Lots of changes in my life over the last couple of months. There are some members of my household who insist that “Change is bad,” but I’m more of a mind that change is inevitable and you simply accept that changes will happen and make the best of the situation.

The biggest change was the loss of my mother in early February. At age 95 this was hardly a surprise, and I was fortunate to have spent some time with her at the end of December when her mental and physical state were still good, so I have some pleasant recent memories. We had a memorial service for her last weekend, and the thing I find myself wondering now is when I will next get back to the region where I grew up, since my ties to Northeast Ohio have become more and more tenuous since leaving that region for good after I finished college more than thirty years ago.

Back in those days I didn’t drink much beer, being underage and all, but it’s interesting to ponder how different the beer landscape was then. I can recall a few furtive 3.2% beers when I was still under age 18, including some Coors that a friend brought back from a camping trip in Wyoming—you’d have a hard time convincing most younger people that there was a time when Coors was considered an exotic “import” if you lived in Ohio. And one thing I will miss about visiting Ohio is the fun beers from Great Lakes Brewing. For old times’ sake, I bought a six-pack of Burning River and my brother shared some of their Turntable Pils (an homage to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame) during our weekend visit.

As if losing my Mom wasn’t enough, we also bade farewell to another little old lady in my life with the passing of my almost 22-year-old cat Louise at the end of February. Louise wasn’t fond of any humans other than me, and she wasn’t particularly cuddly, but she was nevertheless a good companion and the house does seem empty without her. On the other hand, we no longer have to worry about who will care for her when we travel and it will be easier for the family to make weekend getaways for skiing or other outdoor activities.

We did manage a ski weekend in February, but the family schedule dictated that it was on a holiday weekend so that our preferred country inn in New Hampshire was fully booked and instead we made our booking through Airbnb. This meant staying a little bit too far from our usual haunts and so we explored a new brewpub in Ossipee, NH. The Hobbs Tavern and Brewing Company had a bit of a long wait on a holiday weekend Saturday night, but the waiting area was cozy and once we were seated they had a pretty standard bar food menu (I think I had a pasta carbonara) and a nice selection of beers that were brewed on site—from the picture it looks like I had some sort of brown ale, but I will admit that I don’t remember the details.

Closer to home, I’ve got mix packs from several familiar breweries set aside to investigate. I’ve just about finished the winter selection from Magic Hat, which includes a couple of their standard offerings (Fat Angel and #9), plus a black IPA and the Winter Mingle vanilla stout. The stout was lighter-bodied with a fizzier head than a lot of stouts, but had a nice flavor as we (hopefully) wrap up the “beer as food” season. I’m also on a quest to try and find a few readily available and not-too-expensive imperial stouts, but I’ll save that research for a separate post.

Like last year, the transition from winter to spring has been irregular in this part of the world—some unseasonably warm days in February and March have been interspersed with some seriously wintry weather, including a cold rain that might still switch over to sleet or snow later today (a pretty cruel April Fool’s joke on the part of the weather gods). Hoping this is really the last gasp of winter and that we are done with transitions in my household for a while. Cheers


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