Saturday, April 13, 2013

Yellow Springs Brewery Grand Opening

Finally. Today was the day Yellow Springs Brewery was going to officially start crafting truth to people’s mouth. And, not surprisingly, I volunteered to help. I pitched in two weeks ago for the soft opening for locals, which was crazy nuts. So I was expecting more of the same today. Let’s just say it: it got brought. Big time. From the official opening at 1:00 pm to almost 8:30 pm, there was a solid line of people waiting to be served—sometimes running as many as 20 deep out the door. Sure, at times that line became almost manageable—almost—but mainly it was the beast that needed constant care, vigilance, and attention. I haven’t had to be that helpful, well, umm, ever, and I was a bartender for five years. Maybe this will help provide perspective: we sold out of growlers.

Doors were at 1:00 pm; the first indication of the coming day was the people milling around in the parking lot when Jeff Fortney and I arrived about 12:15. Since we walked straight in, some tried to follow suit. And got denied. Once we got inside and everyone arrived, Jeffrey and Lisa ran everyone through the roles they would be playing. I was told I would taking orders and would be the face greeting them—hence my aforementioned description of the line that was my day-long nemesis. Time for that game face! In addition to the five regular beers on tap, there were also five special beers that would be tapped over the course of the day. Being that I am a wise man, I took the brief respite before the doors opened for business to try the Captain Stardust, since I knew would disappear quickly once it went up. I also tried the Smoked Brown Ale, which I’ve been harassing Jeffery to make since the last time he made it. About time, Jeffrey! Hey, you know what they say about patience, right?

Once the doors opened the tasting room was inundated with people. Everyone figured out their roles, and some semblance of détente was established, aided mainly by drafting those who showed up to work later into earlier service. Yes, it was sheer pandemonium. Which, if you have worked in the service industry before, you always come to expect. Although never quite to this degree. The question I answered the most: “when is Captain Stardust/ English Dark Mild/ German-style Hefeweizen/ Smoked Brown Ale going to be tapped?” The good thing about not being in charge: deferral is always an acceptable answer. When it was time to actually announce the tapping of one of selections, Jeffrey told me to do it using my “teacher” voice. Which I took as license to be loud. Very very loud. After all, I will admit to a certain joy in projecting my voice over that of a loud and boisterous room full of beer drinkers. Especially when that announcement brings cheers.

Besides the tapping announcements, though, most of the rest of the afternoon and evening is a blur. I recall the shock of realizing it was already 6:00 pm, and the brief respite where I wolfed down some fish tacos from the Harvest food truck. Elli showed at around 7:15 pm, and I talked to her briefly, and then it was 8:30 pm, and the first real lull in the day. There is one other thing I clearly remember: poor attempts at homonym humor. Special note to dudes: when there is a Blonde on tap—Towhead Blonde, in this case—think before you speak. I know you think comments like “I’ll have a Blonde, and then I’ll have a beer” or “I’ll have a Belgian and a Blonde, and a beer later” or any of the other numberless variations on this theme are clever. But they’re not. Not at all. If they were already lame and passé the last time I worked behind a bar in the mid-90’s—and they were—then they’re still going to be painful and tedious today. So just let it go. I may smile, and even pretend to laugh, but trust me when I say that everyone involved will be happier if you refrain.

Not surprisingly, the announcement of last call was not met with the same excitement as earlier proclamations. Still, for those behind the counter, it was time to call it a day. After the tap room was cleaned and cleared, there was a short after-hours party featuring a couple of fancy bottles in celebration of a successful day, including Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus and Lou Pepe, along with several other delights. As well, we got to sample the last remaining bottle of Jeffrey’s Orval clone, courtesy of Jeff Fortney, whose cellaring power exceeds my own—I drank the bottle I had stashed away (with both Jeff and Jeffrey, of course) like 6 months ago.

All in all, today’s Grand Opening was a smashing success. Congratulations to Lisa, Nate, and Jeffrey! Your dream is now a reality!


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