Those evens always crack me up. Usually, when I see “An Evening With…” it conjures to mind visions of people sitting around a dark room trying hard not to doze off while someone is reading poetry or playing acoustic ballads. I’d rather watch Grey’s Anatomy than spend an “evening” with someone.
Well, Tuesday night did not fall into that category. Not when you combine a 3-year-old barleywine and one of the world’s biggest craft beer advocates. Barley’s Tap Room in Greenville hosted Greg Koch, the CEO and co-founder of Stone Brewing Co. along with three vintages of Stone’s Old Guardian Barleywine.
|Me, Greg Koch and Evan enthusiastically enjoying the Stone Old Guardian vertical tasting|
South Carolina is what one might call an “emerging” craft beer market. While awareness is growing, and more and more new beers are showing up in our stores, it’s evident we’re not all the way there when you have a conversation with someone that’s never heard of Great Divide, Stone or Victory.
Since we’re a bit behind the times, South Carolina isn’t a high priority on the beer circuit for many beerlebrities. It’s the same with music. We have to go to Asheville, Charlotte or Atlanta to see good bands. That’s why it was so cool to have Greg from Stone swing by Greenville on his way to the Brewvival Festival in Charleston on Saturday.
Greg is one of the foremost figures on the front lines of craft beer advocacy. He runs one of the most well-respected and cutting-edge breweries on the planet, is on the Board of Directors of the Brewer’s Association, was a key character in the Beer Wars documentary, and was the creative force behind the epical “I Am A Craft Brewer” video. (I feel like I’m introducing him as the commencement speaker for a college graduation ceremony.)
If you have not seen that video, watch it now. I’m not kidding. Do it. I’ll be here when you get back…
Contrary to Stone’s arrogant image**, Greg was anything but. He was inviting, fun and his passion for beer was prominently evident in the rousing speech he gave to kick off the Old Guardian vertical tasting. If you want to read more about the beer, check out my post on HopPress. It was delicious, and it’s amazing to see how the character of the beer changes over time. A rare treat, indeed.
** In the description for the Arrogant Bastard Ale, they boldly proclaim “you probably won’t like it.” Pure marketing genius. If you want someone to buy something, tell them they can’t have it.
If we’re going to continue putting South Carolina on the craft beer map, we need to get more people like Greg in here. It’s not that we don’t have knowledgeable and passionate people from our own state, but the more we can be involved in the national scene, the better.
Craft beer truly is a global community, and it’s about time we got plugged into it.