Something Old, Something New

By chance, I happened to read a newspaper (the paper kind, not the virtual kind), and saw that Cheerwine has been introduced to the Atlanta market. I remember going to a church camp around 7th grade in North Carolina, and during "free time," finding a vending machine that had the usual known options, plus Cheerwine. (Orange Crush was one of the standard offerings at the time - a brand which has largely retreated to Canada.)

Anyway, the name "Cheerwine" speaks of a certain je ne sais pas to a 12 year old. Clearly, there's no immediate objections to "cheer," but parents might object to the "wine." Hey, this must be good stuff! And at a church camp!

Cheerwine is basically a cherry flavored cola, more to the flavor of a regular Coca-Cola when spiked with grenadine syrup, but it is definitely not a Cherry Coke. Sorry campers, no alcohol.

Almost 30 years later, the story repeats. Sorry Mr. Publix check-out guy, no alcohol. He, too, thought it was an adult beverage, and I guess that's a part of what keeps a regional, non-mega corporate soft drink in business. Is it great? No. Is it different? Thankfully, yes.

(Note to those from other regions. In the south, all soft drinks can be collectively called "Cokes." You might enter a store, and ask, "Where's your Cokes?" and be pointed towards the coolers, vending machines, or fountain drinks where sustenance can be found. You may by regional preference refer to these as "Pop," "Soda," "Sodapop," "Cola," or even "carbonated beverage" if you're tightly wound. We typically call them "soft drinks," and if it sounds confusing, it's okay. We know what we're talking about.)

Moving chemically from CO2 to -OH groups, we arrive from a wine of sorts to beer. I don't love beer. But I like "having a brewski" now and then. My wife? Well, she likes beer breath, at least. I'm not going to argue.

One thing about beers I've learned is that if I can't see through it, I'm not going to like it. And, while there are a fair number of adequate beers, there are few that I actually enjoy, and those that I do prefer are probably looked down upon by the beer guzzling masses who have more chest hair than I. Such things I keep in perspective. Wine connoisseurs are thumbing their noses at all of us. I'll live.

For many years, I never kept beer in the house. This was not due to a moral objection or a fear of my kids accidentally seeing Dad have a sip. I just didn't like it enough to have it around and viewed it more of a social beverage. This was something typically consumed either at dinner (at company expense) or at a sporting event. Go Team.

I'm now bringing beer into the house. No, I haven't fallen into a habit of a high blood alcohol content. But I do know where to place the blame, if some exists. HDTV. Yes, you read it right. HDTV. It's like being there. Autumn, college football, and High-def ESPN... How can there not be a beer in the house? Yep, the glorious hyper pixelation of the gridiron must be the cause.

But which one to bring home? There are a lot of beers out there to be sampled. I've tried enough that I can recognize a safe choice... Bass, Killian's, Sierra Nevada, Newcastle, IceHouse... But it seems almost an obligation to try something different when the occasion presents itself, whether from a micro-brewery or imported from some far land.

In any case, the topical "Something New" is a beer from Atlanta Brewing Company who offer a series of "Red Brick" branded beers, and particularly the one named "Blonde." I'll add that this preference is completely unrelated to my mom's desire that I seek a wife like the Ms. America who advertised PET Milk on TV many, many years ago. You can guess the hair color.

While I admit I lack much technical knowledge of the brewing process, I feel qualified to say that it's flavorful as it goes down, and the memory is pleasantly distinct. Quite the verbose recommendation, I know. But I'll be stocking this in the fridge for those perfect occasions when I have a buddy over, or, heaven forbid, when I drink a beer... alone.


  1. I typically go for Icehouse or MGD myself. I can't stand the taste of Budweiser, Coors, Corona or other more "mainstream" beers. And Hienken? Oh gross! But then I grew up in a house where Killian's was what my mom drank on the rare occasion she would have a beer. My birth father drank the more common beers. Isn't it amazing how childhood memories stick with you and shape your tastes into adulthood?

  2. I like Amber bock... I also like Pear cider ;) Apple is too sour for me but pear is just right... and not all the brands of pear are ok... ALSO.... Taco mac has a beer on tap call Framboise... raspberry of course... It is rather expensive but if you go there... ask for a sample ;) you may actually be plesantly surprised... though it tastes NOTHING like beer.... CHEERS!