OPENING NIGHT: Friday October 11, 2003. San Francisco, California!
In the beginning, there was a happy hour (well, several hours...into the wee hours...)
Chopped liver, potato latkes, Prison Whisky, and the opening night appearance of Genesis Ale and Messiah Bold in 12 ounce bottles for the first time over the bar at San Francisco's Hotel Utah Saloon ... and the Wandering HE'BREW Beer Tour in ON! Big thanks to Joanna, Will and the Utah posse, Laurence and Vic's 110 proof dynamic duets, and of course to all the local HE'BREW faithful who turned up to send me out of my garden of San Francisco eden in true Shmaltz style. Fortunately, no one ended up like Noah, drunk and naked in his tent after the flood (Genesis 9:21)! So now I'm off for 5 more weeks of communal celebrations, endless retail sales presentations, and blissful taste bud exaltations. I'll keep this journal rolling and look forward to enjoying many more days and nights of HE'BREW high jinks along the winding path from coast to coast.
Come out to join the Tour, taste the Chosen Beers, buy an official limited edition Wandering Beer Tour t-shirt and enjoy the festivities with the Shmaltz tribe. Hope to see you soon...L'Chaim!!
Rolling into Hollywood for a Three's Company style flop off Sunset with Blyth and Tara, the hostesses with the mostesses and the first of many not quite Zen style sleeping spots on the floors and couches of generous friends across the country (again, at least I didn't end up pulling a Jack Tripper and waking up in the tub...you'll be missed, JR!). No wall to wall carpets for Zen masters and no Regal Beagle down the street for me....just mile after mile of LA pavement, freeway, corner liquor stores and lots of delicious Jewish delis (thanks Nate 'n Al's and Art's for the business!)
And big thanks to Adam one of the beer guys at Whole Foods in Sherman Oaks for this absolutely beautiful pearl of beer industry wisdom: "Dude, it's excellent that you went into 6-packs. I mean the 22's were sweet but 6-packs, now that's party-time celebration style drinking with all your friends. 22's - that's some solitary late night lonely style drinking."
As one of the Southern reps noted, "True, true...well, both have their time and place..." For now, I am very very glad to have the 6-packs now (for so many reasons...700% growth!) and enjoying every minute of the party time celebration style as I make my way on the Tour.
Whole Foods and Bristol Farms have committed to bringing in the 6-packs - go get 'em - and please ask at your local Gelson's and Trader Joe's to do the same...they're considering it!! More spots on the distributor page...
Hey locals-grab 6-packs at Beverages and More and also ask the retailers listed on the distributor page to bring it in...we're looking for all the help we can get!
And some warm San Diego hospitality once again came from Melanie Rubin at the JCC and the rest of the staff and local art collectors and would be collectors who sampled HE'BREW at the J. Then over to City Deli for a casual beer tasting, World Series game and delicious cheese blintzes...with the smooth dark malt of Messsiah Bold...what a match! And big thanks to emeritus Shmaltz sales agent George and his wife Bette Marks for the cozy catch up session. Oren Patashnik came by and may get the award for Most B'nai Mitzvot including The Chosen Beers...he writes "Our three He'brew celebrations were for two Bar Mitzvahs -- Josh, October 1997; Jeremy, December 2002 -- and a Bat Mitzvah - Ariel, August 2000 - but no weddings/funerals"...too bad Shmaltz started in 1996 - could've had a Patashnik bris as well... Hey, will the gentleman who dropped by and bought a couple Tour shirts - Native American born, Jew by choice at age 11 - please email me so I have your info...an excellent story!
Heading out of town and out of California through literally black skies and glowing orange fires on all the mountains heading over the 10 through San Bernadino towards my first trip to Arizona with HE'BREW available in the state...
