New Friends, New Beer, New Experiences – My First Bottle Share

BottlelineOne of the many benefits of my day job (which I cannot be more thankful for) is the ability to travel to many different places throughout the US.

Because I’m typically located in the same distant place for a number of weeks, I am lucky to have enough time to explore various local craft breweries and offerings.

During a recent trip to upstate New York, I stumbled upon two breweries at a local beer store whose beer simply interested me – so naturally I bought a few bombers.

Hop Warrior and Dragonslayer

The Selection: Hop Warrior and Dragonslayer!

Hop Warrior (Imperial IPA, 8%) from Rooster Fish Brewing (website) in Watkins Glen, NY and Dragonslayer (Imperial Stout, 9.5%) from Middle Ages Brewing Company (@MiddleAgesBeer) in Syracuse, NY quickly found their way into my collection.

Score! Couldn’t wait to try these beers out.

Fast forward a few days and I find myself being invited to my first ever Bottle Share. For those unfamiliar with the term bottle share – it’s essentially a gathering of craft heads with the intent of sampling a number of different beers.

Each invited guests brings 2 to 3 different bottles for eager beer fanatics to try. Figuring that not a lot of people would have been exposed to small breweries from upstate New York, I graciously accepted the invite and lugged my two new bombers to the event.

I was the newcomer and was familiar with only two other people – that didn’t matter. Everyone was incredibly nice, polite and welcoming. The guests introduced themselves, asked questions and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say.

As we went through bottle after bottle of delicious craft beer from all over the country, I found myself relating the event to a craft beer festival except with beer not easily found at brewery tents.

The home run brew for me that night was the Reunion Ale ’08 brewed by Bison Brewing Company (@BisonBrew) from Berkeley, California. The Reunion Ale is brewed yearly as a memory to Virginia MacLean who passed away from Multiple Myeloma in 2007. Read more about Virginia’s story here.

Annually, different breweries participate in brewing the ale and there are frequent collaborations (check out this years Shmaltz and Terrapin Reunion Ale ’11 here).

The 2008 version was an organic red rye ale brewed with caraway seeds. Three years of aging did this little gem a huge favor by truly bring out the flavor. Fantastic brew.

Bottle Selections

Various Selections from My First Bottle Share

Other notable craft beers included products from Mikkeller (@MikkellerBeer), Schlafly (@Schlafly), Bell’s (@BellsBrewery), Founders (@FoundersBrewing) and the Sierra Nevada / Dogfish collaboration Life & Limb 2.

When it was my time to share, I found myself a bit apprehensive. I think I now know what home brewers go through when their beer is being judged at competitions – and I didn’t even brew the beer I brought!

I poured samples of Hop Warrior to the guests and eagerly awaited their response. Because no one had tried the beer before (including me), I was very curious about what they thought.

It was a success! Although not an extraordinary brew, the overall response was positive and I was happy to introduce the brewery to the event’s guests.

Unfortunately, not the same could be said about Dragonslayer. The craft beer had a rather unique taste akin to candy and plastic. Everyone was polite and thanked me, but I didn’t see too many folks grab the bottle for another sample. Lesson learned! You win some, you loose some.

Towards the end of the night, I even had the opportunity to try the elusive and hard to acquire Samuel Adam’s Utopias, a 27% American Strong Ale. Although I am extremely appreciative of the complexity of brewing such a beer and the guests willing to share it, I found it a bit overbearing. This is certainly a beer enjoyed very seldom in small sipping quantities.

Overall, my first bottle was a complete success and made me eager for more I’m already thinking about hosting my own bottle share with old and new friends alike.

What was the experience like at your last bottle share?

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  1. October 13th, 2011

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