The next morning we woke up a bit hazy, having had taken full advantage of Victory’s hospitality the night before. We were almost silent at breakfast, due to a combination of a slight hangover and lots of performance jitters. Ready or not, the big day was here.
After the coffee and scrambled eggs took hold, we both loosened up and began to get excited about taping our reel. The crew assembled in the lobby and we headed over to the brewery to get rolling. I’ve worked in TV before, and I love TV people. They are usually sharp, curious and friendly, and these guys were no exception. It was going to be a good day.
The taping started with us interviewing Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet at 10am. So did the drinking, as you can’t interview brewers without holding a beer! It went well enough, and we were soon headed into the heart of the brewery, crew in tow, to find out what makes Victory tick (turns out it’s German malt and whole flower hops).
First stop was the grain room, where we ate handfuls of malted barley, which tasted like a more delicious version of Grape Nuts, and went well with the Donnybrook Stout that still lingered on my palate. That’s right, breakfast of champions!
Then it was off to master control and the hop freezer, the most wonderful smelling place on earth. Then we visited the brew kettle, where I climbed in and Don seized the chance to screw the hatch shut. Good times.
Later we visited the bottling line and got to sample Prima Pils from the bottling tank, which is about as fresh as it gets – it was perfection.
We also visited the yeast lab and hung out with Frank, Victory’s “yeast whisperer” and occasional tour guide. While there, we got to play with fire, preparing a beer for contamination testing. As with just about everything else we did at Victory, it ended with us drinking some beer.
During our time filming, Don would disappear occasionally to release the Alien Babies, the bad crayfish from New Orleans that still haunted his innards. Although he was hurting, you wouldn’t know it by looking at him. Actually, we were both kinda crispy by this time, as we had been drinking more than usual since I picked Don up at the airport two days earlier. But still, the show must go on.
We finished the day with a side-by-side interview, answering question asked by super-producer Matt. Then it was a wrap, and we had a great dinner with the crew. The food at Victory is awesome, so any meal there is a treat.
Celebrating a shoot that went well made it even better. As a cherry on top, they tapped a cask (a Friday night tradition at Victory) and got to enjoy a delicious and smoky rauchbier.
All said, it was a little unnerving shooting, because the crew gave us very little feedback while it was happening. Don and I just rolled through the brewery and did our thing, not sure if we were doing great or failing so badly there was no sense in trying to correct us.
At the end of the day, the producers said we did great. Brothers are popular in the world of cable, and they really loved the way Don and I poked fun at each other but still obviously cared about each other, too. We had a great vibe they thought was perfect for the show.
Our camera guy Andy, who is a seasoned fella, said he forgot we were shooting a talent reel – it felt like a regular TV episode to him. Don and I couldn’t think of a higher compliment and were cautiously optimistic about our chances at landing the gig. Of course we thought there were a thousand things we could do better if we had another crack at it, but we felt we did our best for our first time on camera. We were ourselves, and that’s all we could do.
We’d have to wait and see what everyone thought when they looked at the footage. In the meantime, Don and I rolled back to my place in New Jersey, Don flew home and we both tried to resume our normal lives without the TV show crowding our thoughts. It was pins and needles time.
Click here for Part 4: We Are the Champions!