There are those times in our lives when things seem to come full circle. Those times when something that was once familiar and then lost returns in an instant, full of the vibrant colors, tastes and smells of our memories. These times are always special times to me. I’m not overly nostalgic, but I enjoy the process and realization of the loop. Perhaps because it gives me, just for an instant, the chance to feel like I’ve beaten time. Haha fourth dimension! I’ve seen this all before! And just when I come to this realization, poof, it’s gone.
I had one of these experiences just recently when I visited my college town for the first time in a few years. Yeah, some of the old landmarks are gone or boarded up or simply a shell of what they used to be, but there are some new things in their places. It’s a small town, one that you can get to know intimately if you give it just a little of your time. I gave it a lot of my time and it’s a special place to me.
I remember arriving in the early summer before I started college. The town was disorienting and I got lost frequently, mostly due to my poor navigation skills. But there was plenty to explore, plenty to see and hundreds of new discoveries were made. Several of these discoveries still exist and many have since disappeared. Soon, I knew my way around and learned to really enjoy the place. After all, it was beautiful and welcoming, especially in summer. The people were friendly and there was always lots to do.
The college years came and went as they do for all of us, I suppose. Looking back, it was a magical time that seemed to stand still no matter how crazy my workload was. Evenings in the summer, with the sun setting and breeze blowing, were truly enjoyable times. Many were spent at restaurants downtown, eating a burger, a salad or pizza with my wife and/or our friends. After turning 21, this usually included a local brew.
On my recent visit, my youngest sister and I took a short tour of the town. We concluded our trip with a stop at one of my favorite spots: the local pizza joint. The pizza’s always good and the beer’s always cold. We sat out on the patio, enjoyed our pizza and I my pint. I ordered an old favorite, one I discovered during my college days: Oakshire Brewing Company’s Watershed IPA.
- Appearance: a deep, golden orange color (3.5)
- Smell: floral, with a strong smell of hops (4)
- Taste: strong tastes of hops that reflect the smell of the beer. Has a bittersweet taste that lingers on the palate like a true Oregon IPA should (3.5)
- Mouthfeel: a medium-bodied beer that has plenty of hop-kick but is relatively smooth. Pretty well-balanced (3)
- Overall: as noted above, a personal favorite. The color, taste and smell come together to form an enjoyable pint. It’s not earth-shattering, but definitely worth enjoying (3.75)
It was a bit of a homecoming in the sense that I was right back where I started several years ago, at the pizza restaurant near the waterfront, on the patio, sun setting, wind blowing and with a familiar taste in my mouth. But it was a cyclical for another reason, as my sister is about to embark on her own college experience this fall. Although I couldn’t share a pint with her and she’s not even going to my alma mater, in some way, it felt like passing the torch. She’s entering a time in her life that many of us have entered, enjoyed, then passed through.
These times are rare. Like a limited release DIPA or a foreign brewery you know you’ll only visit once, these experiences deserved to be savored like our favorite brews. They’re sweet and truly enjoyable, but like the notes of any good beer, you have to be perceptive enough to notice them.
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