Sunday, November 09, 2008

My German Genes Resurface

As the grandchild of European grandparents, I was exposed to beer early on. My paternal grandparents had passed away, but on the maternal side Grandma and Grandpa were a big part of my life up until I was 9 or 10. Coming from the Old Country, they were of the mindset that kids indulged in alcohol along with the adults. Being German, for my grandpa that meant sharing his beer with me. Every night he had a can with dinner, and if I was visiting I got a small portion in my own beer mug-shaped shotglass. Having grown up drinking beer, you'd think I would have developed a taste for it but somehow that never happened. Although I liked the sweeter wines (probably thanks to my grandma's proffering of Mogan David and 7-Up cocktails) and various fru-fru drinks, I literally never ordered a beer.

Well, I guess I shouldn't say never because a brewhouse opened up in the vicinity when we lived in Chicago and we tried their sampler flight. It was okay, but nothing caught my attention. Add that to the fact that they also had a cigar bar, causing the whole place to reek, and we never returned. I also visited the brewhouse at Disney's Boardwalk and had a sampler flight there, but again nothing caught my attention. It looking like my beer-swilling German genes were due to lie forever dormant.

That all changed recently, when hubby and I discovered B.J.'s Brewhouse over at the Loop (an ever-expanding shopping center located not too far from Celebration). Friends of ours had recommended it months ago, but we didn't get around to trying it until a few weeks back. Having never been wowed by a brewhouse before, I saw no compelling reason to make visiting it a priority. Now that we've finally taken the plunge, it's become the top favorite on our weekend restaurant rotation.

I expected B.J.'s to have a Bennigan's or Friday's-esque menu, but the moment I cracked the pages I realized that I was wrong. They have such intriguing items as avocado egg rolls (now our favorite appetizer) and Cuban sandwiches, as well as deep dish pizzas with a crust that rivals anything I've had in Chicago (indeed, they advertise the pizzas as Chicago style, which is usually a lie in FL but which they actually live up to). They also have jumbo stuffed baked potatoes, which is perfect for a potato fanatic like me.

With all of that, the fact that B.J.'s is a microbrewery would be secondary except for the fact that their beers are delicious. Remember, I say this as someone who never before would have thought of ordering a beer as my beverage. Now, when we go to B.J.'s, my only dilemma is which one to choose.

The first time we visited, we had a sample flight of all their beers which allowed me to pinpoint two favorites. And I don't mean choosing the lesser of the evils. I mean choosing brews that I would (and do) happily order again. These delicious brews awoke my dormant German genes which are now clamoring to make up for lost time.

The good thing about B.J.'s is that you don't have to choose just one beer from their extensive menu. Rather than getting a full pint, you can buy five ounce samplers and get two or three. I tend to get the Blonde beer and the dark stout, although right now they have a seasonal pumpkin brew that makes my taste buds sing. Hubby usually gets a pint of that, I get samples of my two favorites, and then I swap him some stout for a sip or two of his pumpkin brew. I think he may go into mourning when they retire it for the season.

There's only one bad thing about the beers. B.J.'s also has an extensive drink menu of othet tempting concoctions. Problem is, I can't quiet the German beer swilling side of me long enough to actually order one. Having been surpressed for nearly 35 years, that Germanic need for malt beverages refuses to be denied any longer, especially with something as fru-fru as a chocolate or pomegrenate martini.

Perhaps in time it will reach it saition level and I'll be able to expand my alcohol-related horizons at B.J.'s. Until then, I'll be the one with the sampler of both the lightest and darkest brews, sipping them inbetween a heaping plate of avocado egg rolls.

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