Before the advent of search engine optimization, newspaper headlines leaned heavily on puns, which accounts for my vestigial admiration for “FeBREWary.”
Devised as a month-long celebration of beer in all its permutations, this year marks the sixth in the collaboration between Visit Santa Rosa and a bevy of local breweries. This includes the issuing of a “Santa Rosa Beer Passport”—a promotional effort that literally puts an official stamp on ye olde pub crawl.
This is how it works: Visit at least 11 participating locations, get a passport stamp at each and walk home with a complementary commemorative “oversized bottle opener medal” and lanyard. Maybe next year they’ll also throw in some ibuprofen and add names to the list of those seeking liver donations.
Obviously, FeBREWary is not about making healthy lifestyle choices, there are plenty of other months for that—the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, for example, has claimed April as Alcohol Awareness Month. This is about promoting the area’s brewing heritage and showcasing artisan producers in the craft beer industry. It’s also something of a victory lap. Years ago, when I was a cub reporter, I interviewed Lagunitas Brewing Company-founder Tony MaGee, who explained how local craft brews would one day usurp the reign of the foreign beer market. Anyone else remember Spaten Optimator?
Magee and his contemporaries proved victorious … with the ironic twist that Lagunitas eventually sold to Heineken. Now, the next generation of local brewers are maintaining the mantle while presumably sidestepping acquisition themselves—or not. Rumors flow as freely as beer itself, but what matters now is taking the opportunity to enjoy some world-class beer with the offchance of earning some “I knew them when” cred, should the moment arrive.
Observant beer drinkers might even see “Hoppy,” a top hat-wearing mascot inspired by the verdant, cone-shaped flowers of the hop plant—basically a deformed leprechaun—who’s purpose, I presume, is meant to scare the beery-eyed straight before the next DUI checkpoint. This too, I admire. Easy targets have innate media appeal—well done.
Speaking of checkpoints, this “passport” business brings to mind the scene in Casablanca when Major Strasser asks Bogart’s Rick, “What is your nationality?” to which he replies, “I’m a drunkard.” And that, according to his pal Renault, “makes Rick a citizen of the world.” This month Santa Rosa is that world—in fact, it’s bigger. Join me as I get my beer passport and strap in—this rocket’s going to the neBREWla.