by Jason Shrum
Someone asked me, what my favorite part of the Road Dogs Tour experience is. There are so many great things about it that it is so hard to narrow it down to just one. Meeting new people every single day in a fun environment is certainly a plus to my job. Traveling around the city of Seattle and visiting some of the greatest breweries in the world is also something that cannot be topped. The great people that work at the breweries and elect to spend their time telling our tour guests about their wonderful products, and of course the many, many beer samples (although I do not get to drink) are also things that make my day great. However, if I had to choose just one thing, it would be watching the social dynamic of our patrons slowly evolve throughout our stops.
There is an eerie calmness when I pick my guests up for their adventure with Road Dogs. You can certainly see that people are super excited for what they are about to experience, but itʼs almost like they are wearing a poker face. Nobody really likes to show how excited that they really are. As we head off to our first stop we often discuss the history of Seattleʼs beer scene, and I love to ask some beer trivia in order to get people speaking up and comfortable with the other strangers that they are in the van with. Sometimes it is like pulling teeth. People are mostly quiet, reserved, and certainly want some else to go first. Itʼs a lot like being at a middle school dance. !After the first stop, though, people are certainly more relaxed. A few beer samples will help lend to that. People begin talking to those around them. Asking where they are from, what they do. And they begin asking me lots of questions about beer and itʼs beginning, and real conversation is starting to happen. They start getting excited about the trip and are a little less abashed about showing their excitement. !
The second stop becomes a lot more fun. People begin repeating back to me the things that they have learned along the way, and putting their newly learned beer knowledge into play. Describing their beers as “hoppy” or “malty” and asking more specific questions about the process of each beer that they try. They are now sharing with their new “Booze Buddies” pictures of their children, and pets, and asking them what they are doing later, because maybe they can all hang out. !
By the third stop people are mostly done listening to me. I could easily talk all day about beer and how it is made, but now they are much more engaged with each other. They are talking about flying to that personʼs home state or baby sitting their children for them. Phone numbers and email addresses are swapped and the idea that they will be best friends forever because of this experience is starting become a reality. By the time we have left the third brewery, in the three hours that we have spent together, I am simply the chauffeur. The next stop may not even involve me dropping them off at the designated point, but rather at a bar or restaurant that they can all hang out at.
A lot of times I get invited as well, which is always nice. !So my favorite part is that. The friendships. Whether they remain real or are simply fleeting. High fives, hugs, and smiles are honestly the best part of the Road Dog Tour experience.