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Last June, I travelled the length and breadth of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, visiting twenty-nine craft breweries and brewpubs and conducting research for my beer travel guide book Yooper Ale Trails: Craft Breweries and Brewpubs of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

I’m pleased to announce that Modern History Press published the book last week.

This June, I’ll be visiting many of these breweries and brewpubs again, holding author events and book signings. It will be a chance to renew friendships and to meet local and visiting craft beer lovers. I’ll talk about my beer travels, invite brewers and patrons to share their beer experiences, and bring along copies of Yooper Ale Trails to sell and autograph.

Here is the schedule as it stands on April 18. Other dates and locations may be added — so do check back.

Thursday, June 8 Upper Hand Brewery (Escanaba) 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Friday, June 9 East Channel Brewing (Munising) 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Saturday, June 10 Barrel + Beam Brewing (Marquette) 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Sunday, June 11 ByGeorge Brewing (Munising) 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm

Saturday, June 17 LaTulip Brewing (Cooks) 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Saturday, June 24 Blackrocks Brewery (Marquette) 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Tuesday, June 27 Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub (Upper Falls) 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Tuesday, June 27 Soo Brewing (Sault Ste Marie) 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm

Wednesday, June 28 Les Cheneaux Distillers (Cedarville) 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm

I’m looking forward to meeting fellow craft beer lovers.




Several years ago, I asked a Canadian brewer what the greatest challenges were in getting drinkers of mass-produced pale American lagers to try craft beers.

“The first challenge is to overcome the notion that if it ain’t clear, it ain’t beer,” he told me. So many of the new craft beers were unfiltered and you couldn’t hold up a glass, look through it, and see your beer-drinking buddy on the other side of the table. “Many craft beers are unfiltered and a lot are very dark in color.”

“The second was to explain that bitter isn’t a four-letter word. Many mass-market lagers are very, very mildly hopped and often quite sweet. Craft India Pale Ales are all about hops, which give bitterness to counteract the malt sweetness and add a wonderful variety of subtle flavors.”

“And, finally, I have to tell them: don’t be afraid of the dark. Long ago, all beers were dark — you couldn’t see through them. Pale ales weren’t that pale — only pale in comparison to the other beers. Now, nearly all the mass-market beers are, to use a polite term, almost the color of straw. But craft brewers starting to make some of the old, dark styles.”

I thought of this third challenge last summer when I visited the Houghton taproom of Keweenaw Brewing Company during my field trip doing interviews at UP craft breweries for Yooper Ale Trails: the Craft Breweries and Brewpubs of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Each of the servers wore a black t-shirt with the words “Don’t be Afraid of the Dark” on the back. The phrase was a reference to the brewery’s best-selling beer and perhaps the Upper Peninsula’s top-selling craft beer Widow Maker Black Ale.

Widow Maker is the complete opposite of mass-produced pale lagers — it is dark and filled with coffee and molasses flavor along with just enough German hops to offset the sweetness. Clean and light-bodied, it has a crisp finish. “If you can’t finish a Widow Maker,” co-owner Paul Boissevain told me, “you have a problem.”

After I’d finished my travels and was compiling a list of beer styles with UP examples, I included six that could definitely be called dark beers: Schwarzbier (from the German word for black), Dunkel lager (from the German for dark), Cascadian dark ale (aka Black IPA), English Dark Mild, Dunkelweizen (German dark wheat beer), Porter, and, not surprisingly stout (I found 23 different UP examples).

I sampled many of these dark beers and enjoyed nearly all of them. In addition to Widow Maker there were three I particularly enjoyed. Nighthawk Onyx Ale, from ByGeorge Brewing in Munising has been compared to a German schwarzbier and an English stout. Deep brown/black and opaque, it is a toasty beer with a rich flavor. It finishes clean and is fairly light-bodied. “We call it the beer with a dark body and a blonde soul,” brewer George Schultz told me.

One of my favorite all-time dark beer styles is English Dark Mild, a beer that’s rich in flavor, low in alcohol. Cockney Mild from Blackrocks Brewery in Marquette is a 4 percent alcohol by volume ale that’s dark and malty and perfect for evening when the fireplace is glowing and a nippy breeze is shaking the tree limbs outside. If you stop by Cognition Brewing in Ishpeming, see if Graven-Tosk Gravel is on tap. The brewery is noted for its interesting and interestingly named ales, and this one is no exception. It’s named after a “funeral” beer in a European board game and featured both smoked malts and an unusual juniper taste.

