Tuesday Sept 13 was my birthday. I made plans ahead of time to brew a batch during the day, then enjoy a nice quiet evening at home with my wife, complemented only by a nice selection of craft beer I already had on hand. The day wasn’t unlike any other, except for one thing – I was out of the office. I scheduled to have a couple days off surrounding my birthday because I wanted some time away and knew I still had a few days left to use before the end of the year.

To make things interesting, I have a business associate with whom I’ve worked for roughly the past twelve years. She and I have had a great working relationship and she knows of my love of great craft beer. She called me a little over a week ago to ask for my address. She said she was sending me something. I didn’t know what and I didn’t know when, but I gave her the address just the same. Then on Monday I get a call in the office and she tells me she has news. I come to find out that I am to be expecting a FedEx delivery the next day – my birthday. Again I didn’t ask, but I knew I had something I had to wait for when I was home the following day.

Game day – I sat at home, waiting ever so patiently for the doorbell to ring. Then around lunchtime I had to run out the door because I had to deliver lunch to my wife’s place of business – like a good husband would. I was so scared about not getting my delivery that I left a note for FedEx to leave the package with my neighbor, trusting that they would be home. I had also been planning to brew during the day, so a trip to Love2Brew was planned. I took my neighbor buddy with me and we went to pick up my latest batch.

We hit Love2Brew and I tried to spend as little time there as possible, since I was in a time crunch. My neighbor who was tasked with accepting my incoming delivery was to leave at 12:30 and it was almost noon already. I decided between the two choices that seemed obvious to me – the smoked porter and the rauchbier. Both seemed appealing to me and would be ready just in time for the cooler weather and the upcoming holidays. After sampling some of the selections off their tap, I went with the smoked porter. The cherrywood smoked grains were just so aromatic that I was hooked. We bought the batch and rushed home.


Brew day began as soon as I got back home. While I was doing my thing I come to find out that my neighbor (who lives on the 4th floor of the building) has to move. Now. Thankfully it was from 4th floor down to the 2nd, so most of the job would be easy. But I still had to get this brew day done. When I got to the hot break, I took the time to share a bottle of Stone 20th Anniversary Citracado that this very same neighbor gave me as a birthday gift. When it was all said and done, I did get a chance to brew the batch, cool it through my immersion wort chiller and finally pitch the yeast and aerate it. But then came the job of helping my friend move. On my birthday no less. We got the heavy stuff done first, then moved on to the light work. Once we finished I had one more beer to enjoy when I was on my couch for good this time.


Remember when I mentioned that I was supposed to receive a package via FedEx earlier in the day? My neighbor had signed for it and had it in their apartment. I got it from them and held onto it like a cherished Christmas present before opening ceremonies. When it was finally opened, what was revealed to me had me looking like a kid on Christmas – three, count ’em THREE bottles of Pliny the Elder by Russian River Brewing Company. I took time from my day off to call her and thank her immensely for such a thoughtful gift. I made sure to get these beauties in the fridge to chill because when my work was done, I was going all in on this. I would not be denied to sample this beer that has been my unicorn since I became a craft beer devotee. I brewed a clone batch of this for my wedding, but I wanted to see what the real thing tasted like and boy was I not disappointed. It was lovely, like heaven in a bottle, especially since I had just busted my tail all day long and really needed something to cool me down and relax. This did the trick. Cheers!