Archive for October, 2014

What Kind Of Week Its Been

Posted in beer with tags , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2014 by cueball

Work Growler

It has been a week and I offer this bit of advice:  Don’t do what I did.  If you leave one job to take another, please take a week between jobs.  Try not to do both at the same time and give yourself a break.

Last week I started working at Craft Tasting Room and Growler Shop while I was working at Lowe’s.  That would not have been too bad if I was getting more than 4 hours of sleep per day.  I stuck around to help the store do inventory.  That meant being up at 5 a.m.  By the end of last week I was ragged out and exhausted.  I now have a true understanding of the effects of sleep deprivation.  After a couple of days off, lots of sleep, and home projects that required no real thinking this week was great.

First, it is just fun serving and talking about beer.  I finally get to use all the random beer knowledge stocked in my brain for good and not my own personal drinking.  Second, we have a good team. From Dan and Alyson down through the rest of the team, we are a solid team that gets along with each other.

I’ve made the right decision.  That isn’t in doubt for me, but I would be lying if I said on Friday when I drove over to Craft that the thought, “I quit my safe job at Lowe’s, what the hell am I doing?” didn’t float through my mind repeatedly.

Anyway, my favorite beers we have on tap right this moment are:  Lonerider Brewing Sweet Josie Brown Ale, Greenman Brewery IPA, Granite Falls Elephant Peanut Butter Ale, Howard Brewing Lake Fever Black IPA, and Blue Mountain Dark Hollow.  Come by soon if you want to try these because once the kegs are empty we bring something else on line, but you’ll end up liking those just as much.

Now that I am actually sleeping like a normal person and my life has settled down a little, I’ll be back to writing most if not every day.  I’m making progress on my Road To Cicerone German Styles studies.  I will hopefully wrap that up in the next month or so and then start on the British curriculum.

I’ll be heading over to Craft this afternoon, see you soon.

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Over 1000 Words (What!?) On Why I Took A Job At Craft Tasting Room

Posted in beer, life with tags , , , , , , on October 16, 2014 by cueball

“Well, I’ve been listening to my gut since I was 14 years old, and frankly speaking, I’ve come to the conclusion that my guts have shit for brains.” – Rob, High Fidelity

This is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot today.  Today, I gave my notice to Lowe’s Home Improvement in Shelby, NC so I can essentially go and become a bartender (It is more complicated than that and I will get into that later.).

I’ve been thinking about that quote because, since announcing this move, I’ve been getting some well-meaning advice and concerns from friends and family.  I think the reason for this is, for most people this seems like something that has come out of the blue and seems to be a lark.  A move that makes little to no sense because it seems to be a step down from what I am currently doing.  My past history probably contributes to that feeling.

While this particular job, bartending at Craft Tasting Room and Growler House in Charlotte, did arrive on my doorstep suddenly, the planning for a move like this has been ongoing for at least six months.  Actually, it started before that.

In the last year, I’ve applied for two jobs at Lowe’s and I got neither.  The first that I applied for, was for a job with the Lowe’s Foundation that had the same description as the job I held at Foundation For The Carolinas.  I would kind of be doing the same work I left 6 years before, which is a whole other set of issues that were thankfully avoided.  I didn’t even get a telephone interview.  I do not even know if I really wanted the job, but I knew I had the skills to do the job.

Not even getting an interview forced me to rethink many things.  I decided to stop and reevaluate what it was that I truly wanted (mostly I knew I didn’t want to stay at Lowe’s on the sales floor for much longer, but not much more) not just as a job but how I wanted to live. That sounds like a bunch of new age bullshit, but I felt myself falling into patterns that were dangerous for my mental and physical health. Let’s put it this way, I really like beer and bourbon.

So, I rededicated myself to my rudimentary study of Zen Buddhism and mindfulness training while actually taking the time and effort to think about my life from the ground up starting with the most basic question, “How do I want to live my life?” This was not some abstract philosophical question.  This was a day to day logistical question of what a normal day for me would entail in my perfect life scenario.  Once I had that I moved to the specifics of where would I live to have this life and what would be doing for work to have this life.

There were four places I would like to choose from to eventually settle permanently:  the Triangle, Charlotte, Asheville, or Denver, CO. Then I had to figure out what kind of job would I have to live this perfect life scenario.  To get to that I thought long and hard about what skills do I have and what are the things I like.  Then I tried to manufacture a way to combine those things.

If you’ve read anything I’ve written, you can probably guess the job/jobs that will provide me with this life scenario I created involve writing and beer.  Here is the problem, there was no direct line from the job that I have to the type of work that I want.  The last six months especially have been about doing what was possible working a full time job with shifting hours to train and prepare myself for getting the work I eventually want.  At some point I was going to have to make a choice and make short-term sacrifices to get to where I wanted to be.

So over the course of a week almost a year ago, I actually set out a path for myself with what I wanted my life to be like and how I planned to get there.

