Saturday, September 10, 2011

Great Beer Night

It has been a while since I've paid much attention to this blog. With my other projects, sometimes this one gets a little neglected.  Making beer is very much a repetitive process, so sometimes I don't feel the motivation to write about it after I've done it.

However, there has been another aspect to Beer and Now that I have been neglecting. The beer experience. I have certainly had some great ones this summer.  Last month, we spent an afternoon at Highland Brewery in Asheville.  We've also been spending some times at local Atlanta bars enjoying new brews. But last night was one of the best beer nights I have had in a while.  

After work, I picked Matt up at our apartment and we drove up to our favorite beer bar, and one of Atlanta's best kept secrets.  We had a mission, so we decided that while we were enjoying some tasty craft brews, we would also work on a budget for our project in South Africa.  We ordered our first beer, the Southern Tier Harvest, and some food. This past week in Atlanta had cooled down significantly after Hurricane Lee swept through and yesterday really felt more like a gorgeous Autumn day. The Harvest Ale felt like a great kick off to an early fall.  I don't usually associate ESBs, which is one of my favorite styles, with Autumn beers, but it was a really well done brew.  The color evoked the season perfectly with the orange-amber lights and the flavors were earthy and malty with just a hint of caramel.  We got some food too and chowed down before the table was cleared and we set up our laptops to work on the budget for the shelter project.

While we researched and set up our spread sheet, we were ready for our second brew of the night.  Matt had the Rogue Love and Hoppiness. He wasn't as impressed as he was hoping to be, but he said it was all right.  I, on the other hand, tried the Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale. Here is the thing about pumpkin beers.  They are either hit or miss - either they blow your mind or they taste like pumpkin flavored water. I asked our waitress her opinion before ordering and she said that this was the good kind of pumpkin ale - full of spicy flavors. I went with it and seriously did not regret the decision. She was right about the spices. The flavors of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg were prominent and a fresh pumpkin taste. 

Nearing the end of our research, it was time to try our third beer of the night.  Matt got the Stone 15th Anniversary Black IPA, which our waitress said was super hoppy and really good. He agreed and my sip did confirm it as well.  But since I had been enjoying Fall Seasonals all night, I really wanted to keep it going.  So, I did the unthinkable... I ordered a beer I have already had before!  The Sierra Nevada Tumbler has long been one of my favorites. Since I do love a good brown beer, this one is a great Autumn offering and it was exactly what I was looking for.  It is just a solid brown beer with some nutty flavors.

We had already packed up our laptops and were finishing our beers when we asked for the check.  While that is normally the end of a great evening out, that was actually when the fun began.  Two guys who had been standing at the bar came over and said "Hey, we saw you were paying and we wanted to know if we could be vultures and get your table?" So told them they certainly could and they sat down in the other two chairs. They introduced themselves and we started talking. We started talking about beer, of course, because we were all enjoying fancy beers at a fancy beer bar. Then, it turns out, one of the guys is This Guy. Now, we went from talking about enjoying beer to brewing beer.  Matt and I told him we were home brewers and that we had a pomegranate wheat in the carboy. He told us that he started homebrewing and now he does contract brewing with Thomas Creek in South Carolina.  Then his friend asked us if any of us were musicians and Matt told them he had been a drummer since he was a kid and recently took up the guitar and singing. Both guys were also musicians so then we talked about music for a while.  And finally, somehow, the conversation got around to building and we talked to them about our cabin in North Carolina and about or project in South Africa. 

It was such a great night.  We got a lot of work done, drank some fantastic beers and met some folks who seem pretty cool.  That is one of the things I like about the "Culture of Beer".  There is something about this shared interest that can really open up those spontaneous social situations. Seriously, hanging out at the bar and talking to strangers is truly one of my favorite hobbies.  You just never know who you'll meet.