where we’re headed and where we’ve been
For the first time in many years, I did not ring in the new year with a firm and audible, “good riddance” to the old one. As I left a party last night filled with beer-loving crowd well before the ball dropped, I quietly listened to The Current’s top 89 songs of 2014 and thought about what beers, cities, friendships, and lessons topped my year’s list.
The beer at Hopfenstark (left) and Brewpub Brouhaha, both in Canada, top the list, as do several beverages consumed in Denver. I will never forget taking Boulder beer by storm with my host, Andrew. Our trip to Avery was outstanding, but again, I was just as pleased with the underdog, Upslope. Crooked Stave was so disappointing I didn’t even write about it, while the seemingly pedestrian Great Divide was a dream.
In 2014 I very unexpectedly became the local voice of women in beer, or more accurately, one of many (perhaps the loudest). Never having used the word “feminist” to describle myself until 2014, I was as surprised as anyone when I was asked to speak at Urban Growler and for Better Beer Society’s Beer School on topics like “how to not rudely stereotype female drinkers as one-dimensionally obsessed with something ‘light and fruity'”.
2014 brought more exposure to my writing, and as a result, I hope you have seen it improve. The number of scouring eyes has about doubled and my readers, editors, and collaborators have kept me honest.
I’ve spent some time thinking about what the very best beer was that I drank this year, and that is an exceedingly difficult question. Between bottle shares, trades, and travel it is nearly impossible. The photo slideshow below includes 19 huge hits:
learning the refractometer at Canal Park
In 2015 I had the opportunity to guest brew for a day, my first batch on a commercial system. I assisted in making the Canal Park Pilsner with Jeremy King and learned that commercial brewing is not just a big batch of homebrew. Also on the north shore I witnessed the depths of Thirsty Pagan and what it takes to maintain a successful sour cellar. Simply operating from my own couch, I did more political writing this year than in the past, primarily to promote growler sales and Sunday sales. I enjoyed collaborating on a comprehensive look at growler sharing, too.
Where do we go from here? My tentative 2015 plans are very tentative, but I can almost guarantee a visit to Portland, and it has been way, way too long since I’ve seen the gorgeous Chicago skyline. These two beer destinations promise new horizons for my palate.
This year I want to deliver more content on the intricacies of aging beer and the influence of wood. I want to continue my writing about beer collaborations and the development of sour beer programs as the Midwest catches the wave. I will continue to be a voice against stereotyping drinkers based on gender. And while I continue to expand my knowledge of spirits, you made end up reading a bit about wine, too – and those are words I thought I would never write. Never say never.
Cheers to some 2014 nostalgia and hopeful anticipation. Happy 2015, everyone.