I’m well aware that it’s been over a month (almost 2…oy vey) since I posted, but I have a good reason: I got a job. A real, paying, full-(and plenty of over-) time job. At a local brewery, on my birthday, no less (and then I officially started working right before AZ Beer Week, so that was a real good kick in the ass); so let’s just celebrate with a beer virtually and figure out how I’m planning on keeping this little blog afloat. Truthfully, I have no plan – but who does, nowadays? I’m just going to post when I can, even if it’s about something really random and uninteresting. This might be one of those posts, since I haven’t gotten around to finishing up the third and final part of my December-January road trip (again, oy). Recently – well, much earlier than recently actually, as I’ve been indulging in Pinterest since it started a few years back – I’ve found myself re-interested in Pinterest (re-pinterested? ha…) on both a professional and personal level. I mean, I’ve always used it on a personal level, like when I was planning my wedding (I know, cliche much?) or looking at awesome design inspiration for whenever I get enough money to actually decorate/paint/buy lots of first-world items for my house (aka: never, though I do own a house, thankyouverymuch), but I’ve never really looked at it from more than a visual lifestyle pinboard. Since starting my new job, however, I’ve been tasked with running the company Pinterest site, and it’s been really eye-opening.
For starters, running a Pinterest page for a company is made to seem like it’s sooo much more different than a personal page, when in reality, you just have to be more focused on what your ultimate goal is. Though I guess that makes the first difference being that you actually have to have a goal. You have fans and consumers that are interested in your physical product, now you have to get and keep them interested in your visual product as well, while keeping them entertained by giving them a glimpse of what you, as a company made up of multiple people with many different interests, want to represent…besides your product. For example, just pinning photos and articles about your brand/product is going to come off as a self-important, bland, and uninspired marketing ploy. Of course you want to make your Pinboard a visual representation of your company – that’s the whole point! But you want to do it so that your fans and consumers can relate to you on a personal level, while still maintaining a professional appearance. Pin those photos and articles of your brand, but create other boards that play host to photos your fans have taken (whether they’re of your company’s product or completely generic – a glass of beer is a glass of beer), create boards for fun sayings that relate to your product and will also ring true for your followers (ie: quotes about beer are endless – “Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy,” “Maybe it’s the beer talking, but I really love beer,” etc.), create a board just for books that are written on the same topic as your product (again, lots of beer books), or even create a board that has nothing to do with your company or product, but is interesting while remaining generic (photos of the state/city your company is located in – in my case, Arizona). At least follow your fans back – this is an interactive platform, repin and be repinned. You get the idea.
Anyway, I didn’t come here to write a novel on how to run a business on Pinterest, I came to jot down some cool people I’ve found on Pinterest since I’ve become more engaged in a professional beer sense. I’ve never really thought of using Pinterest as a place to share beer stuff – I’ve got Facebook, Twitter, this blog, Untappd, other people’s blogs, etc to engage in the culture of craft brews. But since I’ve been using Pinterest for so long and have now discovered a whole new side of it, I figured I might as well share it for all you non-believers out there (of which you are plenty, I know). I’m not trying to convert you over to this site in any sense, I’m just going to throw this out there as a resource for those of you who may already be on Pinterest (or on the fence about it), and who want to use it for beer-related things. Because let’s be honest, we all love beer, right? Why else would we bother going to another site if not for beer? Don’t answer that if you’ve got anything like “well, I read the news…” or “pictures of cats!”, those aren’t a lifestyle, they’re hobbies at best (and the news is just depressing). Craft beer is a lifestyle.
