Now I don't know Maria Rainier like I know some of my other guests, but she met the qualification of being cool. After all, beer and paintball? My kind of woman! Here you go...
Red Oak Amber Lager
There are two things for which I go to Greensboro, North Carolina: tournament-style paintball at professional player Rob Staudinger-owned field Paintball Central, and Red Oak Amber Lager.
It’s a shame that this Bavarian lager isn’t available outside of North Carolina, but that it’s one of the few breweries in the area to self-distribute may be the key to its freshness. It’s unfiltered, unpasteurized, and contains none of the 400 additives and preservatives allowed in American beers.
Here’s a gist of what’s on their site: Red Oak is a Munich Urtyp (Old Style) Lager that starts with custom kilned imported Munich Malt, hopped with Spalt Noble Hops. A yeast strain from Weihenstephen is added and it ages for X number of weeks.
Here’s an honest opinion: I miss Europe, and I miss European beer. After a long, hot day of running around behind huge bunkers with your paintball marker leaking air and that kid not getting out when there’s a big ole target of orange paint on his freakin’ forehead and you getting shot three extra times on your left cheek (not the pretty one, either), there’s something therapeutic about the rich, smooth taste of Red Oak on draft at the nearby Mellow Mushroom restaurant. Unlike many dark beers, which feel so heavy that you really don’t want to eat anything more with them than complimentary chips, Red Oak makes a nice partner to a meal, as per Bavarian custom.
While not mind-blowing by any means, Red Oak has the body of a dark beer but a freshness you really need after a long, sweaty day. It’s nutty with a hint of caramel, and tastes best at room temperature in a glass that allows it to breathe with about a two-inch head. It doesn’t hurt that it’s cheap on draft.
You can get it in bottles at grocery stores throughout North Carolina, but I’ve tried this before when I was late to lunch with my would-be mother-in-law. I drank from one once at her house and was sorely disappointed by its overwhelming bitterness. A glass that allows it to breathe seems key with Red Oak. That, and maybe some bratwurst.
Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching various online programs and blogging about student life issues. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.