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Talking beer with the Beer Geeks

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Chris Nelson and Meredith Canham-Nelson of TheBeerGeek.com Chris Nelson and Meredith Canham-Nelson of TheBeerGeek.com

The VIP session of the Bangor Beer Festival will include keynote speakers Chris Nelson and Merideth Canham-Nelson. This husband and wife team has spent years traveling all over the country and all over the world in the pursuit of beer and beer culture.

Their website, TheBeerGeek.com, launched back in 2005. Since that time, this dynamic duo has visited hundreds of breweries in their never-ending pursuit of a quality quaff.

'Every time we travel at this point is beer-related,' said Merideth. 'It's a funny thing. When we first started, not many people were doing it. But now, beer travel is becoming quite popular. People used to ask us, Did you hit any breweries?' Now, it's, How many?''

The answer to that question how many? can wind up being an impressive number.

'I think our record is about 15 breweries over a three or four-day weekend,' she added.

This notion of 'beer travel' going to different place with the goal of sampling local brews sprang from fairly simple beginnings. Basically, Chris was a craft beer fan, while Merideth was working at a rotating-tap pub and wanted to have a better idea of what she was selling. And so it began.

'I just wanted to know what I was serving,' she said.

So how did these two wind up as the keynote speakers at this festival? Turns out there's a family connection Chris's cousin is CVB Executive Director Kerrie Tripp. 

'Kerrie asked us to come,' said Chris. 'We were going to be in Maine anyway.'

'We're really excited to be coming,' added Merideth.

In their keynote, Chris and Merideth will share their thoughts on beer's current place in the societal spotlight.

'We're really living in a Golden Age of beer travel,' Chris said. 'There has never been a better time to travel and visit breweries. People really need to get out there and experience good beer.'

'When we first started doing this, there weren't many resources,' said Merideth. 'Nowadays, it's much easier. But even today, there's still always one spot that we didn't know about.

'We just encourage everyone to have their own beer experiences,' she added. 'To experience a culture through what they drink.'

These two have had plenty of beer experiences of their own; their current total of breweries visited (a number tabulated and updated on their website) is a staggering 806.

This isn't the pair's first visit to Maine; they estimate that they've visited the operations of approximately a third of the Bangor Beer Festival participants thus far, with plans to hit as many of the others as possible during their time here. They're also planning a sojourn to Nova Scotia; eastern Canada's breweries are mostly virgin territory with regards to their beer travels.

Of course, no interview with beer aficionados would be complete without asking about their favorites. Their answer revealed a shared passion toward one particular destination.

'My favorite beer is the one in my hand in a beer garden in Germany with my German friends,' said Chris.

'Hands down, my favorite place is Germany,' agreed Merideth. 'The food, the people, the beer, the culture it's great.'

Chris and Merideth were also kind enough to offer up favorite beers that don't require an airline ticket and vacation time to enjoy. They spoke highly of a number of Maine offerings; both mentioned Maine Beer Company beers Chris the Lunch IPA, Merideth the Peeper Ale.

These are two people who truly love what they do. Their passion for beer has taken them all over the world; on June 22, that passion is going to bring them to the Bangor waterfront.

To learn more about the Beer Geeks, visit their website at TheBeerGeek.com. 

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