10 beers.

There is a fairly interesting/annoying (aren’t they all?) chain status post rolling around Facebook asking people to list the 10 books that have had some sort of influence or left a lasting impression on their lives. If for no other reason, it’s a good way to add to your reading list. But you know what’s more interesting than books? Nothing. But do you know what is a close second? Beer!

A buddy of mine tagged me on a twist to this meme: the 10 beers that have left a lingering flavor, and I thought it would be a fun post. These may not be my favorite beers (but some are), or even very good beers (most are), but they always bring me back to a specific time and place in my life. Some have even resulted in my life spinning off in an entirely different direction.

So, the 10 beers that have stayed with me in some way, in rough chronological order, are:

#1

The beer: Odell 90 Shilling

On the list because: It was my gateway

The story: I grew up in a valley between the foothills and the plains in South Denver. For a long time, all I remember being in my house for alcohol was either Coors or boxed white wine. Then, through some miracle, my parents discovered Odell (or Odell’s as it was called back then). Weekend after weekend my parents would make the almost 2-hour-each-way trek from our little burg to Fort Collins to fill their (clear, unmarked) growler of the dark amber liquid called 90 Shilling. Even when I was eight, I knew that this was something special. This was different than Coors. This was different than boxed wine kept in its special little cupboard (yes, warm). I actually didn’t make the connection that Coors and 90 Shilling were even in the same category of drink until high school. My dad loved it so much, his friends got him a half BBL keg of 90 Shilling for his 45th birthday celebration. 90 Shilling is still a solid choice when I visit a bar and they don’t have a solid selection. And it will always be my gateway craft. Not too shabby of a start, really.

#2

The beer: Guinness Stout

On the list because: A rule breaking, a great day, and an epic night

The story: My history with Guinness goes back to high school. On my senior trip to the UK and Ireland with my AP English class, I spent a couple of days with my sister’s now in-laws. They are, probably, the sweetest people on the planet. I was ill with the flu, so they gave me medicine and took care of me. They also took me around Dublin and took me out to a very fancy restaurant (yes, there are fancy restaurants in Ireland). Before my trip, my (now) brother-in-law told me how to ask for a Guinness in Irish. I told his father, and Paddy was delighted (yes, his name is really Paddy. I am not making any of this up). I did say, however, that it was against the rules for me to drink on the trip, so Paddy only ordered me a half pint. It was like drinking coffee mixed with motor oil. I hated it. But considering all of my classmates thought I was the person narcking them out when they went clubbing (hint: it wasn’t me) and were trying to make my trip miserable, it felt pretty damn good to break the rules.

A few years later, I returned to Dublin with my parents. While there, my dad at I visited the Guinness Brewery (or The Brewery). It was a flashy, commercialized tour without any personal touch, but it was educational if not fascinating. As a bonus, it was great to spend the day alone with my dad (which is a very rare thing) and to enjoy a beer, poured properly, at the place where it’s produced. It was just about as perfect as a day can get.

Finally, when my sister’s eldest was Christened, my parents and I went back to Ireland. Christenings, like most formal events in Ireland, usually end up at the pub. As we all did that night. It was about as stereotypically Irish as you can get: a group of lads sitting around telling stories and singing songs, everyone drinking Guinness, a Southwestern restaurant attached to the bar (wait… what?), deep conversations about sentence structure and symantics (huh?), my mom telling me that I should just stay in a much older friend’s room (yikes), and my mother drinking 17 Guinnesses (Guinni?) and me close behind her with 15. Now, when you have three adults sharing one hotel room after drinking that much Guinness, a fun night quickly turns into a disturbing morning. But nothing could ruin how awesome that party was. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is like a post-Christening party in Ireland.

And my mom and I are now legends. I’m pretty sure we will never pay for another pint in Ireland.

#3

The beer: Le Fruit Defendu (Verboden Vrucht)

On the list because: I had to pick just one of the beers I drank in Belgium

The story: When you fly from Denver to Brussels, you leave at 10:30am and arrive at 7:30am. And when you are flying coach, it can be absolutely brutal. When I landed in Belgium for the first time to visit my parents on their amazing overseas adventure, I was one whupped puppy.

One whupped puppy in the Delirium Cafe.

