I blog primarily over at "geosciblog" (http://geosciblog.blogspot.com), I am doing this one for fun. It is inspired by 30+ years of beer can collecting and having tried more than 3,000 different American beers during that time. “. . . And beer was drunk with reverence, as it ought to be.” — G. K. Chesterton

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Point - Well Made, Point - Well Taken

Yesterday afternoon, I stopped at one of the liquor stores in Doraville, GA, one of the exurbs of Atlanta. This particular one, Tower Liquors, is a favorite because they allow the sale of single 12 oz. bottles or cans of American beers.

Most other liquor stores don't seem to want to bother allowing the sale of singles of microbrewery beers. They seem to miss the idea that some people might want to sample these more expensive beers before springing for a six-pack. That is my viewpoint and I like to have a variety of beers in my fridge at any given time, also.

While checking for new varieties of microbrews, I found a regional beer that I had not had since 1982, when I visited Wisconsin.

Point Special Beer, from Stevens Point Brewing Co., Stevens Point, WI, was on sale, as well as Point Cascade Pale Ale, Point Honey Light, and a German-style Weiss Beer (I didn't buy one, so I don't recall the exact name).

I picked up a couple of bottles of Point Special and one of the Point Cascade Pale Ale. The Point Special was very fresh and enjoyable, the Pale Ale was hoppy, but not intensely so, a la Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Stevens Point Brewing Co. is one of those local brands that has resisted the temptation to grow beyond their means. Years ago, Mike Royko pronounced Point Special to be one of the best beers in the country and the publicity resulted in demands that Point be sold outside of their traditional sales area. The brewery resisted, so as not to over-extend themselves and lose control over freshness and quality.

A number of breweries grew when a "fad demand" sales "boom" initiated, but often the breweries overbuilt to meet what turned out to be a short-term growth spurt. When the fad went away, there was debt to be paid on the now-excess capacity. That is one of the things that started the downfall of Stroh Brewing Co.. They built and bought other breweries to meet fad growth and when sales leveled off, they were beset with debt obligations.

Coors Brewing Co. avoided the problems because of the Coors family's longstanding policy of not borrowing money for expansion. They would simply save money until they needed to build, so if sales slacked off, at least there wasn't the bank to deal with.

Another local brewery, Straub Brewing Co., of St. Marys, PA, has also avoided the temptation to grow to meet short-term demand. A friend gave me a bottle of Straub last year, that had been purchased in eastern Ohio. It was another beer that I had not had since 1982.

I hope all is well with Stevens Point Brewing Co.. I have a lot of memories associated with travels during the Summer of 1982, including the horrid, hungry mosquitoes in Chippewa Falls, WI. Unfortunately, I lost a lot of my photos of glacial features, because when I went to change film in my 35 mm Pentax, I had forgotten to reel the film back into the cannister. Doh! But I didn't lose my brewery photos, which were on another roll of film.

The other Wisconsin breweries visited that summer were Leinenkugels at Chippewa Falls (owned by Miller for the last few years), Huber at Monroe, WI (now Berghoff-Huber), and Walter Brewing Co. at Eau Claire (now closed).

I wanted to drive over to Minnesota to visit the August Schell Brewing Co. at New Ulm and Grain Belt (Minneapolis Brewing Co. - now closed), but time and money did not permit that side trip. I did visit Hudepohl and Schoenling in Cincinnati on the way to Wisconsin and Straub on a separate trip to PA.

The next year I met my wife Marla and we visited a few breweries in PA and NY while traveling to a friend's wedding in NJ. We still try to visit at least one brewpub on each trip to TX and OK, when the schedule permits.
I am a St. Marys native and was weaned breast to Straub...did you visit the Eternal Tap?
Yes, I have visited the Eternal Tap a couple of times in the early 1980s.

The second time, in 1982, I stayed a little too long at the Eternal Tap and had to walk around the brewery parking lot and hang around town until I sobered up enough to drive on to my next destination.
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