Regular readers of this space know how big of a fan I am of Maine Beer Company. They make some of the best contemporary hoppy New England ales. I finally made it to the brewery last week for an American Homebrewers Association (AHA) Rally.
While I have always wanted to visit the brewery, ideally it would not have been on a Wednesday night. The last time I drove two hours each way in one night would have been when my buddies and I used to make the trip to Foxwoods. We were so broke we would occasionally pool our money just to have enough to gamble with. An over-priced hotel room down there was out of the question.
The reason I made the trip was that the Brewers Association Board of Directors were all going to be at the rally. This is where a real journalist would prepare and show up with well thought out questions to ask these craft beer luminaries. A schmuck with a blog would just show up and scratch his head wondering what to ask these people. Guess which one was me!
I didn’t even think to bring my copy of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing to have the author and Brewers Association founder Charlie Papazian sign it. It’s okay, I will probably never have the chance to meet him again.
My girlfriend decided not to come, so I didn’t know anybody there. As an introvert being in large groups, especially large groups of strangers is not my thing. I kept to myself for the most part. Maine Beer Company was pouring three beers: Lunch, Beer 2, and a special Imperial Stout they brewed for the event. We had two drink tickets. While it was hard not to have a pint of Lunch, I haven’t seen Beer 2 in Massachusetts, and the stout was a one-off. I thoroughly enjoyed both.The event was held inside the brewhouse and we essentially had free run of the place. I manged to trip climbing up the stairs leading to a catwalk. Luckily I had both hands on railings and managed not to face-plant.
The AHA had a lot of great raffle prizes. I was standing by myself while they were pulling the winning tickets when I felt somebody standing immediately to my right who wasn’t there before. When I looked over I was shocked to see Kim Jordan, CEO and co-founder of New Belgium Brewing was standing right next to me. I tried to smile and she immediately walked away. On a variety of levels I really hope I didn’t come across as a creep.
After blanking at the raffle, I made my way upstairs to the shop. It was too late to get a sample or a pint, but I did pick up four bottles and a sticker. With a two hour ride home ahead of me, I used the men’s room before leaving. I then proceeded to leave my commemorative glass in the restroom. I emailed the brewery and they said they would be able to ship it to me.
The ride home alone was a nice opportunity to recharge. When my exit came up I drove right by it and took a little bit of a longer route home.
The lesson I take from this experience is being prepared and having a plan. I usually pride myself on my preparedness. Even when planning a brew day planning and preparedness are crucial. I didn’t brew my Galaxy IPA with the correct yeast because I bought my ingredients at the last minute. I still haven’t bottled the Rounders Brown Ale which is supposed to be a fall beer.
In the coming weeks I should have more time to actually brew some beer.