This sponsored column is written by Steve Quartell, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway). Sign up for the email newsletter and receive exclusive discounts and offers. Order from Arrowine’s expanding online store for curbside pickup.
I’ve been thinking — when you can’t go places in space you can always go places in time. Beer is a lot of things to a lot of people and call me sentimental or overly nostalgic, but I’ve always seen it as a time machine. It slows down time, it steals away time from tomorrow if you have one too many and it takes you back.
In Tasting Beer, (cicerone alert) Randy Mosher talks about the neuroscience behind taste and smell and the double redundancy of the nerves transmitting taste sensory information to our brains. And how beer hacks directly into that hardwiring. It’s a connection so potent you can hold it in your hand every time you open a bottle. I love beers that bring you back. There’s a lot we have in store right now that fire synapses for me immediately — but there’s one that I can’t ever get in store or ever again.
Fall 2007, Chicago. About 11 at night and eleven friends and I are walking out of a theatre in Roscoe Village after having talked our way into a sold-out show called “The Magnificents,” presented by the truly amazing House Theatre Company. Nine theatre majors in town for auditions near the midpoint of senior year, high on a show that lived up to its name, en route to a bar around the corner called The Hungry Brain.
The night air is cool and damp as an evening thunderstorm rolls in. We turn the corner from Western to Belmont headed towards the lake. The wind and rain pick up, and we huddle together, walking faster and laughing at the timing of this cool shower during our five minute walk.
The Hungry Brain is familiar and new all at once. I quickly scan the familiar beer brands but pause a moment on a distinct telephone tap handle; it’s calling me. I take my first sip of Goose Island 312 and am blown away by how different it is from what I’m used to. Fruit, lemon peel and light pepper notes with an aromatic sensation I’d only picked up on hikes and walking along midwestern prairies — earthy, floral, piney but not aggressively so.
I snap out of my beer inspired reverie and a friend asks what I’m drinking. To date, my go-to beers had been Keystone and Bud, so lacking any distinct descriptors I holler, “Dunno, but we’re drinking it all night!”
We take turns bringing pitchers of that unfiltered wheat ale back to mismatched leather couches. Playing quarters, laughing at jokes that made more sense freshman year and putting on songs we’ve listened to before, but not in this place, not in this time. We talk about what, where and who we will be after graduation, and we hold on to what we are now.
We all have stories like this one, “Fall 2007. Chicago” — a memorable experience paired with the perfect, memorable beer. These beers turn into time machines in miniature, they take us back to moments when all we needed was the pint in front of us and the people around us.
Opening up a 312 was dialing in “Fall 2007. Chicago.” no matter where I was. The smell of fall leaves on the sidewalk, a thunderstorm coming in, the electricity of friends going from one incredible experience they watched as an audience — to another they lived as a community of twelve.
I can’t dial up that time machine ever again, at least not easily. There are worse things a brewery can do than get bought out, but that doesn’t change the fact that the recipe for 312 is forever changed. It took six batches of homebrew to zero in on something that “hit” like the original, and I just don’t have the energy for that anymore.
And, to throw salt in my wounds, the Hungry Brain as I briefly knew it closed in 2014.
What I can do is crack open a Corruption IPA from DC Brau and be taken back to stocking that beer in my fridge at multiple overseas posts and finding fellow beer drinkers that quickly became dear friends.
I can pour a Troeg’s Nimble Giant into a tulip glass and laugh about the night we flew back to the U.S. via JFK International and the absurdity of my wife and I losing contact with each other when her cell phone died on the way back from dropping extra bags off at her sisters’ studio while I was buying toothpaste at the bodega closest to our AirBnB and she was the only one with our rental information and “boy I guess I’m gonna buy this four pack I haven’t had before” while this bodega cat stares at me (it was a night).
And while I can’t guess what beer takes you back, I can spot you 5% on your next order from now until my next column. Use code TakeUBack at check out for 5% off your beer order with us.*
Let’s all look forward to that next pint we raise with friends and dear ones — hopefully closer together and sooner than later.
Until then folks — to your health.
*Discount Code does not combine with other active discounts. Supplies limited. Applies to beer only, may not apply to all beers in inventory (mixed cases, 12 packs, large format bottles etc)