Ok, enough rambling, here’s a pretty good list I’ve come up with of breweries, beer writers/photographers, homebrewers, and beer people in general. I’m definitely missing a lot, as it’s a big place, so if you know of anyone that should be added, let me know and I’ll throw them on. Disclaimer: I realize that some of these pages are pretty empty or seem abandoned already, but I’m trying to be thorough. Also note that many of these pages will have other pins that are completely unrelated to craft beer (clothing, food, tech gadgets, etc), people have other interests, so that’s to be expected. (My pinterest)
Unofficial List of Craft Beer Pinterest Users
Four Peaks Brewing
Gravity 1020 @ Fort Collins Brewing
Pateros Creek Brewing
Brooklyn Brew Shop
Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro
Diamond Knot Brewing
Blue Mountain Brewing
Devil’s Canyon Brewing
Blue Point Brewing
Goose Island Brewing
Firestone Walker Brewing
B. Nektar Meadery
Lee Williams – Hoptopia (twitter)
Stevie Caldarola – Founder of Ladies of Craft Beer (twitter)
Homebrew Academy (twitter)
Laurie Delk – 100 Beers 30 Days (twitter)
Lisa Grimm – Weirdbeergirl.com (twitter)
Vanessa Smith Gimpel – FL homebrewer, potablesandedibles.com (twitter)
Amber Roth DeGrace (twitter)
Magen Peters – Girls’ Pint Out Founder, Indiana (twitter)
Girls’ Pint Out – Indiana based women’s beer education group (twitter)
Empty Growler (twitter)
Arts & Craft Beer (twitter)
Beer Soaked (twitter)
John Holzer – New Brew Thursday Founder (twitter)
New Texian Brewery – Start up home brewery (twitter)
James Swann – Whole Foods Chandler, AZ Beer Buyer (twitter)
Focus on The Beer (twitter)
Hops Diva (twitter)
Christian Lavender – HomeBrewing.com (twitter)
Northwest Beer Guide (twitter)
Andrew Bauman – AZ homebrewer, ASH member
Brew City Beer Buffs (twitter)
Megan Powell – Someone Left the Cake Out in The Rain blogger (twitter)
Evo Terra – AZ writer
Sarah Bernstein – writer, homebrewer for The Brewmates (twitter)
Phillipe Gagnon – CrftBeerCulture writer, CA (twitter)
Jason Miller – SC beer blogger (twitter)
Mutineer Mag (twitter)
Megan Stokes – Boston, MA
Sean Buchan – Beertographer, writer for Denver Off The Wagon (twitter)
Brian Mister – Bartender, Marketing in MD (twitter)
The Brew Bros (twitter)
Jay Zeis – A Beer in The Hand blogger, PA (twitter)
Sean McMahon – Brewery Outfitters (twitter)
Stan W – FL homebrewer (twitter)
Gary Tomlinson (twitter)
Kegworks – online retailer, Buffalo, NY (twitter)
Hophead Fred – Vegan Zombie Beer Club, AZ (twitter)
Matt Reed – Supervisor at Brewminer, TN (twitter)
Bryon Martin (twitter)
Matt Hughes – former brewer at Wynkoop, CO (twitter)
Shawn Massie – Foodrevu photographer/writer, CA (twitter)
The Beer Tool – Manly bottle openers (twitter)
Jacob Sanford – Homebrewer, blogger, GA (twitter)
David Brassfield – London blogger (twitter)
Peggy Gartin – San Diego TweetUp leader (twitter)
Dale Miskimins – Beer blogger, SD (twitter)
NW Micro Canning – Seattle Mobile Canning (twitter)
Bess Dougherty – Brewer, writer for Denver off The Wagon (twitter)
Pies and Pints – Handcrafted Pizza and Beer, WV (twitter)
Nick McCormac – blogger, SC (twitter)
Curt Potter – Brewery branding, NY (twitter)
Matt P – Homebrewer, CA (Twitter)
Brian Papineau (twitter)
John Fay (twitter)
James Barnes – BrewDC.com (twitter)
Tim Cochran – blogger, MO (twitter)
John Kleinchester – Beertography.com (twitter)
Beer Club – Canton, OH beer club (twitter)
Pat Strader – WV (twitter)
Justin T. Coons – beer reviewer, PA (twitter)
Felix Vom Endt – German beer blogger (twitter)
El Jardín Del Lúpulo – Spanish beer blog (twitter)
Gerard Walen – Road Trips For Beer (twitter)
Alan Shaw – The Beer Geek, writer, FL
Mom’s Malt Barley – Beer blogger, ME (twitter)
Brew Dudes – Homebrewer blog writers, Boston (twitter)
My Beer Buzz – Blog, PA (twitter)
Patrick Schroeder – AZ homebrewer (twitter)
Lisa Morrison – The Beer Goddess (twitter)
Marty Nachel – writer, brewer, founder of BeerExam.com (twitter)
Make Beer (Coopers) – homebrewing equipment (twitter)
Tim Cigelske – runner, beer enthusiast, WI (twitter)
Rob’s Supply – Homebrewing kits, Salem, CT
The J. Clyde – Hot Rock Tavern and Alehouse, Birmingham, AL (twitter)
Adam Nason – BeerPulse.com (twitter)
GK Skaggs – Importer/Distributor, Irvine, CA (twitter)
Sally Selwan – Chicago Beer Girl, IL (twitter)
Jeremy Labadie – The Beer Buddha, LA (twitter)
