Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Firkin Around

As writers, we face prejudice every day. (Yeah! People assume we're all literate, unemployed bums with drug and alcohol problems. But that's not fair! Unemployed is NOT the same as underpaid!) Here we are, hard-working Americans, our pens working full time and our brains triple-time, and all sorts of other people have the gall, the nerve, the audacity! to presume that we live on permanent holiday. (...he says, pulling his robe tighter over his pajamas several hours past lunch time...)

As beer-drinkers, we must lament that this is not the case. In fact, we find in our lives a distinct lack of holidays. (Er, wait. What about those three hours each night when we close our eyes?) We love what we do, and we love the writing life. But whatever Hemingway and Hollywood might have you believe, we do not get to enjoy pint-sized libations whenever we please.

For Frigg's sake, we've lived in Durango nearly two years, and alas, not one single month have we made our way to Steamworks for Firkin Friday!

Firkin Friday is a beautiful holiday (even more so than Talk Like a Pirate Day). Or so we heard. On every first Friday, the brewery taps a single cask of a unique small-batch concoction. We've seen tell of Bailey's liqueur stouts, and pumpkin pie lagers, and peach blossom cream stouts, and rum'n'IPAs.*

*All combinations are probably original creations of this blog, but in lock step with the spirit of Firkin Friday drafts.

But then... on a magical day at the beginning of May, we were out running errands and happened to walk by Steamworks. It could have been any day. For us, it was just another day. But then we spotted the flier for Firkin Friday. That day. 3:00. And right then was 2:00. (Jumpin Jack Flash, what a gasp gasp gasp!)

We had shit to get done. But then we shouted, "Screw it all! All of it, anyway, that we can't do at the pub!" We dashed home, dropped some stuff, picked up other stuff, and skedaddled back to the bar, where we straight away ordered two of the very first pints of Berliner Weisse brewed with wild cherry.

Berliner Weisses are strange members of the beer family. (Oh, you mean like those cousin-grandmas and uncle-daddies that sprout off of twisted family trees?)  They come -- shockingly -- from Berlin, and are often sour and nearly always flavored. In Berlin, you either order your Weisse "rot" or "grun" (sounds sooo medieval), which means red or green (ohhh) and makes a New Mexican feel weirdly right at home. Except that red = raspberry, and green = Waldbeere, or "wood berry," whatever the eff that is. (Ah, my dad's a carpenter, so I should know what that is. Lemme' think. Wood berries.... Trunk burls! Uh...wood chips! Plank knots?) So although I often shy away from additives in my beer, the wild cherries went right along with the Berliner Weisse style -- and promised to taste more natural than a shot of flavored syrup.

And my oh my, was this beer tangy (and also a bit watery, like well, Tang). Not the least bit over sweet like the flavor-injected beers in Berlin (and not like Otter Pops in the summer). This beer, the warm color of apricot jam, felt as zingy as fresh lemonade. (Unfortunately it had about as much cherry as thirteen-year-old Lindsay Lohan.) Berliner Weisses are notoriously light in alcohol -- often under 3% (shame on them) -- and I couldn't honestly tell if this beer was that light, or if the zippy flavors simply masked the alcohol. Either way, on the first warm day of summer, it enabled us to have another.

Evening rolled around, and Jenny had to leave for aikido practice (hiccup-hi-yaw!). What was a boy to do but stay, have dinner, read his book, and try another brew? From Steamworks' extensive menu on any given day, I couldn't decide between the Irish Red and the Tax Alement ESB. So I sampled them both. The Irish Red was good -- smooth in malty caramel flavor as well as texture. (It was nitrogenated, which explains the silky suds.) The ESB ran higher in alcohol, with greater interaction between the spiced hops and lightly roasted malt.

I chose the ESB for my full pint, but got an Irish Red instead... ah well, there's worse in life than mistakenly receiving an excellent beer. (And it's not like I needed the extra alcohol anyway, what with an Iron Horse training ride the next day!)

All in all, what a jolly holiday. We really ought to firk around more often. (I'll drink to that! Cheers!)

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