Tom Hall owes Serra Bording-Jones some guitar work at a barbecue, Jessie Jones owes George Malich a boat ride on the Mississippi River, and (for jiminy jeepers!) I myself owe Jill Hamilton a hike around the Indian mounds while teaching her Black Elk's basic prayer.
It's much more fun to reflect upon the experiences that were redeemed - and, in turn, yielded further, unexpected experiences.
Last year, a man named Doug (last name lost in Memory Loss Archives) had the winning bid for a case of beer brewed to your spec's with your face (or whatever you want) on the label. The experience donor was Drew Huerter, then a humble (and generous) homebrewer, who has since gone pro and is making beer for almost everybody in town: Schlafly, Morgan Street, and Mattingly.
Drew made Doug an Imperial India pale ale. "That was before the hop crisis," Drew told me, with a smile. A worldwide hop shortage has made the production of hop-heavy beers like IPA (or the even more amped-up Imperial IPA) prohibitely expensive. Especially for a freebie brew, donated for an arts fundraiser.
Drew said Doug loved his custom-made IPA. So much so that he hooked Drew up with a prized pair of concert tickets after a chance meeting between brewer and drinker at Pappy's Smokehouse.
"He gave me two tickets to see the Foo Fighters!" Drew enthused. "He had them right there on him and gave them to me on the spot."
Drew shared the tickets with his girlfriend, Julie. He said, "It was one of the best shows I've ever seen, if not the best. They played two hours. They played really hard. They did a triangle solo! I loved everything about it."
That's not all! The Experiential Auction is also growing a new familial bond between drinker and brewer.
"Doug met my parents at the Repeal of Prohibition party," Drew said. "They weren't sure how they figured out the connection. They were all a little tipsy by the time I got there."
A custom-made case of personalized beer is an annual fixture at the Experiential Auction. This year the beer experience donor is Anthony Bescia, a homebrewer, sock puppet, MoveOn.org activist, and manager at the Tap Room. Advance bidding is open now! Leave a comment with contact info or email me at brodog [@] hotmail.com.
Photo of Drew Huerter (left), Charlie (Berger?) from O'Fallon Brewery and Brennan Greene of Schlafly making beer for Brennan's nuptials from STL Hops.