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The Cyclical Nature of Craft Beer

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Sometimes the love for craft beer is the very precipice of your journey, sometimes it’s a byproduct of a grander ambition and other times it’s a conduit to unfiltered interaction. Often I stop and think of the nature of craft beer and how it becomes more then itself. I marvel at the motivation it incites, and how it is universally lauded as a powerful catalyst of interconnected adventure that every craft aficionado shares.

Our story begins at 7 am on a Saturday. It’s hot out. You already know it’s going to be one of those fry an egg on the pavement kind of days. The days where you find yourself sweating in places you didn’t know you could sweat from. And you get the feeling that the oppressive boiling hot ball of gas above our atmosphere was burning just a few extra degrees hotter today.

Outside of Other Half Brewery in Brooklyn is where we meet an undeterred and euphoric Darwin approximately 33 years to the day of his birth. Beads of sweat drizzle from his forehead down his cheek as he patiently waits with the other dedicated craft beer hunters. They are all well prepared, planted in beach chairs with mini towels and coolers by their side, waiting on line for the latest offerings from one of Brooklyn’s hottest breweries. He mixed and mingled, had some breakfast booze and gained some all-important trade connections along the way.

His impressive haul included:
Tropical Depression a double IPA collaboration with The Veil Brewing Company from Richmond, VA.
Stacks on Stacks a double IPA brewed with Citra, Mosaic and El Dorado hops.
Baby Diamonds a Session version of Green Diamonds, packed with Galaxy and Amarillo hops.
Green Print a double IPA collaboration with RAR Brewing that includes lemon and lime zest plus Motueka, Amarillo and Lemon drop hops.

After a trip back home for a much needed nap (and to drop off the goods) Darwin was at it again, this time off to Rockaway Brewery one of our favorite Queens Breweries! Shout out to Rockaway and their friendly team! Here he had:

ESB- This flagship beer of Rockaway Brewing is known for its sweet and malty notes.
Da Beach – a very enjoyable session style wheat beer with a bit of a hoppy kick.
His night ended at Peter Lugers steak house where he snuck in some Heady Topper and Hello L.A. And what better way to enjoy world class steak then with some world class beer. While he was styling and profiling, as wrestling legend Ric Flair would say, Pete was having an adventure of his own.

We pick up with Pete just about 10 hours previous to Darwin’s last sip. It’s not quite the opening of Sunset Boulevard but we do find him floating calmly in a pool in the backyard of his cousin’s house in Bayshore. He just finished Lizard King a very good Pale Ale by Pipe Works Brewing Company and had already turned his thoughts to his next destination. He was off to Atlantic City to meet Fat Tom, a heavy set jovial fellow with a penchant for gambling and all things Pepsi. The drive was brutal, more so then usual, 4 hours filled with gridlock, a missed exit and a Jersey back roads route to Best Western, 15 minutes off the strip. Fat Tom in all his rotund might greeted him with a flippant smirk, cigarette dangling from his lips, dark shades covering his pale blue eyes. ‘Let’s roll’ he muttered as the cab pulled up. The duo was off to their first stop, Ego Bar and Lounge at the Taj Mahal. They set up shop, promptly ordering Sapphire and Tonics and Absolute and 7s.

They opined on the complexities of life for a while, engaging in the subtleties of bar small talk with Buddy and Sheila an innocuous old couple from Virginia. Buddy was in a beat up faded t-shirt stretched to its capacity sporting an old trucker hat on top of his beat red balding head. His wife Sheila seemingly never experienced a moment without a cigarette in her hand. She’s a long term chain smoker prone to the use heavy make-up and ravaged by the annals of time. Their hatred for all things Philly baseball allowed them to form a drinkers bond but Pete soon grew weary of the propinquity of the hoy paloi and Tom eventually picked up on the subtle nuances of side eye, and isolated smart phone usage. And so they bid farewell to their redneck comrades and off they were to the local jiggle joint, Scores.

When Fat Tom walked in it was like Norm walking into Cheers, everyone knew his name. One was beginning to think he tipped the bartender just for keeping the ice cold. Yet despite his rough exterior, Tom is a gentle giant and after a few (more) drinks he was waxing poetic to the girls who were now doubling up as strippers and therapists. Pete was getting that gambling itch and knew he had act fast if he was going to scratch it. His plan included Jamison whiskey shots and Union Jack by Fire Stone Walker. Tom, now a bit more susceptible to suggestion was dragged from the clutches of those foul temptresses and off they were to the poker tables.

At this point Pete could barely see his cards but his gamblers instinct keeps him attune to what he’s looking for. Some night’s equal parts intuition and luck can play in your favor and he’s crafty enough to wait for it to come together, like a drunken coiled viper priming to strike. Picking up small wins here and there, he knew a better score awaited, and it came in the form of his superior flush ousting that of the dealers’. With dizziness now setting in and Fat Tom disappearing somewhere along the way, he decided it was just about right to call time on the night. With a dead cell phone and a noticeable stumble to his walk, he cashed out and headed back to the motel.

5 minutes later, Fat Tom shows up, with no explanations offered, shades back on, cigarette dangling from his alcohol soaked lips. The two pass out and are promptly awakened the next day by an irate motel management informing them they’ve over slept and overstayed their welcome.

My story picks up several hours before Pete and Fat Tom were dealt their first hands at the tables. I find myself enjoying the Captains Daughter, no I’m not writing about infidelity, as I’m a happily married man, but I must say the Captain’s Daughter went down smooth and easy. My beer fast mentioned in last week’s podcast, was broken prematurely (and numerous times subsequently). My wife’s sister and her paramour were babysitting the kids so the night was ours. A rare but welcomed occurrence, we love our children deeply but a night off here and there is a nice reprieve. While my wife was doing her tantalizing dance of wardrobe uncertainty I moved on to another libation, Founders Pale Ale, this was hoppier then expected and easy to drink.

We were on our way to celebrate her friend’s birthday at Cove Lounge in Harlem. We drove, and when my wife is behind the wheel she has this uncanny knack of finding really good parking, its border line psychic phenomena. True to form she found us a spot around the corner from the joint. Cove Lounge was deceptively large and linear. You walk in past the outdoor seating and immediately enter a small cramped bar area. The waitress motions for us to walk through the closed doors up ahead, which we promptly do. As we pass through a set of doors we find yet another bar area, this one bigger than the last with more elbow room to move about. Beyond the bar was a plush lounge area, which is where the group was congregating.

My wife mingled among her friends and the company was pleasant enough but my attention turned promptly to the tap selection; it was a bit thin, only 3 choices, a house special Clove pilsner, an Abita and a Lagunitas IPA. I went with the Lagunitas, more than once. We ate (the lobster mac and cheese stood out), we drank, we moved to the downstairs area. Down there the bar and a cramped DJ booth took up most of the room but enough space was allotted for me to attempt something that laughably could just barely be passed off as dancing. The DJ spun some decent tunes once he played the obligatory current fads, he threw in some Tupac, Nate Dog, and Elvis Crespo’s legendary hit ‘Suavemente’. Side note, I heard he got popped for masturbating in a plane a few years back, Crespo not the DJ.

Our nights were in different boroughs, and different states but by the time our journeys came to an end and each of us laid our heads to rest, two things were certain; 1- Craft beer can create a certain magical whimsy through its multi-purpose complexity, it can be enjoyed anytime and anywhere and can either be the sole purpose of your adventure or a good companion. 2- Drink craft not crap.

Cheers

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