Sunday, November 18, 2012

Good Brews, Good People, Goodness Gracious

On Saturday, I took on the task of photographing the glad folk imbibing (which is a fancy way of saying I stood around getting snapshots of happy drunks) at a recent beer tour and tasting at The Burnt Hickory Brewery. Some friends politely complied with a request to "bask in my presence," which made getting some good shots that much easier. 

Lit up by the beer and the intense afternoon sunlight, most patrons eased into a good-natured, friendly, and pliable disposition by about beer thirty. Which is to say, when I asked the boys in their kilts to show me some leg, their white thighs enthusiastically presented themselves before I knew what to do with myself.

People get down right congenial and shit and start clinking glasses with people they've never met. God bless America, it's lovely.

Babies, retirees, and college age patrons mingled gladly in their little alcoves or in the adjacent parking lot, their shadows overlapping as they wandered in and out of the brewery, a smallish, locally brewed craft beer establishment whose front door is about twelve steps to the back room where the beer is made in vats the size of a brusk and burly brewer (approximately).

Behind the taps, three somewhat elvish and adorable helpers doled out samples to tour goers like laid back, twinkle eyed assistants to a hopped up beer Santa. I may or may not have indulged in a tame fantasy which involved being reprimanded for my bad beer writing by a threesome of wry-smiled beer elves in short-shorts, green stockings, and a trio of white-trimmed Santa hats. Something tells me I wasn't the only one toying with the idea of having my name on the naughty list.

While I took pictures, I picked up a range of home brew talk from this community of dabblers, debutantes, and devoted home brewers. They exchanged beer stories and brewing tips, relished the subtle aromas and gently argued over the finishing notes of their beer, and even let loose a few optimistic admissions of opening their own craft brew business.

It was encouraging to see such gladness and generosity changing hands. Glasses clinking in a mutual toast to merriment and marvelous beer. Maybe I had my beer goggles on a little too tight, or maybe it was because I was looking through a lens that everyone seemed so backlit.

People are different when you position them in front of a camera, and if I'm being honest, I'm different too. The happy faces accumulate in my brain as the shutter clicks, freezing the buoyant gladness of strangers and friends alike as I frame them up and introduce myself, the "photographer" (and not the mother of one who usually prefers her own company to that of complete strangers and the unspoken conversations of the woods to unfamiliar chit chat). 

Mostly though, people just look so beautiful when they're happy, when the sunlight pours down, rounding the wisps of stray hair into a halo of sorts, their inhibitions eased just enough to smile at complete strangers and introduce themselves. All the world just a little more golden with the glass in your hand full of a gorgeous strawberry blonde brew. The tap only steps away from your children who are gladly entertaining themselves with chalk on the pavement. The charcoal fog of a nearby grill waving through the crowd in drifts. Everyone squinting and showing their big teeth, leaning a little on the nearby brick walls, or into each other. Linking their arms, or gingerly grasping each others elbows in the soft, filtered light of the tasting room (all of which tends to happen when you have such excellent beer in your midst).

And the beer. To say nothing of the beer would be a sin. Let me just say this, and then I will save the rest for a separate post so as not to do it an injustice. They might be a small brewery, but these are some excellent, assertive, and interesting craft beers that can really throw their weight around.

All of which is to say, I had a great time, and you would too. All aboard, ya'll. All aboard.



  1. Great fun day, and great pics! I love the way you grouped them. It's funny that the grinch in the bottom left actually has a twinkle like Kris Kringle and the little elf in the bottom right may or may not be flicking off the camera. The shot of the two kilt lifters and Miss Tennessee is golden! It should be a beer ad. Or a Tennessee ad. Or a kilt ad. <3



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