On Friday, Friday the 13th I am realizing as I type this, I had a great beer day.
It was so good that I have been thinking about typing it up ever since and which song I am going to use to help me describe it. The Talking Heads’ “Happy Day” comes to mind. “Beautiful Day” from U2 would also work. I also thought about Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day,” or “Friday I’m in Love” by The Cure. I finally decided on Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day,” but perhaps you, kind readers, can offer up some ideas of your own that don't squarely identify me as somebody who graduated from college in the early 1990s.
It all started on Tuesday when I discovered one of my oldest and best friends was going to be alone for the weekend because his family (wife and kids) were going out of town. (Note: I have known his wife for as long as I have know him, so it wasn’t a complete “college buddy” maneuver.) I emailed him the next morning and came just short of inviting myself, but did offer up my services as an eater of fine foods and drinker of fine beverages. He was in agreement, and I made plans to make the trek from Clemson to Charlotte via Spartanburg.
On Friday, I taught my two German classes until 1:10, stopped by the house on my way out of town and then hopped on Highway 123 heading toward Greenville. I spend a fair amount of time on the 70 miles of road between Clemson (where I work) and Spartanburg (where I grew up and went to college). In middle of the route is Green’s Beverages where I regularly make a stop to stock up on beer. Green’s is great because it has an amazing craft beer selection and also has the best prices in the area. Today, however, I considered not stopping because I was ready to get up the road. But perhaps out of habit, I ended up taking the slight detour, and I am glad I did.
Greene’s has been carrying Ballast Point’s Sculpin for a while now, but I have been waiting for the Grapefruit Sculpin to show up. It wasn’t there, but the Habanero Sculpin was. I picked up a 6-pack, and was already pleased with my decision to swing by. The satisfaction turned to unbridled joy when I made it to the back of the store and found a display of Sierra Nevada’s Hop Hunter. Ever since they announced they would be brewing a year round, fresh hopped beer with hop oil, I have been looking forward to it showing up on the shelves. I picked up a 12-pack and did not once think about the label at the time.
With my vehicle a little heavier from my purchase I headed up I-85 to Spartanburg. I needed to stop by my Father’s office to pick up something, but I also knew that my hometown brewery RJ Rockers was having a release party for its Bourbon Barrel Aged Black Perle, a Black IPA. I didn't want to arrive in Charlotte too late, however, and figured I would swing by the brewery and sneak one of the 200 bottles away before the release party started. Yes, this was naïve. I arrived at 3:45, found the entrance to the brewery closed, poked my head inside and quickly discovered my plan would not come to fruition. I sat down in the sun on the loading dock and ended up striking up a nice conversation with a fellow name Don. He was there for the beer, and I quickly discovered so was I. From no plans to attend the release, I ended up being second in line.
(That’s me in the middle. Photo courtesy of RJ Rockers Facebook Page)
I bought two bottles of the three-bottle limit and got an 8 oz. pour. It was outstanding. As you can see in the header photo, I chose numbers 27 and 34 out of 200. The second bottle was for my younger brother who graduated from the University of Georgia last year. He knew immediately the significance of the numbers, but do you? Spoiler: 27 is Nick Chubb’s number and 34 is Herschel Walker’s of course.
After chatting with a couple of friends for a bit, I made my escape from the release party where all 200 bottles were sold that evening. I had one more stop before getting back on 85 heading north. I had received a package from Stone Brewing at an address I lived at last year. It was my Stone swag from their Berlin Brewery crowd funding efforts. Since I wrote about Stone’s announcement last July, I felt excited enough to contribute to the cause in order to get a T-shirt and glasses. And I was not disappointed.
The final highlight of the day awaited me in Charlotte. I had followed the announcement of NoDa Brewing’s Hop Cakes, which was released on February 9. Charlotte denizen and Twitter turned real-life buddy Brad, follow him @bradnarok, had already secured me a 4-pack that I would receive on Saturday, and my gracious host for the weekend was at a local bottle shop buying me two more as I made my way up the road. But when I arrived at his house I found out that an attractive blonde at the bar inside of the bottle shop had charmed him out of one of the 4-packs because they had sold out by the time she got there. I approved.
Safely at his home, I started drinking. First up was the Hop Cakes and it was outstanding. It’s a 10.2% ABV DIPA brewed with maple syrup. I still have one bottle left of Hopslam and hope to taste test the two soon. Next up was the Hop Hunter (which I happen to be drinking right now). Yep, it’s a fresh hop beer, maybe not on the same level as Founders’ or Victory’s Harvest Ales, but very good nonetheless. My fourth new beer of the day was the Habanero Sculpin. As I wrote when I checked in to Untappd: “fist sip ALL habanero, then so good. Lips burning.” Beergraphs’ Jeffrey Wiser has a Sculpin three-pronged review up right now, and you should go read it.
That was my day, most of it unplanned, but ended up being a beer day I won’t forget for a while. What are your best beer days? Tell me about them in the comments.
Harris can be found on Twitter @ohkiv, where he is often the old guy talking about baseball, music and beer.