Game of the Century

Have you ever skipped out of a wedding reception almost entirely due to a college football game?  I have, and here’s the story about it…

game of the century

As I reflect back on this experience, my fellow Hopostle Zack will remember it better than me, but from the other side of the fence.  You see, it was his wedding reception that I skipped out on.  We’re first cousins, so it probably stands to reason that I should have been there for the whole thing, supporting him by spending the better part of my Saturday in my nicest suit and listening to the clinking of glasses while the happy couple gazed lovingly into each other’s eyes. But if you’ve been a reader of this blog from earlier this year, you’ll know that just about the only thing that can entice me into spending any Saturday of the year at a wedding involve two magic words:  open bar.  Zack’s wedding was not one that boasted of such festivities, but that’s not the real reason I was looking to get out of there in record time.  Sound selfish on my behalf?  Well, I left out one tiny detail…

mvosuThe date was November 18, 2006.  To those of you that are familiar with college football, that’s just about the time of year when things are really heating up, and all teams are vying for a coveted spot in the national championship game (the 4-team playoff wasn’t devised yet).  And to those of you that are familiar with the Ohio State/Michigan rivalry, you know that it’s been dubbed “The Game” for many years now due to the nature of how serious the bragging rights have become.  In 2006, it was labeled as the “Game of the Century.” Ohio State was ranked #1, and Michigan was #2.  In their long storied past, no game up until this point or since had carried a weight of this magnitude.  The winner would go on to the championship, and the loser would be forever remembered as just that:  a loser in the game of the century.

Hop ZackSound like a perfect day to schedule a wedding?  I didn’t think so, and Zack clearly wasn’t thinking either when he agreed to the date for his wedding to begin with.  His mind was probably clouded by love, and stopping to consider when the Buckeyes might be playing or what his closest friends would want to be doing on November 18 was nowhere in the equation.  I know what you’re thinking now…shame on you, Zack.  How could YOU be so selfish?

The Buckeyes went on to win the game 42-39 in historic fashion, taking it down to the wire and truly living up to the game’s new found title of “Game of the Century.”  And I’m pretty sure that to this day, Zack doesn’t hold it against me for passing up his wedding reception for a game that would forever be etched into the history books.  Would I do it over again, knowing that we’re now writing a beer blog together and have become closer friends in the past few years than I would have expected?  You bet.  After all, I was nice enough to forgive him for being so selfish, so I guess he owes me one…

the Hopostles

Yakima Fresh by Columbus Brewing Co.

Producing nearly three fourths of all the hops in the world, Yakima Valley in Washington state is thought of as Mecca in the minds of most brewers and hopheads. We picture the drinking fountains there dispersing the hoppiest beers on Earth, the restaurants serving various culinary interpretations involving pine cones, and the rivers being deep enough in hop flowers to actually swim in. And while none of this actually exists in reality, beers like Yakima Fresh by Columbus Brewing Company do. It’s because of beers like this that we get such crazy beer fantasies…

Ballast Point Brewing Company

Ballast Point BCAddress: 9045 Carroll Way
San Diego, CA 92121

Phone: (858) 790-6900


Flagship Beers: Manta Ray DIPA, Sculpin IPA, Mango Even Keel Session, California Kolsch, The Commodore Stout, Wahoo White, Piper Down Scottish Ale, Victory at Sea Porter

Seasonal Releases: Pumpkin Down Pumpkin Ale, Dead Ringer Oktoberfest

Special Releases: Red Velvet Nitro Stout, Calm Before the Storm Cream Ale,  Sea Monster Imperial Stout, Orange Vanilla Fathom IPL, Coconut Victory at Sea, Sour Wench Blackberry Ale

The Down Low: By definition, ballast is any heavy material brought on board a ship, either temporarily or permanently, to help the ship maintain its buoyancy on the open sea.  I wonder if beer qualifies?  If so, I’m sure captains of long ago would have been happy to tote along some brews by Ballast Point Brewery for the long journey, happily sipping their way towards the horizon ahead of them.  Hey, even if they would never return home, at least they wouldn’t die of thirst…

