I do a lot for our local beer community… lest any of you think that running a beer blog, and a local beer podcast is all about fun invites to soft openings, and drinking a ton of great beers, there is a lot of work involved. There is a lot of time that goes into this thing. I have always given 100% to a community that I hold dear to my heart. I should say that at least I thought I had given 100%. Then I got arrested for it. Well… that’s not the whole story.
The Idea Begins
Let’s start with the big question people have asked when I talk about this project. Why? Why bother with this? We have 38 breweries here in Cincinnati, all within 40 miles of downtown. Every one of these breweries has a personality. These taprooms are home to someone, and they are special.
When I started The Gnarly Gnome, I wanted to bring attention to a growing beer scene. I wanted to give people a little glimpse at the community that I hold so dear to my heart. I realize, however, when I talk to people just how many of you not just haven’t been to some places, but haven’t even heard about them. I wanted to tie it all together. I wanted to show people how expansive our beer scene is, while still being so close together.
I wanted to go to them all in one day.
“It’s not possible.” “You can’t go to every brewery in one day.” I have debated that with people so many times that I started to wonder myself… was it actually possible? If it was possible, how could I make it happen? I spent the last 3 months putting pen to paper and using mapquest, google maps and a lot of brain power to figure it out. This was no easy task. I had to recruit four people who would be willing to do a four hour driving shift… logging a ton of miles on their cars to haul me around town. I had to make sure that I would be able to have a beer at each stop without getting too drunk.
This day wasn’t about the drinking… this day is about tying a community together.
I lined up a friend to help out with video throughout the day (that’s coming soon… and it’s awesome). Once I knew it was possible… I warned my wife… I stocked my car with water and snacks… and we did it.
Let’s start this off by just laying the trip out, so you can see the route and what I had to drink at each stop. This was where all the planning went into things. Figuring out what route to take, and what times to be at each stop was crucial to the success of it all. I’m extremely proud of how it all worked out… well… almost all of it (we’ll get there…)
- Listermann Brewing Company – Taster of Pinky’s Out (5.8% ABV)
- MadTree – Taster of Sol Drifter (4.3% ABV)
- Fifty West Production Works – Full pour of Fifty West Lager (4.3% ABV)
- Fifty West Brewpub – Taster of Into The Sunset Golden Ale (4.9% ABV)
- The Woodburn – Taster of Han Solo (4% ABV)
- Nine Giant – Half Pour of Save Ferris Berliner (4.2% ABV)
- Bad Tom Smith – Taster of American Outlaw Session IPA (4.8% ABV)
- Streetside – Taster of Shadez And Bikiniz (4.7% ABV)
- Blank Slate – Taster of Change In The Weather (6.2% ABV)
- Paradise Brewing – Taster of Tropical Vanilla Porter (6.3% ABV)
- Mt. Carmel Brewing – Taster of Queen Bee (5.1% ABV)
- The Old Firehouse – Taster of Fire Escape (4.7% ABV)
- Barwell Winery – Taster of Golden Buggy (5.5% ABV)
- Cellar Dweller – Taster of Orange Ya Glad? (3.9% ABV)
- Narrow Path – Taster of Good Work Brown (4.2% ABV)
- March First – Full Pour of Pale Lager (4.7% ABV)
- Queen City Brewery – Taster of WKRP Chocolate Orange Wheat (4.1% ABV)
- Rivertown, Lockland – Taster of Divergent (3.8% ABV)
- DogBerry – Taster of Hooked Leg ESB (6.6% ABV)
- Figleaf – Taster of Pride of Cin-Day (3.9% ABV)
- Rivertown, Monroe – Taster of Strawberry Blonde (5.7% ABV)
- Municipal Brew Works – Taster of Weiz Guys (4.3% ABV)
- Quarter Barrel – Taster of Sestina (6.75% ABV)
- Fibonacci – Taster of Oberhausen (5.6% ABV)
- Brink Brewing – Taster of Brink Berry (5.6% ABV)
- Urban Artifact – Taster of Pinwheel (4.5% ABV)
- Great Crescent – Taster of Blonde (5.3% ABV)
- Mash Cult – Taster of ODJ’s Cut (Not Sure of the ABV)
- Wooden Cask – Taster of Kinda Light (4% ABV)
- Braxton Labs – Taster of Storm (4.8% ABV)
- Darkness Brewing – Taster of Mandarin Anomoly (4.2% ABV)
- Moerlein Malt House – No Sample… they closed early for Bunbury!