Brewing TV – Homebrewing culture on video (twitter)
Gene Lynch – Beer Geney blogger, NJ (twitter)
Clare Goggin – Craft beer culture blogger, Astoria, NY (twitter)
Ca Brasse! – Montreal based brewing news (twitter)
Jay Maslar – Head brewer at Blackheart Brewery, Binghamton, NY (twitter)
Kelly Podzemny – TX (twitter)
Lisa Zimmer – Digital and Consumer Outreach at Tenth and Blake (twitter)
If it wasn’t for social media, I might have missed out on this fantastic tour. A few weeks before my trip, I decided to plan a route based on two or three breweries. I went on Twitter and Facebook to ask others where they recommend that I should visit on my drive from the midwest to the southwest. Within seconds, multiple people had mentioned Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City. I created a map with Boulevard as one of the destinations, and found that it fit perfectly within my plans, so I responded that I was definitely interested and started looking up tour times for our second day on the road. I was immediately shut down, however, as all the tour times were booked full through the end of the year. As I returned to Twitter to relay my sadness at not being able to tour such a highly recommended brewery, I received a message from one of the brewers at Boulevard, Jeremy Danner, saying he might be able to help me out. A few emails later, and he had set up a personal tour with their Marketing Communications Manager, Julie Weeks, at 10am on December 28th. It was too good to be true! I am still marveling at the powers of social media and online communication, and continually am reminded of the things we can accomplish through this medium. And yes, I’m aware that this was only setting up a brewery tour, not saving the world, but it’s just further proof that getting in touch with people and asking questions can help to get you what you’re looking for.
So, on our second day, after making it to Kansas City around 9pm the night before, we rose bright and early for a delicious breakfast of beer at Boulevard Brewing Company. As normal tours don’t start until later, and the brewery itself isn’t open to the public before then, we were pretty much the only people on the premises, if you don’t count all the brewers, an administrator or two, a few people cleaning in preparation for the day, and the owner and president, John McDonald. It was surreal, to say the least, walking into this giant building – which had such a wonderfully warm yeast and light hoppy smell – that was so quiet I felt like I should whisper. I felt like the brewery was just waking up, when in reality it probably runs almost non-stop, and I was immediately at ease while I wandered around the main lobby looking at all the steel pipes and instruments through the windows. It was very peaceful.
When Julie came down to meet us, she had such a great smile and seemed really eager to give us a tour. She explained that while she doesn’t usually do tours anymore, being the Marketing Communications Manager, she still enjoyed meeting people on the rare occasion that she had time to introduce groups and individuals to the behind-the-scenes of the brewery and beer she is obviously very passionate about.
Our first stop was just inside the gift shop (which was still being prepped to open for the day), where Julie gave us the rich history of the building the brewery was housed in, as well as how and why the brewery the started. From the brewery page:
The Boulevard story begins in 1988, when founder John McDonald started construction of the brewery in a turn-of-the-century brick building on Kansas City’s historic Southwest Boulevard. A vintage Bavarian brewhouse was installed, and the first batches of beer were produced in the fall of 1989. That November, the first keg of Boulevard Pale Ale was delivered—in the back of John’s pickup truck—to a restaurant just a few blocks away. In 2006, a major expansion adjacent to the original brewery raised Boulevard’s brewing capacity to approximately 600,000 barrels per year—a sizable increase from the 6,000 barrels contemplated in John’s original business plan. The new brewing and packaging facility is a model of sustainable urban architecture and engineering; a three-story, 70,000 square foot building housing a new, state-of-the-art 150-barrel brewhouse, packaging lines, administrative offices, and hospitality rooms.
