Jumpstart, Beer

Starr Hill Warm Up Winter Ale

Starr Hill Warm Up Winter Ale

Sometimes when it’s late on a Friday or Saturday night and the wife is asleep and Twitter is dull I find myself pondering beer like the good old days of my blogging origins. Each time I get a couple hundred words in and realize I haven’t said anything. This post is worthless. And I don’t even bother to save the Word Doc.

Tonight will in all likelihood be no different. Or will it?

A rerun of Elementary is playing on the iPad next to me on my desk as the clock on my iMac ticks over to read 12:27 AM. Earlier tonight I drank a Winter Ale called Warm Up by Starr Hill. The kind people at Starr Hill gave it to me along with another beer – a chocolate stout that I haven’t drank yet. Whenever I get these beers I feel obliged to think critically about them, like I used to do all the time when blogging about beer was a regular thing for me. I get excited about beer for a few minutes then, like starting up a car with a dying battery, you believe it’s going to work. It feels right; it makes the right sounds. You know though that the battery is dead. And as you keep trying to turn your key in the starter the noise slowly gets duller and duller with each attempt.

I often long for the night I sit here contemplating beer that instead of trying to start up a car with a dead battery that someone brought jumper cables to my rescue. Then I can drive my fictional beer blogging car over to Costco and get a new car battery after waiting in line for 25 minutes since no one ever mans the station at the auto/tire shop. Will it ever happen though? Who knows?

Maybe I don’t need jumper cables. That type of re-ignition might be too much to handle diving back into a topic I feel so lost in now.

– Josh

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Tipping Points, Pandora and Imperial Goses

I think a key to having a successful business is getting people hooked so that they don’t look for what you offer in other places. Take Pandora for example. I’ve been using it for what, eight years? It’s probably not the best free streaming music platform out there but I’ve been using it for so long that I probably won’t stop until 1) they piss me off by playing even more than the already absurd amount of commercials or 2) something comes along that blows it completely out of the water. If it’s not broken, why fix it?

(Craft) Breweries face the latter of the problems, at least in my mind. We’re inching closer to a tipping point where it’s virtually impossible for any normal liver to keep up with what’s being produced.

There are breweries in my effing town that I haven’t even been to yet. Revoke my beer blogger card, I don’t care. I cannot keep up with the market. So what do I do when I stand in the VA beer aisle at Total Wine? Four out of five times I grab my tried and trues. I don’t feel like messing with some Imperial Gose. I just want my 60 Minute IPA or Kalamazoo Stout.

What does this mean for (craft) beer? I’m not sure. I’m no expert but I’ve seen enough “trends” to know that we are nearing a point where the market will self correct. And when that happens I’m sure I’ll get bored with my 60 Minute IPA and Kalamazoo Stout and wish someone would brew an Imperial Gose.

Have fun this weekend. Drink what you want. Try something new, maybe.

A Little Craft Beer Depression

I’m not a sad person. I’m oddly optimistic about many things. At least I think so. That’s why I was shocked that in the midst of yet another incredible craft beer-centric night that I was feeling down. Like high school emo and for no reason whatsoever all I want to do is listen to Dashboard down.

Last weekend I took a yearly roadtrip with some friends up to Rehoboth Beach. We had lunch at Franklins Brewery in Hyattsville, hit up 16 Mile in God knows where Delaware then made our way to Rehoboth for a bottleshare and dinner at Dogfish Head.

Maybe an hour into our night at Dogfish I turned to Doug and stated something to the effect of, “Man, is this it? Is this what this whole beer blogging thing is? Have we reached the top?” I clarified that I know there are many, many, many, many more levels of “beer greatness” (ex: just chilling with Garrett Oliver, brewing with monks) out there but at that moment have I reached the attainable top?

I’m not complaining, not in the slightest. It was one of the best nights/weekends I’ve had in a long time. I am fortunate to live a comfortable life full of best night-worthy events but this one was special. After thinking about it though, I was pretty down. A World Wide Stout and countless random 2oz pours of barleywines helped move my sorrows along quickly yet over a week later it still lingers in the back of my mind.

For what it’s worth at the moment I’m on my third 10%+ porter of the night and my beer-writing muscle has atrophied a bit so I have no idea if this makes any sense to anyone but me and maybe Doug.

