Friday, March 15, 2019

Craft Beer and My Life - Hoppy Brewing

Several years ago, I think it was 1994, at the Northern California Small Brewers Festival in Mountain View, California I was a volunteer beer pourer as I had been in other festivals. This festival was known to be one of the more rigid ones in the bay area (where the Pleasanton was pretty loose and a lot of fun).

I was pouring for the brewery E.J. Phair.  The owner and brewer was JJ Phair. We got along quite well as I had been visiting dozens of micro breweries for a couple years and had quite a bit of experience with  (what would be later called) craft beers.  Especially hoppy beers. back then, hoppy beers were unusual and blacked hop flavor and aromas with bitterness was not yet mature in the micro brew scene.  JJ and I had quite a bit of fun tasting the various beers being poured at the festival.

While pouring for JJ, I kept my water glass in the bucket of ice with the kegs. I've never been a fan of drinking water from plastic as I always felt it was wasteful, unnecessary and left a plastic taste. So, I drink from glass (and stainless these days). Well, someone from the festival came by and reminded us I can't drink beer while pouring. Of course we said we weren't and I was only drinking water which I showed them.

A bit later, JJ excitedly came back to his taps and told me I had to go try Hoppy Face Amber from a new brewery Hoppy Brewing. So, I went over, used a token and got a sample. I don't remember the beer but I do remember a wow factor and that it the hop aroma and flavor were huge.

Moments after I returned to JJ's taps, 8 or 10 festival "security" descended on us and demanded I stop pouring and handover my volunteer shirt. It was quite comical to me. I once again demonstrated I was drinking water but they went on about drinking beer while pouring and then pointed out I had just went over to Hoppy Brewing (I removed my shirt first) while I wa "on duty".  Rightfully so, JJ went ballistic. The folks argued heavily with them.

JJ explained he sent me over to try the beer but they were unrelenting. JJ decided he would leave the festival and take his beer with him. They tried to stop him saying he had donated the beer. I recall him saying maybe so but not his kegs. I'd like to remember that he then poured all his beer out but I don't think that happened.

I let JJ know I would be fine getting booted but he wouldn't let them treat me like that.  I was escorted out by 7 or 8 staff as if I was some big threat. the people and circumstance is just as laughable now as it was back then. I don't know what happened after that.

I continued to support E.J.Phair everytime I see it. I did get to see JJ again several years later and he kind of remembered or at least he was considerate enough to remember. We sampled his Helles right off the bright tank and it was fantastic!

I do remember that Hoppy Face Amber. They still make it today. Funny enough, I haven't had it since. I think it is time!


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