Exiting the snow flurries of Interstate 20 and following the somewhat circuitous commands of a navigation app, we approached Central Avenue in search of dinner. On this first night of our road trip from Texas to California, we found ourselves stopped at a five-way intersection in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill. The crawl of red letters across a marquee sign caught my eye: Jubilation Wine & Spirits, located at 3512 Lomas Avenue, announced the availability of a beer called Patrick Hayze. “What a great name for a hazy IPA,” I called out to my copilot, otherwise known as Mom, before launching into a spiel about how one of my favorite aspects of the craft brewing scene was the creative beer names.
The name Patrick Swayze holds a prominent place in my family’s cosmology—as far as we are concerned, the Houston native is up there with George Strait and Nolan Ryan. My favorite photo of my mom’s mom is a two-shot action sequence of her receiving a Road House poster for Christmas in 1989. Dirty Dancing played on a loop at Grandmother’s house, with Patrick Swayze embodying the perfect man in Johnny Castle. Cat-eyed with feline grace and high cheekbones, his looks were rivaled only by his belief in Baby. Yet Hollywood also found him tough enough to cast in both The Outsiders and Red Dawn as the older brother and pack leader to every feral teen heartthrob of the 1980s. Whether we were aware of it or not, Patrick Swayze set the standard. As Hadley Freeman writes in her essay on Dirty Dancing: “No one other than Swayze, the son of a cowboy and ballet dancer, could have captured Johnny’s feminized masculinity.”
So a beer called Patrick Hayze immediately got my attention. We were only on Day One of a weeklong excursion, and I was keeping a handwritten list of all the local brews we encountered along the way. Stopping for samples at every brewery we passed would be impossible—that night in Albuquerque, as we dined at Flying Star Cafe, our car sat parked next to a brewery, and when we stopped for the night, the local offered $1 off pints with presentation of our hotel key card. We didn’t get to try either, due to the precedence of hunger and an ice storm, respectively. Still, the breweries and their beers went on the list. I had even brought along my growler koozie, itself a souvenir from a previous road trip, in case I came across a brew I couldn’t resist taking home.
Leaving Albuquerque, I conducted a basic Google search for Patrick Hayze. My phone returned the brewery location in the results summary, so I didn’t have to click through to see that Patrick Hayze came from Firestone Walker Brewing Company in Paso Robles, CA. Even though it wasn’t local to New Mexico, Patrick Hayze went on my list, partially out of love for IPAs, but mostly out of love for Patrick Swayze.
The next night, on our highspeed burn up the length of California’s Highway Five, we passed a road sign marking the exit for Paso Robles. On my map app, already open in a desperate search for coffee, I could see that Paso Robles was still an hour away and not an option, neither for coffee nor beer. Maybe on the way back, I thought to myself, then plowed through to San Francisco by midnight of Day Two.
On Day Six, we left the Bay Area for home, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge with a 7-Eleven cooler full of Lagunitas bottles and HenHouse cans in the trunk. We were taking a different route all the way back to Texas, driving the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway through Monterrey and Big Sur. The navigation robots let us know that Paso Robles was just inland on the 101. I decided to surprise my mom with a quick stop to purchase a Patrick Hayze T-shirt.
The scale of the brewery was disorienting—much bigger than my local in Texas. I parked at the Taproom, walked across the street to the Visitor’s Center, and learned I needed to drive back to the Emporium if I wanted to purchase “swag and maybe some beer to go.” Poking around the Emporium, we saw a ton of 805 merch but no Hayze. I finally asked the salesgirl. She shook her head, saying they were moving toward “keeping more with the brand.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, so I tried again with the girl at the growler bar: “I know you don’t have any swag for Patrick Hayze, but do you have the actual beer?” No, she almost smirked, they did not have that. We left with two T-shirts and a bottle of beer that benefited the wildfire fighters, my growler koozie still forlorn and empty. Out of perverse, self-castigating spite, I bought a can of 805 at the gas station next to the brewery and stuck it in the cooler.
Where had I gone wrong? Had I misidentified the brewery entirely? That would explain the awkward cold shoulder, as well as the weird reply about “the brand.” Perhaps I had navigated to the wrong Firestone Walker location? There were three in central/southern California, and a cursory search while pumping gas revealed Patrick Hayze came from the Venice location. Still, shouldn’t it be available at the mothership in Paso Robles?