After seeing their impressive line-up of brews over the years, I was ready to try a few of them out. Unfortunately for me, we were just starting our tour, so the tasting would have to wait. Upon leaving the gift shop and public tasting room (used for finishing off the tours so people could drink and purchase memorabilia), we headed into the original underbelly of the beast. Where the first tanks were installed and where they now experiment with new flavors and allow the brewers to practice with different styles. There was a little bit of construction going on, so we had to hurry through, but here’s a picture of the starting tanks:
The next room was a first for me; even though I’ve been aware of the practice of barrel-aging, and enjoyed quite a few barrel-aged beers, I’ve never actually been inside of a barrel-aging room, much less up close and personal with the barrels. This gem of a place held rows of racks filled with large barrels from many different distilleries, including Templeton Rye barrels for their Rye on Rye (coming out in March), Jack Daniels, 7 Hill and others for their Smokestack series. Julie also mentioned that they were starting to explore sour beers and hoped to find a good combination of flavors before releasing anything to the public – so nothing on the line, yet. It smelled delicious just passing through – softly sweet and boozy, and the guys working with some of the barrels were very friendly and enthusiastic about their craft.
Heading out of the barrel-aging cellar, and reaching the end of the old part of the brewery, we headed to the new addition to witness the enormous new tanks, mash tuns, a second tasting room, and even the cooler where the hop pellets are kept. The picture below is of the new 600bbl tanks (well, the bottoms of them) in one of the fermentation facilities, which rise above the brewery and are supported by quite a few tons of reinforced concrete. Apparently, this room is so well fortified that it can be used as a shelter during tornadoes and earthquakes.
After wandering around such massive machinery, Julie took us to the second, newer tasting room, where all of their currently available brews were offered. Having never had the pleasure of partaking in a Boulevard beer, I was pretty enthusiastic about trying multiple styles without going overboard – as it was still only 10:30 in the morning and breakfast had been a bust (continental breakfasts, no further comment), not to mention we still had a few more things to see in the brewery. So I opted for their Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale (Smokestack Series), Single-Wide IPA, Unfiltered Wheat, Pale Ale, and Dark Truth Stout. I shared all of these with my mother, of course, but Julie let us each pick one we liked to take with us and sip on through the end of the tour. So of course I picked the one with 8% alcohol – the Tank 7.
The rest of the tour went fairly quickly, but Julie was super informative about every little detail, which I really appreciated as I was walking through, but now that I’m trying to remember everything, I’m thinking I should have just taped my experience. Regardless, the next few places we walked through were the tops of the tanks, the hops cooler, and finally the administrative side of the building where cubicles were set up around the second story of the atrium that houses the bottling facility. We even passed John McDonald as he was headed to give a tour.
Once we made it around the top of the building and saw all of the bottling line from above, we took an elevator down to the keg center. Watching these kegs move so monotonously and efficiently through the system, being cleaned out, sanitized, and filled back up with beer upside down before being flipped over (manually) and loaded onto pallets was pretty cool. It was another first for me, and I relished every second of it. It made me more excited to be a part of the craft beer community and helped to fuel my love for the brew as well as my thirst to learn the process.
Eventually, and sadly, the tour had to come to an end, but the hour I spent with Julie touring Boulevard Brewing Company was more enlightening that I could have imagined. She was wonderfully descriptive and informative and holds a palpable passion for her work with the brewery. I was very lucky to have been able to tour with her and can’t wait to visit for another go-round! Many, many thanks to Jeremy for helping me set up a tour as well as giving me some fantastic restaurant recommendations, Julie for taking the time to give me and my mom a tour and for being so awesome overall, and @mwagner8 for helping me get in touch with Jeremy and leading me to the best barbecue I’ve ever had in my life! For more pictures, click through the gallery.
