“Travel, I’ve had my share, man. I’ve been everywhere.” – Johnny Cash, “I’ve Been Everywhere”
In the back left corner, peeking out from behind the 2017 release of Wild Beer Co’s Redwood, we have a tall, mighty can of Signature Brew’s Anthology, the first of what will be an annual release of the Leyton craft brewery’s luscious take on the venerable imperial stout. Signature co-founder Sam McGregor passed me this can during the London launch party at Kings Arms in Bethnal Green, one at which certain attendees couldn’t resist mixing and matching halves of this 10% beast with a half or two of Brooklyn Brewery’s 10.5% Cloaking Device. It was a long night passed with good company, followed by a long, lonesome morning passed with throbbing skull.
Wild Beer’s Redwood isn’t the brewery’s only bottle that survived the long trek from London, to Minneapolis, to Detroit, to Singapore. To its right—along with a funkyfunky BrettBrett Double IPA—we have last year’s release of Modus Operandi, the barrel-aged beauty that once upon a time helped get the rapidly expanding Somerset brewery off the ground. “Modus was the original idea that started the brewery. Barrel aging, blending, wild yeasts—it encapsulates all those things,” said co-founder Andrew Cooper while walking me through Wild’s barrel room a few years ago for a Beer Advocate story. “We love the beers that we blend, and that evolve and change over time. Those things are pretty exciting for us.”
Rounding out the UK portion of this particular haul, one carefully gathered over a three-month span in which I circumnavigated the globe, we have a bottle of Siren Craft Brew’s The Kentucky Tickle Monster, an obscene 16.3% ABV triple IPA “aged on cedar wood aged in bourbon barrels for 12 months”; a can of Northern Monk Brew Co’s seasonal imperial stout Strannik; and three lovelies from Beer Travelist favorite Beavertown Brewery, including (hidden in the back) a bottle of Uptown Monk, a Belgian rye tripel aged in white wine barrels and brewed in collaboration with Brouwerij Alvinne. Uptown Monk is one of 20+ releases thus far from Beavertown’s Tempus Project, now in its second year.
Two of those cans, by the way—the Strannik and Paleo Pinhead—are leftovers from Hop Burns & Black’s Big Beery Advent Calendar 2017, once again hands down the best of the increasingly crowded bunch of beer advent calendars released in the UK. HB&B, of course, is itself one of London’s finest beer shops, and also kindly stocked this can of Phantom Bride, a collaboration between Belching Beaver Brewery and the great Deftones. This is one of the beers I briefly covered for a feature story on band-brewery collaborations last year for Beer Advocate, and it’ll be the first time I actually get to try it.
Finally, on the trip-ending visit back “home” to the great state of Michigan, I scooped a bottle of Bell’s Brewery’s seasonal Expedition Stout, and by way of Mom, two special wax-dipped bottles from under South Lyon brewpub Witch’s Hat Brewing Co.’s Christmas tree: Furious Ginger, a blend of an imperial and milk stout aged in bourbon barrels with cinnamon, ginger, and peppers, and After X-Mas, a Belgian-style ale aged in oak barrels.
For the most part, I stopped collecting “traditional” souvenirs years ago; now, like many beer enthusiasts, I go to great lengths carefully choosing and packing beers from the places I visit to bring home. Drinking good beer at home is one thing; cracking a good beer that means something, that reminds one of a place or a person or a moment in time, is something else entirely. Sense of place matters, and in many instances, beer’s sense of place travels well.
Now back in Singapore, I’m excited to pick things back up on Beer Travelist in the coming weeks with a bunch of great new stories. In London, we meet with the good people at The Kernel Brewery, The Barrel Project, and Redchurch Brewery, and have an illuminating chat to share about all things UK beer with two of London’s best beer journalists. Closer to home, look for an in-depth feature story on Hong Kong’s Yardley Brothers Beer, too, as we continue expanding our coverage of the Asia beer scene.
Thanks for sticking around. Good things come to those who wait.