Friday, October 07, 2011

BEERflections ~ Beer Tasting @ ABC Fine Wine & Spirits VB

I love a good beer tasting and judging by the thirsty turnout at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits on SR60 the evening of September 14th, 2011, I’m not the only one. There’s something “je ne sais quoi” about beer tastings that unites humanity around a common cause: really good beer. No crap need apply. Here in our burgeoning sunny beertopia, variety rules and flavor inspires before, during, and long after the fact. Like a contagious cure, good taste and good beer will spread until all children can laugh and play, adults will merriment make, and peace unites.


But I’m getting ahead of myself here…or am I? It’s a proven fact that the good beverage beer has brought people together for as long as people have been walking around on their own two feet. Fast forward a few hundred thousand years and those two feet, mine specifically speaking, made their merry way through a packed parking lot to the humble entrance of ABC where inside a grand showing of table after table of beer, brewery reps, long-lost Great Spirits Beer Tasting peeps, and friends new and old awaited. A few minutes late, it didn’t take me long to pay the meager toll of $10, receive my wristband of beer indoctrination, and get right to tasting…and taking pictures, lots of them! With my camera back from repairs because hot flames and plastic don’t mix (not to mention I’m a dunce who doesn’t understand the concept of “zoom”), no photo opportunities were lost, even some including yours beerly in front of the lens versus my ever stoic position behind. From reps to peeps to coworkers to randoms, no one was safe from the lights and camera amidst the action. I’ve long lamented the loss of my Saturday beer tastings since Great Spirits closed their doors; seeing so many of my Saturday peeps at ABC that sunny Wednesday afternoon melted filled my heart with an ache both wrenching and soothing that only a multitude of social schmoozing and beer sampling could cure and sample I did. I even got to tastefully muse over a homebrew, Ruby Red IPA, generously shared amongst myself and a few other lucky individuals by a local home brewing beer enthusiast. It’s opportunistic gems such as this which I truly relish about beer, the people, and the proud community it represents. Overall, there were 23 tables pouring beer and 2 tables offering food, one of which was my very own Hurricane Grill & Wings of Vero Beach, home to 28 taps, 25 of which are craft with a large focus on American artisanal breweries. Long before other imitators came huffing and puffing along, Hurricanes was embracing beer flavor diversity and educating their patrons as to the supremely enjoyable benefits of damn good beer. Manned by General Manager, Howard Steinberg along with our head cook Scott and fellow beero, Al, our mouthwatering smoked fish dip and other tasty nibblies were hungrily consumed by a swarm of beer tasters. Amidst the feeding frenzy, email addresses for our inaugural beermail list were gathered while our Beer Book garnered endless ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’. Come one, come all, come and drink and eat and be merry at my Hurricanes where I happily patroned long before I came to happily work there.


But who cares about work! Work shmork I say! A beer tasting is about beer in all its playful tasteful seriousness for which there was plenty to be had. My count may be off by one or three but from bottle to tasting glass to all the senses, almost 100 beers tested the sober mettle of many. Yours beerly had already tasted a decent majority of the beers present, but there were still a few close encounters of the virgin variety along with some old favorites long absent and happily reunited. Pouring some of those experiences new and old were friends dear: Rich Nowak of Brooklyn Brewery, Bethany Bryant of Stone Brewing, Andrew Bradley of Sierra Nevada, and a new old friend in the tangible form of Mina Rouas of Anchor Brewing. You rock Mina! New to the Treasure Coast and Anchor Brewing but not new to the beer scene, I hope we will get to chat some more during the fast and upcoming 4th Annual Treasure Coast Beer Fest on Saturday, October 22nd.

Boom! TCBF4 pimpage victory!
And now back to the ABC Beer Tasting expose.

Flitting and floating around the store, I ran into and proceeded to glomp and giggle with my passel of peeps which included Rob and the gang, Bob and Pam, John and Patty, Darrel and Suz, Danny and the gang, Alex, Alysha and Steph, and a few others whose names currently are in hiding from me. Bloody buggers these names remember be but know even in names lost, it was wonderful to see you all again.


As for standout beers that inspired and pleased, the Lost Dog from Napa Smith was an intriguing and deliciously quaffable amber ale given its relatively high ABV; unique. And while not a ‘licensed’ brew, once more I want to thankfully reiterate the impressive homebrew that was the Ruby Red IPA. Being a citrus industry veteran/descendant, I love my grapefruit a lot and can be rather particular when it comes to this particular rotund fruit. Earnest honest opinion on the brew from nose to quaff to finish was appreciatively received and I look forward to seeing where they their next batch shall take me, Ruby Red and beyond.


Moving beyond the homebrew, I was reminded of how much I love Brooklyn’s Local 2 and Post Road Pumpkin (tis the season!) along with the Cubano Espresso (mm… espresso) from Cigar City Brewing out of Tampa. A craft beer mecca of flavorphoric bliss, if you haven’t made the trek to Cigar City yet, then do so now; book a room because you’ll need it, fill the gas tank, pile into the car, and prepare to settle into their just-right tasting room and forget the hours as they pass by unhurried. Another refreshing beer trip down tasting lane had German Hefeweizens at heart - the Kellerweisse from Sierra Nevada. A traditional German Hefeweizen in all possible clovey yeasty bananaganza ways, the Kellerweisse also embodies the communal harmony of a German biergarten. I often joke how the Kellerweisse would make a killing were it ever offered on draft and, let’s just say, those sepia-colored biergarten days may not be all that far away. We shall see…

Schmoozing about, 8pm came faster than I had anticipated as the tables slowly started to clean up, pack up, and call it a night themselves. In the presence of fun, friends, and burgundian indulgence, time was absolutely not of the essence. Taking one last look around the mingling merry faces, I gathered my complimentary tasting glass, bid a multitude of fond farewells, and loaded my bag of swag into the minivan for home and Love. Heart full of warm fuzzies and lost times regained, it was clear to me once more that life with beer is good. I could count the ways, but instead I will leave with a Cheer and a promise of more good times to come. Always.


(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

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