October 11, 2011 would have been BFW’s 26th birthday. In true BFW style, we took to having a beer dinner in her honor featuring the beer specially brewed in her honor. It was an amazingly special night that makes me tear up again just writing about it.
The dinner took place at Empire State South in Atlanta. Chef Hugh Acheson closed down the restaurant to the public just to do this special beer dinner. The restaurant itself held special meaning to BFW & BW (her husband).
BW made an emotional explanation of the restaurant and the dinner. This was the one restaurant BFW had requested that they go to together, yet they never had the opportunity after moving back to Atlanta only a month prior. Empire State South is a gorgeous restaurant. The staff specially decorated with BFW’s favorite of sunflowers.
Only family and close friends were invited to the dinner. It was amazing to be able to share such a special time with everyone who meant so much to BFW. My understanding is that the food courses were a joint effort between Chef Hugh and the W family. I believe the foods had special meanings behind them. The food was absolutely amazing. In true beer dinner fashion, each course was preempted with a toast. The toasts were written mostly by BW about BFW. As we toasted to BFW and enjoyed our food, we couldn’t help but imagine BFW being at the dinner…laughing and bouncing around between friends and family.
[Our favorite dish: Fried green tomatoes, pickled shrimp + mustard cream. Amazing]
The special dinner of the evening was Free Spirit. This beer was a joint effort between Terrapin Beer Company and Heavy Seas (which BFW’s brother works for). Of course, BW collaborated and helped pick the ingredients for the beer.
The beer was bottled the Monday before. Friends and family were invited to help label and wax-dip the bottles. It was definitely another fun experience, and the bottles turned out amazingly!
The label itself was designed by BFW’s company she worked for. The tree in the background is a Willow, which signifies BW & BFW’s baby/dog. BFW adored Willow. The fox signifies BFW and has special meaning related to her name (I just wanted to keep her full name off here for the sake of privacy). After moving to Atlanta, BW & BFW purchased quite a few bikes for their new house. The idea was to have enough bikes for anyone staying over to be able to bike to the downtown area near their house. Many of the last pictures taken of BFW were on bikes. Her favorite bike was the “Free Spirit,” which is also such a perfect way to describe BFW herself. And therein you have the BFW fox on her bike on the label. The last addition was the sunflowers. The words on the label are so fitting and perfect. They bold some words that were characteristic and/or passions of BFW. Every dinner attendee was given a bottle of Free Spirit to take home after the dinner.
I can not think of a more fitting way to celebrate what would have been BFW’s 26th. Some of her friends laughed that really she would have hated having such a big “party” with all of the attention, but she loved beer dinners. I know she would have loved this one. Getting dressed up, socializing with the people who mean the most to you, drinking delicious beers, and eating delectable foods…I only hope that we can celebrate BFW every year in such a fashion.