The more bottles and cans I add, the harder it is to hit numbers that allow for a better description (such as 1000 bottles or 500 breweries). In my latest cataloging session I hit two of these within a few beers!
The collection has grown to staggering proportions. I have gone far past filling the shelves in my office to a point where I literally sit surrounded by cases of empty bottles and cans. I’m either going to have to suck it up and pay for off site storage somewhere, or find a brewery somewhere that needs a display idea (and a ton of room).
Here is where the collection stats stand at the moment.
Sometimes it’s a challenge to remember that I started this blog to talk about the bottle and can collection. Every time I travel, I try to hit up new breweries. But, I also try to bring back as many bottles and cans as I can in the process. Another challenge I tend to face is the cost of specialty beer. I often want that really interesting bomber or the specially packaged version of whatever, and just can’t justify paying tons of money for it when I could easily add 6, 12, or even 24 other beers (depending on the price of the cool thing) for the same price.
I was visiting friends in Maryland on my last trip and they were nice enough to go out of their way to take me to a cool bottle shop called State Line Liquors on the border of Maryland and Delaware.
I really, really hesitantly looked at the price on the tin, expecting a big disappointment. Turns out the whole kit was 20 bucks. For what I was included and how well it will look on my shelves, I simply wasn’t able to pass it up. Score another one for the bottle and can collection! Sometimes you just get lucky.
The 360 camera I use looks more like a Wii remote than a camera. But, it’s ideal for what I do because it’s small enough to fit quite snugly in a hard case made for a pair of glasses.
I can travel with it just about anywhere. The problem is that when I shoot video with it, I have to hold it over my head or I become half of the 360 shot. Picture me meandering through a brewery with this thing held super high over my head and you’ll know why every video has at least one person staring at me blankly and/or asking me what the hell that thing is. It’s a bit embarrassing to be honest. But, it’s worth it to get something I don’t think a lot of other people are focusing on (at least for breweries).
As I’ve mentioned before, one of the biggest challenges I have is getting someone from the breweries I visit to take some of their time out for me. This isn’t just a matter of finding someone who will sit with me at the bar for 15 minutes and chat or even take me on a tour of the brewery. The most common problem I come across is getting them to be interested in what the blog and (especially) the 360 camera can do for them. I usually ask that a brewery share my blog post about them on their social media. Believe it or not, I only get them to actually do it maybe 10% of the time.
However, when I went to Bube’s Brewery (yup… that’s pronounced boobies) things worked out extremely well. They saw what I was doing and decided that they would like to take me on the grand tour. I’ve had interviews before, but this was above and beyond. They immediately saw that they could leverage what I was doing to benefit us both. I went to their website today and noticed that they have a link to the 360 tour right on the front page of their website. Once again, Bube’s goes far beyond anyone else in using the 360 potential. Thanks so much to you guys. You’re the best.
For the rest of the breweries out there. Please, take advantage of the 360 videos and pictures that I post. They are there to be used. And, so long as they are linked to my stuff, I benefit just as much as you. Is there not a 360 tour or picture of your brewery? Let me know. I’ll help you out if I can get to your brewery.
OK younglings. We’re on to my last stop for the Phoenix trip. For my last day of the conference I chose to go to the brewery that was closest to my hotel (walking distance even) because that’s always when I’m pretty shot and don’t feel like going on much of an adventure. I got in touch with the Phoenix cadre and had those that could make it show up at Mother Bunch Brewing for dinner and drinks. As I walked up to the brewery, I was not really struck with an overload of impressions one way or the other.
Once inside, it was much of the same. Apart from the mural featuring a nun, Mother Bunch looks pretty much like a lot of other brew pubs.
I know full well that there is a great story behind this brewery. There always is. You just need to find it. One of the most difficult things for me, as a blogger who is always on travel, is to get access to the right people at breweries to have meaningful conversations. I could call in advance and try to set up interviews. But, I rarely know exactly when I’ll be able to get to a brewery (If, in fact, I can really know if I’ll make it to that brewery at all). So much of my trips is random adventure seeking on the side as far as brewery visits go. My paying job always comes first. Every once in a while, I catch a break and the adventure finds me. At The Perch Brewery I had a great conversation with a local, regular customer who ended up introducing me to the right person to get me the interview with their head brewer. At Mother Bunch, my big break came through an avenue I’ve not experienced before. As I was walking around the brewery taking pictures, a group of people from the conference recognized me and asked just what the hell I was doing. Once I explained the blog to them (and gave them some coasters), one of them indicated that the unassuming looking woman sitting at the bar happened to be the one of the owners/brewers (Julie Meeker). He then introduced me to her and she agreed to an interview. As I expected, there is a lot more to this brewery than you see on the surface. Check out the interview to hear the full story.
