Why Are You Here?

Welcome to the Wench's World--the A2 Beer Wench to be exact. If you've stumbled upon me, cool. What follows may or may not be directly related to the craft brewing business but it sure will be fun and many times profane as the circumstances warrant! Enjoy (or not) at your own risk!
Want MORE? check: www.brewingpassion.com

Saturday, July 19, 2014

St. Louis: Whaddaya Know?

Greetings Wench fans and yes, even you nay-sayers (Oh, rest assured, I see you out there)!

I am on a somewhat impromptu road trip and by "impromptu" I mean I got here and decided to stay the weekend (kinda, but you get me).
Washington University in St. Louis. Whether they "like" her or not, this has been a great trip!

Soccer Wenchling is at WashU for a soccer recruiting camp, an activity she does not care for but that is a necessary evil as we approach the dreaded "Junior Year" in the recruiting cycle. But since it's a long weekend of camp and Yours Truly was approaching "postal" in terms of stress back in the Deuce, Mr. Wench gently suggested that I hie myself hither, i.e. "get the hell out of town for a few days."  Bless his almost-knee-replaced-heart.

So, here I sit, in one of THE MOST ADORABLE HOTELS I have ever inhabited (and I've inhabited a fair few of them in my day), with long stretches of time on my hands NOT for packing OR for carting people around OR dog walking OR for contemplating my somewhat imaginary loser-hood OR unpacking OR house hunting, 'cause we found the new Crowe's Nest and after a Serious Renovation it will be awesome and we shall host a party. If you are lucky, you'll get invited. You know who you are.

Hold onto your hats St. Louis. Wench is in town!

Well, it's not like I'm hitting the club scene. I'm way too chronologically advanced for that. I am going to dedicate myself to some writing that I am woefully behind on, but also I'm eager to learn more about the craft beer scene in this city. I'm about half in love with it already (the city). The area around WashU, along with my precious temporary abode, is as they say "the Beverly Hills of St. Louis." There are some seriously gi-normous houses tucked along roads called Big Bend, Clayton and Skinker. But the are not the McMansion sorts. They are legit mansions. The ex-Realtor in me wants to check prices just to know what the things go for.

But I digress. It happens when I have all this time on my hands. St. Louis is a sort of compact, big city/small town thing that feels very much like my Favorite City on Earth. (points to you if you guessed it without cheating the link). The people are friendly, the skies are clear, the skyline is distinctive and the polar vortex is making it very pleasant outdoors. 

So last night a friend/Liz book fan who is a born-n-raised St. Louisian (Louis-gander? I should look it up) snagged me and we hit the Sam Adams of St. L for some delicious food and jaw-dropping real estate at the Schlafly Tap Room downtown. Amazing, impressive and delicious. You cannot go wrong with their brews. It was their annual Belgian beer and mussels celebration so I had their Kolsh (one of the best out there) then the Number 15, which was originally brewed for their 15th anniversary but is so damn good they keep it around now. It's fermented with a Bavarian style Hefeweizen yeast which gives it a very strong banana/clove essence. It was rich, delicious and filling and this from a gal who typically eschews this style.

I also had a minor "fan girl" moment when I realized I was grabbing coffee at "Kaldi's on Demun."

 I am a giant fan of Curtis Sittenfeld's books and adored her latest: Sisterland which is set in and around the WashU neighborhood where I am temporarily residing. I even shopped for the post-workout chocolate milk at "Shnucks!" Oh, the resonance. It's a great book. Anyone who can write a book and make me feel like I'm in a place with their descriptive prose yet deceive me into feeling sympathy for characters that are as complex as hers AND make me gasp when I realize "OhEmGee I'm IN the coffee shop where Kate and what's-his-name the hot Mr. Mom next year hang out with their kids!"  I'll agree that the book does border on the tedious with some detail for some readers but for me it sings with the beauty of the everyday, just like most of her books. Anyway. I had a tiny, internal "Squee" moment there. I'm all better now.

Oh, and by the way, The Cheshire where I am hanging out not only has "author themed rooms"

 it was the setting for a few crucial scenes in one of my fav George Clooney movies: Up In The Air. Yep. Oh, and you really ought to click that link if for no other reason that to read the title of the blog post about it. #classic

OH! AND I learned that the healthy fast food place I really should own stock in was founded here and, as a result, is NOT "Panera" but "St. Louis Bread Co." or just "Bread Co." as my friend/fan/tour guide informed me last night!

