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January 1, 2018

Happy New Year! I know in the past I’ve made some grand resolutions about the upcoming twelve months. There was the one year I started the meat sheet. Then there was the other year I wanted to try and catalogue the first year of the FLB.

This year, there will be none of that. I’m just going to keep chipping away at this ongoing project, and do my best at coming up with fresh content every day. Ideally, I’ll be able to get back into the rhythm of having posts up before 9am every morning. But no promises.

There is one thing that I know for certain I will begin to undertake in 2018, but I have some serious doubts about seeing it through. So today, I thought I’d tell you about it.

Do you remember Nine Pin Cider’s 26er program?

It was a brilliant marketing campaign started by our local hard cidery. They came up with twenty six different small production ciders, which they released every two weeks. And anyone who tried them all received a bunch of great stuff. Besides a t-shirt, tasting glass, and sticker, there was a party catered by Slidin’ Dirty with all the cider you could drink.

But perhaps most importantly, those who completed the task received a special card, engraved with their name, which provided a lifetime of happy hour pricing in the tasting room, and allowed early access to future limited bottlings.

When the whole thing first started at the beginning of 2016, I decided to give it a go. At four months into the project, it began to feel like a burden. However, thanks to the late night hours of Slidin’ Dirty and the delayed tapping of the last few kegs by Capital City Gastropub, I was able to finish what I started.

All told, I probably enjoyed about a third of the ciders. My favorites were the ones with added bitterness or tannin to keep the sweetness of the base cider intact. The fresh hop one in the fall was a great example. But the ones aged in wood barrels were also at the top of my list.

At the end of the year, I had my fill of cider. Since then, I have only used my special card a couple of times for happy hour pricing.

Still, without a doubt, that card is the most precious thing I own.

Now, the evil geniuses at Nine Pin Cider are bringing back the 26er program for 2018, and I am full of hope and dread. For those who already hold a 26er card, they have an extra special incentive: A silver 26er card!

Maybe it is stupid that such a thing entices me. But it does.

This year, there is a catch. Neither Slidin’ Dirty nor Capital City Gastropub will be participating. All the tasting will have to be done at the cidery itself in Albany’s warehouse district, which might be fine if the cidery kept the same late night hours of Slidin’ Dirty.

For some reason or another, when making my first run at the badge I just couldn’t find a way to make it to the tasting room during normal operating hours. Although I am told that in 2018 the tasting room will be staying open later. So there is still a chance.

We will see.

At the very least, I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring. Nine Pin Cider has asked for pre-registration by anyone interested in undertaking the challenge this year. It’s free to register, and the link to do that is here.

Last time, there were so many people interested in this promotion, Nine Pin ran out of punch cards. In theory, pre-registration should help solve that problem.

I have my doubts that I’ll be able to complete another year of this, but I’m going to give it a go. At the very least, it will be good to see all my 26er friends as this kicks off on January 9.

Anybody else out there going to join me?

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