• A wrapup from the Road: The Carhartt Woodsman Tour

    *This series of posts is written by our National Events Manager, Taylor. Offering a perspective no one else can, Taylor takes us behind the scenes of The Carhartt Woodsman Tour and gives us a glimpse into life on the road with the merry band of Carhartt Storytellers and – while at it – teaches us all a little about life and love and stopping & tasting. Enjoy.*

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    Dear Diary,

    You haven’t heard from me in a while, and I think you know I’ve been busy. My very first Great American Beer Festival is in the books! I can’t believe it’s already over. Months of preparation, planning, and putting out little fires, and now it’s all behind us.

    The past few days have been a whirlwind. Thursday night was Session #1. I spent all morning/afternoon at the booth, worried about presentation. Was it good enough? Did it stick out? Would the tens of thousands of people stop by?

    As is tradition, a team of bagpipes heralded in the flood of people, a giant, thirsty horde of beer enthusiasts. As those shrill notes began to play, my guts twisted into a giant knot that I thought would never untangle…until the pouring started.

    It was pure, unadulterated chaos. Wave upon wave of people washed around the corners, 1 oz pour cups with “GABF 2015” scrawled upon the side at the ready.

    “What’s your lightest?” “Dragon’s Milk, my good sir!” “I hear you’ve got a sour, fill it up!” Their cries echoed in the great hall, a deafening noise that was awesome to behold. Like one large, drunken hydra, 1 filled cup would soon have 4 empty ones take it’s place. It was dysfunctional, chaotic, frightening…

    I was in heaven.

    To stand in the middle of the largest beer festival our nation has to offer, with THOUSANDS of my fellow breweries is a feeling I will not soon forget. The long planning sessions, the late nights, the email chains that never seemed to end were all soon worth it. I was serving Dragon’s Milk, Incorrigible Reserve, Black Tulip, and other distinct flavors of home to people who had traveled from around the country to take part in the magic that happens but once a year: GABF.

    After each nightly session, the weary pour warriors gathered in local bars and taverns, sipping on each other’s brews and congratulating one another on another day well done.

    New Holland hosted such a gathering at Herb’s, a local watering hole that boasted the one thing my legs had been craving after a week of driving and sleeping on the ground: a dance floor. Knickerbocker Gin flowed like milk and honey that night, and as Funkiphino, a 12 piece funk band from Denver, cranked up the noise, brewers, locals and businessmen/women alike took to the floor. We were weary, exhausted, sore…but we. Were. Alive.

    Each day played out similarly the same. With every sunrise came a new session of pouring, a new horde of fans and enthusiasts, and a new night of sharing stories with good people. Sessions 2-4 flew by in flashes of light, sound, and beer.

    Until today. The sun came up, the maid in the hotel rumbled by with her cart way too early for comfort…and there was nowhere to be. No presentation to prepare, no booth to spruce up, no beer to pour. Brewers and festival attendees are piling into cars and planes and heading home.

    I am currently making coffee one last time in the room before Ryan and I make the 17 hour drive back to Michigan. This time there are no musicians, no artists, no Carhartt sorry tellers. Just two friends who have been on the road just shy of two weeks and are ready to go home.

    So, diary, with my last entry I walk away with these lessons ten:

    1. A story is best shared over a pint and around a fire.
    2. Things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes you can’t roll with the punches because they’re hitting you straight on the jaw. The important thing to do is get back up, walk it off, and keep going.
    3. Abbreviations and acronyms are usually confusing and unnecessary, especially when it comes to coffee orders. Be careful, or you’ll be called Monique for the rest of a trip.
    4. Always carry a knife. There will always be a zip tie, stubborn packaging on a box, or a hater to cut.
    5. You will never be as cool as the 84 year old female volunteer ordering a Dragon’s Milk.
    6. Surround yourself with people that make the dark times brighter, the hard times easier, and the good times memories that will last a lifetime.
    7. Sometimes that college roommate you were thrown into a small apartment with for one semester will quit his job, drive halfway across the country, work the nation’s largest beer festival with you, and ultimately change your life. Best friends don’t happen on accident, and they’re more valuable than anything.
    8. You will never be as cool as Priscilla, the 21 year old Uber driver in an oversized Mercedes who let you blast Wilson Phillips for all of Denver to hear.
    9. You always have time to share a drink with a friend of a friend.
    10. Love what you do. If your job has you in the office until 10:30 at night, camping on pointy rocks in the rain, washing your clothes in a hotel basement, hauling tents up a mountain, being spilled on for hours at a time, going to bed at 5 am to be up by 9, driving 15 hours straight across nothing but rolling hills of grass, and staying away from your bed for 2 weeks and you STILL love it…then that’s the job for you.

     

    That whole saying: “find a job that you love and you will never work a day in your life” is utter crap. Some days you will be beaten down, exhausted, screaming at the ceiling and tearing your beautiful ginger locks out of your head. You will cry in your car and not want to walk into the office. You will want to throw yourself out the window instead of reading one more email. Work is work. However, when the job is done, the flags are raised, and you witness a newlywed couple from California sharing a Mad Hatter for the first time time on their honeymoon…I tell you, nothing beats that moment.

    So, Diary, the coffee is almost done, and I have a long ride ahead of me. It’s been fun, but Michigan is calling this ginger home, but from the bottom of my heart, I say to you: Cheers.

    Love,
    Taylor

     

    Click each day to read tour diary for days 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.