Countdown to Beer Maps + the Printing Process

The maps are getting closer and closer to being available in our online shop! Yesterday, we visited Meredith-Webb in Burlington to approve the maps as they came off the press. It was so rewarding to see the (almost) final product - an idea and a whole lot of research and work over the course of nearly a year, now transformed to a real, tangible object. Such a mental payoff!

During the remainder of the week at Meredith-Webb, the maps will continue through their process of ink curing, paper cutting, folding, binding, and boxing. We will be pick up the maps next Tuesday, 10/6, and start readying them for their debut in our online shop by the end of the week!

Richard Green with Time Warner Cable News was there with us yesterday to film the printing process. Once this piece airs, it will be available in our press section. In the meantime, this is what the map goes through during this part of the process...

 


The Printing Process

1. After final proofs were approved first thing yesterday morning, an aluminum plate of the map was made for the offset lithographic printing process. (This technique originally started in the 1700s on limestone plates!)

2. The morning of printing, our sheets of paper were cut from 300+ pound rolls that came straight from the paper factory. We actually have two different types of paper for the map — a thinner sheet for our folded maps and a thicker cover stock for the posters.

3. Custom inks are mixed and tested on a device that simulates the offset lithographic process and a series of presses are set up with each ink and our final paper coating.

4. A printing technician adjusts the colors and ink weight to match the proof we approved. To do this, the press sheet goes on a special table for colors to be scanned, read and computed. There are other checks in place using different devices to test the alignment, bleed of the ink, etc. to insure that everything is in the correct place once the maps are trimmed and folded. 

5. Adjustments are made and the press runs until the ink levels are constant, creating a consistent look.

6. The map comes out as a double sheet, so once half the run has gone through, the paper is flipped and is printed on the back side.

7. After the ink has cured, the maps move into the trimmer, cutting them down into two separate sheets each, and trimming off the edges.

8. The maps then move into the folder, which has been set up especially for our number and series of folds. This map has both accordion folds and a final roll fold. It moves through a different mechanism of the folder to create each fold.

9. The maps are grouped and bound with paper bands into sets. Meredith-Webb makes custom boxes to hold the folded maps and flat poster sheets. There is a machine for everything!

10. We borrow a truck and drive it to Meredith Webb where a pallet of maps is lowered from an opening in the floor to the truck bed in the loading dock underneath.

11. We spend hours hauling in box upon box of maps and stacking them up for storage until they ship out.

Almost there!

Amanda + Paul

Mike's Reminder

This week, we've been calling all the barbecue restaurants on our list to gather the rest of the map data. This involves asking each restaurant owner a series of 16 questions and explaining a little about the map as we go along. We get through as many restaurants as we can between their lunch and dinner rushes and analyze and sort the data the rest of the time. This is an all-day affair that will last through next week.

With so many restaurants to get through (well over 300 now), it's easy to get caught up in the work and start thinking about these restaurants in terms of numbers, instead of places. But the people and their stories bring us back every time. Everyone we've talked to has been so gracious and eager to tell us about their barbecue. (Ok, we did have the phone slammed down one time, but we'll get to them somehow.) But the man who I just talked with at Cove Creek BBQ & Grocery in Rutherfordton just reminded me of the heart and soul of this map.

Mike has been running the BBQ joint out of the Rutherfordton gas station for two years, but he went to the country store, where the restaurant got its start, back when he was a boy. The store was a farm supply with moonshine in the basement and a caged squirrel out front that the kids could feed by buying some peanuts. The recipe for Mike's "Miss Daisy" sauce (an Eastern-style barbecue sauce) came from Miss Daisy who ran a sandwich shop down the road, and when she passed, he started using her recipe in remembrance. Mike is very proud of his barbecue, and he's also very proud of his family. He told me about two of his sons who live down the road from Paul and me, one in Mt. Pleasant, where we grew up. 

Mike's stories really made his barbecue restaurant come alive and they brought me back from my questionnaire comma. Mike has a lot to do with why we decided to make a barbecue map in the first place. It really is about the people, their stories, and the traditions they are carrying on. Aside from how much we love the taste of it, that is what drew us to barbecue. To us, barbecue is much more than pulled pork piled high on a bun. It's a way of life, a history, an identity for so many people, and that's the other part of the love and appreciation we want to spread.

Thank you, Mike, for that reminder. And thank you to all those out there who are living their dream every day, sun-up to sun-down, tending those wood coals and those restaurants, telling your stories, and helping us remember. You are an inspiration to us, and we do this for you.