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That title is meant to signify both that a) I am still alive! Despite the fact that I never update this blog anymore because of the trillion side-projects I already have going on with my poetry and with the poetry/film journal and b) that I know how to reference Pearl Jam. Which will explain its relevance soon.

You see, waaaaay back in November, I drank this beer.

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This would be Dogfish Head’s tribute to the 20th anniversary of the classic Pearl Jam album Ten– aptly called Twenty. Now, obviously my love of Dogfish Head has been well-documented on this blog. But I bet you didn’t know that I’m also a Pearl Jam fan (…well, actually, if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably either Dan or my mom, so yeah, OK, you probably did know that I was a Pearl Jam fan). After that Trampled by Turtles post, and now posting this, I should really turn this into a beer-and-music blog instead of a beer-and-cooking-and-poetry blog, but be that as it may, let me tell you: I love Pearl Jam. This is a point of deviation for my husband and I, and after much discussion, we decided the matter boiled down to Eddie Vedder’s voice: you either love it, or you hate it. I love it. I think his voice is among my top favorite voices, musically, of all time (up there with Roy Orbison, Cee-Lo, and Sam Cooke). Dan can’t stand the sound of it. And therefore, will sing along to classic Pearl Jams (see what I did there?) on the radio, because everyone knows them, but wouldn’t listen to them on his own time. However, this isn’t a post about Dan’s ambivalence toward Pearl Jam, this is a post about my love of them. And about beer. But first Pearl Jam.

Pearl Jam is like Ensure for the soul. I know that doesn’t sound cool and badass enough to be an metaphor for the band, but hear me out: Ensure is a drink power-packed full of nutrients and calories, in one can, for those unable to come by them through a myriad of different foods in their regular diets (read: the elderly, hospital-bound, and homeless populations, mostly). Likewise, whatever thoughts, feelings, questions, doubts, anger, contemplation, or pure lack of understanding you have about the experience of living that you can’t express or articulate in the circumstances of day-to-day living, you can sing them all out with Eddie Vedder, and he’ll present them to you in his jagged, honest way that lets you know you’re not alone in them. And it nourishes your soul. All in the small, easy-to-consume size of a little album case. Eddie Vedder got me through a lot in my high school and college years, and frankly, my adult years too. Not only in Pearl Jam, but in his solo work too.

Take, for instance, “Alive.”

Is there something wrong? she said/Of course there is/You’re still alive, she said/Oh, and do I deserve to be?/Is that the question,/And if so, if so, who answers? Who answers? Who hasn’t been struck a blow right to the heart by those questions before?

“No Ceiling”? I’m pretty sure that can basically sum up everything I feel about everything I’ve lived so far.

And I’m still convinced that “Thumbing My Way” is one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

So, now that you fully understand how parts of me are what they are today because of Pearl Jam, how does their beer stack up?

Pretty tastily. Ha, I actually don’t have anything deep to say about the beer, or about how its flavors are a metaphor for the music. It pays tribute to Ten with 10 incremental additions of black currants to the beer during the brewing process and pays tribute to its 20th anniversary by being hopped to 20 IBUs. It’s a Belgian Golden Ale, if we’re getting technical and drawing style-lines, at 7.0% ABV. I have written in my notes about it from two or three months ago, “Medium-bodied, flavorful, fruit-forward, almost champagne-y. Where da currants at?” So there you go. I couldn’t really make out the currants, but then again, I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten a currant either. Aren’t they kind of like raisins? I didn’t taste any raisins. But I did taste deliciousness. And nourishingness. And I may have pulled out my copy of Ten because of it.

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I know I’ve been MIA (and what else is new?). I promise an epic honeymoon recap of how we ate, drank, walked, trained (like the transportation…not like trained for a decathlon), made friends, hiked, caroused, and breath-takingly-sight-saw our way through Germany and Austria. And how the unpasteurized German and Austrian beer is better than anything German you will get in a bottle thousands of miles away. Freshness = 9/10ths of the law. And perhaps even a little wedding recap, since we had local selections from Starr Hill Brewery at our reception, and incorporated beer into the ceremony.

But there are literally hundreds of photos, and the task is a little daunting.

For now I leave you with this tantalizing photo to tide you over:

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Great Divide’s Smoked Baltic Porter. Smokey. Soul-warming. Perfect.

