Starting a small Tavern in rural Northern California. Barley and Hops Tavern catalogs the trials and tribulations of the restaurant biz, and teaching wine country to love beer.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Grand opening, and Finland.

The post was going to be simple, a recap of our opening- the band bringing the house down, my landlord cutting the rug - line of people wrapping from inside the building, filling the deck, down the stairs, and into the parking lot. My parents and relatives flying from around the country to be there for support, our best friends driving up and spending all day at the bar. Completely running out of pint glasses, and having to sell beer in two short glasses. Selling out of most of the food in our kitchen.

I will do all of this in great detail, with usual festoonery, frills and embellishment.

But yesterday, something very special happened, which really defines and affirms why we got into this business.

A young couple from Finland walked in, and I instantly knew they were from northern Europe. He had a Rat Bastard, and she had a cider. Hearing "Rat Bastard" with a Finnish accent is a peculiar pleasure which I imagine won't come along again for a time. They shared an Occidental - our popular cheeseburger, which they really enjoyed and then came out into the bar. I decided to sit down and have a chat with them, and the hours slipped by, past closing, as we moved from Rat Bastard (a beer from the superb Stumptown brewpub, about 20 minutes away) to Oaked Arrogant Bastard, a very strong beer from Stone brewing.

We learned that Finland is a country which is a European melting pot of sorts, due to the various rule and occupations throughout the years, by Russia, Sweden, and others. We learned that the sauna is, in fact, a big part of Finish life, and that nudity is far less taboo, though not always to the benefit of the onlookers. We learned that they suffer from the same macrobrew shortfalls, yet good microbrew culture which an American will probably never get to sample. We learned that reindeer tastes game-y and has little fat, that heavy metal is popular, and that English is learned early on. We found out that it would be extraordinarily unusual for a bartender in Finland to converse with customers, and that religion and wages are taboo subjects, even among close friends.

What we learned is fascinating, but the idea that four people from opposite ends of the earth can sit down, crack an exceptional beer (or 5), and laugh, joke, talk, and learn really makes the world seem a bit smaller. Craft beer isn't just about the Barley and Hops. It's about the passion for life, and learning what all is out there. The restaurant will do well, the opening was phenomenal, and I will properly recap it - but this was the night before we'd finally get sleep (I slept 12 hours and woke up this morning) yet we stayed late to hang our with our friends which turned out to be quite a lot like us.


Big Night Fan said...

Love this post, Noah. Glad to hear the opening went well. You are "on it" re: the marketing, so kudos. See you soon. Tim

Big Night Fan said...

N, FYI--your downloadable menu PDFs aren't opening...

Barley and Hops said...

Hmmm- tried it on a few different computers - works fine for me... Do you have acrobat reader installed?