Three Trips, Two Kilts, One Miracle

The Road Trip Sextet, Part 1 – “Three Trips, Two Kilts, One Miracle”

At the beginning of 2014, I’d already come to the foregone conclusion that I wouldn’t get a vacation. That prior December, I burned through all of my paid time off to make ends meet at work. Hours were scarce, money even more so. The only trips I could afford were ones that were close to home, and some evenings that involved beer.

On one particular evening off, after a horrible work day, I decided to notch two breweries off my list. (Yes, there’s a list.) One was called Stickmen’s, and the other – the subject of this blog – was Two Kilts. The latter’s brews weren’t entirely new to me. I had tried their Scottish ale at a couple of house parties. It was – in an inappropriate word – fan-fucking-tastic. A trip to the source was in order.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I made the trip to Sherwood, OR. The “pub” itself rested in a business warehouse area off the only major “highway”. The fairly new op housed a bar in the office portion of the garage, whereas the body of it housed benches for sitting and the brewery lab in back.

The bar was instantly inviting. Various memorabilia lined the walls and bar proper, a giant monitor listed the beer specials, and the taps were front and center. Even the visually-impaired wouldn’t have difficulty adjusting.

They had a lot of offerings on tap, but the one that caught my eye had some of my favorite words in the English dictionary: Bourbon, barrel-aged, Russian, Imperial…and stout. And they were serving it by the pint! Most pubs served really strong beers like that by the 8oz. sniffer glass, due to the strength. Oh, not here. I ordered said pint…and groaned in pleasurable acquiescence.  I won’t even go into taster notes; they aren’t needed.

For comparison’s sake, I also tried their regular un-barreled Russian Imperial. Aside from the lack of liquor notes, it was also wonderful. I was in the right place.

Over the course of the evening, I sampled and notched off a couple of beers. The true surprise came from the lager they brewed. I hate lagers…and I liked this one. This was a punch to my palatial paradigm. Also unheard of for me, I started yacking with the other patrons of the bar. Really bizarre considering I don’t like talking to anyone I don’t know.

I had to inform a friend of this.

My old buddy NinjaSpecs came to mind. We had been trying to plan an outing to Two Kilts, but our schedules never aligned properly. So, I bragged that I made it there without him. He voiced his envy eloquently.

We agreed to finally make our schedules collide for a follow-up outing. Unfortunately, that took about a month. In the interim, he worked a lot of overtime and I…well…did whatever it is I usually do. And wrote about it.

When we finally converged on Two Kilts – his first visit, my second – he echoed my feelings on the Bourbon Russian Imperial. We each had two. While nursing those, we related how our lives were going. He told me of his work schedule, I lamented about my complete lack of vacationing. He asked for details.

“Well, I was trying to plan this trip to California,” I said, “for World Tea Expo. Plus, I really wanted to see my grandparents. It’s been four years. But I don’t have the time or money”

“How much did you budget for the trip?” He asked.

“I figured the trip would cost about a grand,” I said. “I was going to use my tax return for it, but that went to back bills.”

Then he said something I didn’t expect. “Well, I have that.”

“…What?”

“Yeah, I worked a lot of overtime,” he shrugged. “I can loan ya some.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yeah, I wasn’t going to spend it on anything worthwhile,” he said simply, “other than fast food.”

And from there, we planned a third trip to Two Kilts for the following week. On that visit, he handed off a check, and I handed off a tea gift in gratitude. As we bullshitted over our beers, I took a look again at a sign that was hanging by the beer taps.

I think I have some idea.

It certainly changed my world.

For Part 2, go HERE.

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Sunday, June 8th, 2014 Beverage Blog

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