News of New Beer…For Our Area And Otherwise

•July 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

AleSmith-Standard-Logo-1Color-ReversedIf the recent development of Alpine Beer Company’s beers showing up on draft around Roanoke wasn’t enough, yet another very respected West Coast brewery is being introduced to the area as we speak, so far in the form of bottles showing up on store shelves.

San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing Company, producers of the acclaimed Speedway Stout, has entered into distribution for the area, and at least a few of their more year round ales should be available for sale in the next day or two.  The sumptuous Speedway Stout, a velvety smooth, rich and delicious Imperial coffee stout, leads off a list of beers for our area that includes their Anvil ESB, their year round IPA, and a few others.  I only recently tasted the Speedway, and for any big stout fan, it is simply a must try if you haven’t had it yet.  Most of AleSmith’s beers are available only in 22oz bottle format.

In more regional brewery news, two Williamsburg breweries have collaborated to produce a red rye IPA, in celebration of a growing craft scene in that area.  Williamsburg AleWerks and The Virginia Beer Company, a new brewery with plans to open later this year, collaborated to produce the beer, and will debut it at the city’s Whistle Belly Beer and Food Festival on August 2nd.  The beer will also be available at the AleWerks taproom on August the 6th.

Apparently, there is also a new double IPA in the works for AleWerks as well.  So far, a name only entry has shown up on a couple of beer websites, and a label design is available on the internet as well.  With just the name so far – Secret Admirer – (as well as style) to go by, it’s hard to know what to expect from the beer, but with the reputation the other brewery’s bigger IPA – Bitter Valentine – it’s worth getting excited about.

Summer of Sours: The Gose

•July 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment

wpid-20150709_153023.jpgWestbrook Brewing of Charleston, SC, is known for making several excellent beers.  Their Mexican Cake Imperial Stout is highly sought after throughout much of the country, their Citrus Ninja Exchange is a healthily respected IPA, and their barrel aged “Old Time” Belgian Dark Ale series and Bearded Farmer line up of Saisons are well thought of.  Even their One Claw, a more year round beer, is considered very tasty and highly crushable.  So a couple years ago, when a friend of mine announced his plan of beer acquisition for an upcoming visit to Westbrook included bringing back as much of one beer – one beer – as possible, his strategy seemed to be, at the least, a little short sighted.  Then, I found out which beer, and I had to question his state of mind.  My friend’s master plan was to bring back as much of their Gose as possible.  Their Gose.  An unassuming looking, slightly cloudy, sour wheat beer with roots in old world Germany.  At the time, it seemed a little like sitting down at the best steakhouse in town and intending to order the house salad.  Later that same summer, after having the good luck to finally get a taste of this deceptively simple beer, I thought of my friend’s one beer plan.  After one sip, it made perfect sense.

The latest old world style to enjoy a resurrection by this country’s craft breweries, the Gose (pronounced Gose-‘uh’) is a member of a family of sour wheat beers from Germany.  Think of it as a cousin of the Berliner Weisse.  Once spontaneously fermented and most likely highly sour, today’s examples are soured through various methods but it’s likely they are not nearly as tart as the old world versions.  The traditional addition of salt and coriander has survived though, and the cloudy, part wheat, part barley ale typically sports a pale yellowish, slightly orangy color that shines like the sun through the haze on a ninety degree day at the beach.  It’s what somehow makes the Gose look like a perfect warm weather beer, just as my friend knew those couple years ago.  But it’s their light, slightly lemony, citrus wheat beer taste, balanced out by the salt, make them surprisingly thirst quenching and a perfect match for any warm day.  For the record, you may also detect a light mineral like or white breadiness to them as well.  Also in their corner is their relatively low abv (usually in the 4 to 4.5% range), which makes them easy to put down when the sun is beating down on you from above.

wpid-20140825_175133.jpgAs far as examples go, not much makes it past Westbrook’s Gose.  If you can get it, it is an excellent example of an American, craft brewed version.  Other examples include California’s Anderson Valley Brewing “The Kimmie, The Yink, & The Holy Gose”, released in the last year or so.  Chicago’s Off Color Brewing makes a fine example with their “Troublesome” Gose as well.  Here locally, Parkway Brewing Company very recently released their “Gose Both Ways”.

