To celebrate our anniversary, we dropped Soren off at school this morning and then spent the day walking around Denver, drinking beer at Epic and Falling Rock and eating hummus and baba ganoush at the formerly mysterious Hummus Bar on the corner of Park Ave. W and Champa (it’s really good). It was fantastic, even though when we left the house it was 66 degrees and when we were walking home from the train after picking Soren up from school it was 36 degrees and we just had hoodies because that’s what you take when you leave the house and it’s 66. You know how they have those traditional and modern anniversary gifts? Our anniversary gifts are all beer.
Do you ever have one of those hangovers where you wake up at 5-something and feel it coming, so you get up and drink some water and then go back to bed? You wake up later feeling like full-on shit. You try to go back to sleep but it doesn’t work. After you’ve been failing at getting comfortable in bed for like an hour, the nausea arrives. You lie there, sweating, your head pounding, trying to convince yourself that you’re not going to throw up. Ride it out, you think, as the waves come and go and come again. Eventually you get your sorry ass out of bed and plod, hunched over, to the bathroom, where for once you’re actually thankful that the room is so tiny because you can sit on the side of the bathtub while you vomit, well, nothing, tears streaming down your face, not because you’re really crying but just because that’s how it goes.
Although I talk about drinking beer and being shitfaced all the time, I don’t actually get shitfaced very often. I generally drink beer because I like drinking beer, not because I want to get drunk. Every once in a while, though, I have a little too much.
Last night, this happened before, during, and after The Ting Tings/MNDR show at the Ogden. Two Rangers at home. One Dale’s Pale Ale at Nicolo’s, where some hooches made fun of my dress, which, to tell you the truth, I don’t blame them because their minds were probably blown by its awesomeness because they looked like, well, Broncos fans who are regulars at some hole-in-the-wall with a name involving something drifting, stumbling, or floating inn who are not familiar with the sort of high fashion I bravely (just kidding) sport while out and about in this humble cow town (said dress got rave reviews from fellow concert-goers, so that was nice). Two Lucky U IPAs at the show. A valiant half of a Titan at the Matchbox after the show, where Ben and I sat by the open window and talked about how it used to be Orange Cat, where our mysterious friend Joe mixed once; how the neighborhood has changed (I just looked up reviews of The Matchbox and am LOL for real at the people referring to the area as sketchy or terrible); and about that time we met and went to Minneapolis for our first date (part of what you do when you’re drinking and out without your kid for the first evening in a year is remember when you fell in love in the first place).
Five-and-a-half beers is a lot for me these days, but I didn’t think, stretched out over a period of, what, 7 hours, it was the kind of magnificent drinking that would result in so much hangover. Ben insisted that I eat something and made me a super-greasy breakfast sandwich (whole wheat English muffin, Morningstar Farms “spicy” breakfast “sausage,” sharp cheddar, and lots and lots and lots of butter) and poured me a glass of Coke Zero. I sat across the kitchen island from Soren and took delicate nibbles of my sandwich while he ate oatmeal and cheese (you’d think he was hungover because that’s just weird) and ignored his banana. When sitting upright became too much for me, I retired to the bedroom, where I took one bite of sandwich approximately every 15 minutes until I finally finished it and possibly felt maybe a little tiny bit better.
The stupid thing about a hangover is that it sucks up hours of a perfectly good Sunday (80 degrees! And it’s going to be like 40 tomorrow!) that you should be enjoying. And shit, I missed today’s workout, for the first time in, well, I don’t remember the last time I missed a workout (I’ll make it up later this week). Lame. And it makes you write blog posts about being hungover. Lame!
One of the downsides of living a thousand miles away from all family is that we really don’t get out without Soren very often. Friends offer to babysit, but everybody is always super busy and I hate to ask people to do stuff for us. Good babysitters are very expensive. This is probably horrifying, but since Soren was born (10/2009), Ben and I have been out without him for date-like activities maybe, like, at most, 10 times, and I think I’m overestimating.
We figured out pretty early that the easiest, most cost-effective way to do date-like activities without Soren is to take the day off work, drop Soren off at daycare, and go out during the daytime on a weekday. We did this yesterday (Ben had the day off anyway, because he has one of those jobs that hasn’t seen a holiday it didn’t like).
