Today is a special day.  It just so happens to be both National IPA Day, and, according to Facebook, #NationalGirlfriendDay, (The Perfect Storm) so I’d love to share a quick story that involves both IPA, my brother, and my ex-girlfriend who I married, Holly Kay Benedict, aka @hkbenny aka HBK The Heartbreak Kid aka The Little Negotiator aka The Holly aka My Love!

I adore my wife.  We fell in love in a whirlwind romance involving Karaoke, our friend Jeff, Jefferson Starship, Central Park in the middle of the night, and a wild raccoon that we named Stanford.  She’s smart, funny, talented, and strong willed.  Plus, she’s gorgeous (which is the icing on the cake).  She takes my breath away on a daily basis.

Holly Kay enjoying a Youngs Double Chocolate Stout at the Souveneer show (see earlier blog post BEER, I mean…  Here.)

Here we are, over 7 years later (5 and a half years married) and we’re preparing for a trip to Ireland in November to celebrate a belated 5 year Anniversary (we were at a wedding in Houston on our actual Anniversary, March 5th).  This will be a celebration of our love, and Holly intends on writing handwritten letters to each of the owners of the 5 B&Bs we’re staying in to tell them how excited we are to spend our anniversary with them.  

On Saturday, Holly called me on her lunch break as she was out on a walk through Soho.  We were chatting, and she suddenly said “I’ll be right back.”  She came back on the line about 30 seconds later, and I asked if everything was alright, and she said “Yes, I was just picking up your surprise!  You’re going to be very excited about it!”  I told her she didn’t have to get me anything, but she insisted that this was going to be amazing, and she had gotten a tip.  That was all she told me.  

So I spent the day trying to figure out what it could be.  I had a feeling it was beer related, but wasn’t too sure.  She’s a wily one, that Holly, so you never know what she could bring home (One time, she was dared to convince me she had bought a turtle.  I fell for it, hard).

On her subway ride home, she was texting me, and she asked me about Other Half Brewing Company.  She said “are they the ones who do the can releases where people wait for hours in line to get them?”  I said “Yup!  They had one this morning!” And described the three cans that were released that day.  She responded, “Cool, we should go do that sometime!”  I will refer you back to this post in which she says something similar and you can find out what our friend Kevin’s reaction was(!!!)

So I go to pick her up from the train station, and we’re walking home and chatting, and she says the surprise is something I’ll love, and would only get a few uses out of.  I’m figuring it’s beer related (I don’t know if you guys know this, but I write a Beer Blog.  You should totally check it out), but can’t think for the life of me what it would be.  We get home, she unpacks her bag and says “The surprise is in my lunch bag.”  At this moment, as I unzipped the lunch bag, I knew exactly what she had gotten me, but couldn’t for the life of me figure out how on earth she had pulled it off…

I pull out three 16oz. cans of fresh (we’re talking canned yesterday) Other Half IPAs.  Hop Showers, All Green Everything, and another IPA simply called ! .  I was a little in shock, because I swore she was at work, and she could have gotten up at 5am, drove to Gowanus (where the brewery is located) and then just stayed out all day and pretended to ride the subway home (she didn’t do that).

I asked her how on earth she pulled this off, and we’ll leave it at this…  It’s a secret.  She bragged “People waited in line all morning for this.  I didn’t have to wait in line.”  With a huge smile across her face.  How did I get so lucky?

From Left to Right: Hop Showers, !, and All Green Everything

Earlier this week, I found out that my brother Christopher had tried a Guinness in Ireland, his first drink he’s ever had, ever (also, he hated it).  This was weird for me.  It still is.  He texted me earlier in the day, “do you want to drink beer and watch baseball later?”  Readers, I don’t know if you understand the magnitude of how weird that text message looked in a thread under his name.  Anyway, I thought this would be a good opportunity for him to try some beers that are the exact opposite of Guinness.  Other Half is making world class IPAs, maybe he’ll like those.  Also, all three are presumably over 100 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).  Needless to say, these are not beginner beers, but maybe it was wishful thinking that we would immediately be brothers in hops.  

I cracked open the Hop Showers and poured some for myself, Holly Kay, and Chris.  Immediately we were all walloped upside the head with hops (which I love), dank, grapefruit, pineapple, lemon.  Not a ton of sweetness in the malt, but enough to sweeten that bitterness and let those hops dance (or in this case, punch.)

The next was ! , 8.5%, another dank, hoppy monster.  This time, on top of light citrusy grapefruit and pineapple, were flavors of herbs, green bell pepper, garlic and onion.  It was wild.  Chris liked this one better, Holly Kay was more of a fan of the Hop Showers.  This was my favorite of the 3, lots of flavor but still super drinkable, I picture crushing this at a beach (although at 8.5%, it would be nap time after just one or two).

All Green Everything was next on the docket.  I was hoping that the sweetness of the alcohol and malts (it’s a hefty 10.5%) would balance out the hops, but this is another hop bomb.  Craft a house out of hops and put me inside and I will live there until someone evicts me.  This was a balanced, well crafted, triple IPA with sweet, sugary citrus.  Also, not for beginners.  

I love insane beers like this one, but Holly’s favorite was still Hop Showers, and Chris preferred ! .

What a week full of beer surprises.  Chris surprises me with a photo of his Guinness in Ireland, Holly surprises me with three freshly canned IPAs, and I surprise Chris by destroying his palate with hops so he can’t taste anything else for the rest of the night.

Chris shared all three mega hopped, insanely bitter IPAs, which is brave, and I vowed to find him a beer he would like.  I believe, with time, we can become hop friends, (Holly, do you have any advice for him as a person who was forced to love hops because of your weirdo husband?)

For now, the search continues…

Until next time!  Cheers!

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