Written by John King
S ince the weeks proceeding up to Christmas, I’ve probably started and stopped at least three articles I wrote for the website. I thought I had a few good ideas then I left for the holiday break to Vermont, came back, and my mind seemed to still be hungover from the Green Mountain states imbibing. Each article I’ve promptly deleted off my desktop after only a few paragraphs written. Trash. Maybe I thought they weren’t significant enough or maybe I thought they weren’t funny enough, but I felt they weren’t worth posting. A funk I guess, and not one of the sour varieties.
As some may know, my two biggest vices are running and good beer. Sometimes if I’m lucky, they meld together to create an amazing experience for both my legs and my tongue. Whether it is trips to races with my fellow beer geeks or running in an area that carries a beer I can’t obtain, running has expanded my craft beer palate. Until last night, never have the two melded together. The tasting I had was not about the rareness of the beers, the difference in hop varieties, or their ABV…rather it was about coming together for another reason.
My good friend/running buddy Kelby turned 39 yesterday. Or was it 40? Heck, Kelby couldn’t remember when I asked him what he wanted to do to celebrate his birthday. I had dinner with him a few days earlier and he mentioned to me that he still had two bottles of my Haulin’ Oats beer I made for the 2011 Bourbon Chase. A Coffee (Hall) and a Cherry (Oats) oatmeal stout, not to mention the last two bottles I knew of in existence. So when I asked him what he wanted to do, he opted for a casual night at my house sipping good beer and eating food amongst friends rather than dining at a fancy restaurant.
Before the beer tasting, I snuck down to Four Pegs for the Founders Imperial Stout tasting hosted by yours truly, Louisvillebeer.com. As I was walking out the door, I received a random phone call.
“Hi John, This is “so and so”, a friend of Kelby’s who used to help with their big bluegrass jam sessions back in the day. I hear you are the guy who used to get us our kegs of beer. We used to get Sierra Nevada back in the day. Can you get us something like that? You are a brewer right?”
“Ummm, nope…not a brewer, but I know a lot of the local ones and as for getting you beer back in the day, I would have been like 15 years old. That’s beside the point though. I mean, I could get you Sierra Nevada Pale Ale if you want, but I can probably get you something a little closer to home. Wait a second, what exactly do you need the beer for?”
“Oh yea, I should have kind of explained that. One last bluegrass jam session, Amy always wanted to do it one more time.”
“Gotcha, I’m on it.”
Birthdays are supposed to be a time of self-indulging where the day is yours and you have the ability to do anything you want (within legal, ethical, and realistic expectations of course). Basically, the day is about you. Even though it was his birthday, last night was not about Kelby. He would never want it to be anyways, that’s just Kelby. Last night was about Amy.
Probably half of the beers I had brought up from my cellar never even got touched. On the other hand, the five pizzas were demolished amongst the 10 runners. As were the chips and salsa. And the bread and cheese. If you were to ask me what beer was best, I probably couldn’t tell you or neither could the guys who drank them. It wasn’t about what was in the glass, rather who was holding the glass and why we were there. We weren’t just celebrating a good friends birthday, we were celebrating a life lived to its fullest. We came together for a good friend, a running brethren to say the least, who had just lost his wife to a degenerative disease which may have taken away some of her physical abilities, but could not touch her heart, her mind, her generosity, and most importantly her passion for friends, family, and the city of Louisville.
So this weekend, whether it is with family, friends, or your fellow beer geek…raise a pint for Amy.