Announcing Session #53: Beer Redemption
One thing about drinking a lot of beer is that occasionally you’re going to have a bad one. Perhaps it was infected or spoiled by light. Perhaps the brewer or brewery was new and still working out the kinks on a particular style. Regardless, you couldn’t finish the beer in your glass and moved onto the next one.
In July 2011, the Beer Briefing is proud to host The Session , a collection of beer bloggers and writers focusing on a single topic.
With the above in mind, my topic this month is Beer Redemption.
Early on in my beer drinking days a friend signed me up for a “Beer of the Month Club” as a gift. Once a month a brown cardboard box would show up on the stoop of my college apartment in New Jersey. Inside would be 12 bottles, of microbrews from around the country. Labels of color and whimsy that were foreign to my eyes with styles I had not yet discovered or knew much about.
The one thing I remember was that they were all terrible.
I would choke down brown ales and barley wines, suffer through IPAs and oatmeal stouts. For six months this box of dread would show up and I would dutifully drink down each bottle. I assumed at the time that my palate was not yet sophisticated enough to understand the different varieties of hops or malt. But, I was determined to learn so I suffered through.
Looking back now, I realize that these beers were likely out of season, past the recommended sell date and had been sitting in a hot, dusty warehouse waiting to be shipped to saps like me.
Unfortunately, the one brand that stuck out in my mind in the decade since the first package was opened was Smuttynose Brewing Co. The drawing of a harbor seal on top of each cap was seared in my mind, and like Pavlov’s Dog each time I would see a beer from that New Hampshire brewery on a shelf or on tap, I would pass it over for another beer.
My rationale was: with all these great American craft beers available on the market (to say nothing of the wonderful brews made ’round the world) why should I give this brewery – the one that sent crappy beer to my door – any of my money or my time where there were deserving brews along side them.
Of course, you know how this ends. The Session does contain the word “redemption” after all.
It would be almost nine years before I would have another Smuttynose. I was in New Hampshire at a graduation party and it was towards the end of the night. The beer I had been drinking was long gone and all that remained were cans of industrial American lager and some bottles of Old Brown Dog Ale from Smuttynose.
I actually sighed as a popped the cap and in the moments after I took the swig from the bottle (no glasses at this particular party) the rish malt character hit me. Then, the hops made an appearance and everything was working in harmony. I pulled the bottle away and looked at it suspiciously. Yup, it was the same Smuttynose, the same label. Same harbor seal on the cap.
In that moment I realized the foolishness of youth and how many earlier chances I passed up to properly taste this beer. These days it is not uncommon to find Smuttynose of various styles in my refridgerator. I haven’t actually visited the brewery yet, but they are now high on my list.
So, what has been your beer redemption? Post by July 1, 2011 and then leave me a note below in the comments section or send me an email. I’ll round up the participants in a post after the July 4th holiday and we can all have a cathartic experience.