Monday, June 25, 2012

The Things That Make You Go Ahhhhh

As per a conversation tonight with my wonderful roommate, I've come to realize that there are but three liquids in life that make you stop, take that deep breath in, closing your eyes, tilting your head back ever so slightly, and make you utter "ahhhhhh".

One, of course, is coffee. You wake up in the morning to the coffee machine ringing, pour that first cup, breathe in the aroma, and take a sip of what feels like the warmest, most soothing thing you've ever done for your body.

The second is water. It's the source of all life, and there's nothing like downing a cold glass of water after running a quick 10k.

The third, as most of you can hopefully guess, is beer. The carbonated, hoppy, malty, cold, taste invigorates your entire body, and sends it swirling through bubbly ribbons of refreshment.  Tonight, my body was calling out for such a liquid, and I knew the Mill St. Organic in my fridge had my name all over it.

You know that feeling when you're exhausted, and all you can even fathom is opening up a beer and sitting down, in utter silence, drinking it, and enjoying the calmness in the lack of sound and movement around you? To do that, all you want is one of your favourite beers - one with that recognizable taste. One that, in any bar or pub, you can order, and they'll know what you're talking about.

That to me, is Mill St. Organic. When I want a recognizable, trustworthy, calming bev, and I'm in need of an "ahhhhhhh" moment, Mill St. Organic is what I order. Every time.

So tonight, I write an Ode to Mill St. Organic. It's been a long time coming, and I've enjoyed each and every step of the journey.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sierra Nevada-roo, Cheers To You

The one staple I know I'll always get in the States is my beloved Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

I was able to pick up a 12-pack for myself for our first night of the Tennessee trip in Nashville, and it started off the trip perfectly.

I knew Sierra Nevada was going to be at Bonnaroo from seeing a Twitter post, and when I finally got there and realized there was an entire craft beer tent, I knew I'd be spending a lot of time talking to the Sierra Nevada guys.

Beside a few awesome booths and I'll talk about in upcoming posts (Blue Moon, Schlafly) Sierra Nevada took their presence there one step higher than most other booths.

I visited at least once a day. One day, they had cool give-aways like branded water bottles and carabiners, the next they had different mustards that the brewery makes, using different Sierra Nevada beers, and on the last day they had some sort of beer 101 lessons! But the 101 sessions were taking place at the same time as the BEACH BOYS!! Sorry, but the Beach Boys were the reason I was in Tennessee to begin with.... although HOPS 101 did sound fantastic!

At one point the Sierra Nevada booth had .... wait for it... Cascade hops, sitting there for people to touch, smell, and enjoy being in the presence of. I've got to say, I was pretty stoked to finally see Cascade hops in real life!

Aside from the delicious Pale Ale, the Sierra Nevada Foam Pilsner was available at the booth.  Get this - they only brew this beer for PHISH concerts. Seriously. Have you ever seen Phish? They have a following of hundreds of people, who go to every one of their shows, and know of musical cues to due crazy things like throw THOUSANDS of glow-sticks in the are. And Phish apparently never plays their songs the same way live - ever. Wild.

It was really light in colour, 4.8%, and refreshing to say the least on a 40 degree Celsius day.

All in all, Sierra Nevada did a great job at Bonnaroo. I even spoke to one of the reps for a good 15 minutes about hops, and how they have to dry their Southern Hemisphere hops before flying them over from New Zealand because they could explode if they're wet. That's kinda cool.

I'm am really dying to to try Northern Hemisphere Harvest.I know I'll like it because it uses Cascade and Centennial hops.

So what did we all learn from this post?

Hops can explode.
Don't store wet hops near your face.

Thanks Sierra Nevada!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Beautiful Brooklyn Brewery at Bonnaroo 2012

My first up close and personal interaction with Brooklyn Brewery came on June 7th, 2012, in Manchester, Tennessee, USA, and boy am I glad I can remember it.

There it was, a backyard rink sized tent, right in front of me amidst almost a hundred thousand other people, and it was actually quite sparse... Both shade and a lack of crowds at Bonnaroo 2012? Yes ma'am, I thought, as I headed in.

...Little did I know what it was.

