This past month marked a year since I started Craft Sessions. Originally designed to be an outlet for sharing my beer travels and experiences, this thing has gotten away from me in the best possible way. Since that day in June 2017 when I first hit “post,” I’ve had so many highlights and surprises along the way:
- The chance to participate in GBH’s Fervent Few community - a group of people that quickly went from fellow beer lovers to friends
- Experiencing the benefits of writing, the frantic feeling of forcing words that feel like they’ll never come and the calm when you let go and wait for them
- The opportunity to contribute to Good Beer Hunting and engage with a team of writers I humbly still struggle to believe I interact with regularly
- An unanticipated love of photography and new found respect for those who use a single point in time image to tell a complex story
I’m a firm believer in marking time by showing gratitude for what’s passed and setting intentions for what’s to come. For those coming along for the ride, thank you. I’m looking forward to year 2!
Hudson Valley NY, May 12 2018
Three years ago, my partner and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary with a trip to Hudson NY. Living in Boston, weekend trips generally mean you’re headed north or south - Vermont, Maine, the Cape - but, always staying within New England. New England and New York are their own little ecosystems - each have urban, rural, mountain and ocean options, so most have little reason to travel outside their respective geography. So when we arrived in Hudson, it’s no surprise that every weekender there was from NYC or Brooklyn. We didn’t mind - we blended in, enjoying that we were the lone Boston residents braving the New York scene.
Over the years and in different seasons we’ve returned to the Hudson Valley, exploring different spots with each visit and returning to our favorites. Scribner’s Lodge. Suarez Family Brewery. Gaskins. Westwind Orchard. Rivertown Lodge. Bartlett House. Alder East. With every visit we fell more in love with the area.
Yesterday we closed on a small farmhouse in Ghent NY - 10 minutes from Hudson, 20 from Suarez, 25 to Gaskins. Only 2.5 hours from Boston. I close my eyes and picture summer dinners on the deck lit by white lights, reading by the fireplace on a snowy winter day, and staring in awe at the foliage as we drive to pick apples in the fall. Never thought I would say this - but I’m a New Yorker.
Not that we need an excuse, but it seemed appropriate to stop in at Suarez after the closing to celebrate our purchase. It’s a Friday, so the taproom is calm. Sipping my beer, we chat with Taylor and eat our pretzels. I order my last beer - a Palatine Pils - and go to pay. “It’s on the house.”
In that moment, nothing could make me feel like a local more than those four words.
Strong Rope Brewing, May 4 2018
Brooklyn is always one of my favorite places to visit. The vibe. The food. The coffee. The cocktails. The beer. Not to mention, two of my best friends, Ted and Raf, live there. Every visit includes exploring a new spot - more often than not a brewery or bar. It's not like I'm dragging them along - they go willingly, even participate in finding our next adventure.
On a recent visit, Ted mentioned Strong Rope Brewing. It was on our walk home from dinner, so we decided to check it out. Ted navigated the way. We looked like tourists - iPhone out in front of us, the glow of the screen lighting the way. Raf and I chatted as we walked, when all of a sudden Ted said "we're here." I look around, wondering where here was. He meant at Strong Rope - we had walked right past it.
Walking in though, I knew why we passed it - the inconspicuous entrance tips you off that it's the quintessential neighborhood spot. Chill. A mix of regulars and newbies. No crowd. No fuss. Just a beautiful piece of wood acting as the bar, serving the beers you imagine drinking while chatting with friends.
Diamondback Brewing, April 27 2018
This past weekend I headed to Maryland for my Father’s 70th birthday party. Unreliable when it comes to food preparation, my siblings and I were charged with the simpler task of beverages. So, Friday, my youngest brother - Tyler - and I set out to gather bottled water, wine, beer, and juice boxes.
Knowing I would be in town, I reached out to the Diamondback Brewing crew a few days before. The team was busy prepping for their annual Greener Fest and can release the following day, but still made time for us before opening. It’s not often my “beer life” and family life intersect so I was excited to introduce Tyler to the team. We saddled up to the bar with Colin, Zach and David to taste their Imperial IPA, Greener Machine, and their new Zwickelbier, Cold Taxi - one of my favorite beers they’ve made.
Zach gave us a tour of the brewery, pointing out the differences from my last visit. There just 4 months before, the team has added another tank and started barrel aging beer. They’re cranking out more styles beyond IPAs and the beers are delicious. As the doors opened at 4pm, the crowds started to pour in and customers were eagerly asking about the the next day’s event. It’s exciting to see the team’s progress and the community’s positive response.
I don’t get home as often as I like so I welcome any chance to spend a chill afternoon with Tyler. Not sure when I will see him again, but one thing I do know - neither Tyler nor I are any good at ping pong.
Italy, April 16 2018
When I first got behind a camera, my photos were boring - almost lifeless. Monument. Museum. Statue. Moments were marked by the attractions I saw, not the people I interacted with. Over the years I’ve started taking more photos of people. They’re a more interesting and accurate representation of the life and energy of a city, brewery, or country.
But, in a popular city like Rome, the onslaught of tourist-driven hoopla can quickly dilute the authenticity of your experience. Men dressed as gladiators with plastic swords. Shot glasses with the Pope’s face. Peddlers with fake designer bags, selfie sticks, and glass knick knacks of the Colosseum. Within that circus though, there’s a strange humor and charm. It’s impossible to avoid, so it’s easier to embrace it.
This violin player was stationed on a cobblestone side street near the Pantheon - an optimal location for gathering change from tourists. Seeing us, he shyly took a step forward, his half-smile holding something back. Sensing our interest, his movements became more exaggerated - pulling the bow with gusto, moving his head with the rhythm of his song. As I raised my camera to take a photo, he squared his body, positioning himself for the shot. He had done this before. I reach into my pocket to grab some money for him. “Grazie mille” I quietly say, hoping my horrendous accent didn’t offend him. He smiles big, finally revealing a toothless grin, softly bows his head and returns to playing.
When in Rome.