Of course, American breweries weren’t going to stop at attempts to simply recreate their own versions of the Gose.  Additional ingredients designed to compliment the sour, salty nature of the Gose were bound to come.  Anderson Valley followed up their more standard version of the ale with their Blood Orange Gose, Boulevard Brewing released their tasty Hibiscus Gose (sea salt and hibiscus flowers) and earlier this year, Victory Brewing released their insanely easy to drink and delicious Kirsch Gose, using additions of cherries and cherry juice in the beer.

A few days ago, I returned from a trip to the beach.  Five days of sand, sun, and high eighty degree temps made for a perfect summer getaway.  On the first day there, with chair firmly planted in the sand, I opened the cooler to pull a Westbrook Gose out of the ice.  Needless to say, I thought of my friend’s plan – and how well I was following it this time around.

 

 

Beer Updates For Tonight’s Christmas In July at Blue 5 (7/17)

•July 17, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Dry Irish StoutAs if you needed another reason to attend Blue 5’s Christmas In July celebration of typically cooler weather beers, which is kicking off tonight (July 17th) at 5:00, here is just a bit of an update to those beers I listed a couple days ago that will be likely also making an appearance:

Stone WOOtstout 3.0 – The latest installment of the collaboration beer from Stone Brewing and friends.  This version of the immense Imperial Stout was once again brewed with cocoa, pecans, wheat and rye, with the twist that part of last year’s version was actually blended into this year’s.

Harviestoun Brewery Old Engine Oil English Porter – lives up to the name in appearance, is deliciously slick, with big roasty and coffee flavors and aromas.  If you’ve never had it, do not pass it up.

JW Lees 25th Anniversary Harvest Ale – English Barleywine.  Again, if you’ve never had any from this line of barleywines before, it will be an experience to savor.  Incredibly smooth and yes, fairly sweet, but you’ll easily forgive the beer for that due to its immense complexity and depth of flavors.

Hardywood Park’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Chocoate Raspberry Stout, made with “loads of chocolate malt, cocoa nibs, and late harvest” raspberries.

Here are the rest, including the ones I listed a couple days ago, in no particular order:  Hardywood Park’s Gingerbread Stout (aged), Foothills Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout, Ballast Point’s Sea Monster Imperial Stout, Rogue Brewing’s (2013) Double Chocolate Stout, Schlafly’s Chocolate Milk Stout and Christmas Ale, Avery’s The Beast (2013 version), Sunken City’s Barrel Aged John Henry’s Hammer Imperial Stout, New Holland Dragon’s Milk Bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout, and Southern Tier’s Warlock Imperial Stout brewed with Pumpkin.

Cheers to stout “season” in July!

Blue 5’s Annual Christmas In July – This Friday!

•July 15, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Blue 5 RestaurantStill deeply entrenched in my memory is a beer I had ten months ago, almost to the day.  Ten months.  Now, I’m not one to say that I usually favor one ‘style’ of beer over another.  And of course, I can appreciate any well crafted beer, and I enjoy a big stout as much as the next person.  But generally speaking, when I take a look what’s in the fridge most of the time, it’s pretty clear I’m mostly about IPAs, or lately, maybe sours.  But give me a couple minutes and I’ll tell you just how mind blowing that beer was that I had ten months ago.  And it was – most definitely – a stout.

Which is not too surprising, really.  Big, rich, boisterous stouts often hold the ability to linger on the palate and therefore in the memory, which is probably why Blue 5’s “Christmas In July” summer celebration of all things stout (and other dark beer) is arguably the downtown restaurant’s most popular event throughout the year.  As in past years, on tap will be several stouts, porters, or even holiday seasonal beers.  Just a few of the beers scheduled to make an appearance this time around will be Hardywood Park’s Gingerbread Stout, Rogue’s Double Chocolate Stout, and Foothills’ Sexual Chocolate.  Also available will be one of my own personal favorites, Ballast Point’s Sea Monster Imperial Stout.

A few of the beers that will be available have been put away for some time, as bigger stouts often age wonderfully.  According to the restaurant’s Facebook page for example, the Rogue Double Chocolate is from 2013, which brings me back to that particular beer from months ago.  It was a year old Bell’s Expedition Stout, which provided me with one of the best tasting experiences I’ve had to date – and easily one of the most memorable.

The event starts at 5:30 this Friday, July the 17th.

Summer of Sours: The Berliner Weisse

•June 19, 2015 • Leave a Comment

wpid-20150619_114739.jpg

After years of apartment living, my wife and I have a yard again.  Our own real yard, our own real grass, and even some nicely done landscaping which I admit we completely, totally inherited.  And best of all, there’s a real patio from which to gaze upon it all.

