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As you settle in to watch the big game, pop a cold one and take a moment to toast the return of microbrewed beers.

>From the end of World War II through the presidency of Ronald Reagan, American beer lovers were routinely offered three choices when they asked a waitperson in a bar or restaurant what beers the establishment carried.

"Budweiser, Miller...and Budweiser" was the standard monotonal reply. Not so today. The final decade of the Second Millenium has become a remarkably energetic era of suds resurgence in major cities and whistlestop hamlets of the U.S. in an age in which new eateries are being designed and erected around small brewing operations.

Beermania has become so prevalent that even the finest restaurants in top- drawer communities are offering their patrons printed rosters of microbrew beers, complete with tasting notes, in addition to the wine list. What wine was to adventurous consumers of the 1970s and the 1980s, microbrew beer is to those same people here in the late 1990's.

In the shadow of the new millenium, microbrew beer, or, as it is commonly defined, high quality, locally crafted beer made in less than annual volumes of 15,000 barrels, stands poised to write exciting new chapters in the history book of brewing. That historical account first recorded by the Sumerians in cuneiform goes back to the initial stirrings of civilization circa 3000 B.C.

Since America is first and foremost a beer-drinking nation, the re-emergance of this libation, which is made from water, yeast and fermented and cooked grain mash, is not that surprising. We are a nation with a fabled legacy of brewing right from colonial times. The microbrews that we are relishing today are keen reflections of the 17th and 18th centuries when corner brewpubs populated the streets of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit and Chicago.

The main difference with the contemporary brews is the astoundingly long menu of styles that are available. Pale ales from California, stouts from Vermont, porters from Oregon, wheat beers from Massachusetts, nut brown ales from Iowa, viennas from New York. Microbreweries are mushrooming at a rate that mirrors the interest and leanings of the drinking public. Working people, young and old, want more character, more depth of flavor to their beer than the mass- produced, chugalug golden lagers can deliver.

Consumers want more intensity for their hard-earned cash. Because they are made in small batches, which automatically means more of a hands-on approach to brewing, beers from locally owned and operated microwbreweries and contract brewers (brewers who make beers which are frequently labeled under a different name) provide the complexity and the range of flavors and aromas that today's consumers are demanding. Microbrews and contract beers by their very nature are far more idiosyncratic and individualistic than any high-volume golden lager could be.

Cheers! -- F. Paul Pacult

Recipe by: Bay's English Muffins Website Posted to MC-Recipe Digest by SuzyWert@... on Feb 13, 1998

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