….Oh OK. One more picture.

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So, I recently devoted about three hours to making making a zillion (read: 200) of these:

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And good ‘nuther (<–that should really just be a word now, and I shouldn’t have to look like a hillbilly to write out my natural way of speaking) 4-4.5 hours stuffing them into goody bags like this one:

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along with chocolate candies and matchboxes with our name + date on it (of which we now have a ton leftover, because you can only order them in sets of 50!):

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about a zillion times over:

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This was actually a really cool craft, which I found here. We collected bottle caps for a few months, before filling a gallon-sized ziploc bag and decided we had enough. It was also cool to look through all the candles while stuffing them into the bags and reminiscing about all the different beers we drank over that time, or pondering the mysteries of ambiguous bottle caps and wondering what the heck beer it went to.

That said, I don’t know how people manage to get so crafty with their weddings, let alone enjoy being crafty with their weddings. This was my one wedding craft, and the amount of labor involved in making sure everyone has a couple candles, some Dove chocolates and Hershey kisses, and a matchbox to show from our wedding, made me realize about half a wax block in that I was done-ski with wedding crafts after this.

Advantage to getting married + having your reception outdoors?

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No need to decorate! Mother nature is your decoration!

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Actual pictures of where we’re getting married…not taken by me.

Here’s one of us there in April though, when it was still snowy and barren, and slightly less lush and picturesque:

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Dan looks so weird to me now without the goatee.

We were left with one odd candle (Not sure how that happened! I definitely bought 200 wicks and 200 wick clips, in bags of 50 each, and used them all. So unless a few were dropped on the floor or the count on the bags was inaccurate, or the count on the plastic bags + twisty ties that I packaged them with–also supposed to be exactly 100, for 2 candles per bag–I’m not sure how we ended up with an odd number of candles), and I decided to snag the Hofbrauhaus one for ourselves, since we’ll be seeing the Hofbrauhaus live and in person in a couple weeks!

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So speaking of the family I’m marrying into + stuff that eases the pain of wedding crafting, the in-laws recently went on a trip to Kansas City, MO and came back raving about a beer they had at the Boulevard Brewing Company called Tank 7. And of course, brought us back a couple to sample!

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I don’t know why, but I was less crazy about this on the first bottle than the second. Not that I disliked it; I just think for some reason the circumstances of my second tasting led me to appreciate it more. It’s a farmhouse-style ale, at 8.0% ABV. It’s almost got a Belgian IPA-esque quality, with a very prominent citrusy-hop taste and aroma (lemons + oranges are leading the charge of the flavor-brigade), and that smooth quality of Belgian yeast. Maybe also resembles a rustic French style, like biere de garde? Anyway, I highly recommend if you’re in Kansas City (or feel like seeking out an out-of-state beer online, if you’re not in Kansas City, since I don’t think these are widely distributed beyond their locale of production).

And lastly, and with no smooth transition, I’m sure all of your heard about a little thing called Hurricane Irene that graced us with her presence mere days after Earthquakepocalypse 2011 (aka, get-out-of-work-free day). Luckily we were spared most serious damage here in our part of Virginia, and even kept our power. I was happy about that, but actually a little disappointed we didn’t get to use our awesome GorillaTorches.

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We had one clamped to the guitar stand here, and one clamped to the exercise bike on the other side of the room. I gotta say, with an 80 hour battery life and some sort of awesome lighting technology I don’t understand, these things can light up a fuckin’ room + do it for a long time. A great power outage investment, for any situation in which you lose power.

Anyway, I went for a walk all around Rosslyn + into DC the next morning, to survey the damage. Turned out there wasn’t much, but the atmosphere (literally and figuratively) early in the morning after the storm was surreal. The streets were nearly empty, except for a few people walking around like me, and though it wasn’t raining anymore, we still had pretty extreme wind gusts (upward of 30 mph, which is unusual for this area…not so unusual for where I used to live in Harrisonburg!). The air was cool and light, maybe hovering in the upper 60s or low 70s, almost as if the air had breathed a sigh of relief, exhaling the nearly constant soupiness of a swampy DC summer, and a huge weight was lifted off the land’s shoulders. The wind gusted through without making it cold or unpleasant, just matching the temperature around it, and it was actually quite calm, in a weird way, and pleasant to walk through.

