On this episode of Drinking Sensei I’m chatting with my friend Gray. We met when I was living in downtown Portland, Oregon in the fall of 2009. I had just moved into the city after finishing grad school, a terrible breakup and a year living with my dad to save money. Suffice it to say, I was ready to be on my own and doing whatever the hell I wanted. At that time in my life I was also working a job that wasn’t the most fun and had a boss who liked to have three hour meetings about absolutely nothing. This caused me to have to work much longer days than I wanted. All of this to say, life was not much fun, so I started going out on the town. Cue to me ending up within walking distance of my apartment at Deschutes Brewery in the Pearl Distract. I would go, sit at the bar, chat with the employees and people around me, drink a few, then stumble (or ride my skateboard) home. I usually tried to make it as long as possible during the work week before I went to the pub, but was often frustrated enough by Tuesday to get me headed that way. On many of those nights Gray would be working. He always had kind words to say, would tell me what I should try, get me to laugh a bit, and send me on my way home a little drunker and happier than when I arrived. I looked forward to my weekly trips to Deschutes and often worried that I seemed like a weirdo for going so often. Gray and the rest of the staff always made me feel welcome. I guess this could be a good commercial for the pub, so if you ever get a chance please try a Deschutes beer or visit their locations in Portland and Bend, Oregon. Anyway, I’ve gone on a tangent back to the podcast!
We started our chat with shots and a Prost! We both decided that our drinks of choice this week would be whatever we could find in the backs of our respective refrigerators. Gray was drinking Old German brewed by Pittsburgh Brewing Company and I had found a Sierra Nevada Summer Fest that was leftover from a party a few months prior. I’m not going to say the Summer Fest paired well with the Jim Beam Honey Whiskey that I took a shot of, but it got the job done. Gray and I chatted about his twenty years spent working at Deschutes and the various positions he worked, from busboy to Brand Ambassador the guy has had many hats in the industry. As we worked our way through his story I came to realize just how much knowledge he has about the industry and those in it. What it taught me was that at any given point, the person that is waiting on your or walked you to your table at a brew pub may have a wealth of knowledge that you might not even realize. Speaking to him for just the hour we were on the phone I walked away with a notepad full of homework and people to reach out to. Paul Arney of The Ale Apothecary in Bend, Oregon is first on my list. Just looking at his website has me excited to see if I can get a tour of his brewery. Gray also could make a connection to an experience I had before I even met him. During a visit to what used to be the The Raccoon Lodge, now known as The Lodge at Cascade Brewing my friend Mandie and I were offered a tour around their facilities. This was after we’d mentioned that the day before we’d been to the Oregon Brewers Festival trying our best to get as drunk as possible on the highest alcohol content beers we could find. I don’t remember much of our tour (it was about 12 years ago) but I do remember being terribly excited to be given the opportunity to check out the facilities. My chat with Gray got me excited to head back to Oregon. To talk to more brewers and ask them questions about their craft. I’ll be happy to learn just a bit more and I hope you learn a bit from the podcast. If you have any suggestions of breweries to check out anywhere in the world leave me a comment in the comments section on this page, my Instagram @drinkingsensei, Facebook or email me at [email protected] (Links are below). Thanks for joining us and don’t forget to rate and subscribe wherever you listen to your podcasts!