Not The Target Market

Beer – If It Doesn’t Make You Happy …

Spencer Trappist ale…It will break your heart.

Beer (under which category I also include ale and stout) is a subject I have been musing on since lunchtime. Today, The Hunter and I wandered about the New England countryside and, conveniently, when we were hungry, found ourselves on the doorstep of the Farm Table in Bernardston, MA. The Farm Table sources everything within a 50 mile radius of the restaurant; they have creative dishes and it is always a treat to eat there.

They also have an earnest, young wait staff, eager to please. Sometimes they manage, and sometimes they don’t. An example of the first is when the waiter took our order and asked me: “What will you have miss?”

“Miss?” Did he actually call me “Miss?” When this nice young man disappeared to put in our order, I looked at The Hunter and commented: “I think he is trying for a good tip. If this keeps up, give it to him.”

An example of the second is when, shortly after, the nice young man approached the table next to us to take their drinks order and the couple, both about our age, both asked for the milk stout (which frankly, since this is a very hot July day, seemed odd, but if that’s what you like…) The waiter actually wrung his hands and said he would check, but he thought they were all out. If he had just lost his best friend, his voice couldn’t have been more sorrowful. While he was off seeking the status of the milk stout, the couple debated what they might want instead. It appeared that only something in the dark beer line would do and there weren’t all that many options.

The waiter re-appeared and confirmed that the milk stout was not due to be replenished until tomorrow. The couple hesitated. Then the waiter suggested that if they liked milk stout, they would like the IPA. He actually said this. The couple looked up at his face in astonishment. The Hunter and I looked at his back in equal astonishment.

The couple settled on water. It was plain that when the waiter set our lunches in front of us and said: “Here you are, Miss,” that our tip would have to make up for theirs.

With over 4,000 breweries in the United States alone, it is clear that beer is a serious subject, indeed. So many styles, so many opinions, so many options. Perhaps confusion is understandable.

Late last fall when The Hunter and Fr. Isaac, director of the Spencer Trappist Brewery, were tasting the newly released Trappist Holiday Ale and the soon-to-be-released Imperial Stout, they talked about upcoming offerings for 2016. Father said that next on their list would be an IPA, because IPA is the trendy beer that everyone wants at the moment (no doubt the source of our waiter’s confusion – although if he had really looked at that couple, he would have known they had nothing to do with trendy,) and after that, the monks would would brew a pilsner. (Both beers are now available, if you are lucky enough to live in Massachusetts.)

I used to take far more interest in beer the than I do now. Having been forced into a gluten free lifestyle, and finding the GF beer offerings less than stellar, I find it is just best to pretend it doesn’t exist. Perhaps someday, someone (are you listening Fr. Isaac?) will manage a dark GF beer that doesn’t taste like pancake syrup. Until then, I’ll abstain. Perhaps I’ll even drink water like the would-be milk stout drinkers at lunch. Perhaps, but not likely.

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