In just over three months, I’ll be celebrating the solstice, sitting on the dock of the bay in front of my cabin, sipping Laughing Fish Ale a light-bodied, golden, kolsch-style ale from Upper Hand and watching the sun set at the north end of the lake. But the next night, when I watch the sunset, I’ll be sipping an Upper Peninsula dark beer. That evening, there will be two seconds less daylight.

The dark will be rising.

NOTE: Yooper Ale Trails: Craft Breweries and Brewpubs of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula will be published in May 2023 by Modern History Press.


Quarter Celtic Brewpub, 1100 San Mateo Blvd NE Albuquerque NM, 87110


Shortly after it opened in 2017, Quarter Celtic Brewpub became our “local.” It’s usually easy to find parking, especially handicapped parking, which is vital for us. We like the food, especially the fish and chips; the beer is great; and sitting on the patio on a warm spring or fall afternoon or a not-to-hot summer one is a great way to spend a quiet and relaxing couple of hours.

When my daughter, her partner, and I arrived there a few days ago, one of the first things we did (and usually do) was look at the chalkboard listing the beers currently on tap. The standards — Pedro O’Flannigan Mexican Lager, MacLomas Stout, Crimson Lass Irish Red, and Mor Buck IPA were there — along with a range of seasonal and occasional beers.

What was interesting to me was that, including “the Pedro,” there were five lagers on tap. One was Mexican, one Bohemian, and two German. On earlier visits there had also been a Vienna Lager and an Italian Pilsner.

Clare and her partner chose the Pedro (a standby for us) and I tried the Bro-hemian Pilsner. I’m very partial to Czech-style pilsners.

After our lunch, I chatted for a few minutes with Brady McKeown, co-owner and head brewer, about the lagers. I remarked that, when he first started brewing for Il Vicino Restaurant in the mid 1990s, there were no lagers on the menu. “We simply didn’t have the space for them in the very small brewhouse and, at that time, people were interested in IPAs and darker ales.” Those IPAs and dark beers (stouts, porters, English bitter, browns) started winning Brady medals at the Great American Beer Festival — ten between 1995 and 2013.

By the time Quarter Celtic was about to open, lagers were making a comeback. Brady decided to make one of his four core beers a Mexican lager. “They were becoming popular and we were in New Mexico.” In 2018, Pedro O’Flanagan won a bronze medal in the International Pilsner category of the World Beer Cup competition. It has a nice hop/malt balance and a clean, crisp finish. The flaked maize gives a slight chewiness. And it goes well with fish and chips.

Brady and I also talked about a lager that wasn’t on tap that day but that, I hope, soon will be: The Prince of DORTness. It’s a German style Dortmunder Export Lager and, in 2020 won a Great American Beer Festival silver medal. When I learned that, I wasn’t surprised: it’s one of the two best North American examples of the style I’ve tasted (the other is made by Great Lakes Brewery in Cleveland). It’s a darker lager which uses pilsner malt but adds caramel malts for added color and flavor. And, it, too, goes well with fish and chips.

If you’re looking for something startlingly different or funky to go with your fish and chips, you probably won’t find it at Quarter Celtic. But if you want a really solid lager, something that is a classic example of the style, something that, as Brady describes it, is “beer flavored beer” do try one of the lagers on their list.

There’s nothing fishy about them.

NEXT WEEK We’ll talk about “The Dark Is Rising” — darker beers in the Upper Peninsula, land of “light lagers”


Frequently, for Christmas, Father’s Day, or birthdays, I’m the recipient of a beer book, a beer-themed T-shirt, or both. A couple of Christmases ago, I unwrapped a T-shirt that proclaimed “The Persuit of Hoppiness” and a very interesting book: A WOMAN’S PLACE IS IN THE BREWHOUSE: A FORGOTTEN HISTORY OF ALEWIVES, BREWSTERS, WITCHES AND CEOS, by Tara Nurin (Chicago Review Press: 2021).

The T-shirt has become well-worn and the book is well-read. There are under-linings, stars in the margins, and on the inside front cover the numbers of pages to be reread. People often think that the main role of women in craft brewers is limited to the administrative offices, doing a lot of paperwork, or the front of the house, slinging pints and taking food orders. But that ain’t so. Since Sumerian times, brewing beer and owning breweries has been a major occupation for women. At least until the Industrial Revolution and the later control of breweries by mega breweries, more and more of them controlled by international corporations.

