Last Weekend's Beer, Today

Eno Sarris, September 19, 2016

I didn't love my best friend's dad in life.

He was flawed like any of us, and life took me away from Atlanta and having to see him, so I just didn't make the time to bond with him. He had some personality traits that made that sort of bonding hard for me, too. 

At his wake, I mostly used the time to reconnect with my friend and his brother and his friends. Have a good time, make sure my friends were happy, that sort of thing. 

But of course there are the ceremonial moments where none of that is possible and your thoughts turn to the person the group is mourning, the process of mourning, and thoughts about mortality and your own wake. 

In terms of the actual wake itself, I found myself wanting this sort of thing for my friends and family when I'm gone. The professional fireworks, the food, both catered and home-cooked (shrimp and grits oh my), the go-cart time trial obstacle course, the craft beer, the smiles, the connections, the conversations -- it was all beautiful and uplifting and... fun. I want my wake to be fun. 

But of course there are the sad moments, and I was really surprised by some of the comments at the wake. They acknowledged his unique personality, discussed hard moments, and tried to put the man in the context of his life. It wasn't explaining his flaws away, but it was talking about him plainly, and lovingly. It'd be nice for people to feel they could do that at my wake. 

Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin

Still too sweet and shandy-like to me to be a top of the list beer. Fine for having around the house and drinking while packing.

Orpheus Atalanta Tart Plum Saison
Terrapin Rye Pale Ale
Goose Island Halia Sour Saison
Cascade Sang Noire Sour

The Atalanta was really nice. Tart saisons are probably the best gatekeepers for trying a sour beer. You get some of that tart, funky Belgian feeling, but it's not so strong that you make a vinegar face. This one could have maybe have had more non-sour taste, but the tartness cut the funk and made it a refreshing, if not stand-out, beer.

I enjoyed the Terrapin Rye but I did wish it had a little more fruit. Rye always brings a unique herbal freshness to a beer, and also often some pepper, and pairing that with citrus makes the whole thing a bit sharp. Stone fruit rounds out the Alpine Nelson approach to rye pales, which I prefer a little more. Still, put a rye pale in your weekend lineup if it's full of pale ales otherwise. 

I wanted to have people try some world-class sours, so I brought some non-local beers. If you want to splurge and try some world-class sours, these two might be available in your neighborhood. Halia's peaches and Cascade's dark wood are different approaches, too, so they make a fun pairing. 

Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale 
Red Brick Casual Session IPA
Monday Night Slap Fight IPA
Orpheus The Rites IPA
Stillwater Phuket Gose Gone Wild 
Urban Family Brewing Limesicle IPA
RJ Rockers Son of A Peach Wheat Ale

My untappd review -- 'fine, citrus easy drinker' -- is about all I can come up with. It was decent for day drinking, but didn't impress me with taste. I guess that was better than the Casual, which was too bitter for a session. Better to slide by unnoticed that invoke my ire. 

Atlanta shown best with the next two beers. The slapfight was a stone fruit IPA -- mosaic, comet and equinox -- that was very enjoyable. There might have been a little bit much malt, and there was some syrup threatening to make the beer too heavy, but that was around the edges. Up the middle, it was a good stone fruit IPA with a great tagline: "Present this beer to a friend. If he does not drink it immediately, slap him as hard as you can. Repeat."

I wish I had had more time on this trip, more time to check out Atlanta proper, which has developed a good beer scene since I moved away in the late nineties. Orpheus would be first on my list. I loved this grassy fruity look at the IPA. It had shades of the NEIPA without going full haze and perhaps restraining itself on the stone fruit level and sticking with sweet grapefruit citrus. I want more Orpheus. 

We finished with a trio from farflung spots. The Gose Gone Wild is from Stillwater in Maryland, Urban Family is in Seattle, and RJ Rockers in South Carolina. Even better, the Gose Gone Wild was the Phuket edition, with lemongrass added to their beautiful, clean gose, the Limesicle was a lime zest and lactose IPA that made me think of British gin and tonics, and the Rockers was a fuzzy peach wheat ale that in some ways felt more Southern than any other beer I drank this weekend. The Limesicle was pretty weird, but the lactose rounded out some the citrus edge from the zest and made it an interesting, soft citrus sweet IPA. Nobody had had anything like it before. 

Did you have a beer that was unlike any other this weekend?