Friday 14 June 2024


It's almost nine when I rise. Heavy rain having disrupted nature's alarm clock.

The early part of the day is free. I fiddle on my computer for a while, writing stuff like this.

At 3 PM Mike and I climb into his truck and set off over the mountains to Johnson City. The drive through the Appalachians is stunning. We're surrounded by sharp slopes splattered with dollops of lizard green. Forest stretching endlessly on every side, punctuated only by the odd house and the strip of motorway we're hurtling down.

The slope is quite steep. Which is why, I suppose, there are runaway truck ramps every few miles. Their frequency suggests runaway trucks aren’t exactly a rarity. Not sure whether I should be reassured that they’re there, or worried that they’re needed.

I wouldn’t want an out-of-control lorry hurtling up behind us. Best not think about it too much. Like so much else.

I spot a couple of goats seemingly glued to a cliff. That's not a sight you often see in Holland.

Once we're over the top, we enter a flat valley, bounded by lower, rounder humps of foliage. Passing through small settlements where churches almost outnumber houses. (And many of those houses are clearly based around a trailer.) Token white spires reach inches into the sky.

Johnson City is the first proper town to cross our path this side of the mountains. With a quaint downtown. That is eerily deserted. We park beside Little Animals and hunk our gear inside.

Owner Chris Cates and Dewayne of Ebb and Flow in Missouri are waiting for us. With beer.

Things kick off with a bottle share. Mike has brought along some of his Tardis Series beers. Including a rather lovely Truman Imperial Stout that's brimming with liquorice flavour. Yum. And an 18th-century style Porter, brewed from 100% diastatic brown malt he made himself. That’s pretty good, too.

The first Black Sabbath album is playing. Not heard it in years. Sounding pretty good.

Brewers continue arriving and opening bottles. I've soon half a dozen samples in front of me. Mostly Brett beers. This is fun. If starting to get tiring. Palate-wise, at least.

Chris has barbecued a pork shoulder. Others have brought potato salad, corn bread and other sides. Soon I'm tucking into real southern fare. For the first time on the trip, though I've been here for over a week. The pork is dead good. What could be wrong with homemade barbecue pork?

When we've finished our nosh, the room starts to fill up. There are around 50 people, mostly professional brewers. Before I know it, it's showtime.

My talk goes pretty well. I get some laughs. Quite a few, really. All at the right times, I might add. And the crowd seems to enjoy it. Feeling pretty tired, I’m glad when the questions are over.

Then, the serious business of shifting books begins.

I've fourteen left, mostly "Scotland!", Which isn’t hugely appropriate for my talk today. With a few "AK!" and "Stout!" as well. I not only sell all of them, but could have easily got rid of more copies of "AK!" and "Stout!". Dolores will be delighted.

I sit at a table with Mike, Whit from Burning Blush and a couple of other bearded brewers. I plonk down the four or five glasses I have and let out a sigh. That’s my work done for this trip.

I'm feeling exhausted. It's been a busy ten days and I'm really feeling it. I drink a little beer but I’m really glad when Mike asks if I'm ready to leave at 21:30.

The drive back is quicker. Probably because the road is quieter. Sadly, the scenic landscape is veiled in darkness.

I go straight to bed on our return. Totally drained, I drift off to sleep immediately.

Little Animals Brewery
324 E Main St,
Johnson City,
TN 37601.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Black Sabath are fantastic as is Pork and bretty ale.