“It takes a lot of beer to make wine.” This saying is oft repeated in the Napa Valley, and it makes me feel a bit better when I sit down in the evening and, in spite of myself, in spite of the cases of wine that keep coming in for review and piling up in my cellar/workshop, all I really want is a beer. I’m supposed to be a wine writer, after all, but I’ve found that there are times and there are nights when even my favorite wine will far short of what I’m needing in the moment, and in those times, I typically turn to beer (and sometimes bourbon).
Last night was such a night. It was a long week and, at the risk of revealing how good I truly have it, it was the second five day work week I’d endured in a row — almost unheard of, and utterly exhausting. I went about my usual Friday afternoon routine, picking Titus up at daycare and stopping by Smokin’ J’s BBQ on the way home. I ordered a pound of brisket and some sweet potato fries, and Titus and I sat and chatted about life while we waited for our food. Sometimes I’ll have a drink while I wait, and sometimes, like last night, the waitress brings Titus a pack of fruit snacks. At home, a tired wife was preparing quesedillas upon which we placed some brisket, eating the rest of it by itself. I bypassed the latest shipment of Zinfandel and opened what a really wanted: a cold craft beer.
Infusion, located in Benson, the neighborhood of Omaha in which several of my best friends grew up, is making some terrific stuff, and since they finally started bottling their Vanilla Bean Blonde, I’ve made sure to keep it in my fridge. Unlike some “flavored” beers that are way too sweet or simply over the top, all of the beer I’ve had by Infusion possesses a subtlety about the flavor. In the case of VBB, it’s undeniably vanilla, but far from off-puttingly so in a light to medium body with a frothy head that I find both delicious and satisfying, as well as a terrific pairing for brisket (and just about everything else). There’s also a hint of sweetness, which perhaps inspired the logo. I don’t know if it’s the power of suggestion or something more or less than that, but the vanilla ice cream cone logo seems fitting for this beer.
Tonight, of course, I’ll be drinking Zinfandel, as the snow continues to fall here in Nebraska in December. Tomorrow, I’ll go to a show and taste an array of Cabs and red blends, and I’m sure I’ll love every moment of it and, most likely, write a few posts about the wines I try. I don’t believe I’m the only wine writer who enjoys beer, and so this small act of betrayal, if indeed I could even call it that, should be easy enough to forgive. In the meantime, if you love craft beers, this one is currently one of my very favorites, and I highly recommend it.