Editors Note: This is a guest post by Matt ‘Hokie’ Hokanson, co-editor of Incessant Rambling. As an avid beer drinker and occasional home brewer, he’s very happy to be contributing to this beer blog. Feel free to follow him on Twitter, @mhokie or send him an e-mail. If you would like to contribute a story or article to BlogAboutBeer.com, please feel free to contact me.
This adventure starts where most good ones do, seated at a bar with a beer in hand.
“Should I do this?” I say aloud. To which my co-worker replies, “Sure, why not?” Why not!? Well, at first glance, it seemed like an insurmountable task!
Wait. Sorry. Before I get too far ahead, let me give you a little background information. The bar I was bellied up to belonged to none other than Novare Res, a now popular bier garden located in the heart of Portland’s Old Port. At the time, however, the bar was only several weeks old, and at that very moment, the patrons were heavily outnumbered by the staff. One had to wonder, was this the type of establishment that could survive among bars flaunting fifty-cent draft specials with dance floors adorned by drunken co-eds? Would giving a twenty-dollar deposit to join a beer revolution be foolhardy?
And what of this revolution? Well, as I mentioned above, this particular area, Portland’s Old Port, had been over run by either like minded local breweries or very cheap domestic beer dive bars. Novare Res was planning to lead a charge. A revolution of sorts, involving great beer and higher standards of fermentation. And man, have they ever revolted.
Once you joined the revolution, you were given a list. It was covered, front and back, with the names of two hundred beers. Each name had a small box to the right for a staff member’s signature, granted upon completion of the respective beer. In short, your task, if you chose to accept it, was to drink two-hundred beers. Keep in mind, however, these weren’t your normal, every day, run of the draught type beers. They ranged from domestic IPAs to authentic Belgian lambics, from ABVs of 4% to 18+% and priced anywhere from a $4 draught to a $29 bottle. This journey was going to tax your palate, liver and wallet alike, and you were going to love it.
You might be asking yourself, “What on earth could make a person take on such a charge?” After making your way through this well manicured list of beers, you would be granted a key to the hallowed enclosure that is the Chalice Room. In addition, you’d be given a 20 oz. chalice engraved with the date you finished and a phrase of your choice. It also denotes your ‘placement’ in the Chalice Club (e.g. 1st or 17th). Did I mention you can fill up your chalice for the price of a 16 oz. pour? Well, you can.
With this essential background information dispensed, I continue to sit at the bar, pondering. After thinking for several moments, I decide I’ll undoubtedly be drinking here regularly anyway, and that is a good enough reason for me. I hand over a crisp twenty and receive my list. It’s dated June 13th, 2008. From this day, I slowly make my way to the Chalice Room, beer by beer. I watch as my roommate and his girlfriend finish in the top ten. I attend a Rogue tasting, an Oktoberfest and an Allagash tasting. I experience several menu
changes and see staff come and go. I’m even lucky enough to stumble upon an amazing NERAX cask event.
Finally, after 468 days, being surpassed by forty fellow beer revolutionaries and being jeered enough by friends, I decide to drink my final beer. It all comes down to the Italian sour brown, Panil Barriquee. The owner is gracious enough to share a limited edition bottle of the beer from his personal collection. On October 26th, 2009, I am surrounded by friends, new and old, slowly sipping this magnificent beer. I can think of no better way to end this extraordinarily amazing beer experience.