Program Notes and Updates (Exciting Stuff!)
I have been buried a bit lately, a state of affairs that will carry through the weekend. In a couple hours, I'm off to New York state for Belgium Comes to Cooperstown. It's really just a trip for fun. I've written a fair bit about Ommegang, including a chapter in Secrets of Master Brewers (Ommegang's Phil Leinhart is one of those masters, and he divulged secrets about witbier for the book.) The brewery is picking up the tab, but it's not really a junket per se--just a chance to finally get to meet folks there. (There's no agenda.) I do hope to return with some audiotape of Phil and Good Beer Hunting's Michael Kiser, who will also be visiting, so look for those in future pods. Michael and I plan to do a possibly meta dual podcast thing.
The thing that has really had me buried, though, is a project about which I am both excited and nervous. For the last few years, Portland State University has offered an online certificate program on the business of craft beverages, which helps prospective cidery, brewery, or distillery owners understand all the elements of launching such a business. It was developed by Mellie Pullman, a business professor who was in the 1980s the first woman brewer in the US. She's going on sabbatical next year and is looking for people to take over her teaching. I'll be co-teaching this term with Shannon Mosley, a graduate of the program who is now a distiller at McMenamins Edgefield and a cidermaker/founder at ^5 Cider. We'll be co-teaching the first two general overview classes (401 and 402).
For all the reasons you can imagine, this is slightly anxious-making for a writer. I'll be relying on my two decades of looking deeply at breweries and cideries of different sizes and approaches, but it isn't without certain gaps. I have not, for example, spent a lot of time in spreadsheets calculating the cost of goods sold. It is a real boon that Shannon's on board. If you're interested in that class, either the fall or winter iterations, I will be delighted to have you aboard (register here). The course is extensive and revealing; graduates definitely leave with everything they need to start a business--and a good deal more than most people who do start these kinds of operations.
Next, The Widmer Way is on its third edit. Ooligan, Portland State's literary press, is publishing it and they are doing a bang-up job. This is the fourth publisher I've worked with, and they are comparable to Workman in terms of the editorial oversight and promotional energy they're putting into it--well more than Storey and Chronicle. In addition to functioning as a normal publisher, it serves students who are pursuing masters' degrees in publishing at the school. They are smart, very engaged, and enthusiastic. Writers who have published books may find some of those adjectives as unusual as they are attractive. I will also be doing an audio version of the book and reading it myself, a first for me. As with the class, looking forward to it but a bit anxiously.
Finally, it looks like The Beer Bible is going to get a second edition sometime in the undefined future. It's not official and no contracts have been signed, but I have been discussing it with my editor at Workman--and pointing out how much the craft side of the industry has changed since I delivered the manuscript in 2013--and they agree it would be good to refresh.
All right, off to Cooperstown. Enjoy the weekend--