Thursday, March 5, 2015

My Beer Mount Rushmore

You’re in your house at 7PM on Thursday night, ready to unwind after a long day of work.  Normally, you’d turn the TV on and get ready to watch the local team play, but on this night your only goal is a night of relaxing in your recliner, legs kicked up, and a beer in your right hand to keep you company while you bask in your silence.  Once settled into the chair your hand brings a pint towards your mouth where you contentedly take your first swig of the night and let out the clich├ęd “ahhhhh”.

We've all had that night, and we've all shared that beer even if the particulars are varying from story to story.  And most likely when we've had encounters with a beer as satisfying as the one described we feel the urge to thank someone for that beer.  Perhaps you want to thank the individual who brewed the beer you’re drinking. Maybe you want to thank the individual responsible for coming up with a style of beer altogether.

It’s these thoughts I kept in mind when I was asked to come up with my list for a personal Beer Mount Rushmore.  Where do I get the most satisfaction out of beer? And whose face should I turn to stone for creating such excellence?

Jim Koch, Founder of Boston Brewing Company

I selected Jim Koch with quite a bit of hesitation. It’s not that I think he’s lacking credentials; I simply didn't want to go the obvious route. Well, that and I didn't want to perpetuate the idea that beer fans my age only see the beer world within the vacuum of the past 30 years. But when it comes to Mount Rushmore the faces displayed on the mountain should be obvious and there are none more obvious than Jim Koch. For without him, there is a 99% chance my interest in beer wouldn't be what it is and this post wouldn't even exist. Small breweries, beer with more flavor, and the variety we’re surrounded by might not be possible without his influence on beer these past few decades. For that, I’m turning his face into a big rock.

Albert IV, Duke of Bavaria responsible for German Beer Purity Law

The name Albert IV may not be as familiar as Jim Koch within the modern beer world, but I’m sure you've heard of the phrase Reinheitsgebot a time or two. Also known as the German Beer Purity Law, Albert IV helped make this law a thing way back in 1487. For those unfamiliar with this law, the Reinhetsgebot states that beer can only be made with water, barely, hops, and yeast.  Now I’m sure there are detractors of the Beer Purity Law, claiming that it reduces brewer’s creativity, and while that may be true, it’s the sense of history associated with the beer I’m drinking that makes me appreciate Albert IV and the Reinheitsgebot he created. There’s something satisfying in tasting a beer and knowing that what I’m experiencing is vaguely familiar to something people were drinking hundreds of years ago. Most impressively, today, over 500 hundred years later many German brewers still adhere to the law. That’s impact, and that earns Albert IV a mountain face.

Josef Groll, creator of Pilsner beer.

The last face to be etched in the Baltimore Bistros and Beer Mountain is none other than Josef Groll. One word.  One beer. Pilsner.  And Josef Groll was responsible for it’s creation in 1842 when he brewed the first batch of Urquell at B├╝rgerliches Brauhaus in Pilsen, Bohemia. People loved it and we haven’t stopped drinking Pilsner the world over ever since.  When I think beer, I think Pilsner, and when I think Pilsner I think Josef Groll.  For that, his head shall reign in rock.

So there you have it. These are the names that come to mind when I think of those that have had the biggest impact on how I interact with beer today. Yes, there are only 3 names and Mount Rushmore has four faces, but I didn't want to force a fourth and come to regret it later. Etching faces in mountain sides is tough work so you better mean it. Whose face makes your Beer Mount Rushmore?

This post is part of multiple essays from Mid-Atlantic beer bloggers discussing those they believe should be remembered for all time thanks to the influence they've made on the beer drinking world. 

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