Oh yeah, I did apply for another job at Lowe’s.  This time I applied for an Assistant Store Manager’s position at a neighboring store.  I did get an interview, but I think I subconsciously tanked the interview and didn’t get the job.  I say I tanked the interview because as I left the interview I remember thinking, “Do I want to be a store manager,” because getting that job would have put me on that path.  The more I thought about it, the more no was clearly the answer.

At that point, I knew I wanted more than to be a department manager or an ASM for the next ten years.  Watching that life unfold in my mind’s eye was as chilling as any horror movie.

This isn’t to denigrate anyone who does those jobs.  There are some people who are built to manage in retail and they are great at it, and I’ve worked with some of those people.

Not long after that, I decided to become a Certified Cicerone (I’ve earned the Certified Beer Server designation) and dedicate myself to the study of beer.

So, while this may seem to be sudden and foolhardy move on my part, it has been something I’ve been preparing myself for, for almost a year.  This isn’t a move without risk and it is not risk taken lightly or with no forethought.  To get where I eventually want to be, I need to be in the craft beer industry full time and I need to have the time and ability to really study craft beer as a product and as an industry. I believe this job at Craft is the perfect opportunity for that and it is an opportunity that met the preparation I began almost a year ago.  This is not the end point of something, it is the beginning of it.

What does all this have to do with that line from High Fidelity? This move isn’t something silly I’ve thought up and just decided to do with no conception of the consequences.  This is the first time I’ve actually thought out the direction of my life and what I really want it to be and taking this job is the second step in getting that life. Up until now, with the exception of one decision (the conscious decision to move to Charlotte after a time in Greensboro), I’ve gone with my gut during every decision.

Taking the time to think out what I want, how to get it, and the consequences of attempting to get it this time has taught me, I was a lot like Rob.  I looked around at where I was and what I was doing and I realized my guts had shit for brains.  They put me a hundred miles from ever a semblance of the life I wanted.

No life goes exactly as people think it will.  I’m probably not going to have everything in that perfect scenario I have in my head, but in the attempt to get that, I think I will get close enough to have a life that I actually like.

Rules for Great American Beer Festival

Posted in beer with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2014 by cueball

My vacation this year has taken me to Denver, CO for my favorite event on Earth: Great American Beer Festival.  Here are a few rules I’ve developed from previous trips.

Rule #1

If you have tickets for the opening day, don’t try to get in the Convention Center right at 5:30. There will be a line.  A very long line.  It will seem endless, and it won’t be moving.  If you can, enjoy Denver, grab a bite to eat and walk around the downtown area, it is beautiful.  Then, once its 5:30 go to the line and start walking towards the entrance.  You will get in, in no time.  Trust me, I’ve learned this one the hard way.

Rule #2

Either get the GABF app for your phone or make sure you grab a program on the way in. They both will provide you with a floor map and brewery list.  It makes finding the breweries you want to try really easy.  The reason you will need a map and a brewery list is you need a plan.  There are around 600 breweries and 3000 beers at this shindig. You will not be able to visit every booth and taste every beer even if you go all three days.  Now, you don’t need to work this like the D-Day Invasion, but you do need to have some idea of where you want to start and what you want to taste.  Personally, I pick a style or two I want to try and then concentrate on then start at the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic sections.  Once I’ve spent time going through those sections I just go and find other beer to try in the styles I’m concentrating on for the night.

Rule #3

Do not wait in a long line for a taste.  Again there are 600 breweries and 3000 beers, in all likelihood if you go walk around and taste other beers the line will probably go do if it is something you really have to try.  Also, if it is a brewery that has a national distribution do not stand in line for that beer.  The only two exceptions to this rule are a special brew from a nationally distributed brewer or a brewery that has a lot of buzz and little national distribution at this point.  This year’s new brewery with ridiculous buzz is Asheville’s own Wicked Weed.  Well-deserved buzz by the way. I’m glad I’m NC local because I was not going to stand in that never ending line last night.  Long live #NCBEER.

Rule #4

Experiment.  You are in a place with almost 3000 beers. Try a style you’ve never had.  Try a style with experimental ingredients.  Try a brewery you’ve never heard of and try a couple of their beers.  If you see a booth with no one tasting a beer and one of the brewers or someone else who works at the brewery standing there looking bored, go up try a couple and talk to the pourer. You will learn so much about the beer and the brewery and you will find something new to drink.

Rule #5

Don’t taste big flavors early.  If you start the day with smoked beers, bourbon barrel aged beers, gose’s, or any other strong flavors you will spoil your taste buds for a bit.  Save those big flavors for your last tastings. You’ll enjoy them a lot more.

Finally, a bit of advice.  Use Google Maps to find food if you are not from Denver or like me have a friend who lives in Denver to go with you. My recommendation:  Sam’s No. 3 Diner.