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Adiós, ‘Tasting Room’. Hello, Sunny’s Carrello!

I met with my neighbor this morning.  He is over seventy years old and has led quite a life, a life I’m learning more about with each interaction…none of it has been easy.  He currently is living in an old motor home up in our neighborhood and is working for us at our house as a carpenter/handy-man.  I imagine he would identify himself as a sailor if you asked him, and the fact that he’s hundreds of miles from the sea without a boat to his name is a pretty good indicator of the situation he’s in.  While I could go into detail about his 20 years in our neighborhood and the house he built by hand from scratch, or his time in his youth when he was living in Hawaii and paddling to catch waves from his sailboat, or even his lower-class childhood in Milwaukee as the only white kid in his school, what I want to share with you is the way that he greets each day, each opportunity, his challenges, his limitations.  It’s with humor and appreciation.  In many ways, his life (currently) would be something we’d warn our children against; no money, no savings, working hard labor in your later years, but the big picture (to me) is how he encapsulates many of the things I most admire in us humans.  Especially the working class.  He’s crude, hard to read sometimes and probably drinks too much.  BUT.  I am honored to know him and to learn from all the things he’s willing to share as well as from his actions.

He shows up at our house around 10AM if he’s decided to work that day.  He walks over from his motorhome (which was parked on our property during the summer, now it’s in the yard of another neighbor) and usually just walks in the house.  That took some getting used to, but we prepare accordingly.  No walking around naked or barging out of the shower mid-week, if you know what I mean!  We will meet and discuss what he’s working on for us and continue on with the rest of our day.  He generally quits the workday between 2-3.  He knows his limits.  During our ‘meetings’ we often talk of our life beyond these projects, for him it’s the dream of getting another sailboat, his walks in the mornings, what he made for dinner last night.  For us, it’s always our trips and adventures.  He always asks Staci where we are going next, what’s the next destination that will cause us to vanish from the ‘hood for a few days.  His eyes light up and he may share a story from his past, but his sentiment is always ‘GO’.  Go and do, live and learn.  Get out there and experience life.  He’s done more than most folks.  It would be hard to choose his lifestyle, but I think that he has reached a particular sort of Zen that is hard to reach these days in our society and I really do envy him for it.  I’m also finding myself worrying less in general.  I don’t think that is a coincidence!

Now.  What the heck does this fellow have to do with saying goodbye to our tasting room?  Well, the attitude of Going and Doing, as a matter of fact.  When I started this brewery, way back in my Artisanal Manifesto days, I didn’t want anything to do with food.  I didn’t want anything to do with what we currently experience as ‘normal’ beer culture, I didn’t want to be bothered.  I didn’t want a staff, I didn’t want kegs, I didn’t want a factory, I didn’t want money, I didn’t even want a business.  I wanted to be left alone.  I was disenchanted with my place in the world and only saw myself as possessing one skill when it came to providing for my family.  How on earth can I go forward as a brewer when all of the business models out there made me cringe?  As you can chronologically see by reading all the posts here, I learned as I went.  I hired Connor.  I acquired a small warehouse.  I opened up a tasting room.  This past year we put our beer in smaller bottles of various sizes and, yes, kegs.  The most recent ground-breaking assertion is that we are going to be able to offer food to our customers and friends at our public space starting very soon!  The way it happened was unbelievably natural and proves to me that I can trust in things and go my own pace.  Just like we don’t force our beer, I also don’t need to force my business.  We weren’t ready for this until the moment that Amy & Courtney approached us…the rest is soon to be history.

Starting Friday, November 15th, our tasting room will magically transform into, gulp, a public house of sorts with the addition of Italian-inspired food options thanks to Sunny’s Carrello and their food cart.  Amy & Courtney own and operate Sunny Yoga Kitchen here in Bend (NW Crossing, to be exact) and they approached us a while back about the possibility of working together to mutually expand each of our operations.  Amy is a chef and Courtney is a yoga instructor and they created a business where they share their different skill sets together…pretty amazing concept.  The most important chunk of information for you to know is that from 2-8pm on November 15th, we are going to throw a Grand Opening Celebration for the launch of our collaboration together, which we don’t really have a name for yet.  Sunny’s Carrello and The Ale Apothecary etc etc.  Amy responded with this when asked about her food: “House made Italian inspired dinners and snacks sourced and created with a strong focus on ingredients from Oregon, local purveyors and pacific north west goods!”  (You can see why we jumped at the opportunity to host them at our location.)  

This opportunity allows us to be better hosts to our customers, it’s more responsible to have food available when people are consuming alcohol.  Amy’s ethos when preparing food is very similar to our beer-making philosophy.  She is a self-taught chef and embodies the working class spirit I told you I honor in my neighbor, and her food has found a way to stand on it’s own as extremely delicious without being unhealthy.  It’s truly amazing and I hope you get a chance to experience it.  Also, now with food options, we can begin pouring full pints of our session beers. We’ve been developing these for about a year now in preparation.  We’ll release our grisette for the Grand Opening, perhaps tap a new farmhouse beer as well.  (The lager needs more time…). This opportunity gives us carte blanche to fully realize my business-model vision as a brewery that produces locally sourced, barrel-aged and 100% natural beer, which is what I would have said in 2011 instead of focusing on all the other stuff I didn’t want, I just didn’t know how to say it, exactly.  It took me 9 years to work up to this!  I feel very confident and not in the least bit arrogant when I say to you, “Your welcome,” because it’s not just me, and it hasn’t been for a while.  We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for these folks around me, taking risks and believing in the vision, believing in our customers, believing in me.  Our Ale Club gathering was this last weekend, and those people make me feel like I can do anything!  We all partied and ate Amy’s food and celebrated theRight Now.  Please come on November 15th to do the same thing in a different way, would you?  Music starts at 5:30, we’ve got 3 awesome local bands: JVH and the Jacksonville Jills, The Gold Rust, and Micah Peterson. Tell someone you love them today and get on with going and doing!  We stand for something and we’d like you to be part of it.