One Beer Island

by Jeff Fryman

What is your favorite beer? That is the question I hear most often. At first, it was flattering. The people I talk to trust and respect my opinion so much that they care to know my favorite beer. Awesome. But less than a second before the question sets in, I am blank. It is hard to answer. What is your favorite movie? Well, I really think Ace Ventura is hilarious, but Taxi Driver also holds a small place in my heart, Annie Hall never skips a beat, and on and on it goes.

I cannot honestly answer. However, I am not a pompous jerk so I quickly reword their question as, ‘if I were on a deserted island and could only drink one beer for the rest of my life, what would that beer be?’ I wish you could see the blank look on my face. What an easy question… to ask. I would probably demand to know why I was being held against my will on an island that could only manage to stock one beer (even if it was one that I really liked). 

It’s extremely hard to pick a favorite when there are so many. My beer mood changes all the time, but I will drink about anything. I just love beer. Please don’t tell any of my beer-nerd friends or even worse, the snobs. I have a certain Certified Cicerone reputation to uphold. I can’t have them thinking I will try anything. I think I am supposed to tell you what Beer Advocate has rated the highest in the world, and discuss my disgust for Bud, Miller or Coors. Only kidding, but in short, beer is fun and the more I know the more I learn to appreciate the whole process from grain to glass so it is hard for me to pick a single style let alone a single beer. If, however, I could somehow work out a deal with the odd bunch holding me captive on One Beer Island in which I was allowed to pick a beer a week then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.

 The moment the quirky little dark maroon can is cracked, your nostrils are invaded by an aromatic onslaught reminiscent of disc-golf fields and Phish concerts without the added sweat and patchouli.

This week, I would pick: Oskar Blues GUBNA.

Oskar Blues GUBNA is an Imperial IPA made with 3 malts (North American   2-row barley, German Dark Munich Malt, Rye Malt) and a single hop variety(Summit) weighing in at 10% abv. This beer perfectly illustrates how ‘tasting’ something isn’t merely done with the tongue. The moment the quirky little dark maroon can is cracked, your nostrils are invaded by an aromatic onslaught reminiscent of disc-golf fields and Phish concerts without the added sweat and patchouli. Tangerine-citrus hop characteristics have melded with spicy rye malt aromatics to create something pungently awesome, possibly illegal. Now, pour it into a glass and admire.

The GUB is a cute, brilliantly clear, light amber, topped with cool whip that slowly subsides leaving beautiful lacing. So innocent and happy looking, you want to gulp it all up in a minute and then go back outside and play kickball. Be warned though, without thinking twice, she will murder you. You might wake up with a half eaten Whataburger in your hand and wonder why you’re sleeping in the backyard. A sip brings you back to the pre-gaming before a Pink Floyd laser light show aromas while adding the complexity of bright grapefruit citrus flavors, a touch of malt sweetness, toast, and a smooth rye spiciness that rolls past the slightly bitter hop finish all backed by a punch of alcohol. Two or three more sips and you want to marry it.

The expertly crafted Oskar Blues GUBNA displays everything that I love about beer. Now… I’m not saying it’s my favorite, but if a group of crazy scoundrels threw me onto an island and told me that I had to pick a new beer each week, this would definitely be on my list.

Jeff Fryman is the in-house cicerone at The Common Table, the happening brew pub in Dallas, Texas and a new craveDFW contributer.


Filed under beer, Cicerone, Crave, Jeff Fryman

5 responses to “One Beer Island

  1. Vegan Girl

    Pay attention, my veggie friends, this gem is a vegan brew. I suggest you head out to The Common Table and knock back a few. I will definitely be enjoying one (or more) this week.

  2. the_sneeb

    You just went up 20 points in my book, Fryman.

  3. I can relate. At tastings I’m always asked which beer is best? That’s like asking a proud father which of his kids he likes best? We poured a Belgian Golden Strong alongside a California Common this past weekend so there wasn’t even much room for comparison. My answer is always try them both. You might like one and hate the other and that’s okay. The tapestry of beer is infinite and what appeals to one might be the worst beer ever tasted to another. The quest for a perfect pint is never ending. There’s no right answer and that’s what makes it fun.

  4. Jeff, I think you have the right attitude about beer.

    My opinion – and it’s just an opinion – is that your favorite beer should be whatever you are currently holding in your hands. I get why people ask – because they want some insight to help protect them against ordering something they won’t like but still have to pay for. But, I encourage everyone to just drink many different things and then you’ll find what you truly love and crave, and then seem as knowledgeable as the next person.

    When I first got into wines, I spent many weekends at Farpointe enjoying their flights. I used to be intimidated by the “wine experts” but found a place that I could just be me and enjoy flights until I started to realize (with short term memory issues and all) that I enjoyed big cabs from cali and tempranillos from spain. Bam. Figured it out simply by drinking.

    Beer has been the same thing – I knew nothing about “beer” (i put it in quotes to emphasize that beer transcends just bud & miller – I promise) 10 years ago. I was introduced to Maredsous 8 by a friend, drank Celis White (when brewed in Texas) and Blue Moon (before it was distributed in Texas) and all of a sudden realized that maybe I DID like beer after all (yes, I drank Zima in the 90’s when I knew I couldn’t choke down a Coors)….

    It happens in simple small steps. I used to be intimidated because I thought I had to know it all to enjoy a brew, but then I discovered FLIGHTS – mainly I have to thank the Flying Saucer for that initial foray into flights – which gave me 3-5 ounces of multiple beverages to compare side-by-side which in turn led to me figuring out what i did and didn’t like.

    The Common Table offers flights – it’s not as well advertised as their special tappings and tastings, but you can ALWAYS order a flight, and try some “comfort beers” right next to some beers you may not be sure of. Or, ask for a free sample of something… the point is, to me at least: TRY SOMETHING. TRY SOMETHING new. Try something DIFFERENT. If you tried one new beer every week, you’d try 250+ new beers in 5 years, and you’d probably run circles in knowledge around 99% of your friends – even if you suffer from short term memory loss. I promise.

    So, I say – my favorite beer is the one I don’t remember the name of, but I tried on a whim because I vaguely remembered I liked some kind of double-IPA and so I ordered on a whim and it made me happy. Try something new – try something fun – but keep ordering and enjoy what you enjoy, regardless of what the person next to you is drinking.

    Beer and wine is about what YOU enjoy 🙂

  5. I’ll have to see if they have a socialist version up here in Canada.

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