(photo © Joe Preiser 2006)
Where to begin......well, Andrew has certainly given you a taste for what we saw, did, and felt last month in Denver. I know he slowly added updates not only because he works at several breweries and just moved into a new house, but mainly because it takes a while to fully reflect on what we have just accomplished. Likewise, I've been trying to put the weekend into words and just figure out how to capture it. So here goes(in three easy installments):
Almost six years ago I left a stable career as a science teacher(Andrew was actually one of my students, but that is for another post). I had great benefits, a decent pension after about age 55, and some time in the summers to work if I wanted and hang out if I didn't. Well, now I work year round, make less than I would as a teacher, and have to flood my own IRA account if I want anything to retire on. I don't make this point for you to feel sorry for me, but to let you know that despite that, I'm having the time of my life. I make beer for a living! Don't you wish you did too? I can't possibly imagine staying in a job you don't enjoy. Sidenote: I did enjoy teaching, I just had this opportunity for a career change and I never wanted to regret not trying something that I thought I could do well. Lesson #1: If you hate your job/career, leave and do what you love. Lesson #2: No regrets!
Anyway, throughout the six years that I was a teacher I was respected and appreciated by both those above and below me (I think-Andrew??), but never won an award, either nationally or internationally. Sure, a student here or there told me how much they like me, but so does Keith and Paul from the other side of the bar every day. The Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup are the largest and best beer competitions in the Country and world respectively. To get recognition from a panel of expert judges which include some of your peers is beyond explanation. I've watched renowned Brewers get decorated repeatedly and I even followed one here at Flossmoor Station, but never thought I was in that league. Lesson#3: Don't sell yourself short.
After getting shut out in my first GABF in 2004 I wondered if paying all that money for a little judging feedback (that was way too hard to read anyway) was worth it. But the next year I tried again and actually earned three bronze medals. Ah, the shameful bronze...or so the joke goes. I thought I had reached the top of the world. I had hit the top of my game! I was going places! I'm somebody!!! Lesson#4: When you put your foot on the gas, don't let off.
Next post: What could be better that winning THREE GABF medals?