By John Peters

September 24, 2013

For the love of beer, with all the recent uproar and debate in Mount Airy stemming from a couple of locals wanting to have a beer garden on their private property during Mayberry Days and the Autumn Leaves Festival, I thought I would share my experience and thoughts on beer, Craft Beer in particular.

I can remember several years back when I first experienced craft beer. It was New Belgium’s Fat Tire Amber Ale. After my first sip I remember thinking “What in the world have I been missing?” Up until that point I was your average Bud, Miller, Coors beer drinker. I never realized there was an entire industry devoted to beer that actually had flavors and aromas that I never dreamed I would find in a beer.

From that point on I found a passion for craft beer, not only in enjoying it off the shelf or in a restaurant; but in making it myself at home as a home brewer and eventually brewing professionally.

Many folks seem to associate beer with everything negative. It’s automatically assumed that nothing good will come from drinking beer, and many seem to want to lump together those that enjoy it with those that abuse it in different ways. I doubt very seriously that not only the non-drinkers, or even many of the BMC (Bud, Miller, Coors) crowd, realize what craft beer is and what it has become. I’m also constantly amazed at how craft beer is considered “that dark beer” or “that heavy stuff.”

Of course those that enjoy BMC-type beers have every right to stick to those brands. Many have tried craft beers and just do not like them, which is fine. I would almost bet though that many haven’t tried to expand their pallet to all the available flavors and their nose to all the aromas that the craft beer world has to offer.

Craft beer covers a huge spectrum of flavors and aromas that range from pumpkin, spice, chocolate, and caramel — just to name a few. For coffee lovers, there are styles that have a hint of coffee to beers that have very robust coffee flavors and aromas. There are lighter styles that are clear and crisp and are such a pleasure to enjoy on a hot summer day. There are heavier, darker styles for those cool evenings or cold winter nights. And these are just a few examples; the spectrum of flavors and aromas are endless.

When pairing with food, wine is often talked about. Not many know or realize, however, how a tasty craft beer can enhance your dining experience, just as wine does, and the list is too long to include here. I have also enjoyed some of the best cupcakes and candies made with beer that I’ve ever had. Yes, just like wine, beer can be used when cooking and creating your favorite foods.

Those of us who love craft beer love it for a reason. Not only for the taste and variety we have to choose from, but for the passion from which it is created. We liken the brewing of craft beer to a chef who creates a dish that is bursting with aromas and flavors, a masterpiece that he or she created for others to enjoy.

I would hope that, in some way, the stigma of everyone that drinks beer will stop being generalized by many in a way that makes us all associated with everything negative that comes from having a pint. We love our beer as you love your sweet tea and sodas (which, debatably, can be unhealthier for you than beer). If it’s a personal belief that beer is wrong, then let it be your personal belief let others enjoy our beer responsibly.

Jeff Leftwich

Mount Airy