I plainly remember the first epic beer I tasted (and by epic, I mean a highly sought-after, high-alcohol, scarce-in-Delaware, eye-raising, paradigm shifting beer). It was aromatic, juicy, and boozy. It re-defined IPAs for me.
I jokingly call the pursuit of these types of beer “Grail Quests”, because it’s essentially the modern millennial’s zealous pursuit of holy beer.
But I didn’t have to go on a grail quest for a taste of my first epic beer...it fell into my lap at a point in my life where I was just beginning to wade into the culture of craft beer. A friend from work gave me a can of this beer, and at the time, I was completely unaware of the legendary epic-ness of said beer.
I beheld the one bequeathed to me in my kitchen on a Wednesday night while preparing dinner. I find drinking a beer while preparing the family dinner is a great time to imbibe due to the individual nature of the work and the opportunity to reflect and delight in the beer without other distractions (yes - in our house, there is an unstated rule of not bothering a chef at work). The can artwork was weird and I felt it was strange to be drinking a beer from a 16oz. can (which is all the rage today), so I poured it into a fancy glass.
The aroma wafting out of the glass immediately caught my attention. I was astounded a beer could contain such a pungent cloud of hoppiness. None of my homebrews up to that point could measure up to it. And it put my go-to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and VIctory Hop Devil in the backseat (although I eventually came back around to them). I won’t bore you with details of taste, mouthfeel, etc. I considered it epic and that’s all that really mattered.
Now I seek out that beer when I’m in New England. You’re probably wondering what the beer is, but I’m not going to send you on MY grail quest; you need to find your own.
Maybe your holy grail is a Trillium Triple IPA (WTF, when did that become a style?!) or a Westvleteren #12. Or maybe it’s that one-off, small batch beer that your local brewery whipped up last week which you have yet to try.
I hope it’s the latter, because you’ll find it a hell of a lot easier to recruit friends on a local grail quest. And frankly, having a beer with close friends is the type of quest that all of us should be pursuing in earnest.