Yesterday’s date-like activities really brought home the fact that we’re not the exciting party people you might have thought we were. First, I brought Ben to the gym (he is not a gym person) for an exciting treadmill run. Then I had runner’s tummy for about two hours. That was great. Then we finally went to the Great Divide Tap Room for some beer. We’d been wanting to go there forever, but it seemed like the kind of place that isn’t good to bring a toddler. This turned out to be true — it gets very crowded and you might not get a place to sit, plus they don’t have food (they might have beer nuts, but I think that’s it). (Denver Beer Co. is a good option if you want a kid-friendly brewery — adults : beer :: toddlers : fresh giant pretzels.) I had two beers — a Hercules (strong!) and a Titan.
The problem is that at this point in my life, when I start drinking in the afternoon, I have two options: (1) I can continue drinking and be either shitfaced or on the verge of shitfacedness until well into the evening; or (2) I can stop drinking before dinner or maybe have one or two beers, very slowly, over the next few hours, and then be cranky, tired, bored, and almost completely useless for the rest of the day. Yesterday, being the responsible, not-totally-shitfaced parent I am, I went with option #2. Ugh. It was sweet relief the second I decided to crawl into bed with the latest issue of Sports Illustrated.
The good news is that when you’re that bad at drinking, you pretty much never wake up with a hangover the next day.
“Noooooo!” I screamed as loud as I could. I was by myself on a light rail train stopped at 30th and Downing. The other people in the car probably thought I was nuts but there wasn’t time to worry about them. I jumped from my seat and hit the “stop requested” button approximately 900 times. I tried to pry the doors open. I hit the “stop requested” button again. Then I watched the train depart the station, leaving Ben behind.
We’d meant to be on the 11:13 a.m. train but as usual were running late. We left home with what we thought was adequate time to walk to the station and get the 11:28 train.
The 30th/Downing station is the first/last stop on the RTD light rail D line, so usually the train you want to take is sitting there waiting for you. I hurried us along as we got close to the train because we only had a few minutes and I didn’t want to miss that train and have to wait 15 more minutes. When we were just a few feet from the train, the damn thing started moving. What? It wasn’t even time! But then it stopped and the doors opened and we jumped on. I guess the driver was just fucking with us. It wouldn’t be the last time.
Ben has an RTD pass from school, so he didn’t need a ticket. I did need a ticket, although, truth be told, it’s almost tempting to go without because in my years of experience taking the light rail exactly once a year to go to beer fest, we’ve never seen anybody checking tickets. We got on the train without getting a ticket because we thought the train was going to leave right away. When we realized we had a few minutes, Ben got off the train to buy me a ticket (he had $1s and is better than I am at doing most things). I checked in on Foursquare and did whatever stupid shit I do. Ben wasn’t back yet. Minutes elapsed. The doors closed. “Noooooo!” I screamed as loud as I could.
It was like some cheesy romantic movie shit right there. My true love was left behind while I was trapped on a train, hurtling toward the city against my will. In a few minutes, I’ll tell some guy who doesn’t know who I am that I quit my job, we’ll pass another train, and then both trains will blow up.
Fortunately, Ben is smart and if you miss one light rail train in this part of town, you might be able to get to the next stop before the train does. As the train left the station, I saw Ben, flip flops in hand, running like hell toward the next station. Realizing that I am woman and I do in fact possess the ability to roar, I planned to, if Ben hadn’t yet made it to the next station, block the doors from closing through the sheer power of my will and, well, by standing there so the doors couldn’t close, until he got there.
Fortunately, the next station is only two blocks away and Ben has been running a lot. He got there in plenty of time. “He saw me! That asshole!” He caught his breath. He contemplated going up to the front of the train to yell at the driver but instead we just talked about what an asshole he was for the next few minutes, which was slightly satisfying although not as satisfying as, like, giving him the finger probably would’ve been. I mean come on, man, we have beer to drink. And insult, injury, the damn machine didn’t even give Ben his change.
Although we arrived at the convention center far later than we intended, we totally cut in line with our friends who had the best place in line I’ve ever known anyone to have. We’re ridiculous, self-serving assholes but come on man, we have beer to drink. And it’s always nice to see friends!
