Tardy Beer Resolutions And Thoughts

January just has that air of resolution about it. Bettering yourself, making plans, forging ahead. Like many, I probably could stand to drink less and exercise more. For me that mantra usually makes it until the first time I see Troegs Nugget Nectar in the store.

 

Which was last week. I picked up a case, and added a sixer of Bells Hopslam for good measure. I topped that off with a bottle of Allagash Bijoux, a sour ale barrel-aged on figs. I was going to grab a pack of Three Floyds Zombie Dust, but it was three months old and I held on to some thread of that healthy resolution and I didn’t buy beer I would end up pressuring myself to drink quickly before it wasn’t as fresh. Next batch.

 

So what does 2021 have in store for us, and for me, beer-wise? Well first off, look at that haul. Those are top-flight beers, hell, it’s a subset of top-flight beers available to me at a grocery store. (Wegmans in Montvale, NJ) Even five years ago that sort of availability would’ve been noteworthy, now I pick it up as part of my grocery run during a pandemic like it’s a box of Little Bites. Wegmans was actually out of Little Bites. It’s been harder to buy toilet paper this past year than it has been beers that previously were considered Whales.

 

One trend I’m noticing in my own beer drinking is that I’m definitely giving more chances to what I’d call “labors of love”, like that Bijoux. Beers that are brewery experiments, or projects, that aren’t necessarily larger volume brews. Last summer I had a beer called Thought Experiment (blueberry) from Threes Brewing. It’s a series of Saisons that they brew from leftover fruit that they use in other beers. I thought it was a pretty neat sustainability thing, and the beer was a nice refreshing and bubbly summer brew. This year I’m going to keep my eye out for fun single bottles like that. 

 

For Barley Prose, my goal is to redesign the site a little bit. I’d like to keep doing some fun Botty McBotface AI beer stuff, but I’d like it to be a sidebar, and not make you scroll through a bunch of bot stuff to get to the individual writers content. Look for that soon.

 

I’d also like to _brew_ beer more. I’ve been slacking. My goal for 2021 is small–just two batches. 

 

So that’s my early 2021 thoughts on beer and blogging. I’m now going to crack open a nugget nectar for my 85th Untappd check-in of that beer. I’ve got 10 more after than, and there’s no way I’ve checked-in every one I’ve had. 100 Nugget Nectars? That might be worth a post in it of itself. 

 Ceetar can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he’s probably almost to 100 Nugget Nectars by the time this posts.  You can also email him at beer@ceetar.com.

Stay Home, Drink That Giant Stout

We can’t have large Thanksgiving gatherings this year, since those potentially spread Covid far and wide, but we can still drink our Thanksgiving beers at home. I don’t usually have a large beer-drinking crowd, but enough that I can buy something new and interesting to try, or crack open a bottle of some rich aged stout to share among a few people. The lack of those people present in my house on Thursday is not going to stop me from opening something though.

Stick that turkey in the oven and break out that bourbon barrel-aged monster you’ve been aging. It’s strong, but the best thing about these beers is that they taste better approaching room temperature than fridge temperature, so even if you’re just sipping over a few hours, they’re still delicious. Drink them more like bourbon than like beer.

 

Alementary makes a beer called Figgy Pudding, which is typically described as an English Barleywine, though I’m not sure that really captures it. 

Big sweet bready malt, with a full range of supporting characters from light toffee to low chocolate. Fruit aromas of apricot, date, significant fig. Flavors of holiday fruitcake with massive malt structure. Figs for days, with supporting apricot. Date and Prune are secondary.

It’s a really neat beer, and I really love it. It’s also one of those that you can age. I’ve got a few bottles from previous years and I’m intending to open one up around noon on Thursday. At 9% it’s not as heavy hitting as some could be, but either way I”m looking forward to enjoying it slowly while I pull together appetizers/snacks or mashed potatoes or other such foods. 

So much of Thanksgiving drink media talks about pairing your beverage with the meal, but that just feels like clickbait to me. The meal is one small portion, and you’re probably snacking all day. You’re definitely DRINKING all day right? The drink for 1pm spinach artichoke dip is different than when you have your plate stacked high with various mashed tubers. Drink what you like!

