Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve recap: A wee bit o' shopping, and multitudinous ale.

Our annual Christmas Eve “shopping” excursion proceeded as always in 2008, although this year there was a request (unusual in recent years) to go somewhere and actually buy something approximating a gift prior to lunch at Bluegrass Brewing Company in St. Matthews.

But first, there was the third yearly pre-shopping toast at my kitchen counter, with the lads and I splitting a 750 ml bottle of De Dolle Stille Nacht Reserva (2000) before debarking. It was brilliant, though starting to show slight signs of deterioration. The final bottle in my stash awaits for 2009.

With nothing to buy and time to kill, I browsed tacky calendars at the Oxmoor Mall before braving the equatorial downpour and locating the front entrance to BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, considered here earlier in the year.

I was thrilled neither by the prospect of reneging on my goal of spending all my money at locally-owned businesses, nor drinking a letter-perfect (and entirely uninteresting) house ale brewed somewhere in Nevada, but was spared the ignominy of weakness by noticing the presence on tap of Browning’s She-Devil. Thanking my lucky stars that Brian Reymiller is still brewing at Browning’s even if the restaurants there are history, I savored the hoppy essence and arrive back at the meeting spot with moments to spare.

Next, BBC … and the expected reunion with numerous old friends, brewpub employees and a plate of chicken wings. Brewer Jerry Gnagy was generous with samples of his most recent specialties, and all were quite good, including a Belgian Quad, Belgian Tripel (with wormwood for bittering), a “caliente” pepper ale, and previews of two excellent, funky lambics.

I enjoyed an informative chat with fellow brewpub owner Pat Hagan. Note that Christmas, 2009, will be Becca’s last behind the bar before she finished her nursing studies. I trust she’ll return on Christmas Eves to come and drink with the gang.

After a fruitful (and expensive) stop at Ear-x-tacy for CDs and DVDs, we ended the Louisville portion of the program with a round of pints at Cumberland Brews. My choice was Yerba Mate Pale Ale, and I continue to enjoy the combination of tea and hop flavors.

Back across the Sherman Minton Bridge, we ended the day at Connor’s Place in downtown New Albany. I drank one of NABC’s own, Flat Tyre. Counting the wee sample of BBC Bourbon Barrel Stout (brewed at BBC on Main & Clay, served at the St. Matthews location) I drank earlier in the day, there was something from all Louisville-area breweries circulating through my system.

Mission accomplished ... and see you next year for that last De Dolle.

No comments: