What a last couple weeks…
Two weeks ago, went on a bicycle pub crawl around St. Paul put on by a friend I hadn’t seen in way too long, despite living less than two blocks away. Lots of fun, good company, and good beer. I had my ass kicked by the legendary Ramsey Hill, and made a few more sour beer fans at the Muddy Pig stop, where several of us shared Cantillon Bruocsella 1900 (a very rare find!) and Duchesse du Bourgogne. Both are authentic Belgian sour ales, in an era where too many Belgian producers are sweetening and pasteurizing.
Shortly thereafter, I left for DC to speak at an anti-spam industry group meeting/conference. I am not a public speaker, but the talk went pretty well anyway. The facilitator mercifully nudged the room into a group conversation, a format which I was much more comfortable with — I never have much to say unprompted, but I usually have plenty to say about what you said. Other than that, I spent the whole trip in the meetings, and the after-meeting socialization where the real work gets done. Didn’t get to the Smithsonian, or even the Brickskellar. I did manage to take a few people to Regional Food and Drink, the Brickskellar’s sister restaurant in DC’s Chinatown, and taste a Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA for the first time (wow).
That was most of the next week. The next weekend, I was back in town, and made it to a neighborhood homebrewer’s party and fundraiser. I brought about a gallon of my own (an old Belgian Dubbel and a my first post-hiatus batch), both of which were well received. Most drinkers found the Brown ale both drinkable and interesting, which is what I was going for; the Dubbel spawned a new (to me) word: “Beergasm”
Finally, last week was taken up by another business trip, this time to Clearwater, FL to be stuck in a hotel meeting room collaboratively editing documents all day, with the beach (and 85°F and humid weather) a mere 100 yards away. Nice venue for that. Meeting highlight: ~30 people spending one hour to draft a 3-sentence note to send to another group. Non-meeting highlight: notching off a drinking goal I’ve had for about a decade.
Since shortly after I could legally buy alcohol, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of drinking a beverage older than I am. Just the thought that somebody started making something before I was born, and I could drink it and appreciate it seemed … intriguing, for lack of a better word, phrase, or paragraph. It never actually worked out. Wines and ports that have been cellared for that long are almost always way out of my price range, and I don’t consider myself a wine expert, much less a port connoisseur. Scotches were the closest — I know a thing or two about the single malts, and enjoy them occasionally, but the 21 year old ones seemed too pricey when I was 21, the 25 year-old ones even worse, and the 30-year ones went out of my price range well before I turned 30.
I checked out the hotel bar my second night in Florida. The area was a beer wasteland — the best beer around was Sierra Nevada at this hotel bar — so I turned my attention behind the bar. I noticed a bottle of Laphroaig 30 year, and asked about the price, out of curiosity more than anything else. While the bartender looked it up, I flipped through the drinks menu, and noticed Glenrothes 1972 vintage. The bartender came back with the Laphroaig pricing (15-yr for $15, 30-yr for $30), I cringed a bit, and then asked about the 1972. He took a while longer checking this one out, eventually determining that it wasn’t in their system, but it was on the shelf, and for sale.
“So,” he said, leaning forward with a mischeivous look (that had me thinking “There is me, that is Alex, and my Droogs…”) “it’s not in the system, so I get to set the price. What do you think is fair: $18?” which I seemed a bit too pleased with, so he raised it to $20, at which I tried to make a better show of hemming and hawing. That was the final price, he handed me a generous pour, and I handed him a generous tip (to which he responded “Ah, so I was still a bit low then?”), and savored a fine whisky several years older than myself for much of the rest of the night.
After finishing and coming back down to earth, the bar scene devolved into the normal business traveller one: a bunch of bored, tired people drinking to delay their inevitable return to a lonely hotel room bed, a bit resentful of the vacationers who were there to (successfully) have fun. I stayed for a few more beers.
Now, at least, I’m glad to be home for a few straight months. Hopefully things calm down on the business travel front. More friends and/or (leisurely) bike and/or beer activities are, of course, still welcome