October 23, 2012
The only word I know in Japanese is tako. Octopus. I know this word because anytime I go to a sushi restaurant, I first check to see if octopus is on the menu. Through this checking, I’ve learned that tako is octopus. I don’t know the word for tuna in Japanese. I’m a big fan of octopus salad. I’m a big fan of just about anything octopus. Put octopus on the menu, and you have my attention. Once, in St. Louis, because of a local free foodie newspaper’s gushing, I bought some fancy canned octopus at a fancy grocery store. Later and back in Columbia, I cooked it at home with potatoes and tomato. No one else in my family joined me.
When we found this bag of medical marijuana in our hotel room in Fort Collins, no one joined in as well. We were on our second day of our GABF tour. We had just climbed to maybe 12,ooo feet in Estes Park, and were about to embark on a trip to Odell, Funkwerks,and Mayor of Old Town. The cab took twenty minutes to arrive. One of us opened a drawer in the dresser and saw the bags. In the meantime, we entered into a discussion regarding what to do. Anybody want it? Someone wants to try it out? Who wants to get high? There were no takers.
The three middle aged professors, looking at this bag of grass, opted to pass after much debate and deliberation. One of us took it to the front desk, where the clerk, about to go off duty and return home with her boyfriend, respectfully and gladly took the bags with her. “Thanks,” was her only response. Tako, we might say, sounds a lot like thanks. Tako takko tako. Bag of weed gone, we were off to Odell.
Odell is an interesting brewpub. You don’t order via a waitress/waiter. Instead, you order up front – pint or sampler – and then pick up your oder at a different spot around the bar under a sign that says “pick up.” No one calls your name. You pick up what you think is yours. In that sense, Odell is kind of like a fast food service: order and pick up. Only, there isn’t one sampler. There are two. And it is easy for both those pouring beers and those picking up beers to get confused. For some reason, the two different samplers we ordered and picked up were the same. I spent a few minutes marveling over an untasted “new to me” beer that seemed much hoppier and sweet than its description until realizing that I was drinking Mercenary, a beer I used to buy all the time in Missouri. Senses can be easily fooled by a card that lists beer names. We exchanged one sampled sampler for another, and I, rater nerd that I am, got a few more notches in my guitar. I felt much better suddenly. Tako!
The size of Funkwerks surprised me. A tiny tasty room with a not patronized food truck parked outside, it paled in size to Odell. A few tables. A cooler full of bottles for sale. One person running everything. Among the various shirt offerings – I had bought my wife an Odell shirt at Odell and decided to wait or a Funkwerks one for me – there were few size larges. I know I’m not a big guy, but I wear a large. No sweat shirts. No short sleeves. Just a few other shirts to buy. Most of the shelves were empty. I found a long sleeve shirt with a simple design. At this point, I had not bought a shirt – and I would not buy another during the trip even with the massive shirt display at GABF. I felt slightly desperate. One cannot go on a beer trip without buying a shirt. Tourism = t-shirts. Everybody knows that. As a teenager, I bought a shirt at every concert I attended except one. Sorry, Hall and Oates. I couldn’t pull the trigger on that one. I almost never got into the beer shirt consumption practice. But during a Michigan beer fest many years ago, my wife convinced me to buy a shirt. “It’s too much like a rock shirt,” I said. “So?” she said. “So, I’ll feel like a nerd.” “You are a nerd,” she said. She was right.
I probably should have bought a Crooked Stave shirt in Denver. But I felt rushed. One of our crew hated sour beers and was ready to move on as soon as he tasted Crooked Stave’s offerings. And among the motorcycle looking crowd of leather jackets, chin beards, and grey pony tails, standing in the even smaller than Funkwerks main area of the tap room, hanging out amid the complete nerd atmosphere of grown men drinking half pours out of snifters, I didn’t get a shirt. I froze with a snifter in my hand and a barrel in front of me. Tako indeed. We headed off to Hogshead where I didn’t buy a shirt as well.
I have no regrets regarding not smoking that medical weed we found in our Fort Collins hotel room. And I guess that the hotel clerk has no regrets accepting it from us. I’m sure the owner of that weed, who we could have looked up based on the identifying information on the bag, has regrets. And I have no beer regrets from this great trip. But I may have some shirt regrets. I regret that the cool weather kept me from showing off my great beer shirts I currently own (too cold to be out in only a t shirt that says Avery, New Glarus, or Russian River). I may regret not hanging around a good $20 later to buy a Crooked Stave shirt. I may regret not buying a West Flanders shirt during our first brewpub stop in Boulder. I went on a beer trip and came back with only one shirt (not counting the one I bought for my wife). Is that right? Maybe. Maybe not. Tako is all I can say in response.