Brugges, Belgium. Belgium not only has great bars but I found many exceptional bartenders. Thoroughly knowledgeable and willing to guide me through their many beers. Their beers would then guide me to intoxication land. “Ever heard of a session beer?” I would say as I stumbled out the door.
Waiting for that day to return
I have been fortunate over the last 8 months since returning to be able to sub-in a few shifts at my old stomping grounds. The hallowed 33 still allows me from time to time to dust off my corkscrew, pop a few caps and polish glasses. It’s been a temporary fix for me. The kind of fix that leaves me wanting more. Like that first beer after a long day, that first bite of a home cooked meal or that last day of a three day weekend.
I have spent considerable time since selling 33 delving into what makes me tick. It’s the age old challenge to define and categorize oneself so that one can seek and spend more time involved in tasks and challenges that stabilize and cement the feeling that one’s beer is always half-full.
There are only a few things that keep me completely focused and energized. Tending bar is one of them, the other is sitting in a bar with friends and lastly one of the things I most enjoy is reading a book while sitting in a bar after I am done tending bar. I guess I should have been born in a bar. In the almost nine years I was at the helm of 33, I never grew tired of polishing glasses, hearing the hiss and pop from a beer bottle being opened or the sight of wine spilling from a bottle into a glass. I never grew tired of seeing people I knew walk through the door. And on those days in the beginning when my body hurt and I was mentally fatigued from the first 5 years without a vacation, I still never grew tired of looking at a perfectly clean glass being filled with a beer and setting it down in front of a customer as I spun the label towards them. Customers turned into friends rather quickly in that great place.
Though I would be amiss to claim tending bar is a romantic endeavor. It isn’t. It’s a marathon of challenges, it’s late nights, it’s dealing with the occasional drunk, it’s listening as much as speaking, it’s trying to make people feel as they have just walked into your home and it’s physically demanding as you are judged by speed, accuracy, presentation and congeniality over 30 times an hour. Quick wit is also a plus which lends itself when used correctly to foster the bond that forms between bartenders and their patrons.
I became friends with many patrons over the course of my ownership of 33. I met them the old fashioned way by serving them drinks and exchanging stories across a long wooden bar. I got to know them when they celebrated and when they mourned. All the while, pouring a drink, polishing glasses and spinning a label. It’s the details that make bartenders good.
Though I am the first to admit, my days were not all perfect but I am also the only one that truly knows, I always gave it my best.
I guess what I am getting at is great bartenders by honing their craft can do a great deal to create community and the most important aspect of The Civil Life’s mantra is simply to find a way to create community. A place where people can come when life deals them great cards and also when life pulls the chair out from under them and all those places in between. A place that people congregate, listen to music, read and meet new people. And through it all The Civil Life’s beers will be there, helping all of us along the way. Sitting in front of you a casual yet engaging participant in your Civil experience. I am much looking forward to being there along the way. I am looking forward to pulling a draft for you, turning a label so you can see it and showing you all that we have in store for you and hell, because of this world wide web thing I probably don’t even know you and yet I really am looking forward to it. That is unless you are an axe murderer.
Two of my closest friends are joining me in this endeavor. Many of you know who they are and we are getting closer to making some introductions. I am doing my best to assemble a great group of people to deliver the Civil Life to earth knowing that each person that becomes part of this company must understand the necessary and worthwhile pursuit of fine crafted ales and a place worthy to enjoy them in.
Having said all that, we are really only opening a tasting room but it will look and act like a bar for the most part. Sure it will have some fly features to it, and sure you probably will stop in from time to time and grab a beer but we won’t be open the usual bar hours. I have decided to operate from 4 to (last call) 8 during the week. Saturdays you will find us there from 12 to 5 and if I am fortunate to make any money at this business you will find me spending all of it at local establishments that support Missouri Brewers.
I am not completely sure the intended message of this blog. In fact, the only thing I am sure of is that you can’t get the time you just spent reading it back. And quite frankly, that’s okay. Well, it’s okay for me.
We will see you around the Civil Life. If only it could get here sooner. In the meantime, the next time a bartender pours you a beer and spins the label for you to see it. Go ahead and complement him or her on their Civility.
Hello earthlings. I have been sent here to open a brewery. I hope you have time over the next year to check in from time to time and see our progress (or lack there of at times).
Morning beer delivery at Tynan’s Bridge House Bar in Kilkenny, Ireland.