By now, you’re probably realizing that this stupid-ass post about beer fest is probably going to be more about Ben running barefoot through glass and who knows what else on Welton Street while I tried valiantly to escape from a train than about beer fest. And you’re right. But let’s talk about the 2011 Great American Beer Festival for at least a few minutes. Also, please forgive the lack of good and/or useful photos of GABF. I always go into these things with the best intentions, but honestly, when I’m doing something fun like puttering around beer fest drinking beer, I don’t want to take pictures the whole time. Sometimes I ask Ben to take a picture of me so for once there will be a picture of me I didn’t take in a bathroom and this happens. I was all, “Take a picture so the internet can see what I wore to beer fest (because I’m sure the internet gives a fuck and it’s so different from my normal uniform, which consists of a denim skirt, denim shorts, or jeans and a black tank top and you can’t even see the bad-ass Kork Ease platforms that, as comfy as they are, did kind of make me hate life by the time I was hobbling home)!” And Ben was all, um, hold my glass and there are porta potties and some random dude in what might be a Hawaiian shirt behind you. And I was all, awesome! As you’ll notice, I broke my “wear a skirt because it’s easier to pee” rule and wore jeans, which turned out to be awesome because it was cold as hell in there.
Anyway, aside from experiencing light rail issues and engaging in fashion-blog-worthy photo shoots in front of a vast array of porta potties and at least one innocent bystander, we wandered around the convention center for a few hours and drank some beer. The good news is that I actually kept track of some of the beers I really liked on the iPhone app. Here are the beers I considered worthy of starring, in the order in which they appear in the app, in this format: Beer (Brewery)
- Cream Stout (Redwood)
- Zombie Dust (Three Floyds)
- Quinannan Falls (Bell’s)
- Dugana IPA (Avery)
- Spruce Pilsner (Shorts)
- Alaskan Smoked Porter, 2008 (Alaskan)
- West Coast IPA (Green Flash) (They didn’t have Imperial! WTF, guys?)
- Nelson Imperial IPA (Widmer Brothers)
- Jai Alai IPA (Cigar City)
- Dysfunctionale (Piece)
- Carrot Cake (Shorts) (OMFG.)
- Arctic Panzer Wolf (Three Floyds)
- Bonnie’s Raggedy-Ass Imperial IPA (Big Rock)
- Rail Hopper IPA (Flossmoor Station)
- Hop Zombie (Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que – Lake Travis)
- Myrcenary (Odell)
- Grapefruit Jungle (Sun King)
- Key Lime Pie (Shorts)
Aside from West Coast IPA, this list is all stuff we don’t normally drink — I didn’t include our usual brews of choice (you can see what some of those are here, although that list is very out of date, as evidenced by the fact that I still refer to it as Gordon when it’s now called G’Knight and holy crap Gubna isn’t even on there, and needs to be updated someday when I’m not sitting around getting all distracted and telling you stupid light rail stories).
Also, you know how I told you to pick up the list of winners shortly after 1 p.m.? Dudes. This time, the awards presentations went on forever. We never even found a list while we were there. You can get a pdf of the list here. I wish we’d gotten this earlier because seriously, as much as I talk about how we’re like super-awesome IPA experts and everything and sometimes I have this existential crisis wherein we go to beer fests and sadly realize that we’ve already had all the really good, hoppy beers that exist? We’ve never even had any of the Category 51 or 52 winners. Deviant Dale’s? What’s up with that, Oskar Blues?
Anyway, here are a few more dumb pictures. Apparently pictures of Ben and me taken by me holding the camera with my left hand are the new bathroom self-portraits. Thank goodness I put this on the internet.
I was going to write a list of tips for people attending the Great American Beer Festival but, as luck would have it, somebody already did. I agree with most of these tips, although I recommend eating something cheesy and greasy before the fest and I don’t think pretzel necklaces are necessary. I’m a hungry hippo much of the time but don’t need to eat during a beer fest. Also, you can use beer as a palate cleanser. Most of the time, Ben and I focus on our favorite style of beer (IPA). When I start getting hopped out, I switch to my next-favorite styles of beer, porter and stout, until I’m ready for more hoppy deliciousness. I generally limit myself to IPA, porter, stout, and anything else that seems really exciting.
