Friday, October 27, 2017

☸️ Welcome


Two of the joys in my life are my Labrador Retriever, Bodhi (bo'-dee), and good beer. Bodhi is four months old as I begin this blog. That’s him to the right, and above.

Beer is timeless.

My writing here will be a compendium of my adventures in the craft beer world from the enthusiast side, and a journal of my life with Bodhi.

I like to say that we’re living in the golden age of beer. Craft breweries are common across America, with a new one opening weekly, it seems. No matter how small your town, there’s a good chance someone is making good beer close by.

Think of this blog as an easy entry into the world of craft beer, or a suggestion for further tasting. You won’t find flavor descriptions like “stone fruit,” or technical discussion of hop varieties. My purpose is to present my passion for good beer in a simple and welcoming way, inviting you to join me at your local microbrewery to enjoy the wide variety of small-batch, hand-crafted beer. It’s a simple beverage whose variety of expression is broad.

What I’d like for Bodhi’s part of this blog is to tell the story of his life. You’re joining him as he’s shedding the initial stage of puppyhood. A sweet, inquisitive personality has emerged, and he’s become quite fond of our older Golden Retriever, Stella. He’s restored our home to two dogs after the loss of our old girl, Zele (zelly). You’ll meet her down the road, too. In the mean time I hope you come to love Bodhi as I do.

So, to our first beer together. I stopped off at Tin Cannon Brewing on my way home today. It’s my pal Neal’s favorite craft brewery, and one of mine, too. By craft brewery I mean a beer maker that produces in small quantities, from quality ingredients, without shortcuts. Tin Cannon makes several very good beers.

Although Tin Cannon is expanding their operation, they’re still producing a tiny fraction of what well-known brewers like Boston BeerDogfish Head, and Stone Brewing make.

Before getting to the beer, one of the nicest things about Tin Cannon is the atmosphere at their taphouse. The taphouse is the service side of the operation, featuring a bar, tables and chairs, televisions and rest rooms. Theirs is a warm and inviting place. Think “Cheers” without the cheese. The hammered copper bar top only adds to the warmth.

Arrayed around the bar were a group of guys who’ve enjoyed a few afternoons drinking beer together. They weren’t shy asking about my pressurized growler, which I’d brought for a fill for the coming weekend. I felt right at home.

A growler is typically a sixty-four ounce container for bringing home draft beer. Mine, a generous gift from Neal, uses an eight-ounce soda charge to pressurize its stainless steel container, keeping the beer carbonated as I tap each pint. Other styles are glass, or ceramic. All work well, though uncharged growlers will let the beer go flat after they're opened.

An unpressurized growler can be expected to keep beer fresh for about a week, and carbonated for a day or so after it’s opened.

An eight-ounce beer glass filled with dark ale

Having settled onto a bar stool I was approached by a friendly bartender who not only took my order for a growler fill, but smartly asked whether I’d like something to drink while she worked on the growler. Of course! One eight-ounce Busted Pipe Black IPA, coming up.

This is a flavorful, dark beer. Roasted malt, enough hops of the right variety to make it a mildly bitter India Pale Ale, all in balance. I get a mild hop buzz sensation on my tongue, then a bready, malt flavor that lingers. That the hops give way to maltiness is this beer’s secret to balance – you don’t end up with a puckered mouthful of bitterness, but rather a cleansing flavor not unlike that from a bite of a dinner roll after a mouthful of pungent entree.

The dark, roasted malt lends a bit of coffee, or even chocolate flavor. Don’t be fooled. There’s nothing flavoring this glass but barley, water, hops, and yeast. The rest is beer magic.

IPAs don’t have to be overly bitter, or citrus-flavored, though many are. Achieving balance between sweet malt and bitter hops is part of the brewer’s art.

Finding an IPA that reaches that balance can be a challenge these days. So many brewers take the more is better approach to hopping. I’m not a fan of over-hopped beer, but where the line lies between enough and too much is subjective. This has led to no shortage of discussion as my friends and I sample beers.

checked-in my sampling with the Untappd app as my growler was filled.

There’s a lot to unpack in those paragraphs. Growler fills, serving sizes, beer styles, malt, hops, balance, and Untappd. Over the next few articles I’ll address each.

For now, though, it was a very enjoyable beer that earned a five-star rating, on a scale of zero to five.

Beer and company enjoyed, and growler filled, I headed home for a session with Bodhi. He’s matured enough at four months to need the extra challenge of obedience training. We’ll talk about that, too. He’s two-plus weeks in, and today I was able to put him in a “stay,” and roll a tennis ball past him without him running after it. That’s pretty darn good for a young Lab. My pal is one smart boy.

He’s parked in his favorite place right now – under my living room chair – and he’ll likely spend the evening moving from there to a bed to another bed to his kennel. There may be a recliner chair in the mix, too. His life is short, a dog’s only flaw. We let them have the chair.

If you enjoyed this article, pass it along. I don’t mind having a few readers.

Until next time, be well, and cheers!

#Bodhi #beer #TinCannon #Brewing #IPA #Busted #Pipe #growler #bar #Untappd #Labrador #Retriever #training #stay