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A little less than a happy high
For about fourteen hours this weekend, I became John M., a rep from Stone Brewing Company. Though it would be sexier to say that I was involved in a plot to infiltrate the Extreme Beer Fest, the reality of the identity switch was much simpler. I had worked with Stone's regional sales rep the weekend before at BeerSummit's Winter Jubilee and he asked me to come along. Since I really enjoy working tables at these events and am in no position to pass up an opportunity to pass up free beer and delicious barbecue, I accepted.

I will say that it wasn't without regrets. Thanks to a faulty hose, I woke up Saturday morning on someone else's couch wondering how I was going to deal with my car and (more importantly) how I was going to find the energy to be on my feet being nice to people all day. Actually, I woke up thinking "UGH," but in hindsight I think that was what it was about. After a brownie and a quick shower, I opted to put the car off and just head into town.

I've random thoughts about the day, most of which can be associated with one beer or another.

I should be a ninja. I'm more and more convinced that if you act like you belong somewhere, no one will think to question you. I wandered around for a good twenty minutes talking to reps and sampling random taps before my people came in to set up our table. I was sipping Brewery Ommegang's Ommegeddon while talking with the that guy from FK when Mike and Mike arrived.

Concept cars of the beer world. As near as I can tell the biggest difference between the Jubilee and EBF is the fact that the latter has a somewhat wider selection of "out there" beers. While this can provide some interesting diversions, a lot of them were either underwhelming (pretty much all of the "Belgians" I tried), weird (Offshore Brewing Company's Rye Not, Avery’s The Kaiser), or just not that good (Dogfish Head's Forte.) While I do appreciate brewers pushing “one step beyond,” I'm just not convinced that: a) every high-gravity beer gets better if aged in old bourbon casks, b) every style needs some kind of "extreme" iteration, c) throwing a lot of extra malt and/or hops at a beer necessarily makes something worth drinking, or d) an "out there" brew is necessary for a maker to distinguish itself.

An angry beer. Near the end of the first session, one of the knurds came over to try the Old Guardian Barleywine. At first taste, he seemed a little perplexed and said, "If I were to enter this into a competition - and I'm a judge at beer competitions - I'd enter this as an old ale. I just don't think that this would fare that well in the barleywine category..." Without hesitation, the rep responded, "Stone has an eight-year history of defying standards, and I seriously doubt that that's going to change anytime soon. If you like our beer, that's great. If not, I’m really ok with that too." Moral: When you're talking to the rep from a company whose flagship beer is called Arrogant Bastard, it's probably not a great idea to pontificate about how well their beers fit within style categories.

You’re a shining star. There were some very good beers kicking around, however. Notables from the day were Founders Brewing Company’s Breakfast Stout and Devil Dancer, Lagunitas’ Brown Shugga, and Offshore Ale Company’s Stonewall IPA. Notables from the time when we were sitting around while the BA people ran around cleaning up were Stone’s 5th Anniversary IPA (released in 2001 and aged since), and Brewery Ommegang’s Cave-Aged Ommegang. When we cracked the latter, Mike said that he wished he had some aged goat cheese to go with it. I reached into my bag and pulled out the bloomy Clochette I had with me and blew his mind. Everyone gathered was asking him where he found me. Fear my cheese, for it is mighty.

I was glad to see some of you cycling through in various stages of inebriation. Otherwise, I got to talk to a lot of homebrewers and a couple of artists, and no one hissed at me all day. I had fun.
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wisdom_seeker From: wisdom_seeker Date: February 1st, 2005 08:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
komos From: komos Date: February 1st, 2005 08:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
What, now?
wisdom_seeker From: wisdom_seeker Date: February 1st, 2005 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just that. I wrote my whiney post, then read yours, and it made me smile. I like your commentary on the day. And I like the idea of you out with friends and knowing that you have good people in your life who let you crash on their couch. That's all. *smile*
inahandbasket From: inahandbasket Date: February 1st, 2005 08:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
yay for no hissing!
you were remarkably cheerful for having a dying car, slept on a couch, and dealing with people all day. kudos.

I'm glad you tried the devil dancer, it was a pretty wicked brew.
komos From: komos Date: February 1st, 2005 08:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had a pretty full dance card, and I managed most of it without getting (too) woobly over the course of the day. It helps being able to get food for free and having both sessions to get through your tasting, but the tradeoff is having to pull beer at a sometimes alarming rate.
inahandbasket From: inahandbasket Date: February 1st, 2005 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
mmm... free redbones...
goddamn I love their food.
komos From: komos Date: February 1st, 2005 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
They left large quantities of pulled pork and burnt ends when they pulled up stakes.

I am such a sucker for pulled pork and burnt ends.
inahandbasket From: inahandbasket Date: February 1st, 2005 08:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
*supreme jealousy*

I paid five dollah for one 'o dem pulled porks!
shoulda stayed late... *sigh*
(Deleted comment)
komos From: komos Date: February 1st, 2005 08:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Levitation is one I haven't tried yet, though I'm not sure I've seen it in NE. I tried their 8th Anniversary Ale last weekend and loved it. Great toffee beginnings that melow out nicely as you drink it. Not as rugged as a lot of their other stuff, but decidedly drinkable.
cosmicserpent From: cosmicserpent Date: February 1st, 2005 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I knew I forgot a few beers I wanted to try!
komos From: komos Date: February 1st, 2005 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I never made it to Hookers... I'm fairly convinced that there's just no way to take in everything without being super crazy.
cosmicserpent From: cosmicserpent Date: February 1st, 2005 08:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had planned on being super crazy (I cheated a bit by taking sips from others) but then the stomach started being a bitch. I wanted the ommegeddon.
komos From: komos Date: February 1st, 2005 08:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
To be honest, it didn't do much for me. I don't know if I had ruined my palate with too many heavily hopped beers, but none of the Belgians really stood out. Three Philosophers on tap was nice, but Ommegeddon just tasted like it was trying too hard.
cosmicserpent From: cosmicserpent Date: February 1st, 2005 08:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think I've learned the only place I really enjoy Belgians is when I'm in Belgium.
komos From: komos Date: February 1st, 2005 09:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really like Unibroue, and otherwise there are a few Belgians that I really lurve. I'm just not sure that I'd group them amidst "Extreme" beers, and I don't think the Belgian styles really work with the "Imperial" treatment. Someone may yet prove me wrong, but they're so close to being cloying to begin with that I have a hard time wrapping my mind around how they would balance still more malt without changing it into something else entirely. Lord knows you don't need more cardamom and orange peel flavors.
komos From: komos Date: February 1st, 2005 09:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I should have said "few" of the Belgians. The aged Ommegang was a nice finish to the evening, and there were a couple of others that I think I'd like to try again under different circumstances.
clayrobeson From: clayrobeson Date: February 1st, 2005 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
You make me with the jealous!!!


I need a good beer festival here.
komos From: komos Date: February 2nd, 2005 12:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Come east in the spring...

You know you wanna.
canonfire From: canonfire Date: February 2nd, 2005 02:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ommegeddon? I must try this. Or at least own a bottle for the bottle's sake.


of COURSE, you had cheese on hand!

We're so there in April. SO there... um, so THERE!
komos From: komos Date: February 2nd, 2005 03:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm guessing that the Ommegeddon will be one of those beers that's not really commercially viable, but will be trotted out at special beer events as the "Look what we did" piece. To be honest, I thought that the cave-aged Ommegang was a much better beer, especially with my bloomy chevre.

Have you decided on a session yet?
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