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As anyone who has spent time in the Caribbean knows, island life often feels several decades behind our ever-changing, ever-obsessive American culture. This is not necessarily a bad thing. You quickly learn that 900 cable channels, a BlackBerry, and an iPod filled with three months of music and NPR programming have nothing on a day snorkeling among the coral and neon blue fish.
If you can’t tell, my wife, Carrie, and I just returned from a trip to the Caribbean, Puerto Rico specifically. (Thanks Uncle Hobs and Aunt Joyce for the use of your condo!) While I genuinely realized how little I need to feel at peace—-now if I could only stop checking e-mail on vacation, I’d be golden—-I did miss one recent trend of American life: the modern microbrews.
If you walk into any bar in Puerto Rico and ask what beers are available, the bartender will rattle off—-and I’m not exaggerating—-almost the exact same list: Coors Light, Budweiser, Miller Lite, Medalla Light (the Puerto Rican lager that has a stranglehold on the market), and the Dutch stowaway, Heineken. Occasionally the list will expand to include a Corona or Presidente, the Dominican Republic pilsner. While all of these beers make for easy summer drinking (i.e., you can pound that shit down on a hot beach), I really missed my Dogfish Head IPAs, my Rogue Dead Guy Ale, and my Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale.
I also realized how much my beer drinking has changed over the years. Back in a day, it wasn’t unusual for me and friends to stock a cooler full of American lagers and spend a summer day knocking back one can after another, barely feeling anything more than an urge to pee every hour or so. These days, I can’t finish two Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPAs without feeling like somebody’s hit me upside the head with a 2-by-4.
I love the taste of these highly alcoholic microbrews, but, you know, I sometimes miss the hot-afternoon social camaraderie that went with drinking watery beer.