So, today my friend is taking me a small tour of a few St. Louis micros. We are going to hit Urban Chestnut, The Civil Life, 4 Hands and Perennial. I'll post pix and reviews soon!

But for what it's worth to ya St. Louis, you are a lovely city so far!

And now I must crank some words before dialing into a photo shoot for my upcoming series The Love Brothers--a BeerWench Enterprises publishing project (coming January 2015. Love Garage, book one already has a Goodreads page, thanks to some fans who got an early read of it. Book 2 is Coach Love, Book 3 is Love Brewing).



Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Month That Was-----------A Personal Essay

As many of you know, I write stuff down and, on occasion, people pay money to purchase said words. When I put my feet firmly on the path toward life as an “author” I could run on three hours sleep thanks to the raw, invigorating adrenaline rush of being able to DO such an amazing thing. To concoct characters, scenes, plot twists, and of course, "naughty bits" that were utterly devoid of the words “purple” and “mushroom shaped.”

It was a total buzz. I sucked at it of course, as all newbies do and I’ve endured a lot of harsh editing sessions,  which have gone a long way towards making me slightly less sucky.

The muse struck me at an odd time. I’ll admit it. I was not one of those kids with the spiral notebooks stuffed full of story ideas spilling out of my closet and desk drawers. I was what I considered “the consumer,” not “the producer” of books. I was, and still am, a rabid consumer truth be told. Grandma Wench (a.k.a. “me mum”) taught me to read as a project using Montessori methods, whatever that still means. What it means practically speaking is that I can read in “clumps” of words. I can take in whole sentences somehow—don’t ask me how, Mr. Wench is still amazed/annoyed by it. And as a result I read very fast. Ergo, I consume books at a very high rate.

Until lately.

But I digress.

Recently, I have found myself with a fair bit of time on my hands. I also discover myself doing a fair bit of staring into the nearest available mirror with a dismayed look on my face. The method to the madness that had been my life for nearly seven years dictated the ebb and flow of my days and nights. It was crazy, but it worked. So I thought. But that carefully constructed chaos got upended like a cheap wheelbarrow, leaving me panting on the side of the road, literally hyperventilating at odd times (like in the grocery store), wondering what in the hell I had done (and my startled physician scrambling for his prescription pad, bless his helpful heart).

What I had done was to exchange a sales career in favor of a dream. One I believed in 150%. Hell, 250%. Hell....if you ask me to be honest, I STILL believe in it.

For the past 6 years, I have written books between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Or, sometimes when I’d fall asleep at 10 p.m. that rascally Muse would rouse me at 5 a.m. and we would spend some Quality Time together until 7 a.m. The hours I would spend in the car or coffee shop during Wenchling soccer practice were extremely creative.  I had a two-track dream. I was a writer who didn’t call what she did for a salary the “dreaded day job.” I was really lucky. 

"This is an awesome opportunity for you!” many of my friends said last month as I gripped whatever alcoholic beverage they’d shove in front of my sniveling face. “Now you can write during the day! You can participate in the final Wenchling’s final days at home! You can stop living burning the candle at both ends! It’s an opportunity. A door closes! A window opens! A hang in there cat poster!"

***at that moment I’d be ready to heave said friend out that open window, but you know, I was emotional. Here's your damn cat poster***

For the last 30 or so days I have been doing what some would call Extreme Introspection (others would call it “navel gazing” but they’re probably the same ones who think the World Cup is a liberal conspiracy to turn normal Americans into cheese-eating, skinny Europeans).  

And I have decided that all the Deborah Downer-ism regarding my self worth is just plain wrong. There will always be dreams around to pursue. And for me, nothing worth doing is worth a damn if I don't sweat blood over it, no matter where I decide to direct my creative energy now that I'm in a "one door closes" stage of my career. 

I built something, you see.  I built myself. I learned about an entirely new industry more or less on my own. I went out of my way on my own dime to know all I could, to write about it, and to meet everyone I could find who had succeeded at it. I made some amazing new friends. I learned how to temper my opinions and tolerate those that I disagreed with. And along the way, I wrote 24 books, got a few of them published and managed to remain married. This is no small feat I assure you. 

Yes, I was irreverent at times dare I say shocking but yet amusing. 
Yes, I was drawing attention to myself. 
But when all you have to start is a personality and a dream, well, you go with ya got. So I did. And I continue to do so. Hate all you want.

