Thursday, August 14, 2008

Crying the Blues

Have you ever noticed that sometimes a problem will arise that forces you to take action and in resolving the problem, you actually come out better ahead? I've learned this over the years and so I've come to look at many problems as opportunities to improve things.

This all sounds rather philosophical for a restaurant blog, so let me bring this back around to the food and beverage world. For years, we've been loyal customers of Tröegs Brewery of Harrisburg, PA and we still are, because the Trogner brothers, Chris and John, make some of the best beer on the East Coast. We're such loyal customers that Tröegs beers have been the only beers in our cooler since day one, much to the chagrin of the Budmiller reps.

Not only are these beers very popular with us at One Block West, but they're generally hugely popular in the mid-Atlantic, so popular that the guys at the brewery cannot keep up with the demand, especially for their HopBack Amber Ale, a superbly well balanced beer and my beer of choice after a hot shift in the kitchen.

Unfortunately, this year we've been shorted on HopBack more times than not. From the brewery's perspective, a great problem to have, but on our part, we don't like to tell customers no, especially ones that have been drinking the beer here for five or six years.

Sadly, I've had to find a replacement for HopBack, one with a less limited production. Just getting to the point of looking for a replacement took some doing on my part; HopBack and I have been close friends for years and I felt like I was cheating on my friend. Plus, we try to keep it local here at the restaurant and any change from HopBack would mean getting less local. While Harrisburg isn't entirely local at 75 minutes away, customers do drive down for dinner and are happy to see their hometown brew in our cooler.

Once I started looking, I kept hearing the name Oskar Blues Brewery from Lyons, CO. And a few days after a friend gave me a taste of Oskar Blues' strong ale called Gordon, I just happened to run across a six-pack of their Dale's Pale Ale at Murphy Beverage. Gordon was really well made, so I took the Dale's Pale Ale away with me to sample at that evening's poker game as a potential HopBack replacement.

Toward the end of dinner service, I got free of the kitchen and spied three friends at a table drinking HopBack, so I poured myself a Dale's and joined them. Before I could say anything, the hop aroma filled the air, so much so that one of my friends asked what I was drinking. I told him and he asked for a taste, which I gave him, and he immediately passed the glass to his wife, who passed it to the third person. By the time I got to taste it, we were all blown away with the flavor, and all three of them asked for a Dale's of their own.

You should have seen their faces when I brought out the remaining five Dale's. They were thinking what I thought when I first encountered Gordon. My head just about popped off my shoulders when one of my beer connoisseur friends pulled out the can of Gordon and poured tastes for us one evening. Good beer in a can?!?!?

It's saying a lot that the six-pack of Dale's disappeared within about ten minutes. So much for the beer for the poker game! But this experience proved to me that there is life beyond HopBack and that life is going to be exceptional.

Now about this can thing. It's now a quasi-trademark of Oskar Blues, the Canned Beer Apocalypse, that is. Watch their video to learn more about why canned beer is great beer. And, come experience the Apocalypse yourself. Dale's is amazing beer.

My beer problem has left me crying the blues, the Oskar Blues.

P.S. Chris and John, we still love you. Just get some more brew kettles if you have room for them!

1 comment:

  1. Okay, have to admit this was quite the beer! :) Really enjoyed it with my scallops and filet. Glad I read about it on the blog, or I'd have missed out. Now I only I wish I wouldn't have finished dinner with the double espresso... sleep would be good.