Honestly, I don’t remember how I acquired the beer. But with ease, I remember its aroma, how it tasted, its body, and the setting in which my wife and I shared Deschutes’ XXV Anniversary Black Butte Imperial Porter on one chilly night in September, 2013. If you’re deeply entrenched in good beer like I am, you know it often goes just like this. The truly outstanding ones, you remember all of it – when you had it, where you were, who you were with, and, as you might have noticed, possibly even how the weather was outside at the time – you recall nearly every detail. The taste, the aroma – it all creates a distinct, fond memory, but with this particular beer came one additional detail which, when I look back on things, might have been the most important: how that particular beer would affect my beer choices going forward.
Important to understand is that while I don’t remember exactly how I came across it, I do remember that it was one of the first beers I went out of my way to get. With no distribution to Roanoke, and with the Black Butte anniversary beer being a somewhat limited release, I couldn’t just pick up a bottle at my local craft beer store. And although I would never pigeonhole myself into favoring one style over another, I admit that if I were faced, heaven forbid, with a one final beer-before-you-die question and it came down to some world class porter/stout or a more typical hop forward beer – yes, I’d probably pick the latter. But after having it, the Black Butte XXV was, of course, enough to make me rethink that kind of decision. So needless to say, it was definitely worth acquiring – so much so, that other beers of its kind would be too.
And in that fact lies what might have been most important about tasting the Deschutes Anniversary beer that evening more than two years ago. If I had a curiosity for other, well made beers that were perhaps outside of my local availability, this beer poured gasoline on the fire. It goes without saying that this isn’t to knock any product at all that has been or is currently available on the shelf at my local craft beer stores. It is to say that this particular Deschutes beer was a stepping stone of sorts to seek out beers being created in other cities, or even in other states. And while we may not have put the kind of mileage on the car that some I know have, traveling to the west coast or even to such northeastern havens for craft beer such as Vermont, but we have tallied up plenty of miles attending beer festivals, release events, and breweries not necessarily within easy driving distance, and of course, it’s all been more than worth it.
And so this is how it goes with good beer. One outstanding example inspires you to seek out another, or maybe even the selection from an entire brewery. An out of this world imperial stout or porter whets your appetite for trying more of the same style, and in turn those may take you off in some different direction as well. Put simply, good beer begets good beer for the curious beer drinker.
I also can’t help but think about how that beer which I tasted some two years ago and caused such inspiration for myself is crafted by the same brewery my city is currently courting for its east coast expansion project. Begun just over a month ago, the Deschutes 2 Roanoke Facebook page has over five thousand followers and continues to grab the attention of the Oregon based brewery, with media outlets both here in Roanoke and in Bend, home of the brewery, reporting on the growing interest. Should Roanoke land the project, I also can’t help but think of how other craft beer curious folks in the region might seek out Deschutes and in turn, have it inspire them to reach out to other breweries and beers, both here in Roanoke and elsewhere.
For myself, I can’t help to think of how that one particular path to good beer would’ve truly come full circle.