Thursday, September 30, 2010

Schaefer in Scheptember

Everyone knows about the dog days of summer. What you may not know is hot summers result in cool Schaefer times. After some great experiences in May through July, the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor raised the bar (and more than a few cans) during Scheptember. (Many celebrations happened in August too; however, I couldn't out a creative way to work it into the blog title without taking away from Scheptember.)


When I was in San Antonio, I paid an unannounced visit to the corporate HQ of Pabst Brewing - the parent company of Schaefer. (Yes, I realize this was technically late July vs. August. But I've already blogged about July and didn't include this story. So sue me.)

Pabst's corporate office is technically in San Antonio. The company moved there following its acquisition by Pearl Brewing. Then, Pearl was a San Antonio-based brewer. Today, its brewery and operations are no more. The remainder of Pabst's operations in San Antonio is limited to the fun departments like HR, accounting, some local marketing, and IT support. All of the execs, sales leadership, and marketing folks work in an office outside of Chicago. Yet - in the end - I was there. At the Pabst base camp - with my Schaefer. You know the old saying. Home is where you hang your hat.

Here is Schaefer Hall of Famer Cuba with Ring of Honor members Stephanie (L) and Havana Montana (R) at a Carolina beach. Lesson learned from this adventure? When drinking Schaefer, be sure to remove all Sharpies from your pockets before washing your shorts.

Keeping the SHOF race-centric, here is Philly enjoying some dirt tracking with Schaefer Light at Charlotte Motor Speedway's Dirt Track.

SHOFer Uncle D couldn't make it to the Coca-Cola 600 this year. But he made his presence known at the CARFAX 400 at Michigan Speedway. He also inducted his bud, John, into the Schaefer Ring of Honor. They also met a Canadian ... drinking Mexican Corona beer ... at a United States NASCAR race. Its possible the SHOF will need the services of its legal counsel, Rev. Randy, Esq., to determine if some sort of Geneva Convention law was violated in all of that.

SHOFers Philly and TMC, SROH member Chet, and probationary SROH intern Wilbur (Philly's son) made the trek to Bristol for the legendary night race. One of our newest members, 200WINZ, was formally inducted into the Ring of Honor. And Philly and I were proud to bestow SROH honors upon Deirdre aka Koleslaw - a proud volunteer in the United States Navy. She plans to send photos for me to blog of her wearing the Schaefer colors when she returns to her next overseas assignment in 2011 - Afghanistan. God bless you Koleslaw. (For more details on the Bristol weekend, here are links to part 1 and part 2.)

As Philly drove from North Carolina to Bristol, he passed by the legendary North Wilkesboro Speedway. Of course, in Wilkes County folks are known for sipping self-created alcoholic beverages with a kick far stronger than a tall-boy Schaefer.

SROH member Ron ensured his Schaef was well represented during an August trip to the beach

Cuba and Havana Montana wanted all to know nothing makes a couple happier than a night of cards and a cold Schaefer. Peace out.

When one is down to a single card in UNO, its time to begin celebrating...

But if one calls UNO! when looking in the refrigerator for another Schaefer...

its time to send someone on a beer run.

The hot August days brought about warm memories with friends such as...

Friend of Philly on visit to Helen, GA.

Brother of Ron

Friend of Ron - Da Murf!

Neighbors of Ron

Lanie (R) and friend

Some who don't understand the phenomenon of the Schaefer experience choose to hate on it. They dismiss the SHOF/SROH as old timers drinking an obscure, out-of-favor beer. While the beer brand itself may be legendary, the SHOF is creative in its procurement, enjoyment, and promotion of it.

For instance, Philly is now the proud owner of "new" used race truck with a Schaefer-gold base coat of paint. Once he adds some red striping, it'll be race ready for the 20th Annual Schaefer Racing Hootennany in May 2011.


The calendar page may have flipped to the ninth month, but the hot temps remained for much of the country. No worries as the Schaefer schelebrations continued.

