Thursday, May 3, 2012

[A Beer a Day] Hombre Sunday Funday @ Hops & Grain (ft. Various Artists)

This is exactly the reason why they put a camera on my phone: to capture moments of bewilderment when my brain simply cannot process the amount of rapscallionery being witnessed within the moment -- and therefore, must be captured for posterity and later reflection.

The thing is this: these bottle share days are unpredictable in most aspects but the endgame, and that is, lots of two-armed hugging, blueskying about something epically beer related, an inevitable Zepplin or Phish longplay from Alpine Valley, and your head suddenly swimming in 4oz pours of depressants.  Delicious, rare, 10% depressants.

One is likely to wonder how in the entire fuck a buzz was so readily achieved when all that was provided were several dozens of small pours, but then you forget about all that wondering, and you're off singing String Cheese Incident lyrics that you didn't even know you knew.

This is the type of brewer influenced thought-lava that usually tends to melt my brain every time the opportunity arises to get drunk in their company

Bottle Share Sunday Fundays are like de facto bro-cations, and in its current, traditional, and semi-regular form, it is a work of fucking art; like Judge St. Bernard Wins on a Bluff fresco'ed on The Pieta.  Is that type of aesthetic badassery called something?  If not, it should be called a Bottle Share.  That's what I'm calling it, anyway.

I usually get invited to these things as a bashful +1 to one of my good friends, Mike, half-proprietor of DrinkWell and fellow beer goon.  I say bashful because this: these are people's babies.  These are prizes that have been stuffed into extra socks at LAX, carried through eight, boring Midwest states with golf clubs and a family, purchased from a jerk-off in North Carolina who's making a sweet rake off of your hobby, and so on, so forth.  There's a modicum of respect that must be paid to people willing divvy to their hard-earned inheritance, however that may have come to be.  These are why these events are so great; a communal measurement of everyone's beer-cock, with everyone nodding in mutual approval at its impressiveness.

But in the end -- you very well know -- beer is intended to be fucking consumed, and the respect for the beer itself prevails over hording your fortune.

This share, in particular, was probably the most spectacular of any in which I've participated, and that fully rests on the company with which we drank.  While the beers are the stars of the show, the good folks that came together for this thing are like "the guys in the truck" that were perennially thanked on Monday nights by John Madden, and then later Al Michaels.  These are the people that make shit happen.

The good men of Hops & Grain opened their brewery to a host of local beer sages from Thirsty Planet, Austin Beerworks, Jester King, Black Star, Independence, and a smattering of other brewluminati from places like New Belgium, Barley Swine, and the aforementioned DrinkWell.  There was so much beer aptitude in the room, that it would be absolutely preposterous for me to review the stock, but instead, I wanted to show you what the Big League looks like.  I'm just an amateur, so I'll humbly take my seat at the back of the bus.

But, before I get out of the way in favor of some 1,000-word pics, I just wanted to say thank-you to everybody who opened up their cellars in the name of craft advocacy and in the name of choking each other in the face with extreme beers.

This was the 1PM casting call ... however, so many bottles are not pictured, because brewers are a late lot, and I got a bit forgetful about snapping one off every time someone dumped their booze into the community bath.

Part of the reason this shit got cray straight away was that there was this 3 liter bottle of Russian River Damnation that Jake from Thirsty Planet trolled the whole party with; aged a half-decade, or 5/7th in dog years, whatever you call that because I didn't do the lowest denominator thing.  Anyway, I would have been less shocked to see Allison Brie walk in with a case of Cantillon.
Damnation Golden Ale | Russian River Brewing | Santa Rosa, CA

21st Amendment Monk's Blood Belgian Dark Strong.  A wonderfully, earthy Belgian spiced Ale that absolutely invokes late Fall and worrying about who the fuck is gonna QB the 'Horns this season.
Monk's Blood Belgian Dark Ale | 21st Amendment Brewing | San Francisco, CA
Having a Brooklyn Black Ops at the gig would have made for a nice little fête.  But there were two.  Rival Black Ops.  Its was like the Osama BL raid in this fucking joint.  Black Ops down.
Black Ops Russian Imperial Stout | Brooklyn Brewing | Brooklyn, NY

A Bell's Hopslam/ Firestone Walker Double Jack / Russian River Pliny the Elder Horizonal.  Shit, why didn't you say so?  This DIPA challenge basically made far East 6th street the epicenter of the beer culture at 2PM.  This was the equivalent of a Jigga / Biggie / Easy E Hologram SXSW showcase rap battle.  We took off our shirts and started singing "I'd Rather Fuck You".
Hopslam DIPA | Bell's Brewing | Kalamazoo, MI
Double Jack DIPA | Firestone Walker Brewing | Paso Robles, CA
Pliny the Elder DIPA | Russian River Brewing | Santa Rosa, CA

The partially disputed winner.  But, wait an entire minute ... is that a lion about to old-timey-box a fucking bear?  Ok then, partially disputed WINNER!

