Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Camaraderie: fun, but hard to spell

Of all the places I visit and beers I drink on my tours, by far the best part is sharing those things with others.  When I drink a great Surly beer from my well-stocked fridge I enjoy it, but don't remember the experience later.  When I share a sample of Surly at the brewery with friends while listening to death metal blaring over the speakers, that memory will stay with me.  The combination of place, people and the social aspect of having a beer is the real reason I get so excited about this process.  As an anthropology major, I can tell you that the complexities of this social dynamic have been influential in the entire history of man and the agricultural revolution.

I saw so many places and tried too many beers to remember over the last week, but the things that stay with me are the people I met and spent time with.  Unfortunately I'm horrible with names and have left out some great people from this post...I loved hanging out with you, even if you are not mentioned here!  

I'm normally a fairly reserved and shy Norwegian Minnesotan, so going on this beer-mecca trip on my own was a little outside of my comfort zone, not knowing if I would have anyone to talk to or if I would be watching a lot of TV in my room.  However, the trip got off to the right start with meeting a couple of great guys on the plane from Wisconsin who were also headed that way.  By great luck I was able to meet up with them for breakfast before the flight home as well.  On the shuttle to the hotel I also re-met Mark, who I'd briefly met two years ago at NHC 2010.  I sat with a great couple (Tony and Kat,) at the Rock Bottom breakfast before the NHC kick-off toast and we shared brewing stories.  I'm hoping we can exchange some beers in the future!  I also had lunch randomly one day with Kiev, from Brew Your Own Magazine since we were both alone and didn't want to wait longer to be seated--thanks for the pint man!

One of my favorite people from the trip was a bloke named Paul who flew all the way from England to immerse himself in American beer culture, (though he gets most of his exposure through the Brewing Network so he probably thinks we belch and swear more than most of us really do...)  I ran into him on an early tour and ended up hanging out with him much of the trip due to his great sense of humor and attitude.  Oh, and I learned that "growler" has a far different meaning in the UK!  I'm guessing our new local publication of that same name would have a significantly different draw over there.

I have to mention the Primary Fermenters club out of St. Paul!  I've been friends with several of these folks for years, but this was a great way to spend some time with them and get to know other members I hadn't previously met.  They made me feel welcome and made sure I got my quota of partying in rather than escaping up to bed.  One day before Pro-Brewer Night we all went to an insanely crowded and authentic dim sum place and all ate way too many dumplings and sticky buns, and that dinner is a high point of my trip. Thanks guys!

To cap all this off, it was still nice to come home and be near my good friends in Minnesota.  On Monday night I was able to stop by Chris' house and sit on the deck drinking a great Gratzer beer while discussing the local beer scene and finally relaxing after my tiring trip.  It is good to be home.

So to all those who befriended me or improved my trip to Seattle, thanks and I'll buy you a round some time!


Tap said...

i'm so happy we could share the NHC 2012 with you! and i'm especially glad we're bad influences on you and make you party like a rock star! :)

Paul Mills said...

Glad to be a favorite!
Thanks to you and all of the primary guys for being so welcoming.
Everyone was so friendly. Awesome time and the wife says I can come back next year.

Eric Wentling said...

I think I'll be going back too if timing works out right.