Keeping a straight face

For three years, I’ve been trying to motivate myself for a brewery visit that I knew wouldn’t go well.

That's Michelle trying not to snort beer out of her nose.

I heard they brewed at the Depot Deli in Shenandoah, Iowa when we first moved back to the Great Plains. Monte advised that it was an extract operation and that the beers were nothing special. “Don’t hustle,” he meant.

So I unhustled myself there finally this past weekend. As I suspected, the beers were unremarkable. There were three choices: Whistle Stop Wheat, Bill’s Bock and Red Ale Blend. If I’d been consulted, I’d have advised them to call them Flanders Wheat, Flanders Bock and Ameri-Flanders Red.

You guessed it. They were all sour and suckalicious.

Uncharacteristically, Michelle was a real smart ass about it, while I tried to be polite and non-beer snobby. Still, it was hard to keep a straight face through it all. We enjoyed a pork tenderloin sandwich and cheese balls (a classic Iowa culinary combo). Our waitress was nice and while she knew nothing about beer, she helped us select the right pie for dessert.

Though it was only $2 for a pint and the Flanders Bock was my favorite, I’d still order water next time.

They say that shared conflict from an outside source (enduring rain on a camping trip, for example) is one element to building strong familial bonds. Eating at places like this and smarting off about them is one of the fun little pieces of being chained to Michelle through life that makes me happy. It’s better to be a smart ass than a dumb ass, I always say, and Wonderful Beer Wife and I work well together in times of distress and bad beer.

3 Responses to Keeping a straight face

  1. Velky Al says:

    That is such a pity because it is possible to make good beer with extract rather than going the all grain route (perhaps I am biased because I haven’t gone all grain yet and think my beers are good). One thing I have found though is that darker beers work better than pale styles when using extract.

    The amount of non-malt fermentables that go into some of the highest rating beers on websites such as RateBeer proves that good beer need not be all grain (and don’t mention Trappists using hop extract!).

  2. Wilson says:

    True. My brother-in-law is still extract and his beers have really done well. Honestly, I’d like to retry these beers after the lines have been cleaned and compare. It’s definitely that “dirty lines” sourness, but if they don’t notice the off-ness of their beer to consider cleaning the lines, I don’t suppose the attention to detail is anywhere else in their setup. I think the beer itself is dirty.

    One last thought I didn’t mention in the post: I didn’t lose my composure until I saw the bumper sticker on the window of the brewery that said something like, “We brew only cask-conditioned ales!”

  3. Velky Al says:

    That bumper sticker would have had me raging, after all cask conditioning has nothing to do with brewing, it is all about the serving. Next they’ll be peddling the lie that British beers is served flat and at room temperature.

    Pubs that don’t take good care of their draft set-up are just asking for trouble. One of my ambitions is to have my own pub one day and clean lines will be at the very heart of everything we do.

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