Becoming a Knitter

I love a lot of things in this world, but one of my favorite things is knitting.  There is hardly a moment where I’m not knitting.  It didn’t always used to be this way. There was a point in my life where I wasn’t a knitter. Its odd for anyone who knows me now to even imagine that I wasn’t born with two needles in my hands. I’ve only been knitting for 6 years and it was almost by accident.

While in college, my friend helped me get a job with campus security. I would patrol the campus during the hours of 7pm – 1am. This job was also year round (i.e. through the winter). It was frakking cold.  We were required to stick with a certain look: black or navy gear. Not really being a fan of navy, I decided to get a black scarf. Being a small college town, there weren’t many places for a poor college student to acquire clothing, so I ended up at Wal-Mart. Oddly enough they didn’t have any black scarfs. What they did have was some black yarn and some knitting needles. I thought, “Knitting can’t be too hard.” So I bought the beginnings to my new hobby.

Learning how to knit was a whole ‘nother thing. I didn’t know anyone who knitted nor had I ever seen anybody knit. So I did what any other logical person would do in my position and consulted Youtube. My first scarf was a masterpiece to behold. No, seriously… it belonged in a modern art museum… Holes and dangly bits and I could have sworn it was getting wider. It was amazing that it was holding itself together, but I had made a scarf. Then I made another scarf, and another, and another.

My coworkers were very happy with the scarves I gave them.  I didn’t need 8 black scarves hanging around the house.  Although after that moment in my life I decided to never knit with black yarn again.  Which I promptly forgot about when my brother asked for a scarf, but that’s besides the point.

I had become a knitter.

Hunting Season

We’ve all hunted something down before. Whether it be a certain CD (yes I’m old,) a special ingredient for a special dinner, or even a beer. I’ve gone beer hunting on a few occasions and the spoils are sweet.

I always try to stay informed on new and interesting brews that come into my amazing city (my fiance is better at it than I am). Once in a while there is just a brew that I have to have. My first hunting trip was for New Holland’s Black Tulip. I have made a vow to always try anything New Holland. I first heard about it while browsing a bar’s new beer list. The quest began that day to find this beer. Of course the first place I looked was the bar that put out the list. And of course by the time that I was able to get to said bar, it wasn’t available. Off again in search of the elusive Black Tulip (properly named).

I’m going to pause the search right here because several months after the discovery of the Black Tulip I discovered another beer that required my approval: New Holland’s Beerhive. I got lucky on this hunt. I had heard of the Beerhive, but didn’t think that any of my bars would end up carrying it. To my great surprise I stumbled upon it while at a trivia night with my mother. I didn’t bother to let her have an opinion in the matter and ordered one bomber with two glasses (although looking back I should have just kept it for myself and walked home). It was sweet, but not in the sickening way, and the spices were perfect. I feasted happily on my prey and went home satisfied.

Fast forward a bit and we find ourselves once again on the hunt for the Black Tulip. I had heard that New Holland brewed another batch and it was now out and about roaming the wilds. I kept a diligent watch this time hoping that I’d be able to catch one before they were all gone again. The fates smiled on me this season. My fiance came home and told me that our favorite bar had just put the Black Tulip on tap. I immediately picked up my wallet and started heading towards the door. My time had come. Victory was mine, and it was sweet, and a wonderful Tripel to behold.

I have my annual hunt of Southern Tier’s Krampus, a Christmas seasonal favorite of mine. Everyone knows that naughty children don’t get coal, the Krampus comes to eat them. Makes me smile every time I drink it.

The newest beer to come into my cross-hairs is New Holland’s Pilgrims Dole. I was just thinking to myself the other day that I needed to get another New Holland in my life. I went to their website and saw a wheatwine, barleywine style that uses mostly wheat. I do have a liking for wheats during the summer and barleywines always seem to call my name. New Holland has once again made a beer that seems specifically tailored for my tastes. So, I casually make my way over to the beer/spirits finder (this is a hunters dream) and find the closest store/bar that carries the Pilgrims Dole. Lexington. A little deflated, but maybe I could convince the fiance to let me have the car for a couple of hours.