I have a lot of people to thank for muddling through this period of my life with me. First of all Mr. Wench, who, by way of his unflagging support interspersed with annoying bossiness, taught me the value of reaching out for something that seems unattainable, while remaining firmly rooted in the reality that "data don't lie." This, above all things, is my live and learn take-away.

During this last 30-day period of tiptoeing-around mom-lest-she-burst-into-tears-yet-again-or-scream-and-throw-her-glass-at-me, my entire family has been amazing. I also need to shout out to Grandma Wench, who not only dragged her friends to every damn event I asked her to, she also stayed steadfastly supportive, providing the bottle of wine I needed at midnight without a single question while Mr. Wench was overseas for his day job.

I won't name any names but the rest of you know who you are.

Having finally admitted I'd lost the joy I once got from the act of reading and writing I can acknowledge that the pressure I put on myself to Be the Bestseller NOW to make up for my apparent failure at Beerwenching drove me to all sorts of strange behavior. (See above: hyperventilating in Busch’s on Main Street when I realized I was standing in their beer section for no real reason.) I now despised something I had once enjoyed. I would sit down to a fresh document, ready to create my way out of my funk and just seethe. I swear smoke came out my damn ears.

And so, by way of this little bit of “personal essaying” (inspired by none other than Michigan’s own Mardi Jo Link, author of the coolest bit of “get over yourself and get on with it” I’ve ever read and who signed my copy at the Ann Arbor Book Fest last weekend. Insert a "squee" here if you are the type.) I am declaring myself “negative pressure free.” At least for a few days.

 I am writing for pleasure again. Without an eye towards "the lists" or any of that crap. 

I think we can all be accused of starting things only to drop them. I've done it, usually with regards to "diet" or "exercise." But never, ever with regard to a real dream--even when I come to find out that the dream was, at the end of the day, no longer mine to worry about. (aside: "Being a size 6 again" has morphed into the "fantasy" realm. And I like to drink too much to worry about that nonsense anymore.)

I don’t know what my future may bring, but I know I have some viable options. The career I heaved aside so casually beckons. My former colleagues seem to (gasp) want me back. And you know, the books about those naughty Realtors are STILL my best sellers… I detect a new story, perhaps a sexy thriller, set in empty houses around The Deuce, with beer, or more possibly bourbon from a new craft distiller in town since I'm deep into research about such things now anyway. I don’t know…But it sure was cool to hear the words "you should keep writing" in conjunction with "we want you back."

Either way, The Wench Clan is on the verge of a few massive changes (of house) among other things. And I guess that, even though I had to get almost all the way to 50 years old to have such a thing happen to me, I have learned a lot about myself along the way.  The most important thing being: I can do anything I put my mind (and my heart, time and 100% effort) to, and I value every god damned second of what I did.

Want to read a bit of what I’ve managed to produce? Check out my AuthorPage on Amazon. I have books set in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Manistee, Traverse City, Las Vegas and (yeah) Istanbul, sometimes around the beer biz, sometimes soccer.  There's even one inspired by the Falling Rock Bar in Denver (and the GABF). And while some call them “romance” I call them “relationship novels with unpredictable endings, many times with the sex left in the story, so don't say you weren't warned.”  Thanks again for listening, and for propping me up.

Today's playlist....a mix of things....shoot me down if you will, but I am...

and I don't know, Marshall is speaking to me here...probably because I'm pondering a new Black Jack Gentlemen novel and THIS is their warm up tune. OR maybe 'cause I just love me some Eminem 'tude:


P.s. Because many of you claim all I know is "hot man torso" here ya go! hate to disappoint!


Monday, June 16, 2014

End of an Era--OR The More Things Change...

Good Monday Morning Beer Wench fans, followers, stalkers and (new) haters! What follows is an advertisement for my personal  HOUSE FOR SALE thinly disguised as clever blog posting. Seriously. I am that good.

I am feeling all summery this morning, sitting in front of a fan with my second cuppa, awaiting a soccer match between these dudes…

sorry. distracted AGAIN!

 But I am also pondering how very strange this summer might turn out to be. The Wench family has always been a bit…nomadic, I guess you could say. When we arrived in the Ann Arbor area for the first time with nothing but Wenchling numero Uno and a vague idea that "winters in Michigan" were to be feared back in 1994 we had zero idea where that would lead us.

