Brew Week

The expression “standing on the knife edge” is often used to suggest you are looking for and can see the future as it develops.  It’s a place of nervous energy and decision making.  Do I like this, do I understand what I see, and do I need to jump off before some specific future arrives?

It’s also place to sit back and relax.  Sometimes we just want to let the edge take us to wherever it’s going.  So that was what Ohio Brew Week in Athens, Ohio was.  A chance to just let the future of microbreweries wash over us.

We pull into our first brewery Devil’s Kettle.  We haven’t had lunch or even checked into our motel.  The Brew Week guide tells us DK has food at a little foodie stand called Pork and Pickles.  That very cool!

So we order a beer, get a picnic table and walk over to place a food order.  The owner is behind the counter and in front of the grill.  She tells me she had to send her helper to Kroger Food for supplies.  I’m cool with that.  I understand the need to be patient.  So we order two burgers, well done.  She tells me P and P only cooks them medium.  It seems the beef is locally sourced (later I find out she owns the cattle).  I look at a burger someone is eating.  It’s 2 inches thick and it’s bloody, raw ground beef with a thin layer of brown crust on each side. 

I like to enjoy food, but I can always rationalize poorly cooked food as “it’s just fuel.”  But still it’s too rare.  “Could you cook it a little more?  Please?”  I request.

What!   Compromise the integrity of what!  She must be nuts!
“I don’t want to compromise the integrity of our local beef.”  What, did she read that in some epicurean foodie publication with a circulation of a 150 wannabe chiefs?
I already have a beer, and I need some blotting paper in me and she holding lunch hostage.  So I don’t respond with  “Hell, lady, it’s too late, that cows is already ground up!” 

Instead I look over the posted menu for options.  She has some kind of cold pressed pork patty, but every time I read it the letters spell “Trichinosis.”  I’ll spare you the autopsy photo of a brain infected with trichinosis.  It still gives me the dry heaves, so no cold pressed pork for me or anyone I love or even vaguely like.  

She’s got soup and deviled eggs listed.  I’m saved!  Not so fast.  “Sorry the deviled eggs are for dinner only…”she tells me.

Well, we applied a liberal dose of flattery and convince her we’re celebrating St. Smithers’s Day, the patron saint of hamburgers and she cooks two burgers well done, only after we swear an oath never to reveal that she failed to respect the integrity… you know the rest.

I don’t feel bad about breaking my word to someone who doesn’t know the patron saint of burgers is St. Menches



We stopped at a number of places.  One was Jackie O’s.  The food was great and the beer, well everyone was rolling out something special for Brew Week.  So while I’m enjoying a beer I’ve never heard of and can’t find anywhere else, I look over at the table next to me and he’s drinking a Stroh’s beer from a bottle.  Stroh’s was founded around 1850 and is now owned by Pabst.  It’s an ordinary beer that bases its sales on the idea that a since its fire brewed, it must be good beer.

I think you should drink what you like.  But here you are, sitting in one of the breweries consistently rated in the top 100 in the world, not Ohio, but the freaking world, and you’re drinking fizzy, alcoholic, yellow water, cause some advertisement told you should?

We stopped by what is quickly turning into my favorite brewery, anywhere, Little Fish.  They have a relaxed, friendly atmosphere with some amazing beers.  Food is available at a food truck anchored next to the brewery.  They specialize in Cajun food, and it’s excellent.  We had their quail breast sliders one night and went back the next for another serving.  They had a cucumber beer (Cucumba) that is perfect for warm summer nights and an orange/carrot beer (Cheeto Benito) I think would go good with a turkey Thanksgiving dinner.

The selection at LF
One of the bands at Little Fish and some of the grounds
The Cajun Clucker at LF.  The food is excellent!
Little Fish is growing.  Bigger building, indoor restaurant, more parking are in the works.  Bye-bye food truck!  Will success spoil Little Fish?  I sure hope not!

We also sat in an hour lecture in the history of the beer can.  There are a few beer cans out there that would pay for a summer of traveling in Europe, if you find one.  The point I liked best was cans were introduced by canning companies looking for more market share of the beer beverage market.  Those beer companies that could afford the technology were able to effectively leave local areas and enter new markets.  They slowly drove the less advanced companies out of business. 

The history of beer cans and it was held in a ….

…In a church!  To me it is proof there is a God and he loves me!

We’re seeing the advent of local brewing, beer with local taste and character and the savvy companies are expanding to maintain a larger regional presence they can grow into a national presence.

Brew Week is the cutting edge of the future of beer in the world.  More and more cities, town and unincorporated areas have breweries.  They cater to local tastes while using local products.  This puts money back into the local economies and creates opportunities.  Not all these breweries will go regional much less national, and some with simply fail.  But they will create many different unique beers.

It’s a great time to sit back and watch it unfold.  Relax and have beer with me.

Here’s a few more photos:
The Eclipse Company Store
The Eclipse Company Store is on a bike trail, which is equipped with tools and air pump to effect emergency repairs.  Thats is soooo cool!
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