I spent most of the past week in Miami Beach looking for beer in all the wrong places, and meeting with a group of business-oriented environmental advocates.
The first meetings were with the North American Green Purchasing Initiative (NAGPI), a program of the Commision for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The CEC is funded by earmarks in NAFTA that were set aside to address environmental problems predicted to result from an increase in corporate-lead trade in North America.
The second meeting was the annual summit of the Chlorine Free Products Association, a group that certifies paper products made without the use of toxic bleach.
Both organizations involve people who really know how to have fun, and since I attended these meetings last year, they already know me as the Beer Activist. Chantal Line, who runs NAGPI, brought me a beer gift all the way from Montreal – a mixed six pack from her friend’s brewery, Brasserie Schoune. In the picture: Archie Beaton of the Chlorine Free Products Association (chief party instigator); Abigail Corso of the Delta Institute who had to care for an ill-husband so she missed most of the fun; and Marcia Deegler who runs the Environmentally Prefereable Purchasing program for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The first night of the conference included a grand crab dinner with all the beer I could drink. I knew there’d be more free drinks every other night so I decided to stow the Schoune beers away and enjoy them properly back at home in DC.
After two nights of drinking mojitos and industrial beers, I decided to duck out during the lunch break on the third day and walk to the Abbey Brewing Co. about a mile from the conference site. It was raining, but that never stops me from finding a brewpub. Unfortunately they didn’t open until 1 pm and I had to get back for the afternoon sessions by 1:30 pm, so my first exploration of Miami’s beer frontier was a bust.
The second outing came at the end of the conference when I took a cab to the Titanic Brewing Co. before catching my plane on Friday evening. Unfortunately, the taxi driver got lost and the traffic was bad, so what he promised would be a 30 minute trip became more than an hour and we still hadn’t reached the destination. Eventually I had to pull the plug and tell him to head straight to the airport, thus sinking my hopes of ever finding the Titanic.
(Side note: the taxi driver, a Brazilian immigrant with apparently a work ethic to match that of most immigrants, took full responsibility for the whole debacle, apologized, and didn’t charge me a dime for the whole ride, which would have cost nearly $100! I gave him $20 anyway because he was so professional about the whole thing.)
At leasty there was still that six pack of Schoune in my suitcase, so I knew I’d have at least one good beer experience related, at least indirectly, to my Miami trip. Due to George-the-Idiot-Bush’s unprovoked war in Iraq, airplane travel has become almost insufferable these days, what with all the so-called “security” measures. One of the worst impacts of his fear-mongering is the no-liquids rule in carry-on luggage. I will not expound on the idiocy of this and other airline-security measures except to say this: these rules have not made us safer.
So, I checked my bag into the hold, with the six pack carefully wrapped with socks and cloth bags and nestled inside my brand new Swiss Army suitcase (it cost over $200 but I’m tired of cheap suitcases breaking and this sucker has a lifetime guarantee!). When I arrived at National Airport (I refuse to call it Reagan National) I waited for nearly 45 minutes for my luggage to appear, and when it finally did, it was dripping. Not a good sign. A bottle had broken, soaking my brand new suitcase.
Luckily, a six pack with one broken bottle means there are five others intact. I’ll blog about them later. Right now I’m too thirsty.