Ron went all photo artsy-fartsy on us with this creative shot at Atlanta Motor Speedway while there to enjoy the Emory Healthcare 500.

Question: What washes down hot wings better than a cold Schaefer? Answer: Well, duh. Nothing.

Ron and his family returned to the beach - this time New Smyrna Beach, FL - where Fort Schaefer was constructed. Some may view this creation simply as a sand castle adorned by a single Schaefer can atop it. To me, however, the build speaks metaphorically as the arms of the masses longing to secure their own Schaefer. Take that art interpreters.

Cleveland, OH's own SHOFer Uncle D and the recently SROH-inducted John went to Richmond International Raceway to enjoy some of the sights, sounds, and smells of the Air Guard 400.

New Jersey's SROH representative 200WINZ also made the trip to Richmond. But he focused just on the sights part by meeting Miss Sprint Cup (or is it just Miss Sprint? Sprint Cups?)

Shortly after the race ended and I had turned off the TV, my phone buzzed. 200WINZ texted me to say he and his buddies were singing the Schaefer jingle theme song back at his motorhome. I returned the text asking him to video it. He replied "call me and we'll sing it". So I did - and they did!

As an aside, the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor have had a fantastic year at the track in 2011. We've had representation at the following races so far this year:
  • Shelby American (Las Vegas) - Philly and TMC
  • All-Star Race - Philly and Rookie
  • Coca-Cola 600 (Charlotte)- Philly, Lanie, Rookie, Erin, Cuba, Havana, Stephanie, Padook, Ron, Rev. Randy, Monte Dutton, and TMC
  • Sonoma - Kristi
  • Coca-Cola 400 (Daytona) - Ron
  • CARFAX 400 (Michigan) - Uncle D. and John
  • IRWIN Tools Night Race (Bristol) - Philly, Chet, 200WINZ, Koleslaw, Kristi, and TMC
  • Emory Healthcare 500 (Atlanta) - Ron
  • Air Guard 400 (Richmond) - 200WINZ, Uncle D., and John
  • NASCAR Banking 500 (Charlotte in October) - Philly
With my race season in the rear view mirror, I find myself having to creatively expand ways to enjoy Schaefer the rest of the year. First up? Baltimore, as previously blogged.

The summer of 2010 is now pretty much in the books. We have hit the double-digit months of the year. Its now time to turn our focus to autumn - and before you know it, winter. Ron is taking no chances with the looming cold winter, a predicted tumultuous series of November elections, and an uncertain economy. So as part of his home emergency preparedness plan, he loaded up on six cases of Schaefer in south Georgia to hold him over for a few days... weeks... months.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

26 down - 10 to go

In February, Bench Racing's pre-season picks were blogged. With the first twenty-six races in the books, I thought it might be good to revisit how awful we were in our predictions. The jury is still out on some of them because 10 races remain in the year.

Daytona 500 winner:
  • BT - Kasey Kahne - Grabbed a twin win but that's as close as he got
  • TMC - Smoke - Um, 22nd. NEXT!
Cup Champ:
  • BT - Mark Martin - Gotta be in it to win it. Enjoy playing cards with teammate Dale Jr. the next 10 weeks.
  • TMC - Denny Hamlin - So far, so good.

