It’s been a wild month of travel for GBH. And for the few days we were in our headquarters of Chicago, we managed to get even more exciting things accomplished. Here’s an update, and a checklist for some rad content coming up as soon as we dig out of this travel-induced-coma we put ourselves in.
We put on an Uppers & Downers beer + coffee blending class with Solemn Oath Brewery, Intelligentsia Coffee, and our good friends at Johnson Public House, a multi-roaster cafe and producer of Kin Kin coffee out on the isthmus. We also welcomed special guest, Like Minds Beer, who made a coffee Oatmeal stout with Intelligentsia to kick things off.
We wrapped up our New Belgium Slow Ride Sessions with a party at Kaiser Tiger, welcoming all our creative partners and our fundraising partner, The ReBuilding Exchange. We raffled off some great stuff, looked back over an incredible series of events, and even gave away a custom Good Beer Hunting x New Belgium Brewing wheel-popper from Heritage Bicycles. Look at that smile.
We dropped into Missouri with the Goose Island creative team to seek out McGinnis Wood Products, producers of bourbon and wine barrels, to document the barrel-making process. As part of an ongoing storytelling project, a half-dozen of us are shooting stills, video, and droning the Ozarks where 100-year white oaks are selectively harvested for the highest-quality barrel staves in the world. More on that later this year as the project takes shape.
We spent a few days in Vermont between Burlington and “The Kingdom” with Hotel Vermont’s “beer concierge” Matt Canning. We drove, biked, and hiked around the region visiting Matt’s favorite breweries (as many as we could, anyways) and recorded a doozy of a podcast. We’re working on that!
Our first stop was Hill Farmstead on their day off, where we joined Shaun Hill and his small crew peeling hundreds of mangos and drinking late-morning pilsners. At least, that’s as close to a day off as you get if you’re Hill Farmstead.
Solemn Oath’s “Oath Day” celebration, which is part anniversary party, part fuck-all, was a big-time hit again. We spent the day shooting, drinking, and playing Mortal Kombat with the best and the worst of them. They sold mixed cases of bombers and ran out in the first hour, prompting a spontaneous buy-back from their distributor to supply the crowds. In the words of founder John Barley: “what bomber fatigue?"
We held a portfolio tasting and live podcast interview with Sublime Import’s Austin Clar out of Texas. Importers of Spanish and Israeli beers and ciders, GBH fans had a chance to taste some truly unique offerings from Mateo, Malka, La Socarrada, and many more. Watch for the podcast in the next couple weeks.
Off to Oregon to tour cider country. We started in Salem on the E.Z. Orchard farm with Kevin Zielinski as we work to bring his story to life on a new website. In the family since the Oregon Trail days, this orchard produces some of the finest apples and ciders in the country. Then we hit the road with Jeff Alworth, a new Northwestern writer for GBH. We hit up Oregon's high desert for Rack & Cloth, over to the newly planted fields of Bull Run Cider, and finally back into the city for Reverend Nat’s. Jeff will have some great stories coming this summer.
Georgia’s beer scene is taking off and fighting for its rights through a myriad of complex legislative efforts. In the meantime, we decided to focus on what’s succeeding within the current constraints through the words of Atlanta’s Austin L. Ray, GBH’s new Southeast storyteller. We started in Athens at Creature Comforts, and worked our way back, visiting a dozen or so bars, breweries, and even a new brewing farm concept. Austin’s got some exciting work to do, and a newsletter to update, but I bet he's still just porch drinking and shooting me emails about typos.
We hosted a IIPA release and record listening party at the studio with Spiteful Brewing and sewingneedle (the two share a common member in Calvin Fredrickson). GBH’s resident illustrator created the artwork for the vinyl and cassette release, and his mural version of the contorted snake-worm-thing is hanging in the studio until further notice. Seriously, we’d fight him for it.
Northern Michigan is finally habitable as summer crests over the 45 parallel, so we shot up to Traverse City, Elk Rapids, and Petoskey for some detouring. That led to some GBH fans around the country sharing their own #GBHdetours, and we’re happy to announce that @kasherwood won us over with her shot of Strawberry Peak off Highway 183 — which just goes to show, it’s not always just about the beer. It’s about the journey.
Back in Chicago for minute, we managed to gather some buddies and record our first live show for Lumpen Radio, a new low-powered hyper-local radio station that’ll be raising their antennae (and ours) this summer. For now, you can catch up on their insane ambitions for a 24 hour live station online.
We landed in Mexico City for 24 hours and scoured the town for some Mescal, the artisanal cousin to tequila, fermented from the hearts of the maguey plant. We found a tiny joint called La Clandestina which featured a wall of the carboys filled with the stuff, including one that was distilled over a raw chicken de provence-like basket, infusing the vapors with Christmas-dinner aromatics. This stuff was wild.
And finally, we closed out the month with a presentation in San Jose, Costa Rica at the IV Festival Cerveza Artesenal alongside 5 Rabbit co-founder, Andres Araya. In a room stuffed with aspiring hombrewers and nanobrewers looking for inspiration and know-how, we discussed starting up, meeting operational challenges, and finding your voice as a brewer. Then we finished the week with some incredible brewers and chefs, most notably Rancho Humo, Os Brewing, and Calle Cimarrona, who are all proving that even with limited access to equipment, ingredients, and knowledge, these young brewers can find their own way to making some great beer in Costa Rica.
With a month like that behind us, an event called "Brewbound" seems painfully ironic. But this week, I’m speaking at Brewbound in Chicago alongside some of the people I admire most in this business, to discuss the power of storytelling for brands. There are many other talks and panels at this event. I hope to see you there.