As a veteran of Old Chicago’s World Beer Tour, Michael Cannon has tasted the world from a glass. His journey through 110 beers began with a Bud Light, a domestic beer from St. Louis, purchased soon after the restaurant’s opening in 2005, but Old Chicago’s beer menu — more than 130 brews deep — is diverse. Inspired, Cannon, whose experience with beer had been limited to domestic brews, ventured to finish the World Beer Tour. Such an achievement had added motivation: the placement of his name on The Famous Hall of Foam, special discounts, invitations to special events and mini-tours, and other rewards.
Cannon now boasts 44 tours. That’s 4,840 beers, which is roughly three each day since the restaurant opened. Cannon ditched his standby, Bud Light, for a new favorite: Smithwick’s Ale, an Irish bittersweet malt which he takes great pains to pronounce properly ever since an Irishman corrected him on a visit to Dublin. (Say it, “Smiddick’s.”)
But, not all of Cannon’s samples are hits. The Australian Sheaf Stout “was kind of like bloody motor oil,” he says. “That actually sounds tastier than the beer was.” Advocates of the Australian brew beg to differ. Evansvillian Dr. John Reid of Agape OB/GYN has completed 10 tours and thinks more highly of the stout, which advocates commend for bitter chocolate and roasted caramel sensations. Plus, it pairs well with lamb.
And that’s the idea of the World Beer Tour. It’s more than a way to win a free T-shirt. Over the past five years, Cannon has developed a diverse palate. He appreciates the lighter beers of China that often lack bitterness and bite. He enjoys brews mixed with seasonal ingredients such as pumpkin spice or berries. “It’s really amazing how creative the brewers can get,” says Cannon.
He convinced his wife of 21 years, Lisa, to join him on his journey. “She just kind of always stuck with the garden-variety stuff,” Cannon says. When she tried Stella Artois (a beer with roots dating to 1366), her opinion of beer changed. The moral of the story? “I think,” says Cannon, “you just have to give things a chance.”
To sign up or learn more about the World Beer Tour at Old Chicago (6550 E. Lloyd Expressway), visit www.oldchicago.com/evansville.