Zwanze Day means a bad weekend for us beer hoarders. Er… former beer hoarders, actually, as I had to liquidate my cellar to finance a cross-country move. Since then, the rare or rareish releases I acquire go into my belly within a few hours of their entering my filthy, godforsaken sight.
How did the old reserve get built up? I never, like, intentionally tried to fill up a whole cellar.
Well, for one thing, I used to get more at beer releases, because beer releases used to be fun things to do on a weekend instead of Major Media Events. Dark Lord Day meant getting shitblasted by noon surrounded by a bunch of my obese and black-hearted brethren. There was no worry of running into coworkers, or people who watch local news, or really anyone who would bat an eye at a grown man aspirating vomit in front of his family while the sun was still up. Good times, then. The scene’s been ruined by the influx of normals.
Also, people used to be less savvy and so they’d trade you some obscure, undervalued, 500-bottle release local for a bigger name brewery release, like Dark Lord. Not that I ever thought I was taking advantage of anybody—the exact opposite was the case more often than not, such as the time I excepted a bomber of Dragon’s Milk for a Darkness—but the dynamics were different. Beer trading didn’t used to bring out the very worst in humanity.
Now, Dark Lord itself tastes like milk chocolate soy juice, and Dark Lord Day means you get to buy a scratch off so you have a one in four chance of it being a worthwhile release. And other fests are likewise gated and inaccessible. Getting into a Hill Farmstead release has the same odds as winning fifty bucks off a pulltab, and it comes with the bonus of having to drive home through dark mountains where your GPS don’t work. In May, I bought a ten dollar raffle ticket because I thought he prize was a bottle of BCS Proprietors. Turns out the prize was the chance to buy a bottle of Proprietors, for fifty bucks. I asked the guy what the raffle funds went for, then, and he says they use it buy more beer. What the fuck?
So I and other jaded middle income dudes have begun to embrace flagships and sessions. I’ll drive up to Tributary or Hill Farmstead every couple of months, sure, but I’m rarely going to end up scoring something that’ll be worth writing about on this here fancyman blog. I’m fine with Tributary’s heavenly porter, or even Portsmouth’s Stephan Urquell. No need to show off with my drinkin.
The result has been a much more enjoyable approach to beerdom. I don’t feel like I gotta get dem ticks, or produce content for readership that never measured beyond the mid-hundreds. That crap might have been worth it if we were scoring press release bottles, but we pointedly will never write the sort of prostrated, frothing bullshit that scores press release bottles. Also, we smell too bad and have to many sex offender incidents on our records to become employed by the sorts of places that would have access to press release bottles.
And so, roundabouts, Zwanze Day sounds like the fest for guys like me. Tons of good shit, all relatively reasonably priced, all without having to pay a cover or stand in a long line unless you’re stupid and you go to Lord Hobo.
The only catch is you can’t take any home. So you can’t screw people on trades later. Also, wonderfully, there are no mules! Everyone there is expected to actually drink the beer they purchase, and this thins the crowds out fantastically (like what Vietnam did to boomers).
Novare Res put on a great fest. The vibe was chill, medium-volume, surprisingly diverse and not at all douchey. You got a handful of neophyte beer braggorts, but mostly it was old and oldish dudes who were content to simply drink.
After the fest, we stopped by Portland’s Craft Beer Cellar, where the selection was fresh and wide and filled with wonderful flagship options that are the heart and soul of the American craft beer scene. We purchased marzens and pilseners and medium-ABV pales. The good stuff. Nothing fancy, son. No need—wha—what’s this, sitting by the counter all alone, uncovered, just asking for it?
I was suspicious, as if the bottle was rigged, like if I pulled on it a trapdoor would open up and I’d be showered with ping pong balls.
“C-can I just buy this?”
“Yeah?” said the guy behind the counter. “Only there’s a limit of two.”
No lines, no waiting, no having to hand over other beers to butter up the clerk, no having to pay for the chance to pay again. A good, rare beer sat atop a counter, because Portland is beautiful.
It pours yellow, lightly hazy and medium fizzy. I can’t claim to be a sour expert, but of all the sours I’ve had, this one smells the most like a nice Mexican soda. Not that disgusting, syrupy Jarriots shit, either. The good Goya stuff, that actually resembles juice—lactic, but soft, and discernably peachy.
The flavor is likewise soft and juicy while still bringing in lactic complexities and some faint, pleasant vinegar nodes. One of the most middle of the road sours I’ve ever come across, which is wonderful for a peach-based beer. Starts sweet and fruity, the middle is more crisp and sour, and finish is dry without being too try. Just—wonderfully balanced. Even the body is somehow light while also being firm and fizzy.