Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dogfish Head Hootenanny recap, and a few reflections.

My friend John Freyer, the Chicagoland-based regional representative of the innovative Dogfish Head craft brewery, was in town last night for a hootenanny, which is a fun way of describing a vertical Dogfish Head ale tasting jazzed up with a chilled buffet of Thanksgiving-style “leftovers” and accompanied by a bit of education and an evening’s conviviality.

Not only is John a craft beer business veteran and someone who’s been through all the madness that we’ll be experiencing when NABC’s downtown production brewery opens (bankers, if you’re reading and have cash to lend, call me immediately), but he’s also a diehard baseball fan who has co-authored books on our favorite game. After the hootenanny, we chewed the fat at the bar and vowed to collaborate someday on a baseball & beer companion. It was a blast, and it reminded me of how very much I love what I do. I'm the carnival barker, and I get to drink beer while I work.

I’m fortunate to make a living from my lifelong hobby of drinking beer, preferably in my natural habitat, the pub. Yes, it’s a business, and we need to make a profit to survive. But, at the end of the day, intangibles matter more to me. Being in a position to bring people like John to New Albany, and to have people come from miles around to sample beers and share knowledge, is what keeps me coming back for more, and helps me to tolerate the throbbing in my knees this a.m.

Of course, there’s a valid point to be made with respect to my attention to detail when it comes to money, in the sense that if I ran a tighter ship both personally and professionally, there’d be more lucre left over for the Curmudgeons. But my wife gets it, and truthfully, it simply doesn’t bother me, because I’d rather be good at what I do, and what I do is teaching and memory creation. Legacies don’t have to be built on wealth, even when they’re accruing from a for-profit business.

None of us will be taking any of it with us. C'est la vie.

Meaningful legacies in my line of work are about doing what you can, while you can, as best you can, and creating memories that are impervious to calculations of interest and percentages. If twenty years from now, someone smiles because they recall good times at the pub, then that’s the best return of all on our investment. In all honesty, I can’t say that I give a damn about the money beyond what it takes to survive. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes … well, you know the rest of the Jagger/Richards axiom, don’t you?


NABC’s annual celebration of winter seasonal and holiday draft from America and the world begins on December 12. It’s my favorite festival of all the ones we stage and attend every year, primarily because so many people I haven’t seen in a while come back for the holidays, and these beers provide the festive accompaniment to the joys of reconnecting with old pals, sharing the war stories, and remembering the ones who no longer are with us. It was a bad year in the sense of losses, and I’m carrying a grudge against the Grim Reaper, but tomorrow’s another day, and the forthcoming year another year. You do your best, and keep fighting.

Here are the links to Saturnalia information posted here previously. Note that since the descriptions were written, I've updated the one for NABC Naughty Claus to reflect Jesse's submission of this year's formulation.

American micro draft lineup, descriptions, links for Saturnalia Winter Solstice MMVIII (begins December 12).

Imported draft lineup, descriptions, links for Saturnalia Winter Solstice MMVIII (begins December 12).

Saturnalia explained: Festive draft beers for the winter solstice, coming December 12.

Roger's believe-it-or-not: Saturnalia's planned and ready, a full month ahead of opening night.

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