Anyway, like I said, there wasn’t too much major damage. But I did have my camera with me, and I did get some photos of the construction site on 17th St. (or 16th St? I can’t remember which it was now), which was pretty badly flooded. And this guy that was looking onto the scene a few yards down from me, who wandered down into the flooded pit. I’m not exactly sure why, or who he was.

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And that’s all she wrote! For now at least. I’ll probably be MIA (but that’s no new thing to I+A readers) for the next few weeks, since there’s the getting married thing next weekend, then from the 16th-24th we’ll be bopping our way by train + foot through Germany and Austria. Rest assured though, there will be an epic beer-centric honeymoon recap once we return!

Cheers!

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I like hiking. And I like hiking analogies. Let’s pretend this blog is a trail up a mountain. That mountain is called….Mt. Content.

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Pretty.

Now, let’s say, as this blog traverses up Mt. Content, this blog’s current focus–it’s current “direction,” if you will–takes it straight up the mountain, vertically. As such, this trail is called the “Beer Trail.”

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Now that’s all well and good. That trail gets you to the summit of Mt. Content efficiently (if you’re a master climber, I guess). But let’s stop for a minute, pull out our map and compass, and make some freeze-dried beef stroganoff on our camp stoves. And let’s review some of my favorite blogs to read.

Blogs like this one. And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one and this one and this one.

(Hi people I’ve been stalking for years! I have no idea how I found most of your blogs, and you probably had no idea I read them. Is it weird that I kind of feel like Seth Rogan talking about Vince Vaughn in Knocked Up when I read your blogs? You know- “I feel like he’d like me. You know, I’m sure a lot of guys are like, ‘Oh, I’d like to hang out with that celeb’, but I really think he would want to hang out with me, is like the cool thing.” I’m pretty convinced that we’d all be best friends if we ever met in real life. There, I said it, and came out in all my blog-stalky weirdness)

So now that I’ve creeped out….8 different people into taking out virtual-restraining orders on my virtual self, let’s talk about why I keep coming back to their blogs. If you’ll notice, none of those blogs are beer blogs, even though I write a beer blog. The reason? I find most beer blogs pretty boring to read. I mean, beer is awesome. Beer, to me, is like truffles or smoked salt to a foodie. The possibilities of beer are endless, the way they taste, the way they make other things taste, the way they feel, the way they make us feel because of our individual experiences with them, and what their tastes and textures stir in us. But after awhile, I read the posts in most beer blogs–and my own posts–and go, yeah, OK. Beer is great. What else?

All those blogs I love tend to be food- or healthy-living focused. But that’s not why I love them (though I do love food. And treating my body, mind, and soul right. And living). Their content keeps me coming back because food is just the ice-breaker. Food is the pretense. A means to a conversation, a great story. It’s the thing everyone gathers around at the table, yes, to enjoy, but more significantly, to bring everyone together to enjoy + celebrate each other and enjoy + celebrate the unique people we all are.

These blogs use food to tell stories of other things I love: Cooking. Friends. The outdoors. Adventures. Archaeology. Love. Music. Meditations. Constantly becoming oneself. Facing life’s life-y twists and turns head on, with humor, strength, and grace. Ridiculous animal companions. Snark.

I realized my favorite posts that I’ve written have been similar: the ones with stories surrounding the beer. Like the time I hiked Wildcat Mountain and drank my first Christmas Ale of the season. Or the time I reflected on my love of (and former life in) archaeology through Dogfish Head’s Chateau Jiahu. Or when I compared Marzens to Sam Cooke.

So, I want my blog from here on out to do something similar, with every post. I want my blog to ascend up Mt. Content like this:

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I want beer to be the conversation-starter on my blog. I want to traverse all the other great stories (…ahem…”great.” We’ll see. They’ll be “stories,” nevertheless) I have to tell. I want it to reflect my interests and passions, like:

Food

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The Great Outdoors

(that guy apparently has paddles for arms)

Love

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Photography

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…yeah. That one was too hard. That’s an illustration of a flash going off on a camera.

And because I’m lazy now: Good friends. Karaoke. Poetry. Yoga. Laughing. Snarking. Crappy Paintbrush drawings.