One whupped puppy in the Delirium Cafe.

But, of course, you’re not allowed to sleep because then the world will be eaten by Chuthlu or something. So, my parents promptly took my vacant shell to the Grand Place (Grawn Plaws) and stuck a waffle in one hand and a beer in the other. I believe the beer was Leffe Blonde and the waffle was made out of the ground up remains of pixies. Regardless, it was amazing. For the remainder of my month there, my mom and I would visit the supermarket every 2-3 days and grab two beers of 10-12 varieties (as well as the proper glassware, of course) and take them home. We would also try new beers when we went out (I remember eating at one Mediterranean restaurant that only had Jupiler in the can and didn’t have the glassware. It was scandalous).

My two visits to Belgium, despite being distracted by the beautiful countryside, culture, food, and potatoes, was defined by beer. It was because of that trip to Belgium that I fell, unwittingly, in love with beer. And, it was because of that trip, that I landed the job at Flying Dog Brewery, which really started me on this whole crazy (downward?) spiral. I chose Le Fruit Defendu, out of all of the other beers I had that trip, because it was one of the only beers I had again and again. I loved the glass with a tiny, naked Adam and Eve on it and the twisted stem, but the complexity of the beer: spicy, sweet, fruity, deep was what really had me enthralled. Whenever I look at my glassware collection, it is that glass I hold most dear.

#4

The beer: Flying Dog Barrel-Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter on Brett

On the list because: It completely changed my palate

The story: Speaking of Flying Dog… There are so many stories I could tell about the beers I drank, the people I met, and the crazy experiences I had during my time at Flying Dog, but none was so profound nor life-altering as my experience with Gonzo, aged in Stranahan’s barrels, with Brettonomyces yeast. This was back when I knew I liked beer, I could tell the difference between major styles, but I didn’t know much about the subtleties and intricacies of beer. I knew I liked Gonzo, and I knew I liked Stranahan’s, so I figured I’d like a marriage of the two. When they popped the bung on this beer, you could smell it throughout the brewery. It was funky and weird and sour and like nothing I had ever smelled. I had briefly flirted with a couple of Flanders Reds when in Belgium, but none of them came close to this. When my boss had me take a drink, it was like a Sour Patch Kid had sex with a vanilla bean on a horse blanket. It was horrifying and intriguing and absolutely impossible to stop drinking. I think I consumed at least half of the barrel. Now, eight years later, I still adore sour and funky beers more than almost any other style for their complexity and perplexity.

#5

The beer: Pabst Blue Ribbon

On the list because: We were so, so broke

The story: There was a stretch of time in 2007 that neither Josh nor I was gainfully employed. Although we were making it rain resumes, we were getting a whole lot of nowhere. Of course, when you don’t have any money, you can’t afford good beer. So, after depleting our supply of Flying Dog beers, we were forced to turn to PBR. Our local liquor store sold 30-packs for cheap enough that we could get one a week and drink on that. The downsides were that PBR tastes slightly like pee and it has the magical ability to have the blasting power of 10 cans of beans. The upside was that at least we had beer. Even now the Bearded One will proclaim that PBR is the only shlocky beer he likes. I will attest to no such thing. I still get the farts just thinking about it.

#6

The beer: Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale Ale

On the list because: It introduced me to California beer

The story: After regaining employment, we were so in debt that we still didn’t have a lot of disposable income. Luckily, around that time, our local liquor store started carrying Ballast Point for $5.99 a six pack. Not nearly as cheap as PBR, but a hell of a lot better. We bought 90% of the Ballast Point the liquor store brought in. The one we liked the best was the Yellowtail Pale Ale. It was more of a hoppy blonde than a pale ale, but it was just so drinkable. Soon the Bearded One introduced me to Port and Stone and Anderson Valley, and my love for California beers grew. In 2010, we drove out to San Diego for San Diego Beer Week and, sure enough, Ballast Point was our favorite brewery we visited. Too bad more cities don’t have a beer week like San Diego (ehem: Denver). Even the year we went, which was just prior to the craft beer explosion there, we had 650 events over 10 days to choose from. That is how you do a beer week.

Reflecting on beer at Ballast Point.

Reflecting on beer at Ballast Point.

