Tuesday, April 2, 2013

We all win when beers compete {Red Brick Brewery}

Every few months or so the employees at Red Brick Brewery put their collective energy to the task of a brew off. Beers, tasting notes, and tap handles are all lovingly assembled and presented to the public for consumption and critique. The tasters cast their votes for their favorite brew, and at the end of the night the bragging rights and a big engraved beer glass are doled out to the winner.

I got there early so I could get in some snapshots before the sun went down. As usual, the folk down at Red Brick were more than happy to oblige my picture taking, and it wasn't long before the lot of unfamiliar attendees were also willingly stepping in from of the camera. You can check out the rest of the album on Facebook or by clicking the image below.

The tap handles were a mix of scotch tape, inkjet, shiny stickers, and sleek machinery. The uncharacteristic scope of beers on tap mildly befuddled the servers as they attempted to convey the character of the brews which filled your glass.

Patrons consulted their ballots and discussed the relative merits and flaws of their liquid joy. With ten beers on tap, each with a unique name, musical inspiration, and blend of ingredients, there was a lot to go around. The top winners of the night? (1) "Livin' in America," a coffee porter infused with raspberries, vanilla and agave nectar brewed by Robert Fabbrini, (2) "Strawberry Wine" a strawberry, cream ale, and brewed by Hannah Williford, and (3) "Saucerful of Secrets," an imperial coffee IPA brewed by Nick Fowler.

My own honorable mention goes out to: "'Touch of Grey,' a delicious red ale brewed with rose hips and elderflower" brewed by Jon Hummel, Steve Anderson's "'I Fought the Hop (and I won),' an imperial wheat IPA featuring over a pound of hops," and Garrett Lockheart's "uber-hoppy session ale 'Against the Grain.'"

I've had the good fortune of attending two of these events in the last six months, and let me tell you, it's all a tempered mix of romance and abandon after a few hours. Necessity and wisdom be damned. Let's have a beer! (For a little while, at least.) Eventually everyone sobers up, shakes hands, and saunters arm in arm to the lot beyond the patio, the setting sun glinting off their rearview, or the bluish black of night already wrapping the unlit street corners in a coat of muddled stars.

All right, that's likely the beer talking. But it's a good time. And if you missed it, you can look for the winning brew to show up again at one of Red Brick's "one-off" Wednesdays. Go "like" their Facebook page to stay on top of their special beer offerings and events. Word has it they're planning another one for June of this year. 

But I do think there's something special about being witness to the good humour of the drinking folk around Red Brick Brewery. Sure, there's always one or two sober curmudgeons who are keeping tabs on closing time and waiting around for the rest of us to get on with it, but mostly it seems everybody just slows down and lingers. You're welcome to pull up a chair, or slide to the end of an old church pew with a tall blonde in your glass. The kids on the patio soak up the rest of the afternoon sunlight. A couple of beautiful girls pick up their hoops and twirl in the vacant space of the adjacent parking lot. Everything spills a little bit into everything else. Beneath our suits, our sweatshirts, our swanky fedoras... we're all just people waiting around for another taste of something wonderful.




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