The other day we had a delightfully friendly Greek electrician working on some lighting issues in our house. He’s been here many times, sent by the Embassy throughout our stay here, and he’s always especially sweet to Liam, who follows him all around the house like a lost puppy, peppering him with questions. So when he had a specific request for water …”not too cold, please,” I was happy to grab that for him. I took that to mean no ice, so I filled a glass from the refrigerator water dispenser. After taking a sip, he sheepishly walked to the sink and filled it with some warmer water. Then he explained, “The water shouldn’t be too cold. You shouldn’t feel it going down your throat.”
Ah-ha! So that’s why I can never get ice water on this continent! I’m not sure how scientific his reasoning is, but I’ve learned that science and societal habits don’t always overlap. Usually at restaurants the water is served relatively cold, in a chilled bottle, but never with ice.
While perusing my local supermarket’s revamped beer aisle, I came across Budweiser Budvar, a name that rang some bells in my addled brain. Was this Budweiser’s European offering? Turns out, I wasn’t exactly right. Czech’s finest apparently predates the American version, and there were some legal trademark disputes that were eventually settled in the 1930s. They are, in fact, two different beers…though that was lost on me. To be fair, light lagers tend to all taste the same to me. At any rate, both go well with hotdogs topped with American condiments.
On a side note, the closest supermarket to my house went through a MAJOR renovation in the spring…so much so that I didn’t even recognize it when I went in late May. They added a second level, an elevator, and about quadrupled their selection. Grocery shopping without a car has gotten so much better!
A few other European beers caught my eye, so I bought those as well. I recently went on the Boulevard Brewery Tour in Kansas City, and I remembered that the founder had been inspired to try his hand at microbrewing after he’d sampled several beers on a tour of Europe. Back in the early 80s, Americans didn’t enjoy the variety of beer that their neighbors across the pond did. I remember my dad always drank Pabst Blue Ribbon, a Milwaukee swill that allegedly won a blue ribbon about 100 years ago. Selection was paltry and money was tight, so I totally get it. Now, I’m pleased to say, his taste for good beers (Tank 7!!!) has arisen to a respectable status. I can’t say I’m much better — in college we drank an awful lot of Milwaukee’s Best, or the Beast, as we called it. My taste has gotten a lot more respectable, too.
Here’s a rundown of the other three beers I sampled. (FYI, I didn’t do this all in one day…just in case you were worried…)
This Greek beer intrigued me: “With a cool refreshing taste of the Mediterranean summer.” What, exactly does Mediterranean summer taste like? Budweiser, apparently. Light lager…sigh.
The Angelo Poretti Bock Rossa from Italy also caught my eye. A red bock, perhaps? I need to brush up on my Italian. I’m not sure what all this other stuff on the label means. Hops masters…ok. A number 6? Not sure about that. Anyway, the beer was a bit too hoppy for my taste, bitter to the very end. Of course I finished it because this stuff ain’t cheap at 2 Euros a bottle.
Finally, out of Spain, the Estrella something Damm something Barcelona. Seriously, I can’t figure out these beer labels. My iPhone translator says the bottom part of the label says, “Mediterranean beer with malt and rice.” Sounds appetizing. But they’ve been in production since 1876, so they must be doing something right. Of the four beers, this was my favorite. Not as dark as I’d assumed from the brown bottle, but rich for a light lager. Not your average Budweiser.
The embassy is hosting a Greek beer tasting in a couple of weeks. James will be between work trips, so he’s going to sit this one out while I get my beer on. I’ll be sure to report back with my findings.