My additional tips are as follows:
- The importance of water cannot be overstated, especially if you’re from out of town.
- Women! The bathrooms at the convention center go back really, really far — there are tons of toilet stalls in there. As soon as there’s no line in front of you, start walking toward the back. No matter how many women are scrunched up in line by the sinks, there are almost always empty stalls at the back of the ladies’ room.
- There are also porta potties by the docks/smoking area. There’s not usually much of a wait for these.
- Another one for the women: consider wearing a skirt or dress, because it makes peeing much more efficient. (Of course, you should feel free to wear a skirt or a dress if you’re a guy, but I don’t think it’ll make your pee process any easier. I just said “pee process.” I need to get off my internets.)
- This is a duh, but wear reasonably comfortable shoes. There’s not a ton of seating and the seating that exists isn’t all that convenient. You’ll probably be on your feet the whole time.
- Don’t freak out when you see the line outside the convention center. I’ll be the longest, most insane line you’ve ever seen in your life. It moves very quickly.
- Get the app. Taking notes on paper is a great idea but if you’re like me, you can’t be bothered. The (free!) app lets you star beers you like, which is easy.
- If you’re attending the Saturday afternoon members’ only session, grab a list of GABF award winners. The winners are announced at 1:00 and lists will be floating around soon after. You can find the information online later, but it’s fun to check out some of the winners at the fest (although lines might be long for winning beers because just about everybody wants to do this).
- Remember that children under 2 are allowed at GABF if carried the whole time (according to GABF FAQ). We don’t bring Soren (dude is heavy), but we did bring him to a beer fest when he was 2 months old and it was awesome. If you see a baby at GABF, please refrain from asking whether he or she is having the milk stout. This is a mildly amusing question, but trust me, baby’s parents will have already heard it at least 500 times.
- Eat something like pizza or nachos soon after leaving GABF.
- Most important, be responsible and have fun!
Today we went to Denver Beer Co. for the first time (they opened on 8/12). It was, as they say, the shit.
It’s reasonably roomy for a brewery. There’s a large bar and tables inside (some bar-height and some regular height — the regular height is good if you’re at the brewery with a toddler, holla), plus several long picnic tables with benches outside facing the street. There are giant garage doors on the front wall that were open today, making the transition from inside to outside almost seamless. Denver Beer Co. serves beer and pretzels. (The “tiny pretzels” for $5 as advertised on a sign above the bar are in fact gigantic and amazingly delicious, which is really saying something because I’m one of those people who always wants to like pretzels but usually finds them disappointing. They give you a huge pretzel in a little cardboard thing like you’d get when ordering a hot dog and then present you with a giant container of spicy mustard with a pump.) From what I understand, there’s usually a food truck outside. Today they had Paris on the Platte, which was serving some type of German sausage. The guy working the truck was very nice.
Ben and I both had the Gear Up IPA. It wasn’t the hoppiest IPA I’ve ever had by any means, but it was delicious and very fresh tasting. It was subtle. It’s one of those beers that tastes amazing fresh from the tap at the brewery. We also shared a taste of the graham cracker porter, and holy mother of God that beer is delicious. It’s one of the best porters I’ve ever had in my life. Porter is my second-favorite beer after IPA although, truth be told, I don’t often want to drink porter in the summer. This is the beer you want when you, I don’t know, spend the afternoon sledding on the nearby hill people use for sledding (I think it’s at Riverfront Park but don’t quote me on that) and want to stop for a beer before heading home, where you’ll try to kick the snow off your boots before walking through the house. You’re wearing the dorky hat you bought from J Crew or Banana Republic that’s made of off-white wool and has a big pom pom on top. Do you have that hat or is it just me? Porter manages to combine smoky and sweet into something that makes you think you’d be willing to camp in the mountains where it gets really cold at night as long as you have at least a couple growlers of it with you. If you don’t agree with my beer philosophy (“The hoppier the better.”), you should try porter because it’s dark, rich, complex, and quite possibly something you might enjoy.
Beers are $5 and taste-size portions are $1. The taste size is enough for two people to figure out that a beer is awesome. They also have growlers. We encountered no difficulty bringing a toddler here (we kept him busy with the aforementioned pretzel) and they are very dog friendly (there were polite dogs outside and inside). They also have fantastic goat and other farm animal artwork on the walls, which you can buy if you’re rich (the “Small Cock” painting was $500).
