Beer of the Weekend @ 9

On Saturday, after my duties at the recent Urban Affairs Association conference in Minneapolis were complete, I walked to the Sisyphus Brewing taproom.

It was sunny and warm. Though noisy (Sisyphus is located near major streets and a freeway interchange), the walk to the brewery was literally a breath of fresh air after spending much of the week cooped up in the hotel. I grabbed a pint of Citra Hop at the bar, found a booth next to a window, and quietly contemplated the serene, sun-soaked street scene outside between glances at my phone. (I should have brought the paper to read. I spent six days in Minneapolis and did not have any time to read a single word in the Star-Tribune.)

While taking pictures of Sisyphus’ coaster and promotional material, it dawned on me: It’s time to write BotW’s yearly retrospective.

Having reviewed just 57 beers, 2016-17 was the least productive year in BotW history. Though I still love drinking beer, my interest and passion for writing about it has continued to wane. I even skipped my beer-a-day tradition in December. Every year it seems like I have less and less free time and deal with more and more stress, so reviewing beer has become much less important. While writing beer reviews may have been therapeutic in the past, it has become yet another thing I force myself to do, another job — an unpaid one — that I have. Frankly, I would much rather enjoy a beer without the hassle of taking notes, taking a pic, and shaping it all into a blog post later.

But I still do it, which is no doubt a testament to how ingrained BotW has become in my life. It is a weekly ritual except on rare occasions; my weekend feels incomplete without it. Though I’ve written about how much of a chore it has become for years, I keep doing it week after week after week.

Perhaps it’s a sign of insanity. However, it’s not that I expect different results every year.

Or do I?

Despite my ebbing interest, though, one great thing happened during BotW’s ninth year: I started using growlers at lot. Growlers have allowed me to try many new, local beers that are unavailable in cans or bottles. I’m hooked. Before I started using growlers on a regular basis, I filled a large recycling bin with beer bottles for redemption every two or three months. It took eight or nine months to fill it this time since I no longer buy many six-packs of bottles.

In last year’s retrospective, I vowed to start brewing beer in year nine. Did I? Nope. Homebrewing has been on the agenda forever but I have not gotten around to it. It’s not that high on my to-do list and I fear I would turn it into another unpaid job that will create even more stress in my life. However, the idea keeps nagging me. Not only would it increase my understanding of beer and the art of making it, it could potentially become a worthwhile career. What is the harm in trying?

Here’s the list of beers featured on BotW over the last year:

#767: Upslope Imperial IPA (A+)
#768: Lightnin’ Hopkiss (B+)
#769: Surly Xtra-Citra Pale Ale (C+)
#770: Skillet Creek Pilsner (A)
#771: Odel 90 Shilling Ale (C+/B-)
#772: Avery Salvation (B+/A-)
#773: Alpine Hoppy Birthday (B)
#774: Iowa City Brewlab Padawan Lager (B-)
#775: Sierra Nevada Dunkelweizen Bock (A-)
#776: Long Ride Pale Ale (B)
#777: Green Line Pale Ale (C+)
#778: Bubbler (C+/B-)
#779: Feel the Bernsteinfarbenes (C+/B-)
#780: Seminiferous Tubloidial Bitternoid (B)
#781: 312 Urban Pale Ale (C+)
#782: Yard Sale (B/B+)
#783: ReUnion Hefeweizen (C+)
#784: Nessie (B+/A-)
#785: West Main Wheat (C)
#786: Juice Factory (B+)
#787: Eliot Ness (B+)
#788: Goldmine (C+)
#789: ReUnion Pub Ale (B)
#790: ReUnion Lager (A-)
#791: Stone 6th Anniversary Porter (B)
#792: El Gigante Rojo (B+)
#793: Red Rooster Rye IPA (B+)
#794: Quantum Spin (B)
#795: Big Grove 3rd Anniversary Plan B (B-)
#796: Our Lightest Beer (B-)
#797: Iowa City Brewlab Festbier (B)
#798: Workman’s Compensation (A)
#799: Sol Hunter (A-)
#800: New Glarus Zwickel Bier (B)
#801: Oatsmobile (B)
#802: Smoke on the Porter (B)
#803: Damien (B)
#804: Thresher (B+)
#805: Buffalo Butt (B)
#806: Franconia Dunkel (D*)
#807: Black Squirrel Ale (B-)
#808: Special Snowflake (B)
#809: Hamm’s (C)
#810: Lowbrow Brown Ale (B)
#811: Anchor Christmas Ale 2016 (B+/A-)
#812: Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout (C)
#813: Liquid Bread (A-)
#814: Black Orchard (C+)
#815: Bulltown (B)
#816: Faversham’s Finest ESB (B)
#817: Tejas Lager (C-)
#818: The Giant (B)
#819: Rock Dodger Double IPA (B+)
#820: Tejas Negra (B)
#821: Alphorn Ale (A)
#822: Stillwater Super Hop (B)
#823: Session X Nugget (A)
#824: Big Grove Boomtown (B)

The Primo Island Lager BotW@9 Worst Beer Award: Tejas Lager. Though Franconia Dunkel earned a D, it featured an asterisk because I suspected the bottle was past its prime. Tejas Lager is just Busch Light in a different can.

“It’s Just a Little Taste of Heaven” BotW@9 Best Beer Award: Workman’s Compensation. Though it did not receive the highest grade, Workman’s Compensation is an insanely good beer. That’s why it has won two Great American Beer Festival gold medals in the last three years. It is the definition of world-class English mild ale — from aromatic Cedar Rapids, Iowa!

BotW@9 Ultimate Six-pack: Upslope Imperial IPA, Skillet Creek Pilsner, Workman’s Compensation, Liquid Bread, Alphorn Ale, Session X Nugget.

(The opening pic is a Sisyphus coaster. The Sisyphus taproom is very chill and features pinball machines and shuffleboard tables. I highly recommend a visit the next time you find yourself in Minneapolis.)

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