We get a lot of the same questions when we tell people we are traveling around in a RV to breweries across the nation so I thought I’d write a little about our responses. If you are thinking of going on the road or just want to know more about what we are up to feel free to leave us a comment.
Everyone loves writing lists so I will do a top 10 most frequently asked questions, David Letterman style, counting back from #10.
10. Where do you stay/where are you staying tonight?
Well, tonight we will probably park in a large parking lot or side street somewhere near the last brewery we visit. But in general, where we stay is pretty varied, dependent on the weather, cost, and proximity among other things. We’ve stayed at all the parks, National, State, County and private, like a “RV Resort” and we’ve parked on all kinds of streets and parking lots. Walmart has a company-wide policy to allow overnight parking (O/N) at their locations, permitting the city does not have an ordinance against it. Sometimes, Cabellas, Home Depots and the other big box stores allow parking as does truck stops like the Flying J. We don’t prefer truck stops as those damn guys leave their engine running all night long (because the company pays for gas) and they are noisy! If we are doing street parking, we try to find an open area or apartment complex to park by, rather in front of someone’s house. Generally, we are looking for a flat spot, preferably shaded, that can handle all 29″ of Stanley and then some.
9. What is your favorite style of beer?
This is a really tough question, just like a mother would not want to admit which child was her favorite, I too feel that its just too damn tough to tell, I love a lot of them. Brian and I have a similar palate for styles of beer for the most part. Occasionally he will find an IPA he likes, that I really don’t, and surprisingly sometimes I will find a stout that I like, that he doesn’t. Some of my top favorite beers tend to be darker, like the New Belgium 1554 Black Ale or one of my newer favorites, the IBA from Lakefront Brewery, but I also really enjoy an Amber, especially the one by Full Sail and I am starting to like more hoppy beers like an IPA and sour beers too! Try the La Folie by New Belgium, don’t think you are trying a beer, it’s a whole new world!
8. How do the dogs like it?
This is a funny question because I don’t really know, but they should feel damn lucky to be traveling the US! I think they are more active now than they were when we were both working full-time, and aside from Buddha always drooling all over Ernie, and Ernie’s unfortunate habit of whining a lot, I think they are both happy as can be. As long as Buddha is getting fed, I know he is a happy boy!!
7. Doesn’t Lawrence have that University…?
OR we will get: Is that the… I won’t even let them begin to say the word Wildcats… so I promptly answer Jayhawks before they can even finish their sentence. And yes, Lawrence is home to the University of Kansas Jayhawks. The best campus in the US in the best city in the US.
6. What has been your favorite brewery?
We can’t say one from our trip is our overall favorite and the other tricky thing about this question is it is 100% experiential based on our time spent there. It doesn’t necessarily say who had the best beer, although our favorite breweries must qualify in this category, and unfortunately we can’t get to every brewery during the peak time, when all the locals come in and you can really get a feel for the vibe of the place. The easy answer is to say Free State Brewing Co. our hometown brewery, although sometimes it kind of feels like cheating, even though they really are our favorite, we have a hometown bias.
Regarding our trip, some of the more memorable favorites include:
Full Sail Brewery – Hood River, OR
The location of this brewery is stellar, the city is a tiny town tucked away in the Columbia Gorge. It is one of the “wind-sailing capitals of the world” and so it is common to see plenty of colorful sails whipping around on the river. It’s a brewpub, so you can get some tasty grub to accompany the 15+ beer samples available. Be sure to take a case home with you, you will want it later!
H.U.B. (Hopworks Urban Brewery) – Portland, OR
During our time in Portland this was also a big favorite. They had excellent beers, 100% organic, for what that’s worth, and tasty pizza. It was a cool building and the decor was all about bikes.
Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery – Boulder, CO
This brewery I like to think is our home away from home, on Pearl St. They have stellar beers, typically more than 15 on tap and an excellent fresh menu full of healthy, tasty options. When we go there we feel like we are among the Lawrencian locals, although we aren’t as Mountainous in Kansas, we do have some steep ass hills in Lawrence.
Nebraska Brewing Co. – Papillion, NE
Maria was born in Omaha and now has one more reason to go back home to visit, Nebraska Brewing Co. Owners Paul and Kim and brewers Tyson and Sam are some of the nicest people we’ve met on the road. Since becoming head brewer a few years back Tyson has grown their barrel aging program to crank out some of the most successful, award-winning beers in the category. They are the classic small business, everyone does everything, now growing with wild success, kind-of-story that we love! If good karma really does come back to reward you in the end, this brewery will be chock full of it!
