Respect the Hops! When Beer is Fresh...

There's a wonderful IPA out there called Blind Pig. The beer is made by Russian River Brewing, the same brewery that makes the infamous Pliny the Elder. A number of people believe that Blind Pig is a better beer, especially if they tend to favor floral and citrusy hops over the piney ones. I used to drink them on a regular basis when I lived on the west coast but haven't had either of them since I moved to Colorado. Really, both beers are fantastic IPAs and both could easily make anyone's Top 5 if they like hoppy beers. When bottled, both beer labels shout and proclaim that these beers are to be drank fresh "Consume Blind Pig Fresh, Or Not At All. Respect Hops." These beers are not to be aged. But how fresh is fresh? Does it really matter that much? I've always had these questions in the back of my mind and well, unfortunately, the other day I truly found out that it does matter...

A couple weeks ago I was in Portland for Beers Made By Walking. The event was held at Belmont Station, my favorite beer bottle shop in the world. They've also got a bar with about 15 really great taps on. As I was chatting with the owner, Carl, about the final details of the event one of the workers came in and said the distributor was here and should they get a keg of Blind Pig. "Should they?" I was thinking with complete disbelief, "Of course!" Carl asked, "How old is the beer?" and was met with the response that it was a month old. The two of them looked at each other with annoyed expressions, and they talked about how the distributor keeps holding kegs back and then selling the old ones a month later. I texted my friends back home that these guys were seriously considering declining a keg of Blind Pig, BLIND PIG!!, because it was a month old. These guys are crazy people, it's fucking Blind Pig, you can't turn that shit down, people in Colorado would kill for it!

Or would we kill for it? The other day a group of us found ourselves in Fort Collins and we stopped in at the Mayor of Old Town, a beer bar that has 100 beers on tap. All the beers are craft and the selection is pretty fun. Guess what was on tap? Yep, Blind Pig. I ordered it and out of the other eight people I think four other people ordered it as well. You can't turn down Blind Pig. I was looking forward to this beer, I hadn't tried it in over two whole years and here it was! I got the pint, it was served in an imperial glass so that was a nice touch. The aroma wasn't exactly what I remembered however and the flavor of the hops also seemed to take a back seat. Then the story from Belmont Station came back and I realized I was drinking an old Blind Pig. I'm not sure how old it was, it hadn't been on tap for 30 days, or else they'd charge $2 for the beer, but it certainly was not the beautifully fresh, wonderfully aromatic, and incredibly distinctive beer that I remember. The beer was still good, but it wasn't the stand-out beer that it is when it's brand new. And for me that was a major disappointment, because I know that this beer is a homerun when fresh. Can you imagine how many people think that Blind Pig is just an okay beer because it wasn't served properly?

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BeerEric Steen