And I want it all to start with the suds.

So, here were some hurricane suds I drank this past weekend:

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This is from New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Series, a beer called “Kick.” I think I must’ve been thinking of this guy when I wrote my notes on this beer, because I had written in my notebook “New Belgium Fat Lips of Faith Series ‘Kick’ “!

Anyway, this is 75% ale brewed with pumpkin and cranberry juices, and 25% ale aged in wooden barrels (what type of wood, we’ll never know. Not if we only go by what’s on the bottle and are too lazy to research it more, at least). This is sort of what I imagine all the Hogwarts kids are drinking in the Harry Potter books when they mention PUMPKIN JUICE! (Without the 8.6% ABV, I mean) Funnily enough, it doesn’t taste a lot like pumpkin…but it does taste like fall, and like bounty, and like harvest. It’s tart and funky, rich and deep. It’s got the kick of cranberries, predominantly, with the light burnt orange color of our favorite fall gourd, and a veeeeerrrry slight woody, smokey taste at the very end of the swig.

And yeah. OK. I’ve already kind of failed at my new resolution to blog more about all aspects of my life, told through stories of beer, because I thought of this blog-changing revelation and wanted to get it down before I had a chance to…you know…live any good beer stories. Or photographs illustrating any stories. So let’s just catch up on my life lately.

As you all know (or, as you all know now!), I’m a defense analyst by day, and a poet by night! (and, well, let’s be honest…sometimes by day too). I graduated from Johns Hopkins with my M.A. in poetry this past winter, and while I beat along against the currents of the poetry publishing world (believe me….it’s a very up-river swim), my awesomely brilliant fiance and I have also founded and begun to edit an online journal of poetry and film called Magic Lantern Review. It has been an amazing experience so far, and our first issue is due out this fall. We’ve gotten an influx of poetry so far, so submissions for poetry are currently closed. But we’re still taking submissions of short digital films as well as film analysis, so if you know anyone who does either of those things, or is interested in trying their hand at either of them, tell them about us!!

I’ll love you forever.

Oh yeah, and speaking of the awesomely brilliant fiance, he will be the awesome brilliant HUSBAND in two weeks! We’re getting married on September 10. And yes, beer will be part of the ceremony. At a winery. You heard me.

Here is a picture of him:

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(crabbing in Galesville, MD)

And another:

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(with me on our fifth anniversary)

And another:

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(A crappy phone photo of him picking a karaoke song at karaoke at the Rhodeside)

That’s another thing you should know about me/us. We spend a lot of time singing karaoke at the Rhodeside in Rosslyn. A LOT of time. To the point that the DJ knows us, hangs out with us at the bar, and says hi to us around town. And knows when our wedding is. We make friends wherever we go.

Speaking of friends:

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This is me with my friend Laura. She and her husband are Dan + my downstairs neighbors, and we sing a lot of karaoke together. You may recall her as the co-host of the legendary Crappy Light Beer Blind Taste-Testing Party back in January!

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And this is me with my friend Sarah. We’re 15 (maybe 16?) in this picture, and we’re feeding ducks because we’re on an island in the middle of Lake Umbagog, New Hampshire, on one of our annual kayak-camping trips where we’d kayak out several miles to a campsite living off only what we could stuff into the holds of the kayaks. For a week. They were amazing and beautiful times.

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And here is a picture of me and several more of my friends (L to R: Annie, me, Christine, Sarah, Sabah) at 10th grade homecoming. How is it possible I looked older at 15 than I do now at 24? Something probably to do with immaculate beauty habits that I abandoned in adulthood when I realized I had better things to do with my time.

And while we’re flashing back in time, have some baby pictures. Of me. That I stole from my parents’ house recently.

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“Yeaaaahhhhh, I’m gonna play with a toy!”
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“Wait. I’m already confused.”
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I think we’re on a ferry here. I think I’m threatening mutiny. I look evil. That’s my mom next to me.
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Bound for sudsy, bloggy glory.

I hope you enjoyed this really long post! And I hope you’ll stick around for more. More content. More new content. More brief content. I promise.

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Sounds like a pretty awesome joke, right?

Wrong!

