Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hot beer!

This is an admittedly small selection (unless I've just somehow missed the rest) of beers.  And only one of them is available outside of Santa Barbara, CA.  I'll start at the beginning.

I like to do happy hours with people from work.  They tend to last several hours, and usually I end up with an eighty dollar tab (I'm not complaining).  A few years back we had one at the Brewhouse in SB, but the only seating available was in the dining area.  It was decided we would make this a dinner/happy hour combination.  I don't remember what my first beer was, but I do remember my favorite.  Rick bought a round of tasters for the table (free booze!) and we toasted to something I'm sure.  I took a swig.  Oh!  Fu- OK!  I wasn't expecting that.  I call down the table to ask what it is.  Habanero Pilsner.  I take a smaller sip, this time knowing what I'm getting into.  It was spicy.  Very spicy.  And cold.  The combination wasn't something I was then familiar with.  Oh sure, I'd had a Bloody Mary (and didn't care for it - it was at Zodo's) but this was nice.  I steeled myself and took a large swig.  Wow!  It was hot, but I liked it.  I drained the remaining mouthful and then turned to ask others what they thought.  Almost everyone was not pleased.  Rick looked bummed.  Valerie told me I could have hers, which I did.  James handed me his.  Pretty much every glass made its way to me.

A few years later I was at the first annual Zoo Brew (zoo beer tasting fundraiser) and the Brewhouse had a tent.  I got a pour and drained it pretty quickly.  I ask (um...) Yager what he thought.  He was OK with it.  Jennifer, his wife was not.  She let me have hers.  That was the last drop I had that day, as they ran out pretty quickly.  The next year at Zoo Brew I found their tent right away and proceeded to get in line and wait my turn.  I got a pour of the good stuff and said I'd be back.  I got in line again and again.  My third time through, the serving girl offered to let me chill in the tent and they would just refill my glass as needed.  Really?  I edged over to the side.  You mean it?  Yes!  I made small talk with the people in the line when they asked how I got my job.  I made something up.  After probably an hour (and several pours) the brewmaster comes to the tent.  I figure the jig is up, but he doesn't kick me out.  We discuss beer, the event, the intricacies of, well, no, mostly just beer and the event.  I took some pictures and had a great time.  Finally, I said my goodbyes and I was told I should visit the restaurant.  Oh right, I could have just been going there all this time to get the Habanero Pilsner.  Duh!

There's another beer fundraiser (something about rugby) and I haul ass to the Brewhouse tent to start off on a hot note.  They don't have the beer.  Damn.  I get a pour of something else and wonder where to go next.  Meanwhile I overhear one of the guys talking about not wanting to pour full glasses since most people won't like it.  He pulls a pitcher from beneath the counter and pours just a smidge of this dark-dark-dark beer into a glass.  The other man takes a careful sip and coughs.  I ask what it is, and I'm told it's a ghost chili beer.  I drain my glass and ask for a taste.  He gives me the same spiel.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I take a cautious sip.  I think I did a little dance.  It was hot, yes.  But it was also deep and almost chocolaty.  I finish the half ounce and ask for a full pour.  I think I got six pours throughout the day.  I told everyone to try it.  I now have to go back to the Brewhouse and get a pitcher.  Spoiler alert: they only made it for the event.  And while they had some left over, they only sold it in tiny tasters.  I got one and it had a piece of chili floating in it!  I didn't eat it, but I did savor the beer.  I ended up getting a pitcher of the Habanero Pilsner, which was excellent.

Finally, for those of you not in Santa Barbara (and you really should be) I present the only commercially available spicy beer I know of: Cave Creek Chili Beer.  I picked up a six pack while in Arizona (and some other stuff that I may have to write about one day, as well as the Everclear I already wrote about).  Back at the ranch, I pulled a bottle out and pulled off the cap with my bottle opener ring.  I casually look into the bottle as I'm bringing it to my mouth and see something not-beer colored in the bottle.  I pull the bottle away and over into some better light.  There at the bottom is a chili pepper.  I pick up another bottle.  It has one too.  Hmmm.  I take a swig.  Another.  I swish a third mouthful.  This shit's good.  It's nowhere near as spicy as Brewhouse's offerings, but it is certainly spicy as far as beer goes.  I tell Adam he should try one.  He's got a beer in hand, but says he'll have one afterward.  A little while later I head a loud, "Wow!" come from the kitchen.  Apparently I'm not the only one who likes them.  Of all the drinks purchased at Liquor Castle, the Chili Beer is the only one to not make it back home.  It was a hit and I only wish I had bought more.

A quick Google search brings up one of the worst looking websites I've seen in recent memory, but it would seem that BevMo! carries it.  I wish I had seen that sooner.  I see a BevMo! run is in my future.

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