In these harrowing times, even something as innocuous as a trip to the grocery store has taken on an air of danger and adventure. We pad down the aisles like masked ninjas — keeping our distance from other humans, eyeballing the paper goods. On-the-fly tabulations are turning us into mathematical savants as we calculate toilet paper usage rates. Heady stuff, people.
I suited up and headed to the Madison Growler Shop for quarantine supplies — which included some Bud Light for Mrs. M because she's never really supported my career choices. But just because something is possibly dangerous, that does not mean it shouldn't be pleasant. I had a nice chat with the guy manning the taps, which, due to social distancing, was done nearly at the top of our lungs. "So what's new?" I bellowed.
"Have you ever had Beale Street Brewing?" he called.
"No," I hollered. You really do have to enunciate with a handkerchief tied around your face.
"That's okay, no one has," he yodeled back. And so it was then that your intrepid beer reporter jumped into action. Setting down my clean, COVID-19-free growler on the counter, I ordered it filled with something Beale Street Brewing calls Hop Ale and which I was assured is not an IPA. Actually, it's exactly what it claims to be — an ale that's been hopped to hell and back. It's good, hoppy to be sure, but somehow (and how the people at Beale Street Brewing Company managed this is a mystery) not overwhelming.
What is a bit overwhelming about the Hop Ale is the ABV, which is 7.5 percent. I told Mrs. M that if I'm sitting on the patio in the sun with a beer, it means that I'm working and I am not to be disturbed. So she instantly showed up on the patio with one of the aforementioned Bud Lights in hand. I've always had the piddling fear that she doesn't take me entirely seriously, but the more immediate issue was that I was on the hook for all 32 ounces. Because I was working.
What the hell? It's not like we were supposed to be going anywhere, at least not if we could help it. I'm a reasonably law-abiding citizen — so I drank an entire growler of Hop Ale late on a Tuesday morning. Driving wasn't really the danger for me, I've worked at home — and written about booze — for over a decade. I wasn't going anywhere, except to my desk, where I'm frantically trying to finish a non-booze related manuscript, because writers don't make squat. You try to negotiate the logistics of a first-rate coup d'état with 32 ounces of 7.5 percent ABV coursing through your system. With nonfiction you can't just make stuff up, and mysteries of foreign policy only get more mysterious. I needed a nap.
Two days later we picked up a couple of cheeseburgers from Huey's curbside and I tried another Beale Street Brewing sample — Space Age Sippin' Hazy IPA. It clocks in at a marginally lighter 6.5 percent ABV, which I'd bought in cans, so I wasn't obligated to drink the entire haul in one sitting. This hazy IPA — and I should have started with this one — is one of the best new beers I've had in a long time. It is hazy, but light and refreshing. It leans on some groovy hops I can't name that give it a great citrusy floral nose and taste. I'd get into more technical details about the beer and the company, but I can't. Their website, while pretty to look at, is more or less useless.
And to the fun-haters, I know that I could have written this column with a four-ounce pour of each, but that's just wasteful and these are dire times. A certain trust between correspondent and reader is essential. Besides, what sort of geopolitical analysis would you get out of a glass of lemonade?