5 Beers for 5 Years

Congratulations & respect to Black Bridge for making it to the five year mark.  That milestone, no easy task for any business at any time, will be commemorated this weekend.   The little powerhouse of a brewery has accomplished so many things in the past half decade … never pouring a bad pint, securing medals, spearheading the renaissance of downtown Kingman, flashpointing a community of brewers, other stuff I’ve not listed here.  Sincerely, it’s a wonderful place deserving of all its success.

Some markers of success for a business:  1) solid business plan; 2) realistic growth plan; 3) attracting a successful staff; 4) desire to succeed; 5) good product that creates repeat customers.  Mission accomplished, so here’s a big Cheers to Five Years!  A virtual high five, as it were.

Since this my blog I’m going to write about what I say are the 5 best Black Bridge Beers from the past Five Years.  And, of course, I will be right about them all.  Leave a list of five more in the comments.

Locomotive Stout
Alas, this stout is no more.  It has been replaced with Hooley Stout.  To be sure, that is a good beer as are Stresstout and Angry Elf.  But nothing will replace Locomotive.  It contained a ridiculous amount of hops and a ridiculous amount of roasted grain, according to Tom.  That made it ridiculously dry and ridiculously tasty to me.   When I couldn’t decide which beer to have, when the bloody huge taplist just overwhelmed my brain, it was always the choice.  Just the right amount of body, session level alcohol content.  Yeah, it’s pretty much the beer that made me a fan of Black Bridge.

Wicked Poison
It looks like an unassuming, delicate pint of pilsner with a hint of turbidity.  It is not.  Wicked Poison is disingenuous wheat wine and it’s alcohol content combined with an ephemeral drinkability will bring you to a reckoning if you are not careful.   While your local brewer does not personally like the beer, there is no arguing that it is still talked about five years on and almost everyone else in Kingman loves the thing.  It is actually a good gateway beer – wine drinkers, especially, and many who just don’t think they like beer will consume some Wicked Poison and the scales fall from their eyes.  The beer adventure begins.

80 Shilling
I still remember standing at one end of the bar in Black Bridge and Tom at the other and he yelled out “80 Shilling will be ready Tuesday!  I promise!”  Because for a while it was 80 Shilling and Locomotive that I drank and that day they were out of the quiet little Scottish export beer.  It truly is an unassuming selection at B3.  Orangey-red in color, nice sustainable collar, malty sweet and smelling of light caramel and toast it’s just an easy beer to love and drink.  It’s been on tap from the beginning, it seems.  Never bad, never off, always fantastic.

Scorched Earth
One of my first craft beer experiences was Crazy Ed’s Chili Beer.  And it was awful.  I survived, I persevered.  Eventually I had Ring of Fire from Dragonmead Brewery.  That was good.  Then Tom took Evil Red, his hoppy amber beer, and shoved an idiotic amount of peppers in it.  And it was Good.  No, it was better than that.  I still have no idea how he made habanero and ghost chili’s palatable but he did.  Yeah, it takes a little while to drink a pint (if you’re smart) and it numbs your lips.  But there is no better chili/pepper beer.  The brewing of Scorched Earth has become an event in these parts and word is getting out to the rest of the state and even Las Vegas.

Legend of Tom
Coffee Porter.  It takes all the porters B3 has done and combines them into one drink, and makes them all better.  It makes coffee better.  Decent alcohol level,  luscious coffee scent; the first iteration was barrel aged and had the added benefit of the flavor and aroma of spirits.  It’s only been on tap twice but it was brilliantly done both times.  Locomotive made me a fan, Legend of Tom made me a loyalist.

Those are my five picks.  Time and space would fail me if I went on to recount the goodness of Holy Water, Wagonwheel, Smokebox, Chichester, Evil Red, Katastrophic Humiliation.

Need a beer now.

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“That Charming Social Hour” – Sunday Brunch At The Local Brewery

For a time, my schedule permits me to visit Black Bridge on Sunday’s around noon, a beau ideal for a beer session.  First, the beer is always good and, second, brunch is served.  And the brunch is always good, too.  Aside from knowing that “brunch” is a portmanteau of breakfast and lunch I knew little about the meal. 

