Phil Stressman is a bartender and a server at downtown Kalamazoo’s Central City Tap House. As a self-described beer geek, Phil has always been a great person to get beer advice and opinions from. Over the past year he has also tried his hand at homebrewing.
I am in love with beer. I have been for several years now. And while I cannot pinpoint a specific experience or moment in time that began this love affair, I can attribute it, I think, to a certain dominant personality trait. I am a serious geek. Like, bought thousands of comic books, have a favorite Star Trek captain, can recite off-hand all the characters of Battlestar Galactica level-geek. And if there’s one thing that unites all geeks, it’s an instinct to collect. We share a magpie-like love of assembling and maintaining stockpiles of shiny, pretty, unique things and bits of knowledge relating to various categories of nerdy crap. And so it was that when I turned twenty-one, I decided that I would buy and try a new six-pack of beer every week, until ran out of beers to acquire or pants that fit (you can guess which happened first).
That was five years ago. And while I don’t still follow my rule explicitly, I do still love to experience new beers. The more unique or weird or challenging, the better. So it should come as no small surprise to you that probably my favorite Michigan brewery is Shorts. When it comes to experimenting with the limits of beer flavor, they boldly go where no brewery has gone before. A key lime pie beer? Delicious. A bloody mary beer? Amazing, especially with celery salt. A white russian flavored beer? Terrible. But dammit, somebody had to try. On top of all that, Shorts produces what may be my favorite beer of all: Spruce Pilsner. Crisp, resiny, grassy, piny, and refreshing, and above all, wholly unique.
I’m young however, and have decades and wardrobes worth of beer drinking ahead of me, so it could be supplanted by something new and outlandish and delicious at any point in the future. Because craft brewers are going to continue to push the limits of beer into strange new worlds, and I’m going to continue to collect and drink all the weird and wonderful beers I can find.
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