10 April 2009

The Friday Belt: Ranger Straub

Straub Beer and The Ranger Belt

The Straub Case - - It deserves a frame

Back in the mid 80's, I worked as a National Park Ranger at Valley Forge. I had transferred from the Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island National Monument and I distinctly remember two things about that move. The cost of living at Valley Forge was a huge relief from NYC and visiting my first PA Beer Store. My friend (may I call you my friend?)...Beer Stores rule.

I remember walking into these massive warehouses and being amazed by the overwhelming selection of beers. Cheap, expensive, well known and unknown. It was like some kind of Beer Heaven. Back then (and today) I adhered to one of the golden rules from Trad Dad. "Drink the local stuff." I picked Valley Forge Beer, brewed less than ten miles away, for it's cool label, the obvious connection to work and most importantly the price-- $5 or $6 for 24 sixteen ounce bottles. When you're a GS-5, price is key. There were six of us (GS-5s) living in Lord Stirling's quarters on Yellow Springs Road. There were four refrigerators. Three were filled with beer. We were so happy.

Valley Forge Beer is long gone but I recently discovered Straub Beer. Unpasteurized (a wonderful definition for any food) and made without salt, sugar or preservatives...it's unique. The Dark and the Lite do nothing for me but their regular beer you see pictured above (in a 16oz bottle) is damned good. It's not gonna win any medals (actually it has won some medals) but at $19 a case (did I tell you they're 16 ounce bottles?) - it's a perfect summer beer. You know... When you're having more than one. OK, when you're getting loaded.

There are people who claim due to the natural ingredients you can't get a hangover. I'll report back to you on that. The case price works out to less than .60 cents for 12 ounces. Baby, that's Trad. But unless you live in PA or OH you're gonna have a tough time tracking it down. I found mine at Bella Vista Beer & Soda in South Philadelphia on 11th and Fitzwater. My advice for your next trip to Philadelphia is to drop the family off at the Independence Sites and head over to Bella Vista in a station wagon.

The Ranger Belt is not so hard to find but it is cheap. LL Bean. Brooks Brothers. Police equipment catalogs. Tack shops. Roll over a rock and you'll find one. Oddly enough, we didn't wear a belt like this in the Park Service. As Rangers we wore something wider and very "western" looking and I don't mean "western" in a good way. That tooled leather design of acorns and stuff I never quite figured out. A big gaudy brass buckle. Not nearly as cool as the Ranger Belt which looks great with anything casual. Hell, it looks great with a cheap beer. Not so much with a G & T. That's for next week.


Ben said...

Love beer. That is all.

ADG said...

tintin...now I'm wrapping this observation in respect my man, so don't get prickly. Do I see a hint of a belly just above that belt buckle? It's almost bathing suit time old sport. Better hit the gym.

M.Lane said...

Another great Friday post. I think gin and vodka are made with natural ingredients too...never helped me any.

An entire store devoted to beer...man does that tug at the Wisconsin heart strings...down here all we have are stores full of fireworks.


james at 10engines said...

just discovered the "friday belt" segment. brilliant. thx.

Tin-Tin's phred/dad said...

FINALLY, an honest-to-Pete man's belt! Something to hold up a man's trousers, as belts are intended to do. No sissy embroidered stuff. No gaudy brass or rodeo champ replica junk.
A quality "ranger" belt makes its own fashion statement. (As does my 1-and-a-half-inch wide black saddle leather belt with simple square metal buckle.) No dye used. Is a copy of a mid 1800's Federal military belt.
Someone commented on your waist line. Some time ago, I joined a health club. $400 and I never lost a pound. Didn't occur to me you had to actually go to the club.

brandon sargent said...

great find, bella vista beer is right around the corner and i cant believe i still havent been. now i will. thanks for the tip.


ADG said...

tintin...God's already getting me back for razzing you about your waistline. I wore a short sleeve knit shirt yesterday and LFG, my little 8 year old busted me about my "waistline extra". Karma.

tintin said...

Ben- Amen.

ADG- Yes, I know. Bacon and beer have taken their toll after a long winter but I'm so happy.

M Lane- Next time you're at Valley Forge forgo the gift shop and hit the Beer Store in Phoenixville. You'll probably want to move after that.

james @ 10 - Thanks. I'm pitching it to the Food Channel.

Dad, Humble words for a man who can still fit into his dress blues--from 1960.

Brandon- You must go. Tell Chris the Trad sent you and ask to see that old advert painted on the north wall.

ADG- I'm afraid my vintage Fred Perry shirts (made in UK) would require the wearing of the gulf foxtrot's spanks pulled up high.

ADG said...

gulf foxtrot's spanks pulled up high....

Coke just shot out my nose when I read this.

growler said...

I was introduced to Straub by my girlfriend's uncle, who lives in Pennsylvania. He told me you used to be able to get it only at the brewery. They sold sixes in plastic bags that had drawstrings, so you could set it in the river to get cold while you fished, and it wouldn't get wet. Also, the brewery tour featured a fountain that spewed beer so you could have as much as you wanted in your little glass.

BTW, this uncle of hers is a hunter/fisher/retired professor/thinker whose manner of dress would do nothing but earn your heartfelt approval.