THE TWO BEER LUNCH, AND A NEW BEER WORTHY OF ONE
I remember as a kid running down the stairs to the basement fridge to grab my dad a beer when he got home from work, while he told my mother about his day at the office. It was a regular routine and a very good one: he got home, we got to say hello and feel like a good Samaritan, delivering Dad a treat. In turn he got a few minutes to decompress, a few minutes with his wife and a beer in the bargain. On occasion he would have a second beer with dinner, but very rarely any more.
If he was feeling rich, or it was around Father’s day or Christmas, or my mother had taken us on a special trip to the local food co-op, the beer would be Ballard Bitter. If we were lean it was Rainier or some kind or Brau—Meister, Lowen or otherwise. But it was always a beer, never a cooler or a spritzer or anything else less worthy. And never a haughty martini or something namby-pamby like, god forbid, wine. He was a beer man and always an extraordinarily moderate one at that: two beers, one meal then a few hours of network TV or an evening project.
As an adult, I too have learned to enjoy the artful lightness of a perfect two beers. And as much as I enjoy those two beers at dinner they stand in a stark second place to the occasional two beers at lunch, and in turn, their inevitable conclusion: the two beer nap.
The beauty of the two beer lunch is that it has the air of overconsumption without actually being overconsumption. Always at a restaurant. Always a nice microbrew, on tap only, and hopefully at a place where you’re regular enough to know the menu, if not the staff, by heart. The kind of place where you already know what you’re going to order when you’re parking the car. I’m pretty sure the Eagles wrote “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” after a two beer lunch, or at least they should have—it might have been a better song.
The two beer lunch could never be a daily phenomenon for me. But every so often on either Saturday, Sunday there’s little better than the palpable sense of screw it that comes with a second pint. The second pint means the leaves can wait till tomorrow, the Christmas lights can wait till next weekend and whatever pain in the ass errand that’s waiting can wait some more, today is about lunch. Preferably a lunch of a largish sandwich stuffed with something fatty or cured. Washed down properly, it can put me in Napsville in no time. And when the road to Napsville stretches through a fine porter, a heady IPA or pastrami and rye, Napsville is a fine place indeed. In fact, the nap afterward is as much a part of the two beer lunch as the food, or even the beer is.
If you’re lucky enough to have a football game on TV when you hit the couch, you should put a red X on the calendar. Because it might be the best day you could possibly have for awhile.
Here’s a brew worthy of a two beer lunch. It’s my first really successful attempt at home brewing. Following one of the initial recipes in Radical Brewing, I made it with my cousin (the better brewer in the family) as a tribute to the great citrusy hop bombs coming out of San Diego County right now. It has a nice color, a fresh, floral grapefruit nose and some bitterness backed with decent alcohol level. Overall it’s a bit of a crossbreed between a traditional English pale ale and one it’s more assertive SoCal cousins. It’s no palate-wrecking, IBU-juiced monster but it’s definitely got some balls in the flavor department.
I used Crystal 60 grain and extra pale extract malts, a 60 minute hop cycle of Cascade and Citra hops with the Citra being added at flame out, followed by a another dry hop with Citra for a couple weeks in secondary fermentation. It’s a good beer, maybe not worthy of a name yet, but definitely a fine companion to a lazy afternoon and something on bread with spicy mustard.