Went South with Natty Boh

This blog could sail in a lot of different directions today…I have much brew related fodder from the feedbag in the offing.  I’ve decided to go South in more ways than one.  “Went South” is a Civil-War laden term apparently, a losing cause idiom. In this case, South means Baltimore and its environs.

Yesterday, we headed down to the B-More area to watch some football with friends. The game was Michigan vs. Iowa and Iowa pulled out an unlikely win. I had no dog in this fight technically, but my wife and one of her closest friends who was the gracious host (with her husband) both went to the University of Michigan for their MBA’s, so I was shouting “Go Blue.”  When undecided, root for the team of those in your life root for…or one can always be antagonistic and do the opposite. Not particularly wise and a losing cause in itself. Even if the team wins.

I had brought a case of Baltimore-origin microbrew to the festivities….a sample pack from Heavy Seas. It was four styles, two stellar, one very good, one so-so. The Loose Cannon is one of the best IPA/heavily hopped beers out there on the oceans. Speaking of water, here is shot of the locale off the back porch of our friends house on a river that is a tributary to the Chesapeake Bay.

Twas a gorgeous Fall Day.  The next brew in the sampler that was excellent was the Saison. It is titled the Red Sky at Night and it was quite delightful.   Both the Loose Cannon and the Red Sky at Night are big guns in the fleet of the Heavy Seas Sunken Sampler pack. The Golden Ale was quite good. It is was a 2010 GABF Medal Winner  ~  2010 Gold Award, World Beer Cup. Sometimes those awards can be a bit esoteric, like winning the Gold in Fencing at the Olympics. Because the style is defined very specifically and only a handful of brews meet the qualifications for entrance, the victory is somewhat qualified by the selectivity of entrance into the competition. Maybe that is what happened here? It is 1:18 am Sunday morning and I don’t feel like being the sleuth. The Classic Lager was OK…not bad at all, but nothing to text home about.

Which brings me to a truly classic lager National Bohemian. A Baltimore legend but one whose spirit is broken. It is a local front for Miller Brewing Company and shipped by Pabst. Every big town in the Northeast had a brewery that only the locals could love. In Pittsburgh, it was/is (sort of, I think it is now brewed at Rolling Rocks old brewery in Latrobe and not PB) Iron City. In Philadelphia, Ortliebs, and Knickerbocker in NYC. The reality is that these local beers were pretty bad. I once had a quart of Knickerbocker and it was so bad it could have killed a rat.

Natty Boh was brought to the party by one of those guys who I will probably meet only once. He knows someone, I know someone. And our ships pass another, never to cross again…or infrequently. We just don’t sail the same waters, especially if he keeps bringing Natty Boh to functions. One NB is OK to drink, to say that you did–like swallowing a gold fish, but I didn’t dare drink a second. One is like a warning shot across the bow…two, and your sinking into the swamp of mediocrity. Frankly, Natty Boh as a brand should be sunk and left to rot on the ocean floor. It was never any good as a beer but at least it was local. Now, it is a rotting and termite infested ship that merely looks local and has a mangy crew of adherents who are holding onto the past that is gone.

Why not grab some Heavy Seas instead? It is so much better and it is actually made in the Baltimore area.  One of the astounding stories about beer in America is that many of the local brands were taken out back and shot during Prohibition. After that slaughtering, the consolidation and contraction occurred on a massive scale where only the biggest whales were left swimming and brands like Yuengling just scavenged around surviving. For the record, Yuengling used to really suck taste-wise as a brand of beers. Fortunately Dick  saved the day by making the beers drinkable. He righted the ship just in time. Then, in the late 1980’s, better-brewed locals like pirates began to sail waters around the big boys…ships that were like a Carnival fleet full of fat tourists and all you can eat buffets. And, now in the 21st century, the sleeker fleets of local microbreweries are starting to tear up the behemoths meal ticket. Heavy Seas is a nemesis geared for the battle and by all appearances, doing a fine job in its campaign in troubling the waters of complacency.

May the Buds, Millers, and Coors go south once a for all. This is no longer a fanciful wish…the Big Boys know that they cannot advertise their way out of this battle with commercials of stupid men and busty girls. The beer is going to have to get better or they are going to sink. Fire away Heavy Seas, fire away.

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