I’m a lucky man and I know it. My name is Stu Stuart and I’m the founder of BBM! My favorite part of the job is out in the field in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany, on tour with beer enthusiasts from all over the world. My second favorite part of it is scouting locations, meeting brewers and designing new tours. My least favorite part of the job is accounting and paying taxes. When I started BBM! in 2007 I was leading all tours, but as the company has grown it has become apparent I need to marshal my time better by being behind-the-scenes more, developing tours and pulling all the levers to make sure everything comes together smoothly and efficiently. I still guide many of the tours and plan to continue guiding them. One of the most common questions I get is, “Do you need any guides?” Well, I did and now I have two more to help me execute these thrilling and amazing beer tours. All BBM! guides are thoroughly educated on leading tours. This is not just a free tour for some friends of mine. These are paid, reliable and trusted agents of BBM! Read on…
Meet Larry Hicks, by day a mild-mannered bottle shop clerk; by night a Belgian Beer Me! tour leader. Larry comes to us from Tulsa, Oklahoma, which makes him appreciate fine Belgian beer even more. There’s only two things from Tulsa: Steers and beers. I first met Larry when he and his son, Ryan (pictured), were travelers on the Lonely Monks Trappist Tour in 2010. Larry had just won the Coolest Dad in America Contest for signing he and his son up on a beer tour of Belgium as a graduation-from-college present. We remained friends as I do with all my BBM! travelers. After his release from prison, he was required to perform community service and as it turned out, being a beer tour guide qualified. Seriously, though, Larry, beside being a very knowledgeable beer enthusiast, parent, husband and student of history is a retired federal probation officer. If you look familiar to him, it’s probably a coincidence, try not to make eye contact. He no longer wears a bulletproof vest, as far as you know, but his weapons training qualifications are fully intact. Don’t make him angry. We call him "The Enforcer" and his wife lays his clothes out for him. Larry grew up in the Norman Rockwellesque Phillips Petroleum town of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. His gentleman like demeanor and endearing southern drawl opens doors and warms hearts wherever he goes. You are in good hands with Larry.
Meet Marty LaFave, aka Captain Pivo, a name bestowed upon him by me after a beer tour of Prague. Marty’s love of beer is only surpassed by his love of Volkswagon buses, of which he has had several. He now drives a Fiat Ducato camper in which he routinely vacations around America. And despite what it might look like, it is NOT a van down by the river! We trace our friendship back to Seattle and the days when we were both involved with the sport of Unlimited Hydroplane Racing, now known at H1 Unlimited. Marty was one of the paramedics who was specially trained in safely rescuing drivers from flipped-over racing boats. Unlimiteds are capable of speeds of more than 230 mph. At that speed, from time to time, they “blowover” and require special rescue techniques to extricate drivers and seconds save lives. At the time, I was the most-winningest driver in the sport. My record has since been surpassed by Chip Hanauer. Seriously, though, the part about Marty being a highly trained paramedic for speedboat racing and otherwise is indeed true. He had been a career firefighter/paramedic for the Bellevue, Washington, Fire Dept. for "36.5" years, where he retired as a Deputy Chief in 2016. "Chief LaFave served in a variety of roles during his career with the Department from firefighter to firefighter/paramedic, to lieutenant, captain, battalion chief, battalion chief in command of the EMS Division, and eventually Deputy Chief. He is widely known and regarded for his devotion to King County's Medic One program and as an instructor of national level multiple casualty incident training. He likewise served on specialized rescue/medical teams, and was involved in response to both Soviet Armenia during a major earthquake in 1988 as well as response to Ground Zero at the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the attacks on September 11th, 2001," reported Bellevue Fire Department in a media release upon his retirement. If you plan on suffering a medical emergency, and I hope you don’t, Marty is the guy you want on the scene. Marty is originally from Bellingham, Washington, where his parents ran a small neighborhood grocery store. Always with an eye for nostalgia, he still has some classic neon beer signs from his parents’ store. His jovial and passionate personality combined with his sincere curiosity about people and a diverse skill set make him a very capable guide. After a year living in Boise, Idaho, he has returned to his humble hometown of Bellingham, where he now resides.