Just like the first taste of a robust hop ale, my introduction to beer began with gradual enticement. An aroma draws you in, its fruity, floral, sometimes herbal scent is tempting, and then you put your mouth to the glass. As the lively carbonated liquid hits your lips, the flavors begin their embrace, flowing over the tongue and down your throat in crisp, cool refreshment. Then that pleasant lingering aftertaste makes it’s way through your mouth and up into your nose.

I didn’t know my grandpa as much as I would have liked, had I had more time with him as a grownup.  I certainly have fond memories of my childhood: standing barefoot in theThe Collection basement, staring in awe at his wall of beer cans, which he gathered and carefully preserved–expanding the makeshift shelving as needed throughout the years.  Or chuckling to myself at the dinner table as he made cheerful insertions like “(pop) goes the weasel” as a wine bottle was uncorked, or –my favorite– “down the hatch!” as he had his first sip of beer at dinner.

As my interest in craft beer began to grow, stories began to surface from family members, mostly my dad, about how much my grandpa adored Yuengling. In his day, with it not being the well-known establishment it is today, he would jump at the chance to fill someone in on it if they didn’t recognize the name. “Oh, you don’t know Yuengling?” I can picture him saying it as my dad recounts the story to me, “it’s the oldest brewery in America!” He’d go on to promote the Pottsville, Pennsylvania, landmark he grew up with, just a town over in the coal-mining region of Pennsylvania.

Yuengling has since surpassed the status of micro- or craft brewery, but that passion that my grandpa had for it and the power it had in storytelling, are exactly what I love about the world of craft beer. That and the beer, of course. But it’s the telling of stories about small-scale breweries that gets me excited, hearing about new beers to try, and thinking of ways to make a trip to visit. That’s what I love. And that’s what this blog is about.

I’m hoping that with it, I can both make my own journey and pay tribute to that of my grandpa, whom I so dearly miss and wish with all my heart I could share this.

Grandpa

The storyteller in his element: James J. McGee 1922-2008

 

 

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