With a history steeped in robust flavor, Belgian beer brand Leffe recently turned to the intriguing men of NYC to find a cast of characters whose personal stories matched the beer's extraordinary qualities. Part of Leffe's nationwide "Craft Your Character" campaign, the five finalists shared intimate stories from the past that shaped who they are today, spanning an archaeologist lost in the arid deserts of Petra to a gym teacher waking the streets of Prague with an inspirational bell ringing.
The first finalist, Ryan Eberts, saw his opportunity to make a difference after watching a slideshow on Bangladeshi orphans. For two and a half years Eberts taught at an orphanage in Bangladesh, and has since published his written experiences. Also seeking adventures in foreign places, fellow finalist and Notre Dame alum Blaine Pennington backpacked and lived abroad for three years, traversing 26 countries. His escapades, including finding himself lost in the city of Petra on a recent excavation, are documented in his travelogue site, Glimpse. Not to be outdone, Adam Strauss chimes in with his exotic tale. The comedian-turned-entrepreneur details leaving the Volvo-lined streets of Newton, MA for the spiritual mecca of Varanasi, India, crashing weddings and catching sunrises on the River Ganges.
Diverging from the exotic theme, but spinning no less of an interesting tale, teacher-turned-trader Charlie Sewell has been an NYC educator for 20 years and currently manages an online equities account. Sewell's story of friendship founded over beers and brawls made him a worthy finalist. Last but not least, Nick Sonderup balances his love for music with a career in advertising, working at Weiden + Kennedy while promoting his personal project, "100 Bands in 100 Days." Ranging from indie venues in the Lower East Side to a church in London, Sonderup chases a whirlwind odyssey of music.
Though a close race, ultimately the winning entry went to Connecticut-based teacher and fisherman Ryan Eberts for his heroic work with orphans in Bangladesh. As the winner, Eberts will fly to Belgium, Leffe's home.
Leffe's Stories of Characters will continue to travel throughout the U.S. in search of men with character. Check out some of the finalists' stories in this video.