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Tim Bissell Tim Bissell
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Three Pint Stance - Drink local and always check the date!

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OK, so I’m going to level with you all. Recently, I got married to my amazing wife and that is really cool. We also went on a nine-day honeymoon to San Francisco, Sonoma County and Yosemite National Park.

(Editor’s note: I already told them. Congratulations. Oh, and sorry I almost ruined it.)

I’m not trying to be a showboat here, but I mention this for two reasons.

First, readjustment to the real world has been difficult; thus I wanted to explain why my return to these pages is so lacking in anything that could be construed as “useful information.”

The second reason that I wanted to share my wedding/honeymoon escapades with you is because, well … I wanted to be a showboat and make sure people know my life is awesome.

Anyway, on to the beer banter!!

During our travels out west, I developed many a powerful thirst. For the first leg of our journey in San Francisco, I was never more than two or three blocks from a very well-stocked craft beer bar. Highlights included a draft pour of the legendary DIPA Pliny the Elder at The Monk’s Kettle and the amazing selection and ultra-cool atmosphere at Mikkeler Bar. Needless to say, my beers were draft pours and expensive, but freshness was never a concern of mine.

Then we moved north to Petaluma, or as I like to call it, Compromise, California. We chose Petaluma because it is in the southern tip of Sonoma County, so technically wine country! Normally, I would physically rebel against a trip to such a place. Who would purposefully dedicate their lives to wine?!?

I was able to accept Petaluma as a destination because of one thing - it is the location of Lagunitas Brewing Company. Thanks to a hookup from local beer legend Justin Frazell, my bride and I were treated to a VIP tour (and all the free beer we wanted!) during our time at the brewery. We also toured a winery, and - much to my surprise - I had a few wines that I actually enjoyed! Apparently, it DOES get better than a jug of Carlo Rossi that’s been in the back of my 95 Taurus for five months.

Once our debauched time in Petaluma was over and we were set to make off for the Yosemite Valley, I knew my beer access would be limited. This set into motion a mission to find some beer for the trip.

The first stop was actually at a Trader Joe’s in Petaluma the day before we left. As we were shopping for provisions, I spied a six-pack of an IPA that I can’t get back east. One of them California breweries that distributes out our way, but only certain styles and not too often. That’s as much as I’ll say about the brewery name, but I mention this for good reason. I broke all of my own rules and the result should surprise no one.

First rule broken? I couldn’t verify the freshness of the beer. There was an attempt at a date code on the bottom of the cans, but the numbers were illegible and checking other six-packs on the shelf was of no help. Normally, this would be grounds for an immediate return to the shelf and a non-purchase, but I was road weary and the plentiful California sunshine had filled me with a false sense of trust for everything it touches.

Second rule broken? The beer was warm. I was a bit surprised, as the Portland Trader Joe’s has a cold beer section; I assumed that was standard issue at every store. Sadly, I found out this is not true and was force to peruse the warm selection for my beer ration. Again, normally this would lead me to move on to the next spot, but as I was from away and didn’t actually know of a next spot, I persevered and chose my sixer.

Third rule broken? Never break both rules! Much to nobody’s surprise, the beer was stale and rather unappetizing. Sure, I was sad, but mostly I was disappointed in myself. In an effort to turn my frown upside down, my wonderful wife suggested I search for an alternate store. As I am learning is now the case for all eternity, she was right; the locally-owned and operated Petaluma Market was located and we set forth!

At the Petaluma Market, I was delighted to find a selection of local craft beers stored cold and apparently stocked as fresh as possible. I located a four-pack of 16 oz cans from a brewery I had never heard of before named HenHouse Brewing (yes); checked the address information to find out they were located in the next town over, Santa Rosa (Yes!); and flipped the cans upside down to see the date, 09/14/17, clearly stamped on the bottom of each can (YES!!!!!!!!!). I was so happy in that moment that I didn’t even check to see what style of beer it was, I was already in line to buy it.

(It was a single hop pale ale with Citra called STOKED, and it was DELICIOUS!)

As we approach 900 words, I suppose I should wrap this up. The moral of the story is this, be true to your own beer buying code. Oh, and at the end of the day, just listen to your wife!

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