Starting a new brew

Some things are easier to begin than others. With a beer, it should be as simple as a flick of the wrist, right? Photo: The Washington Times

Where do I begin?

Unfortunately, as I ask this question, the lyrics from the early ‘70s song continue to drill away in my head: “Where do I begin, to tell the story…”

It was Andy Williams or Tony Bennett, I believe. Strange, yes, I realize. I also recall practicing this song over and over again on the organ, when I was but a wee lad.

Wait a second, isn’t this a column about beer? I’m glad you asked, because it’s a bit embarrassing to be embarking on my first set of words here at The Washington Times Communities and already be off-topic.

But, still, I struggle with how to begin. How about we begin with the name “After Hours”? What exactly does that mean?

If I may take you back to 2005, you will see the foundation in The Brew Lounge beer resource, aka blog, that my friend and I together until 2007 — and I alone since then — have maintained with fierce dedication and regularity.

Dedication to what?  Did I hear you ask?

The premise of The Brew Lounge, and one that should hopefully carry through to After Hours, is stated in this column’s teaser line: “Exploring the people, places, sights, sounds and stories behind the passionate pursuit of great beer.”

While I do not yet have a solid plan for what course After Hours will take, from posting frequency, cross-posting with The Brew Lounge, topical and geographic diversity, writing style, etc., what I do know is that there will be some resharing of stories told over the years at The Brew Lounge and some new material as well, in keeping with the same spirit that many have become accustomed to “over there.”

Therein lies the connection; hopefully, it’s clear?

Think of a bar’s normal operating hours. Up until closing time, there’s business as usual, where things continue on a normal schedule (The Brew Lounge). Then, after closing time, it’s time for After Hours, where all kinds of things can happen.

Sometimes, it’s a continuation of what happened and what was discussed before closing time, and other times it’s possible for a new set of characters to come into the picture and new stories to be told.

This means I imagine that The Brew Lounge will carry some exclusive stories, as will After Hours here at The Communities. There will be some cross-posting, and the same story will show up in both places; and, yet in other cases, I likely will use the opportunity to begin a story in one spot and pick it up in the other.

And, while there have been no requirements, requests or even suggestions about the nature of my writing, it would be safe to assume that I will be covering the mid-Atlantic region first. Why first? Particularly with beer, there is a sense of “local place” associated with this food product that is best consumed fresh and as close to the source as possible.

Food product? Yes. If you don’t understand that assertion, I’ll be sure to get in to that topic a bit deeper in a future piece of writing.

Being based out of the Philadelphia region means that I’ll have proportionately more to write about beer from Boston to Richmond, Va., and many places in between, simply because that’s where I call home. But I travel a fair amount as well, and that means I’ll have plenty more beer stories from the road to bring home and tell.

Now it’s time to head off to homebrew a batch of beer. Though I’ve been procrastinating making this particular recipe for more than a year, I’m thinking it may be a good beer to commemorate the launch of this new column.

Sounds like more material for a future story to share with you.

Where do I begin? I’m starting to wonder if I even know how to end!

Coming Next: A look back on my first posting at The Brew Lounge.
In the meantime, drop a comment below or send a private e-mail to me and let me know what some of your burning questions or interests are in the world of beer. It will help to make this a better-serving column and, hopefully, a most interactive one.

Na zdraví!


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Bryan Kolesar

Bryan Kolesar has been tracking down great beer for over twenty years. From the most hard-to-find delicately balanced low alcohol beer to the big monsters weighing in at over 10% ABV, he has yet to find a style that does not have a story to tell and a taste to share. Though, when pushed, Kolesar has historically staked a claim to the Saison style as one of the most versatile and his favorite.

In 2005, Bryan co-founded The Brew Lounge blog/website as a canvas to illustrate the best of the craft brewing industry and to document his own travels within it. Though he has lived in Philadelphia and is currently headquartered in the city's western suburbs, Kolesar shares a wealth of information and images that he collects from his travels around the world and some of the best beers that he has tasted along the way.

In 2010, Kolesar came aboard the Communities section of The Washington Times to contribute stories from across the craft brewing industry as it continues more than ever its explosive growth amongst increasingly more of the mainstream alcohol-consuming public. 

While the beer - its tastes, aromas, and incredible pairing opportunities with food - is often the beginning of a story, he often finds it more interesting to dive into the stories behind the people, places, and events associated with the final product. 

Locally around Philadelphia, he has been named a Beer Writer of the Year finalist multiple times, hosted beer/running events during each annual Philly Beer Week, served as a Philly Beer Geek judge, paneled local beers for submission into the Great American Beer Festival competition, judged beer and food competitions, been featured in local publications chronicling the beer scene, and been named the "Best Beer Guy" of 2008. 

In addition to his beer-y pursuits, Kolesar works a professional career in the business world by day and dabbles in distance running, cooking, homebrewing, gardening, photography, and is a staunch advocate for animal rescue/adoption. He lives with his wife, Patty, of fifteen years and has been a long time, mostly suffering, supporter of local Philadelphia sports.

Contact Bryan Kolesar


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