I’d say Denver Beer Co. is an awesome addition to Denver’s beer scene and we’ll definitely be back. Happy drinking!
*Note: I was not compensated in any way for writing this post. I’m just telling you about something I really enjoyed.
In honor of International IPA Day, let’s talk about India pale ale, my very favorite type of beer. In general, when it comes to beer, the hoppier the better, if you ask me. If it were possible to liquefy hops and drink them straight, I’d be down (I suppose this is theoretically possible, but ???).
Anyway, here are some of my favorite IPAs, in no particular order aside from sort of trying to put my favorite favorites toward the top, with links to the breweries (to the specific beer when possible):
- Gubna Imperial IPA (Oskar Blues)
- West Coast IPA (Green Flash)
- Imperial IPA (Green Flash) (This is the closest to pure hop flavor I’ve ever found.)
- Modus Hoperandi (Ska)
- Snake Dog IPA (Flying Dog)
- Double Dog Double Pale Ale (Flying Dog)
- Stone IPA (Stone)
- Avery IPA (Avery)
- Maharaja (Avery) (seasonal)
- Titan IPA (Great Divide)
- Hercules Double IPA (Great Divide)
- 471 IPA (Breckenridge)
- Odell IPA (Odell)
- Rotator IPA: X-114 (Widmer Brothers) (limited edition)
- Racer 5 (Bear Republic)
- Mojo IPA (Boulder Beer)
- Ranger IPA (New Belgium)
- 400 Pound Monkey (Left Hand)
- Hop Ottin’ (Anderson Valley)
- Two Hearted Ale (Bell’s) (I imagine their Hopslam is awesome but we haven’t had it because we can’t get Bell’s in Colorado.)
- Alpha King (3 Floyds) (Also, I hear good things about Zombie Dust and Dreadnaught, which I think I’ve tried and liked but honestly, sometimes I drink and don’t remember. Oops!)
- 60 Minute IPA (Dogfish Head)
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (Sierra Nevada)
- Sierra Nevada Torpedo (Sierra Nevada)
- Long Hammer IPA (Redhook)
Not an IPA but just as good:
- G’Knight (formerly Gordon) – Oskar Blues
I’m also happy to report, after reviewing a big gigantic list of IPAs to try to make sure I’m not missing anything, that the name Ben and I selected for the IPA we’ll make someday when we have a brewery does not seem to have been taken yet. It’s the best IPA name, ever. Someday, I’ll buy you one!
Also, you haven’t had enough Childish Gambino. Go here and listen to this.
Soren and I were driving home from a lovely evening with some friends when, as we were on Bruce Randolph, I heard a guy yell and then the street light went out. It was weird because for a second I thought the guy yelling caused the street light to go out, even though logically you know that’s not really what’s happening. I wondered whether it was our pal from last week.1
As I proceeded down Bruce Randolph, I noticed that it was very dark. The houses were dark. I saw another street light go out and then the streetlights were dark. Our neighborhood was not the festive place it usually is (haha). As I pulled up in front of our house, I heard the tell-tale hum of the generator from the school across the street.
When you live in the hood and the power is out, you have a second where you kind of realize that if anything bad happens, you’re kind of fucked. I mean, here I am, getting the baby out of the carseat and then accidentally locking our bags in the car and unlocking the car and getting our bags out and navigating the janky, overgrown sidewalk up to our gate in the dark and, like, if someone wanted to come and jack us right then, there would be nothing I could do to stop it. I mean, it’s not like electricity makes me invincible, but somehow the darkness makes you (and by you I mean me) realize how vulnerable you are.
Inside the house it’s 900 degrees and I realize I’m carrying a toddler who hasn’t had his diaper changed in almost three hours (we don’t usually go that long but you pretty much know when he poops and many times when he hasn’t pooped it’s easier to just wait until we get home). I can’t see anything and there are dogs (the cats stay out of your way). I realize I’m totally fucked.