 

I was in NY briefly earlier this month and went to a bottle shop in Valley Stream that I usually go to, but hadn’t been since the pandemic started. They’re pretty good with having some more of the local Long Island breweries that don’t distribute to me in New Jersey, and other various breweries distributed to NY but not NJ. Mayflower brewing company is one, and I saw they had a Thanksgiving Ale. I picked up a 4-pack of that, to be my ‘drinking with dinner’ beer. 

 

After dinner, which is typically earlier in the day than ‘real’ dinner time, I suspect I’ll need something crisper and bubbly. This might be the time for a bottle of champagne, or a nice pale Ale. We’ve got a nice bottle of Pinot Noir sparking wine from Sparkling Pointe that might be right, or I did buy a 4-pack of Alementary’s Random Placement Of Things which would fit the bill too.

Finishing beer? Probably something small and smooth. A better person might say water here, but I’m thinking of a few light and fruity ales I have in the basement, or something like a dark mild. Plenty of taste, but nothing overpowering. Something to coast to the finish line with.

Whatever you enjoy, stay safe and go ahead and tag @BarleyProse with what you’re drinking. Cheers!

Drinking Beer And Staring At Trees

I’m enormously privileged, as far as COVID-19 and quarantine goes. I already worked from home, so the only thing that changed was the presence of my family, and granted a three year old and a six year old entering first grade that needs teaching all while attempting to work is no cakewalk, all things considered, it’s fine. My wife is still working as well, remotely every other week, so things move along. 

 

That’s not to say I’m not struggling, depressed, and concerned both with the mundane ‘Is my kid ever going to learn to write and is it even safe to have her back at school in any capacity?’ and the more abstract ‘Is this the dying gasp of the United States?’. Beer helps, and I’m not even going to pretend I’m waiting for 5 o’clock. That’s an arbitrary time. Our lives here were just ramping up to the chaos that is typical of a family in a suburban town–basketball, ballet, gymnastics, school, after-school events, etc. Extended family is not that close, but close enough to make a day of it on the weekends, which we frequently did. Now doing anything but staying home requires specific and focused planning. 

 

Suddenly, there’s time. It’s weird, because cooped up kids and teaching and working is like having no time, but you also have all the time. Yes, there are a billion things to get done, but it’s pretty easy to get any one of them done when you decide to. Throw in a load of laundry, feed the sourdough starter, vacuum, feed the kombucha, do a load of laundry, bottle the homebrew, pick up the rapidly growing pile of toys, have a beer on the deck staring at the trees…

Ahh, yes, having a beer on the deck staring at the trees. This is when I’m happiest. Maybe the kids are running around, going down the slide, fake-planting Pink-a-Bloom flowers from the PInkilicious book/tv series, or playing in the sandbox, or maybe it’s just me. One day in early spring when we had the windows open and the kids were just watching TV on the other side of the screen, it was just me and the wife, two beers, and the cool spring air. 

Maybe I would’ve found more time working from home, I’d only been doing that for four months when everyone else started doing it, but the normal hectic schedule of finishing work, getting kids from school/daycare, figuring out dinner and/or if there was gymnastics or ballet or something in the evening, then getting the kids through bedtime routines and into bed and asleep and then finishing any other chores, mostly cleaning up after the whirlwind, before climbing into bed myself didn’t leave much time for beers on the deck. 

Mostly I’ve been drinking various beers from local breweries that I’ve been buying pretty much exclusively. I bought some beer styles that’ll last all summer, but definitely picked up some IPAs, NE IPAs and other styles that are better consumed fresh along the way. Not necessarily looking for anything super intense while I’m in my happy place, just a tasty beer that is a good companion. I’ve even started drinking it from the can, something I rarely did before. One less glass to wash, and sometimes  even the can doesn’t come in, it just sits in a bucket outside until that bucket is full. 

This is a good beer. This is a comfortable backyard. The trees are tall, and there are birds flying around and chipmunks zipping around the rock wall. Even in the heat of summer, there are enough trees that by evening the worst heat is gone, and if I’m lucky there’s a breeze to keep away the bugs. For a few moments, it’s soothing and relaxing. Then someone asks me to push them on the swings, and I get up. That’s a less relaxing happiness, but I can push with one hand and drink my beer with the other. The world outside is scary right now, but here under the trees, things might be alright. 

 

 Ceetar can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he’s salivating over Oktoberfests and how many he’s going to drink outside this fall. Can his backyard fit a small fire pit? You can also email him at beer@ceetar.com.