- Rock Bottom – Taster of 513 Kolsch (4.8% ABV)
- Taft’s Ale House – Taster of City Flea (4.7% ABV)
- Moerlein Lager House – Taster of Se7en (4.7% ABV)
- Braxton Brewing – Taster of Buzz (5.1% ABV)
- Rhinegeist – Taster of Uncle (3.8% ABV)
- Hofbrauhaus – This was where things took a wrong turn… no Sample here either…
Keep in mind, these aren’t high abv beers, and they are (for the most part) very small samples. When the day was through I drank 36 beers of various sizes (mostly 4-5oz samples) – and the ABV of them all averages out to around 4.9% ABV.
I’m going to guess (without knowing exactly the size of everyone’s flight glasses that I consumed somewhere around 135 ounces of beer in the span of 16 hours. When you spread your drinking out like that, it’s not the drinking that you struggle with – it’s the schedule. It was a long day. I was consuming much less than 1 beer an hour, because I knew that I wanted the day to be about something much bigger than getting drunk.
Ok, so trying to keep this as short and to the point as possible – The day went fantastically (the night maybe not so much, though). We were an hour behind the schedule at one point, but managed to get caught back up as the evening set in (Thanks to Andy Reynolds from Alexandria Brewing Company for being the star driver of the day).
The breweries were (almost) all really amazing at helping to make this possible. There were a few stops that let us in a few minutes before they were technically open, and there were a few that even though last call had been called, were kind enough to pour a small sample size to help make sure we could knock that little last bit out. There were places that don’t typically pour and sell just single small flight size samples, but that did just to help me achieve this goal. The fun at each stop, the kindness of busy and tired bartenders, it’s all a massive reminder as to why I was doing this in the first place.
It was awesome getting to at least stop in and say Hi to the people that I don’t get to see as often as those at the places that are closer to my house. This experiment was eye-opening, and it achieved the goal it had near perfectly.
The Not So Happy Ending
The night was scheduled to end at Rhinegeist. However, we were running around 20 minutes behind schedule at the end, and to facilitate my driver getting my video guy back to his car easier, we decided to flip our last two stops and wrap up at Hofbrauhaus. We strolled up to the main doors at 1:40 (they close at 2am) only to find them locked. Thinking the restaurant must have closed a little earlier than the biergarten (we had seen plenty of people back there, drinking still on our way down the sidewalk) we ventured back to the biergarten entrance.
Strolling into the biergarten, we were met by an employee of Hofbrauhaus who told us we had missed last call by 11 minutes. Assuming that a quick explanation and reassurance that we just needed a small (tiny even) beer to check the last stop off, that we’d be able to snag one – we explained the purpose of our stop that evening, and our journey all day. For the first time that night, we were met with someone who didn’t care. No… Hofbrauhaus had no desire to be part of every Cincinnati Craft Brewery, or the Biggest Cincy Beer Tour Ever. I took a seat on the bench closest to me in disbelief. This was how it would end? A denial? The biergarten was full of drinkers still working their way through massive liters of beer, and here I was, a beaten Gnome, only needing 4 ounces of the lowest abv beer I could get my hands on. I lost. I had been beaten.
After a few moments… the frustration set in. I knew I had to update those of you who were still following the progress on social media, so I fired up Facebook live to tell you about our failure. Upon finish the video I had the sneaky idea – we struck up a conversation over the fence to a couple finishing up their beers. Would they be willing to share a small sip of one to help me finish my task? Of course… Hofbrau (rightfullly so) came over to tell us that we couldn’t do that either. In sadness of a sure failure, we continued to talk to this nice couple who to their credit wanted to help very much, but couldn’t. We were telling them about our journey, about the mission, about who I am and what I do. They were wonderful people, and I was actually enjoying the conversation very much… almost starting to feel better about how our evening had ended.
Then all hell broke loose.
The Part Where I Go To Jail
I respect the police. I respect what they do, and the difficulty of their job, but the two officers that were posted up in the Hofbrauhaus Biergarten that night to keep the drunks from getting out of hand left a horrible taste in my mouth for the way the Newport Police Department operates. The officers came up to us and told us that we couldn’t get other patrons to give us beer. Explaining that we understood, and that we were just talking to them now, we were told we couldn’t do that either, and that we needed to leave. I expressed my disbelief that I wasn’t allowed to carry on a conversation, as long as I wasn’t blocking the sidewalk, or breaking any other laws. The officer started to get angry with me, and his tone started changing. “You’re not from around here, are you?” – “Ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse” these comments were what started our disagreement, but it was quickly ended when abruptly I was told to put my hands behind my back.
