I spent the better part of last week traveling around the Baltimore area for the first time. I was there to shoot a series of short documentary videos we’re producing for Guinness as part of our Coming to America series. It was a fantastic few days of eating and drinking and shooting around Baltimore—places like WC Harlan, Bar Clavel and Woodberry Kitchen.
I have a ton of stuff to share from that part of the trip, but I’m going to start at the end, because that’s where my heart still lingers. I drove three hours south across the bay to Chincoteague Island, a long barrier island off the coast of Virginia, to visit a guy I met a few years ago at Wicked Weed’s Funk Fest—a brewer named Josh Chapman.
I’ll never forget him popping up out of nowhere late at night at the fest to tell me a story of a time he was visiting a cidery in Virginia. And as he started poking around in the back of the place, he got to chatting with the producer, and they started setting up for dinner in the back, a staff meal of sorts, and they causally invited him to join. He was stunned by the invitation, to what seemed like an intimate gathering. But he slipped right in, sat down, and did what he described as his own little version of “doing the Good Beer Hunting.”
There’s a lot packed into that summary of events, described as Good Beer Hunting, but it was all quite familiar to me. So many of my best memories are from unexpected invitations into someone’s small world where you learn what drives them, how they live, and how all that supports how they do business.
A few years later, Josh has his own little brewery out on Chincoteague called Black Narrows. It’s a small, family business with his wife and her parents, and it supports his two young children, the newest of which is only a few months old.
So he invited me by, set the table with some oysters and clams and corn and tomato pie, and had me sit with his staff for a meal.
While he prepped dinner in the kitchen, and the grandparents Bob and Wendy sat at the table with me, and his wife and business partner Jenna held the baby, and their little girl and her friend ran around the house, I turned on the mics, and did what Josh might call “the Good Beer Hunting.”