Did you miss me? Of course, you didn’t, but I’ll pretend you did for the sake of my own self esteem. It’s time for another installment of Drinking Beer While Doing Stuff aka DBDS aka Drunk Adulting.
I actually despise the term “adulting”, but let’s be honest, that’s mostly what this is. Anyway, this week, I’m drinking a beer I stumbled upon completely by accident while preparing my vendors table for a local con. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
The Beer: 3 Stars Above The Clouds; A farmhouse ale
Full disclosure: As you may or may not know, I own an online craft beer shop/subscription box. I know plenty of brewery owners and distributors and though I haven’t done business with the guys at 3 Stars, I know a few of them and I may do business with them in the future. This did not influence my opinions of this beer. I’m honest about what I do and don’t enjoy in a beer because I know my taste buds don’t represent the taste buds of every reader or customer I have. Either of you.
That being said, 3 Stars is a fantastic brewery in Washington D.C. that is very hard to get to and impossible to park (legally) at, but it’s well worth it as their tap room is one of the best decorated rooms I’ve ever been in. I was in The District not too long ago, giving money to the government so they’ll let me sell beer, and my wife convinced me to stop in a local taco shop. My wife ordered this beer because she’s a huge fan of farmhouse ales, which is a more general designation for earthy type beers that fit into several other categories. Me? Not so much. But I was intrigued enough by tasting hers that I decided to pick some up for myself and give this beer the full once-over.
The Stuff: Making T-Shirts for a Con
Running a business requires a level of shameless self-promotion that I have not yet achieved. This includes going to events like Cons. I go to conventions pretty frequently as a guest and even once as press, but this was the first time I went as a vendor. We got a booth at All Star Comic Con in Virginia and sold subscriptions to our beer box, hoping that there would be enough of a nerdy/boozy crossover for us to do some good business. We also decided to sell t-shirts, which brings us to this weeks “stuff.” Since I had no desire to spend a lot of money on t-shirt printing, and since I took exactly a semester and half of screen printing and graphic design in high school, I convinced my significant other that we should print our own t-shirts and save money. You already know that this is horrible idea, so I’ll give you the cliff notes version of what happened next: she said no, I did it anyway, spent a lot of money and found out I’m not very good at it. Also, I drank before doing some of them. We’ll get to that.
The Taste: My first thought when I tasted it in that taco bar was “this is an awesome summer beer.” I tried it again at home and I agreed with my earlier self. Self, you nailed it. I love a light beer, but only when it’s done right. I don’t like flat light beers anymore than I like an over-hopped beer with no character. Above The Clouds has character, but isn’t obnoxious. It’s like a sitcom dad in the 90’s. Firm, but fair.
It starts out like serious pilsner, very powerful and bright. The notes in the middle are citrusy and relaxed. It drinks like a hoppy Belgian or a really laid back saison. It’s chill on the back end. It doesn’t have the aftertaste I was expecting; I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, just something I noticed.
A few interesting notes: this beer is rather cloudy. I really like that. I don’t really know why, I just like the fact that no clarifiers were used. Or maybe they were and what I’m seeing is an accident. But in any case, it gives the beer a really good look. Also, my wife noticed that there was a lot of head on the beer when she poured it. I thought it might have just been her pour, but I poured it at home and got the same result. Watch your pour on this one, or it’ll end up looking like this:
The Stuff: I’m done with the first beer. I’m confident. Everyone likes t-shirts, right? So taking t-shirts to sell at All Star Comic Con should be fun and easy, right? Not remotely. When I was going through my six-pack of Above The Clouds, I was also trying to screen print as many shirts as possible to take with us to the Con. I’m not going to bore you with the process of screen printing. I’ll just say it takes a long time and it’s really, really…really messy.
By the time I finish my second beer, my kitchen counter is covered with printing ink. So is my sink, from the many times I tried to wash it off, but failed. So is the beer can. So are my hands and clothes and shoes. You know what didn’t get any paint on it? The freaking shirt. How in the world do people do this for a living? I either cover the shirt in ink or I don’t get any ink on it at all. Also, it’s crooked. Also, it smells really bad in here.
By the time I’m three beers in, I realize that none of this is going right and I’m slowly abandoning all hope. The wife is really mad. We spent a lot of money on screen printing and I haven’t finished one shirt that is fit to be sold. And believe me, I’ve tried. I’m 0 for 24 on shirts and the little quality I had is fading fast.
This brew is worth your time if you like stuff that’s hoppy and interesting. My personal opinion is that the summer is for lighter ales, sours and kolchs’, but I think that there’s a place for more distinct flavors for the summer. People that like more unique flavors are going to like this a lot. Would it compete with my favorite cerveza on a sweltering day outdoors? I don’t know. Will it be at my next barbecue? Definitely. It’s something that a lot of people will like. Someone that doesn’t know much of anything about craft beer would like this beer just as much as your average hop head. Not much more you can ask for in a beer.
The next morning, my wife ordered shirts from an actual screen printer. They’re much better. We wore them to the Con with pride trying to forget the pain of ever trying to do this ourselves. But a part of me will never forget. Specifically, my upper right arm, which still has paint on it. Showers and scrubbing have no effect. It’s like a poorly planned, abstract tattoo. This must be how half of the girls I went to college with feel about their lower back areas* today.
*Wife Footnote: Lower back OR ankle