Florida may not have a foot friendly pub crawl scene yet, especially along the Treasure Coast, but we are getting there beerly and surely. I remember what my itinerary last year looked like and it was nothing close to my itinerary for this fine year of 2010. While I can count the number of extracurricular beertivities this month versus last year on one hand, very soon I’m going to have to utilize both hands and maybe even the toes. My feet live in flip-flops though so the toes would not be an issue, but I digress.
Speaking of digressing, we don’t engage in this fortuitous inactivity nearly enough as Americans specifically and human beings generally. Relax. Life is to be enjoyed. Be in the moment even if it lasts all day as was my lucky circumstance just last Monday May 17th.
Technically the official kickoff time was 6pm sharp, but just like déjà-vu those in the know with the way showed up early. I arrived a wee bit before 5pm and already there were beer peeps and peepettes lounging around the bar, beers in hand. Typically the brew in hand early on that I witnessed was the classic Terrapin Rye Pale Ale. Going for the hot price of only $2.95 a pint all day long, well, you just can’t beat that. Once inside, it took mere minutes before I was also relaxing, chatting, and laughing with a pint of Rye Pale Ale in my own hand.
As much as we love their Rye Pale Ale, she’s not exactly sufficient cause for a Celebration Party right? Right. The main reason for a kickoff time of 6pm sharp is to gather all around the bar for a tapping of the kegs. Once more Vine & Barley along with Tim Hebeler and JJTaylor Distributing pulled all the stops and brought out the really good brews for a bustling horde of thirsty groupies.
Groupie: a fan of a rock group who usually follows the group around on tours; an admirer of a celebrity who attends as many of his/her public appearances as possible; enthusiast or aficionado of a particular person, place, or thing.
*thanks to Merriam-Webster*
A fine standing if I say so myself and a badge I am proud to wear. We bring the maturity and class back into groupie without the restraining orders. Overzealous arrogant psychopathic stalkers need not apply.
Now where was I? Oh yes, the beers being tapped.
Awaiting our indulgement that evening was the Monk’s Revenge Belgian-style IPA (India Pale Ale) and…wait for it…French Oak Aged Wake & Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout. Be still my beating heart. The original Wake & Bake is a vaunted and highly sought after seasonal release both in bottle and keg, but the Oak Aged version is a rare beast. Draft only, my Vine & Barley got the only keg to grace the Treasure Coast. Happy days are here again, yes indeed.
Tasting book safely tucked away in pockets along with camera and such, I was beyond raring to go. But first, food. Having not eaten yet that day, just the idea of drinking the night away on an empty stomach was enough to induce nausea. West End Grille to the rescue. This time around I went for their chicken cheese quesadillas with guacamole, of course. Stuffed with large chunks of chicken swimming in a generous pool of cheeses, onions, and tomatoes, she was then grilled to golden perfection. Each bite crunched before oozing cheesy chickeny delights. Yum! Tiny belly for food that I have, the rest went home for the perfect midnight munchie.
Rumbling tummy now sated and satisfied, I set about snapping pre-tapping pics inbetween meeting, greeting, and hugging all my wonderful beer geeks who had descended on Vine & Barley that night. As one wise patron said, you definitely know it isn’t amateur night when all the jaded and crusty old timers crawl out of the woodwork. Just kidding…kind of. We may not be jaded and crusty, but the differences are readily apparent when stepping into an ocean of beer geek regulars versus beer newbs. That’s okay, too. Come one, come all. Experience the taste of real beer and the warmth of community.
I was obviously not the only one who enjoys real wood in her real beer but in an unexpected turn of events, Monk’s Revenge was the first Terrapin special draft to flow into empty glasses and eager hands. The Oaked Wake & Bake took a bit longer to propagate thanks to a rather vivacious personality. Once she got her britches in order, thick oily goodness filled innumerable pints with her beautiful black bounty. Inbetween depositing raffle ticket stubs and snapping pictures, a tulip of night made her way into my humbled hands. That’s right; no pint glass for this beer geek, oh no. In the grand scheme of an event like this, pints are the only glass of plenty that makes feasible sense. After the initial mad dash, tulips and chalices were made available for those in the know who politely requested such.
