Complete strangers were looking me in the eye and smiling. Hey buddy, the first one said. A second a few feet later added Lookin' good. I smiled back. The third looked at what I was carrying, grinned, and gave a rueful shake of his head. How's it going, man? No doubt about it: that was pure, unadulterated envy.
I wasn't twenty feet inside the grocery store when it stuck me like a cast iron skillet upside my big pumpkin head: Stone 10th Anniversary India Pale Ale is an irresistible pheromone for San Diego beer geeks.
I'd bought the beer for coworkers a few years ago when I was an account manager for a local advertising firm. One client came to us for a complete rebranding and everything — from the name and logo to the lobby sign, prospectus, and business cards — needed new designs. By the time we finished, there wasn't a single person in the firm who hadn't contributed to the project. Everyone at the office got a sample of the potent (10% abv) hopped ale. I kept the bottle and have been stuffing coins into it ever since.
Once or twice a year, I haul those coins to a Coinstar machine and redeem for Amazon.com credit. I want to buy a machine for the kitchen and Amazon's got it cheap. Well, 35% off retail. The coins were just weighing down the floor and this seemed a better use for it. Cool thing about Coinstar is that it normally takes a hefty percentage when issuing store credit, but at some — and apparently only some — machines, it will issue credit for various online retailers without taking the percentage. Put in $120 worth of change and get $120 in credit.
As long as my bank won't take a of bottle of coins anymore, then the beer geeks of San Diego will see me again come Christmastime.
Meanwhile, I really should score another big ass bottle of delicious Stone's most recent anniversary ale. Find tasting notes on the 10th Anniversary IPA here.