Lance and Dogfish Head Founder Sam Calagione

Lance and Dogfish Head Founder Sam Calagione

A beer historian with autism named Lance Rice is being welcomed by the most influential craft beer brewers in America. Lance, who has been collecting beer memorabilia and memorizing beer history since 1974, has set out to fulfill his dream to write a book about the history and culture of American beer, a process which is being captured in a documentary entitled, “Lance’s Brewery Tour.” For Lance, his nationwide brewery tour is the first time he has left home without his mother or a guardian figure. In fact, it’s the first time he has faced his fears and abandoned the routines that help Lance cope with life. For anyone who understands autism, these feats are more than breakthroughs – they are miracles. What’s even more astonishing is Lance is doing all of this at 55 years-old.

Lance shares a proud moment with Yuengling's President, Dick Yuengling.

Lance shares a proud moment with Yuengling’s President, Dick Yuengling.

At an age when most people give up on development, Lance is experiencing the most rapid period of emotional, cognitive and personal growth in his entire life. To fully understand Lance’s autism, as a child he wouldn’t leave his home, would not speak and was institutionalized. Now fast forward half a century. Lance began his brewery tour just over a month ago and in that time he tackled claustrophobia, a fear of heights, social phobias, initiated a conversation with a stranger for the first time and even addressed a crowd. For those touched by autism, Lance represents incredible hope. He is an adult who is embracing autism, achieving a dream most thought was impossible and inspiring countless people as he journeys – and he’s doing this one brewery at a time.

Lance shares a moment with Great Lakes Brewing Co. Founder Pat Conway after tapping a celebratory ferkin!

Lance shares a moment with Great Lakes Brewing Co. Founder Pat Conway after tapping a celebratory ferkin!

Is it odd that beer is responsible for one of the autism community’s most inspiring stories? No. For those who truly understand the craft beer world, it’s no secret that beyond crafting incredible beer, craft breweries are hubs for community, charity and good old-fashioned values. The artists and innovators responsible for reinventing one of the world’s oldest beverages hold fast to another old school notion: treat the world, and the people in it, right. For now much of the general public still look at beer through the cool-at-all-cost marketing lens of beer giants like Anheuser-Busch. Is beer roof-top parties, super models, night clubs and global sporting events? Sure. In its most superficial form soulless beer is marketed down our throats with zero sense of the true power of beer. While beer will always have it’s rightful place at a ballgame or party, beer is so much more than that. Enter craft beer. When it comes to the heart and soul of craft beer, you need not look any further than Lance’s Brewery Tour. The founders, owners and brewers at America’s leading craft breweries continue to rally their communities, resources and energy around Lance and his dream. That is the beauty of beer. Real beer is community, passion, art, innovation, benevolence, generosity and of course… it’s delicious!

Lance spends an afternoon with Sam Adam's own "Brewer Bob."
Lance spends an afternoon with Sam Adam’s own “Brewer Bob.”

Lance’s Brewery Tour is a once-in-a-lifetime story. A beer historian with autism who no one knew a few months ago is now standing hand in hand with the best in American brewing, overcoming incredible odds and fulfilling a dream 40 years in the making. It takes a rare genius to dedicate his lifetime to the best of beer, and it takes a rare industry to embrace that man as their own. As Lance’s Brewery Tour continues, we can only imagine what Lance, his team, the  beer world, the autism community and the public end up creating. As Lance’s dream unfolds, it seems certain that Lance and the American beer community are brewing one of the most influential and inspiring beer films and books of all time. Three words continue to describe Lance’s miracle perfectly: Beer. Autism. Hope.

Watch Autism Speaks Meeting with Lance at The Brooklyn Brewery

Want to Help Lance’s Dream Come True?

Lance has visited nearly 20 breweries so far. As support and awareness continue to grow, Lance’s Brewery Tour is set to visit Sierra Nevada, Stone, Rogue, New Belgium Abita, Goose Island, Revolution, Bell’s, New Holland, Deschutes, Anchor, Lagunitas, Left Hand, Shiner and dozens more. Help Lance by following and supporting his journey.

Lance gets an inside glimpse of Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, DE

Lance gets an inside glimpse of Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, DE

Lance gets a brewing lesson from Souther Tier's Head Brewer Dustin Hazer

Lance gets a brewing lesson from Souther Tier’s Head Brewer Dustin Hazer