by Kevin M. Smith

I had hoped to have more this month than I did – trying to get MidNight Run in on the Beer & Loathing series. That will hopefully be coming later this month. However, I did have a good conversation with Braeden Bumpers at McClintock Distilling about how they adapted to life during the Pandemic.

This has been a strangely busy July for me. Due to personal circumstance, I have found myself particularly reflective of my own journey. For each and everyone of us, there’s a reason we got involved in the craft beverage industry – as a customer, as a promoter, as a journalist, as a producer. I have had the pleasure of being all of the above over the years.

I started my journey as a consumer as many decades ago. Like many, I had been to plenty of parties, and, frankly, I didn’t understand what the big deal was in regards to beer. it was like drinking a liquefied Pringle. I would have the occasional sip of my Dad’s Bass Ale when he would buy that – and I didn’t mind that, but I hated the cheap beer at parties of my youth. Then, on a family trip, we stopped at the then Catamount Brewery in Vermont (it’s now Harpoon’s Vermont facility), and my father picked up a case of Catamount Ale. It was an eye-opening experience for me.

As the industry grew, and tap rooms expanded their offerings, I became a craft beer journeyman, seeking out beers I had never had before – early on it was visiting places like John Harvard’s Brewhouse, and The Sunset Grill & Tap in the greater Boston area. With the industry growing, I visited more breweries, brewpubs, and craft beer-centered tap rooms and restaurants. Later, small, regional wineries were added to that list.

In 2007 I landed a gig writing for a regional publication about the craft beer industry, mostly because my wife saw the classified ad. From the fall of 2009 through 2015 I helped found and run Frederick Beer Week – the event that was the impetus for the Festival at the Farm at The Milkhouse Brewery in Mount Airy. I even spent 15 minutes working in a start-up brewery in Virginia as an assistant brewer.

I love the craft beverage industry, and have enjoyed most of the people I have met in it. And it all started with a beer. With my Dad over 30 years ago.

Cheers, Dad.