It all started when Mrs. M was too polite to say, "Hey Chubs, get off the couch," instead, opting for the more graceful suggestion that we should be one of those "active lifestyle" couples. I assumed that she meant fishing. It's roughly considered a sport, but if you can bear never to be very good at it, you almost never have to put your beer down. As usual, I was wrong.
That's how we wound up at Shelby Farms, paddling around in a kayak. It's cheap, it gets you moving, and the steering — if not exactly intuitive — isn't hard to master. It's wet, hot, and humid. The ducks, cub scouts, and other wildlife aren't too obtrusive. In all, it isn't a bad way to spend an hour. But be warned: Those kayaks do not have cup holders.
- Justin Fox Burks
- Meddlesome Brewing Company’s flagship IPA 201 Hoplar
Now I know I've written before about how those really hoppy IPAs get bitter and weird if you stand around and let them get hot, which makes them tricky to drink at outdoor events on a blazing day or sticky night. But where there is a will, there is a way. In this case, the way is to go inside. That's why John Gorrie patented the first "cold air machine." Granted, he did it for yellow fever patients, but you know how it is when you work up a hankerin' for the hops.
For the Downtown, Midtown, or even East Memphis set, dropping into the Meddlesome Brewing taproom in Cordova seems a little out of the way, but I recommend it. It's right around the corner from the boat house at Shelby Farms, and nothing is more important after a mild workout than replacing three times the actual calories you just burned, especially if you happen to be soaking wet and your shoulders are starting to hurt and you were seriously menaced by a turtle earlier. Yes, the brewery is basically in an office park, but inside it's all "craft brewery chic," and the food trucks circle. Get in out of the heat, or in our case, the rain — hot rain — and hoist a pint.
It's hard to imagine a better post-kayak pairing than with a good hoppy IPA like 201 Hoplar. There's just something about the slight bitterness that makes the experience crisp and refreshing, especially if you don't have yellow fever. (If, in fact, you do have yellow fever, I'd recommend skipping the tap room and heading over to the nearby Baptist East.)
Meddlesome's Brass Bellows Ale proved very popular in the Flyer's and Aldo's Beer Bracket Challenge back in March, and with good reason: The beers that do well in these mano-a-mano tourneys usually aren't very exotic or complicated. This light and malty brew fits that bill perfectly.
Perhaps because, in the beginning, the craft beer scene was dominated by ales, not too many brewers made lagers. Thankfully, that has changed over the last few years. Which — if you are drinking your way down the Meddlesome menu — leads us to a fantastic summer beer: Jerry "The King" Lager, named after a local celeb who has never had a drop of alcohol in his life yet owns a bar on Beale Street. This is because Memphis is a complete and utter mystery, even to Memphians. I digress.
Jerry "The King" Lager is a pale lager that is a little hoppier than you might expect, but it has a lighter touch than the IPA. It goes down easy — maybe a little too easy — and has a clean finish. This is a good hot-weather go-to and, along with air conditioning and things named after pro-wrestlers, is available all over town.
With our shorts now air-dried, we headed to the Cove to eat a dozen oysters. Mrs. M drove. Don't you sneer; I did all the heavy paddling.