But since the craft beer movement began in the later 1970s, more and more of the brewing of beer has been in the hands of brewsters, that’s the term for women brewers. Unfortunately, their importance has not been widely known — until now. A Woman’s Place … is a very lively and important book, especially about the last half-century of craft brewing.

I finished the book last spring, just before I began my Upper Peninsula Circ-ALE trail, interviewing brewery people for Upper Ale Trails, which is now in the editing stage. And, my eyes opened by A Woman’s Place, I was not surprised to meet so many women. Twelve craft breweries are co-owned by wife-husband teams; two solely by women. Four women are lead or co-brewers.

The first brewster I talked with last June is also one of the pioneer brewers in the Upper Peninsula. In the mid-90s, when Lark Ludlow, along with her brother, opened the combined gift shop and restaurant at Tahquamenon Falls, one of the premier tourist attractions in the Upper Peninsula, she decided that she would serve craft beer at the restaurant. She developed recipes for a range of ales, including one of the first blueberry ales served in the UP. “I thought that having beer made a few dozen feet away, along with a meal, would be a nice way for people finish a daytrip to the Falls.” When Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub opened, not many people weren’t familiar with craft beer. “I used to go from table to table carrying a tray of little glasses filled with our beer and offer samples to people,” she remembered.

One of the most experienced brewsters in the Upper Peninsula is Erica Tieppo of Upper Peninsula Brewing Company in Negaunee. A young woman in her thirties, she has been around the beer world for some time. A native of the greater Detroit area, she studied at the prestigious Siebel Institute in Chicago and worked at breweries in lower Michigan, North Carolina, and Colorado before coming to Negaunee. Here she could establish a new brewery from the ground up. AND, when she wasn’t being a brewster, she could be a musher — racing sled dogs is one of her hobbies. She’s also an aficionado of classical Renaissance music.

Another Detroiter, Lydia Novitsky had moved to the tiny UP village of Alpha (just off of Highway 2), because she wanted a change. She saw an ad asking for help at the Alpha Michigan Brewing Company — NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY “I was tired of my other job, I liked craft beer, and I thought it would be exciting to learn something new.” The day I visited, she was on her own, brewing an IPA. “They ran out of beer on the Fourth of July the first year the brewery opened,” she told me. “So I’m making sure there is plenty ready when the holiday comes in a couple of weeks.” She’s a fast learner. By the fall, she had become the lead brewer.

When Sarah Rusch first started dating her now-husband Kris, she didn’t realize that she’d become a craft brewery co-owner, administrator, front-of-the-house host, and brewer. Kris had long wanted to open a brewery in his native Upper Peninsula and chose Menominee, along the Wisconsin-Michigan border. Together, the couple opened Three Bridge Brewing. “Before I met Kris, I didn’t know much about beer; he was my teacher.” She helped him with the brewing — when she wasn’t working the front of the house or doing paperwork in the back office — and now brews entire batches by herself.

If you’re taking the Yooper Ale Trail on a vacation, do stop by these four breweries and say hello to the brewsters. Then, if it’s a warm day, the brewery patio isn’t too crowded and there aren’t many mosquitoes around, you can sit quietly in the sun, sip one of these brewsters’ beers, and, if you’ve brought a copy along, read a few pages of A Woman’s Place is in the Brewhouse.


Bombs Away Beer Company, 9801 Acoma Road SE, Albuquerque, NM, 87123


For me, one of the most pleasing recent developments in the craft beer movement is the addition of lagers to the beer lists of many breweries, brewpubs, and taprooms. Not the pale, bland North American lagers produced by the mega brewers, most of whom are owned by international corporations — but European lagers that have long been either absent or hard to find. There are many kinds of pilsners (Czech, German, Italian and even Australian and more), helles, Dortmunder export, Vienna lagers, Dunkels, bocks, Oktoberfests, and more.

Whenever I enjoy lunch at a brewpub, I always order one of the lagers on tap. They are usually fairly light-bodied, not much above 5 percent alcohol by volume, and a really good complement to a sandwich, salad, or soup.

This week, my beer drinking friend and I enjoyed lunch and lagers at Albuquerque’s Bombs Away Beer Company, which had been founded by John Degnaro in 2016, after he’d retired from the United States Airforce, where he’d served as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician.