Where, you ask, oh Beer Wenchie acolyte? Well, our first house in Kerrytown was a special one for us. It was where the spawn was joined by a second, and where I went from "membership specialist" at a local non profit, to "mom of 2 kids under 4 trying to still make money consulting" to "licensed Realtor" (yes that word is trademarked). By 1997, I had my real estate license and was being trained by one of the most respected brokers in the area, Jim Anderson.

But of course, "things change," as we say, and like the plot of a novel you would have to put aside and go "please, that sh*t never happens in real life!" our little world got upended when:
1. I found I was carrying yet another spawn…erm…"wenchling"
2. Mr. Wench took an international assignment with the Major Car Company that was paying the mortgage and stuff.

So, in January 1998 we put our feet on the path towards "professional ex-pat-ism" with a move to Hiroshima, Japan. I started out dragging a 5 year old, a 3 year old and harboring one more through more airports than I care to recall. We returned after many and various adventures in Japan, Turkey and England with a brief layover in Overland Park, Kansas (wow you wanna talk about culture shock!) back to the Deuce in 2004 with a 13 year old, an 11 year old and a first grader. We landed nicely, in a house on Delaware Drive, in a neighborhood I had always admired when selling houses (briefly) in the nineties.

So in 2004 I picked up my life as busy mom and Realtor, this time with the Charles Reinhart Company. Through the past decade, lots of things have changed. As many of you know, I made some fairly serious life decisions with regard to where I wanted to put my creative energies. As a result I am very proud to say that I have published 20 books, am on my way to snagging an agent with a thriller novel, and plan to self publish a series in January that is already named as a "most anticipated" on Goodreads.

During the last half of the last decade I also transformed myself into this very "Beer Wench" you all adore (or despise) so much, complete with bar opening and closing experience, draft box and festival management bona fides and 30 extra pounds, PLUS I became fairly adept at "adverting by spending minimal money" a.k.a. "social networking."

But I digress. My life as Beer Wench was one I chose and I don't regret too much about it even today. Although you'd think I'd learn a lesson or two--I was, after all, once arrested by the Turkish Gendarme and they couldn't wait to get rid of me either. But you know, I'm not complainin'. Just sayin'. 

However, the changes….they are a comin' (again). Based on some decisions made regarding Mr. Wench's career during the "Beer Wench Transition Years" that kept us in Ann Arbor, we sort of blinked three weeks or so ago, looked at each other and said, "Damn. Time to downsize." 

So I would yank the Realtor Hat back on for a bit, pondering why I tossed it aside in the first place, and present to you:
2257 Delaware Drive.

New kitchen

New bathrooms

New patio

fresh interior paint

finished basement with 5th legal bedroom (perfect for a Wenchling studying for the pharmacy school entrance exam…bless him)

and one of the most beautiful backyards, fully shaded by an ancient silver maple tree you'll find!
It's available now. If you want a peek, snag your Realtor or call mine, Frank McVeigh.

Never fear, those of you who care. The Wench family will be hanging around town a bit longer, just in smaller digs since, you know, I hate cleaning and all that. Smaller is Better! (what she said)

CALENDAR NOTE: I will be reading from one of my books (Mutual Release) as part of the Ann Arbor Book Festival's Moonlight Book Crawl Saturday, June 21. Yeah, that title sounds all nasty BUT it's one of the Stand Alone novels of my top selling "Stewart Realty series" set right here in Ann Arbor about a fictional (NO THESE PEOPLE DO NOT EXIST I MADE THEM UP but you will love them!) bunch of folks who sell real estate and own and run breweries and distribution companies. Yep, you know "write what ya know," at least for now! And the titles? Well, if you are a realtor, you will get them all.
Anyways, I'll have copies of the "Jack and Sara Trilogy" (first 3 books of the series: Floor Time/Sweat Equity/Closing Costs in one bundle), Mutual Release, and the award winning Essence of Time, also a stand alone novel within this series on me in paperback form for your purchasing pleasure (cash or check, please and thanks).

WHEN? you ask! WHERE oh Wench can we hear the melodious sounds of your slightly Southern drawl as you read from your tome? 
SATURDAY, JUNE 21 5 P.M. AT THE BLUE TRACTOR BBQ & BREWERY! Book and a Brew…yup. I'm all about that. and I can't wait to see you there! 

GO USA! And lest you forget that I do love the Beautiful Game and watching the Beautiful Men who play it every day for the next 10 or so…..THIS (and yeah, I objectify, but I also appreciate)

ABC US News | ABC Celebrity News

oh….and for all y'all who think I don't offer equality in terms of objectification….

