All photos courtesy of Rob Korb Photography. I’m nowhere near this talented.
Now I know what you’re thinking: Me + Junior League = LOLOLOLOL forever. I can totally understand that. I have tattoos. I’m not a terribly classy individual. I consider dressing up wearing “fancy jeans,” which just means I wear jeans that are clean. I usually say the last time I wore a dress was our wedding almost four years ago, but I was reminded yesterday that I wore another dress once last summer.
So that’s two dresses in the past four years. And I still didn’t wear a dress to this event.
Anyway, what was supposed to be a brief 30-minute beer tasting at the event’s VIP reception to promote my silent auction donation of an in-home beer tasting party hosted by me, turned into a super-duper fun tasting that lasted the entire gala.
Here’s are the four core beers I featured:
Goose Island’s 2012 Pepe Nero
A Belgian-style farmhouse brewed with black peppercorns from Chiacgo.
A Belgian-style strong dark ale from Canada, eh.
A Maibock/Helles Bock — like a malty, strong lager — from Hershey, Pa.
Left Hand’s Black Jack Porter
Well, it’s a porter. Obviously. And it’s from Colorado.
These were furnished by Fishpaws Marketplace in Ahhhnold. (If you haven’t made it up Route 2 to these guys, you should be ashamed. One of my favorite places to shop — great selection, killer growler station.)
I also pulled a few beers from my personal collection — because Patrick is under the misguided notion that he needs space in the refrigerator for things like food, instead of beer. (Yeah, I don’t get it either.) Those included Victory’s Hop Devil, Flying Dog’s Double Dog and a large format of Boulevard’s 2013 Imperial Stout, part of their Smokestack Series.
The night of the event, Tammy said she hoped I would document how I chose what beers to select. Well, a couple of weeks later, that’s exactly what I’m doing!
For the four main beers, I tried to curate a small snapshot of favorites that people might not typically try, either due to availability, price point or lack of knowledge about the style. As an example, Unibroue’s Terrible is anything but terrible (har!), but the bottle is large and nondescript, giving nothing away about the contents. If you didn’t know what it was, you wouldn’t reach for it, unless you were an adventurous beer drinker.
Given the crowd, I also tried to select brews I’ve seen wine and cocktail drinkers like. The Pepe Nero farmhouse is one of my favorites for wine drinkers. Not only does it play well with those who like both peppery reds and crisp whites, it’s a great beer to pair with food because of its complexity.
The Black Jack Porter — which I wasn’t smart enough to choose because of its obvious tie-in to the gala’s casino theme — and the Cultivator were the perfect way to round out the lineup, because, well, they’re both damned good.
The Black Jack Porter is my hands-down favorite from Left Hand, even more than the Milk Stout Nitro; it’s robust, bursting with coffee and chocolate without being too heavy. Seriously, given the level of “kapow!” flavor this beer packs, it’s so refreshing. The Cultivator was introduced to me at the Fordham & Dominion dinner with Tröegs at Rams Head last month, and I immediately fell in love with it. It’s just a touch sweet, light and not too malty. And, as I suspected, it was a great gateway beer for those who were a bit gun-shy about the heftier stuff I brought along. (It’s perfect for spring and summer, too.)
I can also admit I chose beers that “give good table,” meaning they are striking looking. Just look at that Black Jack Porter label. It’s art. And the Pepe Nero bottle — or any beer in the vintage series from Goose Island, for that matter — looks so sophisticated and inviting. Something that was considered atypical to those in attendance who didn’t know much about beer.
The beers I brought from my own stash served as gap fillers. Some people weren’t interested in learning too much about anything new; they just wanted a good IPA, and some of the tuxedo-decked gents really enjoyed the boozy, bourbon qualities in the Imperial Stout.
Again, I expected the evening to go pretty well, but not as amazingly well as it did. I met really cool people who completely changed my preconceived notions about what kind of people join Junior League, converted a few wine drinkers and had a lot of fun conversations. Some people even read my column each week, which was flattering. Oh, and the night ended with me finding out that my beer party package went for $200, which is very cool.
Well, that’s it! Hooray for abrupt, awkward endings to posts.