Flat 12's Flat as Hell

…so here’s the thing: I really like Flat12. I mean, they’ve got a lot to offer the local craft beer consumer. A standard roster of great beers (Walkabout and Pogue's Run come to mind) but they also have a track record of pushing the envelope and trying any number of unusual ingredients or odd mash-ups in beers that find their way to the tasting room or beer festival. These are the folks who bring us Bleeding Heart IPA, Cucumber Kolsch, and the infamous 12 Beers of Christmas.

So it was that my lovely spouse (and all-around good sport) and I found our way down to Dorman Street for their Halloween event: Flat as Hell. The event hinged upon an interesting line up using their amber as a base beer and dosing nine different kegs each with a different pepper ranging from green bell peppers in beer # 1 all the way to Scorpion peppers in beer #9 (a la Dante’s Inferno). As if this weren’t enough, Flat 12 also coordinated a salsa bar courtesy of Tlaolli  featuring salsa made with each separate pepper. Along with great food and exciting beer choices the night included live music and the obligatory costume contest. Despite rainy weather and municipal insistence that Halloween festivities take place on Friday the 1st, the place was packed. The crowd was good spirited and all seemed to be enjoying the event.

For the very competitive price of $12, intrepid party-goers received a ticket to be punched for a sample of each of the nine beers AND a commemorative pint glass AND a full pour of the beer of their choice. What a great value. We were all in.  
Here's the part where I attempt to offer some insightful and informative narrative regarding the beers on offer.  But my tasting notes from the evening read a little like that well-circulated internet gag about the poor rube who volunteered to judge the chili cook off and likely wound up with a peptic ulcer as a result…. which is to say that by about beer 4 or 5 I couldn’t really taste much of anything outside of hop character and heat. This didn’t stop me from trying all nine of my samples, mind (I'm no sissy).  It just means that I have very little to offer by way of review outside the memory of a delightful evening tasting out-of-the-ordinary beer.

Which brings me to the over-arching point of this missive: I wish more of our local breweries would steal a page from Flat 12’s playbook. If there’s one thing we can count on it’s that Flat 12 will push the envelope and try some new things. Some of them may not be commercially viable on a large scale (I don’t foresee a scorpion-pepper infused amber making its way to bottles and distribution sites any time soon…) but they will always be fun. And if that draws folks down to the tasting room on a Thursday or to the next beer festival, well that’s good for everyone in the craft beer community. Let’s be fair: I can hit my local bottle shop and purchase lots of great local beer from lots of great local breweries. Or I could make a special trip to the brewery for the same beer. And as creatures of convenience it takes more than a simple sixer of Walkabout to draw me downtown on a weeknight. This is the sort of thing where Flat 12 excels. I for one would like to see more of it in the future. And speaking of more beer fun in the future I hear there will be special Black-Friday beers on the schedule from the Flat 12 folks… something about turkey day leftovers? Rumor has it there may be a reappearance of one of those pepper infusions for the 12 Beers of Christmas just a few weeks away. It’s big fun for everyone. Take yourself down to your local brewery and grab a pint of something out of the ordinary. Variety is the spice of life after all.

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