Really, this was the 11th Beaver River Beer Tasting? Yes! Doesnâ€™t seem that long ago. Of course, along with the good crowd some regulars showed up, like Donna Fruit Beer Brown: seen in the picture at the bottom of this column, Joyce Carman Lovelace and her daughters: May and Dorothy, the Hutchinsons. Of course what would an annual Beaver River Beer Tasting be without award winning brewer, beer judge, steward, winemaker Mark Franeyâ€¦ who also blows mean bagpipes?
Mark brought several browns to educate the palate including maple brown, hazelnut brown, pecan brown, caramel brown and chili coffee brown. He also brought some of his wine. No one whined about that. Since we have limited time, about 5 beers in, Mark took over. We only have from about 1:30 until 3:30 when the busses arrive to take everyone off to the Riverboat back to Stillwater. Luckily they pick up in front of the house.
We did miss one on the list: Blackberry Farmâ€™s Buckwheat Strawberry. Oh, well, I only had one small bottle of it anyway.
Hmm… I almost forgot, Mark came with his usual animal hat. Legend has it he personally waits deep in the Adirondack wilderness to mercifully take his one bear, moose, snipe, water buffalo or Tyrannosaur a year so for this hat custom. Of course none of that is true: just fun to type. Many of his friends come with animal hats too. This tradition has been going on for a while, so does that make it a good kind of â€œold hat?â€
There were a lot of favorites: I donâ€™t think anything Mark served didnâ€™t fit under that heading. Southern Gristâ€™s Underbite: an imperial Cream took everyoneâ€™s fancy. And, on the opposite end, Mantraâ€™s Cassis: a Flanderâ€™s Red with black currants and tart cherries, was beloved by almost everyone. One of the participants said about Cassisâ€¦
These two were Middle Tennessee brews. I know one of the brewers/owners (Derrick Morse at Mantra) and have met the other brewer: briefly, at Southern Grist. Both are considered among the more edgy brewers for the Nashville area.
Everyone was welcome, even pets, though I kept putting Payson the collie puppy back inside. Too easily excited and quick to get in the face of other dogs.
A lot of folks were very nice and thanked me for doing this every year. My pleasure. Not sure about the arrangements next year: Ginger is talking about doing the usual Sunday chicken dinner on Saturday rather than Sunday. If so, maybe we can arrange a time that would make it convenient for both events?
Itâ€™s been quite the adventure all these years.
3:30 is lonely: everyone leaves. This year I told them to take whatever beer I loaded into the fridge. Thereâ€™s always an excess supply and itâ€™s easier than hauling it out.
As we waved goodbye I knew, Mr Franey: the man who blows mean bagpipes, would soon be serenading my tasters as Captain Scott Thompson piloted them back to the Stillwater parking lot and their cars. That night the always melodic loons gently sang to me, but I swear they were also saying they had been a little jealous as the hills echoed with the soulful cry of pipes.
A Beer Judge’s Diary is one of many columns by Ken Carman: Certified BJCP beer judge, homebrewer since 1979 and seeker of both simple and complex quaffs who once upon a time thought he didn’t care all that much for beer. Then he discovered brews beyond the standard fare’ available on the east coast in the early 70s. Thus the adventure began.