I’ve only just started writing for DCBeer and haven’t met Bill DeBaun in person yet, so when he DM’ed me: “Wanna meet up? Great story for you, and only you, *you* of all the bloggy blog bloggers in this city, to tell,” of course I jumped at the chance to meet the #DCBrews legend in the flesh. I responded back: “where and when?” “Menchie’s Fro-Yo 12th and U, 10am. #TODAY.”
I cleared my schedule and headed over to Menchie’s with my notebook. I got there and Bill had already secured a corner table and sat down. He was St.-Baldrick’s-bald and wearing a loud red plaid shirt with big white spread collar, matching red shorts with suspenders that jacked up his shorts uncomfortably high. On the table, he had eight cups of rapidly melting multi-colored mounds of frozen yogurt.
I barely even cracked open my notebook when Bill leaned forward, eyes slightly wild, locked eyes with me, and said, “I’m a goddamn visionary, Jon. I’m telling you.”
Unnerved, I didn’t respond and figured the best course of action was to position my pen over the lined paper and let him continue. While I waited for him to continue, Bill jabbed a spoon into two different frozen yogurt cups and tasted it.
“Interesting…yes,” he muttered to himself, while seemingly twirling the ends of a handlebar mustache (despite being clean shaven). I was bewildered. What was coming next? As if reading my mind, Bill looked up and said, “Lollipops…craft lollipops.”
I struggled to comprehend what he was saying. My face quite honestly was plastered with confusion. He smiled broadly, “Don’t you get it? It’s a market that is ripe for disruption.” He gesticulated wildly, “Look at the industry! The dental office monopoly controls 85 percent of the lolly market, Chupa-Chups controls the remaining 15 percent! It’s a stagnating, complacent market that needs me.”
“What do you mean?”
“Look at what they offer! The dentist’s office has red, purple, sometimes blue if you’re lucky! Chupa-Chups, don’t get me started on Chupa…there is no flavor.” Bill then dropped the imaginary mic into which he had been speaking.
“They just do wacky-colors. That’s all. This is the next frontier: craft lollipops. What The Veil Brewing did for NEIPA and milkshake sours, I’m going to do with lollipops.”
Bill dipped a spoon into a bowl of blueberry fro-yo and then reached into his pocket, pulled out some hop pellets, ground it between his fingers, and sprinkled it onto the blue glob perched at the end of the spoon. He did this twice. Looking me dead in the eyes, he thrust it towards my face, and I tentatively tasted it.
The blueberry was up front. It transitioned to a nice acidity. Then I got smacked in the face with lemony-citrusy-hop flavor on the back end. The flavor was delicious, a zero IBU blueberry-lemonade shake dancing on my tongue. I was further smacked in the face with another realization: Bill had just double dry-hopped blueberry fuckin’ frozen yogurt with Lemondrop hops.
He looked at me unblinkingly, eyes wide, sweating profusely. “That’s what lollipops could do, bro. These neckbeards have no idea. I’m looking forward to shaking up the Lollipop Guild. Smashing the entrenched politics of it all. Really shifting the paradigm of the three-tier lolly system is what I’m going for. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but the catalyst was reading about glitter beer on Twitter while I was sitting in the dentist’s office.”
“What do you mean, Bill?’
“You know, I was sitting there thinking beer is just so innovative, brewers are continually pushing boundaries, we got glitter beer, milkshake beer, green beer, and I saw that sad bowl of lollies on the receptionist’s desk and thought to myself, ‘Man, we can do better than just “blue” flavored lollies. We can rebel and create a full-flavored experience. We can “Trillium,” we can “Veil,” we can “Aslin” this shit and bring the cutting edge of brewing’s flavor development to the masses!’”
Slackjawed and in awe, I could barely muster a response. Bill was right. He made complete sense. He pointed his pink Menchie’s FroYo spoon at me. “You’re gonna write about it…April 1 my limited release. It’s going to be a Hazy Pineapple Juice Milkshake and I’m naming it BOMB POP. I already have the artwork for the can! We’ll have 4-packs available for limited release. Only 23 cases available. 23 cases that will start a revolution!”
Dear reader, I don’t know about you…but I will be first in line.
Image via SashaW, used under a Creative Commons license.