by Eric Ginsburg
The crush of people pressing against the expansive bar was so thick that it formed an almost impassible blockade. My friends and I joked that the best way to introduce yourself at this networking event would probably involve flinging a handful of business cards in the air above the crowd.
If the idea of a flash mob ever caught on with yuppies, this is what it would look like.
I had showed up to a SynerG young professionals group “On Tap” networking event at World of Beer, a hefty chain that just opened a Greensboro outpost. It wasn’t my first time at one of the group’s drinking/networking socials — I accidentally showed up at Gibb’s Hundred Brewing during one of their On Tap events and was so promptly overwhelmed by the wall of khaki that I turned on my heels.
But I like the folks who put these on, and most of the people I’ve met at them, like newly minted city Councilman Justin Outling, Elizabeth Wicker, Zac Engle and Tyler Quinn. Okay so it turns out, apparently I don’t meet anyone at these events except for the welcoming people who help run the organization (see: everyone named above, and a few others like Hillary “Meadows” Meredith and Masha Beversdorf). It’s not that nobody shows up; so many people come, that even for someone as social as me, it’s difficult to imagine exchanging more than résumé items with anyone.
So I brought my social lubricant — my extroverted pal Sam — and bought some more in the form of the Jardinier, a pale ale from the Bruery in the unpleasantly named Placentia, Calif. It still wasn’t enough, and once we flagged down someone from the understaffed team, who seemed less ready than I was for the crowds, we dipped outside.
Sam, his girlfriend Lauren and I joined a stranger around the fire pit, who joked that it seemed appropriate that someone like him drinking Left Hand’s Introvert beer had also fled the masses. It was here, sitting around the fire and eating tater tots, that I discovered my favorite thing about World of Beer — the blankets.
Yep, there are super warm blankets draped over the backs of comfortable chairs in the front corner of the patio, designed to provide that living room couch feel. It’s so simple and yet so brilliant that I’d return for that experience alone.
In other respects, World of Beer is kind of a letdown. Its name is a misnomer — we joked that this is the equivalent of Jake’s Billiards for people who would normally be at Outback Steakhouse, but with fewer beers. It’s a fair comparison, especially considering that one of the Outback guys bought and expanded this chain, according to the kitchen manager who Sam befriended.
You could point to other examples of passive networking that night on our parts; there was Stephan the Introvert, our server Jessica who plays basketball for Elon University and state Rep. Jon Hardister, who I flagged down as he left the event and convinced to join us briefly.
That is to say the event wasn’t a bust — we enjoyed ourselves, and I made small talk with at least two acquaintances — and the same could be said for the venue. The food, though a little pricey, was tasty. Every Greensboro brewery is on tap, and there’s actually a pretty legit and affordable cocktail list. And let’s not forget those blankets, which are big enough for snuggling or wearing inside like a cape. You know, whatever you’re into.
Visit World of Beer at 1310 Westover Terrace (GSO) or at worldofbeer.com/locations/Greensboro.