(look! what I got for running my mouth on twitter about the #USMNT so much! The marketing genius boggles even MY mind!)

A moving on
Thanks Homer, this is now my mantra.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Women. Beer. That's All You Need to Know.

Ok, so as some of you know (and the rest of you fake it to impress me), I am one of those: "women in the craft beer business" types.


Still here and actually working to improve my knowledge base by pursuing a full Cicerone certification (with the help of my beer buddy Annette May from Merchants in Dearborn) in the coming months.

Lots going on….but at the risk of digressing I want to point out something to you relative to We Women in the Craft Beer Biz.

Here in Michigan (The Great Beer State) there are some of "us" who want to formalize ourselves into a group that can help educate more women about how great beer is, and bring more XX chromosome types into this business.

To that end, I would present the following, spearheaded by Pauline Knighton from Shorts Brewing.

Ladies, welcome and let me be the first to say…oh, never mind, I should probably just say nothing!

READ ON and fill out the form, join us in Saugatuck (one of MY personal favs) and at Unity, Witch's Hat and Short's for some brew days!

Intro of the Group:

A group of women are interested in starting a trade group for women who work in Michigan's craft beverage industry (beer, mead, cider, etc.). The goal is promote education and diversity, create networking opportunities, and camaraderie amongst women in the craft industry. Name TBD (vote in the google survey below!)
We've already met a couple times, and we are currently forming a non-profit and deciding the structure of the group. We have decided not to be a chapter of the Pink Boots. This is because they do not allow non-craft beer members. We believe Michigan has such a strong community in the craft beverage world that we cannot leave people out. We also want to direct where the funds go that we raise (as scholarships and educational opportunities for members).

We are gaining momentum as more and more women across the state are interested in joining and growing this group. As a launching event for the group, we are organizing brew days at breweries across the state for the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Fest at the end of July. Each brewery that is participating is coming up with a style and we will have a unified label that will advertise the beer as part of the group. We will take this opportunity to get the word out about all the breweries participating on social media, blogs, and the Michigan Beer Guide.
If we're going to be a state-wide organization, we need establishments from all regions (and craft beverage industries) to get involved. If your establishment is interested in brewing a beer for the Summer Fest please let me know. If you are not able to brew a beer, but have women staff members interested in learning about the group and its formation, please take a look at this Google Survey so we can get your information and areas of interest. We encourage you to forward this on to any women in the professional industry who would have interest! 

Google Survey: This gathers your contact information as well as your areas of interest. This is your opportunity to vote is some of the group's structure.

Group Meetings:
The structure of the group is still being decided. We know we will have to rotate locations and days of the week for the meetings in order to have lots of women participate. There is a chance the state will be divided into regions and then a board of directors that will travel to meetings around the state. (In discussion)

Next Meeting:
June 13th at 6:30 (Time to be confirmed soon) at Saugatuck Brewing Co. Megan is being very generous and welcoming us into the brewery. She has also extended an invitation to camp on her property if you enjoy camping and don't want to hit the road that evening. If you want to make a whole day trip out of it, join us in the brew that afternoon. Please let me know if you can join! 

Scheduled Brew Days: All women welcome to these brew days to help out!
Saugatuck: June 13th @ 12pm
Unity Vibrations Pepper Peach Kombucha: Week of the 23rd (contact Rachel info@unityvibrationkombucha.com)
Witch's Hat: June 29th
Short's- TBA

More to be announced soon!

So, there you have it Ann Arbor Beer Wench (remaining) fans.

If you are in ANY WAY affiliated with the craft beverage industry in this great state, fill out the goggle form and join us on June 13 in Saugatuck!

I'm going AND I'm "staying over" (but not "camping out"--this Wench does not "camp out") so I'll buy you a round!

A Somewhat Diminished but No Less Enthusiastic,

p.s. If ANY of you has a screen shot I'm looking for in the new Robocop 3 remake DVD, let me know! Use the email beerwench1966@yahoo.com and send it along! You could win a Wench Hug!

p.p.s. If it's noon on a Friday in Michigan is it ok to have a Short's Huma Lupa Licious? I think it is.

p.p.p.s. Have a great weekend! I have an Arbor Brewing Strawberry Blonde queued up next….

p.p.p.p.s. Got a beer you want me to try and review? email me and let's talk! beerwench1966@yahoo.com