Of course, this real yard requires real mowing as well.  This is perfectly fine by me, because it makes for a bit of a workout and I enjoy doing it, although I’m not sure it’s as much about the exercise as it is the required post lawn mowing beer.  Now I’ll admit to some personal indecisiveness over the years when it comes down to my personal go-to beer style for the sweat through your shirt, warm weather, beach cooler, and now, post lawn mowing beer.  And if you’ve read this blog at all, you know that I’m not a big fan of the term ‘seasonal’.  But sometimes a particular kind of beer just fits the given situation like a glove.  For times such as these, I’ve tried IPAs, Ambers ales, Pilsners, and plenty of others.  Who knew, then, that for the first time that I tackled the yard, what really hit the spot was a Berliner Weisse style beer – a low abv, centuries old, sour wheat ale from Germany with (of course) with that typical cloudy, white pale, wheat beer like appearance to have inspired such beer names as Tropic Sneeze.

But when you truly taste a good example of one, the ability to quench my thirst makes plenty of sense.  For someone who’s never tried a Berliner Weisse, the common, easy fit description is that it tastes a bit like lemonade (without the sweetness) from its sour tartness and acidic nature.  And in many examples, the tartness can snap your head back a bit.  Nevertheless, these beers can be very refreshing, just like lemonade might be.

If you read this blog at all, you’ll probably know that I am a big fan of the beer blog Shut Up About Barclay Perkins, by beer historian Ronald Pattinson.  If you’re interested in where beer has come ‘from’ through the years, his posts are filled to the brim with great info, and more importantly than anything, he is a staunch believer in going to original sources for beer history.  I’ve read through several of his posts about Berliner Weisse, and along with some of my thoughts that are hopefully fairly accurate on the style, here are a few points I gathered up:

German Weissebier in its various forms as we have come to know them now has been made for centuries.  (So should you still think that sour wheat beers such as this are some sort of American made, craft beer madness, beers like the Berliner Weisse predated Pilsners.)  They are part of a small family of sour wheat ‘styles’ of mostly German heritage, which would include the Gose as well.

At different times during its history, Berliner Weisse was likely made with smoked malt, which continued up through the mid 19th century, before enjoying the same success other styles had in using a paler, “cleaner” tasting malt.  This may explain for some American craft brewers making the occasional sour wheat beer with smoked malt lately – Deschutes has a brewpub only smoked Gose, and Stillwater Artisanal recently released a collaboration beer called Smoke Signals, also a smoked/sour wheat beer.

Just how the bacteria that is responsible for the sour nature of Berliner Weisse got into the beer originally is still somewhat hazy.  But one of the texts quoted on the Barclay Perkins blog mentions the usage of an open – and wooden – cool ship type of container during brewing.  In that particular post, Pattinson wondered if this was the step in which bacteria made it into the beer to begin making it sour.  The manual addition of lactobacillus (bacteria that produces lactic acid) to sour the beer would come into being later, and is of course a common method used today.

There are quite a few other interesting points made in Pattinson’s research, of course.  They include that for a large portion of its history, Berliner Weissbier was delivered relatively young directly to pub owners for bottling and the fact that the beer can actually age quite well, which came as a complete surprise to me.  There are plenty of other points, and if you’re curious, I strongly urge you to check out some of the blog posts that I did.

I suppose that no post about Berliner Weisse would be complete without a mention of the traditional use of flavored syrups that some folks put in their beer to help cut their sourness.  The practice does continue today, with some brewpubs occasionally offering all sorts of fruit and herbal flavored syrups, and some inventive locations even make their own.  But when it comes to the Berliner Weisse style beers being made today by American craft breweries, these syrups seem to have given birth to the great numbers of Berliner Weisse style beers that are bottled today with all sorts of additional ingredients added to them.  Just one example would be Perennial’s good “Hopfentea”, a Berliner Weisse style beer “steeped on a tropical tea blend”.

Here is a breakdown of this often refreshing style, with “just the facts”, followed by a few examples of ones that you might be able to find:

The Berliner Weisse: A lemony tart and somewhat acidic beer, using wheat and barley malts, with a white/pale yellowish color, coming usually in at 4% abv or lower.