#7

The beer: Twisted Pine Billy’s Chilis

On the list because: It defined a year of our lives

The story: One rainy spring Sunday, Beardy and I decided to go up to Boulder and try some Boulder breweries that we had never before visited. Boulder Beer was closed, and Crystal Springs didn’t yet have a tasting room, so we stopped by Walnut, Mountain Sun, and, despite having a pre-conceived notion of mediocrity, made our way to Twisted Pine. What we found there were some of the nicest servers in the industry, a great atmosphere, and beers we genuinely enjoyed. So, the next Sunday, we decided that we would go back again. And the Sunday after that. And the Sunday after that. Every week we would order two pitchers (not at once) of Billy’s Chilis and sit and watch skateboarding or snowboarding or football while grabbing a bite to eat and chatting with our new friends. One time we visited on a Thursday, and when we walked in and Jayson, the bartender, was already pouring us a pitcher of Billy’s, another patron said, “so you are the couple that drinks all the chili beer.” Legends, we were. We loved it so much there that I even brought my mom there for Mother’s Day (sorry, Mom). After about a year we stopped going to Twisted Pine as it was an hour drive each way and we needed to save some money, but we still stop by occasionally to quench our thirst for chili beer and reminisce about the good ol’ days when we were locals at a brewery 50 miles from our house.

#8

The beer: Brewery Rickoli’s Single Hop 5256

On the list because: It changed how I understood hops

The story: For about a year, the Bearded Brewer and I worked at Brewery Rickoli. It was an amazing 12 months, and one that saw the Bearded One start to live his dream and really flourish. During that time I drank so many amazing beers, as Rick is a truly amazing brewer. But one stuck out, not just because it tasted good, but because it changed everything I thought I knew about hops. Rickoli’s came out with a flight of four single-hop pale ales for tasting during Colorado Craft Beer Week. It was the same base with just a different hop. The goal was to find the hop that customers enjoyed most and pick a name for the resultant beer. Of the four beers, there were two with hops that were absolutely different than anything I had ever had before: 6300, which had a distinct dill flavor, and 5256, which smelled and tasted of black currant. When I was studying in London, my drink of choice was Strongbow with black currant liquour. I love the tart, dank, only very slightly sweet taste of black currant and to find it in a hop was delightful. After trying that beer (trying it so much I drank ~2 gallons before it was gone), I started doing more research on hops and what causes all of the different flavors and aromas and how to best coax them out. That research was invaluable as I went for my Cicerone certification, and is part of the reason that I did so well.

#9

The beer: Westvleteren 12 (Westy 12)

On the list because: It lived up to expectations

The story: If you haven’t heard of Westy 12, stop reading now and go read about. Seriously. Just go to Rate Beer or Beer Advocate or any of the other 1000 beer websites and look up Westy 12. Now, there is a lot of hype about a lot of beers that may or may not be 100% valid (I’m looking at you Pliny the Younger), but, as we all know, beer is a very subjective thing. Rarely, there is a consensus that a certain beer is pretty damned great. Westy 12 is one of those beers. Yes, it has been mythologized because of the difficulty in obtaining it (only by reservation, only at the monastery). Yes, many of those who claim to adore this beer have never even tasted it. However, for those few of us lucky enough to have supped of these suds, it is a near-religious experience. But my story of how I was able to taste it was pretty sweet as well.

Last spring, when Pliny the Younger made its yearly rounds, we thought we would stake out a spot in line at Hops & Pie to get a taste. When we arrived, four hours before tapping, there was already a line of ~10 people and it was 14 degrees out. We sat in the car for a little bit and decided that, while we really wanted to try the beer, it wasn’t worth the frostbite. To drown our sorrows at our own wussiness, we visited a couple of local breweries, including TRVE. At TRVE we met a lovely guy who works at World of Beer in Glendale (east Denver). We told him that we missed out on the Pliny tapping due to an aversion to frostbite, and he mentioned that they were tapping Younger at WOB the following week and gave us all of the details. Score! I then casually mentioned that, while I was excited to taste Younger, it was nothing like my desire to try Westy 12. His response: “well, I’ll bring one of my bottles down for you to try, then.” Wait… what!? So, that next week, I sat at the bar at WOB and had two of the highest ranked beers in the world in my hands at the time.

