Jan 26, 2015

A commoner’s 15 favorite classic American beers

Drinking on a commoner’s budget (particularly when the commoner is unemployed) is a lot like travelling on a commoner’s budget – sometimes you have to settle for cheaper accommodations and hope to discover a few diamonds in the rough along the way. 

With that in mind, I was recently inspired by a friend who forwarded me a list of classic cheap American beers, ranked in order of the author’s preference, which first appeared on the Thrillist website.  The author ranked 36 old-school beers your Dad might have drank, from suckiest to least-suckiest.  I was impressed by the detail put into the article, even if I didn't necessarily agree with some of the reviews.  Of course, each person’s taste buds are different.     

So, I decided to share my own list of 15 favorite cheap American beers and why I like them.  It also gave me something fresh to write about as I’m travelling less these days while I’m *ahem* in between jobs.    

Some of these beers are admittedly harder to find than others.  But most tend to be less expensive than mega-brews like Budweiser, Miller Lite and Coors Light.  In some cases, they’re considerably less expensive.  To paraphrase my friend Terry Hupp, “You can’t afford not to drink them.” 

I also tried to apply a rule that the beer had to have been around at least as long as I have.  In other words, “Would my Dad have possibly enjoyed this at his favorite dive bar?”  So, sorry, Abita Amber, you’re still my all-time favorite beer but you’re too young to make this list. 

Finally, I tried to limit my list to 10 but simply couldn't.  I enjoy cheap, crappy beers way more than I should, I suppose.  And don’t be offended if your favorite isn't on the list. I may have never tried it, or even heard of it.  But I’m willing to become more educated.  With that in mind, I begin with …  

Jan 13, 2015

A Black Diamond in the rough

If there’s anything I’ve learned from the last six months of blogging, it’s how my nine faithful followers (as well as many, many more who’ve stumbled upon my posts) share with me a love of hole-in-the wall dive bars.  Whether it’s a cherished dive bar in a large blue collar town like Decatur, a local hangout in a small farming community like Eldred or the best and only thing happening at a wide spot in the road like Buckhart, these places resonate with people. 

So, it’s no wonder when my girlfriend and I decided to take the two-lane roads down to St. Louis last month for a Bob Seger concert, we dedicated some time to making a few pit stops at some small town bars along the way. 

And that’s how we discovered the Black Diamond Sports Bar & Grill in Gillespie, Ill. 

Jan 3, 2015

A St. Louis birthday bar sampler

More blurry birthday memories from O’Connell’s, Molly’s and Broadway Oyster Bar

This blog post may come off as being a bit disjointed, but I figure there’s no better way to do my last birthday justice.  In addition, my life has been a bit disjointed lately.  Fortunately, I should have plenty of time to get caught up over the next couple of weeks on topics I've been meaning to post about from last month and the holiday season.   

As my nine faithful followers may recall, my birthday celebration in Saint Louis began with lunch at Zia’s on The Hill.  You may have gotten the impression from my last post that we headed straight to the Soulard Market after that.  You’d be wrong. 

As fate would have it, we made an after-lunch pit stop at O’Connell's, a dive bar/Irish pub just off Interstate 44 and Kingshighway Blvd.  It caught our eye as we entered The Hill neighborhood, and we simply could not pass it up.  

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...