The Road to the NHC

The Road to the NHC

It all started when we woke up in a trailer court in Yuma, AZ wearing chaps and swimming trunks. We realized we had little more than week to get to Minnesota for the National Homebrewers Conference. We grabbed some clothes off a line full of drying laundry then stole a car (a 1974 Mustang II) for transportation. We made it to the valley and stopped off in Tempe to ditch the car and get a new one. While there we got thirsty.

We found Four Peaks Brewery a much welcome brewpub after our trip in from Yuma, we grabbed some beer to go. We found a motel that would rent by the hour. Kilt Lifter by Four Peaks was a fine scotch ale, but we had to drink it from dirty hotel glasses. Fortunately we found a camera left behind by a previous occupant so we could show you exactly what I mean. In the morning we stole a Honda Civic and were back on our way to the NHC.

On our way we decided to stop and look for meteorite fragments from the giant meteor explosion that occurred July 19, 1912 directly over the town of Holbrook. We found ourselves on "Bucket of Blood Street" then headed towards the Empty Pockets Saloon for a few afternoon cocktails. After the bar-fight we found ourselves in with the local hasidic jews over the recent Budweiser ad in Zymurgy we found ourselves in the station de policia. We escaped while the jailer was taking a siesta, after having not locked our cell (in his defense he was drunk). We quickly headed out of town.

We motored our way out of Arizona to New Mexico, and lessened our chances of deportation. We drove towards the smell of Marijuana and Peyote to Santa Fe, MN where we found hippies wandering all over the place. We found the tap room at Santa Fe Brewing.

After pick-pocketing a few tourists to come up with enough scratch for a couple sampler selections of their fine beers. We entered the tap room and drank some samples. Still a little thirsty and hungry, and a little paranoid from the Peyote we scanned the place for cops. 

No law enforcement, but we did spot another tourist had left 3/4 of a bottle of their Wild Ale #4 on the table as they left. We fought some jerks from Barstow, CA for it and won. It was a very tasty beer, as if it were made from grains cracked only on the thighs of virgins. We drank it down as we headed across the street.

The restaurant across the parking lot at Santa Fe that serves all their beer on tap. We had a couple of half-eaten cheeseburgers and an almost full glass of their IPA, which was fantastic - very fresh hop character. We quickly realized the people that left the food and beer on the table were only in the restroom, so we left in a hurry  - with their car keys.

We drove that new Cadillac as fast as we could push her up through the mountains to Fort Collins Brewery in Colorado. We collected a couple new identities and some spare cash as we checked the area out. Is it still identity theft when take a wallet and leave another wallet in its place?

Inside the Fort Collins Brewery's tap room we tried a little of everything. Looking out the window of the tap room we saw the police checking out our Cadillac, so again we were without a ride and everyone was on high alert. We decided to wait for things to cool off. We sat next to a crabby one-eyed mook guy at the bar and started to chat with him.

The guy was a fellow homebrewer. He said we needed to join a club, because joining a club and sharing homebrew with other club members helped him be a much better brewer. Then he started to yell, "If you brew in a vacuum and don't share your beer it's hard to improve. Beer, after all, should be a shared experience." He finally calmed down and told us how he started entering beers in competitions for anonymous feedback then got involved with the Beer Judge Certification Program, which helped him be able to identify flaws in beers, the source of those flaws, and the technical terms to describe beer flaws. We left before his head started to turn, he was starting to get crazy eyes.

We caught a ride hitch-hiking with an older couple driving a Winnebago. Well, just outside Fort Collins we saw Charlie Papazian and Paul Gatza fighting to the death over a spilled glass of mead. We did see the entire law enforcement community of the area show up to put an end to the madness. Had we been on our own the rest of the town was ripe for picking, but alas, we were in a Winnebago.

We talked the old couple with the Winnebago into stopping at the O'Dell Brewing Company.

