The Return of [The Beer Formerly Known As] Kentucky Dark Star

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Things are moving quickly, loudly. The bottling line is still running when I’m handed a pair of safety goggles on Fremont’s brewery floor Tuesday afternoon. But they’re on to Universale Pale Ale now; the Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star had already been bottled, labeled, boxed and stacked on pallets—with a large fraction left awaiting waxing. Several cases had already been hauled out to the Urban Beer Garden, according to Thor’s scrawled tally. The new labels had come in only the day before, after a delay (I assume) related to truth in geography in advertising.

While there’s no doubt in my mind that things are always moving this quickly on the continually-evolving Fremont floor (it looks different back there every time I take a peek), it struck me that everyone at Fremont wanted to get this beer into our hands ASAP. And not because this is a beer that needs to be enjoyed immediately, à la the Cowiche Canyon Fresh Hop Ale just released a few weeks ago, but because they’re so damn proud of this year’s version of KDS that they can’t stand to keep it from us a minute longer than they absolutely need to. (After splitting a bottle with my wife later, I’ll say they have reason to be proud.)

I’m introduced to the team taking on waxing duty; they’re working their way through six pallets of filled KDS bottles, still so cold that the condensation is making the labels wrinkle. One melts, stirs, and unpacks boxes; two others grab two bottles each—double-fisting, double-dipping and maneuvering the bottles through space to manipulate how the wax dries; another gently guides the bottles back into the boxes, tapes and stacks. They’ve got a groove going, and I’m almost hesitant to interrupt. But they kindly insist I give it a try, and I wax several cases’ worth, first one bottle at a time, then two at a time like the professionals. I relinquish waxing duties and begin unpacking boxes. My safety goggles begin to fog up (I’m still wearing a fleece over a Fremont Brewing t-shirt) so I push them to the top of my head and take some more photos.

I hang out for an hour or so, exchanging nods with the team while The Flaming Lips rings through the brewery, moving bottles and boxes from here to there, bending at the waist when I should bend at the knees, taking more photos. I thank the team and slip out of the brewery to head home.

Later, I’m putting my daughter to bed and I text my wife downstairs: Can you put beer in fridge?

Fremont couldn’t wait to get us the beer; I couldn’t wait to drink it.