Everyone should have at least one great enduring passion in their life. For me, it's been beer for the last 30 years. Oh sure, I've had lots of minor infatuations with other things during that time and some of those have endured over the years too. But beer is not a jealous mistress. You can still enjoy a great beer while indulging in your latest crush.
It all started for me back on my 19th birthday in 1978. I'd had a few beers before but I wanted my first legal purchase to be special. Something beyond the Bud, Miller or Coors that I had tried before and while intriguing, I knew there had to be more to beer than bland fizzy yellow water.
I wandered into a local Albertson's that day and perused what was in the cooler. The usual suspects were there of course but there were a few new ones I'd never seen before. Heineken? What's that? Dos Equis? Hmmm. Lowenbrau? Interesting. Anchor Steam? Ah ha! The description on the label sounded just like what I was looking for.
So I bought that six pack of Anchor Steam on my 19th birthday and I've never looked back. It was relatively dark, malty, hoppier than anything else I'd ever tried before and all the flavors blended together into this wonderful gestalt of yumminess! I was hooked.
This was in the days before the microbrewery revolution so the pickings were slim for the next few years. I tried all the imports but most of them were just fizzy yellow concoctions with a different flavor of piss added. Some were good but nothing like that Steam!
Every time I would go on a trip, I always hit the local grocery store to see what beers they had that we didn't have here in Boise. A few regional differences but still mostly variations on pale lagers.
When microbreweries started getting their offerings to Boise, I was in heaven. I remember drinking a lot of Grants and Deschutes. But I still kept going back to my Steam.
In 1995 I finally decided to try my hand at brewing my own. Hey, this isn't so hard! AND I get to put the flavors together that I want! There for a while I was brewing another batch every week. My closets were overflowing with cases of homebrew.
In 1999 I got totally fed up with the corporate life and walked out of my nice, comfy, high paying job. Six months later I bought The Abbey. With 26 taps and over 100 different bottles I preached the gospel of good beer and live original music to many a thirsty seeker. I took great pains to keep the tap line-up fresh and exciting and varied. Always ready to talk beer with anybody that wanted to know about the good stuff. Setting up personal flavor tours for anyone with an interest. And I've been told that the burgers were pretty kick ass too. And did I mention that live original music?
I tried to maintain a nice cozy pub atmosphere where everyone was welcome without the pretensions or "meat market" mentality of the downtown scene. It was a place to relax and enjoy.
Unfortunately, the economic climate of 2002 meant the closure of The Abbey. I think the economy is going to be even worse very soon but that's a rant for another time.
Next up: Passion In The Post Abbey Years...