Evolution of a Beer Palate

If you had asked me 10 years ago what my favorite beer was, I would have given you a look like you were crazy and told you that I didn’t like beer. This isn’t because I was underage at the time, but my exposure to beer hadn’t been a pleasant experience.

My first beer was the summer after high school graduation (yes, I was a late bloomer). It was a Budweiser Select and it was the nastiest thing I had ever tried. I spent the rest of the evening pretending that I liked the beer, but never actually opening a second can.

Fast forward to the summer between my Sophomore and Junior years of college. I was studying abroad in Japan. The legal drinking age over there is 20, so I decided to bend the rules of the program and have a drink every now and then. I loved the fruity cocktails and sake, but couldn’t afford to drink like that the entire trip. One night at karaoke a friend bought a pitcher of Asahi for the table. I figured it would be rude to refuse the offer so I had a glass. And another. And another. Before I knew it I found myself liking a beer! For the rest of the trip I enjoyed Asahi and Kirin like a good 20 year old in Japan.

When I came back to the states, I discovered that the Japanese beers served in America aren’t brewed in Japan. They are similar in taste, but just aren’t as good as the original thing. Another discovery that I made was the first Japanese beers were directly influenced by European settlers during the Meji period. With much gusto I decided to try my taste buds on some European beers.

In the small Kentucky town where I went to college the choices were limited. Most places only carried domestics, which I figured from previous experience I wouldn’t be able to appreciate just yet. Bass, Newcastle, and Guinness became my college drinks of choice.

My first experience with craft beer came in my last year at college. I went to a different watering hole than usual because one of my friends had a crush on the bartender. I couldn’t believe my eyes, but this place didn’t serve any of my imports. They had Mexican beer, but I had discovered at this point that those were not for me. I scanned the list until I saw one that carried my namesake: Abita Amber. Surely a beer with my name in it had to be good. And it was.

When I moved back home, I wanted to share my newly found appreciation with beer. Not having many friends left in the city, I decided that my mother was going to share my adventure. We joined the Flanagan’s Mug Club and began working our way down the list.

This is where New Holland entered my life. Dragon’s Milk. I had tasted bourbon barrel beers before, but this was THE one. It was so good, in fact, that I decided to try all of the New Holland beers. Monkey King: delicious. Full Circle: could drink it all day. Cabin Fever: amazing. Poet: the best. Mad Hatter: Wait… you mean I have to try an IPA?

Up until this point, I had been able to avoid IPAs. Hearing that they were bitter and an ‘acquired taste,’ I continually dodged them. I put down the 6-pack of Mad Hatter and sadly walked out of the store empty handed. My fear of IPAs was going to prevent me from trying everything New Holland.

But we know this isn’t the end of the story, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this today. New Holland paired up with a favorite restaurant of mine called Harvest. They were putting on a 4 course meal with beer pairing. The idea was a perfect fit for me. My mother had told me about this little gem so I was her date (not the other way around like I would like to tell the story).

I honestly can’t even tell you what the food courses were, but I remember the beers. The listing went, Monkey King, Poet, Mad Hatter, then Dragon’s Milk. The main course was being paired with the Hatter… I swallowed my fear and took a sip. Pure love washed over me. I not only drank my share, but my mother’s as well. It was so wonderful that I couldn’t imagine why I had been so afraid. Now I was bound and determined to try EVERYTHING that New Holland had to offer.

Over the past couple years I have tried all of the Hatters. Each one becoming my new favorite beer. So far I have yet to find a beer that I’ve tried from New Holland that I haven’t liked. (Even the Ichabod, and I’m not fond of pumpkin.) But my favorite beer would have to be the entire Hatter line. Its funny to think that in 9 short years I’ve gone to hating beer to loving the exploration of new beers (and finding some tasty gems along the way).