We all love beer for various reasons. Everyone has his/her favorite - maybe it's the taste of sweet malts, bitter hops, the aroma of a fresh micro or pairing a brew with the perfect meal or activity. There's really no wrong way to enjoy it. But, undeniably, no matter the reason, sometimes a beer just sounds good. No, not just good, but gooooood. Like, way beyond the usual thirst for our favorite beer that we all experience. A recent brush with this type of Brewlust reminded me of this type of desire.
Three days, nearly forty miles, all through the Southern California desert on foot. That's enough to drive a man to drink. An ambitious plan for Memorial Day weekend turned into a hike through Joshua Tree State Park in late May, from the park's North Entrance to the Black Rock Nature Center over 38-miles away. It was hot, long, dusty, and steadily uphill. Sometimes it was unsteadily uphill. You get the idea - this was a long, grueling hike through some rough, hot, dry desert.
And the desert is pretty cool in and of itself. I hail from Oregon's Willamette Valley, so the idea of a desert was pretty much lost on me as a kid. Miles of land with no trees sounded like something that either existed on another planet or, at the very least, half a world away. Ever since experiencing it for the first time, I've been admittedly drawn to the desert climate. Sure it's hot and devoid of leafy green foliage, but it's tranquil and it is full of life, you just have to look a little harder to find it. For those willing to search, it can be worthwhile (as long as you've had plenty of water yourself).
On the trail, there was plenty to see, including beautiful sunrises, rabbits, lizards, birds, kangaroo rats, massive rock piles, many types of cacti and, of course, Joshua Trees. But my favorite site took me by surprise even though it was something I was looking forward to before I had even left for the trip.
Long asleep in my tent, I was roused at 3:30am by my girlfriend to gander at the stars. I'd wanted to wait up to see them truly come alive but didn't last very long once the sun went down, especially after a full day in the sun while covering 13 miles, one step at a time. Not only had the stars really started to pop with the moon now set, but the lack of light pollution brought out the Milky Way and revealed planets like Jupiter and a hundred constelations I can't name. With the desert absolutely silent and the night sky in all it's glory, I was glad to have gotten up take it in, even I was trail-weary.
Nearly two full days of hiking later, we finally arrived at the tail's end point. My girlfriend knows her beer and that's all we could talk about on the way home through gridlocked Los Angeles-bound traffic on I-10 as hundreds of thousands motored sluggishly toward the city. Luckily I had some cold ones in the fridge, including this beauty.
Deschutes Pine Drops IPA
- Appearance: a light, golden orange with a thin foam head (3.25)
- Smell: a floral blend of citrus and hops on the nose (4)
- Taste: an emphasis on bitter pine with some sweet malts and a touch of lemongrass (3.5)
- Mouthfeel: medium bodied, starts smooth and easy, then turns bitter with a nice, linering pine finish (3.75)
- Overall: a floral, traditional west coast IPA that blends a more modern IPA smell with a classic big finish (3.5)
Not only did Pine Drops hit the spot, but the Bond Street Series Deschutes release did so in exciting fashion. After a very earthy hike, it was great take in a beer with a very earthy feel. Pine Drops reconnected me to the trail and the smells of the desert immediately. I wanted nothing more than a shower and a cold beer upon my arrival home, and with Pine Drops in tow, I had one last surprise in store for the weekend.