Quarantine Diaries XXXVI
Sunday May 3rd 2020
On Sunday we had an unexpected but joyfully welcome break from quarantine. I’ll preface this (in case anyone cares) by saying that here in Texas we’re not actually in quarantine – our stay-in-place order (as was) has been significantly more lenient than other parts of the US or the UK, something we have been counting our blessings for. Nonetheless, as we drove into the Hill Country on what used to be a regular weekend jaunt, I don’t think either of us quite appreciated how good it would feel to go to a brewery taproom and have a drink. When our lovely friends at 12 Fox built their gorgeous scenic beer garden in the heart of the Hill Country, they were doubtless thinking more about the balmy Texas weather than a global pandemic when they chose to design it as an entirely outdoor space. After collecting our to-go beers from Jester King (watch this space for feedback on their Mikkeller collab), we meandered down one of my favourite scenic drives and were delighted to find the 12 Fox taproom open for drinks as well as take away. We received a customarily warm welcome (minus hand-shakes of course) and the feeling of homecoming was ridiculously joyful. Why? We drink beer and listen to music in our garden nearly every day, so what’s the difference? Why does being in a bar feel so magical? I could write forever about what bars and pubs mean to me (as the contents of this blog attest) and many folks have done it much better than I could. I’ll just say that this little slice of normality had me almost in tears. I felt overwhelmed by the perfection of the moment. The sun, the sky, the birds in the bloody trees. Everything felt brighter and sweeter and I swore I will never take these moments for granted again – the simple pleasure of just sitting outside in a bar in the sun listening to music and drinking top-notch beer. This is what I do, who I am. Plenty of people might think that makes me shallow or superficial. Fine. The world is made up of different people and this is me. This is my happy place. Yes, we were safe and careful. Yes, we will be going back. Whether this is the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end, that glorious taste of the real world has filled me with a renewed strength to keep going til we make it through to the other side, because what’s waiting there is worth it.
12 Fox Julie Belgian-style Trippel
At less than a year old, 12 Fox are already an award-winning brewery making waves in the Central Texas beer scene, and rightly so. Slightly off the beaten track, a visit to 12 Fox is well worth the extra drive (which also happens to be rather stunning, see above), and has been an immediate hit with Dripping Springs locals – their small-batch brews sell out blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fast. Having moved from a single-barrel to a 5-barrel, and now in the process of upgrading to a 10-barrel, 12 Fox are working hard to keep up with demand that’s understandably high and continues to grow. Their two Belgian-style ales, Bettie and Julie, are among their original recipes and have been so popular that they enjoy core status, and justifiably so. The sweet, honeyed Julie has all the depth and richness required in a Trippel but retains the light touch necessary for it to work in the Texas heat, which indeed it does. This lovely smooth beer glides beautifully down the throat, and it tasted even sweeter than usual for being the first beer I took a sip of after seven weeks of quarantine. An excellent beer for a special moment.