Author Archives: bear the brewgal

Cheers to my community!

2011 has passed us by and we now venture into 2012. A new year and here on my birthday (I’m an old lady!), I reflect on the many moons of the last year and look forward to the future.

2011 was full of personal growth and community building. The start of the year was turbulent. I learned more about the ugly side of humanity and my trust in people was challenged. But as a result, I was embraced by the absolute lovely side of humanity. I met beautiful people who I now cherish and consider part of my pack. I grew with old friends who encouraged me through a rough time. My community is strengthening, one that is full of positivity, hope, love, and a keen eagerness to make this world a better place.

Beer, too, is about community. It is a central gravity bringing people together. As early as 6000 BC, people were brewing and sharing beer. In Sumarian culture, people prayed and sang to the goddess Ninsaki, passing on the tradition and process of brewing. As cultures evolved, beer (along with its cousin bread) is credited with allowing for the advancement of technology and uniting communities. There was a strong connection between the brewery and the farm, a vital link in health of our society. Grains and hops grown on farms are provided to breweries who in turn produce food for livestock with spent grains and merriment for the farmers with a tasty, fermented beverage.

Somewhere along the line, we may have grown distant from this connection, as big box breweries dominated the American drinking scene and our grocery stores became stocked with foods grown in far away places. But we are human. We have a yearning for community, a general desire to support our neighbors. We now have more local breweries and farms providing for us and strengthening our communities. I am excited for this change towards a more local, community-driven society.

I am not going to make any resolutions for the new year. But I believe 2012 will bring about great positive change and I will continue to be bring enthusiasm and support for my community. I am so grateful to be a part of it at every moment in my life. The hype over 2012 is that the world is coming to an end, but others view it as a time when humanity changes and for the best. I’m just getting started in this world and see no ‘end’ in sight.

So this is my new year toast to my community, to the great friends and family that have supported and loved me. I adore each and every one of you. Thank you for being such a positive influence in my life. And let’s look to the future with renewed optimism and passion.

Cheers!

Old words.

Before I joined this blog with the lovely Elizabeth (Gexx), I attempted my own blog with just a couple entries. Check them out: http://brewgal.wordpress.com/

That is all. 

Giving thanks

Bear here. This may be coming a little late, but now is the time for detox and reflection on a successful Thanksgiving in the 2011 year. I started this blog a couple weeks ago and with a busy life comes little time to post one’s beer thoughts, so here I attempt to bring this back to life.

This was the second year my family spent Thanksgiving at Broadkill Beach in Delaware. Space is a little tight, but the faint ocean spray and brilliant sunsets over the Prime Hood Wildlife Refuge make this the perfect place to be reminded of all for which we should be appreciative. It is here the little things seem so clear, even monumental. From the waft of an herb-buttered turkey made with love to the nail-biting finish of a family card game to murmurs of snow geese in the distance to a brilliant early morning view.

And let’s not forget that little thing, good beer, here where it thrives in Delaware!

I arrived on Wednesday and immediately went to the brew store to stock up for the weekend, for my home. I hoped to find a few lingering Southern Tier Pumkings, a pumpkin imperial ale (one of the best I’ve tasted), but alas, no Pumking, instead a good smattering of holiday beers, not my favorite. I did find Unibroue’s Ephemere, a brew a friend told me about. I thought the apple beer would be a great compliment to Thanksgiving dinner, so I picked one up, along with a few other big beers to be tasted at a later date and a case of Victory’s Headwaters Pale Ale, perhaps my favorite session ale. I find the brew stores in Delaware refreshing, always something new and intriguing. Why can’t we have this selection in Pennsylvania? Why do the stuffy Germans have to impose such strict beer laws to not even allow my local beer distributor and fellow hop-lover offer a selection to be proud of, to ponder over, to tempt one’s curious tastebuds? Perhaps a rant for another post.

Thanksgiving was full of good blessings and good food. My parents sampled the Ephemere. Rather than scrunching their noses as they usually do to my beer tastings, they complimented the apple-infused Belgian. ‘It tastes like a hard cider’, my mom said. But it is not cider, it is beer and it is good. The Ephemere is dry, retaining a Belgian character with a hint of green Granny Smith apples. This brew went great with turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and all the goodness we savored (or devoured) over dinner. The Ephemere now has its place in my beer tome, welcome.

