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The Last Windrow: Brew pubs

There weren't many "brew pubs" where I came from. The idea of brewing beer to make a living would have been foreign to us. We made our living from picking corn or harvesting wheat or combining oats. Things have changed.

There weren't many "brew pubs" where I came from. The idea of brewing beer to make a living would have been foreign to us. We made our living from picking corn or harvesting wheat or combining oats. Things have changed.

It seems today that the art of making beer has become a national phenomenon. Breweries are sprouting up where once people smashed whiskey stills with sledge hammers.

There must be a new thought process in place. Now beer is being advertised not only for its social assets, but as a food supplement.

Beer has always brought some people together. Oh, there are those who will have nothing to do with it, and that's all well and good, but it seems to me that there are an increasing number of folks who are seeking out the next best thing in beer.

They will travel long distances and actually pay to get into "tasting" events. Bottles that once sported well known brands are now having to compete with exotic sounding names like Moose Glue, Split Timber, Cracking Ice, Wolf Spit or maybe Carp In A Bottle. (I've really just made those names up, so don't go out looking for them.)

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I was advised against drinking beer at an early age. Not by my grandfather, who had no doubt gone to the keg a few times during his country baseball games. They didn't call his team the "Whiskey Creek Ramblers" for nothing. I could see why he had been known as such a great pitcher. The batters he faced probably had been standing around the beer keg and had trouble focusing on his curve ball.

Instead of brew pubs we had Neptune and Millerville and the Knotty Keg and Hank's Tavern and Pop's Place. Everyone in the country knew where these places were and there were usually a few cars in the parking lot almost any day of the week.

There weren't any TV sets hanging from the ceilings, either. Most of the local beer halls tended to be rather dark inside and most had a pool table somewhere on the premises as well as a card table or two. The click of the pool balls against each other and the gentle thud of one of them hitting the pocket seemed to go with these places.

Sometimes a jukebox would be playing a Hank Williams or George Jones tune in the background. One could get used to going to a place like that if they were interested.

Today's beer crowd has become a bit more sophisticated. They wear fashionable clothing to these places and they seem to have money to spend. They expect an "experience." They want to be entertained and they can tend to be a bit snobby in their demeanor.

That wasn't the way it was at Hank's Tavern. Hank was a big man who always wore a white, long-sleeved shirt turned up twice at the cuffs. A wide pair of striped suspenders cascaded over his broad shoulders. He had huge, hairy forearms, combed his thinning black hair straight back and he didn't smile much.

If he wasn't pouring a beer for someone, he was swabbing the top of the cigarette burned, dented and scratched bar top. Under the bar lay a 32-inch Louisville Slugger, white ash baseball bat with Mickey Mantle's name engraved on the end. If things in the bar got a little tense, Hank would simply take the bat out and lay it on the bar top. Things usually quieted down after he did that. Hank would not have fit in much at a brew pub.

So, today we have fruit of the hops breweries springing up all across the countryside. It's probably a good thing for agriculture. And, as in the past, these places tend to bring people together to socialize. That's a good thing, too, I think.

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Some would not agree, and that's fine. We do still have some choices in this country.

I often wonder what Hank would have thought of a brew pub. I'd bet he wouldn't understand the concept.

See you next time. Okay?

Related Topics: THE LAST WINDROW
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