About- Jason Behler
The Beatles got one thing wrong: happiness is not a warm gun. No, no. Happiness is a week celebrating craft beer in your home town. And by a serendipitous turn of events this one kicks off on the back end of my birthday weekend. So what that really means is that Lexington’s Craft Beer Week coincides with my birthday week (that’s right, we celebrate birthdays for a week round these parts).
As we inch into the sunny days of May, the impending summer vacation for teachers beams like a beacon of hope, eclipsing the flickering fluorescent lights and mounting stacks of ungraded papers. As teachers, my wife (Sarah) and I use the summer months as we did as children – as a time for relaxation and recreation (albeit with supplemental jobs and some mandatory professional development trainings scattered about). But we travel, stay up a little later, work in our garden, and try to cram everything into that brief span when students aren’t around.
Highland Brewing Company Kashmir IPA
(6.0% ABV, 60 IBU)
Ashveille, North Carolina has been put on the national craft beer map as of late with the expansion of large western brewing operations to the east coast. Asheville (and the surrounding area) now calls itself home to New Belgium, Oskar Blues, and Sierra Nevada. However, it is Asheville’s own Highland Brewing Company, who have been brewing in this area since the first craft beer boom in the mid-90s, that gets the spotlight in today’s review with their Kashmir IPA.
Bluegrass Brewing Company– Horse Piss Beer – 5.0% ABV
Remember Opposite Day? When good meant bad, ugly meant pretty, and happy meant sad? Opposite day paved the way for things like “not” and facetious “no-ew-oh” remarks, and eventually to the consistent sarcasm of high school and the intentional irony of adulthood. Many people say that we are living in the Age of Irony. Irony is in; it is cool. If you get it…then you get it. John Deere hats are no longer worn by farmers, sons of farmers, or those who have ever actually rode a tractor, but by those that shop at the mall at Hot Topic. We are so inundated with irony that we now have to say “literally” when we are not being ironic or sarcastic or hyperbolic. (By the way, my personal pet peeve is when someone prefaces a comment with “literally” and then says something figurative. That is not hyperbole; that is stupidity.) Bluegrass Brewing Company’s Horse Piss Beer, which I assumed to be a wittily ironic name, piqued my interest then confounded my senses, making me realize (for the second straight review) that craft brewers should heed the warning that quite a bit comes with a name.
Starr Hill’s Monticello Reserve Ale – 27 IBU, 5.5% ABV
My wife, Sarah, and I began our geeked-out Spring Break en route to Washington D.C. with a trip to the home of our third President, Thomas Jefferson. Monticello is a vast rollercoaster of hills and hollers nestled in the northern outskirts of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Jefferson, a vegetarian for all intents and purposes (“using meat merely as a condiment,” as our tour guide informed us), fancied himself a farmer, as evidenced by acres of flowers, orchards, groves, gardens, and vineyards. The Monticello Reserve Ale from Charlottesville’s own Starr Hill Brewing is an homage to the type of beer that would have been consumed regularly in the Jefferson household, using two ingredients that were readily available on the Monticello grounds, wheat and corn.
Smuttynose “Finestkind” IPA – 6.9% ABV, 75 IBU
At home this weekend taking care of a sick wife, I did not get to partake in the normal St. Paddy’s Day melee to which I have become accustomed, and am thus not feeling the residual effects of day-long Guiness-swilling and inadvertent ingestion of gallons of green food dye. Instead, I opted for the not-so-festive confines of my dining room and the company of an American craft beer, today’s companion “Finestkind” IPA from Smuttynose Brewing.
Lexington Brewing Company’s Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout – (8.0% ABV)
A snow day has allotted me the time to bring you another beer review this week (lucky you). And, as optimism amongst most writers on and readers of this blog spikes about the impending Spring, my job, nay, my duty is to drudge everyone back down into the pragmatic and dark depths of Winter. So hold your daylight savings horses one minute, while the white still blankets the ground because the only green I see on the horizon is that of St. Patty and his drunken band of rabble rousers. What does all of this mean? It is only quarter to Spring and we still have a good fifteen minutes of darkness before the wheats inundate our gustatory cells and leave those forlorn Bocks, Stouts, and Porters to hibernate for the summer.
Formerly known as the Deliberation Amber, Lexington’s West Sixth Brewery is canning its second beer now simply known as the Amber Ale. This beer has been on tap at the brewery since its inception, but February marked an expansion in both where and what they distribute.
Having just gone to the Cincy Winter Beerfest the evening before, I had a plethora of beers from which to choose for this review; however, there was a beer on hand that I have been waiting to open since Christmas, a gift from my brother in-law, who also has a predilection for good beers and a gives the best gifts: Trappist Achel Extra Brune.
As much as I love awesomely bad horror movies, this Ultimate 6er is dedicated to those of us who feel suffocated by heat pumping furnaces and closed windows. Those of us who crave vitamin D, fresh air and warmth to keep us going. Those of us who don’t have the option to hit the slopes on the weekends when the temps drop and the snow piles up. Winter compounds the seemingly easiest of activities—driving, exercising and getting out of bed. Pounds and layers pack on as we wait for the sun god to warm the earth again, so we can arise from the recesses of seasonal depression and couch-dwelling sloth. These beers will save your sanity when the claustrophobic threat of permanent enclosure begets conversation with yourself, and they will cheer you up when the funk of winter harshes your Qi.
The scene was Lebowskifest 2009 (Louisville, KY). My friend and I had just finished riding our bikes across the Commonwealth just in time to meet up with our fellow Dudeists at the annual meeting celebrating all things Lebowski. In the parking lot of the Executive Lanes, a young man smoking an electronic cigarette (a relatively new concept at the time) approached us, and offered us a beer form his portable cooler. He cracked open bottles of a Belgian Style IPA that reinvigorated by tongue, which was falling asleep after a few Miller High Lifes. He touted the beer as the best thing he had ever tasted, a bold statement both then and in hindsight.