Friday, May 4, 2012

British Beer Company Will Get Your Irish Up

British Beer Company
120 Worcester Rd.
Framingham, MA

History question for you.

Which imperial power of the last half of the millennium is most notorious for state sponsored property theft, ethnic cleansing, genocide and the torture and execution of political prisoners?

Which liberty-robbing empire outlawed the free expression of religion, fined citizens for refusal to attend state-sanctioned church services and hunted down and murdered recalcitrant clergy?

Which blood thirsty dictatorship subjected innocent civilians to systemic gang rapes, land confiscation and one of humanity’s most infamous mass starvations?

Castro’s Cuba? Stalin’s Soviet Empire? Hitler’s Third Reich?

George W. Bush?

No. No. No. And no.

I mean, those would be good guesses. But not who I’m thinking of.

Correct answer: the English.

No wonder “Bravehart” is my favorite movie.

Just knowing the minefield of British tyranny my Irish ancestors navigated so I can sit here today and drink beer gets my Irish up every time I lay my eyes on the Union Jack.

So what the hell am I doing at a place called the British Beer Company?

Convenience. It’s that simple.

By the time I checked into my room at the Best Western in this suburban wasteland west of Boston, it was 9:30 on a Tuesday night.

The fact that a crowded bar attached to my hotel had “beer” in its title -- and was still serving food -- was reason enough for me to attempt to overlook ten centuries of British atrocities against my ancestors’ homeland.

And it came well recommended by a good friend. A good friend who just named his sons Henry and Oliver, after Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell.

I should have known better.

Turns out, I should have just ordered Dominos.

Unfortunately for me, Tuesday night is Karaoke night at BBC.

Packed with nose-pierced, over-Americanized twenty-somethings of various ethnicities all belting out completely butchered versions of pop songs that aren’t very good to begin with, the evening was not getting off to a good start.

The fact that I couldn’t get any of the three clueless bartenders to take my order didn’t help either.

No beer. No food. And lots of drunken screeching.

That’s a recipe for a headache.

The British-themed menu didn’t help ease my pain.

First of all, who builds a chain of restaurants around an ethnicity that is better known for inventing novel forms of torture than good food?

Fish and chips? Sheppard’s Pie?

Yuck. I’d rather be tarred and feathered.

I chose to stick to this side of the pond.

The highlight of my meal was a seven dollar crock of clam chowder. A generous supply of clams made up for the blandness of this thick creamy chowder.

My meatloaf sandwich was a novel idea. Topped with melted cheese, bacon and barbeque sauce, it was like a well seasoned, squishy bacon cheeseburger. Can’t get more American than that.

I made the mistake of choosing to upgrade my side to “panko crusted green beans” for an additional two bucks. The menu proclaimed that this was “a BBC original”.

That’s funny. I’ve never stepped foot in this place before but I’ve somehow managed to enjoy fried green beans many times before.

Typical Brits. Taking credit for the good ideas of others.

Most fried green beans are accompanied by a remoulade or ranch style dipping sauce. (Hey, breaded, fried and dipped is just about the only way you can get Suit757 to voluntarily order veggies).

But not at BBC. No sauce. And not any where near a big enough portion to justify the upcharge.

The beer selection wasn’t quite as good as I’d expect from a place with “Beer Company” in its title either.

Of course, I’m always on the look out for new and interesting brews I’ve never tried before. Unfortunately, my bar tender – when I could manage to get his attention, that is – told me they were “out” of my first couple choices.

Of course.

So being a good sport, I decided against my better judgment to go with a British beer.

British Beer Company has at least half a dozen varieties of Fuller’s on draft, one of Britain’s more famous breweries.

At the risk of causing my Suit757 ancestors to roll over in their graves, I rationalized my choice by ordering Fuller’s India Pale Ale, one of my favorite beer styles.

The British invented IPAs, after all. Or so I told myself.

Of course inventing a beer and perfecting it are two totally different things.

The India Pale Ale was invented as a direct result of the British Empire’s unquenchable thirst for world domination.

The poor saps sent to India to prop up that corner of Britain’s empire faced a serious problem. They soon discovered that by the time their shipments of beer from the homeland reached them after the long journey around the African Cape of Good Hope, their suds had spoiled.

Fortunately, the hops in beer, which gives beer its flavor, also serve as a preservative.

More hops means beer stays fresh longer. Thus, the extra hoppy India Pale Ale was born.

The problem is Fuller’s IPA just isn’t that hoppy. I doubt this flavorless beer could make it across the English Channel, let alone the Horn of Africa.

Like every other variety of Fuller’s I’ve ever tried, this IPA is as bland as English mashed potatoes.

Leave it to the Americans to perfect a good idea. (If we can’t invent it outright.)

It was American brewers who took the British IPA to another level.

Sure enough, my second choice, a local beer called Mayflower IPA, brewed near Plymouth Rock, where the pilgrims landed in America after fleeing British tyranny, packed a much stronger wallop of hoppy flavor.

So in a way, maybe we should thank the tyrants across the pond.

Whether it was the pilgrims, the Irish or countless others escaping the murderous clutches of the British Empire, the brutality of British rule led to the rise of a new nation, America, which figured out a better way to do things.

A better way of government. A better way of protecting liberty. And a better way to brew beer.

I’ll drink to that.

Rating: Wouldn’t Wear Shirt if They Paid Me.

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