And for the third day of my trip, you’ll have to wait, as my birthday is on the 19th and I’m going to be opening some beer I picked up on my trip, as well as a trade or two, so I’m not sure how type-proficient I’ll be. Cheers!
For Christmas, my husband and I decided that instead of staying home with the cat, we wanted to visit someone. My parents had no holiday plans, and I had to fly out there at some point before 2012 anyway because I was picking up a car, so we came to the conclusion that surprising them for Christmas was our best option. The only flight we could find into Milwaukee the day before Christmas Eve didn’t get us to my parent’s house until after 11pm, so I had to insist they stay up because a friend of mine was going to be stopping by with a package I sent. This was about a month before Christmas. Every day, my mom or dad would call and ask if they could go pick the package up themselves, what was being delivered, why so late? I had to come up with some creative answers, but by the day we had to fly out, nothing had been revealed. I texted them from our first stop in Houston to say that the package had arrived in Milwaukee and my friend was going to be picking it up in a few hours. I texted them again when we landed in Milwaukee saying that my friend was on his way to their house. When we pulled into the driveway, all the lights were on, so he walked up to the front door and rang the bell while my husband and I hid just out of sight. My mom answered the door while everyone else crowded around her. They all looked excited, but a little puzzled at the lack of a package, until Jon and I jumped out and surprised them. Shocked screams, smiles, then hugs and beers were made abundant – it was better than I could have expected. Until my teenage sister proclaimed that they thought the surprise was that I was pregnant…because apparently that’s the first thing you do after getting married only 6 months earlier. Regardless, we celebrated until the early hours of the morning with lots of New Glarus and Milwaukee Ale House brews, thanks to my dad’s efforts to drink better beer. The next three days were spent shopping, eating, and watching movies with the whole family – it was perfect.
Then my mom and I climbed in a car and drove for four days across the country.
The first day we headed out from Oshkosh, WI. Our first stop was New Glarus, because I had lived in Wisconsin for the majority of my life and had never been and since my comeuppance into craft beer, I felt it would be a sin of some sort if I didn’t stop now (and I really had no excuse). So a few hours later, after winding around through gorgeous, scenic country highways and two-lane gravel roads, we eventually reached the most adorable little Swiss Village ever. Ever. We ate at a restaurant called Glarner Stube, which means “The Living Room of New Glarus.” Aside from the food being absolutely delicious, the decor inside managed to be completely authentic without being kitschy. Even the locals who were dining there were authentic.
Finishing our meal with a nice tall glass of New Glarus Raspberry Tart, we headed off to the brewery. Because we still had to make it to Kansas City our first night, and that was another 8 hours away, we decided to forgo a tour and just buy the place out instead.
Walking into the gift shop, I immediately wanted one of everything, never mind that half of my cupboards are currently filled with beer glasses, I needed at least one – if not two – of every one in this shop. Unfortunately, due to limited trunk space, an annoying budget, and the fact that we hadn’t even left Wisconsin yet, all factored into my only purchasing a glass Thumbprint series stein, a tall gold-lipped weizen glass, and a pack of Spotted Cow tumblers. I also may have bought a Spotted Cow t-shirt, a fantastic rubber-coated speed opener, and at least one bottle of every beer they had available (Golden Ale, Moon Man, Fat Squirrel, Two Women, Road Slush, Black Top, IPA, Apple Ale, Belgian Red, and Raspberry Tart), not counting the 6-pack of Spotted Cow. Oh, and a wooden crate that says “New Glarus” on it so that I could hold everything. Yeah, I think that covers it…oh, I also picked up a big Thumbprint series sticker.
