I'm grabbing a beer on a recent weeknight and chatting with the husband-and-wife blogging team of Daniel Barnes and Darcey Self-Barnes, authors of His and Hers Beer Notes (hisandhersbeernotes.com).
We're at Pangaea, looking at a blackboard listing one of most comprehensive beer selections in town.
These two know their stuff, which becomes readily apparent when Daniel wonders aloud: "I'm seeing if there's anything up there I haven't had."
Daniel and Darcey's blog is excellent for a number of reasons. It's well-written (that would be Daniel) and looks great (thanks to Darcey).
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The couple seek out beers of all kinds, size them up and discuss what they're seeing, smelling and tasting. Then they do their thing.
He writes. She draws.
When they're finished, it's a little bit of magic, a blog with a singular look and voice.
Beginning in January 2012, they've done about two posts a week, offering their takes on some of the best beers in the world, along with plenty of good and pretty good ones.
The bad? The ill-conceived? They're in there, too.
I follow the couple on Twitter and sometimes find myself marveling at their tireless pursuit. OK, so it's not back-breaking work. But this is one enthusiastic, tenacious couple when it comes to describing – and sharing – their love of beer.
I'm telling you about them for several reasons. Here's an example of a husband and wife who found a hobby they could share. Not only has craft beer opened them up to a world of talented brewers and dynamic beers, it has introduced them to all kinds of friendly, like-minded people.
Along the way, you have to believe it has made their marriage that much better.
If you check out their blog and find yourself eager to compile a list of beers to try, you'd do well to follow their lead.
"We've always liked beer, but up until four or five years ago, it was mostly Blue Moon or (Miller Genuine Draft) or Coors," Daniel said. "That to me was top-shelf beer at the time."
Then he got a beer-tasting notebook as a present. An enthusiastic listmaker, Daniel was off to the races, jotting down notes about all the new beers he was trying.
But it was Darcey who came up with the idea for the blog.
"I'm a visual person. Dan's wonderful with words. It's just kind of a natural idea for the blog," said Darcey, who works as creative director at 3Fold Communications.
Daniel works for LexisNexis as legislative database regional lead.
A number of vacations and weekend getaways have centered on going to breweries and beer bars. They make lists of beers they want to get. They buy. They taste. And their blog just gets better and better.
"We're experiencing beers like so many other people are," said Darcey. "We don't want to get too heady with it and isolating to other people. We want to embrace people's love of craft beer."
Where is their blog headed? A book? Possibly. A full-time gig? That's the dream.
To inspire other would-be listmakers, I asked Daniel and Darcey to recommend five great beers, including one local:
Prairie Hop by Prairie Artisan Ales. This saison or farmhouse-style ale is from a new brewery in Oklahoma funded by Kickstarter.
Farmer's Reserve No. 2 by the Almanac Brewery. A sour beer brewed with heirloom pumpkins, which Darcey says imparts great balance to the overall flavor. AK Alive, a wild ale collaboration between Denmark's Mikkeller and Anchorage Brewing Co.
Pimock by Freigeiste Bierkultur. On the blog, Daniel writes: "Pimock has a smell that evokes dried apples, caramel and some grains and hay, and the first swallow indeed emphasizes crisp red apples instead of banana and cloves endemic to Bavarian weizen beers."
Hoptologist by Knee Deep Brewing. This Lincoln brewery, known for its magic with hops, will soon expand and relocate to Auburn. Daniel and Darcey say this double IPA is a good introduction to Knee Deep's style.
Where we're headed
All those new and soon-to-open breweries in the area? We'll tell you about them.
Beer events: Clips Beer and Film Tour, 7:30 p.m. July 26 at Central Park in Davis. Free admission. Beer is $5 (12 ounces) or $1.25 (3 ounces). Sample some of New Belgium Brewing's more esoteric beers and watch short films created by the brewery's fans. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit advocacy group Davis Bicycles.
Call The Bee's Blair Anthony Robertson, (916) 321-1099. Follow him on Twitter @Blarob.