This is crazy. Three beer blogging themes meet on one night. This is the final Friday of the Yule, Christmas, Hogmanay, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa 2010 Good Beer Blog Photo Contest. It is also the weekend that Mark Dredge demanded we Open It! And it is the night of The Session's 46th edition. That is insane. A perfect storm. How can I honour each separate duty as a good beer blogger within one single post? Let's see.
Has this happened to you? Maybe you stumbled upon a no-name brewpub somewhere and found the perfect pale ale. Maybe, buried in the back of your local beer store, you found a dusty bottle of rare barleywine. Perhaps a friend turned you on to a beer that changed your mind about a brewery or a style. Write about a beer experience that took you by surprise. So here's how it works: write a post based on this topic on December 3rd, then post a link to your blog in the comments section here.
OK, I get that - that makes sense. Dredgie has placed his challenge in fewer words: "just choose a bottle you’ve been saving for ages and open it." So, do I have a beer that I stumbled upon by surprise that I have been saving for ages? You bet I have. That Westvleteren 8 in the picture up there.
Certainly rare but what makes it a surprise? I found it in the mail, that's why it's a surprise. Didn't buy it. Didn't trade for it. I got it as part payment for an ad from our long term pals Cracked Kettle in Amsterdam. I shared the wealth and, as with Knut, my package was couriered from there to here. Surprise! The real surprise is, of course, that I never thought I would be couriered rare beers from a beer shop in Europe as a payment for an ad. My 23 year old me is so proud of my 47 year old me.
It is a lovely beer. It pours a bright chestnut under a light mocha rim and foam. On the nose there is Demerara sugar, plum, date, apple butter, black cherry and that old euphemistically described burlap spice. A clean acidic smell. In the mouth they are all there in the malt with a fresh cutting acidity that makes it incredibly appealing. Rich tobacco hopping. It is not in an utterly different class compared to, say, the more available Rochfort 8 but it is both distinct and lovely and the only bottle I have. Interestingly, the BAers give it a notch of love above the brothers but that's only based on one old bottle that didn't pass the test of time. This one did.
OK, two obligations down and one to go. Let's post some contest photos. I need to get caught up with the entries over the course of this evening. First up, Stan Hieronymus of Appellation Beer sent in these three including one from the Poperinge 2008 hop festival:
Steve Palmer of Shelburne, Vermont sent in these five:
John Santos, serving with the US forces in Vicenza, Italy provided these two photos. To the left is the March of the Brewers - during the Belgian Beer Weekend in Brussels last September. To the right is a photo of grzane piwo from Krolewskie in Warsaw. Essentially, beer mulled with cloves, cinnamon, honey, and lemon and served piping hot. The idea sounds weird and a touch disgusting, but it was unexpectedly good, like a warm shandy. The spit looking thing that is clinging to the glass is the froth mixed with cinnamon.
Jeff Wayne of Tampa Florida sent in his fourth and fifth entries. He says that the picture to the left was taken while down in the Caribbean on the island of St Maarten. This beach dog was a sucker for some shade and a cold Red Stripe. The second picture was taken from atop the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Brewery in Dublin.
James Tien of Gravenhurst, Ontario sent in these three black and white entries. I really like how the one on the left captures an instant and a posture that you might find in a medieval art work by a Bruegel or two.
Dan Chapman of Brantford, Ontario sent in these five entries:
Thomas Cizauskas has sent in final two entries. The first, called "Beer & Bartender" was taken through a glass of Stoudt's Pilsner, at Rustico Restaurant in Arlington, Virginia. 26 October 2010. The second is called "Fermenting Wash" and shows unhopped wort ferments in an open fermenter of Florida Cypress wood, at the Woodford Reserve distillery in Versailles, Kentucky. 11 October 2008. Which, I suppose, is a picture of beer on its way to being bourbon. I can live with that.
Because they are so sweet, I thought I would post Rob's notes on his photos in their entirety.
- The Golden Cross: This impressive ceramic bar can be found at the Brains Brewery-owned Golden Cross in Cardiff, Wales. The original ceramic bar is one of just two in Wales and one of only 20 in the UK. The pub is classed by some as the most impressive in the whole of Wales and it is in the top 10 most unspoilt pubs in the UK.
- Meantime Taps:A trio of Meantime Brewing Co. taps at the excellent Old Brewery in Greenwich, London.
- The Murenger: A lone drinker on a quiet Monday evening at the Murenger pub in Newport, South Wales. The pub is very dark so I had to set the camera to 3200 ISO.
- Woodins Shades: A Williams Bros Fraoch Heather Ale pumpclip in the Woodin's Shades pub in London. The pub is very dark which means that I had to shoot at 3200 ISO. The lens used is a Sigma 4.5mm Fisheye.
- Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese: Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a very well known pub located on Fleet Street, London. The pub was originally built in 1538, destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666 and rebuilt in 1667. The pub is a maze of rooms and bars and the cellar is believed to have belonged to a 13th century Carmelite Monastery which once occupied the site. The pub is dimly lit which makes taking photos without a tripod very difficult hence using an ISO of 3200.
Excellent stuff. Again, not prejudging... so much as preparing to judge.
Scott Grenier of Clinton, New York sent in these five. My feelings about dogs are neatly balanced by my feelings about Allagash White:
Matt Billings of Decatur, Georgia sent in these four entries, including art of his art. I like it:
There. That catches me up to about 3:50 pm this afternoon. That makes for 182 entries in total. I can't type any more. All I have are bloody stumps. See you tomorrow, the second last day of the contest. I need a beer.