Evidently it’s an import from Britain.  According to History.com and the Smithsonian the word first appeared in 1895 in an article by Guy Beringer, a British writer. He “suggested an alternative to the heavy, post-church Sunday meals in favor of lighter fare served late in the morning,” writes the Smothsonian.  ”Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting,” Beringer says. ”It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.” – Read more: The Birth of Brunch: Where Did This Meal Come From Anyway?

”Brunch is much more eclectic, although I would say that it has to be on a weekend, it has a festive aspect to it, and it’s social. You never have brunch alone, while breakfast for one is perfect, in my opinion.” – At Brunch, The More Bizarre The Better – New York Times

A local brewery or pub, or taproom, seems an appropriate spot for such an event. They are inherently social.  And, of course, beer expedites the removal of stress and worry when consumed appropriately.  There is a hint of elitism in the history of brunch and so I think that is another reason that it’s good to hold such a meal in a local pub venue. Everybody’s equal there and just hanging about to enjoy themselves. 

 The Joy of Cooking:  All About Breakfast and Brunch calls the meal “that charming social hour.” And then it goes on to say, “along with coffee and tea, it is customary to serve something alcoholic with brunch such as white wine, Champagne (or the combination of Champagne and orange juice known as the Mimosa), or a pitcher of Bloody Mary’s.”

Our local demonstrates they understand the custom and have put their brand on it.  The brewer becomes the chef and offers several plates of ambrosial brunch fare: a breakfast quesadilla, a fried egg sandwich on sourdough, a chorizo breakfast burrito.  They sound simple, which is an important factor considering there is only one cool at the moment, Black Bridge’s brewer. But theses unassuming meals are excellent and certainly comes from somebody who loves to cook.

Bartender Mike recommended to me the breakfast quesadilla and I’ve had it twice in a row now.  It’s eggs and bacon and bell peppers and cheese in a toasted tortilla. There’s a jammy sweetness to the plate that I can’t place, but I love it. It makes me think the bacon is cooked in grape jelly; my drinking companion says it is bacon with brown sugar.  He may be close to correct since Tim did make an enigmatic comment about “bacon jam” some weeks ago. Well, whatever it is I can’t get enough. 

 If all goes right, our party will double in size this coming Sunday, so at least two more people will get a taste of the brunch and the beer.  Speaking of the beer, what works with brunch?  The Joy of Cooking, mentioned above, states that Mimosa’s are traditional for brunch.  Black Bridge provides beermosas (beer and orange juice) and they are delicious – I prefer mine made with B3 Wheat instead of Wicked Ginger; it’s like a creamsicle in a pint.  If you want just a beer, I completely recommend 80 Shilling, the Scottish export.  

If you’re not familiar with the style here are a few notes regarding it.  All About Beer magazine said: “There is nothing fancy or overblown about Scottish ales, but they are instead simple, smooth and genuine.”  This reserved, malty delight thus steps aside and let’s the food be the star while still giving you a beer fix. Over and over, since it’s relatively low in alcohol content. 

The Beer Bible, by Jeff Alworth, makes Scottish ale sound breakfasty.  He writes, “Scottish session ales are closely related to English cask ale; they’re balanced and smooth, designed to keep the palate interested over the course of three or four pints. … Scottish session ales can be read as tiny treatises on the expressiveness of malt flavor. With reserved hopping, you can see the way soft, fruity esters play off a refined woodiness. You find all the classic malt adjectives in different brands—toffee, bread crust, walnut, biscuit—and yet they fail to capture the more evocative elements that spring to mind when you’re pondering these unassuming little ales.”

See, unassuming again. And malty sweetness, a little fruit, yes just a spectacular beer.  It is the consummate companion to the B3 quesadilla.  Now, the brunches come with pozole and your choice of salsa. I always request the hot green salsa and if that’s what you like, Cliff Dweller, the double IPA, accentuates the heat. Very cool.  Well, very hot.