I can't help but bring it up. As the end of summer approaches and the days get shorter, I want to take a second and reflect on how much I like... well, LOVE beer. For me, beer changes with the seasons- I like to pair my beer selections with the weather. Heavier, more robust beers in the winter and light, crisp beers in the summer. I'm a Pilsner guy so summer is when it's time to celebrate and down the quaffable, crisp pilsners that more and more breweries in the U.S. are starting to churn out in droves. The quality of these hard-to-make brews is starting to be impeccable and they satisfy even the strongest of post-recreation beer cravings.
For the first time in months, I had a pang for the full-bodied, floral punch of a good IPA- a sign that summer is ending. If you're like me, you'll be both sad and excited as the season passes and a you'll find yourself getting caught staring off in nostalgic pauses, reflecting on how quickly life passes. Then, you'll take a nice long pull off of that cool end-of-summer Pilsner or Lager you're holding, and realize how good life is- you get to enjoy one of life's greatest pleasures: Beer.
With this year's Olympics behind us I think we should all discuss the one part of winter sport that we all can partake in: The Apres Ski.
After a long day of braving winter weather to enjoy the slopes, it's time to head in and indulge in some self-reward and have a nice malty beer. The nice thing is, you can really have an Apres anything. Apres Ski, Apres Work, Apres River Dancing, heck even Apres Not-Doing-A-Damn-Thing. We all have moments where we deserve a beer and a well deserved beer tastes the best.
Every four years we tune in to watch athletes from around the world compete in sports that we don't usually pay much attention to. They've been grinding away, bettering themselves and overcoming many obstacles with the hopes of one day standing atop a podium at the olympics. When they finally show up on our TV screens, their stories are mostly written and we get to witness the climax. There's something about these sports that gets me- it's just so raw. Watching as athletes put themselves 100% on the line, laying out everything they have to have a chance at victory. The triumphs and defeats are moving- they bring tears to my eyes. I want to thank them- to tell them how impressed I am, and buy them a beer. I can only imagine that the well-deserved Apres Olympics beer is one of the tastiest beverages of a lifetime.
The Apres Ski beer is about taking time to reflect and tell the stories of the ups and downs of the day. Here's to the Apres Ski- the one part of the Olympics that we can all enjoy.
Holdster was inspired by a time when things were made to last...so here's the deal:
I'm originally a Colorado kid that comes from an awesome little town called Steamboat Springs. My family has been in Steamboat for 5 generations and has witnessed it's transformation from a cow town to a destination ski-resort town. It's easy to be bothered by growth and development and to harbor nostalgic images of a bygone era and wish we had lived in 'the good old days'. Well, in spite of all of this change, there are a few traditions that have stood the test of time and take us back- back to that place that was loved by earlier generations. This year was the 101st Winter Carnival in Steamboat Springs and these 5 traditions stand strong as an homage to the way things used to be- before litigation threatened fun and fear of accidents prevented spectacles...
#5: Ski Marching Band: That's right- this is a good old-fashioned marching band that plays the tunes during the Diamond Hitch Parade. The one thing that makes this band unique is the footwear- they're wearing wooden cross-country skis. It's a good thing too- the street is covered in 10" of snow... This tradition certainly isn't from this century.
#4 Sorel Soree: This is a real party. I mean a real party. Imagine everyone that you know in a small town dressing up in their most formal (or ridiculous) dress wear and pulling on their favorite Sorel Boots to go out for a night of drinking. If you can make it past the double-sided shot luge you may be lucky enough to grab a beer before ponying up to the shot-ski. The shot ski is a 270cm Ski jumping ski with room for you and 4 of your best friends to press lips to glass and collectively drown your sorrows with a round of your favorite liquid. In the background a big screen TV shows a live feed from the Sochi Olympics where local athletes faces are smiling back at you- including Steamboat Native Todd Lodwick, the USA flag bearer. Dance till your boots hurt and then dance some more. This party has no end- Last man or woman standing shuts the place down.
#3: The Donkey Jump: Every year for Winter Carnival, Highway 40 shuts down as it becomes Main Street in Steamboat Springs. Traffic is diverted, the street is covered with snow, and the crowds come out. Stand at one end of the Old West feeling Main Street and you'll catch a glimpse of a rare sight. Kids- many under 10 years old, stand clicked-into their skis in a neat line as real rough-and-tough cowboys struggle to keep their horses calm as the thousands of onlookers nervously await the start of the Street Events. A cowboy rides over to the front of the lineup of kids and asks a girl wearing a skirt over her snowpants how fast she wants to go... "As fast as you can go!" she replies. He tosses her a rope, turns, and takes off at a full gallop down the snow-covered street, jerking the girl up to full speed as she fights to stay up on her skis. The announcer sees them approaching and lets the crowd know who they're looking at just as she reaches the jump. "Thirty-five-Feet, Two-Inches" he announces... the crowd cheers. The next kid lands square on his face and stands to raise his hands high... the crowd roars. Cow Town meets Ski Town.
#2: Largest Firework in the U.S.: Remember when the Guinness Book of World Records was cool? It seems like people are bored with the old records and have given up on the excitement of witnessing something record breaking. Well, this year Steamboat Springs (population 12,000) tied the U.S. record for largest firework, sending a 500 lb. 36" shell 1.5 miles into the air to explode and light up the sky. Wasteful? Yes. Ridiculous? Yes. Exciting and Joyous? Hell yes.
#1 The Ring of Fire: Ok- When I see old posters for the circus or think of 19th century performers I imagine a show like this one. Take 40 grown men who know how to ski, fill them up with tasty beers and spirits, put skis on their feet, road-flares in their hands, and take them to the top of a ski jump at night. Now, hang a huge hoop off of the end of the ski jump and light it on fire. Send these guys off the jump rapid-fire and watch as they fly (Some over 200 ft) through the air before landing and coming to a stop in a big U formation at the bottom to look up at the real spectacle (because that wasn't impressive, right?): A guy who is towing a 100lb ski-patrol sled that is doused in kerosene lights his rig on fire and then heads down the inrun to pull that thing off of the ski jump. Yeah- I know. Watch the video Ring Of Fire
So there you have it. There are places where time has stood still- where shreds of the past live on and we can live like the generations before us. Grab a beer and come join us next year. Bring your Holdster...
Photo courtesy of the Hertz family: Burke, VT
A couple of years ago, I stumbled upon an article on Beervana titled The Greatest Beverage in the World: Hot Scotchy (Hot Scotchie). The author, Jeff Alworth, explained in simple english that the Hot Scotchie is "...objectively, the finest beverage known to man". Good enough for me- I wanted one, right away. I soon learned that it's a difficult drink to come buy: it's a cocktail that is made by drawing off a bit of Mash during the beer brewing process and adding your favorite scotch (good with a touch of cream, too). This leaves two options: Homebrew or convince your local brewer to invite you down to have a hot scotchie the next time they're brewing. A hot drink, scotch, a warm fire... that's my idea of a good holiday season. Enjoy!