While I liked Pliny the Younger, Westy 12 absolutely blew me away. It was like someone had taken my mom’s very buttery cinnamon sugar toast and turned it into a beer. It was all bread crusts and sugar and toast and perfection. Sometimes beers disappoint. Sometimes they meet your expectations. And sometimes they nuke anything you thought might be true and replace it with magic. Pure, unadulterated magic.

Pure, unadulterated bliss.

Pure, unadulterated bliss.

#10

The beer: West Hose IPA

On this list because: It is the first beer I ever helped homebrew

The story: The Bearded One’s boss managed to get his hands on a large amount of fresh Cascade hops, and since they couldn’t be utilized at the brewery, we decided to brew a double-IPA with them. We used a Blickmann kettle and a giant cooler-tun. It took about seven hours, all told, and was an absolute blast. I cannot wait to get our keggle system up and running (we finally got the extra kegs we needed!) and we will be homebrewing like maniacs. Now if I could just afford some nice conical fermenters. The beer will be ready in another 9 days or so, and I am in absolute bits waiting to try it.

First hop addition, Wet Hose IPA.

First hop addition, Wet Hose IPA.

There are so many more beers I want to put on this list: Dom Kolsch, Flying Dog Road Dog, Port Brewing High Tide IPA, Pisgah Breakfast Stout, Stone Sublimely Self Righteous, Yuengling, Flying Dog Horn Dog, Green Man ESB, Sweetwater IPA, Odell St Lupulin, New Belgium Le Terrior, Steamworks Steam Engine Lager, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Rogue Hazelnut Brown, Brewery Rickoli Elke’s Brown Ale, Samuel Adams Oktoberfest, Blackstone Chocolate Milk Stout, Lefthand Milk Stout, Paradox Skully #1…

Beer is more than a beverage. It is a part of a memory. Drinking a beer can bring you back to a time and place like few other things. And, being that beer is an excellent social lubricant, those memories tend to be pretty great.

What are the beers that you most remember? Is it because they bring back a memory? Because it’s your favorite beer? Because it was so rare?

Go out. Drink some beer. Make some memories.

Cheers.

autumn.

I am ready for crisp days and cold nights.
For crackling fires and musty books.
For food full of earth and cream and spice.
For beer that smells of leaves shuffled underfoot.
For leaves shuffled underfoot.
For high-pitched calls driven by instinct and desire.
For the crash and clash of sparring brothers.
For the yellows oranges reds that are so intense as to feel supernatural.
For blue skies a color that is not to be believed.
For the soothing sound of rain.
For the distant smell of snow.
For cozy rainbow wool slippers.
For a the chunky sweather that still smells slightly of sheep.
For pumpkins and candy and little kids pretending to be terrifying.
For football.
For the reminder that, even in death, life is beautiful.
For the epiphany that, especially in death, life can be beautiful.
For mushrooms replacing grass in all their alienness.
For the chattering quake of golden aspen leaves sharing their mesmerizing secrets.
For the lengthing of shadows.
For September and October.
For autumn.
For the fall.
For today.

beautiful day in the [bier]garden.

I’m sitting here, sharing a table with a homebrewer and a man from Yorkshire, in the biergarden at Golden City Brewery. Their discussions thus far:

- Which local breweries have worse beer than his homebrews (most of them)
– Virtues of experimenting with brewing (if it’s shite, you can just toss it)
– American vs British beer (USA! USA!)
– Beer vs lager (or fat guys vs fit guys)
– Best cycling recovery beer (agreement to do further study)

Now they are trying to figure out the best Golden-area vantage point from which to watch the USA Pro Challenge cycling race. So, I’ve tuned out a bit…

Other than my tablemates, I’ve decided that Golden either has an obscene concentration of attractive, in shape people, or all the beautiful people in Golden gather here. Or both.

I’m not used to being ony own at breweries. Or breweries with a bar. I’m attempting to channel my father, who is a professional people-watcher. But I kind of feel like a creeper.

As I said this weekend: never go full creeper.

It’s good, though, to have some time in my own brain, but not all by myself (yes, I totally sang that in my head).

And as I write that, the Bearded Brewer pokes his head out of the brewhouse like some boozy Puxatawny Phil and calls me back. Time to go.

