As we close the book on 2012, and crack the binding on 2013, I thought I’d take a few minutes to look back over the past year and highlight some of my favorite moments. For me, 2012 was a year of good beer and even better friends. The year started with homebrew days… Spending Sunday afternoons nursing hangovers and brewing up the latest recipe, swapping ideas and making plans for how we would conquer the beer world. Getting “re-drunk” in Oz’s garage, standing around the brew kettle to keep warm. Grilling venison sausage on a fire started with Conaughty’s “shitty poems”, and convincing Trish to try new beers, determined to find some she would like, slowly converting her into a craft beer drinker.
In February, we made our second trip to Southern Tier Brewing Co. in Lakewood, NY with friends, Heidi and Andy. The four of us enjoyed some of our favorite beer as we huddled under the propane heaters on the patio. Later on, Jared led us on a tour of the brewery and let us try 2X Milk Stout straight from the bright tank. It was a great trip despite a little “incident” with Andy and the cab driver, Zero, on the way to dinner in Jamestown, and driving home the next day with hangovers…
I turned 30 in March, and became a Certified Beer Server. Still being somewhat new to craft beer, I was happy to have passed the test and, who knows, maybe it’s just the first step on my way to becoming a Certified Cicerone one day! In April, we traveled to Hunter Mountain for TAP-NY, where we drank unbelievable amounts of delicious NY craft beer and met some amazing new friends, like the Dupas, Lindsey Styborski from Brooklyn Brewery, and Adam Lang & Jan Matysiak, brew master at Sixpoint. (…and we ate SPAM fries!) We met Garrett Oliver in May, during a meet and greet at MacGregors Tap Room. It was really cool to meet the man that creates some of the best beer on the east coast, and literally wrote the book on beer. If you’ve met Garrett, I’m sure you will agree… the man has endless amounts of swag.
The summer of 2012 brought our first experience with Rochester Real Beer Week. This amazing week of beer events in Rochester allowed us to interact with so many great people in the beer industry, not only the locals, but players from all over the country who came in to celebrate Rochester’s expanding craft beer scene. This is when we first met Luke Purcell, brew master at Great Lakes, and Charlie Carson from Anderson Valley Brewing Co. And I ran my first 5k (!!!), the Rochester Real 5k, presented by Sam Adams and Saranac, hosted at Lovin’ Cup.
In July, once we recovered from beer week, we welcomed a new addition to the Rochester beer scene, Victoire Belgian Beer Bar on East Ave. Their sunken beer garden is a great place to spend a summer night with friends. In August, Ryan and I traveled to Wrobel Farms for the Saranac Hop Harvest, where we picked Cascade and heirloom hops for their Wet Hop IPA. Afterwards we traveled out to Szaro Farms with new friends, Dave & Kayla, where we imagined Woodstock-style beer & music festivals as they showed us around their farm.
September brought the first hints of Fall, and Oktoberfest! There’s no better way to celebrate the season than with authentic German food and beer at Swan Market on Parsells Ave in the city. Privately owned and operated for over 80 years, Swan Market is the kind of old world deli that has largely vanished in the era of giant grocery chains. They serve German lunches Wednesday through Saturday from 11 to 2 at long communal tables that remind you that, sometimes, it’s OK to talk to strangers. (There’s also live German music on the last Thursday and Friday of each month!)
In October, we welcomed flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg as we sipped pumpkin beers all month long… and we had a “wicked” good time at Custom BrewCrafters Haunted Brewery event! This was one of JD’s first events as the new retail manager at the brewery, and it was great to see him start settling into his new role. We spent Thanksgiving in Portsmouth, NH, and while we were there we toured RedHook, a huge production brewery, and Smuttynose, a comparatively small brewery, where we tried our first taste of their Zinneke Belgian Stout, a new favorite. We also stopped in for a late dinner at Portsmouth Brewery and enjoyed a deliciously creamy pint of Milk Stout. Finally, as the year came to an end, we celebrated with the last installment of Stone’s Vertical Epic Series, 12.12.12. Spicy, dark, complex… this Belgian Noël was the perfect beer to welcome the holiday season.
This week also marks one year of blogging for me as The Craft Beer Girl. I’m amazed at how quickly the past year has passed and at how much has happened in that time. I’ve met so many amazing people, drank a lot of beer, and grown as a person and as a writer. It sounds silly to say I’ve grown as a person through blogging, especially about beer, but creating this identity, and allowing myself to embody this character, really has been a gratifying experience. I’ve always been a creative person, and others have generally seen me as such… but to have so many people, many of them strangers, legitimately interested and supportive of my work– it blows my mind! I know the site has a long way to go to become what I envision it can be… but the fact that I can envision a future at all? It’s surreal. So let me take this opportunity to say to everyone who visits the site, to all of the new friends I’ve made in the craft beer community, and especially to the people in my life that have supported my crazy ideas and cheered me on all along, thank you. I mean that sincerely, and humbly… THANK YOU.