) are also commonly given and complement each other, much like those famous pairs. But beer makes a unique and tasty gift on this romantic holiday. Last Valentine’s Day we paired a decadent Rogue Chocolate Stout with the sugary raspberry flavors of St. Louis Premium Framboise Lambic (see last year’s article). This year we explore a pair of aphrodisiacs released by a respected Cooperstown, NY brewery.
Read more: Valentine’s Day beers 2012: Ommegang Seduction and Aphrodite
With the football game and socializing at parties, hosts need some delicious yet simple fare to complement the suds. Grilling or barbecue is always a solid choice, but in early February, it’s not a realistic option for many parts of the nation. Beer and pizza go together as well as…well… beer and football. Combine all three and every fan will be happy, regardless of the score. This year’s Superbowl has cities with wonderful, drinkable brews. To commemorate this historic event, we’ll recommend two distinct beers from a brewery in each town, Boston and New York. The beer styles chosen from each brewery pair well with pizza, a lager and an IPA.
Read more: Beer n’ pizza: Two great tastes for a Super Bowl score