Phoenix, Mesa, and Tucson:
Anyone who says the Wild West of Arizona has been paved over and co-opted by strip malls and fast food joints hasn't had a run in with a certain AZ badass: the low hanging awning at Bruce and Dee's Little Guy Distributing compound in Mesa. I wish I could say that my cut open eyebrow came from a payback brawl with the drunken lederhosened Weinstephan reps from Munich ("this one's for the Beer Hall Putsch!") who were celebrating Octoberfest at Papago Brewing the night of my arrival; however, just a round of weissbier from the importer and a chance for me to spread around some tastes of The Chosen Beers to local brewer and homebrewer pros with the warm welcome to the Phoenix area by local beer lovers and the Papago family. Big Mucho Thanks to Ron for the futon and late night burrito and Meredsous (yes!) and especially to Bruce and Dee for all the help and hospitality.
A good night's sleep in the fully decked out 40 foot RV and 4 stitches later (cheers Mesa urgent care!) and we're off to Tucson to meet Andy "Little Guy South" for sampling at Plaza Liq's and then a fantastic showing at Bison Witches from the U of A grad students and young professionals. More Thanks to Aaron Pratt for the excellent turnout and all the post grad style drinking. Most importantly the biggest thanks must go to Tucson maven Rebecca Cohen for the sweet hook up for HE'BREW with a crash pad and all the local media: read Lorrie Cohen's article (linked on the Hype page), listen to Rabbi Sam Cohan's Too Jewish radio show segment, and keep an eye out for a couple more articles coming from the Phoenix daily and the Tucson Jewish paper. Thanks so much Rebecca!! If every stop on the Tour would go like AZ then Shmaltz Brewing should continue to be the fastest growing beer operation in the US (see our press release above).
Monday was 90 degrees in AZ, Wednesday afternoon in Colorado Springs was 80, and Thursday morning, I woke up in Denver on Jamie Hamill's generously donated floor space to a 30 degree freezing rain morning...welcome to Colorado. No better excuse to crank up the heat in Rocky Mountain HE'BREW Rep Sean Knoll's Intrepid and hit the Denver retailers... Thanks Sean for all the shlepping and all the support. Hey Denver and Boulder posse: Go grab Genesis Ale and Messiah Bold 6-packs from East Side Kosher Deli, Divino, Mondo Vino, Davidson's, Grapevine and Applejack and support the folks who promised to put us on the shelves at Arganaut, County Line, Heritage, CO Liq Mart, Morgan's, Bonnie Brae, and Chambers. Now from personal experience I can strongly suggest you eat at Zaidy's (grilled Turkey Rueben with slaw!), order a HE'BREW, and say "Hi" (and "Thanks") to Jason for me...
Only better option than door to door sales in sub freezing weather: HE'BREW Happy Hour with neighborhood friends and local industry celebrities at Roo Bar in Cherry Creek: Paragon Beverage Senior Management, Divino Wines (thanks for the donated Nor Cal Hagafen varietals), Indian Peaks Denver area allstar Andrew Eaton, and Publisher and Stand Up glitterati, the Denver Modern Drunkard Poster Man himself, Troy Baxley. Cannot but love a guy whose voice mail says "Leave me a message after the beep...and a shot, at the end of the bar." Get their mag and visit their website (www.moderndrunkardmagazine.com) to learn about such pressing topics as "The Drunks of War: The long and bloody history of boozing on the battlefield" and "Juicing On the Job"...hey, I'm on a Beer Tour...it's a professional obligation...
Hey Denver Mayor and Wynkoop Brewery owner, John Hickenlooper - the main complaint from everyone in town and now from me too is that you promised to lower the meter fees downtown from 25 cents for 10 minutes...just another broken promise from a politician!!?? Shouldn't we expect more from our elected Beer Officials?
2000 miles traveled already and now off to Vail for a day of sales with the pros at High Point Brewing...The Chosen Beer in Vail??!! Where's my full length sable fur when I need it...
Vail: 40 mph though a blizzard at 10,000 feet in the Rockies was all worth it simply for the meal offered up by Jeff from High Point Brewing. Vail may not be the HE'BREW promised land but this Hebrew damn well appreciates absolutely delicious chow and I would love to be back for another round of the good life rocky mountain style.
