Thursday, August 20, 2009 was a red-letter day for me! Patriot Oatmeal Stout is now available to me, and my fellow Patriots fans, at Gillette Stadium, and will be on draft for the rest of the season! It was almost exactly ten months ago that I brewed the batch of oatmeal stout that won the competition, too!
The day started at 7am, when I was on WROR's Loren and Wally show with Jim Koch. That's me on the left in the photo. Loren and Wally, and their producer Brian, were all judges in the final round of the competition (5 beers were judged) along with eight other media folks and Jim Koch himself. So there we were at 7am opening bottles of Patriot Oatmeal Stout, Sam Adams Oktoberfest and Boston Lager and talking about BEER! For those who haven't listened to the show (and I'll confess, I hadn't until Katie told me I was going to be on it), it is VERY, VERY FUNNY! This group has a great chemistry and they are quick witted. Anyway, I found out that they are also very nice people as well as beer lovers, and funny. So it was a good time. Also one of the few times I've had my first beer at 7:30am!
It was also the first time I met Jim, and that was pretty exciting as well! Jim has lived the homebrewer's dream--making his beer at home and become a successful entrepreneur with it. Boston Beer Co. is a big homebrewing supporter, with the Longshot and Patriot Homebrew competition, and I appreciate that he hasn't fogotten his roots! It was a real honor to meet him and talk about the oatmeal stout and the brewing business.
Around 9am, we finished up and I headed to Logan airport to pick up my friend Skip Drew, who came in from Chicago for the big event at Gillette. A few hours later, Skip , my son Ethan and I were on the road to Gillette where we met my friend Andy Linn and then found Katie and Erica and Rob from Sam Adams for the start of everything. Jon from the Pats sales office brought us in before the stadium was open....and here's what the evening was like:
We headed up to the Sam Adams Brewhaus on the first level, which is the ONLY place in the stadium you can find Patriot Oatmeal Stout -- so make the trek, I think you'll find it is worth it! While the stadium crew hooked up the taps, Erica and Katie put up the banner on the brewhaus (we couldn't keep it there, so it is now hanging in my kitchen). It was pretty cool to see my name right there on the bar!
After that was done, it was time for the ceremonial first pour!
OK, maybe the first pours, because we all had to try the beer (except Ethan, who is underage)! It was a real thrill to have my son and my best friends with me for this event! I had to share it with people close to me and who are a big part of my life. Skip has been my friend since high-school, and Andy for about 25 years. Andy and I got the Pats tickets together originally in 1994 and have been going to games together since then. What a great way to celebrate!
After we did the first pour (or 2 or 3), while Rob took lots of pictures, a larger group from Sam Adams joined us. Erica and I asked a few of the people buying stout what they thought about it, and the response was pretty good. One man told me he never had stout before, but he heard me on WROR and wanted to try it -- very cool! I heard this from a several people I spoke with, and a couple even asked to have their picture taken with me--amazing!
Jon gave us all VIP passes, and took us down on the field to watch the players warm up.. This was a new one for us, and we got to see a lot up close and personal! We were also close to the cheerleaders (who, you'll notice, seem to be pretty young this year), and linesman and such, who work behind the scenes. This was very exciting and a great experience!
Just before the game got underway, they shoo-ed us out and we went up to our seats to watch the main event. Let's just say it was not the Patriots best effort, since they lost 7-6, but we had a great time hanging out on the 17 yard line (south end of the field). The view of the field was excellent, as we were in the 34th row up. Nice!
Finally, in the 3rd quarter, we went up to meet Jim Koch for photos at the brew house. I introduced Jim to Ethan, Skip and Andy. We took a few photos before Jim went down to do an on-field interview with Steve Burton. I got to keep the banner we put up on the Brewhaus, though, because the Patriots wouldn't let it stay on, and it is now hanging proudly in my kitchen! We also found out that the Brewhaus sold out all the stout they had on hand--though they brought more than they forecast originally. What a great start--and I think they will sell even more when the weather gets cooler, since stout is a great beer to warm you up on a cold day!
Then it was time to finish off the day with a visit to our regular seats, which were occupied by a friend of Ethan's and his dad, along with Ethan's uncle Dave and his friend Joe, and then head off to face the traffic on Route 1! Bad as it was, the traffic couldn't wipe the smile off my face thinking about the fun I had! Time to enter the next competition!