175+ Breweries and a 46-Day, Beer-Only Fast
Last month, we reported on longtime Castle Rock resident, Paul Myhill (Colorado Beer Guy https://www.facebook.com/ColoradoBeerGuy), and his new venture – the PERRY STREET SOCIAL DISTRICT – that will be developed in Historic Downtown Castle Rock incorporating the White Pavilion (skating rink) and surrounding buildings. Part of what gives Paul his credibility in that particular project, which will include a 100+ tap house, is his craft beer influencer status on social media and his penchant for “beer marathons,” including his two latest achievements – 175 different breweries in 130 days, and a 46-Day Beer-only fast for Lent.
We recently had the chance to interview Paul to ask him about his love of craft beer and these recent accomplishments.
CRCO: Let’s start with the first “beer marathon,” the brewery visits. What compelled you to do it?
PAUL MYHILL: Well, it started off with hitting all the Castle Rock breweries to support them during COVID, but then I figured I’d visit some of the other breweries in the area to purchase product and give them exposure in one or more of the various beer pages and groups I run on Facebook (Colorado Beer Guy, Colorado Beer & Breweries, Castle Rock CO Breweries, Aurora & Parker CO Area Breweries, Douglas County Beer Talk, Cellar Beers – Vintage & Aged, among many others including Colorado spirits, mead and cideries). I then said, “Why not 30 different breweries in 30 days?” but I hit that mark within the first ten days. Ha! I kept adjusting the goal upwards but eventually settled on 150 breweries in 100 days.
CRCO: 150? What was the 150th brewery, and why did the count end up going past that to 175?
PAUL MYHILL: I actually saved the 150th spot for Paradox Brewing in Divide, CO. I enjoyed a great session with Jeffrey Airman there, who’s quite the beer influencer (I hate that term) himself. Great beer. Great tacos. Great time. Afterwards, I was reflecting on the milestone and decided to hit two more breweries on the way home – Manitou Brewing in Manitou Springs and Smiling Toad Brewing in Colorado Springs. I kinda messed up the 150 count right away, so I kept going and decided to up it to 175.
CRCO: So, is there a new goal now? How many are you up to?
PAUL MYHILL: Well, I’ve been to over 1,500 breweries over the years but these initial goals were just a running count since I decided to support breweries specifically during COVID. I’m now aiming at 300 breweries in one year.
CRCO: And how’s that going then? Will you make it?
PAUL MYHILL: Yes, it’s a pretty comfortable goal for me, especially given that Colorado has over 400 breweries alone. I’m well over 200 Colorado breweries, plus recently hit almost 30 in Texas and over 15 in the Kansas City area. All my trips, for whatever purpose, basically get brewery crawls worked into them also. I’m at about 250 now, and have until July 23rd to complete the remaining 50.
CRCO: How many beers do you think you drank over the original and ongoing goals?
PAUL MYHILL: I have a love-hate relationship with beer flights as they don’t typically allow you to truly appreciate any one beer to its fullest. But, when you’re trying to visit so many different places and get a feel for a good selection of their offerings, flights certainly come in handy. I usually ask the brewer or beertender to surprise me, while also asking what are the must-have beers there. That way I might end up with a selection I maybe wouldn’t normally choose. I’ll then drink half of each pour in order from maltiest to hoppiest (unless there’s one or two sours in the mix) and then finish the pours after they’ve warmed up a bit to get a slightly different experience with each one. Then I’ll just order a pint of whatever impressed me the most. I figure I tried over 850 different beers with those first 175 breweries and am over 1,000 beers now.
CRCO: Quite impressive. And what happens after you finish the new goal of 300 breweries in one year, then?
PAUL MYHILL: There’s a handful of diehards who have visited all the Colorado Breweries. I figure that would be the next logical goal for me, especially given my Colorado Beer Guy alter-ego on Facebook. If I count the large number of Colorado breweries I’ve visited in the past, before I set these latest COVID visitation goals, I think I only have about 75 more to go.
CRCO: Quite an accomplishment and a heady ongoing goal. OK, Let’s switch gears to your other recent “beer marathon.” A 46 beer-only fast? Why, and what did it entail?
PAUL MYHILL: I’ve done 40-day liquid-only fasts in the past, but not with just beer and water (plus vitamin supplementation). I’m a former Catholic and have always been intrigued by the German and Belgian monks who started beer-only fasts during the 1600’s. I’m also a big fan of Monastic and Trappist beers in general and wanted to tap (pun intended) into the spiritual side associated with those beer styles.
CRCO: So, what did it look like daily, then?
PAUL MYHILL: I went through a strict and greatly-rewarding spiritual protocol each day, but that’s probably best left for another discussion. For the beer side of things, I set it up to allow myself three to five craft beers per day, but I rarely surpassed three and had quite a few days where I didn’t feel I needed to even drink one. Your stomach shrinks and is satisfied rather easily the longer you go. I tried to drink a variety of beers, with the goal of having at least one Colorado craft beer per day. Rather than doing a traditional Paulaner Monk beer-only fast with Doppelbocks, I figured out pretty quickly that they were too sweet to only do them for a 46-day period. And variety is the spice of life, right?
