After winning the Beerdrinker of the Year competition back in February, the event host and organizer, Marty Jones, told me that he and some friends get together a couple of times each year for some beers. And after reading about my basement brewery & pub in my beer resume, he wanted the gang to visit my basement. He went on to tell me whom this group included.
When this group gets together, their plans are not random – and this day they had three stops scheduled. They started at our house at 10 am. It sounds early, but the atmosphere in our basement was electric. In addition to the gang, I also invited about a dozen of my friends over. So there were lots of introductions, many samples consumed of the four beers I had on tap, and cameras going off like crazy. We hung out and discussed all things beer while drinking a couple of our own. And it was great to get feedback from these experts on my homebrew. All the reviews of my beer were favorable, and people raved about the Pilsner. “The best Pilsner I’ve ever had,” was the comment of one in the group – whose name I’ll leave out. You can imagine how proud I felt hearing that, and it was just wonderful having all of these people enjoy the fruits of my labor.
It was a wonderful reunion for the beer gang, and a great meet & greet for my friends, Joycelyn and I. And a couple of us took the opportunity to have Charlie to sign our wort-stained homebrew books. Charlie did not hesitate to sign the “Complete Joy of Home Brewing” book that Chris Cross and I purchased in 1990 when we both started brewing up at Montana State. “Cody, relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew” he wrote! I’ve enclosed a good photo of Charlie doing the honors. I was somewhat surprised that the beer gang was taking more pictures than my friends and I. They were loving it too. (I’ve attached a great picture of Charlie, my wife Joycelyn, and I.)
At noon it was time for the gang to migrate to their second appointment. To my surprise they invited me to accompany them – an offer which I quickly accepted. The next stop was a private tour at the Golden City Brewery. Owner and brewers Charlie Sturdavant and Jeff Griffith gave us a private tour of their surprisingly large brewing facility in a garage-looking building behind their carriage house tasting room and beer garden. The 30 and 40 barrel Unitanks were imposing, and I was especially impressed by the old-school brick jacketed boiling kettle. Every corner of the machine shop was packed with brewing equipment, including their hot liquor tank and a horizontal lagering vessel elevated on steel I-beams high above the brewery entry. Just the way a snug craft brewery should be.
It was tough to leave the GCB, but we had an appointment at Coors. Through a connection in the group, we were privileged to have a private tour of Coors’ pilot brewery by one of the brewers there. (The pilot is now also serving as the AC Golden Brewery.) Coors’ Golden facility is the world’s single largest brewery, and it was fascinating to tour their pilot brewery – a scaled down setup that sits above and overlooks the main, massive Coors brew house. With that said, we all promised we would not provide any other information about this visit. (Though no classified information was provided to us.) So I will leave it at that.