As an example, I'll never forget the first time I drank Love Buzz Saison from Anchorage. It was in the midst of my divorce, during my final night at the home I had shared with my ex-wife. The bottle of Love Buzz was perched on a box and provided a little liquid solace as I packed up the last of my belongings to move on with the next chapter of my life. It might seem depressing, but now I look back at that moment and identify the beer with a personal turning point and new beginnings.
Truth be told, Jordan didn't like me at first. I was dating his sister, and in accordance with his protective
nature, he had to assume the worst about me. But as time went on, we realized we had plenty in common, and a close friendship blossomed. We eventually became brothers-in-law, and he was a fantastic, loving uncle to my child. And even after my marriage didn't work out, where most people in our positions might drift apart, we remained friends and became even closer as time went on.
Though from a legal, familial respect we weren't officially brothers anymore, we remained as such through the commonalities we shared. Brothers in beer. From building up a bottle share group at Outlaw Cigar Company (where we generally would shut the place down and have to get ushered out the door) to taking a spontaneous 24 hour trip to Milwaukee to tour breweries, beer adventures were our forte. And Maui's Coconut Porter contributed by being one of the beers that first triggered the 'beer light bulb' in Jordan's head. We had navigated our way through countless mixed six packs, trying different styles and beers together, but on a trip to Hawaii with his family, Jordan tried Maui's Coconut Porter and it was the first beer that truly blew him away. He ended up hauling some back to Kansas City, and ultimately, it became his 'signature' beer of sorts. I purchased it online multiple times to give to him for birthdays/Christmas, and it ended up being that identifying beer that made me think of him every time I saw it.
|Jordan being crowned 'Princess|
Hops' at Lakefront Brewery
When Jordan passed away, his family set up a charity fund in his name. Since then, I had been wracking my brain trying to figure out a way to raise money for his fund in a way that represents our relationship and our bond. Beer was a no-brainer. Then one day, my own coconut-shaped light bulb lit up my brain. I decided I wanted to brew a beer in his honor, then hold a release party where money raised from beer sales would go towards his charity fund and in turn, benefit Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption. And of course, it only made sense for the final product to be a Coconut Porter.
So, much like he lived his life without pause to make his goals happen, I took the same attitude and went out to pitch my idea. I knew my first stop was going to be Martin City Brewing Company. Not only is it one of my favorite places in town, but to me, the bond between Matt, Matt, and Chancie was reflective of my own relationship with Jordan; brothers in beer. I was blown away (and quite frankly, a little choked up) when Matt Moore immediately agreed to help out and make this idea a reality.
Finally, yesterday, I took vacation from the usual daily corporate grind and instead, started my morning out at the brewery, helping out brewers Nick and Grant as much as I could to get this beer started. From weighing out hops to raking spent grain from the lauter tun to cleaning equipment, I got a first hand look at the brewing operations at Martin City, and subsequently gained a new level of respect for brewers everywhere. It was pretty surreal to watch the beer develop over the course of the day; and it was all accompanied by a bittersweet feeling of wishing that Jordan could have been there to witness and lend a hand as well.
Yesterday was just the beginning as the beer began primary fermentation; we'll reconvene later to get toasted coconut added. And, we may just do a little experimentation with some of the Dark Horse Distillery barrels that Martin City has hanging around, so there could be an interesting barrel-aged variation or two of the Coconut Porter (which, for the time being, I'm referring to as Jord-er).
Details are still getting fully ironed out for the release party, but if it's something that interests you, go ahead and pencil in the evening of Thursday, July 10th on your calendar to save the date. In addition to the beer, I'll be working with Jordan's family to collect some cool raffle items and see what else we can do to make this a proper and beer-centric celebration of his life while helping out a local organization that he and his family are very close to.
To most of you reading this, Jordan is a stranger and this post may not fully resonate, which is understandable. I suppose if there's one thing I want to convey, it's this: while beer is sometimes nothing more than a beverage, there are moments when it can mean so much more. And thanks to the guys at Martin City Brewing Company, come July, I'll be drinking the most meaningful beer I've ever tasted.