Perhaps my favorite go to example so far:

Evil Twin’s Nomader Weisse (can pictured above) – Only its somewhat limited availability and the typically higher than average, Evil Twin pricing would keep me from stocking the fridge with this all summer long.  There’s a near perfect level of lemony tartness and acidity on the tongue that this beer achieves without going completely overboard into face inside out sour territory, and then maintains all the way through drinking it.  Making it even more interesting was a slightly higher mouthfeel than expected.  For a style that sometimes gets slammed for being too one dimensional, Nomader Weisse has more than I’d expect going on, but not enough to detract from its primary tart qualities.

Champion Tart 2Other more mainstream examples are not difficult to find, but some of the easier ones to locate include The Bruery’s Hottenroth, Bell’s Oarsman, and Perennial’s Peach Berliner Weisse.  For a Virginia produced example, Charlottesville’s Champion Brewing is set to release their “Tart” Berliner Weisse in cans in the coming days and weeks.

Of course, any beer with the description “Berliner Weisse style” is certainly a very different creature from one made ages ago.  But we can thank those older examples for their current incarnations nonetheless.  And trust me, I’ll be keeping plenty of them in the fridge this summer, whether I’m working in the yard, or just sitting on the patio looking at it.

Revisiting The Shower Beer

•June 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Last summer, I wrote a blog post about a beer topic that is, and always will be, very near and dear to my heart.  I had wanted to write about this particular subject for some time, knowing that I had to ‘get it right’ – the words, the examples I used, the punctuation – in order to convey just my message with just the right amount of both fact and feel.  On a day in early June, something inspired me to do just that, and I admit being pretty happy with the results.  Never before had the words flowed so easily, as if they were travelling on a direct line from my soul.  I had finally found a way to properly write about…the shower beer.

I was pleasantly surprised then to hear that one of Virginia’s own breweries was making not just any good shower beer – but the shower beer.  First off, I keep asking myself why another brewery didn’t jump on this first.  A quick look on BeerAdvocate shows no such other beer exists.  But since I’m a pretty big fan of Charlottesville’s own Champion Brewing, I didn’t look much further.  Whether you want to admit it or not, there are plenty of folks out there who enjoy shower beers, so give much credit to Champion for actually making one.

On Friday, June 12th, Champion released their Shower Beer Pilsner – in cans, no less.  (It is being released at the brewery in Charlottesville first, but will be distributed throughout their normal footprint.)  So I thought I’d re-post last summer’s write up, an ode to one of the best beers out there, or rather, one of the best situations in which to enjoy a beer, while celebrating the Shower Beer itself:  a beer custom made for such a ‘situation’, as well as many others I’m sure.  Cheers, and plenty of suds to ya.

Champion Shower Beer Label Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just In Time For Summer:  A Clean Look At The Shower Beer“, originally posted 6/23/14:

It’s funny how one of life’s most practical routines – taking a shower – can become immensely more enjoyable under the right conditions.  Getting ready for work?  Unremarkable.  Just finished mowing the lawn in sweltering, eighty degree heat?  Nearly celebratory.  Preparing for bed?  Just a step in the process.   Coming back inside from a long day spent on the beach?  A perfect way to end a glorious summer day in the sun.  A shower with your better half?  Well, that’s a different blog topic altogether, for a different kind of blog I would think.

However, there is one particular “condition”, or in this case, specific activity, that can be added to most any shower (and which I can write about here) that can instantly take bathing from the banal to the blissful – the shower beer.  To this day, I can still remember my first experience.  It was a sweet addition to one of those very times listed above – a long, relaxing day on the beach – and though I can’t tell you exactly what beer I had, I do remember how purely satisfying it was.  Yes, I’m sure part of it was the fact that I was on summer vacation.  And true, there is nothing quite like washing off the remnants from the salt air after a wonderfully relaxing day on the sand.  So yes, it was a combination of all of the above.  But I’ll also I assure you, that to this day, that beer was one of the best I’ve ever had.  (Whatever it was.)

While I don’t recall from where, or from whom, I first heard of the “shower beer”, I do remember thinking some time later – incorrectly, I’ll add – that the idea seemed like one that might be restricted to a select few.  As if the shower beer was some urban myth quietly come to life, a closely guarded secret passed along only by rumor, and I was somehow one of the lucky ones who had somehow heard of it.  Little did I know just how many people do enjoy a shower beer from time to time until I ran across one particular Facebook post from Dogfish Head.  It merely said something along the lines of “who enjoys a good shower beer?”.  Figuring the thread would go on for maybe a couple dozen responses, it instead lasted a couple days.  It seems I was not alone in my suds upon suds enjoyment.

