Brewery anniversary parties are often a highlight on the annual beer calendar. Some are subtle and just an enjoyable way to raise a pint in honor of your favorite watering hole. Others are grand street parties, think Marble, and a way for the masses to come together in celebration.
Then along came COVID-19 and one anniversary after another fell by the wayside due to limitations on public gatherings.
Well, at least there is still the possibility of a special anniversary beer, and this weekend it is Boxing Bear’s turn to at least have a little celebration with the release of Hindsight 2020 Hazy IPA.
“We wanted to do something special for our anniversary,” said head brewer/co-owner Justin Hamilton. “So of course we did a hazy IPA. We’ve been wanting to do an offshoot IPA for a while. It’s funny because we didn’t have the room or the space for it. This was supposed to be a batch of Headlock for cans. This is part of the reason that we haven’t had Headlock for a while. We had to shift to make room for an anniversary beer. It kind of hit us quickly with the shutdowns and all. We realized we needed to do an anniversary beer in the middle of all this madness.”
The beer will be available in four-packs at all three Boxing Bear taprooms on Saturday.
“We had the foresight to know we weren’t going to have a real anniversary party,” Justin said. “As usual, we wanted to do a release, which we’ve done almost every year we’ve had packaging available. I think it started maybe our second year. We wanted to do another anniversary release. Any other cans we can get out there right now is great, because we need the money. It helps build our ability to stay open.”
Boxing Bear was rolling out a new canned seasonal/specialty offering seemingly every week or two back in April and May, but that eventually started to grind to a halt as the brewery had to keep up with its regular offerings.
“It’s going to be one of our first specialty releases in a month, month and a half,” Justin said. “We were trying to catch up and get everything back on draft. We were trying to fill up shelf space with our house brands. We’re kind of back in the direction we wanted to be. Getting that anniversary beer back in cans was important.”
Of course, timing is everything, and there was one slight issue the brewing team had to deal with that was rather out of their control. And no, it had nothing to do with any public health orders from the governor or anything like that.
“The other thing that threw a monkey wrench in this besides COVID was Dylan’s wife having a baby,” Justin said of lead brewer Dylan Davis. “The baby was due five days after this (release), but they had the baby last Wednesday. I know from me having two previous children it’s insanely hard to nail down. At any given moment, I would tell my staff that I’m not going to be here for an indefinite time. That situation with the anniversary beer and having to can it, it kind of put us in a unique spot. The plan was we were going to can the beer last Thursday and the baby came on Wednesday, so that threw everything off.”
Luckily, Justin said he had developed several contingency plans in case Dylan was not around, and they were able to can the beer last Friday.
“It went really well,” Justin said. “It tastes great. Not only that, but we have some cool glassware to go with it. We’re really excited for it. Getting everything done on time, it’s pretty crazy right now. We’re really happy. It kind of falls into the whole idea of the beer itself. It’s Hindsight 2020. It’s something we’ve decided to play with since this whole year is an absolute mess. It’s been a continual joke. You can always just fix whatever you can from the other side.
“We were half expecting the glassware to show up late or something to play into the theme. It kind of all worked out. We’re going to have the release Saturday. We’ve got the locations prepped for cans and glassware at every location. We’re good to go and ready for it.”
The four-packs will cost $15.99, and the glasses are $6 apiece. You can combine your purchase for $21, or enjoy a pour on a patio into an anniversary glass for $11.
“The beer itself, hazy IPA, it’s definitely more on the bitter side for a hazy,” Justin said. “It’s not crazy bitter. It’s a range of bitterness in our hazy IPAs. Gonna be closer to the AlbuMurky side of things. The hops in it are Citra, Amarillo and Galaxy. Those are higher alpha hops. The flavor is great. The aroma was nice and punchy. I’ve been able to enjoy a couple of them. It’s going to be a really good beer, it’s right in line with the other hazy IPA specialties we were releasing before this happened.”
Now that Boxing Bear has settled back into a (somewhat) more predictable pattern of operation, expect seasonal/specialty can releases to resume in earnest.
“We’re going to continue to release more specialty IPAs and hazy IPAs as we try to get caught up,” Justin said. “We’ve had most of our staff back and that’s made a big difference. We’re going back to a weekly canning schedule, which is hard for a brewery our size, but it’s going to be good for everyone. We’re trying to stay on our toes with that. Our plan is to have new package available. We want to have more and more stuff that’s mostly cans. The can releases will be smaller and quicker.
“We want to get to that point where people are happy to come in and buy a case or two. That’s kind of the direction I think we’re heading, and most people, at least in package. We’re going to be filling out our taps. We’re working on filling out those boards, too. So far everyone has been really understanding. They’re happy to have a beer, especially fresh beer. All of our beer has been fresh, we haven’t been sitting on stuff. That’s something we tried to gear the brewery production towards. The beer that’s available is fresh.”
Boxing Bear has been able to temporarily expand its patio at the West Downtown Taproom, and the Tramway Taproom will also have its patio expanded.
“Those patio expansion have been great,” Justin said. “They’ve done so much for what we’re able to do. People are liking it. It’s a good time of year for it, if it’s not raining.”
Just take note that the supply of Hindsight is not infinite, so if you want to make sure you get some cans Saturday, head over to any of the locations after they open at noon.
“We’ve got under 140 cases, so not a whole lot of beer,” Justin said. “So we’ll see how quick it goes.”
Hopefully it goes good and quick as everyone raises a glass, on a patio or at home, to celebrate six years of Boxing Bear. A big thanks to Justin for taking the time to chat with us over the phone.
Oh, and congratulations to Dylan, his wife, and proud grandpa Kevin Davis, too.
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