Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What are you waiting for?

From the depths of the internet... How you guys been?! I know it's been ages since we've talked last. Life has gotten a little bit in the way, but that's bound to happen from time to time. It's been a great few months in the CT beer community. New breweries have started popping up like Backeast and Half Full. Not to mention great new brew pubs like Dew Drop Inn (Derby) and Barley Vine (Bristol).

And in my world, I've FINALLY gotten myself on the home brew track. While I HAVE brewed with friends before, I'm always there just to help. You know, like when you helped your dad as a kid by holding the flashlight. You're not really doing anything, your just "observing". Well, this time - I took the lead. I ordered a very simple kit from for a Pumpkin Ale. They called it their Smashing Pumpkin Ale. I watched the video they posted and got some advice from friends, added my own roasted pumpkin puree... and as of a few days ago finally put it on tap at my house. Once it was carbed up it actually started tasting really good! It is still just a kit, far from the all-grain recipe.

Come on... don't give me that look. Let's focus on the positive. I'm here. You're here. There's a new post to read... giddy up.

So WHY am I back... well, I'm here today to give thanks. Last week, most of us celebrated the holiday that forces us to look around, take a step back and be thankful for what we have. Maybe you are looking forward to the food surrounding Thanksgiving... or it might be that you missed the traffic on the Mass Pike... or you just destroyed your Personal Best at the gym... or you just GOT to the gym... or you get to see some friends... For me... it's my FAMILY. We pile into one house for the holiday, visit, snack, love, laugh, play board games, watch football or a classic movie, make fun of each other, maybe even get on each other's nerves a bit, eat some more, then go out to eat, take a walk, or a run... and drink. And I wouldn't have it any other way. I say it every year, and every year I get reminded of how blessed I am.

That's great Tone... But, seriously, what does that have to do with me?

Well, I'm glad you asked.

Over the last year or so, I've been doing a great job cellaring some special beers in my basement. Some of my prized bottles are a Dogfish 120, Anchor Steam Merry Xmas/Happy New Year Ale from 2004 (along with '07, '08, '09, '10 & '11), and the New England Brewing Imperial Stout Trooper from 2008 (with the barrel on the label before they put the Groucho Marx glasses on the Storm Trooper). I'm not sure what I'm really waiting for, but over the years my stache has grown and grown.

Among these offerings was a bottle that my sister had gotten for me a few years ago. The Manchester Dubbel from the Marble Arch Pub (UK). It was before I really knew what beers or breweries to look for... but I knew it was special. There it sat in my cellar. Waiting for "the perfect time to open". Maybe a birthday, maybe a holiday... then it hit me. I was doing some reading on good beers to pair with Thanksgiving dinner from Dr. Bill Sysak. What goes good with turkey, stuffing, gravy, potatoes, squash, cranberry sauce, etc. The good doctor brings up some great options including saisons, strong ales, lambics, stouts... and dubbels. So there I was at Thanksgiving dinner... opening my bottle of the Manchester Dubbel. I shared it with my sister and we love it. Sooooooo good. And thanks to Dr. Sysak for a great suggestion.

Note: When I was taking the cork out, I nearly took my eye out with the amount of gas that had built up in this bottle. I didn't even take the cage off the cork and it just exploded off the ceiling. Then I read the first review of BeerAdvocate and it looks like I wasn't alone!

Another event that got me thinking on this topic was the Stone Vertical Epic Tasting that took place a week or two ago. Quick background check: Since 2002, Greg Koch, Steve Wagner, Mitch Steele and the masterminds behind the Stone Brewery have been developing a yearly release that they called the Vertical Epic. Each release fell on the Month and Day that reflected the year on the calendar. 02.02.02, 03.03.03, 04.04.04... and here we are this year, only about a week away from 12.12.12. Every release had a different recipe as well. Each beer was designed to age slightly so that they could achieve optimum deliciousness THIS year. Now, crazy beer geek heads like me can open each one and enjoy the fruits of their cellaring labor (not to mention, applaud each one for having the restrain NOT to open them before this year!). The guys from Stone did a live tasting which included Dr. Sysak, the Brothers Alstrom from Beer Advocate as well as the guys from New Brew Thursday.

A lot of people asked Greg... "What's next? Are you going to do another Vertical Epic series?" And his response was plain and simple, "No."

I thought to myself, we ask ourselves that a lot... What's next? What's coming up? Or we'll catch ourselves saying, "I can't WAIT until [insert event here]..." How about we just live in the the moment? Sit down with a few friends or maybe just one friend... and open a bottle of something fantastic.

As a craft beer enthusiast, I always have the tendency to wait until the perfect moment for that special brew. Now I'm not saying you should deplete your hard-earned cellared beers. It's always good to keep a few things on reserve. I'm only saying, don't be afraid to live in the moment. There will be more moments. There will be more delicious rare offerings. There will be more times to celebrate.

So the next time you're in the store and there's a beer that's a few bucks more... GO FOR IT. Don't settle for the bargain bin. Or if there's a nice dinner coming up with a few friends or family, or even if it's just a quiet night at home with a bud, dust off that saison that you're sitting on or that stout that's been aging for the last year. Why again are you saving that Double IPA? Carpe Diem. Seize the Day.


Jake Scholan said...

Welcome back! great post to come back with.

I'm weird when it comes to holding onto beers. Some of them I know I wont get again, so it almost makes me scared to drink them. With that said, it never lasts long. I'm terrible at cellering beers. Most of it is just due to excitement, so after a few months, i just go for it. And I'm always glad I did.

Tony Leone said...

I've been sitting on these Anchor Steam Xmas Ale beers for a while now... My friend and I did a vertical tasting last year with the '07, '08, and '09. Very interesting how they changed. I think we're going to crack the 2004 this year. And add the '10, '11, and '12 to the fray.