Several shower beers later, I now consider myself a bit of an expert on the topic.  Not that this is an area which requires much expertise.  There are, or course, a couple pieces of common sense which are obvious right away – it is a shower, there is soap, it can be slippery anyhow, and those enjoying shower beers are most likely naked…so no glass should be present…and things such as that.  (Yep, aren’t cans amazing?)  But consider that shower beers can actually be educational as well.  For example, I tend to pick beers for the shower that I usually allow to warm a bit anyway – pales, IPAs, for example – and the shower is a great way to expedite the process of warming up a beer.  After all, the beer is in there with you, so it will warm, unless taking ice cold showers are your thing.

For any shower beer newbies out there, I guess I might say that partaking in one is a bit like that age old idea of having a glass of wine while taking a bath, but for real people.  I mean, who does that?  Plus, it requires a lot less preparation than the imagined wine and bath experience, yet with all the relaxing, non-imaginary benefits that one might expect.  Simply put, there’s something that’s fun and wonderfully off key about the occasional beer in the shower.  In the end, it’s just a beer that when combined with the showers you look forward to the most – post lawn mowing, perhaps after a bad day at work – often becomes, regardless of style or the name on the label, one of the best beers you’ve ever tasted.

Cheers.

 

Tough To Swallow: Some Thoughts On Poor Beer Geek Behavior

•June 5, 2015 • 2 Comments

There’s something missing from my beer, and it’s not that great snap of fresh, citrusy hops.

It’s some common sense and decency.

For those who keep up with brewery releases of highly sought after beers, you are already well aware of what I’m talking about.  Or maybe you’re part of the reason I’m writing this, and it’s all lost on you.  And for those fortunate souls who aren’t in the know about what some folks will do to score some of the most highly acclaimed beers out there, possibly all you need to do is take a look at how some breweries are handling their release events for such beer.

Consider, for example, that some breweries are adding so many rules to their beer release events­­ in an effort to make them fair to everyone, they seem end up sounding like a statistical problem the folks at NASA couldn’t even begin to figure out.  And while it seems to be nearly impossible to please everyone who comes out for the beer, such changes seem to be aimed at those folks who drive hours in from other areas, other states, mostly to acquire as much of the beer in question as they can, only to often trade it away for other highly, similarly sought after beer, or even sell it to the highest bidder.

It isn’t that these kinds of beers don’t deserve seeking out.  There’s no problem in that.  But in my opinion, there is a problem in the behaviors some exhibit to acquire them.  Should you, for example, find yourself in one of those typically lengthy lines at a beer release, get ready to move back.  Simple line jumping is so commonly discussed in online beer forums during and post events that it is a given.  But that’s child’s play next to other tactics.  Hiring a small group of others (who might care less about the beer) to line up and help you acquire the largest quantity possible to haul back home is yet another commonality.  Some of the crazier stories involve the photocopying of admittance wrist bands, for example.

And heaven forbid should those who typically plan to hoard up as much of a particular beer as possible somehow not end up with it, or as much as they would’ve liked.  Recently, a certain South Carolina based brewery held the annual release of their much loved and highly traded Imperial Stout – but did it silently.  Without warning.  Without fanfare.  And without notice.  What would seem like an attempt to give as many of the locals a shot at buying some brought out, of course, the worst in others.  The ranting that ensued on the brewery’s Facebook page from those who would’ve otherwise planned an invasion of the brewery on release day from more distant locales – likely with car trunks emptied and ready to load up – went on and on for close to two hundred comments.  (In all fairness, some of those comments were in defense of the brewery’s silent release.  But it’s important to note these folks often characterized the latter group with photos of crying babies within the thread – an accurate visual description that anyone with a sense of reason at all would have to agree with, I think.)

True, it would seem that the breweries themselves don’t often seem to be experts at handling large crowds of whale seeking zombies, and have to learn on the fly from one event to the next.  And yes, it seems to be nearly impossible to please everyone who comes out for well attended beer releases. I also plainly realize that these are just a portion of the beer crazed folks out there, and plenty – the majority – of people are out there enjoying the beer for the often well crafted, incredibly interesting beverage that it is.  But the fact remains that there is plenty of poor consideration of others and immature behavior in the form of a wildly out of bounds sense of entitlement out there among some craft beer geeks.  And no matter how far I try to stay away from such things, it still has a way of simply taking some of the fun out of craft beer.  I simply wonder sometimes if we’re truly savoring it all – the beer, the scene, the experience of trying something new – any longer, at least for the right reasons.

