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September 22nd is a day I’ve had my eyes on for some time now.  As you probably guessed from the title of this post, today is Hobbit Day, a day set aside by the American Tolkien Society to observe the birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins and offer fans an excuse to celebrate the works of Tolkien by partying like Hobbits!  For my own celebration, I broke out two special brews I set aside for just such an occasion – There and Back Again (Mango) from the Middletown, NY-based Equilibrium Brewery and Elevensies from my locals at Night Shift Brewing Company.

In the course of preparing for this post I definitely felt the need to put the Lord of the Rings trilogy back on my reading list.  I’ve seen the Peter Jackson movies of course, but I last read the books about ten years ago and wasn’t in a particularly good state of mind while doing so.  I had come down with a bout of pneumonia that mixed with a stomach bug and a nasty sinus infection that conspired kept me off my feet for nearly a month. At the height of my illness I spent a solid week unable to sleep, eat, or really do much of anything besides be violently ill.  Reading was one of the main things that got me through this experience and the Lord of the Rings trilogy happened to be the first books I found near my bed.  Over the course of several sleepless days I read these books (plus The Hobbit for good measure) and perhaps even hallucinated a journey of my own across Middle Earth somewhere along the line.  I’m not sure how a reread would compare to that experience, but it feels like one is in order. But enough about me, bring on the beer!

Appropriately enough, my first beer of the day had a name that invoked Bilbo’s epic journey from The Hobbit.  There and Back Again (Mango), was a Wild Ale gifted to me by a friend during my trip to New Jersey a few weeks back.  It poured a cloudy golden body with a full, foamy white head and featured a moderately funky smell with a tart fruitiness.  Tastewise, the beer offered up tons of sweet tropical fruit, led by mango, that took a tart turn around mid-sip before closing with a mild funkiness.  The mouthfeel was roughly medium bodied with low level carbonation, though I could swear it felt like the beer got thicker as the sip went on. I was a huge fan of this one and really enjoyed how the fresh, clean fruitiness played off of the tart and funky aspects of the brew.  Definitely a strong way to start my festivities.

Beer number two was Elevensies, an 8.5% Baltic Porter aged in apple brandy barrels, initially enjoyed at the same time any observant Hobbit would be settling in for their third meal of the day.  I’ve had this bottle hanging around since its release back in December 2015 and figured now was the perfect time to finally open it up. It poured thick and black out of the bottle and didn’t leave anything more than a thin dark tan head even when I tried to force the issue.  The aroma was an intoxicating blend of sweet, boozy apple brandy and rich malts. Each sip opened with sweet notes of fudge, brown sugar, and dark malt before making a creamy transition towards a warm, boozy brandy finish that tingled my nose when exhaling. The body was silky smooth and on the heavier side with very low carbonation.  I thought this beer was absolutely amazing and given how it tasted a bit above the listed ABV it was also one that is likely to put some hair on your feet.

And thus I conclude my first blog-official celebration of Hobbit Day and I am happy to say that I couldn’t be more pleased with how this went!  I always enjoy the chance to think about my favorite stories and both of the beers I selected were absolutely fantastic. The bar has definitely been set high for next year.