9/11/01 – Where were you?

Craft beer industry remembrance

Each of us has memories of where we were when we first heard the news that morning. Many from our industry were in Las Vegas attending the NBWA. Stories poured out from Las Vegas about renting cars – even buying cars – to carpool to points across the country to get home. None of us knew at the time how long the airports would be closed. We longed to be with our families.

I was at home myself. I woke a bit fuzzy after a late night of beers with business friends who were in town. I had a Board of Directors meeting early that day for the brewery I was involved with at the time. We sat in the hotel room where we had gathered for the meeting – glued to the images on TV. The meeting was not productive and we eventually gave up. All of us were trying to track down family and close friends.

I learned later that day that a close family friend, who I had worked with for a few years when I was young and who I considered a mentor, was on United flight 93. A one-time traffic controller at SFO, I knew he had tried to get into the cabin to help take over the plane.

Life stopped for all of us for a few days. But soon, things slowly retuned to a semblance of normal. Good beer had to be brewed and sold after all!

And so it is; our family of craft brewers has remained a family. An industry unlike any other I know of in terms of support and camaraderie for one another. Many things have changed since 9/11 – and some things have not.

Feel free to share your story of where you were on this day in 2001


  1. lhall says

    I was interning at Brooklyn Brewery. I had been staying with a friend who owned a loft in Tribeca, about ten blocks away from the towers. I had taken the L train over to Brooklyn and gotten to work, We had just mashed in at Brooklyn when someone came down from the offices and told us that a plane had hit the World Trade Center towers. I excused myself from my unpaid duties and went down to the river two blocks away. By then the second plane had hit. The towers crumbled into smoke. One of the taxi drivers who had stopped told me, “This is it. It’s war now.”

  2. GlacierBrewing says

    My wife and I were on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands. We had just finished breakfast and as my wife was settling the bill, she noticed what was on the tv and told me. It struck me as very odd that the major “news” networks were interviewing Tom Clancy for advice as to what we could expect next!
    Our two year old was in the isolated wilds of southwestern Colorado with her aunt and grandma (SAFE!!!) and we felt we were in one of the safest places in the country at that time. We ended up cutting our vacation short and driving non-stop from the San Juan Islands to Norwood (near Telluride), Colorado in fourteen hours at a frantic pace.
    On a bright note, September 11 is the day my wife found out she was pregnant with our beautiful, second daughter!

  3. MatthewS says

    I was working for John Harvard’s Brew House in Cambridge, Mass and had the day off. I worked alot of Saturdays back then…

    I was on my couch watching as everything happened, and immediately got on my bike and road to the brewery. I just needed to be around people I guess. For once… the last thing on my mind was our beer, i just wanted to talk with my family in NYC, and could not get through for so many hours.

  4. MikeRoy says

    I was filtering beer and washing kegs that morning when my co-worker came into work at 11 am and informed me of a plane hitting the the tower. We turned the radio on and learned of a second plane hitting the towers,then the Pentagon and another crash landing in PA….it was odd and disturbing day. I had friends in the NYC area but of course like everyone else trying to reach them on a cell phone, I could not get through.

  5. BMOOR says

    I was 4 months into the brewing industry, having left a stable and better paying career of teaching. Working for $8/hour as an assitant brewer made me wonder if I should head back to stable waters.
    On that morning we were half way through our first pint of coffee and mapping out the days work (ok, I won’t lie, we were struggling through the crossword puzzle-I loved working at a 300bbl/year brewery-10 bbl system. man those were the days:p ) ANyway, a crazy neighbor rushed in and demanded we turn on CNN in the pub. We did and dazed through the day with everyone else…..
    Flossmoor Station

  6. egonbrauer says

    I was working second shift at the Berkeley Pyramid, and woke up from vague dreams of disasters to NPR on the clock radio…thought I was still asleep, especially since I’d watched half of The Siege the night before. When I got in one of the first shift brewers had brought in his grandfather’s WWII service flag…

  7. tsewong73 says

    I was three stories up on a scaffolding working on stained glass windows at St. Patrick’s Church in Lowell, MA when everything happened. My co-worker and I had no idea what was happening until lunch-time. We had no radios or anything up there. Our site supervisor showed up at lunch time with supplies from our studio in Boston and told us the news. We spent our lunch in the church rectory watching the news.