When I was put into hand cuffs, I asked what I was being detained for. “You’re not being detained, you’re being arrested”.
In shock and well knowing that I had not broken any laws, I spent the next 8 hours alternating between attempting to sleep on the concrete floor of the large white room I was placed in at the Jail, to trying to figure out what I had done wrong. In the end, I was charged with Public Intoxication (I found that out at around 4am after sitting in jail for a couple of hours). The law reads that meant I was:
manifestly Intoxicated, and a danger to myself or others.
This is where I get even angrier. Both my sober driver and my sober “video guy” were there explicitly to make sure I was not a danger to myself or others. Even if you want to say I was “manifestly intoxicated” which I also debate – its hard to say in good conscience that I was a danger because of it. On top of that, the dishonest account that was written on the police report is frightening… it states that we were kicked out of the restaurant (which we weren’t) upon which time we went in the back door and tried to “sneak in” and get patrons to “buy us beer” (which isn’t what happened). The officer states that my eyes were red and watery, and that I was unsteady on my feet…. so I was arrested.
It’s bogus, and I can’t afford to argue it in a court of law.
I will pay a $200 fine and plead guilty so something I am not guilty of, because I have no other option. This happens to people every single day, where they are falsely accused with misdemeanor crimes, and can’t afford to risk proving their innocence in a court of law. It’s frightening that the Newport Police Department can get away with this. It’s sad that Hofbrauhaus, a brewery that I used to consider part of the most loving community of like-minded people in any industry was willing to stand there and watch all this happen on their doorstep.
I’ll suck it up, and I’ll deal with it, but I won’t be quiet about it.
What I Learned
I think if I was going to take this to court, the judge would probably want to know that I learned something… and I did – but not really about preventing this in the future. Here’s what I learned from my adventure:
- It’s possible. You can get to ever current “Cincinnati Brewery” in one day – which is 38 of them currently.
- We are incredibly lucky to have a beer scene full of some fantastic people, who “Get It”.
- When people ask me what my favorite beer or brewery is… I’m justified in telling them that I really have no idea.
- The police can arrest you, even if you have done nothing wrong, if they want to… even if they have to stretch the truth to do it.
- When in jail… toilet paper can make a great pillow (I didn’t learn that until much too late unfortunately.)
- If arrested with Meth, swallowing your little baggie of it is an ok idea… but if you cough it up in the wrong spot, someone else might get your meth.
- The whole phone call thing… it’s confusing, and people aren’t going to help you notify your loved ones where you are.
The day was a success. That’s important for me to remember about all of this. I went to every brewery in one day, and drank at almost all of them. It wouldn’t have been possible without the help from a LOT of people. My four drivers… The Old Man, My Wonderful Wife, Andy Reynolds and Finally The Old Lady – you guys did amazing keeping the schedule that admittedly was a little tight and tough to keep. Andy… I love you for coming through for me on a day that I’m sure was already busy enough for you… Your wife and kids…. I owe them for this. Chris Payne, for being the star videographer and editor that this project needed to show people what It’s all about – Thank you, sorry you had to tell my Mom that I got arrested. To (almost) every brewery for helping me achieve this goal – especially those that went out of their way to do it. For the couple of you who were almost closed when I walked in your doors… or almost open when I pressed my face against your door – THANK YOU. I exist to help places like every one of you be a part of something bigger. To all the people who encouraged me during the day, and before and after the event. Your memes and happy words were awesome. If I ran into you during the day I’m sorry I couldn’t stay and chat longer – I owe you, and Thank You for supporting such a harebrained scheme.
Finally… To the city of Newport… I don’t thank you. You have some very terrible people working for you… dishonest people don’t deserve to prosper. Hofbrauhaus… I’m ashamed that you stood there, knowing the situation and watched things go down the way that they did. It breaks my heart to see that you were ok with it. People ask me what Craft Beer is about, and I often tell them that it’s hard to describe. Do you see the list of thank you’s? That’s craft beer. What happened at Hofbrau – that’s not craft beer.