Boondoggle has a few meanings, so let’s get on the same page here:
work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value.
waste money or time on unnecessary or questionable projects.
I am not sure if ‘boondoggle’ better describes my past corporate jobs or my efforts to create a brewery. Either way we hope that we get to experience more the other definition of boondoggle which is:
a business trip, often to an exotic destination, in which you do more relaxing/fun stuff than work.
“I first considered the idea of opening a brewery in 2007 while my department was being outsourced. This change in job stability gave me the chance to re-think my career plans. I didn’t act quickly enough at this juncture and instead, a new corporate opportunity presented itself. Over the years the brewery discussions and ideas continued to pop up again and again at various levels of seriousness. Most commonly, it would be the topic of the evening while enjoying my homebrew with friends. In my free time I would work on business plans and do market research through the Brewers Association and other available resources; all the while commuting to my cubicle.
In the summer of 2012 my wife, Sarah, had a business trip planned for Europe. True to our nature we were able to turn her work trip into a proper boondoggle when we met up in Copenhagen (hello Mikkeller!). We managed a romp from Copenhagen to Bremen (Becks), then Brussels (hello Delirium, Cantillion, St. Sixtus, etc.!) and Amsterdam. This was a beer trip of a lifetime. While cruising on a canal boat in Amsterdam we came to one of the last two standing windmills within the city. As luck would have it, this windmill happened to house a new brewery. BROUWERIJ’T IJ. We abandoned our canal tour to check it out. The ‘windmill’ brewery has one of the most picturesque beer gardens that we had ever seen. The shared tables under a beautiful canopy of trees on the bank of a river created a magical atmosphere. The beer was fantastic as well. We were inspired! We talked endlessly about how we could incorporate these ideas into our very own brewery in the States. We were excited… and then we went home. We went back to work at our corporate cubicles and the magic slowly faded away.
Two summers later in 2014 the stars aligned and Sarah’s job required another trip overseas. Boondoggle 2.0! We managed to include a 23 hour layover in Amsterdam during our travels home. Once we got into town, our first stop was our favorite brewery at the windmill. This visit was quite different from our first. The place was spiffy, the baby hop plants were established, now crawling up the outside of the building. There was a new, bigger bar, cleaner space and a whole lot more people. It was this moment when Sarah put her foot down and said “Let’s do this, we have to do this!”
The remaining hours of our layover consisted of non-stop discussion and brainstorming our new venture. We enjoyed a dinner at another loved spot and went back to our Airbnb to try to get some sleep before catching our connecting flight home. This time upon landing, we got to work! For the last three years we have been working toward realizing our dream. It wasn’t always easy, and true to the Boondoggle definition, there were many wasted or misdirected steps, but today, I know we got a few things right. Cheers to that magical layover!”
– Micah & Sarah
When looking for a mascot for Boondoggle we kept coming back to the idea of a pigeon. Pigeons are city birds, they are tough yet they are smart enough to be taught to deliver messages. The pigeons were constantly there throughout our travels in Europe…eating peanuts we would toss to them as we enjoyed our beers. They were also right outside the windows of our office building back home. When we rationalized that the most ‘boondoggle’ way of communicating is by putting a message in a satchel on a bird and sending it into the air, that was it. Our punky little pigeon sitting atop the globe is yet to be named, but is already close to our heart!