Saturday night a few friends, a relative stranger, a cranky 3-year-old, and myself shared a few beers. By a few, I mean most of what is pictured above, and an additional growler or two.
While I've taken part in a few such occasions, this one was a bit unique in the combination of folks who took part, as there were varying levels of familiarity with craft beer. We were fortunate to have one fella who just got back from Texas, and was able to bring back half a dozen beers we otherwise would not have had.
If you've never done a full-fledged share, I highly recommend it. You will both get to taste more beers than you would in a normal night, you will also learn about both your and your friends' palates. It's quite fun, and to me, the whole reason to drink craft beer: New experiences.
Everyone has favorites when it comes to bottle shares, and everyone has beers they hate. It's typically not universal, though, which is another part of the fun.
For this night, in my case, I really liked the Salty Lady - a gose from Martin House Brewing Company in Ft. Worth. Admittedly, I like that style as a rule, but this one was a textbook gose, with no adjuncts or funky flavors added. In the midst of a run of barrel-aged stouts and peanut butter porters, it was damned refreshing.
Some of what we had was aged, and like grunge music, it didn't all age well. In fact, a couple of the older bottles were downright disappointing, especially when compared to their current versions.
The best beer of the night, to my taste, was Bell's Black Note. This was creamy, chocolatey, bourbony wonderfulness. It was smoother than Mike or Scott's head, and cleaner than a priest's jokes. It is among the best beers I've had this year, and I highly recommend grabbing one if you have the chance - and consent.
Ultimately, I think we tried 36 beers. Before you worry about anyone's health or sanity, no one drove and the samples averaged around 4 ounces, which comes to around 9 pints. A fair amount of beer, no doubt, but not quite a full-fledged bender.
A few other recommendations, depending on your tastes, of course:
Fifty West, BA Ghost of Imogene
Belching Beaver, Phantom Bride
Yellow Springs, Boat Show
Dogfish Head, Oak-Aged Vanilla World Wide Stout
Sometime after the first of the year, maybe for a podcast, we should do a bit of a share with the Craft Brewed Sports crew. I would expect it to be a total shitshow, but hey, good beer is good beer.