September 24, 2012

The Thinnest of Threads

I've taken a small hiatus from the blog. I'll add it has been a painful separation. A combination of personal and outside commitments has hit me in the gut right now and the first thing to suffer is the format where my critical inner voice gets outwardly expressed.

Not to worry though. The future is bright and lengthy--and I still get to enjoy beer. It's a yardstick that we should all feel fortunate employing.

As we speak, I'm a Draught Works in Missoula Montana. I had a rather lengthy discussion with brewer Jeff Grant on the growing scene in the Bitterroot Valley. The laws in Montana are such that in the production environment, a brewery can only serve me 3 beers per day on their premises. The powerful bar and restaurant lobby have kept this archaic law on the books well past it's prime. It seems to only encourage drinking and driving (though if you are cautious and wise you can walk or bike to enough places in Missoula) and it seems to be at odds with the exploding beer community here.

Despite all of this, Jeff tells me, Draught Works is making a go of it selling all their beer across the bar. That's growler sales and 3 pints to each customer per day period. No packaged sales. No distributor. No jockeying for bar and restaurant handles. No endcap or shelf wars in the grocery stores.

The beers here are top-notch. We talk as he fills tiny tasters. The catalog is a mix of lagers, classic styles and a notable English Summer Session. I update Jeff on the goings on in the Phoenix Valley--how I feel that the future might be smaller places in the Fate Brewing / Mischief model that comes to us from Colorado Boy's Tom Hennesey. I can't help but look over his shoulder at the tanks and the rafters, the touch of brick. I feel as though I am looking at a scaled down version of Four Peaks. In a way, I am.

Jeff is an alumni of Four Peaks. Coincidently, on Saturday before my departure, I ran into Ted Golden of Four Peaks sporting a Draught Work trucker hat. When Jeff Grant leaves me to my beer and reading, I scan a post from Jeff Alworth's Beervana. He writes:

"I would argue that there is more to a beer than its sensory components and that knowing something about a beer can make it more enjoyable. Pleasure and enjoyment is made of a whole lot more than nerve endings, so why should we be suspicious of enjoying beer for reasons beyond what our senses tell us?"

Alworth goes on to discuss how the story of a beer can enhance our enjoyment and even touches on how the human brain is wired to intimately associate sensory to higher brain functions like memory. Oddly enough, we're on the same page but a step out of time.

All of these things together(the beer, the story, the conversation, the coincidence, the blog post) work, nay conspire, to make my 3 beer afternoon seem fleeting and yet outside of time.

September 5, 2012

The War on Thursday II | This Time It's Personal

Well, not really that personal. There are some fine events once again on Thursday (Sept 6) and though I am involved in one of them, I was not the one that planned it. I would have had it on Wednesday.

Let's start with the Hungry Monk tapping of the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp offering - ApriQuat. Publican's Jim Lolli of the Monk and (King) James Swann of Whole Foods Chandler were on the team that brewed ApriQuat along with members of the the famous Hamilton's Tavern in San Diego. If my mental notes are correct, James was the recipe writer. 

ApriQuat is a contraction of apricots and kumquats, two of the ingredients that comprise the 5.4% ABV, 31 IBU Citra hopped ale. It's been tapped in San Diego at Hamilton's but I've yet to see any tasting notes save this

My role is merely a bar tending hanger-on. I compete a Three Card Monte wherein you could be served by a President (me), a King (Swann) or a Jester (HopHead Fred).

Equally worthy of your Thursday time and dollars are the following events at Papago Brewing and Taste of Tops. The Jewbelation Quinceanera® at Papago Brewing brings friend of the blog, Zak Davis to the valley to deliver on a long promised one off conceived at Papago in 2009:
For Shmaltz's 15th anniversary, they should release a special tequila barrel-aged version of Jewbelation 15® and call it Jewbelation Quinceanera®. Well 3 years later (yes - a little late), he will be tapping one of just ten kegs of this super special brew in the place where it all began... Jewbelation Quinceanera® - a 15% ABV 15th Anniversary Strong Ale aged in Siembra Azul premium tequila barrels.
How this pairs with Leah Huss' Spinach and Artichoke dip (featured recently in the Arizona Republic) is anyone's guess right now. I will offer a free beer to the first person that writes 5 lines in the comment section on this pairing.

Finally, there is the Sour Soiree going on at Taste of Tops. If a picture is worth 1000 words then these words will be uttered through puckered lips!

Your best choice here? I'd have to say stick to your neighborhood and drive safely.