For the effort I put into beer and beer blogging and learning about beer, I don’t think my “beer life” could get any better. Seriously. I love the friends I’ve made. I enjoy writing a post here every few weeks. I love the respect for beer that I have. I don’t want to take beer more seriously in terms of a profession for the foreseeable future. What the heck else can I ask for? It’s like things are so good that it’s sad the journey is over and you know there is more to the journey but you don’t have the willpower/time/want at this moment to take the next step down the path.

Maybe it’s a bit of craft beer depression. I don’t know. I don’t know what my next step will be. And I think that’s okay. I’ll just take it glass by glass, bottle by bottle, step by step.

***UPDATE 01.28.15!!***

I think I found the next step of my journey which will hopefully break me out of my little funk. I’m going to start working on a second season of Conversations with Beer Bloggers.

More on that in the coming weeks. Woo!! Let me know who you want to see on Season 2!

Recommended Reading:

Some Dreams Shouldn’t Come True

New Belgium 2 Below

New Belgium 2 Below

In January 2010 I was somewhere outside of Aspen, Colorado with my ex-Navy videographer coworker. We had been wondering around Aspen for three days waiting for it to snow so we can grab some snow footage for a video we were putting together. The radar was clear with no precipitation in sight and I was able to convince him that we should go out for a drink that night.

I was only 8 months removed from slamming down Natties in college and was just beginning to come around to craft beer. My eyes were beginning to open after a recent trip to Wilmington, North Carolina where I was exposed to “local beer” for the first time. Well, at this point in my life traveling to Aspen was about 5x further than anywhere I’ve ever been before and figured why not see if this place has something local.

The bar was decently packed for a weeknight. It was dimly lit and there was a bluegrass band jamming away at the rear wall. The Denver Nuggets game was on a few of the TVs. It was a close game from what I remember. I asked the bartender for something I couldn’t get at home and he poured me a New Belgium 2° Below. He told me I’d enjoy it.

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Beer blogging has ______ my relationship with beer.

Beer blogging has __________ my relationship with beer. I sit here thinking about this prompt that me and some fellow Mid-Atlantic Beer Bloggers are supposed to write about and have no clue where to go with it. Can you humor me and let me work this out as I just type my thoughts?

Beer blogging has ignited my relationship with beer. This is 100% true. Before blogging I wasn’t as interested in brewing techniques and ingredients of certain styles. I’ve become a Certified Beer Server and started studying for BJCP. I care about who brews my beer and strive to meet the folks who do.

Beer blogging has enhanced my relationship with beer. For a long time I didn’t feel like a part of the craft beer community. I’m still an outsider in the industry but nearly two years into writing my thoughts on the subject and making some dear friends along the way I feel like I’m finally a member of the larger community. The relationships I’ve built through beer are priceless that could only have been created through beer blogging. Beer, through these individuals, has been enhanced.

Beer blogging has jaded my relationship with beer. Yep. I get pissed sometimes when I see people drinking Pliny like I drink Bell’s Two-Hearted (even though they are viewed roughly the same on each coast from what I hear). I get upset when I’m out and want to pair my dinner and my only “craft” option is Sam’s Seasonal. I get angry when the manager’s “special draft” is like Shiner Bock. Without blogging I wouldn’t know about Pliny, I’d be happy to pair any fish with Sam’s Summer Ale and gladly pay $6.59 for that Shiner Bock.

Beer blogging has pledged my relationship with beer. Not sure if that makes grammatical sense but let’s run with it. Beer blogging has made me make a pledge to beer. I pledge to respect it (think about who brewed it, don’t drink and drive, that sort of stuff). I pledge to improve it (channel my inner Hipster Brewfus and call out things that aren’t up to the quality they should be). I pledge to help grow it (help out my local craft beer community and the larger craft beer industry as an ambassador).

Out of the examples above if I’m to choose the most dramatic/important one in my life it has to be enhanced because of the relationships I’ve made. In the post-college world it is extremely difficult to make friends outside of your existing social and work circles. Beer blogging has made that possible and in turn made my relationship with beer more enhanced because these like-minded people teach me about beer and push me to be a better blogger/community member/person/etc.

So bloggers I ask you, beer blogging has done what to your relationship with beer? If you’re not a blogger or a new blogger, what do you think beer blogging would do to your relationship with beer?

This post is part of multiple essays from Mid-Atlantic beer bloggers focusing on how we feel blogging has impacted our relationship with beer. Make sure to check out these posts, too:

Douglas Smiley of Baltimore Bistros and Beer

Bryan Roth of This Is Why I’m Drunk

Jake Scholan of Hipster Brewfus

Oliver Gray of Literature and Libation

Liz Murphy of Naptown Pint