I’m finding the topic for this Session to be somewhat difficult to expound upon. Beers that bring you back, so to speak… in particular, a beer that provokes a certain memory. For me, beer has mostly been about living in the moment, savoring its characteristics in the context of my surroundings. Like that one mass-market Euro lager that hits the spot right after a grueling day at the office, or that exceedingly rare Belgian you may only be able to try once in your lifetime. Instead, I think I’ve got a beer that may shoot somewhere in between those two, one that’s linked to several fond memories in the recent past.
That beer is Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. I’ve tasted this offering in many forms. Every form that’s available actually, except for straight from the fermentation tank. Many of these delicious occasions seem to have revolved around birthdays.
When it was time to get a gift for a friend of mine who was getting into quality brew a couple years back, I picked up a six-pack of Two Hearted for him. After having tried it a few times myself, I couldn’t help but think that this pal of mine would get the same delight I got from its floral and citrusy hop traits, and a fruity side of mellow grapefruit that melds so well with its malt profile. Toasting his birthday with some quality beers and good friends was gift enough for him, and it also hid the fact that I was a broke bastard at the time.
Nearly a year ago, another friend of mine was celebrating his time on this planet in revolutions around the sun. And what could that mean but picking up a mini-keg of Two Hearted and some American football on the television? At the time, these little gems just came into the Richmond market, and it was his goal to have at least one of them flowing on his birthday. Glass after glass of that sweet, sweet nectar combined with an assortment of tasty treats like a bread and cheese platter and a bowl of homemade hummus with pita chips made for a festive day indoors with friends as the weather turned cold outside. Reminds me of all the good things winter has to offer.
And then came this past summer. For a proper send-off of a good friend traveling across the country, only a keg of Bell’s Two Hearted would do. What better way to satiate the interests of a thirsty mob, many of whom had never ventured outside the realm of domestic lager, than with a moderately strong, solidly hopped ale? Besides, I didn’t want to drink swill all night, and neither did my closest pals. So while being accommodating in thinking of the general taste of the crowd, I also didn’t want to settle for less. The result? I got plenty of help making the keg lighter, that’s for sure.
I’ve been fortunate enough to try a myriad of beers in my day, and there are thousands that I’m sure I’ll never get my hands on. Rather, they’ll remain sacred objects of myth and speculation, like the Holy Grail, or the remains of Amelia Earhart. At the same time, many of the fine ales and lagers that’ve passed my lips have shown little cause to be etched into the memory, whether from the surroundings in which they were consumed or the quality of the bottles’ contents.
Bell’s Two Hearted, however, has been an accessible IPA that I’ve witness entertain many a palate, from the seasoned beer geek to the novice tippler. Perhaps that’s why it’s always been kept handy, and has saved me from other more dire options in the past. Its availability and reliability have created several opportunities for making memories worth keeping, and have helped me forget how much money I’ve spent on it the past few years.
Many thanks to Ray and Melissa over at Bathtub Brewery for hosting this month’s Session. The old guy’s comments at the top right of their site is enough to creep me out/make me laugh for days.