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'Rain Man of Beer' visits Bend's Deschutes Brewery

By Alicia Inns
Published On: Oct 03 2013 11:12:48 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Alicia Inns introduces us to Lance Rice, an autistic who knows more about beer than just about anyone, and visited Bend as a documentary is filmed of his cross-country journey

BEND, Ore. -

He's passionate for all things beer. He's collected cans for more than 35 years. He is a true beer historian.

And 55-year-old Lance Rice is also autistic.

"My brother was a collector, and many other kids much younger than me were collecting cans in my neighborhood too," Rice said Wednesday evening. "But these kids, like other collectors, graduated from college, moved on and forgot all about their collections. But I haven't though, I haven't forgotten about mine."

With the help of his nephew, Aaron, Lance is now living a dream that's been 40 years in the making.

The two are traveling to the top breweries in the country so Lance can write a book about craft brewing in America.

Aaron is a filmmaker and is creating a documentary, following Lance's journey. The project is called Lance's Brewery Tour.

"It's been fun -- I really enjoy it," Rice said. "I've met a long of interesting, fun people along the way that have told me their stories about how they got involved in the craft brewing industries."

They started in June at Great Lakes Brewing in Ohio. Since then, they've visited 30 breweries in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maine, Michigan, Arizona and California, to name a few -- and now Oregon. It's his first time to Bend and Deschutes Brewery.

"I am trying this one -- it's called the Bachelor Bitter. It's very good," he said.

Lance will stop by Nankasi Brewing in Eugene and Rogue Ales in Portland this week, and then he's off to other breweries in Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Tennessee, Mississippi and many more.

"I never thought this would be possible," Rice said. "I never thought that I would ever be able to do something like this."

Aaron said, "To see him try new things and tackle phobias, for (having) autism he's done some incredible things."

Beer has become Lance's bridge to connect with people, step outside his comfort zone and raise awareness across 10,000 miles.

The crew's motto stands true -- "Beer. Autism. Hope"

"Anything is possible," Rice said. "Yes, it's going to give them hope, yes it's going to inspire them."

"Lance is my hero," Aaron said. "He's an amazing guy.".

If you would like more information about Lance's Brewery Tour or to donate to the cause for autism, visit http://lancesbrewerytour.com/

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