Changes in the life of the Ale Evangelist…

I’ll begin with the most tragic and devastating news of all. My best friend, referred to on this blog as the Deacon of Drink, was killed in a motorcycle accident on July 17th. He leaves behind his wife of 1.5 years, who is also 5 months pregnant with their first (and only) child, as well as hundreds of friends who miss him terribly. I’d known him for 21 years, and we enjoyed good food and countless good craft beers together. It is difficult to overstate how much I miss him, and how much his death has impacted my life. We both worked in the IT industry, we both love our phones and tablets, we both loved craft beer, we both enjoyed pencil and paper RPG’s…the list goes on and on. Everything I enjoy reminds me of him. Most of the stories I tell involve him. It’s been pretty difficult.

I can usually make it through the day without a tear, but other days are more difficult. I’m learning to incorporate a new normal into my existence; learning to enjoy the things I once enjoyed without bittterness. I guess you could say I’m learning to move on.  But the words “move on” sound too much like getting over the loss, and this is not the case.  I’m never going to forget the man my son called Uncle Gabe. I’m never going to forget the guy who listened to me when I was having problems with cuts at work. He’s never going to be that far from my mind, so the words “move on” don’t have the connotation that we often think of.

His memorial event was this past Saturday, and there was much beer.

Commercially, we had a porter from Lodi Beer Company. This beer pours a dark, dark, rich brown color with a creamy off-white head. Aroma is sweet malt with a tantalizing roasty nose. Mouthfeel is amazingly creamy, like they used maltose in the brewing process. Flavor is rich, dark-roasted coffee, with a nice, sweet creamer in it. It is seriously one of the most awesome porters I’ve ever had. I think I have probably about 10 gallons of this left.

Someone else brought Lagunitas’ IPA.  I tried this once, but wasn’t as impressed with it as I was with the next beer…

I brought 10 gallons of my Galaxy Pale Ale, which I brewed a couple weeks prior to the Deacon’s death. It’s a hoppy pale ale based on Deschutes’ Mirror Pond with the aromatic addition of 6 ounces of Galaxy Hops per 5 gallons. Galaxy hops are a relatively recent proprietary variety from New Zealand known for its intense and pleasant aromas. It can perform double duty as a bittering hop, but at somewhere around $2/oz. on average, if you use it for bittering, you’re wasting it, in my opinion. It’s a bright, sessionable pale, and as a way of prolonging that wonderful dry hop aroma, I transfer the dry hop bag to the keg when kegging it. ABV is about 5.5% or so. I don’t remember the IBU’s off-hand, but it’s not as bitter as Sierra Nevada’s Pale. What people notice the most in the Galaxy Pale is the floral, citrus aromas provided by those fantastic Galaxy hops.

I got a TON of compliments on this beer, and I estimate I have about 3 gallons left. I recently bought 12 oz. of Galaxy hops, which will be enough to make another 20 gallons of this beer, and I’m excited about it.

The event went well, with friends from his many interests coming together the mourn the loss of such a good man. There were tears, but overwhelmingly, we all stayed pretty positive. We miss our friend, but none of us could think of any better way to remember his memory than by enjoying fine craft beers and fine wines. (And bacon…another of his great loves.)

In closing, I would like to say that while I don’t know if I’ll be posting a ton on my blog, but at the very least I can now do so without becoming melancholy or morose. I’m hoping I can bring myself to post more frequently in the days ahead. However, I’m sure you will see me mention my good friend the Deacon of Drink. I miss you, my friend. Thanks for the good memories, and all the great beer.

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