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Happy Cinco de One Year Anniversary

It strikes me that if I was a crappy author who didn’t know better, I would start this blog with a half-ass line like…”Gee has it really been a year since we opened our doors? Where has the time gone?” That’s a fantastically original way of opening a piece. Perhaps I should opine or rip off a well worn opening…”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times (with apologies to Dickens).

Screw all that. I wanted to open my one year blog with a strong first sentence so here goes.

I’m tired. Actually, I am exhausted.

But things are seemingly getting better (that’s what I tell myself). In the last year, I have slept less than ever before. Worked harder than I even thought plausible and I have done it in the name of beer (our really great beer). And I wouldn’t give any of it back. This thing I do 24-7 consumes me in a way nothing else can. Some would call this work. But brewing beer really can’t be considered work. How many jobs do you know of when, if by 8:30 AM you’re not having a good day, you can auto-fix the problem by pulling a fresh pint? And if the first one doesn’t do the trick perhaps number two will.

I’ve come to the realization that this is a lifestyle. One that is infused with copious amounts of passion and enthusiasm. It’s the perfect way to go through life without ever being bored. There’s just so much to see and so many people to meet that one can’t help being invigorated. And much of this energy comes from you the faithful members of The Lost Abbey clergy.

By now, I realize that many of you have been paying attention and following along at home. I know this because when I see you each weekend, we reminisce about the week in the brewery and my travels here and abroad. Both come with great stories. Yet, I know that you have been listening each and every time I have enlightened you about our most recent accomplishments.

Last May 6th, we opened the doors to a new brewery project. Some of you thought this would be a “sleepy” sort of operation. Since that first day, we have brewed almost 2,000 bbls of beer. We have filled some 100 oak barrels with the most interesting libations possible.

During our first year we have filled these barrels with some great beers- many which haven’t even been released yet. And, we also managed to knock two barrel aged homeruns out of the park in our first year. Those of you lucky enough to sample the Older Viscosity and The Angel’s Share know where I am coming from. We made a major commitment to our barrel aged beers when we built that room. Thank God, it has churned out more great beers than Louisiana Hot Sauce.

I often forget in the day-to-day bustle to stop and account for what it is we have accomplished or for that matter are attempting to accomplish. This weekend, we are releasing 3 new bottlings alone! This would be a whole year of specialty releases for other breweries. Nope not us. We just call it the month of May. I guess I really am crazy.

I sat down tonight and popped a bottle of Lost and Found for my blog. It seemed so appropriate. There are many things that I have Lost this last year and so many things that I have Found. Besides, it’s a kick-ass abbey beer that I spent 10 years trying to get ”right.” And when I drink it, I know that I got it right.

This weekend we are adding three new labels to the Lost Abbey line of beers. This brings us to a total of 15 new bottled Port Brewing beer offerings in our first year alone! That is seemingly some sort of death wish or the result of having a clueless loon at the helm of your ship. Breweries do not open their doors, release a whole new second brand of beers and at the same time find a way to package 15 different beers in bottles. Yet, that is exactly the thing that happened around here in our first year. I guess you could say we are resting on our laurels?

Was this by design? Hardly. Was it a good idea? Um, did you read my strong opening? But at the end of the day, it was us. It was the Pizza Port of old and me the brewer of new with a bigger brewery on our hands. It’s been fun. It was challenging and at the same time, it’s incredibly ridiculous.

It’s my notion that most breweries our size open their doors with a core set of 4 beers and then mix in a seasonal beer or two. But that just isn’t in our blood. Nope, Port Brewing decided that we needed a whole bunch of beers to keep me happy. I call it artistic indifference. You probably call it ADD. Last month, I opened my Celebrator magazine to see my name in print. Typically, this is a good thing.

A British author who goes by the name Ben McFarland had this to say about me: “Tomme Arthur pushes more envelopes than a mailman on Crystal Meth.” At least he had the Meth part right. San Diego was the Crystal Meth Capitol of the United States for many years in the late 1980’s. But I don’t need artificial drugs and stimulants. I have you.

It’s no secret to me that I am inspired on a regular basis by the people that I meet. Some of you more than others inspire me to reach levels of spontaneity that I didn’t know existed. In this way, you are MY oxygen. You breathe life into my world and sustain all of my creative needs. In every way possible, you act as my elements- the things I need to breathe each day. The sum of these elements in my life is my beer and the things we are able to accomplish at Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey.

Life ceases to function when we lose the ability to breathe. I for one am grateful for those of you who have joined our crusade. There are too many bad beers out there. It is our belief that we are all in this crusade together, and that working together, we can eradicate some of these bad beers.

So a big fat thank you first and foremost to my partners. Gina, Jim and Vince- it has been a stupid first year. Here’s to many more where that one came from. To David our “web guy.” Thanks for holding and pulling together the strings that no one sees. You are the man who manipulates the Marionettes. Our Patron Saints and Sinners owe you big time. As do I.

To the people who have volunteered, bottled, and everything else. My heartfelt gratitude to each of you. This place is big. So big, that I forget three people can’t always do the work of 6. To Terri and Sage. Is it my turn to pass out yet? Thanks for teaching me the true meaning of “Masterbrewing.” You’re my biggest fans and as we move forward, no one can replace what you have offered.

To Josh Miner who has left us for Drakes Brewing Co. You’ll be missed. It’s a big building that needs help big time. Good luck with the new project and title. You know the phone number. I would be remiss if I didn’t offer a heartfelt thanks to the whole Pizza Port Brewcrew. These guys are the best brewers I know. I miss drinking with them on a regular basis.

I wanted to thank the Friday nighters and the Saturday afternooners. McDuggle we’re going to miss you big guy. The pleasure is all mine to each of you who has enriched this project. We may need a bigger bar next year when it’s all said and done.

Lastly, to my daughter Sydney. Those are taps. From them flows beer. This is the very liquid that infuses my body and one day will pay for your college. So smile at the nice people. Laugh and let them know how much you love Old Viscosity. Come to think of it, your daddy likes it too…

Happy One year to all and to all a goodnight.

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