Is there really ever a thing that can truthfully be labeled a healthy obsession? Health food nuts, exercise gurus, and PETA would certainly advocate there is. Readers of this blog are probably more familiar with the habits that are deemed not so healthy. In the midst of it all, Jimmy Jones straddles the fine line between healthy and unhealthy with an obsession for brewing great beer.
Jimmy is a Hoosier native, transplanted into the western suburbs of Chicago, with an eye for living in the city proper prize. His love of brewing has made him invest in a two bedroom apartment when a one would do. That second room however, filled with nothing but brew paraphernalia, can only be described as Jimmy's very own fortress of solitude.
I was privileged enough to be invited to a party where Jimmy was showcasing a sampling of his latest creations. Yes, creations. Jimmy does not brew one batch at a time (ok, he might I wasn't able to get that specific), but he had a variety on hand that could rival a tasting room. He designed his very own kegerator complete with check valves on every line, a drip pan under the taps, and four taps with a great collection of handles.
For our tasting pleasure we were provided Alicia's Sweet Ass, a cream ale; Red Amerika, naturally a red ale; Hairy Werewolf, which described by Jimmy was an attempt at a Zombie Dust clone; and The Hef, which was an English bitter ale attempt that mystically transformed itself into a hefeweizen.
Alicia's Sweet Ass was a good cream ale. Jimmy admitted he rushed the production in an effort to put it on the line, but you wouldn't be able to tell. I wasn't able to tell. The more refined craft beer palates out there may have been caught off guard by it, but all I tasted was a rich brew with a buttery finish that was a great way to start my evening.
From there I transitioned to The Hef. Wheat style beers are generally not my thing but I did enjoy the brew. My first reaction was a bit of sour and I conveyed that to my host. I was wrong in that notion however, for when I went to get a second pull it wasn't sour as much as it was tart. The beer had great flavor and was more potent than most of the other hefeweizens I've had, but I was not quick to get another glass (my second pull was a quick drink at most).
At halftime, as a thank you for bringing a bottle of Three Floyd's Baller Stout, Jimmy poured me a glass of Jolly Pumpkin's Baudelaire IO Saison. Do you like funk? Mr. Jones certainly liked his funk. A word like funk though brings to mind old gym socks, armpits without deodorant, or flaming cheese at your favorite Greek establishment. Baudelaire IO was infused with rose and hibiscus and with the beer under your nose you get both. Oh yeah, you get the funk too. It's almost like you opened a pack of SweetTarts, but not really SweetTarts. Before I lose you, imagine fresh fruit but in tangy form. It's bold on the first sip and then mellows to a fruity, yeasty blend that makes drinking a bottle an exercise in ease.
From here, I grabbed a shot of the Zombie Dust clone. As an aside, Zombie Dust is flying out of the Three Floyd's warehouse. Once they offer cases for sale, they are gone in short order. My host even mentioned that Zombie Dust is, "the best beer on the face of the earth." I didn't exactly share his sentiment, but it is a damn good beer. The clone however, reminded me more of Three Floyd's Pride and Joy, an equally hoppy experience but loaded with the taste of sliced grapefruit.
The last pour of the night was Red Amerika. The pride in Red Amerika was that it was a 9% beer that didn't taste like a 9% beer. Oh boy was that an understatement. With a long drive home ahead of me, I was very careful as to my beer intake. When I met Red Amerika though, I indulged a little. It was an amber, and I'll even go so far as to compare it to an Imperial Red (because you can put Imperial in front of anything these days) and I like the reds. It was bold, but smooth and akin to Southern Tier's Big Red, minus the hops.
Home brewers take immense pride in their beer and Jimmy is no exception. Given the means he will make a great brewmaster one day. It's unfortunate he took his skills to Illinois because the Hoosier beer scene would welcome his talents. Passion and pride are always a better ingredient to beer over barley and hops. As evident also at the B.I.G. Winterfest, home brewers are just like the bigger boys but with less capital. Brew on Jimmy, brew on.