Now about those raffle tickets. For each glass of Terrapin beer purchased you were given a ticket with a chance to win a very special bottle of Terrapin brew. This time around the keg of Oaked Wake & Bake was a full sized barrel so running out before the night finished wasn’t an issue. No, our thirsty groupies were hording those raffle tickets to win a chance at one of twelve bottles of Capt’n Krunkles Black IPA. Part of their Side Project Series, she is the 10th release and can we say limited? Yes, very limited. One thing Mark did differently this time around which I thought to be very fair was not limiting the customers to only one ticket. Each glass of Terrapin earned a ticket thus increasing your odds of winning, but you could only win one bottle and one bottle only. A fair and fun deal, in my opinion.
As always, I knew many a friendly face and got to know many more a friendly face that night. My Tim and Ryan were there of course, along with in no special order: Duncan, Lorraine, Joe, Linda, Randall, Chris, Rodney, Bill, Lou, Stu, and many others whose names I don’t know yet. Near the end of the evening I met a nice young couple, Matt and Cassie, who impressed me with both their passion and sincerity about real beer and Vine & Barley. I know good people when I meet them, and they were good people. Hopefully we will run into each other again and until then, cheers!
I eventually took a break from beerporting to settle in with Duncan, Lorraine, and a couple other gents to smell, sup, savor, and notarize my now pleasantly warmed tulip of Oaked Wake & Bake. I have savored Terrapin’s original Wake & Bake many times, but the oaked was a virgin tasting experience. Always up for a new beer challenge, from her nose to her palate and beyond I was enveloped in beervanic rapture. As a chorus of cherubic angles harped away at my heart strings, each sip was more luxurious than the last. Suffice to say, a deep moan of “ohmygod” traversed these lips almost as often as the beer herself.
After noting all there was to note, it was time to simply kick back and relax. Seeing my tulip wallowing in empty loneliness, I sought solace in Mark’s trustworthy hands and within seconds beervana was in my grasp once more. What to do next? Hm… There was a fatty cigar I had been holding onto especially for this occasion, and so Ryan and I settled onto the patio where we stoked our way through a purple, pink, and orange sunset into the darkness of night. We weren’t by our lonesome though as other friendly faces new and old joined the festive affair both inside and out. It didn’t take long for Marc and Eric to show up and kick the festivities up a notch.
Eventually Ryan had to book it on out for the night, and I don’t blame him. He has to get up at some outrageously early hour in the morning for work. Responsibility is a respectable burden, one I would rather do with than without. Even so, mornings aren’t my cup of coffee. Stogy finished, we bid farewell while I lounged around outside for a while longer to finish mine. I did say it was a fatty, didn’t I and a lovely one at that. Tim snuck out to join us for a while before Mark requested the presence of me and Tim inside for a most urgent matter. Um…okay. Once inside it turns out that the photographer was to be the one being photographed instead. In return I got to snuggle up to my Mark and Tim for a cuddly-wuddly picture of momentous sentimentality. Those three precious pictures are going to be hung proudly for all who visit my humble abode to see and for myself to revisit in fond remembrance. I do what I do because I love it. She is my life, my heart, my soul, my person. To feel the warmth of love and appreciation in that moment from two gentlemen very near and dear…priceless.
Throughout the throng of festivities, ticket numbers with names were called and some lucky winners went home that very night with their bottle of Capt’n Krunkles Black IPA. For those no longer in attendance, their bottles were set aside in a bag with their winning ticket which smartly included their phone number. Twelve bottles may not sound like a lot, but for twelve lucky people it was just enough.
Far be it for me to drink in order all the time so once my first glass of Oaked Wake & Bake goodness was consummately consumed, it was on to whatever I felt like next. In fact, I took a break inbetween my two glasses of said brew with the fruitfully delightful Lindemans Framboise on draft. A wee bit sweet for a Lambic, she was nonetheless the perfect palate cleanser before taking my second glass of oaked goodness and my cigar outside. The Framboise wasn’t my only Lindemans that night either, though my second and my last came from the bottle: Pomme, a playful fruit Lambic of sweet and tart green apples which can bring to mind green apple Now & Laters or Jolly Ranchers.
Ever later in the evening, the stragglers straggled, myself included, while pretty much everyone else had gone home. Rounding out the evening inside, my time of departure eventually arrived. More hugs and kisses were exchanged before I remembered to grab my West End Grille leftovers on the way outside. A lovely Florida summer evening greeted me with a light breeze, gentle humidity, and a crescent moon. Home arrived in good stead for which Mr. D was most pleased. Midnight munchie and a movie later, it was finally time to leave the moment behind as sleep took over.
To Vine & Barley, Tim, JJTaylor, and Terrapin, thank you for all my waking fancies of beery bliss. Until we meet again…
(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)