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.