I don't want to sound like a chick or a pussy, but chocolate, coffee, and oatmeal makes me very happy.  In my defense, I really only dabble in those things when they are in beer.
Breakfast Stout | Founder's Brewing | Grand Rapids, MI

Hand-crafted Vector from Jeff at Black Star.
Vector Irrational Chocolate Rye | Black Star Co-Op Brewing | Austin, TX

Will from Austin Beerworks brought this deft little beer from East End Brewing.  At least, that's what I thought going into it with its clever little recycled shopping bag façade and wax-dipped bonnet.  However, this wench carried a tough interior with a 9.3% Barleywine.  Ouchie.
Gratitude Barleywine | East End Brewing | Pittsburgh, PA

Some punter is always bringing a crazy-arsed Brew Dog to add to the shit show, and in this case, Paradox Isle of Arran stout was like the patriotic Scotsman who kept lifting his skirt and bulging his nuts in his hand like an alien brain.  But twice as hairy.
Paradox Isle of Arran Whisky Barrel Aged Stout | Brew Dog Brewing | Fraserburgh, Scotland

This particular bottle of Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter was brewed by Will of Austin Beerwork himself while at his prior gig in Maryland.  I do not have the words for this kind of awesomeness -- it was the nearest thing to Deschutes The Abyss that I'd had since December 2011, when I last drank ... Deschutes The Abyss.
Gonzo Imperial Porter | Flying Dog Brewing | Frederick, MD

Double Trouble often tends to get left out of the DIPA gangbang, but ZOMG, its a wonderful, wonderful beer that perpetuates the reputation of one of the greatest American breweries.
Double Trouble DIPA | Founder's Brewing | Grand Rapids, MI

Now this is a gem.  When discussing "rare beers", many times, we're discussing "rare to Texas", or "rare because this was a Fall 2011 release and good luck getting your hands on this until next October".  But this was basically a one-off of which I'm few very little, if any, remain.  I talk extensively about how much I love New Belgium's La Folie in a prior entry, and so this just took this motherfucking party to 11.
2009 La Folie Wood Aged Sour Ale | New Belgium Brewing | Fort Collins, CO

This little bugger I picked up last year in Holland, Michigan and in cleaning out some inventory, I discovered that I probably should have drank this by now.  Well, luckily I had something to do with it besides stare at its awesome label.  New Holland gets some backlash for being, like, the Rahr of Michigan, but when they hit a sweet note, I just tend to go a bit berserk about it.  This tasted much more like a Pale Ale rather than a true IPA, and the oak notes were fucking plucky and forward.  I absolutely loved it.
Oak Aged Mad Hatter IPA | New Holland Brewing | Holland, MI

Ok, shits getting out of hand, because we're pouring bottles left and right of the high end shit like a Pitbull commercial.  Some in the group actually begin to dismiss the thought of more Russian River to drink, as if unaware of the thirsty lot around Austin who would unhesitatingly get rapey and stabby with us for a single drop of this type of shit.  Did you see its refermented inside the bottle?  The Aristocrats!
Redemption Blonde Ale | Russian River Brewing | Santa Clara, CA

This sucker was born when I was 8 years old, and has been waiting 25 years to be uncorked like an elegant cognac.  In fact, the brewers bottle conditioned so that it would indeed age for an extended period of time like a bold brandy, and after sampling a small pour of it, it was incredible to taste the cultivation of two and a half decades of delicate reflection.  1987 Thomas Hardy's Ale

 Sure, there were several samplings that didn't make the larger montage of image captured booze, because after a while, you stop caring about the final vignette and just get to the fucking sport of it.  There's a 2008 bottle conditioned Left Hand Twin Sisters DIPA right there, a Green Flash Palate Wrecker IPA and Rayon Vert Belgian Pale Ale, a New Belgian Clutch Sour Dark, Hops & Grain Oak Aged Pale Dog, Ninkasi Maiden the Shade IPA, Jester King Beer Geek Rodeo Stout and Boxers Revenge Sour, 2011 (512) Double Pecan Porter, Panil Barriquee Sour, Russian River Sanctification Brett Fermented Golden and Temptation Chardonnay Barrel Aged Sour Blonde, ... and so on ...  you get the idea.

 All that A1 sauce leads to shit like this ...
... shooting Pale Dog cans off of the willingest of brewers moving Hondas.

The final 50-bottle salute.
(photo credit: Jake Maddux twitter @BeerEvangelist)

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