Here are some better pictures of the da Vinci like mural depicting the brewing process. I was not able to get a great picture of it, but if you stand just the right way, the sight lines from the “grain to glass” on the wall closest to the camera should match up with the sight lines on the pint at the far end of the hall.
I also found out (if you can believe it) more interesting information from Julie. The name Mother Bunch comes from the character of an alewife and storyteller in early chapbooks. Also, the mural with a nun features Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century nun who was the first person to document the use of hops in beer in Germany. Mother Bunch is definitely about celebrating the role of women in brewing history and in the present craft beer community. I couldn’t agree more.
So, my last-night-of-travel-fatigue-laid-back brewery visit turned out to be one of the one of the more adventure packed stops on the trip. I’m glad I was up for it. I had a great meal with the Phoenix cadre, got a growler of Mother Bunch – Kiss my Kottbusser for the collection, and then walked back to the hotel to crash.
I know what ugli fruit is, but yuzu was certainly new. The beer was refreshing, the games were fun, and the company couldn’t have been better. Great day.
On the way home I picked up the new Sierra Nevada Beer Camp 12 pack. On Sunday I had some friends over for a Corgi party.
We tapped into the Beer Camp 12 pack and guess what we found?
Yup. A beer brewed with Yuzu. I laughed, enjoyed the beer and watched the corgis play for a while. It was a good day.
Then, on Friday, I hit the company bar (yes, my company has a bar, and I have the best employers in the world). Someone had freshly stocked it with a mixed 12 pack of Sam Adams. Guess what I see right up in the front of the refrigerator?
I’ve seen trends start quickly in the alcohol industry (hard root beer, sour beers, etc.). But, this is ridiculous. To come across three beers in one week that have yuzu… somebody had a meeting somewhere to which I was, obviously, not invited. Why the sudden fascination with yuzu? Was there a brewers party somewhere that it was served? I really want to know.
I often come to expect what a brewery will look like based on what I know about it. My friends in Phoenix wanted to meet up at Goldwater Brewing Co. in downtown Scottsdale and then go somewhere for dinner. There are some key phrases there that create expectations in my mind. First, it’s a downtown brewery (downtown real estate tends to be pricey). Second, it does not have food. These lead me to believe that Goldwater was going to be a pretty small brewery. As I pulled up in front of the brewery, these expectation were met with a small storefront space and a small (although really cool) tap room.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying in any way shape or form that a small taproom is a bad thing. I actually really like the quiet and intimate environment that a small taproom provides. I was perfectly happy to meet my friends in this great taproom that had a large and interesting variety of beers. I got myself a pint of the Desert Rose cactus ale and some spicy jalapeño popcorn and then talked to the bartenders about Goldwater Brewing while I waited for my friends to show up. The Desert Rose cactus ale description on the menu said that the beer was “20 years in the making” and I had to find out just what that meant. Turns out it was the very first beer that one of the founding brewers made as a home brewer 20 years ago and he had been brewing it ever since.
Eventually, some of my friends arrived and the first thing they asked was “did you see the rest of the place yet”? I shot the bartender a hurt look that intended to say “why didn’t you tell me there was a rest-of-the-place?” and said to my friends “what rest of the place?” Turns out Goldwater Brewing has three levels and two taprooms! Let’s take a walk through to see just how big this place is.
I had been hanging out in the main tap room. Now, we picked up and moved to the second tap room called the Goldmine Basement Tap Room where you can get specialty and barrel aged beers.
The basement taproom is really interesting as it was once a shooting range. There are concrete tubes down there where people would practice shooting. Goldwater was even nice enough to leave a target hanging in one of the tubes.
Now, Goldwater uses these tubes to hold taproom equipment that just happens to fit really well.
The cool factor of Goldwater Brewing definitely shot up about 1000% at this point. And it was pretty high to begin with.
Quick side note. I learned something on this trip. Know what you’ll find in every pretty much every building in Arizona? A water cooler.
I’ve been told that it is illegal to refuse anyone water in the state of Arizona, although I was not able to verify that. But, you will definitely see water coolers everywhere.
But I digress. I had a great evening hanging out with a group of my Arizona buddies and walked away with a crowler of Goldwater Brewing 2 Year Anniversary Barley Wine. This visit was definitely a win.
Sometime you just get lucky. I don’t want to say where I purchased this beer as a single because I don’t want to get anyone in trouble. I was going through a local store picking out singles that I don’t have yet for the collection. Let’s not forget that the whole point of what I’m doing here is about the bottle and can collection after all. I came across a UFO Sample Batch Fall Seasonal and stuck it in the cart with the rest of the singles, not really giving it much thought.
Once I got it home and started logging in all my new beers, I looked more closely at the label and saw that this particular little little doohickey was not supposed to be sold.
I tried looking it up on line and I don’t see any information on it yet. I suppose it’s possible that this just happens to come in the latest UFO sampler pack. But I don’t think so. Does anyone have any information on this beer?