Last month I had a few epic beer runs, starting in Tennessee and ending the week after BCBS made its annual visit to town. My wife showed me the receipts and yes, I set a personal record for beer purchases in November. I don’t negotiate well so I went from “I’ll spend x amount a week” to “I won’t buy any beer in December.”
Beer shopping is therapeutic for me. It’s fun to search the local stores, see who has what, which place has the best price, and who might stash a bottle of that recent hard-to-find beer. I have to live without that. It is possible for me to walk into a store and leave empty-handed, especially if I’m looking for one or two things in particular and they fail to emerge. This month I’m going to try to avoid the stores because if I go in, I won’t leave by myself.
The question is how hearty is my stash and will it last the month. While I did buy my arse off last month, a lot of what I bought was the high-end stuff that doesn’t exactly last long. A Bourbon County Stout is great but I have two and would have to wait for a trade or another year to pass to get more. In fact, a lot of what I have are one or two offs and you get in that mindset where it’s “if I drink this, I’ll have one left” and “if I drink this, that’s the last one for at least a month.”
When you have 20 or so of these one-offs, it’s ok to dive into the stash.
I did have to say goodbye to the last bottle of a beer that I’ve been buying for at least five years. My tastes clearly have changed over the years, as I used to covet the annual release of Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale, made by Canada’s Unibroue. I had some from 2014 through last year and when I pulled out a 2014 for one of my fantasy drafts I realised that I’m not so into the spicy beers anymore and there’s a bitter finish, kind of a tripel style that doesn’t knock my socks off anymore. So this week I opened my last one, from 2015, and I will never see its like again. I discovered this beer around the time that I found Corsendonk, and I always have a little extra love for those “cork and cage” brews. Alas, I dig different stuff these days.
Previous Beer Adventures
My one beer expenditure this month, assuming I don’t talk my wife into joining me at the Cherry Street Fifth Anniversary next Saturday, was to ship some beer. My friend Matt Rittle announced his findings on BCBS day and it turns out that we had a trade in the offing. The regular BCBS didn’t make it to Georgia so he had an extra bottle plus a bottle of the Reserve, which as far as I know only sold in Chicago and Kentucky. I received those two bottles plus a Mad Elf from Troegs. The Elf was for last night and the BCBSs went to my stash that no doubt will be picked clean in the second half of this month.
The Mad Elf reminded me of the Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale in that it had that yeasty Belgian Strong flavor but the spices weren’t there and the cherry flavor won the day. Where have cherries been in my beers of late? All I have are a couple of Boulevard Bourbon Aged Quad with cherries and some Three Philosophers and in both cases cherry is the bit player.
I did crack another bomber last night (passed out while watching the Season 2 Finale of the British Baking Championship). Last year I had a Barrel Aged Narwhal and it’s a great example of the style. Sierra Nevada decided to up things and added it to their Trip in the Woods series. The result was the bourbon-barrel aged Narwhal (stout) with chocolate and coconut. I am a nut for coco of all kinds so I had to try it. It was a smooth dessert beer with much chocolate, not a ton of coconut, and a very boozy finish. Honestly I’d like to get another bottle or two and cellar them for a year to take the edge off the heat. I’ve been kind of meh on some of my more coveted beers, like Funky Buddha’s Save Some Room for Later (German chocolate cake ale), but this one was worth the price of admission.
It’s a good idea to clean out the stash from time to time. By Christmas week I’ll be finishing up this six-pack of Abita’s key lime pie gose I bought six months ago and found other beers more intriguing.