Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Don't Stop Believing

Pursuing a goal isn’t easy. It demands sacrifice, grit and determination. It requires one to invest a lot of time and energy for a payoff that may never come. Along the way there will be a lot of discouragement. A lot of reasons to stop and just accept settling. It’s  admittedly tough to keep on going sometimes, especially when the tunnel is long and that light at the end isn’t even visible yet.

Occasionally in that journey through the tunnel, encouragement will arrive to give you a taste of what is to come. 

My encouragement came in waves last week...

The first was from an article written by an idol of mine, Randy Mosher. I actually ran into him once, at Goose Island’s 26th Anniversary Party. I approached him to start a conversation I’ve rehearsed in my head many times, but instead, I pronounced his name wrong and stuttered through an awkward two minute exchange.

Second chances will come soon enough.

Mr. Mosher wrote an article for All About Beer Magazine recently called “The Tasting Act.” In this article he describes the difference between drinking and tasting. The part of the article that caught my eye was one single paragraph at the end:

“Be prepared to settle in for the long haul. There is no quick shortcut to mastering this fine and particular art. I’ve been at it for more than 25 years, and I am constantly humbled and rarely walk away from a tasting or judging without learning something completely new. It’s a lifelong pursuit, one where you really never reach your destination, but make enjoyable progress toward it with practice and over time. Along the way you will also develop confidence, which makes tasting more fun as well.”

Life is a journey, not a destination. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that and Randy Mosher wonderfully applied it to a beer enthusiast’s world.

Cheers to you, Mr. Mosher.

The second encouraging moment I experienced was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time: a beer and food pairing. At the hotel where I work, the head sous chef and I were asked to host an evening of beer and food pairings. The chef came up with four dishes and I paired four different beers with each dish. The menu and pairings were as follows:

Coconut and Lemongrass Mussels with Thai Chili and Sesame Naan
Allagash White – Belgian Witbier

Porter and Cheddar Soup with Cajun Chive Popcorn
Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald – Robust Porter

Pork Belly Tacos with Pickled Watermelon, Cotija Cheese and Ancho Q
Revolution Anti-Hero – American IPA
(The consensus favorite pairing of the night, including mine)

Duck Confit Agnolotti with Fennel Slaw and Apple Cherry Demi Glaze
Ommegang Abbey Ale – Belgian Dubbel

This was my first food pairing dinner and I was nervous. I didn’t get to try any of the pairings ahead of time (I did get to eat the first three dishes ahead of time but not the fourth) so I had to build of off what I knew worked. 

Each of the pairings was a huge success. The chef and I opened up a new world to the 19 people that attended the dinner. You can tell that as the evening went on and the discussions about the pairings increased, everybody was enjoying themselves. There were even several comments from a handful of people about how they didn’t like one or two of the beers I chose. But when they ate the dish and then drank the beer paired with it, they loved it.

I went home from that dinner reinvigorated and motivated more than ever to continue my journey in beer.

We work in life for the payoff of a moment. The amount of time one spends working for that moment tremendously exceeds the amount of time spent within the moment itself.

But it is within that single moment, we realize that all of it was worth it.

That is what keeps us going.

That is what keeps me going.

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