Even the Founding Fathers Loved Beer

Beer: better than wine?
For many a football fan, watching the big Sunday game is a lot more fun accompanied by some beer. Barry Petersen reopens the old debate between beer and wine:

Beer - some say it's time this lowly brew gets a lot more respect.

The argument for beer begins, where else, on a college campus, at the University of California-Davis, with the man they call the professor of beer.

Charlie Bamforth teaches brewing and he throws down the gauntlet on wine versus beer.

He call the brew "the most sophisticated and complex of alcohol beverages."

More than wine? "Yes," said Bamforth.

Oh, come on. And how?

"It's much more complicated to make."

For proof, stop into the Wynkoop Brewery in Denver, Colorado, one of 1,500 craft breweries in the country. Beers are made on site, with names like Two Guns Pilsner and Cowtown Milk Stout.

Marty Jones, who helps promote beer, starts with a touch of history: How country was founded by men who planned our nation's future over beers in the taverns of the Northeast - the Founding Fathers.

"Thomas Jefferson was a brewer. Washington was brewer. Ben Franklin was a brewer," Jones said.

Beer has always had its place in America's fabric, from the ballpark, to the White House, to television.

As for the words wine drinkers use to describe taste, try some beer terms on for size.

"We have flavors of caramel, malt, coffee, chocolate, toffee. Then you add hops, and you get aromas of pine, and juniper, and citrus, and grapefruit and orange," Jones said.

But, let's face it - the problem with beer is not about the pint, but the perception.

Andy Brown, the Wynkoop brewmaster, said, "It's the Rodney Dangerfield of adult beverages. You know, we just can't get no respect."

One can say the difference between wine and beer is the same as James Bond (elegant and supremely sophisticated, who knows his clarets) and John Belushi in "Animal House."

"What I'd love people to realize is that, sure, there are beers for the party animal," Brown said. "But there are also beers that are to be savored and enjoyed as a perfect accompaniment to food."

Beer lovers even take a shot at wine snobs and their rituals.

"The difference with beer and wine is: we taste it. Of course we taste it! And we swallow," Bamforth said. "None of this ridiculous spitting."

And there are more craft breweries popping up, many with a delicious desire to experiment with new mixes and tastes.

"And so, if you're a beer lover, this is the greatest time to be alive. It's wonderful. It's a very heady time, no pun intended," Jones said.

So while beer lovers wait for respect, maybe it's enough to heed a word of advice: you picked the right beer if you enjoyed it enough to just want another.

For more info:
Charles Bamforth at UC Davis
Wynkoop Brewing Company
NPR: Founding Fathers and Their Beer
Two Guns Pilsner
Cowtown Milk Stout