This landed in the Birds Nest inbox this afternoon...
From: The Brother In-Law
To: The Oriole Way
Subject: Amid fallen brothers, weary soldiers return home
After weeks of post-holiday uncertainty, we have finally welcomed home the brave Oregon brews sent to fight thirst in the East. The troops never met the front lines, however, as several casualties met the battalion along the journey.
Last week I returned home from work to find a familiar package at my door; one that had left town weeks ago. The brown box, carefully addressed to one The Oriole Way of Owings Mills, Maryland, was hardly recognizable. What can best be described as the "bottom left" of the package prominently displayed a large dent; the entire parcel was tightly wrapped in cellophane and the top was stamped "unclaimed." Immediately, I realized at least one of the tightly-wrapped metalheads had met disaster en route to the unit's destination.
I was able to find some time today to explore the damage and cut open the package, a process akin to the first steps into King Tut's tomb or the curious Pandora's first glimpse into a now-famous box. The first wave of smell hit me like a five iron as my mailbox key deftly separated plastic and tape, cardboard and paper. The putrid scent of mold and stale beer smelled like the bastard child of an Arizona State fraternity and Jeffrey Dahmer's refrigerator. As the key moved on and the interior of the box came into view, I found what I thought to be a full, intact bottle. In fact, it was a 22-ounce Lompoc Strong Draft with the cap still on but very little liquid still inside. This terrible fate was echoed by some other bottles deeper inside the package. In a flurry of bubble wrap, moldy liquid and bottles, I recovered the survivors:
22-ounce Deschutes Brewing Hop Trip
22-ounce Roots Organic Brewing Island Red
22-ounce Cascade Lakes Brewing India Pale Ale
22-ounce Oakshire Brewing Ill-Tempered Gnome Winter Ale
12-ounce Bridgeport Brewing Ebenezer Ale
These tough and delicious thirst warriors left Portland prepared to fight valiantly against cheap beer and dry NFL playoffs, only to return to base with scars of war not found in battle. The scars worn by these timeless heroes are those of The Oriole Way's empty pint glass and broken dreams. The revered veterans have been cleaned up and debriefed, will receive proper ceremony and are scheduled to return to duty at base camp within 24 hours.
Out of 11 brave soldiers, five survived. May the memory of the lost be honored with taps and a 22 oz salute.