Today is my 37th birthday and as I sat down to enjoy some playoff football and a Stone Ruination IPA this evening I couldn’t help but think back on some of the memorable birthdays of my past. Of course the milestone birthdays tend to stand out the most, and is any birthday more monumental than #21? The story of my 21st is fun and it involves beer, so I figured I’d share it with the blog.
Let’s flash back to the night of Saturday January 6, 1996. At the time I was a senior at Dartmouth on the eve of my 21st birthday who was doing what any self-respecting fraternity brother would do on a cold winter’s night in Hanover, New Hampshire: playing beer pong. Now, I had been consuming beer in fraternity basements since my freshman year. So it wasn’t as if the clock striking midnight on this night was going to mark my first beer ever. But it would mark my first legal beer, and my frat brothers determined that this historic event couldn’t happen in our basement with keg beer. They had to take me out into the real world so that I could buy one.
Fortunately one of my brothers had stayed stone cold sober just for this moment, and a group of us headed to one of the few places in the Upper Valley that we knew would still be open and serving alcohol after midnight. It was a fairly crappy nightclub called Scruples at the Radisson in West Lebanon. I’d never been there before but I was certainly game to be asked for ID. The problem was that we got off to a later start than we’d intended, and by the time we got there it was close to 1am. The bartender informed us they were no longer serving. Total bummer. I returned to campus 21 years old with no beer purchases to show for it.
The next day I was still a beer purchasing virgin. My best friend and future brother-in-law Tom felt badly for me and he had a car, so we decided to make a little beer run to West Lebanon again. We went to the Shaw’s Supermarket and I picked out a 6-pack of the holy grail of craft beer at the time: Samuel Adams Boston Lager. We headed to the register, I put the beer on the belt, opened my wallet, and prepared for that monumental moment when the cashier would ask for my ID and I wouldn’t need to pee my pants in fear.
Except that moment never came. That’s correct: she didn’t card me. I paid for my Sam Adams and we were on our way back to campus. 🙂
So here I am 16 years later, still wishing that I’d get carded more often. I’m enjoying one of my regular favorites in this Ruination. This is Stone’s Double IPA. Normally I opt for the bombers, but tonight I picked up a 6-pack for the rather steep price of $19.99. I’d say that’s about $3 more than I’d like to pay for this (oh well). One thing I’ve learned about the Ruination is you need to drink it when it’s super fresh. I’ve found it to be relatively inconsistent in taste from bottle to bottle, but when it’s on… it’s on. Piney hops, nicely balanced, with a bitter finish that you’ll either love or hate. Personally, I love it.
Taste: A-. Like I said, it can be inconsistent. You might want to try it again if you aren’t satisfied with your first experience. I love Arrogant Bastard but this one has a lighter mouthfeel that appeals to me.
Drinkability: B+. The alcohol in this one sneaks up on me. I love drinking it but I probably wouldn’t have more than 2 in a session.
Vitals: 7.7% ABV, served at about 48 degrees in my trusty Alchemist pint glass