It's not often that I sit and drink from this glass; then again it's not often I enjoy a great Pilsner - rich gold, moderately sweet to dry, with a great Saaz hop character. It seems that the Bohemian Pilsner has been a very under represented style in the craft beer world. This is no doubt a result of the damage done to the style's reputation from large macro breweries that dominated through the decades leading up to the craft beer movement.
This particular Pilsner is from Griffin Claw brewery. I purchased it today on my last trip into Siciliano's Market before I leave the great beer state. Siciliano's is a store that I will dearly miss. G.B Russo is another. But I won't miss them just because they are great beer stores, or just because their stock is always fresh. I won't miss Russo's, solely because they have the very best prices on ale, or a great European selection. It's more than Siciliano's freshest, and most competitively priced homebrew ingredients. It's much more than that.
It's about people. Most importantly it's about friends. Aristotle had some thoughts about this, as do I. They don't differ much from what I can tell. He said when you are young that you have pleasure friends, young loves, party friends, sometimes folks that you just happen grow up with. But often you find later that they are really aren't much for friends. Probably not the kind you would choose to have as an adult. Then there are utility friends, the local butcher, the mailman, the beer guy at your corner store. Acquaintances I would suppose you call them.
There are a great number of these folks in town -great purveyors of ale many of them. The owner of the crushed grape seems like a solid guy, and a great businessman. Bellavinos has a wonderful staff. They are good folks and I appreciate their hard work to provide West Michigan with some great offerings. They are just the tip of the iceberg. David has done amazing things at the Cascade, and Knapps Corner Meijer. I quite enjoy stopping in to chat with him; he is a distinguished beer, wine, and cigar expert. I would most certainly call him a friend.
Most importantly Aristotle spoke of virtue friends. Those friends are the friends that I reference when I say - great beer should be shared amongst friends and great friendships deserve to be enjoyed over great beer. Maybe even a cigar or two. The friends you call at midnight when you have car trouble, or the kind of friends whose house you crash at when your roof leaks.
I stopped in at Russo's to grab some boxes to pack up my cellar. Victor invited me back to share a great offering not available in Michigan prior to my departure. Sometimes you don't realize it but you make pretty good friends your beer guy. I have a lot of great memories from over the years stopping in at Russo's. I still remember the day I bought my Bourbon County Rare from Victor. I genuinely like Victor; I'd drink beer with him even if he wasn't a guy who sells beer. He is a good person, an artistic and creative fellow with a connoisseur's palate for good food and drink. At home at a small trattoria in Italy or down on the bayou at crawfish boil. I will miss him and the friendly staff at Russo's.
Then there is the greatest store on earth, Siciliano's. I still remember my early days stopping in there. I met Steve and ran into Jacob who now brews at Vivant. At the time he brewed at New Holland and I recognized him from a local beer event I had met him at. Over the years I have got to know Doug, John, Katie, Sarah, and many others. From time to time I will run into and ex-staff member and have a great chat. Steve and Barb have worked hard to make a great store with a knowledgeable staff. I like Steve. He is a bit of an enigma to me. Maybe it's the pipe, or the way he sits back in his chair, or that thoughtful look that's always on his face. One thing is for sure, he is a good guy. He works hard, and genuinely cares about people. I wanted to pick up one last cigar today. Doug suggested that I have Steve pick it out. The cigar was on the house.
I smoked that cigar the way it should be smoked, over beer with a longtime friend on his birthday. Happy birthday Tom! When I make it to sixty I hope can still run 5k's and drink like you can.
Perhaps Aristotle was wrong, maybe he glossed over some of the most important types of friends, beer guys, or maybe not. If my beer guys call at midnight with car trouble in Georgia, they can crash with me.