Sunday, November 16, 2008

When beer and poker collide

Beer and PokerIf there's one thing I like almost as much as beer - that would be playing poker. I've been a poker player ever since my father and my Aunt Anita taught me how to play when I was just a kid back in the late 1960s. Back in 1984 when I first moved to Greeley Colorado and got my first real job, it didn't take long to find some new friends and form a regular home poker group. We used to get together about once every other month for a night of cards and of course plenty of beer. Beer and poker just seem a natural and as long as it's between good friends and nobody takes things too seriously - all is well.

Last night my old poker group got together again and this time around it was at my house. While we didn't realize it at the time, this night was practically our 25th anniversary of poker night with the guys. Over half of the guys in our current group have known each other for a quarter century now. Some things tend to change over time, like how much hair we have, the size of our waistlines and the number of wrinkles around our eyes. But sadly some of the guys' taste in beer hasn't changed in over 25 years.

Now admittedly, some of the guys in my group have become big wine enthusiasts. Depending on who is hosting poker night, some of the guys pull out some really incredible looking wines for poker night. But my house is a beer house and I made sure I had plenty of craft beer in my cooler for the wine geeks to try.

Typically the host supplies the main food dish and everyone else brings their favorite beverage and snacks. I cooked up a batch of "Halftime Chili", a recipe that I found on the Internet just the night before. I also pulled out some of my favorite go to beers that I made sure everyone there got to see: Odell Extra Special Red, Great Divide Yeti, Twisted Pine Raspberry Wheat, Dale's Pale Ale and some Victory Storm King Imperial Stout.

Most guys chose to start off with the beers they brought. So what did these guys bring? Budweiser, Bud Light, some Zima like drink, a sixer of Negro Modelo (from Corona) and surprisingly some Avery Ellie's Brown Ale. So as you see, their tastes for many of them were still set back in the 1980's.

Once their first beer was done, I offered them one of mine. Now granted, I didn't pull out all of the stops and offer them any of my St. Bernardus Abt 12 or Chimay Grande Reserve, but I did let them look over my selection in the cooler. I did get 1 or 2 of them to try one of my beers. It was interesting to see the reaction on their faces to their first sip of a craft beer. It ranged from surprise, to shock to "What is this?". I deliberately steered them away from a couple of the super hoppy beers and let them try an amber or a wheat first.

I noticed that they sipped on those beers very slowly. Much more slowly than their Buds and Zimas. After all, my beers were a bit more hefty on the ABV's and malts. I figured their taste buds were reacting similarly to how I first reacted to a new craft beer. It takes time to become a fan of new beers.

So while my little experiment may not have been an overwhelming success, I did at least get the word out on several new brews they may not have ever experienced before. I think I'll keep up the momentum I've started this weekend and continue to bring several different craft beers to the next poker night.

Many of my readers may not realize that before I was a beer blogger that I was a poker blogger. I still write to my poker blog on occasion and this weekend had several highlights to blog about.

Related articles:
- Victory Storm King Imperial Stout review.
- Dale's Pale Ale review.
- Odell to discontinue Single Batch Series.

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