9 January 2013
After a long, hard road of trials and tribulation, of personal sacrifice and financial investment, Kyle has finally seen success. On this date, his name was added to a short list of acclaimed and accomplished professionals. His expertise has been recognized. His future, secure. He is now a World of Beer 500 Club member.
The road to his success was but a flicker of a dream last summer. We would often lament the lack of quality beers to be had in our area. Yes, we could drive to downtown Fort Worth and enjoy the Flying Saucer, or go a little further to the Gingerman, but both of these venues allow smoking, and are therefore pretty far down on our list of favorites. Then, one day, he mentioned that he’d read that Arlington was getting a World of Beer location. We were both very interested, since Arlington is a non-smoking city and we knew the reputation of the quickly-growing WOB chain. It was I, who noticed a sign saying “coming soon” on a retail/food strip center on Cooper Street, not long thereafter. (We hadn’t dared to hope it would be so close to home!) And, it was I, who, having kept track of *when* they were opening, said to Kyle one autumn evening at ten o’clock or so (which is normally bedtime around here): “Hey, World of Beer opened tonight … do you wanna run over there and check it out?” And, to my surprise (surprised because of the hour, not the lure) the man said, “Sure! Let’s go.”
And, the rest is history. It’s a lovely, comfortable place. There are lots of televisions, but if that’s not your thing, there are places to sit where you can’t really see one. They offer pint nights and brewery nights and ladies’ nights and happy hours. But, most importantly, they have 80 beers on tap and another 600 in bottles! It wasn’t a stretch to watch Kyle and buddy Terrill slowly migrate their “local” from places further north to WOB. And then, when first Terrill, and later Kyle moved from American Airlines to UTA, the switch made even more sense and became complete. I love it, because they’re closer to home, and selfishly, it’s much more convenient for me to join them! The people who run it and work there are fabulous, the regulars are (mostly) fun and engaging. We’ve had lots of new beer experiences we would likely never have had otherwise, and we’ve made lots of new friends.
One of the aspects of WOB that Kyle enjoys the most is the gamification of drinking beer. I recently wrote about our enjoyment of Foursquare and Untappd. WOB does its own version—wisely making doing business with them into a game where you can be recognized, win prizes, get discounts, etc. They’re not the first … the aforementioned Flying Saucer has done something similar for years, but not with the same allure. A number of other places have some sort of “frequent customer appreciation program.” In the non-drinking world, we see it all the time … the little pieces of plastic that hang from most of our keyrings are signs of this. Customer loyalty is a valuable commodity and many companies have gone the route of rewards and discounts to earn that loyalty. (Personally, I’m not sure how I feel about that … in my opinion, customer loyalty is best earned by providing the best customer service and the best products … but I digress.) World of Beer has this customer rewards-thing down to a “T!” They even have an app for it you can download to your phone. First, you join the “club.” (Yes, there’s a fee, and a “free” t-shirt. Then, when you drink 50 unique beers, you get another t-shirt. Same thing at 100 unique beers. At 250 you get a nicer shirt and also get a very nice little plaque on the wall with your name, the date, and slogan of your choosing. But, at 500, you not only get an even nicer shirt, but you earn the placement of your name on a giant board on the wall, where you can watch your number climb toward the lofty goal of 1000.
So, tonight, during the Pub Guys Live Trivia event that Kyle and Terrill and Adam run at WOB Arlington every Wednesday from 8 to 10, (shameless plug, I know) Kyle ordered his 500th unique beer at WOB. Congratulations, honey. I love you. And, that’s a good thing.
8 January 2013
After eighteen straight days of regular posts, I’m afraid the 30-hour day of planes and passports, connections and delays conspired against me, and when Kyle and I finally got home, we crashed. Rod was sweet enough to pile the pups in the car and come pick us up even after our flight was delayed. We claimed our luggage quickly and he had us home with a very happy-to-see-us cat by midnight, and I don’t think we saw 12:15! So, Epiphany Day–our travel day– came and went, as did the following day’s whirlwind of unpacking and laundry and housework. Today, I went out on an erranding run and discovered the date had somehow gotten to be the 8th!
