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One of the Hardest Choices, Ever

15 Jan

A few things have happened since November. The biggest and the biggest sec. 2 are these:

1. I got a fantastic job. It’s creative, it’s challenging, it’s organized, it’s a small office with cool people and there’s even a beer nerd among us. It’s pretty much the best job aside from the irritating commute a whole three or four miles west that manages to take about 45 minutes on a good day (city living for you). Still, the good far outweighs the bad and it’s the first time I’ve been happy in my work since the brief window of early 2013 before I realized I was working for a horrible, abusive narcissist clothed in a generous person’s designer jacket.

2. I was proposed to, and I accepted. I am getting married in June and even typing that sentence, no matter how many times I do it, still somehow feels quite foreign. It’s not that I am one of those people who thought they’d never marry, I guess I just never thought about the possibility much at all. Perhaps it’s because I was dating the entirely wrong guys, but it wasn’t anything I put stock into with regards to my personal future. Now though, well, it’s very happening and it’s freaking awesome.

But there’s a problem. A big one. No, it’s not the caterer or the dress or the bridesmaids or a mother in law (who is excellent, btw). It’s this: I have to choose beer to serve at our reception. I know, I know.

We’re having it in a raw space where we hire out/bring in everything. Our caterer isn’t handling drinks for us aside from supplying the bartender (Illinois state law prohibits anyone unlicensed from doing it, whatever that means) so we have to do that ourselves. We’ve decided on one red (Pinot Noir? Cab Sav? sure) one white (Sav Blanc, Pinot Gris? whatever), one bubbles, a bottle of Malort because we’re in Chicago, a bottle of mead for the wedding party, and beer. Beer… three kinds of beer. Now here we have the serious quandary.


We went from Schlitz to High Life to Coors Banquet (which really is pretty good) and that’s about as far as I got. I say “I” because between us, I am the beer nerd and he knows it. Personally, I freaking love Ale Syndicate’s Sunday Session. It’s light, unfiltered, smooth, just…heavenly. It’s only slightly hoppy but very drinkable and low in alcohol (open bar, folks). It’s a no-brainer and it WILL be featured, hell or high water. But then we have the third beer. Now, I am the only person I know who drinks dark beers year round. I will also admit that black IPAs probably freak a lot of folks out – much like the bartender I spoke to last weekend who wrote off Stone’s Master of Disguise Imperial Golden Stout (WHAT?! I know, I know. You have to try it) because he, “couldn’t get [his] head around it”. What? Dude, your job is to think critically. That stuff is bananas and you’re wrong for walking away from it. I think most people feel that way about black ales, actually. Anyway, that leaves a lot open. I took it to my fellow beer nerds and many suggested Half Acre Daisy Cutter (last time I tried it, I gave it a meh) or Revolution’s Anti-Hero. Everyone loves hops. Everyone but me. Temperance, you need to bottle. If you did, there would be no other brewery there because everything you do is just fantastic. Alas.

Sunday Session is unfiltered so I don’t want a wheat. I personally don’t love reds or ambers and while the future Mr. likes pilsners, I am not into them. Now, I grant you, I probably won’t be drinking beer that day so I should not put too much stock in it, but the fact is that most everyone knows that I am the beer dork between us and that puts a certain pressure on me to rep. Rye IPA? Ok, that’s interesting. Stout? No Guinness. Porter? No one is going to want a delicious, thick porter on a June day (stupids), no sours, no lambics, and while interesting, probably no ciders. Well, maybe a few ciders but not enough to make up 30% of the beer list since people rarely drink more than a few in a session.

I have no idea what to provide. All we agreed on was to try to keep it local if possible and nothing too hoppy. So, my girl beer group is going to pitch in next month or the month after when we do a BYO and everyone brings at least one offering that gets their vote (while following the parameters above, regarding what we already have). I promise you, I have already spent more time on this post and in this conversation than I have about my dress, bridesmaids, colors, or the groom. This is serious business and I have no idea what to do.

Suggestions? Leave them here. I can use them and I’ll add them to our BYO. Help. Me.


Light, Dark and Fruity

6 Mar

So, I popped into my neighborhood fancy beer supplier yesterday on my day off and cruised the loose bottles. Adding a few to the list for future, I decided to stick with light and only light (in color, I mean). Pilsners, wheats, ales and I think maybe even a cider. Since I have three dark beers in reserve and my natural tendencies are usually towards porters and stouts, I decided to go Opposite George on you and test less familiar waters. I haven’t quite hopped (heh) into the serious IPA world but I’ll get there. I’m not someone who avoids things just because of a few bad experiences. I will not, however, be testing any canned craft beers. The ones I’ve had have picked up the can flavor and besides, I kind of resent them for a reason I can’t quite articulate. Maybe I’m just a traditionalist and prefer my beverages in bottles. Or maybe I’m full of unresearched crap. I stand by it!

Halfway through the first bottle I can already tell you that this is going to be a two-fer, if not three-fer. I normally like Breckenridge, especially the Vanilla Porter. ESPECIALLY the Vanilla Porter. Holy moly is it good. So good that I’m not even consuming right now and I’m going to speak on it. Its rich vanilla, smooth malty, smokey porter is so worth your time I can’t fully express. It’s everywhere on tap right now and while it’s been a fantastic way to get through this bizarro winter we’ve had, it’s not going to be as spectacular when the sun is freckling my shoulders and I’m back to wearing skirts all the time. In short, get it and love it while you can.

I fully, happily digressed. Now we come to tonight’s of-the-day and what it brings: Breckenridge’s Agave Wheat, 4.2% ABV, $2.99 single bottle price. Their explanation of this beer on their website says pretty much exactly what my tastebuds are saying: “Agave complements the refreshingly light quality of our wheat and adds a subtle note of flavor that expands this beer’s uplifting taste profile. It is familiar, yet creative.” Or better translated…. MEH. Seriously, meh. I can’t find a single interesting note about this beer and that bums me out. Aside from an average thick, wheaty characteristic, it winds up tasting more like anything else, an average lawnmower beer. I know, I know, me too. I totally expected something multi-faceted and dynamic considering how impressed I am with their Vanilla Porter but I’m plumb let down. Truth.

So here’s the thing. I can’t let a mediocre beer color either of our evenings so I’m going to crack another and we’ll start over. In fact, let’s get weird. Real weird. Blueberry stout weird. Yeah, I said it. I had my first blueberry beer a few months ago, a blueberry wheat. It wasn’t blue in color and it only had a few berry floaters in it to let you know up front what you’re getting into, but I am a little bit ashamed to admit how freaking good it was. Good in any season, good before or after (or without) any meal. So imagine my delight when I came across a blueberry stout. The best of both worlds! Dark Horse Brewing’s Tres Blueberry Stout, to be precise. It’s towards the bottom and doesn’t have much info, yet another woeful brewery’s website. What is UP with that? Far more common than they should be, I’m just sayin’.

  7.5% ABV, $2.35 single bottle price. The third in a group of five different stouts released each month starting November 2011 (oatmeal, cream, blueberry, smoked and imperial), this one is a sneaky fooler. It smells like blueberries, has a definite blueberry initial flavor but it fades really nicely into a proper stout. The ale I’d had was far more fruity than this one so the name is a bit of a fooler. It’s interesting, if not just a weird conversation piece. I recommend trying it, especially in this unique time of year where both stout and fruit beers are in season. Prost, friends!

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