Nice and Easy

A few weeks ago I rode up through the Arcata Community Forest with a few buddies, wearing my old NATO Army surplus backpack. We dropped down the back side of Fickle Ridge on somebody’s private fire road then rode West End out to Mad River to purchase homebrew supplies.

I put the ingredients in my backpack and we headed for home. However on the way back los amigos decided it would be way radder to climb back up over the ridge instead of taking the flat way home. I grimaced and weighed a mutiny but decided what the hell, I’d do it.

Somewhere on the minor death march back up the hill the brown paper grain bags in my backpack burst open from sweat and jostling. As we rode back down through the forest, floating root sections, hooting and hollering, the grains got tossed in my NATO pack with all of the jacket lint, miniature ribbons of old trail maps, and etc. This was the first step in the creation of the Backpack IPA.

The second step happened later that night when we fired up the massive propane ring in Dbo’s back yard and boiled ten gallons in ten minutes. Somehow I ended up with Amber DME for my mini-mash IPA, but no matter. You do your best and adapt when change becomes unavoidable.

Last night we reprised the Community Forest Blue Lake route, but this time at night, wearing 12 watt halogen bulbs. Nobody crashed, and the night was clear and mellow with a beautiful full moon. When we got to West End it was so bright we didn’t need lights and rode through the ghostly pastures and farms in moonlight. The Mad River was silver and we all thought about how lucky we were.

The brewery was celebrating its 20th anniversary by tapping a cask of double IPA and a few kegs of wheat wine. It was overcrowded and hard to get a beer from the bar; as we wedged our way in we found ourselves parked next to a guy with an impressive mustache and a skyscraper of empies. “Six firkins!” he started ranting, “Pour these gentlemen six firkins! And a pint of bourbon barrel aged stout to drink while they’re waiting.” That’s how I found myself in possession of two fists full of DIPA. And that was about all I would need.

Today I bottled the Backpack IPA into two 1.5 gallon Tap-a-draft jugs. As I was finishing up, trying to pull the hop bag out through the neck of the carboy, it got wrung and produced a glass of hop juice in the foot of the fermenter. Ah, sweet nectar: I drank it. Tastes like adventure.