Conviviality – (noun) the quality of being friendly and lively; friendliness.
For good reason, face-to-face sales calls during the pandemic looked a lot different. Masks and social distancing made it tough to connect with customers sans curated tastings that had become the hallmark of our industry. Once we arrived on the other side of Omicron in early 2022, things began to ease up a bit– allowing a more comfortable vibe to return to our day to day routine. Three visits in particular stand out as prime examples of the convivial moments that I deeply missed during the pandemic. Thanks to these folks for hosting us, and sharing their craft.
Green Bench Brewing with owner Khris Johnson
Khris was more than generous with his time, spending the better part of an afternoon walking us through his mixed culture program as well as the flagships and one-offs available. Our conversations bounced from process details to ingredient selections to industry trends. This conversation also kicked off the research and development of our new Czech-style Pilsner. Khris shared some details about a recent call he’d had with a malt house in the Czech Republic and their traditional approach to this style. It took us several attempts, but we were finally able to land a product that bends modern, aggressively germinating barley to an old world level of modification.
Tap Station with Dave Haydesch
Tap Station in Apex, NC is a super cool spot with loads of personality. Housed in an old gas station, the renovation includes a second story deck and outdoor beer garden in the heart of downtown. The interior is fitted with old car parts repurposed as lighting fixtures and draft stations. Dave plied us with tastings of several tasty beers, like their Peak City Pale Ale, which paired perfectly with the smash burgers and fancy tot platters in front of us. It definitely quenched my thirst for good conversation and genuine friendship!
Harding House Brewing Co. with Nate Underwood
I think Nate wins the award for the most thorough tasting of 2022! I mean damn… we tasted ALL the things! Granted I was long overdue for a visit as we’ve been working closely together since they opened several years back. Tons of mixture culture offerings were presented with the complete backstory on the local purveyors as well as his process tweaks in the brewhouse. There were beers made with tomatoes, foraged ingredients, and locally-grown fruits that all worked in harmony to create some really special liquid.
Happy Holidays and cheers to the year ahead!
– Brent Manning