The military theme of the brewpub first becomes noticeable as you drive up to the building. The name of the brewery displayed on the wall is in the stencil style that was sprayed onto wooden boxes used by the military. Beside the outdoor patio is parked a military vehicle and trailer. Inside, a bomb hangs above the bar and flags from the divisions of the United States Armed Services hang from the ceiling. There is a small sign near the bar inviting patrons to pay it forward and buy a beer for a veteran.

The military motif carries over to the names of the beers: S.A.F., Mk2, Actuator, Condition Red, All Clear!, and others.

We ordered paninis from the small menu and two of the four lagers on tap and while we waited for our lunch, chatted with Tyler David, the lead brewer. He’d first discovered craft beer when he went with friends to Albuquerque’s LaCumbre Brewing Taproom. But when he began working at Bombs Away, first at the front of the house and then in the brewhouse, he discovered the wonder of lagers.

He noted that lagers had become popular because they represented an alternative to the strongly hopped, often higher-alcohol IPAs and the fuller-bodied dark ales. Younger people are discovering that they enjoy beers that are smooth, clear, and crisp. That was certainly true of the lager I’d chosen: Proximity Pilsner. “The name suggests something close and accessible. The perle hops give a good pilsner flavor when they interact with New Mexico’s water.” I also tried a taster glass of Ten Seconds to Helles,” named after a 1950s movie about a bomb demolition squad. The malts contributed bready notes. Although it was sweeter (but not too much so) than the Pilsner, it had a clean, crisp, dry finish. The Ariana hops added fruity, floral notes.

My buddy had chosen High Speed, Low Drag Lager, an amber colored Vienna style lager, with caramel notes. It was a smooth, easy drinking beer, with caramel notes, with a gentle hop zing contributed by the Saaz and Chinook Hops. We finished our tasting with Condition Red Lager. The name suggests alarm, but the beer itself was quite gentle, malt forward with caramel and toffee flavors.

These were beers to return to — smooth and flavorful, light bodied, and with a gentle hop zing. We ordered some crowlers (lagers, of course) to take home, thanked Tyler and Christy, the hostess, and assured them that we’d be back again.

We will.

NB: Many of the beers are listed as GR; gluten reduced with the addition of clarex

NB: The taproom is completely wheelchair accessible.


Earlier this week, I spent a few hours checking over one of the appendices for YOOPER ALE TRAILS, which will be published this spring by Modern History Press. “A Guide to Beer Styles” includes descriptions of several dozen styles followed by a list of examples of each style produced by breweries of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Not surprisingly, the most popular style is India Pale Ale. What is surprising is that the second most popular style is the loosely defined category of “fruit beers.” Forty-three are listed.

The most popular fruit additive is blueberries, with twenty on the list. Kyle Peterson, the brewer at Lake Superior Smokehouse Brewpub of Harvey told me: “We’re not allowed to not have. it.” One brewer jokingly referred to blueberry ale as the “National Beer of the Upper Peninsula.

The history of Upper Peninsula blueberry beers goes back to the mid-1990s. Derek “Chumley” Anderson, of Marquette Harbor Brewery at Vierling Restaurant, and Lark Ludlow, of Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Restaurant, worked together to create a blueberry wheat ale for the annual Blueberry Festival held in the tiny village of Paradise. A few weeks later, Chumley introduced a similar beer for Marquette’s Blueberry Festival.

Like these originals, most of the UP’s blueberry ales use American wheat ale as the base beer. It’s medium-bodied and not at all overpowering beer that allows the subtle fruit hints created by the blueberry puree to shine. “It’s like spreading a thin layer of blueberry jelly on a thick slice of homemade bread,” one brewer told me.

Other base beers are used as well: Kolsch for Cold Iron’s Blue Collar Blueberry (which doesn’t use puree but freshly-picked blueberries that are smooshed, cooked, and added during secondary fermentation), and Berliner Weisse, a gently sour German beer, for ore Dock’s Blue Canoe, to name but two. There are other additives as well: 51st State’s Batty Millie adds vanilla; Hereford & Hops’ Bluegrass, lemon grass; and Cognition’s Pombluegenesis, pomegranites.

The wild blueberry season in the Upper Peninsula lasts for only a few weeks during the summer. Soo Brewing celebrates the beginning of that oh so brief time by releasing its Crystal Blue Persuasion on the day of the summer solstice. But many UP breweries always have their blueberry beers on tap, keeping the memory of summer alive all year.

