People ask me why I do it. They tell me I’m crazy for having 2 jobs, for working long hours, and for all the mild insanity and forced insomnia that goes with it.
So what is it that keeps me going?
It’s knowing that people are enjoying the beer I make. Sure, I see the kegs being sold, I see the beer I make disappear. But, the downside of trying to be a primarily production brewery is that those direct 1-on-1 interactions with people who drink your beer are not a daily occurrence. You sometimes forget, while you’re sitting there filtering a beer at 9 at night, that there are people elsewhere enjoying a pint of your tasty concoction.
And that, my friends, is why I enjoy going to beer festivals.
Sure, most of the interactions are quick, and you have no more than 5 seconds to explain what beers you have (much less something descriptive about them), but for every 30 of those interactions, there’s always that one that lingers a little longer. The person who took a sip before they scurried off to the next booth, and the beer brought a smile to their face, or a look of “wow, that’s something different”. Sometimes you’ll even get them to stick around for a few minutes and chat about the beer.
This is what keeps me going at 11 at night when I’m cleaning a tank or filtering a beer.
And so, the festival season kicked off this year with the Strong Beer Festival down in Phoenix. We had a ton of people come by the booth, and had a blast serving up some delicious brews to everyone who came by. We rallied the next day for a beer festival at Boulders on Broadway, and that weekend kicked off our festival season for the year.
Both festivals did not fail to produce a hoard of beer lovers stopping by to taste the beer, offer their opinion, and gain some insight into the mad scientist lab at Wanderlust. We met a ton of new people, and had an incredibly good time at both festivals. I only wish that we could attend all of them around the state, but we would be easily spending 2-3 weekends every month between now and november if we hit all of them. And even though that would be a ton of fun….. somebody’s gotta brew some beer around here at some point.
Our next festival is actually going to be a little ways away, up in the lovely little town of Silverton, Colorado. You see, one of my favorite places to ski every winter is Silverton Mountain, and this winter I haven’t made it up there. Lucky for me, they have a little beer festival called the “Brewski” every year, and so I made sure to get on the list for it this year. It’ll probably be the smallest festival I go to, but then again, the festival is only part of the motivation for heading up there. This would be the other part of the motivation (hey, I get to be selfish every now and again, too!)
If you’re an expert skier and beer lover, mark your calendars for the weekend of April 7th, Silverton is going to be the place to be.
There are a few more festivals that we’re going to make it to this year, the next big one being the first annual SpringFest down in Tucson in April. I’m really excited to get down to Tucson and meet all the folks who haven’t had an opportunity to get any Wanderlust yet in that area. I haven’t finalized the lineup yet, but you can bet that we’re going to pull out something special for it, and I’ve got some ideas…..
Like I said, festivals are a great setting for meeting some people who are passionate about beer and about the beer that I make, but I’ve also been approached about a few smaller events, which are equally as fun (if not more) for getting to really geek out on beer. One of the first ones is coming up this Saturday at Hops on Birch. We’ve put together a 5-course dinner which is getting paired with 5 Wanderlust beers. It’s been a lot of fun putting together the menu and the beers for it, and I’m really excited. You are probably wondering what the 5 beers are, considering I usually only have 3 or 4 in the lineup (and don’t even have 5 taps in the taproom).
We’ve got the Chateau Americana, the 928 Local, a Dark Belgian Wit (Dunkelwit? Wit Bruin?), the Irish Stout, and the Pan American Stout. I don’t have all the details on the food yet, but from the back-and-forth I’ve had with the chef when we were tasting the beers, there were a lot of amazing ideas floating around. If you’re interested, drop by the taproom or Hops on Birch before saturday to reserve a spot at the dinner. It starts at 6:00, and is $40 for 5 courses with the 5 beers mentioned above.
I promise you’ll get some amazing beer, some amazing food, and hopefully you’ll come away learning a little something as well. I get a few minutes to stand up and talk about each of the beers and answer questions, and I assure you, you’ll at least come away with a little bit of extra knowledge.
Yet another occasion for me to enjoy the company of fellow beer lovers.
And like I said, that’s what it’s all about.