Derek is my husband and best friend. I get a lot of confused looks when I tell people about traveling with him to different breweries, mainly from wives. "Why?" they ask. The truth is, I like a good road trip. I always have fun and I like to balance good planning with fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants flexibility. Standing in an unmoving line for 2 hours before a brewery opens in freezing weather, and then still waiting in that line for 45 minutes does not sound like a fun plan. But we’ve done it, and I’ve had great times hanging with my best friend and talking to other beer enthusiasts in line. Though every so often there’s a time when a can release is NOT where I want be. We will not subject our children to the icy lines, that’s just cruel and impractical, mostly for us. So when we have the kids with us we plan much differently. We end up separated, but still together. And it generally works in MY favor as I am never the one in line, but I do get to reap the benefits!
Here’s a short story of one of those times:
This year Derek’s cousin, Emma, graciously opened her home in Brooklyn, a 3 hour drive for us, to have the family gather for the annual Christmas party. Emma a fabulous woman who runs the Brooklyn Herborium. Well the invitation just perked up Derek’s interest. Any chance to kill two birds with one stone is always an exciting notion to explore. Especially one one of those birds is a beer run! You see we discovered that Emma lives a mere 10 minutes from Other Half Brewing Company. This is Derek’s favorite brewery and always has its can release on Saturdays.
For weeks Derek pondered over how we could work out hitting Other Half and spend time with the family. He stalked the Other Half website looking to see what can release was happening on the Saturday the 16th and what would be on tap. So a plan was set. We’d put down the back seats and load up the Death Star (13 year old silver mini-van) with a couple large coolers and a cooler bag for the growlers. The kids will be snuggled in the middle captain chairs with blankets, and the Christmas presents will get Tetris stacked somewhere in all of this.
The day arrives. Other Half opens at 10am and the family Christmas feast will be served sometime around 2pm. Brooklyn is 2.5 to 3 hours away. Naturally we wake up at 4:30am, somehow dress the children and are on the road by 5:30am. This was strategy to beat the crowd. Derek wanted to be standing in line by 8am on this freezing Saturday morning. I drove since Derek had worked the evening before and gotten home at 11:45pm.
The drive was pleasant enough. We only had the one moment when our lives flashed before our eyes. On the Thruway, as we drove past Plattekill going about 75mph, we watched as a truck pulling tandem trailers drifted left, likely a sleeping driver, and jackknife less than 1/8 mile ahead of us! It happened so fast! I panicked over being able to safely stop before getting near this enormous hazard. The truck was now literally bouncing unnaturally across the road ahead of us. I also was figuring out in my head all the possible scenarios that may happen in the next 15 seconds. Can I stop safely? Would I soon be pulled over and trying to pull a man out of an overturned cab? And just as those thoughts flashed through my mind the truck righted itself and rolled on as if nothing had happened and we weren’t all about to change our plans for the day! Whew! Derek and I looked at each other, “Did that just happen!?! That just happened!!” Then Derek looked at me said, “Pass him, pass him NOW.” Did not have to say that twice!
The rest of the drive was uneventful. We actually pulled up to Other Half at about 8:05am. Derek was a little let down to see the line was already down the block and around the corner. I dropped him off in the 25 degree weather with a wave and we went on to have our separate Brooklyn mornings.
I had planned to meet Emma for breakfast with our kids at Angelica`s Coffee Shop. It’s a cozy corner café near her home. I drove around the block looking for parking and found a spot near a “no parking” sign that was no less confusing than all the other “no parking” signs around, but at least it looked less threatening. I parked a little after 8:30am.
At this time Derek reports that he was cold.
After ushering my groggy little ones into the café we freshened up and the kids were having their milk and I my much needed coffee. Emma was on her way. She walked in the cold with her 2 preschool age boys around 9am. This was a sight to see as they crossed the street. Watching the scene through the café window reminded me of a mother hen with her young chicks, still confused about how to walk in a straight line… or… herding cats.
Derek had by now struck up a conversation with a man from Maine who now lives in Manhattan. They talked about life and beers, mostly beers. Oh yeah… and he was friggin’ cold! And lost feeling in both his big toes by now.
At around 9:25am the 6 of us were in the middle of eating a delicious breakfast, omelets, pancakes, fruit cups, bacon, croissants… The 4 kids were being cute wacky kids, Emma and I chatted about the kids’ cute wackiness and sipped more coffee. It was altogether a cozy breakfast.
Derek was now in the middle of hour 2, waiting in freezing weather, and the loss of feeling was now in all his toes and his feet, up his legs, his face was numb… he persevered.
By 10:45 we had been back at Emma’s home to hang out and prep for the party. Derek finally called me to go get him and the 2 large coolers of beer and cooler bag of growlers. I made the quick 10 minute trip back to the brewery. Of course being in Brooklyn, during a can release, on a one way street, the “quick trip” involved passing by him 3 times, double parking, getting honked at, some ill placed traffic cones, and a final pass that had Derek finally in the car via the McDonald’s parking lot.
My poor man. Home from work at 11:45 the night before, up at 4:30am that morning, a near death experience on the road, and 2hrs and 45minutes standing outside in 25 degree weather. He looked like a mix of misery and elation. He had conquered an Other Half can release and was bringing home the spoils to share with his family and friends! As spent as he was, he still was excited about the experience. We had loaded up the Death Star with coolers full of DDH Oh…, DDH all Citra Everything, The Other Day…, Short Dark and Breakfast, and Hop Showers. A spectacular haul!