What do you get when you take one unemployed brewmaster + one pair of pink rubber boots + Fun Finder travel trailer = an epic road trip of brewers proportions.
Teri Fahrendorf, former brewmaster at Steelhead Brewing Company is packing up her brewing uniform, pointing her 1996 Chevy Astro van in the direction of Bend’s Deschutes Brewery and heading off on a 10,000-mile journey across the country and back. Along the way, she hopes to find brewing knowledge, new friends, old relatives and of course, beer.
Lots and lots of beer.
While on her four-month trip, Fahrendorf, a 20-year veteran of the microbrewing industry, plans to visit as many as 70 different craft breweries across the country. She will be meeting some brewers for the first time, while others are longtime colleagues. Her hope is to actually work with as many different brewmasters as she can.
Fahrendorf will chronicle her adventures on a Web log (www.roadbrewer.com), which she plans to update weekly. She says the blog will allow her to share what she learns with other brewers.
A native of Wisconsin, Fahrendorf says she’s always loved beer, which she appreciates not only for the taste but for the rich history and tradition surrounding the craft of brewing. She learned how to home brew while living in the San Francisco Bay Area and working as a financial software programmer. Eventually, she quit her day job to study commercial brewing.
Her husband, Jon Graber, a marketing specialist and former brewmaster, was wholly supportive of the idea, even though he knew he could join her for only a couple of weeks of the journey. “I wish I could do it (all) with her,” says Graber, 45. “This is the kind of trip that, if most people ever take in their life, they take it when they are 18 or 20 – or 70 years old.”
Fahrendorf has sent out feelers to dozens of brewers asking them if they can host her while on her journey. Although largely self-sufficient, she will need a place to park her van and trailer and will need an occasional hot meal and shower. So far, she says, at least 50 brewers have agreed to welcome her.
Fahrendorf plans to log at least 10,000 miles on her road trip, and estimates she will spend about $5,000 on gas. She has yet to put together a full itinerary, but plans to stop in San Francisco, Denver and Chicago, as well as cities in Arizona, Maine, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.
A secondary purpose of Fahrendorf’s trip is to seek out a job. Although she’d like to stay in Eugene when she gets back from her journey in September, she says she’s willing to relocate.
“I would way prefer to stay here but the truth is, if it comes down to being a real estate agent in Eugene or being a brewer in Bend, (I know what) I’ll be doing,” she says. “I want to be a brewer in the craft brewing industry.”