Thursday, March 21, 2013

Can We Talk?

I’m not angry with you, not really. I’m just…disappointed.

You know I love you, right? So I’m telling you this out of respect and admiration. I just can’t see you any more unless there are a few changes. I know it’s hard and I know you have your plans, but…

The fact of the matter is…I want to be seeing more of you. Right now I see you once every month or so, at home or out somewhere, special occasions, holidays. What I really want is to see you every day. Can we make that happen?

I’m going to be as pointed as I can be about this. I’ve often tried not to get too political about things in the beer world, but I really just want to drink good beer more often.

Yes, I’m talking about the 22-ounce bottle of beer, the so-called “bomber,” that has drawn the ire of beer geeks from Portland to Boston, New York to San Diego…
I’ve got a plan and here’s how we do it:

Don’t demand, don’t threaten, don’t whine, don’t cry, just…ask.

Every tasting you go to, every festival, every chance you get to bend the ear of a brewer or brewery representative, tell them what I’m going to tell them:

“I love your beer, but I just can’t buy and consume 22-ounce bottles every day.  What I can do is buy a 6- or 4-pack of 12-ounce bottles (or cans) and drink THAT every day.”

The real fact of the matter is that I’d drink more of their beer if it came in smaller bottles.

Here’s a real world example from my local market (Boston):

Pretty Things, you know I love you and I want to support the heck out of you. Jack D’or?  One of my favorite beers and not too outrageously priced per 22-ounce bottle. But at 6.5% ABV, I rarely get to drink it.  I save it for special occasions, or MAYBE when I’m out drinking. Now, if I could get a four-pack of 12-ounce bottles, well, I could drink like a king every night!

You know, it says something that I am more excited about Newburyport Brewing Company’s upcoming 12-ounce can production than anything else coming into my market.  I’ve never even tried their beer; I have no idea if it’s any good. Yet I’m thrilled that a brewery is releasing a beer in a 12-ounce medium.

I can’t begin to understand the business plan of any brewery and I approach this purely and whole-heartedly for selfish reasons, but I just want to drink their beer. I also want to have an open and frank discussion about this, so I’ll be Tweeting this and emailing this to as many breweries as possible and I would like them to please chime in.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Road From Bartlett

The road from Bartlett, New Hampshire through the White Mountains and into Vermont is long and winding. Passing mountain lakes and impossible villages and homes that seem to have been planted in place centuries before. Is it possible for a house to look like it’s grown out of the landscape?

This was the road we travelled in late summer on our way to Waterbury, Vermont in search of ice cream, coffee and beer. Three innocuous vices when handle separately, but cram them into one small town and cover them in maple syrup and you’ve got yourself the sweetest place in the nation.

From Bartlett, the road drives northbound through Crawford Notch, passing the Mount Washington Hotel, site of the Bretton Woods Conference, and finally turns west towards the Green Mountain State.  We opted to steer clear of the capital until the ride back and instead headed straight for Ben and Jerry’s in Waterbury. A fun tour, as always, but I can get Ben and Jerry’s almost anywhere. No, I was after a much more illusive confection, whose sweet ingredients were malt and hops…and hops, and hops.

To say that Heady Topper is a perfect beer is to misunderstand the meaning of perfection.  The truth of the matter is beer can be perfect, yet a certain beer, in a certain place, at a certain time can achieve a moment of theoretical perfection that cannot be replicated. I’ve experienced this phenomena several times throughout my beer-odyssey and it is as rare as it is fleeting.

After a quick nip of the beer in question and a look around the brewery, I walked out with several cases of the finest beverage brewed in Waterbury, Vermont. A thousand apologies to Green Mountain Coffee, who we also visited, but your libation will never find the same foothold in my heart. I secured my silver and black treasure in the back seat and Amanda scouted a place for us to grab some bread and cheese and a place to park for lunch.

A quick romp through Montpelier and with a loaf of bread, some cheese and grapes from the Hunger Mountain Co-Op in hand, we made our way up a gently sloping hill just outside the city.  If you know anything about Montpelier as a “city” you’ll know that we were quickly in the middle of nowhere. We discovered an impressive sugar shack with ample parking and backed our vehicle up to the neighboring field.

Now, The Alchemist’s John Kimmich expressly demands that his beer be enjoyed directly from the can so I consented to do so and popped the top. The setting was beautiful, the company wonderful and the summer breeze light and easy. As I mentioned before, no beer can be perfect, but with the warm, summer breeze blowing in and the excellent company, this beer was as close to perfection as you can get. Thank you Vermont.