I could tell from across the Lobby Lounge that Rob and Stephanie were on vacation. They looked relaxed, a little tired and were drinking beer during the day. My kind of folk.
I approached them, and after a few minutes, I learned they were attorneys from Memphis, Tenn., who had to get up insanely early to catch their flight, experienced landing delays due to bad weather and were just happy to have arrived safely in Milwaukee so they could celebrate a cousin’s wedding.
Turns out, the only other time they were in Brew City was almost exactly two years ago, for another wedding at the Pfister.
Stephanie said she found Milwaukee very clean and Rob said he liked that it was less humid then Memphis. This is why I love talking to people from other places. I never thought of Milwaukee as particularly clean and just earlier that day, I had been “liking” posts on Facebook dissing Milwaukee’s cold, rainy weather and here were two people from another place who were grateful for it.
Maybe the grass is truly always greener. (Especially when it rains a lot as it has in Milwaukee this summer.)
I noticed Rob was drinking a Wisconsin-brewed New Glarus and he mentioned the last time he was in Milwaukee they went on the Lakefront Brewery tour. Spontaneously, I asked him if he was a home brewer.
This question caused both Stephanie and Rob to laugh. Slightly uncomfortably, though. Uh oh.
Me: Do you brew beer, Rob?
Stephanie: He talked incessantly about brewing his own beer about two years ago and so I got him a very nice home brew kit and a gift certificate to a supply store that’s still in the closet, unopened, so the answer is no.
Me: So what’s your excuse for not brewing, Rob?
Rob: (Laughing) Just laziness.
Stephanie: Every time I want to throw it away, he says he wants to hold onto it.
Rob: I feel guilty.
Stephanie: It’s expired. There’s not reason to hold onto it.
Me: Was this a birthday present?
Stephanie: It was a Christmas present. (Rob nods.) Actually, it was a birthday present. That was a trick response.
But this was not an uncomfortable conversation, because it was the kind of banter that is exchanged between intimately-connected people. It was truthful and flawed and endearing – like all of us can be – and once again I was just honored to bear witness to such a personal story about a real relationship.
The conversation then lightened and shifted to the local brewing scene in Memphis and they informed me that it’s growing quickly. Ghost River Brewery was the forerunner on the scene, but a fourth craft brewery is going to open by the end of the year.
Two brothers are planning to open Wiseacre Brewing Co. in the heart of the city’s art district. Through research, I realized there is a Midwest connection here: one of the owners, Davin Bartosch, was a student at the oldest brewing school in the country, Chicago’s Institute of Technology.
Memphis is also home to High Cotton Brewing Co. and Memphis Made Brewing Co.
The next time I am at Discount Liquor in Milwaukee – a South Side liquor emporium with the best selection in town (a liquor store with shopping carts!) – I am going to track down a sixer of Memphis-brewed beers so I can toast my new Memphis acquaintance-friends.
And Elvis, of course.