The perfect accompaniment to any full length mink, HE'BREW 6-packs are now at Avon, Beaver, Edwards, Riverwalk, South Forty, Alpine City, and West Vail Liquors.
My first big stretch of America was Phoenix to Denver (16 hours); 2nd big stretch Vail to Milwaukee (18 hours)...
Omaha turned out to be one of the highlight short stops with a very cool cobblestoned little warehouse downtown district and an excellent local magazine called Medium which may not survive the reality of the publishing grinder but who still dished up a refreshing plate of high quality local and national pieces without the usual fluff, sass and shwag celebrity sightings...bon apetite Medium!
Des Moines offered me a glimpse of democracy in action as an endless line of senior citizens delivered ballot boxes down a dark alley to a seemingly abandoned warehouse downtown...I first asked the cop directing traffic on the bitterly cold lonely corner if it was a memorial service...he set me straight.
Thought I'd frozen my ass off for my 2 hours in Madison, but looks like it will be worth it because Matt and Ms. Lee at Riley's are bringing in HE'BREW, as is Brian at Whole Foods.
Still hasn't been above freezing since Colorado Springs...
If you're going to do one thing as a wandering jew beer salesman in Milwaukee, it's gotta be kickit in a bowling alley...shlemiel, shlemazzel! Though the carpets leading to the basement may overwhelm the novice outsider with the unmistakable waft of soiled diapers, one of the best dive bars of the 40 Day and 40 Nights Tour was undeniably Landmark Lanes. Huge thanks to Amy Polacheck for the sweet hospitality and most honorable mention goes to a certain Polacheck ex-swimming champion for bear hugging me (I am still 6'1") in front of a room full of JCC locals with jaws dropped, ready to flee the madman before he turned on them! Randi Komisar must take full credit and my thanks for pulling the whole scene together. A parting thanks to Brad from New World Wines who mail ordered a case of the very earliest version of HE'BREW to celebrate the birth of his twin girls 6 years ago. Guaranteed that he brought the first case of The Chosen Beer into Wisconsin and after crossing half the country to hear him retell the story 6 years later, his brief aside made me proud and grateful. Buy HE'BREW at his beautiful wine and boutique beer shop. Thanks very much Brad.
And a first time in 7 years of selling beer: rugelah coffee, and a chat from a cold call - Marcia, you're the best (Emes Kosher Market and Catering)!!
Lots of new accounts in Milwaukee...go get'em at Downer Liquors, Sendik's on Downer, Otto's Glendale, Grape and Grain.
I think it got above freezing for a couple hours one day because the rain didn't feel like shards of glass as the wind blew it into my eyes...oh, the 85 degree days of Mesa AZ only 2 weeks before seem so long ago. If I were selling meat or collecting Old Style signs, I might think Chicago was my true promised land...both are literally everywhere in the Windy City. Alas, as I've said many times I'd rather be the only fish in the tiny pond of American Jewish beer companies so I simply go about my niche business, put on the Shmaltz song and dance for the Union Beverage sales force and get back in touch with some old retail friends at Sam's Wine, Treasure Island, Binny's, and Whole Foods...go grab up the new 6-packs now out in Chicago...perhaps a dose of comfort food while the recent tragedy of the National League Championships still hung like banners through the city with the ever present question floating around bars and bus stops: what if what if and damn I would NEVER have reached for the pop up yeah but it's human nature man...
Jonathan Goldstein and YLD lived up to Detroit's reputation for a big beer drinking posse of Jews; and the Press Box hosted the scene with vigor and tons of big screen tv's...Monday Night Footbal and HE'BREW creating new traditions. A surprise pop in from Shmuel Bowman, Livnot U'lehibanot evangelist emeritus, brought the blessing of old friends and his usual infectious smiles and energy. And another reunion with The Dee-Troit Kid aka The Family Jewels cemented her top spot in the ex-Roommate Hall of Fame.