Lagunitas Brewery – Petalumas, CA
This is a new favorite we have to add to the list. We visited late November 2011 and had a great time. We sampled every single beer they had and had a few seconds of our favorites. The place was packed from open to close and had the exact local vibe we hope to seek out when visiting breweries. The tour was great, packed with really funny stories of Lagunitas past experiences and all the people we talked to that worked there were fun and down-to-earth. They are currently working on a multi-million-dollar expansion for 2012, and we would have to say, their success is well deserved!
Pizza Port Brewery – Carlsbad, Ocean Beach, Solana Beach or San Clemente
Visit any of their 4 locations, or all four like we did. The beer is amazing. They have tons of guest taps for other excellent breweries in the area and across the nation. And the pizza is just about the best thing you can have to go with your beer.
5. Where have you been?
*UPDATED* March 2012. We are currently in FL and so far, this is as far east as we’ve been. We have visited 22 states, almost everything in the West, spent the summer of 2011 in Wisconsin, covered a good portion of Colorado, California and Austin, TX. Our map of the breweries we’ve hit does a pretty good job of showing our route. We plan to stick to the east coast for most of 2012, going north with the weather and then south for winter!
4. What is your favorite place you’ve been?
Again! With the favorites. This is so tough! We have seen so many new places we’ve never been before. We had never driven through the mountains in Colorado before this trip and we have never been to Oregon or Northern Cali. Those are probably my favorite areas, if I ever have to live somewhere and I’m not in Lawrence I would choose any of those. We really loved our time in Austin, definitely recommend going sometime during SXSW (I’m sure Austin City Limits time is cool too). You don’t even have to attend the conference, there is so much going on around it, it is a guaranteed great time.
New favorites include Flagstaff/Sedona, New Orleans and Fort Collins, CO. and our old favorites, Eugene, Hood River and San Diego, still are on the top of our list. We also really love our hometown Lawrence, KS! College towns tend to be more our vibe.
3. How’s Stanley on Gas Milage?
HA! Shitty. 10 MPG on a good day. Always followed up by:
2. Aren’t the gas prices killing you?
The answer, not exactly. We can take it as slow or as fast as we want to go, roaming around this great U.S. Sure there are areas that hurt a little more than others (rural Cali for example) and times like this where gas will peak over $4, but we really aren’t putting on any more gas mileage than someone that commutes 1 hour to work each way. We hardly ever fill Stanley up all the way, but if we had to it would be about $175—$200 and we can get about 400 miles on that. The generator is actually not as horrible as I thought it would be draining gas, but we typically don’t run it enough to matter. You’ve got to remember with this question, there are trade-offs in life. We have no debt, no mortgage, no rent and no utilities to pay. We budget $600/month on gas and $200/month on RV parking. Those two expenses combined would be VERY cheap rent for 2 people anywhere and again, no utilities, NO DEBT. We do pay quite a bit for the internet and our phones, $250 combined, and health insurance definitely isn’t cheap, but necessary. Past that it is just beer and food! Lots of beer. And lots of food. Keeps us fat and happy.
And the number one question we always get…
1. How do you afford this?!
Well, we haven’t told anyone this yet, but now we will confess, we are billionaires. We won the lottery 1 year ago but didn’t want to tell anyone in fear of jeopardizing relationships with friends, family and people we don’t even know. It took a while to get the money all transferred, but now we are set for life. We can do whatever we want, whenever we want.
Okay… so that was all one big line of bullshit. We didn’t win the lottery. I freaking wish! However, we are doing whatever we want whenever we want, which is just about the most valuable thing in life anyone can attain. The real answer is, Brian and Maria are freelance designers, specializing in websites, branding, user experience and interaction design. We are available for contract work at quality rates. We have our hands in many things at once, combine that with t-shirt sales, product sales, like our notebooks and affiliate advertising or sales, like in our bookstore.
The other part to the story is we live on the cheap! We typically spend around $2,400/month but can cut that as low as $2,000 if we are being frugal. With no mortgage, no rent, no kids and no utilities to pay (besides internet connectivity) the cost of living goes way down! We also got a great deal on Stanley, only spent $10,000 for our 1999 Ford Jayco Class C Motorhome that had 40,000 miles when we bought him. That combined with no debt has really made our journey possible. We are huge advocates of location independence while working, which we believe produces the best results when working, for productivity, creativity and efficiency which is particularly appealing to our clients whom we bill by the hour.
Thanks for reading up on us, if you have any other questions or feedback, let us know in the comments below!