I got invited to a meet-n-greet the Pennsylvania Brewers Guild (I'm not going to link that, the site's two years out of date. Guys!!!) held at Appalachian Brewing's Harrisburg location to get the attention of state legislators and PLCB members. I was honored to be invited as a non-brewer, but I was leery of going, if only because of the logistics.
The event was Monday night in Harrisburg, and I already had a commitment to do a tasting and talk for the American Industrial Hygiene Association's convention at the Convention Center in Philadelphia. (Believe me, it came as a suprise to me, too: thanks to Jon Myerow at Tria for dropping my name to them.) The problem was that the AIHA tasting was over at 5:30, in Center City, and the thing in Harrisburg started about 7. I told Sean Casey (owner of Church Brew Works) that I'd just have to see how traffic went.
Well, it wasn't too bad. I was in the Passat and rolling at 5:32, which helped. The Schuylkill was a mess, according to KYW's traffic reports, so I decided to slip down the river on the north side, pick up the Lincoln Drive out to Mt. Airy, and take Germantown Pike out to the PA Turnpike. And you know, there were a couple of slow spots, but I made it in about 50 minutes, which seemed to have been pretty good time. So I headed west to Harrisburg and threw the coal to it.
Things had just gotten underway when I got up to the second floor at ABC (they were running late), so I grabbed an Iron Hill IPA (and a Nodding Head IPA; I was thirsty), ran back through the gauntlet of brewers and legislators, and got some brisket and wild game galantine (really, it was quite the spread) on my plate before I made a fool out of myself drinking on a substantially empty and caffeine-ravaged stomach.
After that I looked around. Wow, good turnout! Western PA in particular showed up well: Erie, Straub, Sprague Farm (Minnie Sprague came up behind me and startled the life out of me), and a seriously wired Matt Allyn who'd just gotten his approvals and printed off some quick ink-jets of his newly approved labels and was really excited to be there, legal and all (and the Wynona's Big Brown...Ale was great). Out front it was ABC (duh...), Tröegs, Victory, Stoudt's, Iron Hill, Yards, Lancaster, Barley Creek, Church, and The Lion (if I missed you, let me know, I'll edit you in!). Artie Tafoya (of ABC) and Sean Casey were grinning like demons; they were pretty happy about the whole thing.
It seemed pretty good to me, too. Hell, I met my new state rep, Chris King, over a couple beers at the Lion booth (I got the new Steg 150, an anniversary beer, a kind of crisper Vienna lager: full review coming soon). The folks who did show up were pretty well-disposed to beer, of course, and were listening to what the brewers had to say. I liked what they were saying, too, only disagreeing with them on a couple points as a consumer. But it certainly did spark a lively discourse of ideas, which is no small thing: at least someone was there saying it, and people were listening.
I hope the Brewers Guild grows, and continues this sort of thing: they have to, it's a matter of survival (hope they update their website, too). It's good for everyone. And guys...we, the beer-loving public, can help. Just tell us what letters to write. Another good reason to update the website!