BT - 75% - Pretty good
  1. Mark Martin - Miss
  2. Smoke - Hit
  3. Cuzzin - Hit
  4. Gordo - Hit
  5. Harvick - Hit
  6. 4x champ - Hit
  7. Kasey Kahne - Miss
  8. Kenseth - Hit
  9. Hamlin - Hit
  10. Rowdy - Hit
  11. Kurt - Hit
  12. Montoya - Miss
TMC - 67%
  1. JJ - Hit
  2. Gordon - Hit
  3. Martin - Miss
  4. Smoke - Hit
  5. Cuzzin - Hit
  6. Hamlin - Hit
  7. Rowdy - Hit
  8. The Biff - Hit
  9. Kurt - Hit
  10. Kasey - Miss
  11. Truex - What was I thinking? - Miss
  12. JoLo - Miss
  • BT: Dale Jr, Jamie Mc, T-Rex, Keselousy, and Danica (Nationwide, but had to mention anyway) - Except for Jamie, he nailed it. McMurray has had a career year.
  • TMC: Brian Vickers, Clint Bowyer - Hate to pick on Vickers because of his medical situaton, but he was headed nowhere anyway after an overachieving 2009. So I say WIN. Totally whiffed on Bowyer.
  • BT: JoLo
  • TMC: Marcos Ambrose
  • FAIL for both of us.
Most Improved
  • BT: Kevin Harvick - Huge win
  • TMC: Scott Speed - Huge slip away into the shadows with damaged pride after this colossal blunder
Penthouse to Outhouse
  • BT: Greg Biffle, Brian Vickers - 50/50
  • TMC: Ryan Newman, David Reutimann- Flyin Ryan got his 1st win for Stewart-Haas and Reuty got a legit win for MWR to silence critics such as me for his 2009 Coke 600 win. So I claim a WIN.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The state of Schaefer in Baltimore

Prior to this week, I've only visited the city of Baltimore one time - about 7 or 8 years ago, I stayed near Johns Hopkins, and it rained during much of my stay. Not a memorable trip. But this week I returned to Baltimore with a zero-based opinion and a Schaefer-themed agenda.

As my trip date grew closer, my research about Schaefer intensified. I learned a couple of Schaefer-related facts before arriving:
  • A longtime political fixture as Baltimore mayor, Maryland governor, and state comptroller was William Donald Schaefer. WIN!
  • Fellow Schaefer Ring of Honor member, Bill Combs, tipped me off to Muggsy's Mughouse as a place serving Schaefer. I tweeted Muggsy's owner, Danny, and he said he indeed offered Schaefer. WIN!
  • Another Schaefer - Mike Schaefer (unrelated to the former mayor/governor) - is running for county sheriff. I guess I'd vote for him if I lived there.

I specifically took an earlier flight last Sunday to walk the half-mile or so from my hotel, watch some NFL at Muggsy's, meet Danny, and toss back some Schaefer. Unbelievably, the place was CLOSED - on opening day of NFL season! Incredible.

But - as the late, great Paul Harvey always said: now stay tuned...for the rest of the story.

I had another ace up my sleeve, and it paid big dividends. A few months ago when I knew I would be in Baltimore, I found a 2008 Baltimore Sun article about a bar appropriately named Schaefer's Bar & Restaurant. It turns out Schaefer's was only about another half-mile or so from Muggsy's. Not a bad Sunday afternoon stroll.

I admit I wrestled with the decision to walk there. With Muggsy's, the neighboring liquor store, and even a corner market all closed on Sunday, I began to doubt if Schaefer's would be open. But as fellow SHOFer Philly has taught me over the years, there is magic in believing. So off I went.

I found the place easily and immediately bonded with the couple of regulars in the place including one Bud drinker named Leroy. I learned the bar was founded by a married couple named Schaefer. The waitress showed me a glass used to hold swizzle sticks with an etching of the Schaefers. I tried to talk her into giving it to me - but no dice. Schaefer's also has the 2nd oldest liquor license in all of Baltimore.

Incredibly, however, Schaefer's Bar didn't have Schaefer beer! The waitress said she'd never even heard of it which crushed me to the core. So I had a Miller High Life as my fall back. And then I tried my first ever Natty Bo - a National Bohemian made by Heileman Brewing.

However - NattyBo is only 3 degrees of separation from Schaefer.

  • NattyBo is a product of Heileman
  • Heileman is owned by Pabst
  • Pabst owns Schaefer.
One of the neat things I learned from the Sun's article and immediately spotted as I walked in was all of personalized dollar bills taped to the wall and mirror behind the bar. I found the bill for the article's writer Sam Sessa. He marked his "EBSS" - short for Eccentric Billionaire Sam Sessa, his life's goal. After getting to know a couple of new friends, I asked if I could leave my own version and they responded "absolutely!"

