O’Niell’s is made up of a variety of characters, and if anyone knows about beer its this guy! He loves a good beer, be it local, national, or global. He’s been our beer connoisseur since 2006, more formerly known around here as our Site Manager. Leo’s a special kind of guy so we thought we’d share him with the world by asking him a series of questions.
What brand of beer would everyone be surprised that you enjoy?
I love american lager! Coors OG is probably my favorite, but I drink them all. It’s funny how you start out drinking American lager in high school – you know, get someone’s big brother to pull-out. Then you go to college and get all sophisticated with a 6-pack of craft beer you know nothing about. Now, 20 years down the road, just give me a good clean beer that is the same beer every time. People should appreciate American Lager more.
What’s your favorite item on O’Niell’s food menu?
That’s a hard one. My first love was the garden burger because I was vegetarian for 10 years – I prefer it black and blue style with yellow mustard. Then I left the garden burger and found the turkey jack. burger – I like to add green chile – the saltiness of the blue cheese works great with the sweetness of green chile and heat from the cajun spice. The french dip is great too! Sometimes I like to get it with a side of onion rings and blue cheese dressing. Its fun to take a bite out of an onion ring and then scoop it into the au jus, filling the onion ring with au jus and then gently dipping it into blue cheese dressing. I’ve been eating at O’Niell’s 5 times a week for 10 years.
Can you pair beer with food like you would with wine?
Beer pairs great with food. A lot of people will go as far as to say that beer pairs with food much better than wine, for two reasons. The first being that beer actually has flavors from caramelization that occur during the brewing process – these caramelized flavors are all over the cooked food we love, so its naturally a good pairing. Wine does not contain these caramelized flavors. The second reason beer may be optimal for food pairing is that it is carbonated. Those little “scrubby bubbles” help to cleanse your palate between bites of food.
What beer do you carry that almost no one has heard of that they should be drinking?
We always have Orval. It is always good. Everyone should try that beer, and while you are enjoying it, ask our bartender to look at a copy of Garrett Oliver’s book titled “Beer” – the story of Orval is in the book. We keep the book behind our bar so guests and staff can reference it and read about the beer they drinking.
What caused the explosion of beer choices in the past few years?
It started in the late 70′s and early 80′s when President Carter signed a bill that legalized home brewing. Home brewers started brewing at home and then lobbied their state governments to legalize brew pubs. Breweries began to pop up all across the country and demand for these beers began to grow. I’ve heard that currently 1.9 craft breweries opens per day in the US. An interesting fact is we had more breweries in the US in the late 1800′s before prohibition began. We are getting close to breaking that record soon.