I happen to be out here on Super Bowl Sunday. This is a big deal, I understand. Frankly, I know nothing about American football and have no clue about the rules, so when I was invited to a Super Bowl party the deal had to be sweetened with the promise of good beer. Thankfully, that's exactly what I got.
It all started in 21st Amendment's bar (which is a very cool place). I was in there drinking stupidly strong beer (it's Strong Beer Month) before midday. At some point I hear the lovely twang of a fellow British accent (albeit fairly Americanised). This happened to be Richard from Elizabeth Street Brewery, a homebrewer with bigger ambitions who serves beer in the garage of his house (for those on twitter he's @ESBale). Long story short, I ended up at his Superbowl party two days later in one of those serendipitous, of the moment, moments.
The football was shown on three TVs, including a 72" beast. There was great home-cooked food everywhere and three beer stations: one station for homebrew, one for a brewery called Cherry Voodoo and one for Rich's beer, including one he brewed with 21st Amendment. The homebrew was literally astounding. A 10% IPA was incredible, a Double Red rocked and a Belgian ale was very, very good. Cherry Voodoo had a few great beers too, including a 19% imperial stout (imperial stout meets cherry brandy). The ESB ESB (that's not a typo) and a 21A imperialised ESB collaboration were both fantastic. The football, however, I have no idea. I figured watching a game would clue me up but it didn't. In fact, I was more interested in the adverts, which were brilliant (check out the Simpsons and Coke - yes, together - ad, some of the Bud Light ads and the Google ad about a traveler to France).
I took along a bottle of Marble Special to share around and that's one special beer. Taking an American barley wine to the Americans is like ice to an eskimo but people liked it a lot. I thought it was truly excellent - big but smooth and easy drinking, hoppy and fruity and bitter, so well integrated and balanced for a beer like this drunk fresh.
Richard from ESB wants to open a commercial brewery and I truly hope he does - beyond the beer he's the perfect host and face of a brewery. He's a great guy and from what I hear a lot of people know his beers and know him. I think he'll do very well.
Sometimes cool things happen. This was one of those times. A chance meeting in a bar, a few beers, an invitation, a one-off experience. Beer is good like that.