I didn’t start out planning to do a Southeastern United States craft beer tour.
It just happened to turn out that way.
I’ve become a bit disillusioned by craft beer in the two and a half years since I moved to Chicago.
From hoarding to overnight lines for new releases to subpar beer pushed out as aging liquid and everything in between, the craft beer world doesn’t represent the community spirit that I have come to know in places like Oregon, Montana and Alaska. Small breweries bent on craft and who cater to their immediate audience are what represent the trueness of the profession or art form to me.
Gabrielle and I approached the breakfast buffet at the Comfort Inn in Columbia, South Carolina, trepidatiously.
That is to say we’ve been there before.
That moment when you walk into the foyer of whatever cheap hotel occupies every single exit from here to Modesto, and you discover that it looks like it’s been pillaged by Viking raiders.
The tables were covered in the viscera of yogurts and bananas, whose skeletons and skins bulged in a heap atop the trash can like a pile of bodies ready for the pyre.
Sloppy paper notes indicated the orange juice, waffles and sausages were gone. Forever.
So we made up toast with jam, salvaged the rest of the Fruit Loops and drank apple-juice colored water and headed to the pool, where I taught her my secret skills of playing the mouth trumpet in an echoe-y room.
“You’re really good at that dad,” she said.
“I know,” I replied. “I want you to put that on my grave stone.”
She just looked sideways at me and continued to swim.
I started writing this from the Chili’s across from the Comfort Inn we’re staying at in Dentsville, South Carolina tonight.
The kids are staring at me after I just scolded them for replying to the waitress with their typical “ya,” or barely discernible grunt meant to infer that yes, they would indeed like fries with their burger.
“This is the South, where people are polite, and when they ask you if you want fries with your burger, you say yes please,” I told them.
They replied with those barely discernible grunts meant to infer that they indeed understood what I was saying.
After a long evening with Jon in Cincinnati, I was up early, as is my usual habit. I showered, dressed and sat in bed for a while waiting to wake my sleeping wife and kids.
We were going to blow through Cincinnati after a short beer stop with my buddy Jon.
We’d make our way down to Lexington and have a short hop over to Asheville in the morning.
But we met at the Rhinegeist, which felt good in the way a creative spot feels good. The brewery in a massive industrial space filled with people celebrating the end of a workweek and the upcoming holidays.
The beer was phenomenal, and catching up with one of my dearest friends was too easy in the way that makes a new place feel homey kind of way.
The kids played corn hole, ping pong and fusbal while the adults caught up, and we all waited for the pizzas Jon ordered.
Last night my wife and I tallied all the places we’ve lived in our nearly 20 years together.
In that time, we’ve moved more than 20 times. And the longest we’ve spent living in one location was a little over three years in a double-wide trailer on the outskirts of Salem, Oregon while I attended the University of Oregon.