BLACK IPA: Comeback of the Year

Somewhere around mid-February, 2020…..

“You had one job” is what I was thinking, as one of our brew buddies (Whose name will be changed to protect the innocent. Lets just call him Adam), picked up a kit for our brew day. We were desperately trying to stray away from IPA’s, just to change things up. He, an admitted IPA fanatic, assured us that he wanted to do a different beer this time. Something NOT an IPA. So we sent him off to the brew store, and low and behold…just like Charlie Brown arriving with his now infamous Christmas tree, our friend came back with… a Black IPA. His justification was that it was not an IPA. It was a BLACK IPA. Totally different.

Please know that we love IPA’s, BUT we also love other beer styles. Any style, when done repeatedly can get to be a bit much, which is why we were trying to brew outside the box (again… You had one job, Adam… one job…)

But, beer choice aside, it ended up being a good brew day. In fact, it was a DOUBLE brew day. Did we hit all of our numbers? Hardly. Was it chaotic? What double brew days aren’t? But we laughed, discussed beer styles, and in the end, we had fun, and that was all that mattered.

Until, fast forward two weeks…when we bottled it.

To say the crew was unenthused by the outcome would be an understatement. Adam thought it was too sweet, too malty. Not enough hops. Brian thought it was just meh overall. It’s a very confusing style, a beer that does not quite know what it is. Is it roasty? Is it hoppy? Is it both?

And then… before any of us had a chance to prepare, 2020 happened. A day where, just like thousands of other people across the country, I found myself suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed.

The first couple of weeks, I was just like everyone else. With all of my newfound free time, it was going to be great! You go from working 50+ hours per week to suddenly being able to do all the things you have put off because of aforementioned 50+ hour work weeks. I could finally live my best life! I would read more. I would catch up on shows. I’d workout. Yup! Damn straight this would be the year I finally had abs (you know, because suddenly staying at home and doing nothing was the motivation I needed to achieve an elevated level of fitness and health).

And then, loneliness set in.

I found myself walking aimlessly just to smell the fresh air and be outside. I walked at the same time everyday just to have some semblance of a routine. And everyday, after those walks, there was something I had to look forward to. A memory of a happier time with friends. A time where you could actually see them in person. To share good times and laughter. And what, you may ask, triggered these hopeful memories? You guessed it. Tasting that lucrative Black IPA.

Was it the best beer ever? I wouldn’t go that far. Would it be something I would drink under normal circumstances? I’m guessing not. But the 12 bottles of Black IPA that sat in my fridge came to symbolize something so much more than the beer itself. A reminder and a hope of good things to come.

It was a narrative in a beer bottle filled with all of the things I was so desperate to experience again. It was the last brew day before quarantine. It was one of the last times I was surrounded by a group of people that I would do anything to have the opportunity to be around again. It was all of the moments I, we, took for granted. Taking a sip reminded me of that cool, gorgeous brew day, where the sun was shining, and we could all laugh freely lamenting over things that in the long run, really didn’t matter. Damn…I missed laughing.

Whether it’s a scent that takes you back to a childhood memory, or a song that makes you feel love or lovesick, I realized that beer can be that vessel that transports you to a special time in your life. For me, that will always be the Black IPA.

We are curious. Can any of our fellow beer lovers relate, and if so, what beer is that beer for you? Comment below, and #respectthecraft

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