Three samplers available at Odell. Fantastic! We ended up eating our first full meals since we left Yuma. We talked for a while about the old man who drove the Winnebago - he was a college professor from Stanford working on a grant to study the effects of Viagra on Antarctic Fruit Fly populations at the San Francisco Zoo. Dessert was ordered and we headed back out on the road.

We arrived at the New Belgium Brewery, when the phone rang, it was the couple asking if we were coming back to pick them up? I said my buddy fell while they were in the restroon, and his nose was bleeding pretty badly, so I had to take him to the ER. We'd be back in about :45 minutes. After our naps, we found a stack of DVD's to watch on the Winnebago's TV, and we settled down and watched Stephen King's Children of the Corn. Finally, we ditched the Winnebago in the parking lot!

We drank the night away here at the New Belgium Tap Room. Just before closing - we ran like hell.

We hide for a while, and those bastards at New Belgium must have called the cops on us. While they we in getting the bartender's story we made off with the cop's vehicle - does this count as public transportation?

We were very tired and only made it as far as Denver were we spent the night in a large Tuff Shed outside Home Depot. We woke up and decided to get some new duds again, so off to look for clothes lines. We found some great clothes, but I ended up wearing woman's panties for the rest of the trip (I feel pretty). So, we jumped back into our Police Cruiser and headed to the next state towards Minnesota.

Next stop Thunderhead Brewing in Kearny Nebraska. Special note that they brew a few beers with locally grown and malted corn. (no, the malted is not a typo). We spoke to the brewer who was born the third child to Estonian landowners in the late autumn. His parents were well-established traders of Barley grain who had established a monopolistic hold on the export markets of Latvia and southern Finland. They forgot and left him behind on a camping trip to China. He was discovered in a bog in Upper Mongolia after having been raised by a pack of wild rams. The wild rams had been nursing him the 9 months since his abandonment. When he was 9 years old he was expelled from an orphanage for urinating in the soup kettle, and sent to America where he discovered beer. He became the brewmaster at age 14, but he looks 17!

The Thunderhead Brewery at Night! We sold the cop car to some youths, who said they had a perfectly good use for a fully-loaded cop car.

While we had some down time to think about beers we came up with a list of our favorite beers of all-time;
  1. Milla Chill  - we're fighting Beer Advocate for giving it a D-
  2. DogfishHead 120 IPA  - needs more hops
  3. Cherry Dubble - hand crafted in Saint Paul Minnesota
  4. Surly Darkness  - We'd sell our souls for cans of Darkness
  5. Keystone Light  - bottled beer taste in a can... Mmmmmmmm
  6. Pabst Blue Ribbon  - PBR me ASAP
  7. Pliny The Elder  - this is a balanced IPA
  8. Pig's Eye Pilsner  - ARrrrrrrgh
  9. Red Dog  - a finely crafted beer from the Plank Road Brewery
  10. Old English  - most underrated beer ever

We grabbed some fresh wallets from the tourists, and the bikes shown in the picture and peddled out of town as fast as we could.

Not much to say about Iowa, except never watch Children of the Corn before driving through Iowa! The Blue Man! Yes, the Blue Man!

We were still hungry so we stopped to grab a taco at the Kum & Go... Kum and Go is a kick-ass convenience store next door to Taco Bell. Locals refer to it as the "Jizz and Jet" where they have two kinds of gas, some for my car and some for my ass! We watched a local fill his car, then go in to pay. So we continued our journey in the recently fueled Pontiac shown in the picture.

I made it to Bloomington, MN fine, but my driving partner had finally bled out from the bullet wound we woke up with in Yuma. After a couple nights at the Shakapee, MN Home Depot Tuff Shed I found a repo house, I exercised squatters rights to stay (adverse acquisition - look it up). Land of the world’s largest prairie chicken, birthplace of Spam, and home of the world’s oldest rock, I found a home in Minnesota, where summers are short, winters are long, and back-road wonders abound. I started a new business, so if you get bored during the conference check this out.