I put Soren in his crib and tell him he just has to wait a second. I don’t want him to get mad. He doesn’t. It’s late for him and he’s either very tired or buzzed on the excitement of being out with a bunch of ladies past his bedtime and completely stuffing himself on corn and butt rub grilled tofu. It sucks that the power is out just now, when the person who has a lighter is out of town for the weekend (I normally wouldn’t tell you this but he’ll be back soon and we have a sophisticated alarm system and a dog who will kill you). I look in the drawer in the dining room where I think a lighter might be. There is no lighter. I find a pack of matches with a cat on it but it’s empty. WTF hoarder.
I can’t see anything and I’m trying not to trip over the min pin, who is stressed the hell out. I finally remember that we have one of those lights you wear on your head like Orbital or when you’re on the Amazing Race. I even know where it is. I put it on.
I don’t know how I’d respond if I were a toddler and I came home to a weirdly dark house and my mom put me in my crib with my shoes on and then came back with some weird-ass light on her head. Soren responded in the best way possible, by being somewhat loaf-like and not objecting to having his clothes and shoes removed, his diaper changed, and pajama pants (all pajama shorts are in the laundry and you can’t really leave him in there without something over his diaper because now he can remove even the snap diapers, not just the velcro ones) applied, even though it’s still 900 degrees in here. While this is going on, I try to call Ben, who is in a location with no cell phone service, to ask him where in the hell matches are in this house. That goes about as well as you’d expect. I carry Soren to the kitchen and get him a pacifier and a sippy cup of water, and then put him in bed. Usually, we read a story before bed (and usually, he’d have his teeth brushed against his will OMFG), but this is weird and he seems remarkably tired. I do my dorky tucking-in stuff, which I won’t bore you with here, wave bye-bye, and close his door.
He actually goes to sleep.
If you were wondering, it’s marginally creepy to walk around a dark house with a light on your head and then see a stressed-out Rottweiler’s beady eyes glowing back at you from the unknown beyond. I don’t know why two of three dogs are stressed out by this situation. It’s not like they’re the ones who don’t know what to do with themselves when they can’t get on the internet aside from a terribly spotty iPhone connection.
I find the box of Nag Champa (this is stored in Ben’s middle desk drawer) (I plan to use this to light candles) and try to light one using the stove. Even a gas stove doesn’t work when there’s no electricity.
I search the dining room drawer for matches and there are none. I move on to a drawer in the kitchen. Success! There is a book of matches and there are matches in it. This is remarkable. In the future, I’ll remember that there are matches in this drawer (when tonight’s ordeal ended, I put the matches back where I found them). I’m not that organized, but when it comes to where I put stuff in the house, I have a reasonably good memory.
I light the Nag Champa with a match and use it to light the candles I’ve collected from around the house. I bring my computer to the kitchen and try to get on the internet, forgetting (duh) that our internet connection doesn’t work when there is no power. I sit on a stool in the kitchen gazing at my lifeless computer and several candles. What now? I hear the police copter flying around the neighborhood. I hope there’s no looting.
I grab a beer from the refrigerator as quickly as possible and stress out about our food all going bad.2 I realize that I could probably shower by candlelight, which seems less awful than sitting here doing nothing. I drink my beer and gaze at my computer and the candles. I can shower or read a magazine by candlelight. This is an awesome Saturday night.
Just then, the power came back on. That means I was able to write this groundbreaking post but also that I still haven’t showered and it’s been like 900 degrees all day.
1. Last week, Ben, Soren and I were driving on Bruce Randolph. A guy was sitting in a wheelchair in the middle of the street (in the turning lane) by Bruce Randolph and Marion. Right before we passed him, he jumped up out of the chair and aimed an imaginary assault weapon at us. Somehow I knew it was bullshit (I tend to be the one who freaks out) and Ben freaked the fuck out. As we drove past, the guy said, “I’ve got your number.” What the fuck? Ben was pissed. We went to Jenny’s Crackhead Market and then drove by again, but he was gone. Ben was going to call the police if he was still there. I’m going to write a short story about this guy.
