Author: Samuel Sly
I was sitting in the middle of I-70 traffic, had inched one tenth of a mile over the course of 20 minutes and was now at a standstill. My teeth: sore from clenching. My knuckles: white from an iron-clad grip on the steering wheel. My head: seething hate. It was January, but I could fry an egg on my skull. This wasn’t how I planned on finishing my vacation. It was supposed to be spent touring one of my favorite breweries. I was supposed to be flying high on a brewery tour at Flying Dog Brewing Co.
It was 2007 and I was dipping my toes into the wonderful world of craft beer. Flying Dog Pale Ale was pretty much THE beer that flipped me from being a regular Busch Light and PBR drinker. At the time, Flying Dog was brewed in Denver and had an awesome little facility on Blake Street. I HAD to visit this brewery. It was to be the icing on my glorious Colorado Vacation Cake after spending three days with a friend in Vail.
I had to cram as much tourism into my last day as possible. I got up early to leave Vail unsure about exactly where I would go. Boulder seemed like a cool place so I wandered around the college town in the morning and had lunch. After that, I went to my hotel to check in. Like any self-respecting wanderer, I spent the next several hours watching 24 on my laptop. Lewis and Clark wept in their graves. The last tour left at 4:25 and the brewery was 7 miles away. I had this shit on lock down in my mind.
Around 3:45, I took my printed directions, got into my rental and took off. 45 seconds later I learned rush hour traffic starts early in Denver. It took 30 fucking minutes to go two exits on I-70. By 4:15, I was just getting off the expressway and still had five miles left to go. By some miracle, I found the brewery and a parking spot on my first shot. I bolted into the brewpub like a warrior into battle. My watch said 4:28. I can guarantee I looked stupid as fuck because a guy asked if I was lost. I sputtered out the words “Brewery” and “Tour” amidst some gibberish and he pointed to a door at the back of the bar. I delicately hauled ass in that direction.
I emerged in a back room sucking wind like a cheap hooker on a meth pipe. A lone girl sat at a desk and looked up at the panting mess before her. “I. Here. Tour. TOUR!!” was all I could choke out. I heard her mutter “Aww” before she explained the last tour group JUST left. My gut clenched and I nearly turned on the waterworks as I explained my flight to Michigan left in the morning I had no idea when I’d be back I had no problem catching up to the rest of the group wherever they were on the tour I JUST HAD TO GO ON THAT TOUR, LADY!
She eventually talked me off the ledge. I agreed to forego the tour for a small bribe of sampling all eight beers on tap instead of the three offered at the tour’s conclusion. I sat down at the sampling station and took a look around at my settings. The tasting room was pretty fucking awesome. It had a slight industrial feel and you could see a little bit of the brewing operations. Ralph Steadman (If you’re not familiar with him, get on Google right fucking now) had drawn on the sampling bar just nine days before to go along with an existing piece he did on the wall near the taps. I was enjoying a unique moment that happened to be everything I could have wanted from this trip.
Then, at our most perfect moment, my new friend told me she had a confession to make. I gulped (beer) and said, “Ok, lay it on me.”
Turned out, I was the ONLY person that showed up for the tour that day and she didn’t feel like giving it to one person. Well played, Flying Dog. Well played.
An open mind and a few beers can make anywhere an adventure.