Have a great Tuesday. After all, at least it’s not Monday.

Cheers.

weekend wanderlust august 8th.

Feeling a bit under the weather today after eating some suspicious spicy red hots (the meat, not the candy) last night, but still managed to get some housework done and I actually remembered to write today’s post!

I also want to wish one of the craziest beer geeks I know a happy birthday. The Jockey (or, in his winter form, Honest Abe) is loud, obnoxious, and knows a good beer when he sees one. He’s good people.

This is one of the (blessedly) slower summer weekends when it comes to festivals in Colorado, and without any brewery openings, I plan on doing some non-beer-related stuff. So that means you’ll need to make up for my slacking!

Trouble I am getting into this weekend

August 9th

I believe the Bearded Brewer (who has requested that we find a new name for him as this one is WAY too generic considering the industry, expect a poll at a later date) will be up camping in the High Country with friends. I have opted out of this activity for my sanity, so I will be flying solo on Saturday. As a result, I have no flippin’ clue what I will be doing. Housework? Watching TV in my pajamas? Visiting some Front Range breweries?

Clearly, I am open to suggestions.

August 10th

Fermentation Fest! This is one of our favorite festivals of the year as it combines breweries with a slew of fermented foods from sauerkraut to cheese. My favorite goody last year was sauerkraut juice (yep!) which was so fantastically good that I’m pretty sure I’m still partially pickled. Watch their video from last year and you may spot a familiar face or two…

Other things going on that sound fun as crap

Chain Reaction Brewing is having yoga and beer on Sunday morning from 10:45am-11:45am. $15 gets you the class and a pint. Now, beer and yoga is a traditional combination here in Colorado, so if you are so inclined, I highly recommend hitting them up. If only more breweries would recognize that beer drinkers don’t always want to get up by 9am on a sleep-in day, like Chain Reaction has. If you’re interested, email zack@chainreactionbrewing.com to reserve your spot.

Winter Park Beer Fest. Honestly, this was in the running for Saturday, but I would hate to go solo (it’s just not as much fun). 30 breweries, music, and you get to escape from the city heat. Unfortunately, it’s out on the asphalt (note to festival organizers: parking lot fests suck hop resin), but it still looks like a good time.

Go forth and wander!

sucky sucky suck suck.

Today at the Day Job was a veritable nightmare. When your customer base numbers in the hundreds of thousands, even a small thing going wrong can be a nightmare. When your entire system goes down on the busiest day of the year – that’s Armageddon. Firey, explosive, putrid Armageddon. But, the upside is, tomorrow is likely to be much, much worse (until I get to go to Guardians of the Galaxy at the Alamo with my friends – at which point it had better be the best damn day ever!)

But enough about that. The Day Job has nothing to do with beer, and we are here for the beer, amirite!?

I know that I have been a massive slacker in posting. Not only have I missed two subsequent weeks of “Weekend Wanderlust”, but I have not done my write-up of Brewer’s Brewers’ Brewers Rendezvous nor of our trip around the state in celebration of me seemingly having survived yet another year. I suck. I’m sorry. I’ve been a bad blogger. I could blame it on so many things: Day Job stress, difficulty blogging from my HTC One, too much beer, pant squirrel racing addiction, Pinterest, closing on the house, Facebook, general suckiness, all of the above. But that’s only part of the story. The truth is, I’m lazy. I am one of those people who is honestly and truly lazy. You would never guess it by my unquenchable desire to travel and experience everything good and weird and tasty in life, but I am just a sloth hidden in chubby ladieswear.

I also noticed that a disproportionate number of my posts are about me writing posts. To which you might respond “How meta!” or “Please stop you boring, boring wench.” To which I might respond “You’re a tool!” or “You, sir/ma’am, could not be more correct!” And thus, my self hatred is enhanced ever-so-slightly more.

But still, I have so many stories to tell. So much to share. I just need to get my shit together and do it. Therefore, please watch for the following posts by the end of the month:

  • Weekend Wanderlust August 8, 15, 22
  • Brewers Rendezvous Recap or Why Too Tall Has Taken Honors More Times Than Anyone
  • Birthday Weekend Rambling
  • Steinley Cup (and why you need to be attending)

See!? See!? That’s six whole posts before the end of August. If the Day Job doesn’t kill me. Which it still might.