Well, that’s not true. It probably would be an awesome joke. But here, it’s just referring to three beers I recently drank (though not in a bar, in the comfort of my own living room).

First of all, I have to give a shout out to Red, White, and Bleu in Falls Church for not only having these awesome beers on their shelves, but a plethora of hard-to-find beers (as in, hard to find even at Total Wine! Shocking, I know!), tons of quality wines (at value prices!), wheels of cheese bigger than my head, all the charcuterie you could want, yummy spreads and crackers, and even jelly beans packaged in little bags labeled “Chardonnay,” “Malbec,” “Viognier,” and the like, that when eaten in tandem with the other beans in the bag, will recreate the taste sensation of that particular wine style. I’m serious–Temperanillo, for instance, had black pepper (for spiciness), bacon (for woody/smokey taste), cappuccino (for caramel/coffee/mocha taste), cherry (for fruity/berry taste), dirt (for earthy taste), pencil shaving (for minerality), plum (for tree-fruit taste), raspberry (for berry), strawberry (for berry again) flavors. I’m not kidding you. Bacon jelly beans.

Yes. Please.

Unfortunately, all I have to offer of that bunch is a picture of an empty bag. I ate them in the car ride home.

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Now then, who was the first to walk into the bar? Oh yes, the cider…

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This would be the Wanderlust variety from Wandering Aengus Ciderworks in Salem, OR. This cider was perfect for when I cracked it open, after a long, hot walk outside in the summertime.

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Perfectly refreshing, effervescent, and light. I specifically chose this because it was characterized as dry, and modeled after English ciders. The bottle did not lie on that fact, it had just the perfect amount sweet undertones and apple character, without being sweet itself. It’s got a slight spicy finish as well. The only thing I didn’t get was why it was characterized as “full-bodied” by the label. This was anything but full-bodied to me! It seemed extremely light for a cider. That’s not a point against it, by any means. It seemed to me like the artfully-brewed and delicious Kolsch of ciders. And I can’t imagine why the bottle thought otherwise?

Yes, I’m aware that the bottle didn’t actually “think” anything. It’s an easy target though.

Moving on…

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Mole, ole! Oh yes, I bet you thought that mole was an animal! But no. I just don’t know how to put an accent over the “e” in Ecto.

Isn’t it cool that this selection from the New Holland High Gravity Series, Mole Ocho, looks like it’s defying gravity in this picture? That’s the blurry edges of a photo taken with a fish-eye lens of a bottle propped at an angle against the window and atop a candle!

Though I was up to some optical illusions in that picture, this beer is no….optical illusion…..of taste.

(Yeah, OK, that attempt at “clever wording” went nowhere).

This was seriously delicious. Or at least, I thought so. Dan wasn’t so keen on it for some reason! I was taken, though.

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This looks like it should be drank in some dimly lit library full of dusty, hand-bound books on shelves of deep, rich mahogany. Perhaps the beer is resting on a side table while you sit in a high-backed leather chair, afghan over your lap. An original handwritten journal of Hemmingway or maybe Kipling is balanced in one hand, sucking you into vivid, obscure locales in India, Africa, Cuba. Your other hand remains stationed outstretched to grab this beer–the only beer rich and deep, spicy and earthy, mysterious and commanding enough to match the tales you’re absorbed in.

Ideally. Or you could just drink it in your living room by lamplight while you watch the mediocre slasher take on the classic Brothers Grimm story, “Snow White: A Tale of Terror.”

Either way it will taste wonderful. It’s chocolatey (as one would expect from the beer version of the classic Mexican spicy, chocolate-based savory sauce), but without being sweet or overly-thick like a chocolate stout, and without being bitter like unsweetened chocolate. It tastes like someone took some cocoa beans and smoked them, then coated them in cayenne. It’s a smokey, spicey, earthy–almost mineral–chocolate taste. I have written in my beer tasting notebook “Very good with strawberries.” Then another note appears, in Dan’s handwriting. “Not as sexy as Dan.” Ha-ha. Bet you thought I’d write that on here unthinkingly, blindly trusting my notes!

Well, I guess I sort of did write on here.

Oh man. I’ve been bested. I’ve been dogged. I’ve been beaten down and beaten down again. Makes me feel like I got the blues. Makes me feel like I’ve got a hellhound on my trail. Or perhaps…..on my……ale?