Black Friday. Buy Nothing Day. Buy Nothing but Local Day. Go to Dogfish Head Brewery and Taste Local Day. Yes! My mom and I went to Dogfish Head, remembering last year they featured their ‘black’ beers on black friday. But this year were amber ales, rich ales, still all goodness. To be brief, as I tend to ramble, the tastings:

– Raison D’Etre, a little sweet and a brew I consider ‘ok’. Made with beet sugar, green raisons and Belgian yeast. Being a Belgian and full of raisons, this brew is definitely unique and comes on strong, but to ‘candied’ for me. Always willing to taste though!

– Hellbound Ale = simply great. Brewed with lemons, which come on first, it still retains the hoppy character of a good pale ale. My mom even liked this brew.

– Burton Baton, LOVED this brew. Very hoppy, very citrusy, something I wanted a full pint of, but a little dangerous at 10%abv. I would love to find this in bottles and enjoy sparingly.

– Old School, a barleywine for the masses at 15%abv. Very sweet smelling, but the strength of the alcohol kills it upon the first sip, which works in its favor. I enjoyed this beer, it was a nice finish to the day’s tastings.

Saturday morning began with a trip to Rehoboth Beach to run in the ‘Huff, Puff, and Race for Pumpkin Pie’ 5k! I was a little nervous about this run, considering I hurt my ankle a few weeks back and haven’t been on the same running streak. But give me a beautiful day, good energy, and anything goes! I kept a steady pace, but completed the run a little over 30 minutes. Even with a dead iPod, I was able to knock this race out! Now for the celebratory beer. But wait, nothing in Rehoboth opens before 11? And I would have to wait ’til noon for Dogfish Head??? Yep, headed back up the strip, my folks and I did, to stop at Bethany Blues where I not only found a good beer for celebration, but a 21oz Dogfish 60 Minute  IPA. Ah… succuess! No need to describe this brew; I simply love it, the hop complexity, the amber color, the rich flavor, the replenishing of electrolytes after a good run.

And on the road again to Baltimore, to visit with good friends among good tidings. First stop, 13.5%, a new wine bar in Balmer, where yes, I was the only one to order a beer. And a decent selection of beer too! I wanted Oskar Blues’ Imperial Red Ale, but was saddened to learn they were fresh out. So a Southern Tier 2X Imperial IPA on draught it was. Very yummy and definitely strong (although I’m not sure as strong as the wine samples my friends tasted), faint citrusy/piney hops, but not as forefront as I like my hops. A sweet maltiness seemed to carry this beer more than the hops, which sometimes happens in doubles – much sugar is needed to turn up the abv volume!

We stumbled through the rest of the night. A walk to 34th, where the Christmas lights draw crowds, reminiscent of the working class 1970s that continued a long-standing tradition or a reincarnated northern New Orleans (but the streets are much more narrow in NOLA!). Back in the cab to the college district, bouncing around to a few bars, the most notable Brewers Art, famed for its strong Belgians. Again, I’m not big on Belgians, but give me a good one and I’m happy. Their Resurrection Ale is a flavorful, drier brew with fruity characters making this a nice sipping beer. I also tried their seasonal St. Festivus, definitely a winter warmer that I was not ready for… after first taste, whoa! This brew’s got some spice. Winter seasonals aren’t really my cup of tea, but I managed to sip this down, appreciating a little of the holidays to come.

Sunday morning was met with bit of a headache and a much thirsty body. We gathered ourselves from the evening before, brushing off the dust from the Baltimore Streets and faced the day. A tasty hipster brunch down the street with my friends’ dad (who smiled at our ‘condition’ and chimed in with an early morning mimosa) and soon after, back to Selinsgrove I went. The weekend was full of things to remind me to be grateful. For all the love and caring I’m surrounded by, for the ability to spend quality time with those that mean so much to me, for my strength and health, and of course, for a good brew. I have been very fortunate. I am grateful, thankful, appreciative. Until next time, folks and much ‘beer love’ for you all!

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