Liquid love (the rest of the story)

July 24, 2010


Today I had to identify my favorite summer snack. If by summer you mean those months here in Minnesota when it isn???t snowing and if by snack you mean something that is a treat, then my answer is Bell???s Oberon.

The Bell???s website describes Oberon as ???an American wheat ale brewed with Saaz hops. Spicy and fruity, Oberon is the color and scent of a sunny afternoon.???

It sure is!

I don???t pretend to know all the nuances of ingredients and varieties; historically I don???t like wheat beers, especially if they???re varieties referred to as hefeweizen or weissbier. The flavor tends to be sweeter than I prefer and I usually get a near-instant headache from them. But something magical happened when I tasted Oberon for the first time.

I was at a wine tasting event with a friend of mine who feels about wine like I do beer. He also works part-time at a liquor store and so often gets to go to these distributor-sponsored events, which I believe this was. There is also some sort of food to nosh on; in this case it was several local restaurants that had tables sprinkled throughout the floor.

I had been up and down a few rows and tasted many wines and found myself at the Murray???s Steakhouse table. The chef was serving up beef bites saut??ed in butter, garlic, and mushrooms. They tasted heavenly. The stage was set.

Banished to the overflow tent adjacent to the main hall were a few breweries, including local favorite Summit, as well as a couple of others including Bell???s Brewery from Michigan. My experience with Bell???s at that time about five or six years ago was hearing my coworker (and beer guru) rave about their Two-Hearted Ale. I had tried it and was unimpressed because at that time, my palette had not yet begun its rapid transition into liking hops.

Being at a tasting and being willing to try new things, I walked up to the Bell???s table, explained my slight experience with Two-Hearted, and wondered what else I could try. The first sample I was given was Oberon. It looked pretty light and yellow, but with some body. I was still savoring the flavor of the steak bites. I sipped the Oberon. I was in love!

I know it was largely because the beef had primed my taste buds and then the beer complimented the beef. I still think of it as serendipity and one of my favorite dining experiences. If I hadn???t had those steak bites I probably wouldn???t have been floored by the Oberon. But I had and I was. And the rest is history.

So every April, I look forward to the appearance of Oberon???s bright blue carton and sunny logo on the shelves of the coolers. When I see it, I know summer can???t be too far away.


(As an aside, Minnesota is apparently Bell???s??? best market for their hoppy Two-Hearted Ale. I have since come to greatly appreciate that masterpiece as well.)

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