By Chris Maza
It's funny how some things can trigger memories. Picking up and trying High and Mighty Beer Company's holiday offering, Home^Less for the Holidays, was one of those things for me.
Years ago, prior to my employment with Reminder Publications, I experienced one of those moments when I realized my blessings and came to appreciate all that I have and who makes sure I have the opportunity to have those things.
While in the process of looking for work in the journalism field, I had a retail job that was sucking every last bit of holiday cheer from my body. Day after day people I encountered during the holiday rush seemed to find each other more of a nuisance than anything else.
Working retail at Christmas time means working hours you don't want to work and sure enough, I was working Christmas Eve until closing time. The store was closing at 6 p.m. promptly and my managers instructed us to shoo everyone out the door at that time exactly.
At 5:59 p.m., a man came to my register with arms loaded with gifts. He plopped them down and said, "I'm so sorry to be doing this to you. I know that you are trying to get home to your family, but I just landed a couple hours ago and this is the first opportunity I've had to shop."
I asked him where he was coming from and he told me he was in the military and had just come from Indiana where he had been stationed. I welcomed him home and commented that it must be nice to be home just in time for Christmas. He said that it was, but added that it would be a short stay. He was getting sent to Afghanistan the day after Christmas.
Before leaving, he thanked me again for helping him even though we were closing, and apologized to me for taking more time away from my family. He then shook my hand and wished me a merry Christmas.
I shook his hand, wished him a merry Christmas, thanked him for everything he does and asked him to be safe over there.
This man had less than 48 hours to spend with his family before going overseas and possibly not being able to talk to his family for weeks at a time, yet he took the time to thank me and apologize to me for my time. It had been a while since I had seen anybody thinking selflessly that holiday season and it reminded me that there are so many good people in this world, many of who aren't blessed with the ability to with their families because they are busy protecting our freedoms.
The reason why this story came to mind when I shopping for beer is because with this beer, High and Mighty, which operates in Holyoke and is currently building a facility in Easthampton, has put together a very cool concept in which proceeds from the sale of the Home^Less for the Holidays go to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
While holding that beer, I couldn't help but think about the man in the store, whose name I never knew, and hoped he made it home to his family again happy and healthy.
That alone made it worth picking up, as the IAVA was the first organization established to support those returning from war and for that reason, I would recommend anyone grab a bottle.
In addition to that, those who do will be rewarded with a pretty tasty beer as well.
Classified by High and Mighty as a Christmas Red Ale, it certainly fits the bill. Pouring a dark red with a thin white head, it possesses the sweet tones that usually accompany the nose of a red ale, but in addition, there are hints of holiday spices that add to its complexity.
The taste follows suit with the usual malty sweetness of a red ale with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg thrown in. I will admit it did leave something to be desired. It seems they were on the right track, but the spices didn't provide quite enough to put this good beer over the top and make it great.
Still, with its medium mouth feel, it was an extremely drinkable and enjoyable change from the usual holiday porters and dark brown ales that tend to accompany the season.