In a counterpoint of sorts to all this, I thought I would throw out a list of four of the most memorable beers I’ve had to date, though defined not necessarily by the beer itself.  There have been plenty of others, but here are four right off the top of my head.  These beers include such rare and hard to find releases as Heavy Seas’ Loose Cannon and Wedge Brewing’s (Asheville) Pale Ale.  Not beers that are worth whale status, right – or even checking out?  Read on.

4. Heavy Seas Loose Cannon IPA, Blacksburg ‘Brewdo’ Festival, 2012. I had met the rep who was working the area for Heavy Seas a couple years before this festival, and he instantly came across as a completely genuine and friendly sort of guy. We exchanged a few emails occasionally, but then I ran across him at the smallish, mainly flagship based Brewdo festival in 2012. Over a couple of pours of Heavy Seas’ flagship IPA Loose Cannon, we had an unexpected but very welcome conversation about how each other’s lives were going, where they were heading, and even relationships, which was timely, at least for me. He lent an ear, when it was not expected. It was as if the talk was between two guys who saw each other weekly at the bar instead of two guys who really only saw each other at festivals, at best – a testament to not only how conversations can open up over good beer, but moreover, to this particular fellow’s easy going, disarmingly friendly nature. All in all, it might have only lasted twenty minutes or so, but I’ll never forget it. Thanks, man….and Cheers, as always.

3. Adroit Theory/Three Notch’d Bloody Roots Ale, 2014. Huddled tightly under a pop up to keep us out of an unwelcome rain storm, myself, my wife, and a couple friends had decided to camp out after a nearby beer festival that we had attended earlier in the day. Of course, not ones to let the spirit of the day die too quickly off, we also decided to have a mini bottle share that night at the campsite. By the light of the lone camping lantern sitting on the tiny table between us, we talked over some of the beer we had tasted at the festival, as we occasionally reached into our coolers throughout the evening to grab bottles we had to hold up to the light to truly see. The chilly air, the rain, the tight quarters – none of it could’ve mattered. It turned out to be one of those somewhat unexpected, great evenings with friends which was made more memorable by our deference to the dreary rain and the cool temps. Then it got even better. It was not lost on us that the fine folks from Adroit Theory, who had presented at the same festival we had attended, were, unbelievably, camping close by. And when they invited us over to sample their Bloody Roots collaboration beer late that night, a beer modeled after the drink of the same name – the night become even more memorable. How’s that for neighborly. Add in that the beer was a perfect solution to ward off that night’s chill to boot.

wpid-aviary_1421703821927.jpg2. Wedge Brewing’s Paynes Pale Ale, January 20, 2015. Having never visited Wedge before, my wife and I didn’t quite know what to expect. On an unseasonably mild January day, however, we shared a couple flights while taking in what we immediately could tell was a local’s favorite of a brewery, even in a town of about a dozen choices. Gathered around the picnic tables just outside the taproom were group after group of friends who I assumed took the weather’s hint and escaped their more rigid responsibilities of the day to share beers and conversation in the hazy mid afternoon sunshine, all complete with a lazy dog lying underneath nearly every other table. The whole scene was welcoming, incomparably laid back, and even though there was a line for flights and pints, not a single one of the folks in it even twitched to jump anyone else.

1. The Bruery’s Tart of Darkness, October 12, 2012. Sometime during the surprise bottle share that my wife had planned for my 40th birthday – reason enough to include it in this post – I stood behind the kitchen bar in our apartment, at a moment when I suddenly found myself not engaged in tasting, or talking, or pouring. It was a sweet snapshot, and I’ll likely never forget it. Each of my good friends who came to help celebrate were on the other side of the bar, happily and thoroughly engaged in some sort of storytelling with the other next to them, with plenty of interspersed laughter. And the beer? Some of the bottles which inspired those stories were likely not that easy to get, while others were probably easily found on store shelves. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was the company.

For those who might miss the point, I’d imagine you’d say you’ve never had to chase down any of these beers, and might not even imagine having them to begin with. I’d say that I guess you’re missing out then, though it may be time to question what exactly you’re missing out on.

 
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