2. Soren and I went grocery shopping today, which is quite a feat. I know how lame that sounds. Usually, Ben, Soren, and I go grocery shopping together. Sometimes, Ben and Soren go grocery shopping. Before today, Soren and I had never gone grocery shopping together without Ben. It was hard, and yes, I know how lame that sounds. Ben is the grocery shopping mastermind. I just do things like pick out ice cream and find my multivitamins. Ben knows what to get at Target and what to get at King Soopers and I just barely make it through Target before Soren has a meltdown and we run from the store with the cashier yelling “Ma’am!” (and I’m not even going to hate) chasing us through the parking lot with our bag of $4 beach towels (I’m tired of people using their bath towels for the pool).
As I mentioned earlier, we’re not going to the Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival in Vail this weekend. I’ll be honest. As the day approaches (we usually just go to the tasting on Saturday), I’m getting more and more bummed about missing it.
My general philosophy when there’s something coming up that I’m bummed out about missing is to plan something equally awesome that will take place at the same time. That helps make it so I don’t, say, sit around on Saturday thinking about how right now we should be drinking some Green Flash Imperial IPA in a delightful hotel in Vail instead of sitting at home on our couch that’s covered in cat fur oh hey we need to vacuum for the 6th time this week and then somebody vacuums and then we’re sitting around our relatively clean (for five minutes) house not drinking Green Flash Imperial IPA with a bunch of awesome people who also like really good beer. For example, if I was supposed to spend this weekend hanging out with @mayoremanuel and @nothawk, two completely fictitious Twitter accounts, snorting cocaine off the well-toned bellies of strippers in a Costa Rican brothel, but they blew me off, you’re damn right I’d find something really awesome to do instead. It’s like that one time your boyfriend was going to spend the night at a bachelor party and instead of sitting at home alone pining away wondering if what they say about bachelor party strippers and lollipops is true you went away to a luxurious bed & breakfast and got totally shitfaced.
(What I’m not telling you here is that there is some drama in my life right now, not involving my relationship, child, family, livelihood, or anything you might consider feeling bad about, but annoying the hell out of me nonetheless, which I’m not going to discuss so you’ll just have to settle for me saying things like “snorting cocaine off the well-toned bellies of strippers in a Costa Rican brothel,” when the fact is I don’t even know whether there are brothels in Costa Rica.)
Long story short (too late!) I figured the best way to handle not being at the beer fest was to plan something awesome to do on Saturday so we won’t even miss the beer fest. Because I’m in a beer state of mind, we could do something that involves beer. Something that involves beer, isn’t too expensive, doesn’t require travel, and — wait, I know! We can go on a walking beer tour of Denver! Why didn’t I think of this before? It’s awesome.
We can strap Soren into the Ergo, which is how we carried him at the beer fest last year, and head out from our house to any of the 9,000 breweries in Denver. Okay, maybe there aren’t quite that many, but there are several. Walking with a baby in the winter isn’t ideal, but it’s the best way to travel when you’re going to be drinking and you don’t want to carry a giant carseat around (I’ve never seen a cab with a carseat. Do they exist?). We can have one really awesome beer at each brewery, and then go to another one. After a few stops (we’re not marathon drinking champions like we used to be), we can head home. We’ll get a nice walk and enjoy some great beer in our own city. There ain’t nothing wrong with that, and it sure beats vacuuming again.
Our stops might include:
- Blake Street Tavern
- Falling Rock Tap House (not a brewery but awesome nonetheless)
- Great Divide Tap Room
- Wynkoop Brewing Company
- Breckenridge Blake Street Pub
- Vine Street Pub
- Uptown Brothers Brewing Co. (this one is new and I know nothing about it)
Wish us luck!
At some point, I decided that taking two days off a week from working out was really wussy. In the interest of not overdoing it, I thought it would be a good idea to go for a nice brisk walk on one of the off days. This walk tends to happen on Friday evenings.
Tonight’s walk started as many of them do, with us encountering our neighbors’ dog who likes to jump the fence and run around the neighborhood. (Yesterday she jumped several fences to end up in our back yard, where she rolled around on the ground and refused to leave until I bribed her with a “Sadie get your ass in the house” — I mean a carrot.) After we returned the dog to her rightful home, we set off past what used to be Muhammad Mosque and walked down Curtis Street, headed toward downtown.