    When I caught the train back to Boston later that afternoon, I was surprised at how quiet the whole city was. It was like a ghost-town. The city’s usually humming with crowds – especially at rush hour, but I probably only saw about 100 people while taking the T from North Station up to Harvard Square where I lived.

    Very eerie and very scary. Remember we had no idea what was going to happen next. Even over the next few days, people were really on edge because we thought maybe there would be more attacks. Folks on the T (subway/trolley system for those of you who don’t know Boston) were especially nervous. Even more nervous were the Arab people in the city. They were visibly scared. I got on the green line at Gov’t Station and stood next to an Arab kid who sat clutching a backpack and muttering a prayer in Arabic – just staring straight ahead at the back of the seat in front of him. Sent a chill down my spine. Thought he could’ve been a suicide bomber. I realized he was just a scared kid and breathed easier. I flashed him a smile when he did look up at me to try to settle him down a little. Didn’t help – he was still freakin’ out.

  8. Bill Madden says

    I was working at Capitol City Brewing Company in Arlington, Virginia at the time, less than a mile from the Pentagon. I had just mashed in a Kolsch and came around to the bar where the Executive Chef was watching the first tower smoldering and told me a plane hit the Twin Towers. At that very moment the second plane hit as we both watched in amazement. I forget which of us said it but the immediate comment was “that’s terrorism”.

    We started hearing rumors that the Capitol and Treasury Department were bombed from a sales rep that stopped in. We then heard a fantastic boom. I found out later that it was fighter jets scrambling to intercept the fated airliner that hit the Pentagon. Our General Manager arrived later that morning and told me that if I wanted to dump the brew and go home I could, I did not. I tried to call my family in New York and was not able to get through. We then started to have a stream of Pentagon employees walking up 395 and stopping in to watch the TV’s in the bar. I walked out to the pedestrian overpass and could see the smoke from the Pentagon. We did not officially open for business that day but served up free sodas and such to the folks straggling in. Then later in the day with the kitchen staff gone and the front of the house staff unable to make it in the GM left for the day. It was just me and my brew stuck to the images on the TV.

    I had a few friends who were in the Pentagon that day and had very close calls. I went to High School in New York and knew some who perished in the Towers and some who are still traumatized by their experiences there. My prayers are with them.

  9. RickH says

    I was still in college at the time, I got up early and got ready for a job interview downtown. I then drove downtown listening to a CD the whole time, amazed at how light the traffic was into downtown Seattle, I had no idea why. I parked, walked up to the door of the Columbia Tower (Seattle’s tallest building) to find it locked. I called the cell phone of the person I was interviewing with and she informed me of the news. I have never driven so fast in my life, I flew out of Downtown. I feared Seattle could be next and wanted to get the the hell away from our biggest building. I can still remember with remarkable details the sight of the Navy ships in the Puget Sound and the F-14 jets flying around the Space Needle. My house had a huge roof that my Frat bros and I climed up on and just watched the sunset. I remember exactly where I was sitting when the president addressed the country, all I could think was, this is war and this is history.


  10. Jephro says

    I remember it was a Tuesday morning because it was payday (i was broke and had only fumes in my gas tank) and Bob Dylan’s new album was set to release that day (which i have always found to be a very eerie coincidence).

    I was working for a hotel in my hometown Cape Girardeau, Missouri as a banquet supervisor when one of the servers (who was from Jersey) came running in and told me a plane had struck one of the Towers. As we stood staring at a TV the GM walked in and asked us what was going on right as the second plane hit ~ that was the instant we lost hope that this was just a horrible freak accident and knew our lives were about to change forever.

    We canceled all of the banquets that afternoon and spent the rest of the day in front of the TV’s in the restaurant. I left work, deposited my check via the ATM (the banks were all closed), and bought my new Dylan CD that i listened to at least 3 times while i waited in line to fill my gas tank.

  11. nwcw2001 says

    I was a cable guy commuting to work and like everyday, asleep on the ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle. I went to sleep with my radio on the local rock station. When I started the truck the news about the first plane was on the radio. The first thought was, “Is it the anniversary of the truck bombing of the WTC a few years ago?”

    I got to watch the whole thing, because we would “test” each cable connection by turning on CNN. Working in the North Seattle area, you hear planes every 3 or so minutes. For the next day or so the city was eerie and deathly quiet. When the planes were allowed to fly again we would stop and watch every plane that would fly over head.

