Thursday, July 15, 2010


The beer.

Daddy's drink, amber brew, slather lather, double bach, triple bach, man soda, suds, Canadian river water, cold coffee, Rocky Mountain spring water, ale, porter, lager, pilsner, stout, nectar of the gods, ambrosia.

Beer. Lovely, bubbly, sudsy beer.

Beer can be as much a part of the bug chucker's day as is retying tippet, wading just a little too deeply, or setting the hook. As such, one's choice of stream side or lake shore beverage should not be made thoughtlessly or without care. Sure, there are those days when a Genny cream ale will suffice (I personally haven't had one of those days in years ... not even sure there's still a Genessee Brewing Company), but generally there are those brews, which are better suited to some fishing trips than to others.

For example, the Lake Placid Brewing Company's popular Ubu Ale is as well suited to the opening day of trout season in New York as it is to the October run of spawning browns from Hebgen Lake into Montana's Madison River. If there's a chill in the air then there should be an Ubu in your cooler. As a sidebar ... Ubu was an enormous chocolate lab that made frequent appearances around the Olympic village of Lake Placid, New York. Apparently, the dog had a nose for malt, a palette for beer, and a taste for watching American college students kick the snot out of professional Soviet hockey players.

Saranac Pale Ale - as my token, hippy friend Ben says - is probably the best $8.00 six-pack one can buy. It's a go to beer.  You stick a couple in the cargo pocket of your vest or tuck them into your waders, and only break them out when the fish have either thoroughly acquiesced to your skill - or kicked your ass up and down the river. Saranac can make a bad day good, and a good day better.

Saratoga Ale is brewed by the Olde Saratoga Brewing Company in Saratoga Springs, New York.  This is a hoppy, bitter ale that won't leave one feeling overly full or bloated, which is nice if you're a fat bastard like me. Saratoga is best enjoyed after a long day on the water, when the ice in your cooler is just starting to melt, and the label is beginning to peel away from the bottle. Take my word for it when I tell you that few things in life are as satisfying as one, two, or six Saratogas.  

Unibroue's La Fin du Monde (the end of the world) is incredibly smooth. In fact, it may be the smoothest beer I've ever had. What's interesting - very interesting, in fact - is that at 9% alcohol by volume, it packs a punch without losing any flavor. If this isn't the best beer of the bunch, then it is certainly a close runner-up. Did I mention it is nearly as smooth as Salma Hayek's deliciously bronzed thighs? ... I know - she's a mom now - but I'll always think of her as Santanico Pandemonium (find a Google image ... it's worth your time).

Generally, I'm not much a fan of fruit flavored beer. After all, beer should taste like beer, and not some sort of carbonated and bastardized mango-guava-blueberry iced tea. Copper Dogfish Head's Aprihop may be the exception. When I need to cool down after a day of sweating my ass off in breathable waders, this is the beer for which I'll reach. The apricot flavor isn't too sweet or overwhelming, and nicely compliments the hoppiness of the ale. I find that drinking this particular concoction also helps to free one's mind of thoughts of abandoning one's three children, and running away to live as a hermit in Guatemala.

If real men fly fish, then those fly fishermen with the most hair on their chests fish for winter steelhead. I have to admit that I'm relatively new to the game, and that I find few brews will help to take the edge off a bitterly cold and fishless day quite as well as the Anchor Brewing Company's, Anchor Porter. This stuff is thick - not Guiness thick mind you - but certainly dense enough to trick one's stomach into believing you've just swallowed a fork full of pancakes ... with a generous application of butter and syrup. It's just the kind of thing you need if you've fallen into the Salmon River ... in February ... just as a drift boat full of admiring sports floats past. Trust me.

So, what's my favorite ... my number one? I haven't the words so the picture will have to suffice ... if you can find it, try it. This is the one that will haunt your dreams.

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