BP FrontBallast Point can be found in a smattering of locations in California, as well as one in Virginia, but their main hub is in San Diego.  They got their start in 1992, as two college roommates found a similar passion for brewing their own beer.  They soon added a third friend to the mix, and by 1996 Ballast Point was born.  Their logo features a sextant, which is a navigational tool used to determine a boat’s position on the horizon relative to the stars, and seems to carry a double meaning when it comes to what they hope to always be:  a craft brewery that’s always looking to seek out something new while remembering who they are and where they came from.  And as their logo reminds patrons, Ballast Point has remained “Dedicated to the Craft” ever since.

With a great lineup of beers that’s on the shelf year round and is distributed nationwide, Ballast Point has become a brewery that we expect to see on beer shelves in most of the places that we shop.  And though we’ve tried a great many of their brews, they’re always a solid go-to choice when nothing else seems to strike our fancy on a particular day.  They make IPL’s (India Pale Lagers), white ales, Scottish Ales, Pale Ales, and even a red velvet cake beer.  When it comes to innovation, there seems to be no limit with Ballast Point.

BP BarThe Sculpin series, in varying forms such as unfiltered, grapefruit, and even habanero, is a solid player in the IPA market. Their darker stouts, such as Sea Monster, are rich and robust, perfect for those nights when you’re craving a good nightcap.  But our favorite brew by them would probably have to be Victory at Sea, a coffee and vanilla porter that’s soft and creamy smooth.  It’s available in a peppermint and a coconut variety, too, both of which we highly recommend.  A friend of ours happened to score a barrel-aged variant of it on his visit to the brewery a while back, and needless to say, it was the highlight of our evening of sampling.

If you get the chance to head out to California anytime soon, be sure to check them out in person for yourself.  But if that trip doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen, head to your nearest craft brew store.  They’re sure to have something by Ballast Point that will set your palate in the right direction.

the Hopostles

Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Pumpkin by Thirsty Dog Brewing Company

Well, we’ve saved what we believe to be the best for last. As the Heavenly Gourd Series draws to a close, our final brew for the month is one that we deem to be as close to perfection for a pumpkin beer as one can hope to find. It’s barrel-aged, it’s loaded with pumpkin flavor, and it’s what every craft beer fanatic wishes would end up in the bottom of their Trick or Treat bag. Are we too old for trick or treating? Probably, but if you could score a treasure like this simply by knocking on a stranger’s door, something tells us you wouldn’t care either. Happy Halloween!

The Unicorn

unicorn beer
In the most unlikely of circumstances, one brewery is making its mark on the beer world in a big way.

Carakale Brewing Co., the first ever craft brewery located in the country of Jordan, is now a legitimate player in a heavily saturated U.S. market. Their mouthwatering brews include unique, locally-sourced ingredients, such as Jordanian dates, Bedouin coffee, and even Dead Sea salt.

Check out the full article here at to read more.

Dave Doesn’t Know by Wolf’s Ridge Brewing

Just about anything can be found lurking in a pile of leaves around this time of the year. A missing piece of candy, a broken rake, or even someone looking to scare the daylights out of an unsuspecting passerby. But what about a full beer? Like a treasure waiting to be discovered, Dave Doesn’t Know by Wolf’s Ridge Brewing Company found its way into a leaf pile near us, and we happily rescued it for the sake of making it our fourth installment in the Heavenly Gourd Series…

Beer history: Saison

wheat1Saison is a French term which means “season” and originated in the southern part of Belgium. Saison beers were first being made back in the 1700’s and were strictly made for farmers. After the farming season ended, the remaining grain from the fields was oftentimes used to produce beer in the farmhouse. The farmers would also use quite a bit of hops to keep the beer from spoiling, as well as many types of herbs and spices. Since farmers would essentially use whatever ingredients they had on their farm, the style was very different from one farmer to the next.  They would also brew these in the colder months to allow the beer to mature.

