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...and just before the shutter clicked (or whatever it is that happens on digital cameras) one of these fine ladies whispered into my shell-pink ear, "you're getting a Lucy sandwich." I must acknowledge that an inappropriate image or two did immediately flutter across my consciousness, together with a fleeting conjecture on the disasters for all involved which might have resulted had this moment occurred during my wayward youth. In these, my solitary and declining years, however, I quickly regained my focus.

There is much to be said for maturity...not all of it good.

And so, understanding the strength of will that made it all possible, welcome to the longest Liquid Diet posting yet (since the champion it dethroned was the "Posse on the Road" entry two weeks ago, it's hardly an historical moment, I guess), a report on a five-day California sojourn which included visits to Anderson Valley Brewing Company and Anchor Brewing Company, a pair of fine San Francisco brewpubs (21st Amendment Brewery & Cafe and Magnolia Pub & Brewery) a memorable night at what might well be the greatest tequila bar in the whole wide world (featuring a bartender who was personally requested to accompany the president of Mexico on a recent European trip) and an afternoon at the famed Toronado Barley Wine Festival (followed by a special "back room" tasting of dozens of other beers on the day after) and,, most especially, the grand 15th Anniversary Party for the nation's best brewspaper, Celebrator Beer News.

Here's an interesting bit of synchronicity, by the way. The three major elements on this trip--Anderson Valley, the Toronado and Celebrator--all came into existence in 1987, as did several other beer-related entities on the West Coast (and Stoudt's Brewing in Adamstown, come to think of it). When the craft brewing revolution finally burst upon Philadelphia back in 1995-96, I wrote that "Philadelphia has, as Philadelphia will, come a bit late to the party." Well, perhaps we have here a benchmark to indicate just how late.

So anyway, how was the weather while I was gone last weekend?

SOME BACKGROUND FOR THOSE WHO CAME IN LATE. One of the things I do to sustain my meager existence is write for Celebrator. In fact, a regular column covering this area and as much of the East Coast as I can manage will begin in the next issue, which should appear in late April, and we're in the process of finalizing arrangements to give Celebrator at least limited distribution in this area's bars and pubs alongside Ale Street News and Mid-Atlantic Brewing News. So when editor Tom Dalldorf told me about the 15th anniversary bash at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall, I was tempted to fly out for it, but hesitant. I then realized the party was happening on the weekend of the Barley Wine Festival and moved to the verge of commitment. Dalldorf closed the deal in a later message by pointing out that all the writers would be trotted out on the stage to be applauded by the gathered throng. I was definitely in. Hey, I haven't been applauded in a long time. Okay, never.

Enter Matt Guyer, owner of The Beer Yard, where I also help support what passes for a lifestyle by providing and maintaining all website content and performing other duties too complex for the full-time staff, or, heaven knows, management. Desperately fearing that I might enjoy myself entirely too much, Guyer offered to accompany me across the country and, since this could easily serve as a business trip, have the Beer Yard pay for accommodations and an auto rental for the trip to Anderson Valley. Not quite a Hobson's Choice, but close enough. In short, too good to refuse. Now Guyer is a mysterious sort, given to wandering off periodically and then popping up again seemingly out of nowhere. I think it fair to say that he has an attention span which is often chronologically challenged. So please assume that, even if not specifically mentioned, he is somewhere present during all the stories to follow. Or maybe not.

How It Works This Time. To simply things and to avoid your having have to scroll down this page forever and a day, I have broken this posting into five daily reports, each of which is linked immediately below. At the end of each of those are links to the subsequent one or, if boredom has set in or a new day unexpectedly dawned, a link back to this page. To this very spot, in fact. The fun begins with a click below.

Thursday, February 13: Boonville

Friday, February 14: San Francisco Dreaming

Saturday, February 15: Toronado Barley Wine Festival

Sunday, February 16: Private Tasting & Celebrator Anniversary Party

Monday, February 17: Unleashing the Inner Tourist

[posted Sunday, February 23, 2003 11:55 pm est] [end]

Malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man.

--A. E. Houseman

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