I have never been a fan of carbonated drinks. I am not a soda-drinker, and gag at the site of the over-sized grape sodas on the shelves of Walmart aisles that have bottled nothing more nutritious or delicious than gas, color, and sugar. San Pelligrino and Perrier are just imported waters with fancy names that allow them to wear higher price tags, but still don’t impress me as their fizz buzzes up my nostrils and carbon dioxide vainly occupies the insides of my girth completely. I have a surprisingly high-capacity stomach, able to fit bowls and bowls of cheesy carbs like a macho man, but go yellow belly when it comes to gulping glasses of gassiness, a reason I’m not a soda fan- it takes up all the stomach space leaving the food with nowhere to go. There was a time when almost the same went for beer, a bubbling liquid with low alcohol content that brimmed over my stomachs capacity before getting me the slightest bit drunk, the European of the brands earning more of my respect than the bland tasteless Americans. I know, beer fizz isn’t fairly comparable to soda fizz, beer’s naturally forming yeastiness versus soda’s injected CO2, and while I preferred the bitter notes over the artificially sweet, it still was not my drink of choice. Until I settled in the Upper Valley of New England, where everything on tap is micro-brewed local and flavorful, saving America the embarrassment Miller and Budweiser has caused to the world.
I have come to realize that the best thing to wash a burger down is a good pint, and to do that, the favored beer of cold and flu season’s peak is Howl for me. It’s crafted by Magic Hat, a brewery out of Burlington, Vermont, that is actually more widely distributed than some others, and comes bottled in their Winter Seasonal pack. The black lager with cocoa subtleness speaks to our winter needs. I will open a parenthesis here and add that the state of Vermont has earned my blind faith when it comes to food and drink, my favorites their delicious apple ciders, exquisite cheeses, voluptuous maple syrup, and well-bred micro-brews. Parenthesis closed.
Not every snowy night calls for a mug of mini marshmallow spotted hot cocoa. Spiked or not, a cold beer shall conquer, especially when beef between buns is involved, roofed with oozing cheeses, sweet caramelized onions, pickles, and sauce that elopes with the meat’s juices all over your hands and runs past your wrist onto your arms, and what could be better than a beer that’s not too chocolatey to take away anyone’s thunder or deviate from the purpose of being a beer, but delicately nostalgic of that mug of cocoa. And as for the fight with the fizz? I think I have overcome.