Saisons were very low on the ABV scale (usually around 3.5-4%). This would give the farmers a crisp, refreshing beer during the hot summer months without getting them drunk. After time, saisons became so popular that farmers actually started using their farmhouses as small brew houses. Soon, farmers would work together and combine various herbs and spices to create some unique concoctions, and with the addition of beet sugars or cane sugar, these saisons started to spike near the 8% ABV mark.

saison beer

Saisons started to drop off the grid in the mid 19th century. Pale lagers flooded the marked and pushed this style off to the side, culminating in the death of the saison-style shortly after the 2nd World War. Some small brew houses continued brewing saisons, but the comeback was very slow. With today’s technology and America’s push for more unique craft beer, saison beers are once again prominent in the beer market.  It continues to be one of the more complex and popular styles of beer available.

Rumpkin by Avery Brewing Co.

Our love for pumpkin beers continues this week with our third beer in the Heavenly Gourd series, and it’s a real whopper.  Enticing us with a combination of pumpkin and rum barrel-aging, this colossal brew clocks in at 35 proof (seemed more appropriate than ABV) and is guaranteed to get your palate’s attention. But can all the booziness be too much of a good thing? Join us as we sample Avery Rumpkin in an attempt to answer that question on our quest to discovering pumpkin beer perfection..

Phase 2: The Legwork

Headtrip Sign

Back in April, we ran a feature entitled “Birth of a Brewery” that focused on a new brewery called Headtrip that was going to open sometime in the near future in Stow, OH. We know…that was many beers ago, so maybe you don’t remember seeing it. If you don’t, you can find it here. Well, here we are 6 months later, and we have some exciting updates to share pertaining to Headtrip’s progress since then…

Flight Boards RawHoles CutMuch has been accomplished in the way of the dirty work to get the brewery launched soon. All construction has been completed, with a second bathroom installation being completed as well. Everything has been painted, and all lighting and electrical fixtures have been installed. Mason jars with Edison-style light fixtures are gracing the new residence, giving it that old-fashioned yet modern look, and the table tops have been created from reclaimed wood. The flight boards have been cut, sanded, drilled for holes, filled (the gaps, not the glasses…have some patience, will ya?), and clear-coated.

The bar top will be complete soon, and the bar rails will be fashioned from some pieces left over from one of the Renner Brewing Company buildings Akron, OH. The tap system and the CO2 system have been installed, all equipment is in, and the custom stands for the brew kettles are ready to go as well. The inspection and the occupancy permit is done (49 people), and the official state permit has been issued, so now they’re working on final tests of their equipment so they can start brewing and building inventory.

Taproom in Sept. 17

If you follow Headtrip on social media, they’ve posted a couple teaser pictures of R&D beers they’ve made over the summer, including a Cranberry-Cherry Wit, a German wheat Lemon Ale, and a Raspberry Belgian Saison. Our mouths water just looking at the pictures….we can only imagine how great they’re gonna taste! As the opening date approaches, which hasn’t been announced yet, we anxiously await our first taste of these and their other beers as well, most of which will be kept a secret until then.

Please support Headtrip when the doors finally do open by paying them a visit. Keep an eye out for us there when you do, and be sure to tell us what your favorite brew by them is. Phase 3 will be soon to follow, so be watching!!!

the Hopostles

Photo credit: Stephanie Seagle (Steph Seagle Photography)

Pumking by Southern Tier Brewing Company

He-Man vs. Skeletor. G.I. Joe vs Cobra. Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan. The Autobots vs. the Decepticons. What do they all have in common, besides proving that we have fond memories of the 80’s? All of them are classic battles of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, and simply put, who’s more powerful. In our second week of the Heavenly Gourd series, we pitted Pumking against his rum-guzzling uncle to see who the true king of the pumpkin patch is…