Good Beer Hunting

no. 472

Friends come in unexpected forms these days.

As much as beer has been a passport to new places and a quick way to make new pals over the years, being a small-business owner and creative person has yielded its own unexpected connections.

Anytime I travel to the Bay Area, I find myself tacking on an extra day or two for a short trip to Castro Valley, to sleep in the barn on a quiet, elegiac piece of property. It’s where Eric Stevens calls home. Surrounded by wild flowers, a few chickens, a mountain lion I’ve yet to lay eyes on, and a woodshop where he makes his living, it’s become an escape from my former escape.

Each trip culminates in a rough-and-tumble trek in the Land Rover to the top of the hill where the cows pasture. We get a good look at the horizon until the sun goes down. This time, we sat on the tailgate for a few hours and enjoyed some very special gifts from Tim Decker, a Fervent Few member who lives in the East Bay, and who started a small Wild Ale blending project called AltBrau.

We make each other feel better about the scary parts of running a small business. But we also bring each other down to earth: we’re both just humans trying really hard to be good dads, good friends, and good partners to the people we love. And then we make fun of each other for thinking that anything else is important at all.