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.