    We had a kid I was training from Brooklyn at the time and he could not get a hold of his folks until the 12th. When he got a hold of them, he found out that his parents and sister had waked out of the towers at 8:45 am and the first plane hit at 9:03 am.

    Degrees of separation?

    God bless the families of the victims.


  12. Darel Matthews says

    I was 100 feet underground manning a missile silo. Saw it all live on TV. We normally had 24-hour alerts; that particular alert lasted five days.

  13. Damase says

    I was working in Pharma at that time. I had gotten to work early, was working as usual when I saw a bunch of folks head into a conference room to watch TV. I figured it was just another rep from the company talking it up on CNBC. Went into the room just in time to see the second plane… spent the rest of the day in a surreal atmosphere. I found out later that one of my friend was in one of the WTC buildings and made it out by a hair. It still is in my memory very surreal.

  14. Michael Murphy says

    I was in a bank in Rome putting a deposit on a new brewhouse… cell phones dont work inside but when I came out my rang immediatly, my childhood friend lived in NYC, he had called and said to go home and put it on CNN…
    I went home and sat in front of the TV for 4 hours… finally I had to go out and get a beer.

    Not a happy day at all.

  15. jwbelair says

    slogging through another day in purchasing and planning here in Rochester. It was a beautiful day. nice and sunny, slight breeze. My wife and i had just moved into our first house, and hell, it was my 27th birthday.
    At 9am, the day went straight to shit. I stuck out the rest of the day at work, and went home at 5 feeling utterly deflated. I sat in front of the tv with my friends that had previously committed to coming over for a celebration. We tried in vain to find anything not Twin Towers related on the tv. Eventually, the beer was all gone, and I went to bed. happy birthday to me. A day I once felt excited about, and now I am left with the images burned into my brain of the many that perished, and the losses that their families experienced 7 years ago. Bless them all.

  16. Moonlight says

    Where was I when over 3000 people died in NY? Where was I when their deaths were being desecrated and wrongly used to go to war in Iraq? A brewer friend of mine’s son Patrick O’Day died in Iraq when his tank fell off a bridge into the Euphrates River. I was marching in the streets of San Francisco to prevent his death. If you cared about the 9/11 deaths and the deaths from the war, why weren’t you there, too?

  17. brewbong says

    Hey was that you I saw on the news in a thong and pasties yelling “more tush less Bush”?
    I had a bird’s eye view of the entire catastrophe, including having to drive past the smoke and smell of decomposing flesh until 2 weeks before Christmas. I beat feet right out of town and I’ve barely been back since. When The Imperial Regime was re-elected I contemplated beating feet right out of the country. The memory I have of that day is a still photo I saw on some montage on CNN, of a jet turbine on West St. where I was waiting at a red light in a delivery truck, with a load of grain for Chelsea Piers, exactly 24 hours previous. At the time my second child was less than 2 months old, it really made me re-evaluate my entire life.

    Carpe Diem!

  18. NYSBrewer says

    I was at Middle Ages Brewing Co. in Syracuse NY brewing a batch of Ape Hangar Ale, the house beer for the Dinosaur BBQ. I was listening to Howard Stern and heard it all in real time on the radio. I was running off into the kettle, I stayed that day to finish the brew. I called my wife, knowing that she had no idea what was going on. She never turns on the TV or radio in the morning, just reads the paper and drinks coffee. She picked up the phone, knowing it was me due to caller ID and said,”Good morning love. Isn’t it a beautiful day outside?” Her her sweet voice and her innocents broke my heart. I said, “you have no idea whats happening do you? Turn on the TV. The World Trade Center Buildings have been hit by airplanes. They think it was terrorists. ” She gasp, turned on the TV and started to cry. She wanted me to come home, but I couldnt. She drove to the brewery to be with me for the rest of the day. We have a friend who worked in the Trade centers. She called him to see if he was ok. We were both shocked when we finally got a hold of him. He was fine, he went out drinking the night before, and was late that morning due to a hangover. True story.

  19. AlexisScarlett says

    September is harvest season– you reap what you have sown.