Twenty to thirty craft beer vendors, all closely positioned behind their sections, away from the 45 degree Celsius heat. All were ready to serve me beautiful, thirst quenching, and more notably for me - usually unobtainable American craft beer.

Then I spotted it - Brooklyn Brewery.

Visions of Brooklyn Lager danced through my heat-stroke affected head as I walked over to the booth. I knew I'd be seeing much more of it in the coming days.

..And there she was - Brooklyn Summer Ale. My very first Brooklyn Ale.
After being slightly deterred upon figuring out I had to buy beer tickets to then come back and get any actual beer, there she was again - Brooklyn Summer Ale - at first, in a sampler cup, and after one sip, in a 12oz'er.

Now at this point I knew I'd be spending a significant amount of time and money in this cool-guy tent, so I did something smart: I pulled out my phone and wrote down my thoughts on the ale. This is what I wrote:

"It's like sweet summer in a plastic cup. Light, crisp, pale, oak-y; much like what summer itself would actually taste like."

Drinking Brooklyn Brewery's Summer Ale was like getting softly whooshed onto a bed of palm leaves by a warm, summer's day breeze, with only the sand on the shore, leaves beneath you, and coast straight ahead.

As I was taken to that place in my head, drinking my Summer Ale, I had actually sauntered back to my friends who were laying in the grass underneath what could only be described as giant bobble-head Einstein's (see photo).

June 8th was also a good time at the Brooklyn booth.

I drank a few more Summer Ale's, learning that Cascade hops were in this beautiful 5% Pale Ale, and met Brooklyn's Brand Manager, Ben Morrissey, who was nothing but awesome. That frisbee you see in this post's first photo? Yea, thanks dude - and thanks for the walk by t-shirt! It came in handy. Alas, I'm truly sad to say the frisbee that I had planned on nailing to my wall at home lost itself in the crowds. I even had the perfect spot for it picked out.

June 10th had me back at the Brooklyn Booth, and ready to try Brooklyn Gold Standard Export Kellerbier. The Summer Ale was all out, and after a slight hesitation knowing that I'm often not too crazy about pilsners, and it being described to me as one, I couldn't say no to an unfiltered lager that's only available between May and July!

My notes on this 2012 brewmaster's reserve, you ask?  "It's not as heavy as every other robust-labelled beer I've ever had. Super clear and light tasting. It's what I would like to be my new smooth, but heavily carbonated session beer."  Realizing later that the Gold Standard is 6.2%, I don't think I'll be making it my session beer any time soon, but IT WAS SO LIGHT IN COLOUR! 6.2%!

I really... really liked it.
So there's me, day 4 of Bonnaroo, drinking my very first Brookyn Brewery Gold Standard Export Kellerbier. What a taste trip.

Thanks again to Ben and the whole Brooklyn crew out there making Brooklyn Brewery fans happy way down in Tennessee for those few days - happiness was achieved.

For reference, this isn't the first time I've had anything from Brooklyn Brewery. I love their Lager so much, that three months ago I wrote a few poems for it...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Honk If You Like The Best Things In Life

Goose Island is by far one of my favourite breweries, and this mere six pack was all I was able to bring back from my recent trip to the States.

Five friends and I drove down to Tennessee, and on the way back, we stopped at a gas station that had this: Goose Island's Honker's Ale. A burst of joy grew within me, knowing that the 16h trip back was not for naught.

This has to be one of my favourite types of beer. A caramel, creamy-but-crisp amber... It's what I would think Big Wheel's big brother would be like.

...It truly is the colour of a golden sunset.

This unpasteurized, English-style bitter is but 4.2%, and my wonderful six were bottled on April 4th. Being two and a half months after the bottling date, I'm well within the 180 day best before period, and "best" is a word that is ever ringing out in my head as I sip. I chose a wine glass because I've been on a beer from a wine glass kick lately. I bet it would taste great from an amphora...

This post, with a Chicago connection (Goose Island is a Chicago based brewery for those wondering), is all but too fitting for my first post back from my concussion & travel hiatus.  Thank you Goose Island. Thank you for being available in that gas station we ended up at after taking a wrong turn near Memphis. Thank you for creating Honker's Ale - the 30 IBU beer that combines the perfect malts into a desirably rich, golden, prize.