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Diving Into Drafts: Exploring Stouts

Diving Into Drafts: Exploring Stouts
Sue Black

Beer.  I first met beer in May of 1995.  I was sitting on the tailgate of a red pickup parked at the beach, getting ready for a bonfire and someone handed me a High Life to take the edge off of the humid Florida evening.  At 14, I liked it right away, but I can’t say that we met up with great regularity after that for a long time.  It was a crush that I didn’t pursue.  That memory remains so distinct for me, the sand and the salt and my first taste…

Since that night, my friends have always pushed me in beer’s direction.  Unfortunately, I am easily distracted.  I once spent a whole year learning to love, and I mean LOVE, scotch, and beer fell by the wayside.  I’ve kept up the flirtation with beer, I’ve spent nights with the stuff for sure, but it’s all been on the surface, never daring to delve too deeply, never willing to make a commitment.  This is changing.

When I first moved from Kentucky to Colorado, 4 years ago, my life was in ultimate transition.  We had some conversations, beer and I, which made me realize how great we could be together.  Still I kept my distance.  I clung to my Kentucky past and usually passed over beer in favor of bourbon.  The whole point was to make a change, to start over, but alas I found myself being the same person drinking the same draught, just in a different city.

Then came the DC hiatus.  We don’t need to talk about that.  What we need to talk about is my triumphant return to the land flowing with beer and honey.  I’m back.  And I’ve given up the cold façade; I’m breaking down the walls.  I’m ready now, beer, if you’ll have me.  I’m ready to know you through and through.  February was the month for love and this romantic soul laid her heart on the line.

I decided to go right to the feels, to the dark stuff, and to explore stouts for the past two months.  I began with a Girl Scout Stout and a Dark Harvest Pumpkin Stout and a sample of a Peanut Butter Cup Stout, all from Mountain Sun.  They were intriguing, all delicious, but I felt again that I was just skimming the surface.  These were novelties, well crafted, but novelties nonetheless.  These were the delightful quirks of the stout’s personality – the ones shown right off the bat to deflect attention away from what might be boring or bitter.   I am looking for character, however, not charm.

Days later, I stepped around the corner to Hugo’s and basically tossed a coin to decide my purchase, still having no clue what it was exactly that I was looking for.  I settled on Avery’s Out of Bounds Stout, a simple, close-to-home, no frills brew.  It went surprisingly well with the bold salty flavors of our Chinese New Year menu.  February and March were an exploration of stouts too many to list, and truth be told, some weren’t worth mentioning.  But others completely took my breath away.

This early in our relationship, beer still smells and tastes like… beer… with notes of… beer.  This isn’t a review; this is that first diary entry after encountering something that makes you feel silly and self-indulgent enough to want to start keeping a diary.  So far I’m sold.  I can’t tell if it’s butterflies or carbonation in my tummy, but I am determined to see this through.  I’m giddy to get to each next day, each new taste, as I move from like to like-like to love for beer.  April will see me crossing the floor to ask Pale Ale for a dance.  Wish me luck.

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