Posted by: deadmousediaries | May 25, 2010

Beer Boggling with Mitchell Kyd – A Kyd Pick

It was a Blue Moon andI fell in love. That led to a Honey Moon. Granted, I transcended a Purple Haze to get there and along the way met a dog with a Blue Paw, had pizza with five guys all named Sam Adams, was taunted by an Arrogant Bastard and was seduced to spend money by an Insanely Bad Elf. If you’re thinking there must be a story here, you’re right.
In this magical year of saying “yes” to everything new that I’ve been missing in my 30-year professional career, my New Year’s Resolutions still include the old standards: Choose happiness; Invite serendipity; Be grateful. But this year I added a few measurable specifics including a commitment to reading 52 new books and –to make sure my brain doesn’t grow too large for my cranium – I vowed to kill off an equal number of brain cells by trying a new beer each week. It’s week 21 and I’m proud to say that I am ahead of schedule.
I discovered long ago that I’m really not a wine drinker. The concept of those high-brow wine wastings always eluded me; why lift, swirl, swish and spit? Maybe I’ve been secretly put off by some of the rising middle class aristocracy who enjoy their wine as much to collect it and impress others with their conversations as they do in imbibing and enjoying it with friends. Or maybe I don’t have a sophisticated palate. Or maybe I’m not interested in investing enough time to become discerning. Or maybe I’m just cheap. Whatever the reason, the beer thing is working for me. This is not recreational drinking; this is research.
Here’s what I am learning. Beer is made from just a few ingredients: water, hops, yeast and malted grains. Since the days of the Roman conquest, beer has been consumed as a safety precaution against the dangers of contaminated water supplies. By the sixteenth century, a fourth of all grains grown in Europe were being chugged, not chewed.
Barley is the typical grain of choice although wheat is a variation. The starches in the grains are converted to sugar by the process of malting, which means the grain is made wet and allowed to sprout. After sprouting, the grain is roasted and steeped in hot water before the fermentation process begins. Oh, who cares! After that a bunch more stuff happens including a wort, a monk in an abbey somewhere and the addition of a lot of bitter hops if the brew had to survive a long trip from England to India and become an India Pale Ale, better known now as an IPA.
Here’s what I discovered; beer is good. My research methods aren’t very scientific but at least I am keeping a record. As another New Year’s Resolution, my husband and I have declared Mondays as date night so each week after our Toastmasters meeting (how appropriate!) we began stopping by our former favorite watering hole for a burger and a bottle of new brew. At first we were at the mercy of our waitress barmaid who almost always delighted us with some whimsy she pulled from a magic cooler beyond our sight. Most were good, some forgettable, and at least one –with a grapefruit and pine finish –was added to our do-not-last-call list. It tasted like toenail polish remover.
Recently a local entrepreneur rocked our world by allowing patrons to look and touch in the world of fine micro-brews by offering drink-in privileges as well as mixed six packs to go. It’s a great new place – Good-Ta-Go, on Orchard Drive, Chambersburg. You can find them on Facebook. My son took me shopping there for a Mother’s Day surprise ( What a kid! ) They stock over 250 varieties of beer and if you stop in, Jerry, Mike and the crew will greet you as friends, treat you like guests and offer up their soon-to-be-famous soft pretzels. This place is a new Kyd pick!
With the addition of Good-Ta-Go as a venue for diligent study (think of it as an interactive beer library), I can now say confidently that the wheat beers are my favorites. I’ve had beers tinged with tangerines, coriander,  apples, and peaches, cherries, mixed berries, strawberries, and honey –not all at once, of course. And please don’t misinterpret; I advocate drinking responsibly. Take that six-pack home for sampling but be sure to clear your palate with a pickle between tastings.
Despite the fact that I have yet to find an IPA I really like, I continue to keep an open mind about all the varieties: from ales to porters, from lagers to lambics. I have had several raspberry wheats that left me with a vinegary finish and a Wild Blue that crossed the wine line, but for the most part, I have sipped enough beer varieties now to say that for Mitchell Kyd’s taste, fruit is good; hops is bad. One notably ugly experience was the night it took three of us to finish a hoppy bottle of Double Arrogant Bastard. It tasted like toenail remover.
I’m not sure what it takes to become a beer connoisseur but I’m working my way through the cooler. If price is the issue, I may already be there. I have now collected data on three different beers that cost more than the wine I serve with dinner. I also know when it’s time to take a sabbatical; I paused for a week after sharing a bottle of Insanely Bad Elf whichtasted like toe remover. I can’t imagine what Hop Juice and Wailing Wench might havein store.
If you keep reading and I keep researching, we’ll have more beer boggling to share in the weeks ahead. We’ve already dishcovered a couple of new favorites over the last five months and since summer is here, you’ll find us kicking back now with our new seashonal favorite, Sea Dog Blue Paw. It’s a smooth and easy wheat made wish weal Maine boo blearies. There are probably some other brews on our bottom shelf you can shample after Blue Paw but be sure to clean your plate whip a pickle.
Copyright 2010. Mitchell Kyd. All rights reserved.


  1. and since when do you know what toenail polish remover or toenail remover or toe remover tastes like??? Are you tasting more than beer??

  2. I love this story……no, make that your beer report. I love that you’ve taken on improving your mind while still not overcrowding the work space. I’m right there with you! But, don’t rule out wine completely. It really isn’t a snobby drink…the snobs are the people, not the wine. Love your writing, you go girl!!!!

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