Two of the most unusual blueberry beers are, unfortunately brewed in towns two hours apart and one of them comes out in the late spring and the other after Labor Day. ByGeorge Brewery of Munising is the maker of Batter U.P! Blueberry and Maple Pancake Pilsner; Cognition of Ishpeming puts out its Phasmosis Ghost Cereal Gose as one of its spooky Halloween releases. Added to the grist is an unspecified amount of a popular fruit-flavored breakfast cereal. (You can guess what it is by the beer’s nickname.)

It would be fun, I often think, to have a growler of each in my fridge at the cabin and to enjoy a glass of each while hunkering down to a hearty morning meal of ham and eggs (if I could afford them) or flapjacks well-coated with butter.

That would truly be a breakfast of champions.


NOTE: Beer Quest has been in hibernation for too long. Family illnesses and then the pandemic have kept me close to home since 2018, when I finished the research for “Island Craft,” which was published in 2019 by Touchwood Editions of Victoria, B.C.

This summer, I at last returned to travelling “ale trails” — visiting the 29 operating breweries of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The results of my visits, interviews, and tastings will be published in the spring of 2023 as “Yooper Ale Trails.” In the meantime, I’ll be frequently posting about some of my experiences and observations.

One of the most interesting breweries I visited was Cognition, in Ishpeming. Their tap room is in an historic building; their beers are not only just very good, but they are very interesting. And they have fun, both with the beers they create and the names they give them.

A couple of weeks ago, as I was checking their Facebook page, I saw announcements for Halloween themed beers. The names were creative and the beers were unusual. They all sprang from head brewer Kris Thompson’s imagination and memories of the popular breakfast cereals of his childhood.

Pure Camp: A Chocolate Vampire Cereal Stout with Peanut Butter; Prosthetic Bolts: a Strawberry Frankenstein Cereal Sour; and Phasmosis: a Blueberry Ghost Cereal Gose.

The names are Kris’s own inventions, but if you read the descriptions and think hard about those breakfast cereals of your youth, I’m sure you’ll come up with their names. And if you’re lucky enough to be at Cognition’s taproom over the next week or so and order one of the beers, you’ll even be able to taste the cereals. Each of the beers includes some of the appropriate cereal in its recipe.

In my next post, I’ll talk about what some people refer to as “The National Beer of the UP.”


Three weeks ago, while travelling on Vancouver Island, doing research for my forthcoming book VANCOUVER ISLAND PINTS, I visited Riot Brewery of Chemainus, BC, enjoyed a pint of WORKING CLASS HERO, and chatted with brewer Fabian Specht. A week later, I joined my swimming friends at QUARTER CELTIC, a brewpub in Albuquerque, NM, where I enjoyed a pint of PEDRO O’FLANAGAN, and chatted with brewer Brady McKeown.

Both the settings (over 15 hundred miles apart) and the beers were very different. When I visited Riot, it was a cold, drizzly day, one of many I experienced during my two week stay on Canada’s West (Wet) Coast. The beer I enjoyed was an English Dark Mild, a rich, full-bodied, malt forward ale, something perfect for the day when I drank it. My afternoon at Quarter Celtic was sunny and warm, the beginning of a long summer. PEDRO O’FLANAGAN was a Mexican lager, gold in color, light-to-medium bodied, in which the Hallertau hops nicely balanced the malty/corn flavours. It was a great outdoor beer.

But both the beers shared several things in common. Their makers were not only skilled brewers, they were individuals who welcomed their patrons and enjoyed discussing beer with them. And the beers they made were good, really good.

This morning, I discovered another similarity. Both were winners of medals at this year’s World Beer Cup competition. Working Class Hero won a gold in the English Dark Mild competition. Pedro O’Flanagan came home with a bronze in the International Pilsner category.

Pedro O’Flanagan is only available at the Albuquerque brewpub. But, lucky for me, that’s only a five minute drive away, so I plan to drop by regularly with my swimming group. Unfortunately, Working Class Hero is only distributed in British Columbia. So, if you happen to hear of any craft beer lovers heading to New Mexico, do suggest that they pack a couple of bomber bottles of Working Class Hero to bring to me and I’ll gladly take them to Quarter Celtic for a few pints of “the Pedro.”


In preparation for my trip around Lake Superior, doing “research” for SUPERIOR PINTS, I recently read BREWING LOCAL: AMERICAN-GROWN BEER, by respected beer writer Stan Hieronymus. He talked about “place-based beers” and discussed how many craft brewers want their beer to reflect the place it was created: the nearby land from where the ingredients come, the often historical buildings where the brewing takes place, and the locals who come to enjoy beer at the brewpub or tap room.

