Home » Editions » As Good as it Grits
As Good as it Grits

As Good as it Grits

On a chilly Friday night in December, Harpoon Brewery’s Sean Hamel and City Tap House’s Andy Farrell set out on a mini-pub crawl to get to know Sean, errr, both of them better.


Stop 1: Varga Bar

Countless rounds of Dogfish Head Piercing Pils, a glass of 120 Minute, and a few rounds of Jameson kick off the night.

Sean Hamel: This has never crossed my mind in all the years I have known you, but my mother is a Farrell.

Andy: Holy shit.

S: Do you know where your people are from?

A: Longford.

S: No. Crazy though. That’s never even crossed my mind. So, being this is an interview, do you have any questions? I’ve never been interviewed before, let alone by a relative. Did we ever play together? Did you ever come to my birthday parties?

No questions were asked as they discussed their possible family connection, how impressed they are with Wade Boggs’ drinking abilities, their wives being buoys to keep them from overdrinking, their kids’ video games and Legos.

S: I don’t think there’s been a question yet. Do you have any?

Rick Anstotz (September Meet the Scene Interview who randomly showed up): I don’t think you want mine.

S: It’s OK, shoot.

Rick: If you had to make out with one guy, who would it be?

S: Like, in the world?

Rick: No, in this room right here.

S: Make out, like heavy?

Rick: Like, OMG, I might get to bang this person.

S: Andy. Because we’ve both been drinking Piercing Pils all night. So we could just trade pear juice. Plus, I could rub his head for good luck. Plus, we’re related.

Ten minutes pass of discussing losing their virginity, breaking Matt Swartz out of jail, and asking everyone, including Twitter, for questions

S: You really came here without questions?

A: Do you have any questions?

S: No, I’m getting interviewed.

A: So am I.

S: No, you’re the interviewer, I’m the interviewee.

A: I thought it was the other way.

S: No, you’re the -er, I’m the –ee.

Long awkward silence…

S: So, what’s your favorite color?

A: Probably blue.

S: Blue?!?

A: Light blue.

S: Light blue?!?!

A: Blue’s fine.

S: I like blue too. Let’s drink these Piercing Pils and then we’ll go to Dirty Franks and I’ll ask the obligatory, ‘How you got into the business questions,’ being you’re not prepared.

A: Are you?

S: I’m prepared with answers for questions I don’t even know.

A: Wait, wait…timeout. Is he actually the interviewee?

S: Yeah.

A: I didn’t know that. When was that ever written in an e-mail or anything? I thought you were interviewing me.

Rick: I’m going on the record and, as stupid as we were on our interview, I really don’t think it’s his fault. I’m blaming Sean Hamel.

Rich Colli (Varga Bar manager): Yeah, I’m going with Andy too.

Rick: I’m saying it’s not Andy’s fault.

Rich: Well, I don’t want to be a minority here so I’m gonna jump on the bandwagon then.

S: I can bring up documentation!

A: It’s my fault.

Rick: No, you’re supposed to be interviewed by him, I’m sure.

A: I have a lot of questions for you!

S: What, did you just pull up a corporate government interview or something?

A: Here is the first legitimate question since I learned that I have to be interviewing. What’s your favorite Harpoon beer, Sean? With no agenda, offend the people you work for. Please say UFO Raspberry.

S: Honest to God. Honest to God. IPA. Straight up, it’s the IPA.

A: I would have guessed something like the Rich & Dan’s Rye.

S: The Rye took over the front slot in the fridge for a little while, but tonight, I went home for dinner. I have pizza with the kids every Friday from Tony’s in Port Richmond. Cheese pizza, $9.70, it’s the best. Laura didn’t have anything to drink last night and tonight she grabbed an IPA and was like, ‘I miss this.’

Andy, drinking a pint of Piercing Pils, drops the voice recorder into his beer, which took them 28 seconds to remove.

A: So, there is a fresh taste of Piercing Pils. That’s the best beer I’ve ever had.

S: Is it working?

A: Yeah, it’s still ticking. OMG. Are we going to have to do this again? That would be great. Um…


Having no rice in the kitchen, Rich grabs a container of grits, which they then bury the recorder in. Taking martini glasses with them, it’s off to the second stop, Dirty Franks . During the walk, Sean sings his own version of “Dust in the Wind” called “Grits in the Wind.”

“Conversation in the wind. Yo, Andy Farrell was supposed to interview me, then he realized that neither person was interviewing each other. Pear juice. Pear juuuuice. All it is, is peaaaarrr juice.”

A: When is the first time you were at Dirty Franks?

S: OK, I moved here September of 2004. So, it was New Year’s Day 2005. Laura and I had no idea what the Mummers Parade was all about. Went out that morning with full thermoses, I mean we knew it was a parade, of mimosas. Ran out of shit early. Rolled back. Hit Locust Bar, here, all the places. We are like dive bar people.

A: I love this place, because I feel like every time I’m in here the snowflakes hang from the ceiling. It makes me feel happy.

S: It’s like Christmas.

A: I’ve danced on top of every single one of these booths. On top of the tables.

S: You want to hear a good dancing story?

