Recently, I had an opportunity to re-acquaint myself with a beverage that was one of the focal points of an almost Zen-like experience in my travels. It was a morning where everything was beautiful, to kind of quote Vonnegut, and nothing hurt but my pride and my head. What put a kindly punctuation mark on this particular day was the opportunity to find something new within familiar confines while taking stock over the events of the weekend.
I had missed out on my friend Christian’s wedding in New Orleans but not because I wasn’t able to make it to town. Circumstances beyond my control, namely my friend Robert – a Master of Whiskey for Diageo Liquors – led us in a few company-funded toasts of the Irish. My apologies to the bride and groom, but it’s going to be an early night for me.
In four years living in the Crescent City, I don’t think I had ever gone to bed earlier than the average third grader normally does. I awoke before the roosters with a completely open day in front of me. Rented room key on the end table, I gathered my belongings and pointed my car down St. Charles Avenue.
The pleasant, cool morning air drive back towards the city found me in front of that home away from home, The Avenue Pub. Being a 24-hour joint, it was there I made friends with their graveyard bartender, JT. When asked for a good place to walk to for breakfast, he suggested Stein’s Deli on Magazine.
An enjoyable walk later and I was there. Stein’s opened up in the years I had been away, providing amazing Jewish deli fare and a stellar package selection of rare beer. I ordered the Stoltzfus – steamed pastrami with fried egg white and swiss on marble rye – with a potato-onion knisch and their house-made half- and full-sour pickles. Spotting a Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye in the cooler, I took my haul out to the sidewalk. Much like Miles in the movie Sideways, I stole guilty glances over shoulders while pouring my beer into a Styrofoam coffee cup. The beer was a perfect and slightly spicy foil to the bold flavors of the food. It was so good, I went back for a 4-pack to take home.
We now have Hop Rod at The Filling Station. What a beauty! Darker than the average imperial IPA, it has thick, sticky lacing and some cloudy particulate from the unfiltered heavy hop presence. Its scents are everything a hop-head dreams of; pine, flowers and sharp citrus. The perfect malt bill props up a sizzling, mouth-coating array of chewy, piney, minty grapefruit with peppery rye rounding out the eyeball-rolling experience.
Find an epiphany in your own backyard. This one is the stuff of very fond memories.