I’m on vacation this week and I broke my only rule on Tuesday: to not work. My plan was super simple, to just stay at home, read comics, and do a little housework here and there, completely unencumbered by any outstanding obligations. Hell, just the fact that I’m admitting this ought to tell you something about the amount of plates that I spin, and how I handle my time even while I’m on vacation, just out here hustling hard like the go-get-em hobbit that I am, supping on my second breakfast and hating on shoes, weather allowing. But I’ll make an exception to my no-leaving-the-house-only-get-loose staycation rules when it comes to getting the opportunity to brew with some new pals, which is exactly what I did at Holsopple.
I’ll make an exception to my no-leaving-the-house-only-get-loose staycation rules when it comes to getting the opportunity to brew with some new pals
It’s with great pride that I can write that I’ve found a way to turn my work into fun, which is kind of mission critical as a father with a boatload of responsibilities. As such, I’ve become friends with a lot of the brewers in town, and I think one of the coolest things I’ve learned is that maybe even more than the music community, a community that I am part of, that I love, and that I spend my free time documenting, the brewing scene is full of sweethearts. You would think that somewhere along the line you’re going to meet a jerk, but so far, so great! Meeting up with owner Sam Gambill and the mighty Michael Whitman was a treat, and the kind that has you leaving better than you came in. You never know with these things either, and despite meeting new people pretty much every day, I still walk in with a hint of anxiety haunting me.
First, I’d like to give a shout out to Gambill and Whitman for not only letting me crash their brew session, but in taking the time to inform me about all the little things I’ve never asked. I’ve toured a ton of breweries, but usually when someone explains their process, they put it in a way that kind of makes my brain fall to sleep. I’m not saying folks are boring at all either, just that they know their stuff and the nitty gritty is a little overwhelming to me. It’s a serious process that involves a number of steps that require a critical attention to detail; hearing someone walk through that routine is often just an overload, but one that I understand. Hell, I’m glad that they know what they know, because I get to reap the rewards later.
As a side note here, it absolutely blows my mind thinking about the scale of a standard micro-brewing system, not so much with what’s there now, but with the history that required to have the innovations that we all currently enjoy. It’s rad to think about someone putting together giant bright tanks for the first time, or assembling cooling systems for the wort.
Gambill and Whitman are treasures in their explanation of the process, breaking it down for this dummy in a way that made the lightbulb go off. I think I’m starting to understand what the various stages are, and what is required to move along. Not that I’m looking to move in on that business, but it’s just nice to feel like I may actually have developed a practical skill that could save me in a Mad Max scenario. Who doesn’t want/need beer, especially in a dystopian nightmare? You know, like every day we wake up now, but with less dune buggies and razor boomerangs, I guess.
“I may actually have developed a practical skill that could save me in a Mad Max scenario.”
For anyone in Lyndon, Holsopple feels like home. This is a neighborhood bar with no pretense and an easy air. You feel welcome by everyone there, and that’s more than just my experience with Gambill and Whitman, but with the staff too. There are games and screens and all sorts of things to get into there, whiling away your time while you sip on a fantastic brew selection. Seriously, they make solid beers, from their Holsopple IPA to their Bob’s Blessing Porter, which I helped a bit with Tuesday morning.
It was awesome getting to work. Gambill was cautious in what I did if only to protect me from hurting myself, but I still got to dig into a little manual labor, which I miss. As a guy that sits at a desk and writes things, it’s nice to hit work that has a tangible product at the end. Someone reading this will not like it, and they aren’t wrong, be that my tone, or some grammar situation that I missed along the way. That’s okay and part of the gig, but it’s just fantastic to have a task with an appreciable endpoint, especially one where you can only get better with age.
What struck me in speaking with Gambill, is the cost of this enterprise. To be clear, I’m not talking solely about the financial aspects of running a business, but the time and energy put in. You don’t do this to be rich, you do it because you love it, and at least from my exposure, there is a lot of love at Holsopple. Gambill wants to grow his business, so that he can take care of his people, and so that he can hopefully expand his operation to explore more varieties of brews. I see that reflected in our work here at Never Nervous, a labor of love that we all do as a community service more than anything, but one that we would like to monetize, if only to compensate our people in the best way possible. This ain’t the Huffington Post y’all, and we’re not trying to “pay” people in exposure, because Kroger doesn’t take that.
“You don’t do this to be rich, you do it because you love it, and at least from my exposure, there is a lot of love at Holsopple. Gambill wants to grow his business, so that he can take care of his people.”
I’ll end by admiring their beers, both what’s their and what’s on the way. They’re working on a Dunkel aged in bourbon barrel (maybe a whisky barrel), and a coffee stout that I was fortunate to sample; this one will knock your socks off. The Bob’s Blessing is a solid porter too, and smells heavenly when brewing. I walked away with two growlers, one of the aforementioned Holsopple IPA, a heady 7% brew with a beautiful haze to the body, and tropical notes, and the other, a wit beer. The wit beer clocked in around 4% with a light golden body and crisp bite, easy to drink, but light on the punch, making it the ultimate day drinking beer.
My thanks to Sam for the invite and the hospitality and to both for showing me the ropes and patiently walking me through all of my questions, while I waxed poetic about the world. Like all good things, we were just trying to figure it out, and while you never really do, hopefully you leave a little better having tried. I know I did.
*Editor’s note: I am the worst at taking pictures, so what you see is what you get. Deal with it.