A long time ago, in a life far away, for a short time, we lived in a house overlooking a valley on the West Coast. In that valley there was a small brewery, which made THE closest to perfect beer I have ever tasted. The valley was Anderson Valley, California, the beer was Anderson Valley Brewing Company's Hop Ottin' India Pale Ale.
We didn't stay there long. Of course, that's why we are living where we are now. Lots of factors involved, but I think fate was the biggest one. We were fated to arrive where we live now on a chilly day in November with absolutely no prospects. Except optimism. That's a big thing.
But I digress. Those months overlooking the valley were like a bittersweet vacation. I grew basil and tomatoes right on the porch, we made a few friends, and made a lot of trips to the beach. We were even known to give into some driftwood drumming at the beach on some occasions.
Those trips to the beach usually involved a 6 pack of Hop Ottin' IPA. We had a kick ass local brewery in Boonville, about fifteen miles away including the miles it took to get down from the mountain to the valley floor. We quickly discovered Hop Ottin', named after a local linguistic dialect. We fell in love. The hops just made me smile, in a time in my life when I really was unsure of what the future would hold.
Some of my favorite memories from that time were taking the kids to the closest beach, eighteen miles away, then stopping at the Navarro Store for a 23 ounce Hop Ottin' on the way back. The one armed man who ran the store, who was rumored to be a pipe bomber before he became a storekeeper, hence the one arm, would always ask if I needed an opener. ;) I had a huge incline drive to get back home, including some hairpin turns, and sometimes I saw some white tailed kites along the way.
Once I went to a bluegrass jam in town. There was plenty of the local brew for all to share. And some of the local grown for all to share. I may or may not have inhaled, but I did see my first mountain lion on the way back home. :)
Of course, we did not stay. We are here, and all is pretty darn good. But we missed the Hop Ottin, which they do not distribute here in Minnesota. But at our favorite liquor store in Superior, Wisconsin, The Hermit found a guy who would do what he could to get us Hop Ottin. And today, success. Three six packs, which the store owner had to pay out of pocket from another store in Hudson, Wisconsin.
I was afraid that I had built it up in my mind, that its flavor could never stand up to what I remembered. I was wrong. Way wrong. One sip and I was smiling. Best. beer. ever.
Hop Ottin goes right to your head and makes you happy. I don't need to drink a lot, only one or two. I could not imagine drinking more, now. Sometimes I wonder if they don't add a little of Mendocino County's number one product. ;)