It is with amusement that I greeted today’s rain. This, 48 degrees and raining nonstop, is almost exactly the weather we just experienced the entire time we were away! For those who are annoyed or inconvenienced by it here in North Texas … I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for it to follow us home!
I had a number of things on my to do list for today, but the biggest (literally) was to get to the Rahr Brewery to pick up our barrels! Alas, they are empty barrels, but my truck sure smells good!
5 January 2013
Denial is an amazing thing. Kyle and I have spent the better part of three weeks in the land where we feel the most “at home” and today it was finally time to admit we had to leave. Even as we drove southward during the week, we had beautiful places to see and things to mark off our lives’ “to do” list. We weren’t terribly focused on the departure that was indeed imminent. And, now, it’s just a few hours we have left here, and most of them will be spent sleeping. It is with a heavy heart we leave our land.
But, we made the best day of our last day that we possibly could. We are staying at a hotel across the street from the airport terminal where we’ll fly out of in the morning. One of the many reasons we chose this place was so that we were right across the street from a train that would take us to Victoria Station and in turn London at our fingertips, via Underground. We switched from train to tube at Victoria, and with only one other transfer we were emerging into London City at Notting Hill Gate. Just a stone’s throw from the famous Portobello Road! Since neither of us had ever been there, and it was a Saturday morning, it was on our must-do list. We walked most of the length of the marketplace, appreciating (and then, sometimes not) the antiques, hand-made, one-of-a-kind items and miscellaneous “tchotchkes” not to mention the usual flea market fodder. We stopped for a pub now and then and I even tried on a pair of shoes. We could easily have spent all day on that one street, but that would have pleased me far more than it would my husband, so we switched gears mid-afternoon.
Many of our friends know that we are Foursquare players–the social media game where you “check-in” to the places you visit in the course of your day. Kyle had figured out that there was a “London Calling” badge and of course, we both wanted desperately to earn it. So, we began our trek of appropriate places. First on the list: Trafalgar Square. We caught the appropriate train, switched lines again and ultimately emerged right in the heart of Trafalgar Square.
We walked then, checking into each place we encountered, visited a couple of pubs, had a snack, walked some more … it was a lovely afternoon–turning evening, the streets were full of people, and the city was buzzing with life. We had a great time and before long we had the badges we were seeking. At that point, it became more a matter of soaking up the last of the last day, with no real agenda. We paid a visit to Covent Garden where I took my photo for the day. We were delighted to be in such a favorite place for Twelfth Night and see that the holiday decorations were all still up, tree still lit, entertainers still performing! We walked along Leicester Square and mourned the loss of our Texas Embassy we had so enjoyed on our last trip. We did have a delightful dinner in a nice little pub called The Imperial. We took some more photos, and soon had to realize we still had a train ride home and some final packing to do. So, we walked to Picadilly Circus said goodbye to Regent Street and double-decker buses and descended into the tube system for our final ride of this journey.
Tubes and a train later, we were back at the airport and walking across the street to our hotel. Right now, we’re sitting in the hotel lounge nursing a couple of drinks and writing the last of the post cards! It’s time to go home.
Time to go home to our friends and families, to our dogs and the bitchy cat. Time to look at one another and say “thank you.” We know how fortunate we are to be able to make a trip like this happen. And how fortunate we are to have amazing people in our lives who helped make it happen! Our sincerest thanks to Terrill and Tom, to Ally and Rod, to Ginger … we can only hope that you know how much we appreciate your efforts on our behalf. Thanks also goes to my dear customers who are patiently waiting for me to get back to work on their various projects. And, perhaps most importantly, I wish to thank my husband for taking this wonderful holiday with me, and adding these three weeks of adventures and memories to our life’s journey together. I love you, Kyle.