Mike Brown: My Afternoon at General Distributing
The beer issue makes for some easy and pleasurable assignments for most of the SLUG staffers, but it’s kind of weird for me. As my conservative Mormon family pointed out, beer seems to sneak its way into most of my articles. There might be an intervention courtesy of my siblings after this one. I love my family, but I never asked them or anyone else to read my writings.
Some other things I love are beer and boobs. SLUG knows this, so they gave me a mammary shaped beer bong to review called the Boob Tube. I wanted to put a creative twist on the review, something a little more than a picture of a bunch of befuddled renobs trying to suck a thirty pack through a plastic tit. That just didn’t seem like serious journalism, even by my standards.
So Chris Swainston and I decided to head out to the local General Distributing plant, Boob Tube in hand, to tour the facility and see if we could get any employees to bong a beer with us. We decided to wear wigs during the tour because wigs are funny.
General Distributing is the local distribution hub for fabulous brands of beer like Natural Light, Busch, Busch Light, Amstel Light, Natty Ice, Heineken, Amber Bock, all Uinta Brewing brands, and, most notably, Budweiser and Bud Light. Oh, and Bud Light Lime, which now comes in a can.
The General Distributing facility is hidden by the airport. My friend Beverly works there in the marketing department and hooked up the tour with her boss Jeff. Chris and I showed up late with our wigs and hangovers. Turns out Jeff was more hung over than us!
This led me to my first question: What’s the hangover policy for employees that work for a beer company? The policy is pretty simple. Jeff explained that if you can’t show up to work after drinking thirteen hours straight the day before (like he did), then you are a pussy. You won’t get written up for smelling like a brewery, as long as you can do your job.
Jeff asked me what I wanted to see. I said I wanted to see more beer in one spot than I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Before I knew it, we were in some sort of 100,000 square foot temperature-controlled beer oasis in our perceivably dry city of salt. Stepping into this room made me realize how the kids in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory must have felt when they stepped into Willy Wonka’s wonderland.
The pallets of pilsners were stacked 30 to 40 feet high, sprouting out of the concrete and creating a maze of sorts. I would have easily gotten lost and been run over by a forklift without Jeff’s keen navigation skills. It really was more beer than I had ever seen in one place at one time. Jeff let me know how funny he thought it was when he hears other people say that no one drinks in Utah. All this beer was only going to last Salt Lake City alone about a month.
Maybe we really are drinking more beer than other places to make up for the lower percentage. Overall, General Distributing moves through around 4,600,000 cases of beer a year.That doesn’t include the keg room, which was smaller but colder, and housed all the beer for the bars. The keg room also held the coveted military beer! In case you didn’t know, you can get real Budweisers at Hill Air Force Base. If you’re not afraid to join the air force and get shot at, at least you can still enjoy a real Bud.
So how does all that beer get here? Well I’ll tell you. It gets made in Fort Collins, Colo. If you’re ever out there, you can tour their facility too. Then it’s driven out here by a pack of magical, flying Clydesdale horses to General Distributing. They put it in that magical room that I was talking about, and each beer pillar contains a sign with the date on which the beer was conceived by the Fort Collins beer fairies. I tried to find my birthday, but couldn’t. I guess the beer fairies don’t work on Saturdays.
Next the beer gets loaded onto one of the 31 semi trucks that are parked in a room adjacent to the magical beer kingdom. They go to our supermarkets and convenience stores and then to our bellies. I asked Jeff if anyone has ever stolen a beer truck. It happened once, but they caught the guy, and the beer run of epic proportions was halted.
Next we went to the graphics department to get some Bud Man stickers. They are now happily placed on the Boob Tube. Then we went through one of their large conference rooms where they sometimes have employee meetings. If you think that it’s ok for them to have beer and pizza at such meetings, well, you’re absolutely right. Another reason I should work for a beer company.
What beer distribution plant would be complete without its own bar? I felt like I was on MTV Cribs when we went into this room. Black and shiny, it was one of the cleanest bars I’ve ever seen, and I only say that because I work at one of the grimiest bars I’ve ever seen. My hangover was fading and my liver started craving.
Jeff then took us in his office where, aside from a bunch of awesome Jazz memorabilia, he had Adolphous Busch’s pocketknife. If you don’t know who Adolphous Busch is, he’s the guy that invented Budweiser in 1876. Jeff even knew who was going to win the Bud Bowl this year, but he was unable to tell us what happened to Spuds Mackenzie. I also asked him who his favorite employee at General Distributing is, and not surprisingly, it’s Beverly.
Jeff and Beverly also wanted to make it known how appreciative they are of all the beer drinkers in the greater Salt Lake area and beyond. Without us, they wouldn’t have jobs. To show their appreciation, Jeff Kindly gave Chris and me three cases to take home with us and put through the Boob Tube. He evenloaded it in my truck for me! He must know how much I hate lifting things. As for reviewing the Boob Tube? It’s not a very functional beer bong, and milk looks a lot funnier than beer in that thing.