Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Tale of The Tap

April ’08 – Pliny vs. Pliny – The Tale of The Tap

So what do we know about these two kegs? To hear one keg tell it, he wasn’t quite feeling like his normal self and still managed to blow in half a day. Round two is just a few days away and we’ve got a contender waiting who’s hungry, who’s heavy, and who’s ready to pour. Let’s go to the stat sheet:

Pliny The Spring House

Age from Brewery Departure: 31.14 Weeks
Weight: 159.977 lbs (seriously)
Diameter: 16.5 inches
Gallons: 15.5


Pliny The Northside

Age from Brewery Departure: 32 Weeks to the day
Weight: 159.977 (for real)
Diameter: 16.5 inches
Gallons: 15.5

So how did these kegs get here? When did they arrive? Today we’ll look at the first leg of delivery, the rules governing it, and the wild ride that would eventually pit Pliny against Pliny.

Here’s the cold hard facts. Russian River last shipped beer to the East Coast on September 7, 2007. At the time, Kunda Beverage in King of Prussia was the only destination Russian River was delivering to in PA. Now we can’t know everything that happened on board the truck, like other deliveries and stops, but we can certainly use the internet to lead us towards some general guesses and assumptions.

View Larger Map

This is the path from Russian River Brewing Company to Kunda Beverage. If a truck left wine country on September 7th traveling East on Route 80, one thing is for sure: he’d be cranking the AC. A brutal heat wave had just let up in California, with temperatures well past 100 degrees. All that air conditioning is gonna cause a stop off for gas sooner than later. At maximum, my research shows a 300 gallon fuel tank on the smallest truck available with a cabin for the driver. If the guy is hauling from coast to coast, I’m assuming he has a cabin. Let’s also assume that some fuel was gobbled just getting to Russian River and call the Initial Fuel Reserve (IFR from here on out) 285 gallons.

My reading shows that mack daddy truck drivers get 7 miles to the gallon, but can we assume that the driver of the Pliny was indeed a real mack daddy? No. I don’t know how many drivers out there are getting 7 miles to the gallon. More reading shows about 5 - 6 to be a bit closer to reality, so let’s give this guy the benefit of the doubt and call it 6 mpg, even with the heat situation that was going on at the time. Now with an IFR of 285 it looks like that truck should have gotten about 1700 miles from Russian River before needing to refuel. That’s just about halfway.

I know, I know. I’m doing an awful lot of assuming here. I mean what if he didn’t leave straight for Kunda from Russian River, in all likelihood he didn’t. But play along, won’t you?

Driving a sled like that is big business and as with most things in big business we have to assume a certain amount of regulations and blanket requirements. So let’s assume that drivers are required to fuel up around their last 100 miles of gas or in this driver’s case, about 17 gallons. This would put our driver in York, Nebraska for his first fuel up.

But we’ll get back to York later. We’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

I’d say it’s a far stretch to believe that any human, let alone a non-mack daddy trucker, would drive 1,585 miles non-stop. I mean, let’s be serious. Not to mention more legality and regulation. Again, we’ll have to make some assumptions here. We’ll say our driver was on the job for one hour when his cross country travels began. Assuming that the hour officially started when he left for RRBC to pick up Pliny and any other charms that Vinnie was sending our way.

At most this guy could only drive 14 hours total for the day, before having to rest for 10 hours and with one down he’s got 13 hours ahead of him on the first leg of the trip. Like anyone in their right mind, this guy is gonna have to at least stretch his legs, go to the bathroom, splash some water on his face. Using time as our measurement, we’re gonna give him about an hour total stop time in this thirteen hour stretch. For a trucker, I’m saying that’s three stops. Two just to stretch the legs and one for a proper meal.

With all this in consideration the truck could technically make it to the Evanston, WY area before our driver would be forced to take his 10 hour rest. For some very simple reasons though, I doubt he’d have gone that far. He’d have had to take very brief breaks and with a man driving cross country I’m sure timeliness is one thing, but it’s not the kind of trip for an all out spring. The last stretch of Route 80 out of Utah would leave him with very little option for his reprieve, so I think it best to assume he saved the state border for the morning. This puts our man in a part of Utah that gets little recognition, a part that sits in the shadows of Salt Lake City and Wyoming as if it were some cruel valley in a Townes Van Zandt tune. I am speaking of course about the town of Echo, UT., famous only for its reservoir and its tavern. With 10 hours rest to kill for a man who can probably survive on 6, this is the place to be.

Echo, UT (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there’s a truck in each one of those pictures.) This is probably a traditional stop for our driver, who probably knows the staff, menu, and jukebox at the tavern as well as he does his own hometown. So the assumption is that he, all of the Pliny on board, those antagonizing cases of Miller Chill, and the rest of his cargo holed up in Echo for the night.

In the morning after a quick bite in the truck he hit the road for York, Nebraska and the first fuel up of the trip. My understanding of the regulations on our driver are that after 14 ours of service and 10 hours of rest, his next work day can only last 11 hours.

View Larger Map

As you can see this was a long day for our beer driving buddy. With only 20 minutes of breaks, a good stop for fuel at a nice, reputable truck stop would be a just reward for time served. The final stretch of the first leg could have been slowed by several events, no doubt irritating our driver and making him scramble to make up time elsewhere as he worked against the clock.

The drive across Wyoming is normally a breeze at just over five hours, but in Cheyenne, some guy was having serious issues surrounding his local library. A surprising amount of footage can be found here.
Across town at Frontier Park, Rib Fest was in mid-swing tying up traffic in and out of the city. Luckily for our driver, anyone heading East towards Lincoln, NE would have already been out of his way if they were traveling to town for any events surrounding World Rabies Day .

Once into York, odds are that our guy chose to stop in at Petro Stopping Center instead of Sapp Brothers because of Petro’s easy access right back onto Route 80, not to mention their superiority in food offering. Sure a sandwich from Subway in a pinch is good, but to travel a half-mile or so away from the highway when you’ve got Iron Skillet just past the exit? No question. Two words: Salad Bar.

So that’s leg one in the books. Despite his tireless efforts and cheetah like energy, the driver is forced into another 10 hours off the clock. He was well entertained in York though, with attractions like:

Chances R Restaurant and Lounge
Sunset Bowl & Lounge
Sun Theater

Tomorrow we will keep trekking on until we have the kegs tracked fully to their final destinations. If you're still tuned in to this post, i owe you a beer.

1 comment:

A Stout Yeoman said...

Please, Doc don't hurt em!