You Can Go Home Again, But You Won’t Recognize It

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I travel back to my hometown quite a bit because my kids love to visit their grandparents — there are no rules at Grandma’s house. Chocolate cake for breakfast? No problem. Chocolate cake for breakfast while watching Star Wars and riding a brand new bike around the living room? Why not.

So yeah, I go home a lot. But I spend most of my time there trying to get my kids (all hopped up on high fructose corn syrup) to settle down and stop trying to give the cat a bath. I don’t get out much when I’m home.

But this week, I went home solo for work and managed to hit the town sans children. What I discovered is that the sleepy, farm community I grew up in is it is no longer a sleepy, farm community. Instead of farms, there are high end gated communities, and instead of the quiet downtown square that was famous for its sheer volume of antique stores, there was a bustling town with Irish pubs, yoga studios, and FroYo. When I was a kid, we hung out in the knife. That was exciting as things got.

Hell, now, my hometown even has a brewery. It’s out there on the edge of town, somewhere near the new climbing wall. WTF? Oh, and don’t get me started on the town’s booming greenway system. It makes the half-ass greenway system in my current town look shameful.

The brewery I’m talking about is Red Hare, a small brewery that was actually the first in the state to start canning. I got to try their Long Day Lager for the first time at one of those Irish pubs, while listening to the dude next to me try to impress the bartender by telling her over and over about how much meat he smokes on weekends. Brisket, ribs, tenderloin, pork butt…you name it.

The beer is sweeter than most lagers (especially those mass-produced lagers I was drinking when I grew up in this town), with an intriguing citrus zest that comes on at the end of the sip. It’s still light and crisp, the way lagers should be, but there’s an undeniably malty underbelly holding everything together. Red Hare isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel with this beer, but it’s good, and it comes in at a way sessionable 4.9%, which I appreciate. And did I mention it’s made in my hometown? How cool is that?

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