One hundred and fifty years ago, nearly all beer was, of necessity, local. Beer does not travel well and before the development of railroads and refrigeration (and then later extensive highway systems), beer was consumed very close to where it was brewed. But as transportation improved, breweries became more and more regional. And in the last half of the twentieth century, regional breweries struggled to become national. Anheuser-Busch, Miller, and Coors, won the competition; the other regionals were relegated to being nostalgia beers, and contract brewed at Miller plants that had spare equipment. Then Anheuser-Bush/Miller/Coors became international. And your Bud, or MGD, or Silver Bullet would same the same wherever in the world you drank it.

But for last three and a half decades local beer has been making a comeback. Each year, more and more towns had brewpubs and taprooms where townspeople could enjoy their favorite beverage just where it was made. Old styles were revived, new interpretations of them were created and, once again, beer had flavor — it wasn’t just pale, bland, and fizzy.

Of course, some of the craft breweries became very big, reaching regional, national and even international distribution. But many of the new ones remained content to remain small, or relatively so, creating beers that grew out of the natural environment around them, and serving them to locals or travelers who wanted to taste local.

These thoughts will guide me as I travelĀ around Lake Superior this summer, starting in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, making my leisurely way along the South Shore to Duluth, Minnesota, and then back along the North Shore to the Canadian Soo. ln my earlier beer travels, I drank the beer in the places I visited, but I didn’t consider how important the places were to the beer drinking experience I had.

This year I will. You could say that I’m making a very loc-ALE circ-ALE tour.


The other day, a few of us were sitting at our favorite Albuquerque brewpub, Quarter Celtic, sipping their recently released Single Action Kolsch (very good). The conversation drifted toward discussions of our most memorable beer drinking experiences: sneaking the “beer our fathers drank” out of the fridge when our parents were out for the evening, the first legal beer we sipped at a tavern, and wonderful places where we had enjoyed a beer since.

Tony had the most interesting story. He was going to college in the east and the friend of the brother of a classmate asked if he’d like to spend a day working on the lobster boat his father sailed out of South Addison, a Maine town just 50 miles from the Canadian border. It would be a new adventure for this Albuquerque boy from the high desert and he quickly said yes.

“I was dropped off at the wharf before dawn,” Tony remembered. “Oscar [the owner of the boat, the skipper, and the head lobster fisherman] and his helper greeted me. He was a real 60s person — he had a pony tail down to his butt, and, as we found out at the end of the day, he lived with two or three women.

“The first thing he did was give me a couple of Dramamine pills. I thought they were for sea sickness, but I soon discovered there was another reason. Our first stop was a herring processing plant where we picked up buckets of two-week-old fish heads to be used for bait. They smelled terrible, and one of my jobs that day would be stuffing them into the traps after we’dĀ emptied them of lobsters.” It wasn’t the choppy water that nearly made Tony lose his breakfast.

The three man crew soon settled into the routine that would last until sunset: sail to the location of the first lobster pots, winch them aboard, separate lobsters that were too big or too small and throw them back into the sea, secure the claws of the keepers with rubber bands, and put them into a tub through which flowed very cold sea water. Then Tony would grab the fish heads and re-bait the traps. During the process an occasional claw would fall off and Oscar would put it on a little shelf right next to the boat’s hot exhaust pipe.

“It was really intense, hard work for several minutes; then we’d rest until the boat reached the next location and we’d start all over again.” This went on until the sun was very low in the western sky. “”Oscar turned the boat around, and we sailed into the sunset toward port. He went over to one of the barrels with the lobsters in them and reached his arm in, all the way to his shoulder. I wondered what he was doing and hoped that I’d secured all the claws properly. An angry lobster could take off a man’s finger with one of those things.”

Tony half expected to see lobsters clinging to the skipper’s arm when he pulled it out of the barrel. But that didn’t happen. Oscar was clutching three bottles of Molson Golden Ale in his hand. “He gave us each a bottle and pointed to the lobster claws. As we chugged toward the shore, we watched the changing colors of the sunset, ate the delicious bits of lobster meat that had been cooking by the exhaust, and drank our chilled Molson Golden. I’d never before had a beer that tasted so good, and I haven’t since.”

We all agreed that Tony’s was the best of the golden beer-drinking memories we’d been sharing that afternoon and bought him a Single Action Kolsch. It was golden and Tony said that it was very good.

But not as good as that Molson Golden he’d enjoyed many years ago at the end of a long, hard day of lobster harvesting.