I like beer. I like beer a lot, in moderation of course. As a young man I drank Hamm's. But then I discovered Anchor Steam Beer, one of the first craft brews in Northern California. Anchor Steam had taste and body that the mass-market beers lacked. And then I discovered there were other craft beers and started exploring.
Many years later, I am still exploring. We've had the good fortune to live in the Portland, Ore., area on two occasions over the years. Portland is referred to as "beervana." There are more than 40 microbreweries in the area. Portland is host to the Oregon Brewers Festival that draws 80,000 beer aficionados over four days in July.
We're back in Tucson. Not quite as many breweries here. But the Old Pueblo beer scene is growing remarkably. Three new microbreweries in the past year have joined the old timers: Thunder Canyon, Nimbus and Barrio.
Many of the microbreweries here and around the country were started by home brewers: Guys and girls who liked good beer and started making it at home.
And as they refined their brewing skills and made larger batches, they decided they could do it on a commercial basis. There are numerous stories about these people all over the country. For example, the schoolteacher couple in Seattle who now are full-time brewers at the successful Schooner Exact Brewing Co.
So what we're going to do with this column is keep tabs on the growing local beer scene: the breweries, the people who own and work in them and the kinds of beers they produce.
And with the help of the people in the Tucson beer community, we're going to share the wealth of information about beers and provide information to the reader to help him or her discover good beer and what kind of beer that might be.
We want local beer drinkers to know the difference between a Blue Moon (wheat beer from Coors) and an India Pale Ale from Barrio (locally made, heavily hopped beer).
We'll also periodically look around the region, particularly at Phoenix and San Diego (close on Portland's heels in the number of breweries) and see what's happening with craft brews in other locales. And we might even take a peek at Portland on occasion.
The purveyors of good beers are also an important part of the local beer scene. So we'll look at places such as Plaza Liquors and AJ's Fine Foods that stock craft beers from all over the country.
But most importantly, we'll look for input from you, the reader. Your comments, criticisms and questions will drive the content of the column. Of course, compliments are always appreciated.
Many of the microbreweries here and around the country were started by home brewers.
Paul Pedersen's column will run each month in Caliente. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org