When I was growing up, my family made an annual visit to a small campground known as Limekiln State Beach just south of Big Sur, California. Each and every August, we would hitch my grandparents 5th wheel trailer to the back of my dad’s large pickup truck and go beach camping as our family vacation.
It was usually a week long trip punctuated by a short detour to Monterey, California so that my father could watch the historic car races at Laguna Seca. I suppose this yearly indoctrination into motorsports (with an eye on the classics) taught me about passion and a metalic vs fiberglass artform.
My father was and always as been an admirer of Ferraris. Many of the automobiles that we would go to watch race had been champion GT racers back in the late 50’s and 1960’s. It was an amazing experience to walk amongst these great cars and their storied legacies. And the Italians taught me a thing or two about passion.
I haven’t been back to Laguna Seca in years but to this day, I am still a “fan” of auto racing. I enjoy the speed, the crashes and the fantastic finishes. I don’t travel to watch races but I have been known to get caught up watching them on TV. Best of all, they are excellent companions to beer drinking. I should also point out, that brewing is a lot like racing. You get to drink lots of beer, there’s always danger and flames involved and you have to fix things that are always breaking down at the wrong time.
Last night reminded me of this. I spent 3 hours watching Jimmies, Bobbies, Elliot’s and William’s (err Bill’s) turn make left turns for hours on end. And you know what, I did it without a lite or extra cold beer in site. Although, I also dozed off for a bit and found myself in a NASCAR slumber.
Stretched out on the couch, and having nodded off, I had this reincarnation of sorts. I was no longer Tomme Arthur. Nope, my marketing gurus had shortened my names to something less Germanic and more marketable. In a flash, I had become Timmee Edwards. Now Timmee sounds and looks like Tomme. I even had a drunken female fan once call me Timmy at a beer fest so it can’t be that far off base. Edward is my middle name so they were keeping it in the “family” I suppose.
Now, in my dream, I was actually a brewer. And like NASCAR drivers, I was a figurehead. I was the front man, pitch man and spokesperson for a group of people known as Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey. This meant that I had a team who supported me (not unlike a real brewery) and obligations to the fans and my sponsors…
Did I just say sponsors? Brilliant! This is what every brewer needs if we are going to take this Craft Brewing thing to the next level. Sure, I don’t think wearing a boil retardant jump suit is how myself or Brooklyn Oliver (Garret’s new more racing like name) want to go through life. Of course, he already has more patches than I do. But sponsors have their demands. And one of them is product placement. So we’ll have to wear the patches as badges of honor.
My new marketing guys drew me into one of their strategic meetings and I found myself being asked to work up a list of potential suitors. I started to imagine all of the possibilities for “financing” our operation here in San Marcos. It started with a title sponsor. Every big time operation needs one of these. You gotta think big when it comes to this. So, I started thinking. Well, on many mornings, I am known to throw back a Dr Pepper or two (leaded and unleaded I like them both) for sponsor sake. That’s pretty big time.
I could be the first Professional Brewer to be sponsored by a soda company. What sort of message would that send? Would it help me with MADD? Doubtful. Nothing short of being sponsored by a water company could help me there. A water company? Why of course, I drink water each and every day. But then again, most of them are owned by soda corps.
I watched a guy named Ricky smash up his Snicker’s Car last night. Maybe I could get me a Candy manufacturer to sponsor me? Sure thing. I like all kinds of Candy. How about we go after Mentos? They seem to be all the rage on the internet these days. We could use an internet presence.
Nope, tried the Mentos thing. They’ve already partnered with Diet Coke so Timmee Edwards is out of luck there. Well, how about a local angle? We could go and get WD-40? They are a local based company with national distribution. Besides, who doesn’t need a good penetrating lubricant? I hear old people even use it on their joints for their arthritis?
All of these options left my head spinning so I left the Marketing guys in their meeting and headed out to a brewer’s meeting. I’ve been on the circuit for quite a few years now so I know most of the guys pretty well. I know which way Robby Tod leans at the end of each night. I’ve come to the conclusion that Good Old Dickie Canwell was right in dropping that “T” from his last name. Can’t just isn’t in his vocabulary when it comes to brewing.
Some of the Brewers were grumbling as usual.Not everybody was happy when the Brewer’s Association signed that contract. A few felt that they would be slighted. Lord knows our “sport” should focus on everyone and not a select group of media darlings. They cried out.
It was a tough transition on some of the old guard. They weren’t ready to be placed in uniforms and drug through the pomp and cirmcunstances required by a move to the big time. A few of these old timers looked like Stay Puff Marshmellow Men in these Brewing Suits. I suppose that’s TV for you. It adds ten lbs too. But, that’s what happens when you sign a multi year deal with the network. They own you.
It sucks. Each and every year, we now have commercial breaks during the awards ceremony at the GABF. Didn’t use to be that way. What can I say? That’s the price we pay for dreaming big. Our Annual Craft Brewers Conference is now a Dog and Pony show more about interviews and autographs. Everything it seems is all about the fans. And now that we’ve taken this thing to the next level, we’ll have cool stuff like Timme Edwards 08 for Play Station. From the Marketing materials…
“If you’ve ever wanted to be like Timmee, here’s your chance. You’ll be given the same ingredients and budgets as Timmee. See if you can out manuever, outlast and out think a great brewer. Do you have it in you? Can you take down Cuvee de Tomme or The Angel’s Share?
There will of course be interactive fan forums. These will be up close and personal meet and greet sessions. Timmee will of course oblige the sensible fans and sign all manner of body parts from the most discerning of female fans. Male fans need not bother.
In order to create some interest and drama, we’ll all have to stop getting along. We’ll need a bad boy or two. Somebody who is always crossing over the line, flirting with the rules. “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t brewing.” That’s what they tell me…
We’ll have to develop a chase for the cup system. We’ll need an annual cup system to determine the ”Best” brewer. Of course the network will have a say in this. It will be in our best interest to let an outside organization tell us what we need.
And after 20 years of major sponsorships, network deals and in fighting, we’ll all be able to sit around as we enshrine the old guard and indoctrinate the new guard each year at a televised awards show. Someday, I will have a need to retire from this sport. I’ll be too old to Dry Hop Well. I won’t have the vision to create things like Cuvee any more. And each and every day, there will be some hot shot young Turk looking to get up in my grill and disrepect my knowledge of Brewing. It’s inevitable.
But when it’s time for me to retire from this sport, I want my plaque to read “This good old boy was a master at mashing left and but let’s not forget he was pretting good at hopping right as well…”
That my friends is the Legend of Timmee Edwards. It is neither fact nor fiction. What is true is that when I woke up from my nap last night, some guy named Jimmie had turned left for 500 miles and won the race. Not bad for another guy from San Diego.