As I was working on my Natty Bo, the bar's owner came out to meet me. Just that quickly, I guess word got to him a stranger was in the Schaefer bar, wearing a Schaefer shirt, asking for Schaefer beer, and defacing a dollar bill with Schaefer Hall of Fame. Craig was super from the moment he introduced himself. He said he used to drink Schaefer when he served in the merchant marines years ago. He also said I was the first person to come into his bar and ask for it.

He showed me around the place a little bit - including a newly painted floor in the back of the place painted to resemble the Ravens football field. Green hardwood "turf", yardage markers, the Ravens logo in the end zone, and even yellow plastic goalposts.

After telling Craig a brief rendition of our Schaefer Hall of Fame story, he then blew me away with his next statement. He planned to buy his supply of booze, beer, and food on Monday in anticipation of a large crowd for the Ravens v. Jets Monday Night Football game. He offered to buy me however much Schaefer I wanted and sell it to me at his cost.

I tried to politely decline saying I wasn't sure I could make it back to Schaefer's on Monday or tote a bunch of beer the one mile or so back to the hotel. He said he'd drive me back to my hotel. The answer then became easy: two 30-packs please.

So Monday after lunch, I slipped away for a bit and returned. I was greeted by a regular named Bo. As I strolled in, he sensed who I was. "Hey, are you dat little guy who wanted da Schaefer?" I responded "Yes sir. That would be me. My name is Tick. What's yours?" With a handshake, Bo and I sat down to wait for Craig to return. He then pointed and said "Well, there it is. Is that what you wanted?"

I now had my beer, but I was also ready to return to my hotel to get back to business. But Craig was still out running errands. So I talked to Bo some more. And then Terry - who spoke a bit like Boomhauer from King of the Hill except with a Mid-Atlantic accent. And then some guy Terry called Hammerhead arrived. Then Terry told a bunch of jokes. Most of them were old. Some were new to me. All of them were offensive, but I felt obliged to at least chuckle a bit. At least he was an equal-opportunity kind of guy as no group escaped his attempt at humor.

I then asked the waitress if she'd take my picture holding the beer under the Schaefer's bar sign. She couldn't seem to get the sign, beer, and me all framed in the viewfinder without standing in the middle of road risking her life. So Bo came to the resue. He offered to pull his pick-up truck with sweet, purple flames up to the curb and let me stand in the bed. I nearly laugh-snorted Natty Bo through my nose at the silliness of the situation but also at the genuine hospitality of these local folks who had quickly accepted me as one of their own.

Shortly afterwards, Craig returned, he gave me a lift, and to the 12th floor I went with 60 brews. Immediately, six of them went to the mini-fridge.

(As an added nugget to this part of the story, I e-mailed Sam Sessa at the Baltimore Sun to tell him his 2008 article prompted my visit to Schaefer's. He forwarded my message to Erik Maza, another Sun writer, who a day later gave me a bit of shout-out in a follow-up to the 2008 article.)

I was in town with a friend/business associate. We were scheduled to make a conference presentation on Tuesday. Right before "showtime", it seemed appropriate to crack a couple of the chilled cans and head to our appointed room. When the presentation was complete, we returned to resume with a second...and a third.

We then strolled the short distance to Camden Yards to watch the Baltimore Orioles destroy another bird team, the Toronto Blue Jays 11-3. As the game was clearly in hand for the local good guys, I turned to my friend in the top of the 8th and said "ya know...we could check out Muggsy's one final time."

So we did. Sure enough as promised, $2 Schaefer cans were available for us. Sadly, the place was dead and Danny wasn't around. Apparently everyone was still recovering from Monday night's Ravens win, and Danny was visiting the opening of another local establishment. Yet, WE were there.

Another successful Schaefer Hall of Fame outing in the record books.