Since this is a locavore blog, in some ways, I have to admit, I misrepresent myself. For example: beer versus wine. I’ve written more about beer, and expressed a lot of enthusiasm about local ales, but I’m really much more of a wine drinker. Lately it’s been Spanish reds, and vinho verde. I love the different tones of garnacha, and the refreshing effervescence of that Portuguese “green wine.” I also love the whites of Alsace. And the infinite varieties of rosé! From the elegant Tavel to the earthy South African pinotage rosé, I love them all. If I still lived in Berkeley, there wouldn’t be the whiff of hypocrisy in calling myself a locavore eater and drinker, because I’d still be drinking those great Sonoma, Paso Robles, Santa Cruz, and Mendocino wines we could get in the grocery store. I miss you, Bonny Doon. Wish I could be there in the tasting room to try your new, more restrained bottlings, which I’ve now only read about, wistfully, in the New York Times. (Not to mention all the great things I could be eating: mission figs and meyer lemons from neglected trees on my block of Euclid Ave., for example….)
Enough gushing, now. The reason I started writing this post has to do more with ale and my country-girl nostalgia. In Burlington, at Greg and Patti’s, we started the evening with Otter Creek Copper Ale, which I love, and which brought back memories (not all pleasant) of my stint as an “environmental educator” at a school-trip camp near Middlebury, Vermont. We slept in cabins so rustic, the frosty mid-March air gusted in the cracks between the aged two-by-fours during the night. I slept in my -40 down “mummy” sleeping bag in long underwear, a sweater, and a wool cap. The kids arrived on full school buses on Monday, we introduced them to things like recycling, organic carrots, and sphagnum moss, and they were gone by Friday. And then, if it was sunny, we’d drag all of the Adirondack chairs out to the middle of the lawn at the camp’s center overlooking the lake, set a bunch of six-packs of all of the Otter Creek brews here and there, and sample them all afternoon. Copper Ale, Pale Ale, Stovepipe Porter, Spring Ale, Mud Bock! We were single, outdoorsy, and glad to be free.
Otter Creek Brewery is a family owned business in Middlebury, Vermont, which also makes certified organic beers under the Wolaver’s label. They host a regular beer and cheese tasting, which at first glance smacks of wine-culture-imitation opportunism, but then I remember how good I think the sharp Vermont cheeses taste with beer. Here’s how they advertise it:
Not only is Vermont home to 19 craft brewers (at last count), the most breweries per capita in the country, we also are lucky enough to have 35+ artisanal cheesemakers here, too! This makes us arguably the best state for cheese and beer pairings in the country!
You know what else is good with beer? Peanut butter.