    We heard some of the news out here in “isolated wilds of southwestern Colorado” because the radio broadcasts had taken away the music and finally some field workers came to me to find out why no musica

    If anyone has had the experience of language failing you, like explaining imminent demise to a grandma or explaining death of a puppy or grandma to a toddler, this day was my failure. I have 3rd grader spanish and badly behaved 6th grader mexican . I could not explain what I could not understand. No verbs were conjugated. There was such little subject verb agreement and while I struggled, the second plane hit. There are some verbs I don’t know. I did not even know I was crying and trying to explain what the voice was saying.

    We climbed on the equipment to start making calls. The schools all said to leave our children with them. They were safe. We live so far away from anything why or how could anyone come here. Except for the folks from another country I was with. Then some called spouses but we lost the phones then. We have the last service here.

    We sat down. One of the older guys said” Why would anyone bomb America, their families are all here’ This is one reason I love my country– we are all here. The entire world is here. We all worked out who had family where and who might go missing and we were all removed from tragedy. Except…

    Another man called Mondo ( who carried me to the ER two years later ) said “I am sure some mexicans died but I hope, Andrea, no Irish died. ” Which is to say I hope your people were not hurt. It comes down to tribes and peoples. And when I hear the anger, I think of the damage that the angry ones have done to their own in the heartland. Oklahoma city and Columbine. Where we have no strangers– we fear each other until a stranger has to sit in a field with you and consider going to war with you or carrying you to the emergency room.

    America is a blessing, a challenge, and a struggle.

  20. SRB says

    Woke up in McCall to NPR and the first tower already hit.
    I was still smokejumping then and had to be to roll call by 9. So I didnt linger long at home. Initially I was just plain pissed off and irrational. Didn’t “they” understand the doors this opens up to the people in power? Of course “they” did. Ahhh…trouble. I scrambled out of the house my wife and I just shocked. All planes grounded including our jump ships. The jump base had a real black cloud hanging over it.
    The 343 dead fireman really hit me hard. That number to a single organization is crippling. All the deaths that day and all of the deaths that have come in the wake of that day are tragic and so wrong. But the 343 fireman dead just blows my mind still. Whole engine companies wiped out. Battalions gone. The smokejumper ships were some of the first non military aircraft allowed back in the air later in the afternoon. The pilots mentioned the silence on the radio and how strange that was. Alot of the day is just a blur to me. What a crappy day that was. Just a real junk kinduv day. LAME.
    One month later I was in Queens climbing trees looking for the Asian Long Horned beetle as a Forest Service sub for Animal Plant Health Inspection Services. The jumper group I was working with ran into the Murphy Hill FDNY pumper truck crewin the field and got invited to their firehouse that night for dinner. They had lost one of their guys on 9-11. Purple ribbons were up and neighbors had candles out in front of this guys picture. Giant 10 x 5 carboard boxes filled with teddy bears and notes from kids around the world filled the firehouse. They had picture book after picture book of FDNY pictures from onscene. The Mariners 🙂 and the Yankees 😡 were playing on tv in the pennant, mariners lost 😡 Dinner was delicious and shared around a room size table.They shared beer that “the beer guy” had been bringing over in kegs and cases. It was just fantastic and a real renewal for me. At the end of dinner the bell went of and Mike who invited us poked around the engine and yelled, “One gets to ride along!” Time slowed, and I broke into a sprint and just beat another of my jumper bros and got into the back seat of the engine. Next thing I knew with a smile as wide as the east river I was riding lights blazing down the tight streets of queens with Engine company 279!!

  21. Todd says

    I woke up in Ceske Budejovice after a coming from Cesky Krumlov the evening before. I was to tour the Budvar brewery that morning. Needless to say, I remained in the hostel for the day trying to decipher the Czech language in order to understand what was happening on the television screen. Many of the other young folks in the hostel were from New York City. One girl had a father who worked in the twin towers; she was absolutely hysterical. I can’t imagine that young woman’s fears to this day. It was a very frightening time for everyone because none of us spoke the language. Many people were making assumptions about what was happening, which sparked more fear. Another young woman was able to collect information as she received it from her parents in New York. She tried to fill everyone in on the details. It certainly made the remainder of my trip into Europe as interesting as it could be. I was almost afraid to return home and couldn’t if I wanted to, at least for a while. I was amazed and grateful for the amount of sorrow and encouragement the Europeans publicly expressed to the American people.