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That’s right, the final beer that walked into that bar is a tribute by Dogfish Head to the inimitable Robert Johnson, whose song “Hellhound On My Trail” is the namesake of the beer “Hellhound On My Ale” and whose 100th birthday would have been this year, if he hadn’t stolen that guy’s woman, gotten poisoned with arsenic, survived, caught pneumonia, survived, then gotten poisoned with arsenic by that guy again.

The beer is hopped by centennial hops, a nod to RJ’s centennial birthday, and just like Robert Johnson, who did nothing if not to the extreme (be it playing the blues, drinking, running around with other men’s women, or selling his soul to the devil for guitar lessons), this ale clocks in at 100 IBUs (that’s international bitterness units). 100 IBUs is where the scale stops, because it is literally the threshold of human taste for bitterness. This beer could be even more bitter than we even realize, but we have no clue, because we can only physically register 100 IBUs.

So just from that, you’d think this beer would be all but unpalatable. But let me tell you, just like the blues, which howls of heartache, oppression, depression, and dark dark mojo, this beer–also just like blues–goes down so smooth and fine. It goes down in that way that makes you want to shake your head, smile out the corner of your mouth, and mutter “Mmmhmm! Thass right!” (<– and “thass” my country accent coming out).

And after all that, you’d think a 100-IBUs-bitter beer wouldn’t need the pucker of a lemon in it, but in a nod to Johnson’s mentor, Blind Lemon Jefferson, the folks at Dogfish Head added dried lemon peel and flesh to the mash. And let me tell you again, ain’t no pucker involved. It’s bitter, and it’s lemony, but somehow it just heightens that fine twang of the brew. It’s thick and good and it’ll put a slow, sweet smile on your face. Might even make you go “Mmmhmm! Thass right!”

Thass right folks. And thass all for now. Cheers!

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Wooooow. I really have not blogged in a long time. But I’m going to stop starting every sporadic post with an apology. So there. I haven’t blogged in a long time. It is what it is.

Onto beer!

I have two for the price of one today. First up: Fish Tale Organic Amber Ale! All the way from Olympia, WA, Fish Tale- come on down!

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(Applause)

Now let me tell you a little (fish) tale about this photograph. You may notice that this beer is next to a lamp. It is, in fact, being lit by a lamp. Let me tell you something: I have never bought a lamp in my life. I mean, there were lamps at my parents’ house. I’ve lived with lamps. I’ve just never actually bought one of my own. But now I have. And I’m absolutely in love with this appliance. Now I can take photos in the apartment AT NIGHT. NOT AT ISO 1600. You maybe don’t know how much this is revolutionizing my life. Or maybe you do. In either case, this certainly wouldn’t have been possible before. Or this:

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But the beer still would’ve tasted the same. Tasty! Good ambers to me have a mouthfeel that’s somewhat similar to blondes (the ale, not the hair color): smooth, thick, foamy, but not sludge-like, with good carbonation. And this one did. It was sweet and toasty, with floral hops on the tail end of the taste. The…fish….tail….end, you might say? HA!

I think it would taste good with some toast slathered in honey, to mirror the toasty grains and amber sweetness, or if you wanted something savory, something like caprese salad: mild and smooth and maybe a little milky to go with the sweet grains, with the acidity and tang of tomatoes and balsamic to cut through the beer and cheese, and enhance the hops. And the basil would definitely bring out the subtle hops.

I definitely had toast with honey (sans beer) for breakfast this morning. I didn’t take a photograph of it. That would’ve been great to have right about now. Dammit.

Onto beer #2!

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This is the “Side Project” Volume 14 from Terrapin (of Athens, GA). Side Projects are something Terrapin has been doing each year since 2008. They are 22 oz, one-time batches that the brewery puts out, reflecting different (and often experimental) brewing styles. This year brings us to Volume 14, the 14th Side Project undertaken by Terrapin. It’s called Tomfoolery, and it’s a Black Saison.

Black Saison, you say?!? Does there even exist such a thing??

Apparently. Now there does.

