A good friend, Owen Ogletree, is on the road with some beer dudes with four days of beer dinners across the southeast. We asked Owen to take you along for the ride. I’m posting it here because we haven’t completed the transformation of our website.
Beer Roadie Blog: By Owen Ogletree
Four beer dinners in four states in four days? Are these guys nuts? This basically sums up my thoughts on the day that Dustin Watts of Terrapin Beer Company in Athens, GA, and Chris Lennert from Left Hand Brewery in Longmont, CO, asked me to tag along as official press “beer roadie” on their monumental east coast collaborative beer dinner tour in celebration of their newest collaborative ale.
Three years ago, around midnight in some forgotten beer bar, Dustin and Chris cooked up the idea of an annual, collaborative Terrapin/Left Hand brew. This year’s “Midnight Project” brewing series beer, produced last summer at Terrapin’s facility in Athens, is called Depth Charge Espresso Milk Stout. An impressive black ale loaded with creamy, roasted, coffee aromas, Depth Charge serves as the focus and impetus of each of our beer dinners. Our epicurean beer adventures take place October 26-29, 2009 and happen in Atlanta, Durham (NC), Richmond (VA) and Philadelphia.
Day 1—October 26, Atlanta
Dustin, Chris, my “Beer Wench” wife and I begin by making our way from Athens to Atlanta for dinner number one at Taco Mac Lindbergh near downtown. Oh, the life of a beer roadie is not all glamour. Upon arriving at Taco Mac, our time before the dinner was spent placing promotional materials at tables, setting up a DVD of photos from the collaborative brewing process on the dining room televisions and arranging the raffle items.
The fun begins at Taco Mac as the excited crowd of beer lovers begins to arrive. With the noise level rising to the official decibel level of “rowdy” before the end of the reception courses and beers, Dustin and Chris realize quickly that this could be a challenging evening to carry on beer discussion and promotion. But our pair of brewery heroes carries on with superb bravado—rotating through the room between courses speaking to each interested beer lover willing to listen. Because of the personal interaction with our brewery personalities, each dinner attendee truly feels special during this entertaining and educational evening.
Taco Mac’s Chef Matt provides scrumptious food items during a beer tasting reception, four courses and dessert. Each culinary creation is paired with a Left Hand or Terrapin beer, with the chocolate/peanut butter dessert accompanying the rich, sweet Depth Charge. Overall, the evening proves a remarkable success.
Day 2—October 27, Durham
After an early morning of being a dutiful roadie helping load t-shirts, pint glasses and boxes of Terrapin and Left Hand stickers into our SUV, we enjoy a cup of espresso and take off up I-85 northward toward our next collaborative beer dinner to be held this evening at Tyler’s Restaurant & Taproom in Durham, North Carolina.
After fighting relentless, heavy rain on the interstate highway, we stop for lunch at our favorite beer spot in southern South Carolina. Our dear friend Josh Beeby, owner of Barley’s Pizzeria in Greenville, SC, welcomes our beer tour group with open arms, delicious craft beer samples and amazing pizza.
After a little over an hour with Josh, we pull ourselves out of Barley’s and resume our northbound trek toward Durham. The rain has not eased. After hours of torrential precipitation and long, painful delays through two major accidents on I-85 (one involving several HazMat teams), a drive that should have taken us a little over five hours turns into an almost ten hour, torturous crawl into Durham.
Just outside Durham, our two beer celebrities, over one hour late to the Durham dinner, begin to brainstorm ways to “make it up” to the crowd. They decide to burn through their entire stash of pint glasses and give everyone at the Tyler’s dinner a Terrapin glass and Left Hand bottle opener. Gifts and bribes sometimes can be useful.
Luckily, Jason Ingram from Left Hand decides at the last minute to fly to Durham for the dinner. Jason beats us to Tyler’s and “wears two hats” as he discusses both the Terrapin and Left Hand beers for the first and second courses. Good job, Jason! The dinner crowd erupts into thunderous applause when our rain-soaked and exhausted group of beer trekkers enters the room.
Our two beer celebs rise to the occasion as they address the crowd, apologize for our tardiness and quickly transition into a focus on the beers. The Tyler’s event features a reception nibble and Left Hand ale followed in turn by five exquisite courses. The two cornerstone personalities of Tyler’s, Tyler and Daniel, could not be more pleased with the outcome.
After the dinner we enjoy a few pints of craft beer with Tyler and Daniel, discuss plans for future events and reminiscence on the evening. One of the main duties of any good beer trip roadie is to keep your beer superstars from going over the edge and ending up in trouble, so around midnight I coax our group out of Tyler’s and to our hotel for a well deserved night’s sleep. We keep our fingers crossed for a dry “day three” of our beer adventure tomorrow. May the beer gods smile upon us…