Best Beer: The Meaning Of Life

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By Lindell John Kay

Friday, December 8, 2017

All throughout human history, poets, philosophers, prophets, shamans, gurus, preachers, comedians, popes, cab drivers and hairdressers have speculated about the meaning of life. It's been found in a beer brewed in downtown Wilson.

The Meaning of Life – tapped by readers of Carolina Brew Scene as this year's Best Beer – is one of a dozen flagship beers of 217 Brew Works, a community brewery which opened its doors in historic downtown Wilson last year.

Head brewer John Kater first brewed The Meaning Of Life in small batches while he was completing his Master of Brewing and Fermentation Degree at the University of California-Davis, in the late 1990s.

“Loving the work in crafting great beer and the joy of sharing it with everyone is the basis of our brewery and the genesis of our all our brews,” said Tom Curran, owner of 217 Brew Works.

The Meaning of Life is complex and so is the beer named after it. A little bit sweet, a little bit bitter, the beer is rich and fulfilling, Curran said.

“It can spur lively conversation as easily as it does pensive contemplation,” Curran said. “It's delicious. It's a beer.”

Kater spent years perfecting the recipe. The Meaning of Life, a pensive red ale, is made from a blend of eight malts and four hops. It's one of the most different beers in the world.

The Meaning of Life is elegantly balanced complexity, having many subtle characters, but none overwhelming. Due to its incomparable complexity, the first sip differs from the last, as taste receptors become saturated; a new flavor comes to the fore. Like a fine wine, this ale is designed to cleanse the palate, bestowing a lovely synergy with food. A rich brick-red color, a lingering cream-colored head, and a delicate floral bouquet add to this delightful sensory experience.

Kater is a lifelong fan of English history and literature so the names and logos for 217 Brew Works' flagship beers are steeped in the Old English tradition. The brewery has embraced this noble era in its mission and goal of providing a warm and inviting sense of community both in its space and its beers.

The essence of the concept of Meaning of Life is to stop, contemplate, and consider what it might be, and what better way than with a finely crafted English ale, Curran said.

The Meaning of Life has long been a winner: The beer won the bronze medal at the 1998 World Beer Championship for red amber ales.