Life's not all just one long beer party: work work work so locals can grab 6-packs up at Papa Joe's, Hiller's, Vinyards, Merchants, Whole Foods, and Mug and Jug. And Sylvia Rector in the Detroit Free Press Food Section scoops the local release...Thanks Sylvia!!
And check out those wild beer drinking U of M Jews out on a Tuesday night at the infamous Rick's in Ann Arbor to raise many thousands of dollars for tzedakah...a very impressive feat! Many thanks to Meredith and Samara of Michigan Hillel for bringing me in to join the festivities.
As the debate rages on over who has the best corned beef in Cleveland, the thrilling fact for me is that both Jack's and Corky and Lenny's have both styles of HE'BREW! I leave the judging to the locals and simply request that you all order The Chosen Beers to accompany your sacred and secular deli rituals.
Survived yet more semi-apocalyptic weather through the freezing ice and wind storm with 6 foot swells on Lake Erie outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (boy's entitled to an hour of vacation along the way...tried to smuggle a HE'BREW in for a promo shot with Jimi, Jim, Janice or Jerry...damn tight security...no free love for The Chosen Beer.)
But excellent hosting indeed was cooked up in short order by the Kent State Hillel - Michelle brought it all together and the Hillel staff and even some Akron folks made it a great impromptu stop along the way!
Though I really just wanted Pittsburgh to know that I still treasure my officially licensed Steelers jersey with number 88 on it (Chanukah 1979...screw the Cowboys!) and still regularly reference Jack Ham and Jack Lambert at cocktail parties, my 10 hours between the Three Rivers turned out to be one of my favorite stops along the 6800 miles. Neighborhoods with real character and characters winding between twisting hillsides and a rare feeling of urban renovation that makes the past current without tearing it down and replacing it with a mini-mall...kudos Pitt! Vicenie Distributing has to grab top honors as coolest storefront of my wholesalers…since 1933...that's a quick turn after Prohibition. Check out the next store neighbor (family-owned washing machine shop) and his pre-Thanksgiving beauty going straight into the new Turkey frier he just hooked up...man I wished I could've stuck around for some of that deep fried deliciousness...Sure better than the Hepatitis A green onions at ChiChi's that week...yet another plague luckily avoided.
A brief overnight over many fresh pints and some welcomed tasty grub with Brian Nevill, masterbrewer of Spanish Peaks Brewing at his fantastic new gig with Johnstown Brewing Company, pub and restaurant...check it out on your way through central PA...or if your visiting a beloved departed across the street in the giant cemetery on the hill.
Every beer geek in the US knows the mystique of the Brickskeller in DC, home of over 1000 beers from around the world. The scrapbook of industry folks always seems to include Michael Jackson and various celebrity brewers, beer writers, hop heads, Belgians...So it was a true honor to hit the basement cellars all at the invitation of Diana Coben and the George Washington University Hillel grad students who very respectfully organized themselves at long tables in un-beer-event like style for an abbreviated history lesson on Shmaltz Brewing. The next night, Jamie Herring hooked me up with the Sign of the Whale for a full blown JCC Jewish singles party. Read all about it in Washington Jewish Week.
Feeling a bit like Jonah bringing the curse of more crazy weather to the locals, I hightailed it outta DC during the great Tornado watch of November 2003 with ponds on the highways and 40 mph top speeds...luckily no whales in sight...
Only one thing to say about Pennsylvania on this segment: Road Kill. Attention Deer in rutting season: Stay away from long stretches of Pennsylvania highways...Save Yourselves!! Oh yeah and the Italian Market in Philly is sweet...visions of Rocky on his first morning out after the raw eggs and barely able to run up the library steps...3 weeks later in the ring with Apollo...classic! More to come at Monk's (see Coming Attractions)...
New York City:
Jews, education and nature perhaps fits the stereotype more than Jews and beer but the posse from the Teva fundraiser in NYC seem to mix it up with all of the above and a lot of friendly soul support... Thanks to Liz Whitkow for the invitation to participate in the evening! Lots more NYC to come!