Six Degrees of Sam Komlenic

I’m not really sure that this is the concept at work here, but there is a story to be shared and a big thank you to send along.

The short version of this story is that we were sitting at Otto’s on Saturday afternoon debating how we would spend the rest of our weekend (after the Real Ale Fest at Zeno’s) when a man walked in to pick up kegs for his party.  Overhearing him talk about the bands, the cauldron of soup and the bonfire, it seemed natural to pull the old bar joke of, “where’s the party?,” which generates a laugh and everyone goes back to their old lives.

Before I could ask, “where’s the party?,” D blurted out, “what’s the address?”  In seconds, he rattled off his address, which D carefully scribed into his notebook, and we exchanged first names with our new acquaintance, Sam (no last name), and said good-bye with a, “perhaps we’ll see you later!,” tagged on the end.

Hours later, after enjoying the Real Ale and filling up on the lovely vegetarian soup/stew and a selection of other munchies at Zeno’s, we were not quite ready to turn in.  So we called our host to tell him we wouldn’t be out too late, but were going to try out this party at a stranger’s house.  I’m sure he was on the other end of the phone just shaking his head.

We plugged the address we were given into the GPS, and drove a few miles into the country.  Lo and behold, along a lovely wooded road lined with lit pumpkins, we found a small field converted to parking, and a welcoming crowd in the yard at Sam’s house.

A band jammed on the porch.  As promised, a cauldron of soup was cooking on a small fire.  And the kegs of beer were lined up in front of the food table.  The bonfire was going to be set later in the evening.  We located our host, and much to our surprise, Sam remembered our names!  

He and his friends were very chatty – I need to dig out their card to check their names (and may issue a correction), but I believe the people we talked to the most were Jim & Linda Lipman.  Jim & Linda are bourbon enthusiasts from Cincinnati, and this hobby is how they met Sam.  Knowing the circle a bit, we asked if they knew Lew Bryson, and of course, they do. 

We didn’t stay very long (we weren’t hungry or thirsty, but the band was good and there were plenty of people to talk to), but the whole time we were there we never did learn Sam’s last name.  

So, tonight, the librarian in me had to search for an answer, which wasn’t very difficult.  I put all of the facts I had together, and used Google to track him down.  And…this leading to six degrees of Sam…Lew Bryson’s blog is one of the sources I used to confirm that Sam has a last name and it is Komlenic.  I had read these stories before on Lew’s page, but I would have never made the connection without the other clues.

I know that’s not really six degrees, but I’ll bet there are many other people in the world who know Sam through six-people channels.  Now we know Sam first-hand.  Thanks, Sam, for making our night!  It was a short visit, but will remain in our memories for a very long time.


6 responses

  1. Sam is an interesting strain of yeast in the whole beer and whiskey vat of Pennsylvania. He’s everywhere. And he’s doing copyediting for me at Malt Advocate magazine now, too. Doesn’t surprise me at all that he casually invited you to the party, or that he remembered your name. This guy called me the morning of the Bush Hotel fire in Bellefont…because he knew I’d want to know. And he was dead right: I was diminished by that fire, and wrote one of my best pieces because of it. Sam is a GREAT guy.

  2. Almost forgot: if you need another degree…I have an MSLS from Catholic U, and worked as a librarian for the US Army for four years, then as a hospital librarian, and then some corporate library work before beer caught up with me and I started writing. Funny old world…

  3. Pingback: Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks « Pub Crawlin’

  4. Well, hell! Just read Greta’s review of Elk Creek (conveniently tied to Lew’s blog) and saw my name highlighted. Clicked and found I’ve been six-degreed! Thanks for all the compliments, but I come by my interests honestly. My dad worked for the late, great Jones Brewing Co. of Smithton for 35 years, and I’ve always been interested in the beverage alcohol industry. I remember watching the numbers of active breweries diminish in the 70s, thinking there would be but handful in a few years. Then places like Anchor and New Albion set the industry on its head, and we are all enjoying the fruits of their labor with new breweries continuing to flourish, even in our rural part o0f the state.

    Thanks for thinking of me, and I hope we can all get together in the new year!

  5. BTW, my Cincinnati acquaintances are John and Linda Lipman (who drove seven hours the day of the party and back home the next just to visit!), and they know more about the history of American whiskey than just about anyone. They have posted many of their travels to living and dead distilleries at:

    Glad you guys made the party, and let’s get together soon! Email:

  6. Tonight, while Super Sam was helping me bring economic stability to the Cincinnati Bell Telephone company, he happened to mention this thread. So I had to check it out. This Saturday will be Sam & Amy’s 2008 Bonfire Party, and unfortunately Linda & I won’t be able to attend (no one can has any money to offer us the second mortgage we’d need for gasoline; oh well. Remember: vote early and often this year).

    We met Sam via our website when he wrote to correct a few errors about our description of Pennsylvania whiskey brands, while complimenting us on having helped to confirm that there ever was any whiskey made in Pennsylvania in the first place. And THAT was something we had learned from Lew Bryson! So, even though we hadn’t even met Lew yet (we have since), it was because of articles Lew had written and posted that we ended up knowing Sam.

    The three of us have yet to occupy the same room at the same time, although I’m not sure I’m really prepared to find myself a guppy between whales. And I mean that both in terms of physical size (I’m 5’7″ and somewhat round; they’re both BIG guys in both directions), and in expertise — especially Pennsylvania spirits expertise. But it’ll happen one of these days, and I can’t wait!!

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