A: Yeah…what’s your best dancing story?

S: Well, this is a sports dancing story. When the Sox won that World Series in ‘04, I danced on top of the bar at the Irish Pub on 20th and Walnut. This year, I’m at Mick’s Inn, my local, there’s one out in the ninth. I look over at the owner, Francine, and I say, ‘You know when they won in 2004, I danced on the bar at the Irish Pub.’ He said, ‘Go for it.’ I just jump on the bar and go fucking nuts. Bought everyone Jameson. I was going bonkers. Then I got off the bar and it was like a normal night, no big deal.

A: Win!

S: I’ve always been into better beer. I did advertising sales for seven years. My last job before Harpoon, Sam Adams, was one of my clients for advertising. I don’t understand how it took me so fucking long to realize I could be on the other side of this, working, making money and doing something that I loved. How long did it take you to realize? I realize you are on the retail end, but were you a bartender in college?

A: I was a bartender and I catered in college. I was a chef for seven years. Was always interested in better beer. The Phish culture actually perpetuated my love for craft beer. It’s literally Sammy Smith’s Nut Brown, Sammy Smith’s Oatmeal, Sammy Smith’s Vanilla and grilled cheese sandwiches. When I was like 18, 19, 20, 22, that’s what I was living for. I was living for that Phish culture. Between 18 and 25 I saw probably 50 phish shows.

S: You’ve seen that many?

A: I’ve seen like, 75 Phish shows in my life.

S: I was at like, 40.

A: I blame Phish. Phish Definitely accelerated my like for better beer.

S: There’s no 30 packs in the lot.

A: No, it’s 16oz. Sammy Smith’s and you’re happy to drink them. You’re underage and you’re like, ‘I’m going to crush this beer.’

A few quick selfies are taken using Mat’s phone before leaving. 


Stop 3: Jose Pistola’s

Pouring his beer from his pint glass into his martini glass, Andy spills it all over the iPhone that is recording the interview, almost ruining the second recording device of the evening. They then try to convince the server that Andy is really Rich Colli and offers her an open tab at Varga Bar.

Server: How about I take all the dangerous things away from you?

A: Do you want to leave me your number? Want to have sex tonight? I’m looking for a vessel for Richie Jr.

S: Have you ever kicked anyone of this bar with a sport coat on?

Server: I have never kicked anyone out of this bar, period.

S: That’s all I needed to hear.

A: Ahhh. Tonight Rich Colli is gonna get kicked out of here.

S: Cheers to Rich Colli!

S: The only difference I can tell between Scranton (where Andy attended college) and UMass, is if you give me a voice recorder, I won’t drop it in a beer. That’s pretty much it. It’s the same education. There are just small little differences.

A: Nuances.

S: Maybe better mobile skills. Hand-eye. Digits.

A: Functionality. I mean it didn’t feel natural, but it happened.

S: Shocked is the word. Not shocker…shocked.

A: There was a moment when I looked at you.

S: We made eye contact.

A: We both looked at Rich Colli and we said…

S: What should we do? Because we both knew he dealt with this before.

A: We should pull this…

S: …out of the beer.

A: We should pull this recorder out of the beer…

S: …and put it into some rice or grits.

*Yes, they were finishing each others sentences

S: Can you take the camera out because I’m gonna eat some raw grits?

ANDY: That was raw grits, bro. You just ate raw grits, bro. Good for you. That’s really good. That’s healthy.

SEAN: Are they going to sprout in my belly?

ANDY: No, you’ll be good. There will be no grits growing out of your tummy. That was legit. Legit grits. As good as it grits. There’s a name for the article.

Discussing ending the night signing karaoke at Yakitori Boy…

Server: That’s always a great idea at 1:00 in the morning.

A: Are you coming with us?

Server: I’d love to but I’m kind of working.

S: (Introducing himself to the server for at least the 3rd time and reaching out to shake her hand) Sean Hamel! I like to sing a lot. I’m pretty sure if American Idol  was around in ‘89, ‘90…

A: (interrupting) You would have embarrassed yourself?

S: (confidently pointing to himself) Right here. Right here.

Server: In that outfit, except maybe with your sleeves pushed up.

S: Nooo. No. No. Definitely no. I would have been fire. Just fire.

Server: Well, I’m happy to know this about you.

S: And me you, and I don’t even know who you are.

Server: Yeah, I’m a waitress. Introducing themselves once again…

S: Sean Hamel.

A: Rich Colli.

S: Dude ruuuns Varga and when I say runs, I mean ruuuuuuuuns.

Server: OK, lots of u’s in that word.

S: I like martini glass drinks. I like to down them.

Immediately break into singing the entire song aloud in the bar…

Server: This has been the specialist night of my life.

A: So, what’s number three? You have a real theme going here.

S: What did I do the other night? I went hardcore, I went Squeezebox , Centerfold , and by hardcore I meant no one else doing anything and I walked into the room and said, ‘I’m taking over this thing.’ I did Fairytale of New York .

A: Holy shit.

S: Both parts!

Breaking into song again for what is at least the fifth time, the recorder/phone is shut off before ending the night at Monk’s Café.



About Mat Falco

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll To Top