When the guy came back with the 7 cases of assorted beers, our eyes lit up like saucers. Various sizes. Colors. Styles. Countries.
Straight off the bat, he pulled out a champagne-sized bottle and said "well this is a good start" and handed each of us:
Grand Cuvee Ale Brewed by: AleSmith Brewing Company San Diego, CA, USA Style:Belgian Strong Ale Abv:10.6% 750 ml, $10
We each take the gold-foiled beer, holding it like the pre-shess it is. He keeps digging. "Oh this is a definite":
Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale (Aged in Cedar Cask) An English India Pale Ale (IPA) brewed by Kiuchi Brewery in Japan. Limited availability. $8.79
"If you've never tried a cedar cask-aged beer, definitely try this. Very unique." He keeps digging. "Oh, this one too. I prefer the brune to the triple, but you can take your pick.":
St. Feuillien Brune Style: Double Origin: Belgium Belgian double is one of my favorite styles. St. Feuillien Brune is a great example of the dry side of the style. It pours brown with some red color to it. Big, frothy, unrelenting head along with a high level of carbonation. Chocolaty in aroma with hints of spices and earthiness. The flavor is malty, chocolaty with raisin fruitiness and finishes with a light spiciness and a cleansing citrus rind hop bitterness. If you are looking for a sweet double this is not it; Feuillien is malty but dry and crisper on the finish than most. 750 ml, $8.70
St. Feuillien Tripel Style: Triple Origin: Belgium Golden yellow in color this Belgian beauty pours with a large rock head that stick well to the side of
your glass. The aroma is sweet and of tart tropical fruit. Pale malt and honey flavors dominate with sweet candy and mango flavors lingering. Spicy hops finish it out with just a little bit of an alcohol presence. Complex, and flavorful this one will keep you sipping and finding new nuance for some time. 750 mL, $8.70
"Actually, why don't you just take both to try." He could have stopped digging there, but he didn't. Looking around his boxes like Santa, next he finds a couple that he likes and just hands them out:
Schwelmer Alt An Altbier brewed by Brauerei Schwelm in Germany 500 ml, A slightly sweet and malty German Alt beer. $5.00
Waterloo Freeminer Brewery. Ale Special Bitter-England 4.50% England 16 oz. Waterloo has a rich malt character which gives an unexpected depth of taste. Brewed from an American hop variety, the beer has a wide spectrum of flavour. While the brewery refers to this as a "Red Ale", by all accounts it is the spittin image of a nice, robust, bottle-conditioned Special Bitter. The color might be a tad dark for the style, but the flavor profile is on the money and world-class. Don't know cost, couldn't find a price - say $3
Schneider Edel-Weisse A fairly unique wheat beer style. Higher in alcohol than most wheat ales, but not as strong as weizen bocks. Ale Hefe Weizen-Germany Manneken-Brussel 6.20% 18.00, 500 mL, don't know the cost, say $3.
"Oooh, this is a good organic one":
Samuel Smith Organic Ale, Style: Golden Ale Country: England Refreshing and delicate, the organically certified Samuel Smith's Organic Ale is a golden ale in which malt and hops interact to produce a brew of incredible flavors that last long on the palate. 550 mL $3.49
"Ah, well looks like you guys are doing pretty good. That should about do it," as he keeps sifting through bottles. The guy next to me mentioned earlier he liked dark beers. "Oh, dark beer, I almost forgot. Well if you like dark and chocolate, this is the
Ayinger Celebrator Lager Doppelbock-Germany Ayinger Celebrator The chocolatiest of the chocolately. In a style where malt & dark is king (doppelbock),Celebrator takes the crown. , 12 oz $2.50
"Oh, this is a great one out of Chicago. If you haven't tried it, definitely take this one":
Goose Island 1800 Demolition Ale (Strong Golden) A Belgian Strong Ale brewed by Goose Island Beer Company Chicago, Illinois USA, 12 oz, $4.65
"Well, that about does it. Looks like you all made out better than the people with gift certificates." How right he was. We all thanked him profusely. He gave us each a box to carry our bounty and as he was consolidating beers, he pulls up one that had the most intriguing label. Bright yellow with pretty writing. Champagne top. My eyes sparkled with curiosity. "What is that one?", I asked. "Oh, that's a good one -- guess you'll have to try it too!" He hands me one last beer, the beautiful one:
Cuvee Euphorique, An Abbey Blonde brewed by De Proefbrouwerij Lochristi, Belgium. 750 mL Can't find a description online anywhere but I found descriptions of their Cuvee Diabolique & Angelique. ~$6.50 for Cuvee Diabolique
Wow. I took that last bottle like it was my long lost baby. He smiled and knew he had done more than his share for all of us. We thanked him again and walked out the gates, with everyone eyeing our beautiful bounty. Almost a case of beautiful beers each. I was on my bike and started scratching my head as to how I was going to get the beers home. As luck would have it, the box wedged perfectly into my rear bike basket. I put on my helmet and slowly rode my bike home, totally top heavy and awkward. I felt like a squirrel carrying the best bounty of nuts ever. But I made it. I put them on the kitchen counter, wrote down the names and sizes of each and went upstairs to read more about them. I found the above descriptions on the PIBF website
and on various beer reviewing and supplier sites around. All together, he gave us roughly $64.33 in hard-to-get beers.
So ask me again if it was fun and would I volunteer again? A resounding "HELL, YES".