Asked again to name my favorite beer, I had to pull out the pat answer to any leaky old question, “Depends.”
Really, how could anyone have just one favorite beer?
Sometimes my favorite beer is the one I am drinking at that moment.
There are, of course, favorite styles – wee heavies, stouts, bocks, traditional English ales, good lagers and real pilsners. How much time do you have? I could go on.
For example, sometimes what I really want is the refreshing tang of a wheat beer. The rocky white head atop the hazy orange beer just looks so inviting, especially when poured into a Weiss glass.
I fell in love with the ritual beauty of Weiss while living in Oshkosh in the early ’90s. The great downtown beer bar named Oblio’s had Hacker-Pschorr Weisse on tap long before they became famous for 30-some craft beer taps. One of the great joys of living in Oshkosh, for me at least, was to go to Oblio’s in the late afternoon on a day off (which was Thursdays and Fridays back in the day), sip on a tall Hacker-Pschorr and watch the world pass by. My life was hectic back then, and those peaceful moments I spent with a glass of Hacker-Pschorr on a stool at Oblio’s are precious to me and I recall them every time I pour one.
For those who came after the beer evolution/revolution happened, it is hard to believe that beer lovers in America had to look to imports to satisfy their needs, but it is true. Beer bars specializing in imports were all the rage from the 1970s into the early 1990s. That’s how many were introduced to Hacker-Pschorr, arguably the best known Weiss (or Weisse, as they call it). Some may consider that a burden, to be the most popular, but we’re not talking Anheuser-Busch here.
Hacker-Pschorr Weisse will always make me smile. Its taste is bright, spicy and tangy. I like to think of it as liquid sunshine.
Kurtz’s Pub & Deli in Two Rivers is one of the great Hacker-Pschorr bars in Wisconsin. Third generation owner Jim Christensen told me his father first put Hacker-Pschorr on tap in the 1940s. Maybe it was the ’50s. It’s been awhile. He once invited me to his annual Oktoberfest, featuring not only Hacker-Pschorr but also its Milwaukee-based rep, who showered me with Hacker-Pschorr swag – metal posters sharp enough to slice your finger open and banners and a giant flag, all of which are hanging around me as I type. But the thing I remember most of that afternoon is the guy who pointed at me and said, loudly, “Hey, Bill Murray’s here.” That guy followed me around all day, pointing out “Bill Murray” to people, until I finally headed to Milwaukee for a musical fundraiser for Alejandro Escovedo, who at the time was suffering from Hepatitis C. I think it was the last time I was at Kurtz’s. But I’ll be back, without the heckler, I hope.