Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Quest For Heady Topper

The Quest For Heady Topper.
When countless friends of mine that don’t know each other start recommending the same beer repeatedly, I take notice.  First off, what is all the hype?  Don’t get me wrong, I love my craft brews but to the extent that people get that faraway look in their eye at the sheer mention of it. Enter the Heady Topper brewed by the Alchemist Brewery in Middlebury, Vermont.  Geography time, Vermont borders New York.  No problem right, I’ll run to the local Wegmans grocery store known for its tremendous selection of crafty brews……no go.  A buddy mentions that the stuff is really hard to come by.  I begin calling several beer specialty stores in a two hour driving radius in search of….no dice.  Enough of this stuff I say and google the brewery itself to find out what the deal is.  The website has a distribution map that shows a cluster of retail locations all crammed into one area of Vermont.  Geography lesson: Vermont is not a monster sized state.  By now the “what the fuck?” has entered my head.  I attempt to call the brewery and get the scoop.  Of course no human answers the phone and I listen to the “come early in the week because we sell out quickly” recording…again WTF? pops into my head.  It is beer!  How good can it be?  I start contemplating whether or not to end the summer with a weekend trip to Vermont.  No, that is ridiculous to drive five hours for beer.  A lucky break came.  A co-worker was headed to the eastern edge of New York and volunteered to pick up some Heady Topper for me across the border into Vermont.  I mention that I want a case of this stuff sight un-tasted. A case will run roughly $72….not a keg, 24 cans of beer= $72.  My co-worker is certain I have lost my freaking mind at the absurdity I am bestowing upon her.  She was soon going to learn of the insanity even within the state of Vermont for BEER….not just any beer, Heady Topper beer.  She trekked to the actual brewery and they were sold out of cans of Heady Topper.  Dejected and rejected she was sent on a mini-mart quest for the said product.  Rejection followed more rejection, when low and behold she scored a display at one mini mart with a limit of one.  One four pack of beer per customer!  She was able to secure me a single four pack of the heady stuff.  Cash for beer was exchanged in upstate New York and I raced home from work to plan my course of action on how to consume said beverage.  It was easy, just get all the bullshit stuff done, kick back and taste the nirvana in a can.  I kicked on the classic rock radio station and sat on the screen porch, put me feet up and opened a can.  By now I am so annoyed at the ordeal to get a beer  that I’m ready to criticize everything I can about the beer.  I go to taste that first sip when the aroma hits me.  No, I’m not nosing a glass of fine merlot.  I’m drinking beer from a can….that telltale hoppy scent hits me nicely.  Then the taste encompasses my tongue and mouth……it’s hoppy, piney, citrusy, and overwhelming.  Heady Topper is a double IPA (India Pale Ale)….in a nut shell it’s supposed to be hoppy tasting.  It’s not obnoxiously hoppy by IPA standards.  It is wonderfully hoppy.  Descriptions abound for the actual taste, but it is so intriguingly satisfyingly complex.  Hands down I can find no fault with it.  By now the family dog is staring at me wanting to know what mental cloud I have landed on to not notice her.  I reassure her that it would be ok to pull up a chair and sit with me.  Careful not to consume the whole can to quickly I am surprised at every pull from the can how great this is.  Then “Turn the Page” by Bob Segar comes on and I cherish the solitude.  At 8% alcohol content these are somewhat potent by normal beer standards, but not out of control.  Then flowed Pink Floyd.  It’s a classic rock station not Pandora.  By now the can is nearly empty, and in order to fully understand the beer I needed to have another.  I begin to carry on a one way conversation with the family dog. 

When a 4:20 trivia contest comes over the radio.  I am certain at this point I can answer any trivia question in the world and start dialing.  The answer is a Popcorn Maker and my call gets through.  It matters not the actual question, just that I am a winner.  A winner to a pair of Bacon Fest tickets.  In all my glory of consuming Heady Topper, I am now the proud winner of tickets to festival featuring BACON.  I now understand why those countless friends got that faraway look in their eyes at the sheer mention of HEADY TOPPER.  It is magic in a can. 

After the second can dissolved into nothingness I reached into the frig to open a craft beer IPA to compare.  It was like comparing Guiness to Miller Lite for those of you not familiar with crafty beers.  Heady Topper is worth the quest.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

2013 Arctic Circle Flies

Occasionally cool things happen to flies I tie. Sinking hooks into jaws is always nice.  Sometimes my flies get to travel to faraway places that I can only dream of fishing.  Thus I live vicariously through my flies.  In mid-June I was contacted through a social media vacuum by an individual in Germany who had stumbled across a picture of some flies I had tyed a couple years back for a buddy who was headed to the Arctic Circle.  This individual wanted to know if I was interested in tying some flies for him as he was going there himself in late August.  For me it’s always exciting to see messages like this.  There is a gamble involved with a prospect like this; meeting deadlines, shipping costs, lost packages, currency exchange rates, and just getting ripped off in general.  Fly fishermen are generally decent people and keeping initial orders small tends to minimize the risks.  Sven and I worked out an agreement for me to tie some flies for his trip to the Ekaluk River.  On July 22, 2013  mailed the flies to Germany.  Then the waiting began……lots of waiting.  It took nearly a month for the flies to arrive and Sven got them literally days before leaving.  PPPPHHHHEEEEEWWWW!  I never anticipated it taking that long for the flies to reach him and anxiety had set in over what to do if they had arrived after he left on his journey.  Part of our deal was to share some photos from his trip when he returned.  Sven delivered on his end with some cool pictures and a brief note. 
Had a Great Trip, flies worked well, cold and storms (Winds over 100 mph), very nice people, Good Camp, loads of big, big Char!

Flies ready to go!
A view from on top of the world

You know it's windy when shit flows sideways.....LOL


What it's all about!!!!

This is what it’s all about… fuels the fire within and drives the motivation.
A huge thank you to Sven for his patience and sharing his experience with me!!! 
Sven stayed at: Camp Ekaluk with B&J Flyfishing Adventures
Here is a link to my blog post from a few years back: