Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It Used to be Worse

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Oshkosh Daily Northwestern
March 1956

After grousing yesterday about the sad state of our retail beer selection in Oshkosh, I started thinking about what the good beer depots here used to sell 50 years ago. In some ways, it wasn’t a pretty picture. Basically, you were offered a bumper crop of pale lager for about eight months out of the year. In spring, the Bock beers would be rolled out for a couple months and in late fall you’d get a “high-test” Holiday Beer. The upside of that limited selection was that most of the offerings were made by regional brewers who had yet to completely abandon the idea that beer ought to actually taste like something. Still, the idea of drinking pale lager 70% of the time, doesn’t hold much appeal for those of us caught up in the craft-beer swirl. 

Which nicely illustrates what freaks you and I have become. From the beginning of beer, most beer drinkers happily chugged a single, regional style of brew that they were intimately familiar with. In many, perhaps most, places it remains that way. Not here. We want variety and we’re always looking to try something we haven’t experienced before; hence the dissatisfaction with our Pick ‘n Saves and Festival Foods. Yet, there’s no denying that these places offer more than Bob Thiessen ever dreamed of stocking in 1956 over at the corner of Bowen and Waugoo. Look at his ad, 25 brands of beer and – with the exception of a couple light ales – each of them are pale American lagers. I wouldn’t mind going back in time and checking his stuff out, but I don’t think I’d want to hang around for long. I’m thankful to have more options than they did in 1956. That doesn’t keep me from thinking, though, that things in Oshkosh could be a hell of a lot better.

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