1. K. H. and I talked last December at Billy Mac's about the fact that she had grown up in Washington, D.C. In the late summer and fall, I had been making trips to the West End Cinema in Foggy Bottom, and K. told me how her Irish-Catholic ancestors had settled in that, and I quote her, "mosquito infested swamp land." This morning K commented on my Friday foray into NE Washington DC by telling me -- or reminding me -- that she had grown up in NE DC, first with her grandparents and then at St. Vincent's orphanage. On Friday, I'd just been near these landmarks in K's young life, I went searching online to locate exactly where K had lived and gone to school and found pictures of the exterior of the orphanage she lived in. If KH told me in December that she lived in NE DC, it didn't stick in my memory, but now that I have just begun to explore and read about this quadrant of Washington, DC, KH's story is all the more immediate and tangible to me.
2. The tasting room at Atlas Brew Works on West Virginia Ave, NE in DC in only open on Friday from 5-8 and on Saturday and Sunday from 1-8. Today, I visited it for the first time. The brewery reminded me of when I went to the original Oakshire tasting room in the Trainsong neighborhood of Eugene. Atlas Brew Works operates out of a warehouse in the Ivy City neighborhood and on its tasting days, it puts up a company sign, invites a food truck to camp in front near the two cornhole boards, opens two huge warehouse doors, and welcomes beer lovers into the warehouse to taste their beer at an L-shaped bar or seated on picnic tables. The bar and tables sit adjacent to the brewery's production area. Classic tunes from the 70s echo off the concrete floor and walls. Jolly beer tasters surrounded the bar; the picnic tables were full.
I joined in the happy vibe of Atlas Brew Works, bellying up to the bar and ordering a flight, which allowed me to sample all but one of their currently available beers -- you can learn more about the beers, here. Because it's low in supply, at first the barkeep didn't give me a sample of NSFW Imperial Black IPA, but after we had a little conversation -- and maybe after she saw how much I enjoyed the other beers -- she brought me a sample of NSFW.
I finished my flight, paid for another sample of NSFW, bought a six pack of Atlas' District Commons Lager, a beer I want Molly to taste to see if it rivals Hop Valley's 541 Lager as awesome in her book, and returned to Greenbelt.
Only one thing could have made this visit to Atlas Brew Works better: a companion -- say, the Deke or the Troxstar or Julie or Brian-Danielle-Allison or my Billy Mac's friends or the Thursday afternoon guys I threw back pints with at 16 Tons.
Tasting beer solo fills me with satisfaction, but tasting beer with mates fills me with joy.
3. I was into about my fourth little sampler when suddenly time stopped and, spiritually, I temporarily vacated the Atlas Brew Works when Pink Floyd's "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" came over the sound system. Richard Wright's keyboard prelude transformed the brewery warehouse into a church and David Gilmore's muted and mournful opening guitar cries pulled longings from deep within me -- I longed to be with old friends (Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" sprung to mind) or to be back at the McDonald Theater or at the Cuthbert listening to another Floydian Slips show or to be touring beer joints in CdA with Byrdman -- I longed for the days in the Center building at LCC listening to Coleman Barks talk about longing and the poetry of Rumi. Multiple other longs followed. Soon enough, though, I returned to the concrete present of the Atlas Brew Works warehouse and entered again into the immediate pleasures happening at that moment in NE DC. I felt gratitude that now this is my life, a life I would never have even dared to imagine just a short time ago.