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Eric Strader
Eric Strader
Eric Strader writes about the craft beer scene in Indiana and Michigan. He's a dad, husband, potter, soccer coach, special education paraprofessional, who likes to read, bike, hike, and canoe.

A toast to five years

Five years ago today, I posted my first article for this blog, which at the time was called Beer Nuts.

Posted on Feb. 26, 2014 at 11:48 a.m.

It's been much longer than five years ago that I became a beer nut, but thanks to the Elkhart Truth, I have been given the opportunity to travel to many breweries, drink many different styles and brands of beer and share it with you. Five years ago today, I didn't even have a clue what a blog was.

At the time, I had for many months been sending an email to several of my friends who also enjoyed beer. The content was what I was enjoying drinking, beer history, where I was traveling to enjoy beer, etc. Of course, I never asked these friends whether they wanted to read what I was sending, much less whether they cared. Many of them did care and one, Marshall King, offered me the chance to share my beer experiences with a wider readership through the blog Beer Nuts.

Now, well over 1,000 posts into this journey, I'm having the time of my life. I have experienced judging home brew competitions, meeting professional brewers, logging more than 700 different beers on Beer Advocate (you can follow me as gratefulbeerhead on BeerAdvocate.com), receiving a cease and desist which lead to the name change to Hop Notes, and best of all, enjoying many beers with many of you along the way.

Tonight I shared a toast with Marshall with a beer that was appropriately from a reader in Kalamazoo, Mich. -- Odd Side Ales Bourbon Barrel Mayan Mocha Stout (6% ABV). This brewery from Grand Haven, Mich. has been brewing some truly wonderful beers, and this is no exception. It was brewed with Dutch chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, nutmeg and Habaneros, then aged in bourbon barrels. To my nose, the cinnamon and chocolate were most prevalent. The flavor however was reminiscent of a Mexican hot chocolate combined with a chocolate soda. To my amazement, when I checked the brewery website, it states that this beer was inspired by Mexican hot chocolate. If you have never tried Mexican hot chocolate, check out any local Mexican market in Michiana and you will find Ibarra or some other brand. It is a little bit spicy as would be expected.

I think that the bourbon barrels must have mellowed the Habaneros, because I didn't get a lot of heat in this beer. The mouth feel was a bit thinner than I was expecting, but was medium bodied and provided a smooth, complex flavor. Even though I really enjoy big in-your-face bourbon flavors, the more subtle bourbon flavor worked very well with this beer.

So here's to all of you readers out there who keep me going, the whole staff at the Elkhart Truth who put up with me, and, of course, all the great craft brewers, who without, Hop Notes just wouldn't be. Thank you!

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