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No, that’s not Guinness in that glass! My first impression of this beer was that as a “Black Saison,” it actually tasted remarkably similar to some Cascadian Dark Ales/Black IPAs I’ve tasted (though maybe not as hop-heavy, and with less pronounced carbonation). The funky, wild, earthy taste signature to Saisons came through subtly at the end of the taste- though, as I’ve often found to be true with Saisons, the taste became more and more pronounced as it warmed up. However, every time I stuck my nose down in the glass and took a deep, long whiff of it, it smelled very Saison-y. But maybe my still-stuffed-up nose, recovering from a recent 10-round knockdown fight with a cold, was partially to blame for my not picking up on the Saison-y-ness in the taste right away, when I wasn’t sticking my nose down in the beer.

Anyhow, I liked it. Beer is good.

And now I’m just going to leave with you two random pictures. One, a bottle cap found in the bag of bottle caps Dan and I are saving for a wedding crafts project (http://draftmag.com/features/how-to-bottle-cap-candles/). I saw this and thought this bottle cap must’ve been designed specifically for me and my love of aged, solidified dairy products:

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The other is a picture of Dan (the fiance) and I at the Black Cat seeing Futurebirds! I don’t post a lot of pictures of myself or Dan on here, but I know I always like seeing what other bloggers look like/glimpses of their lives (when the blog isn’t specifically about their life, especially), so here is us at an awesome little concert we went to!

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Futurebirds were awesome. They kind of sound like a melodic, psychedelic, reverby version of Crazy Horse (who, if you are gigantic Neil Young fans like us, you will know what they sound like)….with awesome old-timey country pedal steel sounds. Which I called an “electric dulcimer” and Dan had no idea what I was talking about. But that’s all a pedal steel is, right? It’s a dulcimer you plug in! OK, whatever. Anyway, I was too self-conscious because we were right up front and center/too focused on dancing my heart out to take a picture of the band, so I took a picture of us after the last song and said “I’m only taking one picture, and I’m using it, no matter how bad it is!” So Dan purposefully tried to make a weird face. But it actually didn’t turn out that weird (well, a little). Actually, I kind of like this picture.

Cheers everyone!

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Fiiiinally getting around to blogging again! Sorry guys, but life is hectic, and there hasn’t been as much time or willpower for sampling and photographing, especially with the short days meaning horrible lighting conditions for any time I may want to drink a beer except for maybe once or two times during the weekend, if I happen to want a beer in the early afternoon.

But this one will be a good one, I promise! I finally got to sample Dogfish Head’s My Antonia, the much-raved-about new release from DFH this past year. And armed with my newfound appreciation (well, OK, I guess not that new) of that bottom-fermented classic, the lager, I was excited to try a lager offering from Dogfish Head, who not only has a track record of producing delicious beers, but also a track record of mostly producing delicious ales. I wanted to see what they’d do with the oft misunderstood, and missed-opportunitied, lager style.

Yes, I just made up the word “missed-opportunitied.” It means two things: one, that craft brewers often favor ales over lagers and miss the opportunity to produce a really great lager, and two, that mass macro-brews who mostly produce lagers often, sadly, miss the opportunity to produce a great, complex lager. Or maybe it’d be more accurate to say that lots of people miss the opportunity to drink a quality lager, instead opting for a cheap, easily available, and familiar name to drink can after can in session. And thus the demand is created. Sigh. They do have their place.

Anyhow! On to My Antonia!

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My Antonia, named after the Willa Cather novel, is a “continually-hopped imperial Pils,” according to DFH. It started out as a collaboration beer with Birra del Borgo in Italy, where it was first brewed by both Sam Calagione and Leonardo DiVincenzo of Birra del Borgo in 2008. A small amount was shipped to the US in 2008, and then the 2010 release was distributed to very limited markets in the US. It has been a bitch to find. But it turned out to be a bitchin’ great brew!

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At 7.5% alcohol, it’s got a lot more gravity than your typical Pilsner, and it’s got a weightiness accordingly. The mouthfeel was still crisp like a Pilsner should be, but almost had a creaminess to it too. The overwhelming tastes and aromas were citrus and grains, with a touch of that herbal, foresty taste of west coast hops intensifying the crispness of the Pilsner style. It’s tempered, though, by a sweetness in the citrus…like an very ripe orange, maybe, as well as by some breadiness from the Pilsner grains.

Overall, definitely a beer worth hunting down!

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