All I know is that I’m ready for a beer and a walk and more beer and possibly eating a hamburger with bacon, a fried egg, and two grilled cheese sandwiches for a bun. But mostly beer.

Here’s to surviving.

weekend wanderlust july 19th

Last weekend’s trip to Salida was INCREDIBLE! So incredible, in fact, that I cannot do it justice with a little snippet in a post really devoted to the future (STOP LIVING IN THE PAST, MAN!), so I shall write it up another day. But for teasers:

  • Brewer’s Rendezvous!
  • A broken elbow
  • Cliff jumping
  • Pitching a tent
  • Brewery #250!!!
  • 3 – yes 3 – distilleries!

On to this weekend!

Trouble I am getting into this weekend

July 19th

I will be helping out at Ironwork Brewery‘s booth at the Quaker Steak & Lube in Westminster’s Beer Bash. The winner of the Beer Bash gets to be on tap for two months! If you are inclined to come down and vote for your favorite brew, please do. We participated in one of these for Brewery Rickoli about six months ago and it was fun… weird… but fun. I like it because it introduces a bunch of folks who are really unfamiliar with craft beer to the product. It’s weird because it’s a bunch of people who aren’t really into craft beer. It definitely challenges both the Bearded Brewer and I on being more relatable to a different audience. Which is never, ever a bad thing.

Before we mosey on to Quaker Steak & Lube, we are going to try and hit up Joyride Brewing in Sloan’s Lake which just opened yesterday. I took my Certified Cicerone exam with one of the owners, so I’m really jazzed to stop by and check it out. (Yep, jazzed).

After the event we will be going down to Baere Brewing on Broadway (by TRVE). They opened last weekend and are just a hop-skip-jump from a place for us to crash on any given night, so we are hoping that they are super rad. Given, we hope ALL new breweries are super rad, but unfortunately, too many are popping up under-prepared. But, as always, high hopes and our three-sip rule (I should write a post about that, I suppose).

July 20th

With so much going on this weekend, it was really hard to decide what we would do with our Sunday. I really want to make it down to Living the Dream Brewing after rave reviews from so many, including the Beer Drifter. A Night to Remember is another event going on that not only involves beer, but also supports a great cause. However, Palette of Brews is the only beer fest that happens in our home of Evergreen, and I as I missed it last year to throw a baby shower (sounds just like something I’d do, I know…), I really want to go. It’s a small fest, and it’s clearly not thrown by folks familiar with beer fests (just look at their website and you’ll know what I mean), but the Bearded Brewer really enjoyed it last year, so I’m giving it a go.

Other things going on that sound fun as crap

You know what: there are just so many awesome things going on this weekend, I’m not even going to try and list them. Just go here and read about them yourself.

The only one I will really highlight is A Night to Remember. This event is in honor of Alex Teves, who lost his life in the Aurora theatre shootings. He was a mug club member at Copper Kettle, and they wanted some way to honor him. His passion was working with kids at Humanex Academy in Denver, so they decided to throw a beer fest to raise money for the school. It’s a great event, a great cause, and one that touches both the Bearded Brewer and I deeply. I am a survivor of a mass shooting, so I love that there is an event to honor a victim that focuses on their life and passion, instead of dwells on their death. The Bearded Brewer actually attended Humanex Academy way way WAY back when. Again, if Palette of Brews wasn’t conflicting, we would be there. But we will certainly be raising a glass of stout to Alex on Sunday. You should, too.

That’s it for this week. Hope to see you out there living it up.

Wander on!

 

weekend wanderlust july 11

I am writing this while drinking beer at Elevation Brewery in Poncha Springs. Why? Because Brewers Rendezvous, of course!

We are in Salida from Friday thru Tuesday. It’s our favorite fest, and we finally got a house on the river! (Thanks jerks who cancelled on us, by the way).

Anyway, this is pretty much it for the weekend because BEER!

You can follow me on Instagram (@misslupulin) or untappd (beersherpa) or Twitter (@misslupulin) or Facebook (Miss Lupulin) and I’ll be posting snippits and photos and basic snarkiness.

Love to all. Back to my drink!