Sept. 5, 9:30 p.m.: Brandalynn Armstrong (Zeroday) and Meg Seastedt (North Country) have invited me to State College for the Brewers of PA Symposium to speak about diversity and inclusion. It’s a three-day event for brewers and brewer-adjacent personnel to talk about brew stuff. I didn’t read the list of topics, but I imagine they were very intriguing to the beer nerds like, Kettle Sour vs Kettle Corn, Hops: Who Needs ‘Em, and PA Reps and Brewers: What Do They Know? Do They Know Things? Let’s Find Out!
Unfortunately, I arrive just in time to miss all of the great brew knowledge passed around during the first day of symposing. But, I managed to make it through several Pennsyltucky counties without getting pulled over, so there is much cause for celebration. I come equipped with a mix six of collabs that include Radical Triviale (Radical Trivia x Shubrew), Fresh Fest (Drinking Partners x Apis x Troegs), and Swig For The Fences (Tim Ross x Union Brothers). We gather in the lobby and trade beers, stories, and cards. The staff eventually asks us to keep it down. We try our best, but ultimately realize it’s futile. Someone suggests a whiskey bar. We’re not hard to convince.
Sept. 6, Midnight: We move to a whiskey bar called Local Whiskey. It’s short for “We don’t serve any local whiskey.” Much like Mad Mex is short for “You’ll be Mad if you’re expecting Mex.” I have only recently entered a tax bracket that can afford whiskey at home. I have yet to reach the $19/shot of bar whiskey bourgeoisie. I find the cheapest glass of distilled mash I can find and throw a couple back, because regret is best served with Gatorade in the morning.
Sept 6, 2 a.m.: Street meat sounds like a good idea.
Sept. 6, 4 a.m.: I’m in a four-way argument outside of the hotel with three Euros about privilege in America. An after-after party of sorts. “I Don’t See Color,” is the preferred playlist, spun by DJ Whiz-Ki. I’m the old man across the street screaming, “Turn that shit down!”
Sept. 6, 9 a.m.: Nope. Snooze.
Sept. 6, 10:55 a.m.: Checkout is at 11, so I manage to brush my teeth and crawl to the lobby before they force me out. I’m way too old for this shit. I was supposed to attend a few of the discussions. Instead, I sit in the lobby and drink Gatorade while checking my bank account. Who thought whiskey was a good idea?!
Sept. 6, 2:15 p.m.: I’m at a table in a very sterile conference room full of Euros with pens and pads. It feels like an auction. I’m joined at the table with Tim White (Harris Family Brew), John Stemler (Free Will Brew), & Brian Patchkoski (Penn State), with Jennifer McClendon and Meg Seastedt moderating. Tim is asked a loaded question and goes off on a tangent about dogs and babies, the most heated debate in all of craft beer. I’m lost at first, but then realize the extent at which breweries and other establishments will go to show they’re welcoming to dogs and babies, but how uncomfortable Black people still feel there. “They keep dog treats at the desk of this hotel… and I recently saw a confederate flag at a brewery.” Brian is Director of the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. He expounds upon Tim’s thought as it applies to the LGBTQIA community and bathrooms, and touches on unconscious biases. John is the only straight white male at the table and is doing his best to rep the brand well. He speaks on his efforts to make his place more inclusive, the importance to emphasize that message to his team, how it trickles down to the patrons and affects the overall vibe of the brewery. If you’ve read this column long enough, you can guess what I nonsensically rambled about until I felt my time was up, rambled a bit more for good measure, and dropped a few F-bombs to make sure the people in the back heard me. Well worth the trip.
Sept. 7, 7 p.m.: City Theatre is hosting their annual fundraiser, The Bash. They have a block blocked off, valet drivers, and some of the best-dressed people in the city attending. They’ve got food, booze, parades, plays, chocolate, comedy, art, and a parking lot DJ dance-off. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Two things I learned that night: 1. You really need to go check out City Theatre this year. 2. No matter how fly you think you are, you will never outfly theatre gays. Snap snap, good sir.
Snap snap, indeed.