Special brew contains the only ticket to Thompson’s service | AspenTimes.com

Special brew contains the only ticket to Thompson’s service

Naomi Havlen

Johnny Ivansco of Of Grape and Grain displays a smaller version of the Flying Dog Brewerys Gonzo Imperial Porter recently. One bottle of the larger, $95 edition of the brew contains a ticket to author Hunter S. Thompsons funeral service. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

Pittsburgh resident Tom Tarka would have liked to have been the Charlie Bucket of the 21st century.Tarka, a fan of the late gonzo journalist and Woody Creek resident Hunter S. Thompson, wanted nothing more than to salute the writer by being at Owl Farm on Saturday when Thompsons ashes are blasted from a cannon at his funeral service.And for people who didnt receive a personal invitation, there was only one way to do that: find the Golden Ticket in one bottle of Gonzo Imperial Porter.

The beer, launched earlier this year as a tribute to Thompson, was created by Denver’s Flying Dog Brewery. Woody Creek resident George Stranahan, along with Thompson and the author’s favorite artist, Ralph Steadman, started the company in 1990.The company announced a collectors edition of its tribute Gonzo beer in June. It sells for $95, comes in a whiskey-style numbered bottle and boasts Steadman’s signature. A total of 1,500 bottle labels were signed to help the brewery raise money for the Gonzo Memorial Fund, which was “set up initially to raise funds for a permanent memorial to Hunter so future generations can ponder the life of one of the world’s great mavericks,” according to a company statement.The bottle of Gonzo Imperial Porter with the Golden Ticket was reportedly found by Brian Harvey of Boise, Idaho, according to the companys website. Harvey now gets to take a friend to Saturdays memorial service. The prize includes round-trip airfare from anywhere in the continental United States, two nights accommodation and transportation to and from the memorial.Tarka and the rest of the public are barred from attending.The bottle of Gonzo Imperial Porter with the Golden Ticket was reportedly found by Brian Harvey of Boise, Idaho, according to the companys website. Harvey now gets to take a friend to Saturdays memorial service. The prize includes round-trip airfare from anywhere in the continental United States, two nights accommodation and transportation to and from the memorial.Tarka and the rest of the public are barred from attending.

According to the brewery’s website, one of the fastest ways to get a bottle that might contain a Golden Ticket is to e-mail an order to gonzo@flyingdog.com. But there are only a smattering of states the company can ship to, and unfortunately for Tarka, Pennsylvania isn’t one of them.”I had been searching around for the beer, and I would have loved to take part in the contest,” he said Saturday. “I really enjoyed his writing, and it meant a lot to me at the time when I started reading it.”Tarka, 32, said he and some friends are planning a sojourn to Colorado late this week, hopefully arriving in the Roaring Fork Valley in time for the memorial’s cannon blast. He said he knows that “tens of thousands” of people want to be at the memorial, but the family is keeping the event private – minus, of course, for the two lucky people who benefit from a Golden Ticket.

The connection between Willy Wonka and Hunter Thompson is more than just the ticket idea. Actor Johnny Depp, who portrayed Thompson in the movie of the author’s book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” also recently portrayed the fictional candy creator on the silver screen.Officials from Flying Dog Brewery did not return calls for comment about the competition.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com

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