Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Oh My God, Ommegang

Had to relay a story from my Dad about his recent adventure on a Winking Lizard hosted brewery tour. I attended a wonderful trip with him a few years back through France, Belgium, and Holland, and the latest installment sounded just as amazing. The key, is the participation and sway of the Winking Lizard. With 14 locations throughout Ohio, they are rapidly growing. And even more substantially, their customers imbibe insane amounts of beer. For instance, Ommegang, the Cooperstown based brewer famous throughout the land for their inspired variations, is a LARGE brewery, with a significant distribution network. You'd think that a national retailer (i.e. Boneyard) or a grocery store chain would sell the greatest volume. Not so. You guessed it, Winking Lizard, with only their 14 locations outsold every other retailer in the country. This fact leads me back to my original theme.

One of the stops on the latest brewery tour was Ommegang. Arriving a little after 8:00 pm, the tourists were treated immediately to an outdoor picnic feast, with wonderful pairing options beside a roaring campfire. On hand for the event were Ommegang's corporate and brewery leaders, taking time to greet everyone, answer questions, and chat amiably with everyone. The next surprise was the provision of the incredible Obamagang, a chocolate stout mixed with a kriek in honor of the election of the Nation's first black president. As the evening wore on, a guitarist serenaded the crowd. On their way out (and on top of the incredible graciousness already exhibited) Ommegang provided each tourist with a four compartment duck-cloth bag. In it were a specially aged Hennepin, a fluted glass, a Duvel bar towel, and another goodie that escapes me at the moment.

But the best is yet to come...

The next day, the crew was scheduled to leave Cooperstown at noon, leaving about three hours in the morning for sightseeing (of course the Baseball Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown). The hotel, a Holiday Inn four miles outside of town, was to provide a shuttle bus to accomodate everyone. However, the shuttle was out of operation, and a staffer was forced to take tourists in groups of three or four in to town. With forty or so people waiting, this was quite a process. So, my Dad, being the practical guy he is, decided to set out on foot. The walk is through some beautiful, canopied country roads (and would provide some good exercise to counter the beer). So, a small contingent embarked down the road. After some time walking, and not a car to be found along the road, the group heard the sound of multiple cars approaching. Curious, they watched as a number of luxury cars, Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, rounded the bend. Coming to a stop next to the walkers, the drivers emerge and to the amazement of everyone, it is found to be the Executives of Ommegang! They heard about the lack of a shuttle and immediately jumped to the rescue, ferrying the tourists into town for some exploring!

Incredible. When was the last time a corporate executive dashed out to pick you up on the side of a country road?

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