CRCO: Definitely! Why 46 days instead of 40?
PAUL MYHILL: There are 46 days of the Lenten season from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. The original monks who started the beer-only fast were permitted to eat on the six Sundays during that period, effectively making it a 40-day fast which aligns to various 40-day fasts referenced in Scripture. For some monks, and for me and others who have completed this Lenten fast, we also fasted on those six Sundays as it’s rather difficult to break the fast once a week and then get back into the fasting cycle again. It’s easier to just push through and fast for the full 46 days. The first seven to ten days of a long fast are the hardest, so I didn’t want to keep experiencing that period over and over again.
CRCO: What was your favorite beer during the fast?
PAUL MYHILL: Without a doubt, it was a Trappist Westvleterren 12 from the Brouwerij Westvleteren (Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren) in Westvleteren, Belgium. Say that ten times quickly! It’s a fantastic beer which is considered by many enthusiasts to be the best beer in the world. It’s also a rare treat, so it certainly didn’t disappoint during a prolonged time of self-deprivation.
CRCO: You ended up losing quite a bit of weight, didn’t you?
PAUL MYHILL: I lost right at 40 lbs, which is about what I was expecting. You don’t typically do these fasts as a weight-loss regimen, though, as your body tries to gain a lot back after coming out of what it views as a starvation mode. However, I’m now two weeks out of the fast and have gained less than 5 lbs back because I set another quirky challenge for myself – 40 days of sausages – for a sausage concept I’m also developing for the PERRY STREET SOCIAL DISTRICT. So, I basically went from a beer-only fast to a somewhat-keto sausage fast. My body probably wonders what the heck I’m doing. Ha!
CRCO: Have others been contacting you because they want to do their own beer fast?
PAUL MYHILL: Yes, I have two friends that I’m coaching through a 40-day, beer-only fast right now, plus I have a number of folks that want to do the full 46-day version next Lenten season. I’ll be setting up yet another Facebook group for that shortly, but people can like/follow my Colorado Beer Guy Facebook page if they are considering it or simply want to learn more.
CRCO: Any other “beer marathons” on the horizon?
When it comes to beer, I seem to do things to excess, except the drinking part, that is. I prefer to sip, enjoy, and truly appreciate the craftmanship that goes into individual beers. But I have a number of pretty large brewerania collections (addictions) going that have taken over the basement – 500 beer steins (many rare and limited editions); 400 beer trays (many also rare and pre-prohibition); 10,000 beer bottle caps; too many thousands of bottle labels to keep track of; dozens of full-sized, doubled-sided antique English pub signs; and hundreds of antique tin beer signs. At one point I also had a 6,000-piece bottle collection and prided myself that I had personally drank each one! I also have a brewery letterhead collection that started when I wrote to breweries all over the world as part of my Master’s Thesis at the University of Texas at Austin. I guess you can call these ongoing collections as marathons of sorts.
You could say a few of my beer ventures have been marathons, also. I owned an American-themed pub in Cambridgeshire, UK in the early 90’s that had dozens of taps and over one hundred bottled beers. That simply wasn’t done in England back then. I also started one of America’s first beer-of-the-month clubs with thinly-distributed beers entering multiple new states for the first time. Additionally, I was a part owner in Delaware’s first post-prohibition brewery, which achieved distribution into seven states within two years and was also doing a lot of contract brews on behalf of others. I’m now developing the concept for the 100+ tap room for our PERRY STREET SOCIAL DISTRICT project. In short, I treat all my beer involvements as marathons with lofty goals set well beyond the average.
CRCO: OK, so we must ask, how did the fascination with beer begin?
PAUL MYHILL: Ha!That’s a bit of a leather couch story.I was born in Bedfordshire, UK, and went to an ultra-strict private school. Whenever I watch the Pink Floyd: The Wall movie, I’m taken back to that time – uniformed students getting caned by the headmaster in front of the class routinely! That was me for not doing my math homework. Ha! The one respite was going out onto the football (soccer) pitch behind the school for PE each day. The pitch was owned by the Whitbread Brewery, which was the largest fully-automated brewery in Europe at the time. To me, the sweet smell of malt in the air became synonymous with being away from persecution – enjoying a time of freedom with my friends as we played rugby or kicked the ball around. My father was CFO of Texas Instruments European Operations during those same years and so time with him was limited. Going to the local pubs or the golf club bar with him as a ten-year-old boy are among my most cherished memories. I was then homebrewing (mainly extract kits) by the time I was 15 years old. Again, leather couch stuff, as beer and brewing became associated with very good moments in my early life.
CRCO: Anything else beer related coming up?
PAUL MYHILL: With my beer background in brewery, pub, and distribution ownership; running beer social media groups and pages; and these recent beer marathons as you call them; I’ve been solicited to consult with breweries, invest and partner with some, and to also write for a major beer publication. I’m going to just focus on our PERRY STREET SOCIAL DISTRICT project, though, with the possibility of running or brokering distribution relationships that will probably arise as part of that.
CRCO: Thank you, Paul! We wish you the best with your upcoming goals and endeavors!
PAUL MYHILL: Thank YOU also . . . and CHEERS!
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