A few years ago we met Kenny Flannery, a beer-loving backpacker while he was here in Portland visiting a few breweries with local beerlebrity John Lovegrove. By a few breweries we mean that he joined Lovegrove on stops of his massive 77 breweries in one day tour across Portland in 18 hours.
Now Flannery is on his own with his filming partner Nick Noyes for their new YouTube beer series Hopping: The Backpacking Beer Adventure. Every Thursday the duo will lead beer and travel enthusiasts down new roads to thirst-inducing behind-the-scenes tasting sessions at the best breweries they can find. Episode 5 will debut on Thursday, June 11th.
Hopping: The Backpacking Beer Adventure features Flannery, who after living in New York City decided to drop everything in 2007 to live life from his backpack. Now thirteen years late he continues to live his life traveling to over dozens of countries while hitchhiking where he became obsessed with drinking, brewing, and seeking out the best craft beer possible.
Season 1 of Hopping: The Backpacking Beer Adventure consist of seven episodes with a bonus eighth episode. “That final episode will include a ton of great footage that didn’t make the cut in the previous seven, along with some stories and reflection from Nick and I about the trip,” said Flannery.
So far four episodes are now available on YouTube. Flannery states, “Episode 5 comes out this Thursday, which will feature Border X and Modern Times in San Diego. We’ll have BarrelHouse in Paso Robles after that, then finally Device and Burning Barrel in the Sacramento area.”
The filming of Hopping: The Backpacking Beer Adventure takes Flannery and Noyes across the Southwest of the United States while raveling from city to city. Their traveling consisted of hitchhiking from Las Vegas to Arizona and finally its finally destination Sacramento, California.
After living out of his backpack for the better part of 13 years, Flannery decided it’d be great to document part of his lifestyle.
“I’ve been living out of my backpack for 13 years, and every time since that I’ve seen my childhood friend, Nick, he’s always suggested following me around with a camera for some kind of documentary,” said Flannery. “He finally got some time off work and decided to actually join me hitchhiking and film, so I suggested we get beer involved so there was more to the adventure than just travel. The idea snowballed from there.”
The first season of Hopping: The Backpacking Beer Adventure begins on the famous Las Vegas Strip. “We decided to start in Vegas because I figured it would be one of the cheapest places for Nick to fly into,” said Flannery. “Able Baker Brewing popped up as a new brewery with an amazing looking tap list, so that seemed like a great start, and it definitely was!”
“The route started forming, so along the path there were some breweries I’d been to before (like Mother Road in Flagstaff and Modern Times in San Diego) and others that were suggested by fans and friends when we revealed where we’d generally be going. Some breweries, like the ones in Sacramento, we didn’t even secure until just days before we arrived. We wanted to keep things a bit loose so we had the freedom to pivot at any time!”
When we asked Flannery which brewery was the most memorable on this adventure it was a bit of a challenge for him to choose. After a bit a deliberation he chose BarrelHouse Brewing located in Paso Robles, California.
“Wow… so many great beers and memories,” Flannery stated. “After we’d filmed the tour and tasting session we were going around individually getting b-roll footage. While I was outside filming their beer garden I heard, “Kenny, is that you?”
“This was Ray, a guy I’d met while hitchhiking several years prior who’d actually introduced me to BarrelHouse (I was with my girlfriend at the time trying to hitch a ride from the coast to Firestone Walker, he got us beers there then showed us BarrelHouse before inviting us to stay the night at his place). I hadn’t really been in touch with Ray in the year’s past, so the coincidence of him being there that night and recognizing me was pretty insane. Not only that, but Nick and I had nowhere to stay and just planned on camping wherever we could after filming. Instead, Ray introduced us to some friends at the cider place next door who partied with us DEEP into the night and let us crash at their place. True travel magic!”
So will there be a Season 2? “That’s the plan!,” exclaimed Flannery. “Actually, we’ve loosely mapped out another 4 or 5 seasons in the US alone. The northeast this fall (NY, CT, RI, MA, ME, NH, VT) is our tentative Season 2 idea, but there’s a lot of factors that’ll determine how doable this is. We’re waiting to see how the next few months shake out, but we’ll definitely be filming and drinking more when the time is right.”
Prior to watching the debut of Episode 5 on Thursday, June 11th that features Modern Times and Border X Brewing in San Diego you can catch up on all four episodes of the first season of Hopping: The Backpacking Beer Adventure below.
Episode 1 – Able Baker Brewing in Las Vegas
Episode 2 – Mother Road & Dark Sky Brewing in Flagstaff
Episode 3 – Wilderness Brewing and The Beer Research Institute in Phoenix
Episode 4 – Wren House Brewing & What Ales Ya Homebrewing
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 25 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in the archives of Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter and Instagram at @hopapalooza.