It’s 9,047 miles from Cabramatta, New South Wales, to Minnesota. The trip took Warwick Tyler 21 travel hours. The airline lost his bag. He didn’t sleep for 50 hours, but when he arrived from Australia, Tyler found his beer nirvana.
Since 2017, Tyler has been a member of the Minnesota-based Facebook group Beer People—an exacting society of nearly 16,000 local beer fans that’s become notorious in the craft scene. Before joining, his only knowledge of Minnesota came from a character on Beverly Hills, 90210. Tyler frequently posts pictures of his hauls from the local bottle shop, but he’s never been to Minnesota in his two previous trips to the U.S. He’s long vowed to visit his peers in Beer People, and on August 21, he made good on that vow.
“I belong to a couple Austrialian groups, but I find that people are trolls, it’s not about the beer,” Tyler says. “Australians, we’re like the Klingons of the Western world. We all want to kill each other. I’ve found that Americans are more polite, seriously more polite. I looked at what some of the guys were posting, and I just thought, ‘This is a really, really good beer scene.’”
Tyler moored his trip to beer-centric excursions—the summer Beer Dabbler and the Minnesota State Fair. But between those events, he’s been pampered by the denizens of Beer People.
Jordan Ward, one of the group’s most prominent personalities, took Tyler to a Vikings preseason game with his family, brandishing the Aussie with a purple Jared Allen jersey. Another member gave him a coveted bottle of Surly Darkness to take home. The day before we meet, he scores behind-the-plate seats to watch the Twins best the Detroit Tigers. Selfies with Tyler have become something of a rite in Beer People—you’re not a bona fide member unless you’re posting about a brewery excursion with the hophead from Down Under.
Tyler booked his trip in December, immediately posting his itinerary to the group. After he arrives, I steal a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. By the time I pick him up at his hotel in downtown Minneapolis, he’s already been to Finnegans, Modist, Fulton, 56, Dangerous Man, and Fair State in addition to the Dabbler and a few beer bars in the city. I resolve to take him out to BlackStack Brewing in St. Paul, the site of my first in-person interaction with Ward and Beer People.
Tyler talks sentimentally about his trip so far. He’s floored by the graciousness of Minnesotans, his comrades in Beer People, especially. Despite getting his wallet stolen on a late night in downtown and slipping off a curb during a rainstorm (note the fading shiner in the lead image of this article), Tyler has nothing but kind words for Minnesota and the internet strangers who’ve taken him in.
“I’ve met some lovely people here,” he says. “I’ve gotten to know these guys and girls over the years, and there’s no bullshit about them. It says something when you’re coming in cold with no preconceptions.”
Tyler’s beer experience has been exceptional. While Australia’s beer scene is formidable, it’s about one-tenth the U.S. industry. Australian breweries follow American beer trends, so Tyler sees United States’ beer culture as the pinnacle. The American beers he’s able to get in Australia are rarely fresh. For him, being able to belly up at Finnegans and enjoy a Cluster Truck IPA feels like a destiny fulfilled.
“When you get American beer in Australia, the ‘use by’ date magically extends to 12 months,” Tyler says. “Two of our big chains carry American beers, and they must sit there for another 12 months on top of that. People just aren’t buying them. They don’t know what they are. To drink these beautiful beers fresh is a great honor.”
Tyler counts Insight Doe Eyes and Fair State Mirror Universe among his favorite beers he’s sampled thus far. He gushes over the soft, juicy pint of Local 755 from BlackStack. But it’s not long before we’re done talking about beer altogether. Tyler is incredibly forthcoming, and he quickly moves on to deeper subjects like his divorce, his esteem for his daughter’s new stepfather, and his girlfriend in Vietnam. I learn more about him over a 12 oz. pour of After-Midnight Marauders than I’ve learned about most of my coworkers in half a decade. He knows he’s made an incredible leap to come here—he jokes five people could’ve killed him by now—and he wants to return that trust.
Tyler laments to me that he hasn’t been able to get to Surly, so we decide to stop in at Prospect Park on our way home. Since he got his wallet snatched, he doesn’t have ID on him, but a manager at the brewery gives him a pass. Another indication that he’s landed in the right place. He can’t believe the size of the place, and I brush him up on the brewery’s importance in changing Minnesota beer law. We have one more beer and talk frankly about gun violence in America, and I leave him with a sturdy hug.
After I depart, he meets up with another Beer People regular named Edward. The two drive back to St. Paul and wrap up Tyler’s night at Clutch, Bad Weather, and Waldmann. Soon, he’ll depart for a week-long trip to Dallas before heading back to Cabramatta and his job with the federal government. He’s going home grateful, with a liver backlogged with good beer and a few stories about the people on the other side of the internet.
“I’ll tell all the folks back home to come to Minnesota,” Tyler says. “The beer here is second to none, but it’s the people that make it special.”