Then it was off to Kansas City for the night! 8 non-stop hours later…we found a hotel, with absolutely no late-night restaurants around. So we went to bed with no dinner, which worked well for my mom, who is never hungry anyway, but caused me to be completely ravenous when I woke up – luckily there was a crappy continental breakfast to pick through. But nothing could dampen my spirits, not even all the damp bagels and bruised apples, for the second day was the day I toured Boulevard Brewing Company! And that story deserves its own post, seeing as it’s a pretty big brewery and I had the amazing opportunity to tour the ENTIRE building at 10am alone with a wonderful woman who I will tell you all about in my next post. Until then, here are some more pictures from the Wisconsin portion of my trip:
I’m just going to leave a few pictures from my end-of-the-year road trip from Wisconsin to Arizona in preparation for my next post. So much to write! You should be able to tell where most of the photographs were taken, however if you aren’t sure, they’ll also be in the upcoming trip post, so hang tight – all will be revealed. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to taste as much beer or take as many pictures as I might have liked (I drove 97% of the way), and half of them are on my phone, so I’m thinking about another trip by the end of 2013 where I will try to relinquish the wheel to someone else. For the beer.
Last week Thursday was the final event of the year for AZ Girls’ Pint Out, and without any speculation, it turned out to be one of our best events yet. Set up as a Christmas beer and chocolate pairing at the ever-popular Chandler Whole Foods Watering Hole, we also partnered with Childhelp, a non-profit that provides therapeutic intervention for children who have been victims of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, and/or neglect, or exposed to severe trauma. Childhelp was in need of some items the therapists use in aiding the children in recovery and rehabilitation. We expected only about 20 ladies to show up, and only half that to bring items from the wish list, but what happened was a whole lot bigger.
RSVPs on our Facebook event page slowly climbed to 20 people throughout the week before the event was scheduled, with 8 maybes and many more non-replies. In situations like this, we’ve come to predict that anywhere from half to two-thirds of the RSVPers will show up, while understanding that the rest might have had something else arise and may not have been able to make it. We’re more than capable of working around these small numbers, so it’s never a problem. Thursday night, however, instead of fewer than 20 women waiting eagerly for a holiday pairing between two of the greatest edibles on earth, we had almost 45 women clambering for seats. Planning for 20 and having to quickly find space and resources for more than twice that is no easy feat. With limited space reserved, we ended up commandeering surrounding booths and tables from unsuspecting and confused customers while stealing more tables and chairs from other areas in the store. It was quite a production just to get everyone set up, and some women even apologized for not responding to the event invite and offered to leave, but we weren’t going to have that – everyone was welcome! We put together more chocolate samples, we handed out more freshly printed lists of what was being paired, and we poured more beer. The show would go on!
Once everyone was finally settled, and as we finished doling out the delectables to the last of the tables, Kristi Murphy, clinical director of Childhelp, gave more information about Childhelp and showed drawings of feelings that children in the program created in their sessions. She also thanked us for helping them out with their wish list by donating so many items they were in need of that their therapists would have had to buy with their own money otherwise. We were floored by the support of all the women who came and managed to fill a whole shopping cart with the amount of items they brought to donate. Many people purchased multiple items, which was very thoughtful and extremely helpful in fulfilling our goal. If this event was proof of anything, it was that even in this economy and even in hard times, people will come through and give what they can. That it was our last event of 2011 and was centered around holiday brews was only secondary to the amount of charity, caring, and giving that was going on that night.
Though the beer and chocolate ended up taking a back seat to the goodwill portion of our evening (and with good reason), it definitely did not disappoint. Six holiday ales and six different chocolates were distributed and talked about, with time in between for the women to discuss what they liked and didn’t like about each pairing. Unfortunately, as I was running around making sure everyone else had what they needed to participate in the pairings, I failed to save more than 2 beers and 2 chocolates for myself, so I’m unable to report on how they went over. I did manage to grab a list, though:
Criminally Bad Elf – Paired with Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn
So in the end, this final event was a huge success; with a fantastic turn out that included lots of new members as well as plenty of good friends, great holiday beer and delicious chocolate, all topped off with a wonderful amount of donations that we were able to give to Childhelp to aid them this season. Without all of the awesome support of the women in AZ Girls’ Pint Out (it’s free to be a member, ladies!), we would not be able to pull an event like this off, so thank you. Thank you for your continued support going into 2012, for your willingness to try new things with us, and we hope to see you at some of our upcoming events in the new year! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!