Saturday, June 21, 2008

Strange brew ... and gin

We all have our favorites.
Our favorite dish at our favorite restaurant. Our favorite cocktail. Our go-to beer when we grab a six at the store.
Here's a good -- if redundant -- day for me: Scarfing down a surf and turf sandwich (roast beef and crab with brie) with extra spinach and tomatoes at the Lost Dog Cafe in Arlington, Va. (As I did today). I wash it down with a Bell's Oberon (Actually I tried the El Jefe weizen ale from Hale's Ales Brewery & Pub in Seattle, which was awesome.). On my way out, I pick up a six of Dogfish Head's 60 Minute IPA for later in the week (Not this time, I had a new six waiting for me at home.). That evening, I fix myself a martini, Plymouth gin, of course (Except I tried a new gin, actually.).
OK, maybe it wasn't completely redundant.
I have a bad habit of criticizing folks who are either happy in their ruts or ignorant of them. Yet, I'm just as guilty. So for the past few weeks, I've been forcing myself to buy and try things I might have otherwise overlooked.
Now, this is more difficult for me than you might expect. I enjoy trying new things. So branching out isn't that unusual for me. Still, I realized that even when I try new things, like beers, I stick with familiar styles or brands (Instead of DogFish Head's 60 Minute IPA, I recently tried the Shelter Pale Ale. Yah, I was really reaching there.)
Endeavoring to change things up, I tried a few new things this weekend. Rather than my typical purchase of a local micro beer, such as Wild Goose or The Raven, I picked up a six of Quilmes, Argentina's favorite beer (according to the label). Rather than a bottle of Plymouth, I came across a bottle of Bluecoat, an American made gin I've never heard of. (Honestly, I was scared of this one. I drink my martinis very dry, so bad gin is murder.)
Could these purchases come back to bite me? Sure, especially the gin (see above). The six pack cost me about $8, so if it's bad (it's not) I'm not out much. The gin, however, cost about $30. If Bluecoat sucks (it didn't), I'm out $30 and I have a lot of bad martinis to get through (How do you make a martini? Good question. Check out my "Cocktails in my pocket" post.).
Regardless of the outcome, it's a good exercise. Not only does it open me up to new beers and spirits, but it might, just might, lead to a few new favorites.
Now I just have to make sure these new beverages don't become the same old beverages I head for at the store.

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