“That left a bad taste in my mouth,” I said as I drove east toward the Five and Bakersfield. Copilot Mom, who has a reputation for always wanting to help, eagerly got to work with her voice-activated phone searches: “Where is Patrick Hayze beer distributed?” The returns came back from the East Coast; her search robot had defaulted to the spelling Patrick Hazy.
A more thorough investigation revealed five beers called Patrick Hazy, most of which were classified as American IPAs. Other variants included Patrick O’Hazy, Patrick Swa-hazy, Dirty Dancin’ Patrick Hazy, Patrick’s Hazy, and a Patrick So Hazy from Standard Deviant Brewing in San Francisco. The absolute best Patrick Hazy branding, sourced straight from the website of Kent Falls Brewing in Connecticut, describes a 2017 New England style IPA as such:
“A beer as soft as Sam Wheat’s hands during a late night pottery sesh and one Dalton would have drank at the end of a shift at the Double Deuce. Radically hopped (as the great Bodhisattva would have said) with mosaic, Michigan copper, and a hint of Simcoe and citra dust. This is one baby you won’t put into a corner.”
Awesome. But what of Patrick Hayze? My search resumed in earnest after we switched drivers in the Tejon Pass and sped toward Southern California. With my full, undivided attention and university-pedigreed research skills aimed at the problem, I quickly hit on a 2018 Firestone Walker tweet that explained it all:
“Meet Patrick Hayes. He’s a Quality Control Brewer & our lead Clarification & Filter Technician, meaning he helps keep our beer clear! So of course we brewed an unfiltered IPA in his honor! Patrick Hayze IPA: a 7% ABV hazy IPA packed with tropical hop goodness. Draft only!”
Patrick Hayes—haze, not hazy. It seemed like a special kind of torture to name an unfiltered beer after the filter tech, but what did I know—I had just driven an hour out of our way for a mispronunciation. Patrick Hayze did not rhyme with Patrick Swayze. It was a pun, all right, but not the one I had imagined.
The logo, though! It was everything I wanted slapped on some swag. It even had the Point Break hair (in my opinion, the peak of an illustrious career and one of the greatest films ever made). Sure, Patrick Swayze’s beard was never as robust as Patrick Hayes’s, but the illustrated Patrick Hayze was literally made of hops.
I still wondered if we might have found Patrick Hayze at one of the other Firestone Walkers. Perhaps we might have found Patrick Hayes himself. Would the staff at another location have corrected my pronunciation? At the brewery where I worked, we had two flagship beers with names frequently mangled by first-timers: Ski Boat Blonde (often rendered Sky Boat) and the Tipsy Vicar stout, which should be pronounced vicker, not vie-car. I’d learned to gently correct customers by repeating the name back to them: once when I took their orders and again when I placed their beers on the bar. Had the girls at Firestone Walker not learned this customer service trick, or was I truly the only person to have ever read Hayze as “hazy” and not “haze”?
The tweet said, “Draft only!” If so, why did I first learn of Patrick Hayze while reading a liquor store ticker in Albuquerque? Hazy IPAs are notoriously short on shelf life; the haze is comprised of yeast, malt proteins, or hoppy particulates that must remain suspended if the beer is to maintain its haziness. We needed some clarification on the matter.
I didn’t catch the name of the clerk who answered the phone, but for the sake of confusion and all-around haziness, we’re going to call him Patrick:
Patrick: Jubilation Wine & Spirits. This is Patrick. How may I help you?
Me: Hi, I have a weird question.
Patrick: [expectant pause]
Me: I was driving by the other day and thought I saw on the sign that you have Patrick Hayze.
[Here I did pronounce it “haze.”]
Patrick: We do.
Me: You do? So is it in bottles or cans or what?
Patrick: No, they never packaged it. It’s only available at our growler station. That’s kind of the point of the growler station.
Me: Ah, that’s why I was so confused. So do you still have it?
Patrick: We do. I’m looking at it right now.
Me: Okay, thank you so much. Byeee!
I hope Patrick is not waiting for me to drop by and fill my growler. By the end of our conversation, it was probably clear to him that I had never set foot inside Jubilation Wine & Spirits. We came home a different route, and searches reveal no Patrick Hayze in my immediate area. I wish I had stopped that first night to wrap my growler koozie around 64 ounces of Patrick Hayze, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
Besides, who fills up her growler on Day One of a road trip? That would be crazy…which, according to my research, does not rhyme with Hayze.