As someone who has always considered location (particularly the location of my home) as important as people, going for a walk in my neighborhood and the feelings it gives me have been a big deal to me ever since I started caring about going for walks. I can tell you about walks in Andersonville (Chicago) and, better yet, Oak Park. (Oak Park provided the best walks ever, including one time a little cat followed us all the way home and we drove her back to her house and left her there, but not before I saved the phone number from her tag on my cell phone and then eventually one night when drunk called them up and asked for Levi, who was the cat, and the guy who answered the phone said that the cat got phone calls all the time.) Walks in Nederland were usually too short and/or left you feeling a little like a tourist as you passed the Best Western in the middle of town and walked along the rushing creek before ending up at the reservoir. (Nederland is just as awesome as Oak Park but in a totally different way.) We walked around Wash Park a lot when we lived in Baker. This was before we had dogs. I remember one walk in particular where we spent an hour bitching about the house we wanted to buy and the way we were getting jacked around in relation to an issue with the furnace (the furnace was replaced with an overpriced model, we split the cost with the former owners, and we still live in the house today).
When we take walks, our general habit is to comment on houses we wish we might live in one day, which is most of them. Don’t get me wrong — I love our little house in the ‘hood. But someday, maybe when Soren is older and likes to spend a lot of time in the bathroom, I wouldn’t mind having two bathrooms. Ben really wants a basement (we have a partial basement that’s good for storage only). So maybe one day, we’ll have a house with two bathrooms and a basement. Maybe it’ll be in a better area for schools than we’re in now. Who knows.
We pass lots of beautiful houses as we walk through the Curtis Park Historic District. We end up by the Greyhound place, where things get kind of ugly, and turn right on Park Avenue West. Park Avenue West isn’t a good street for walking (it’s busy and not the most attractive street in the world), so we turn right on Arapahoe, the next street.
We run into what looks like a little bar. It has Great American Beer Festival (the best event in the history of events) postcards and Flying Dog stuff in the window. The door is open. We stop to gape and try to figure out what the place is. Someone from inside says, “Come in! Free beer!”
Okay. We’re out with the baby in a big giant jogging stroller, but if you really want us to come in and have free beer, we can totally accommodate you! I was relieved that the stroller fit through the doorway. There were two awesome dogs hanging out. Ben got Soren out of the stroller and a guy at the bar poured us each a Raging Bitch. For free.
This was the coolest shit, ever.
Apparently we stumbled on the Flying Dog Tasting Room. I didn’t even know this existed. (They have a big bar/restaurant at 2301 Blake Street — we haven’t been there since they moved, but the old location was always awesome, especially before/after Rockies games.)
We also enjoyed some Double Dog (this is the shit) and a little Gonzo Imperial Porter. All for free. Poured by an awesome bartender who played totally random music. Soren got a little stressed out (he couldn’t believe we took him to a bar while he wasn’t wearing pants), then tried to eat a coaster, and then chilled out and kind of had fun. He tried to eat the beer list but nobody minded. (Unfortunately, I didn’t have my phone and couldn’t take pictures.)
According to the bartender, the Flying Dog Tasting Room operates on Thursdays and Fridays, from 4 p.m. until 6-ish p.m. (read: maybe 8:00 or so if people are there drinking). It seems the policy is to offer tastes of two beers (for free!) but I have it on good authority that it is possible to get more.
It’s so random that of all the hours of the week, we happened to be walking by this place during one of the four it’s officially in business. There’s something about really good beer and the people who like really good beer that kind of makes you love the world. We left the Flying Dog Tasting Room with a little hint of a buzz and walked home, amazed by how awesome that was, even if the baby was getting a little grumpy because he was hungry and I kind of felt like an asshole for hanging out at a bar while wearing sunglasses (I just wear prescription sunglasses when it’s sunny and we go on a walk and don’t bring my regular glasses, and I can’t see without glasses so it’s a tradeoff between being the asshole who wears sunglasses in the bar and the asshole who can’t see anything that’s more than two inches from her face).
We stopped at the local carniceria on the way home so we could get an avocado that would be ripe enough to eat right away, and then Ben made killer BLATs. (Is that what you’d call a vegetarian bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato, and cheese, plus friends sandwich?) I wait outside at the carniceria because to me it smells like raging death and I suspect the stroller won’t fit in there (Ben is a vegetarian too but not as delicate about it as I am).
Denver is awesome.