I do apologize for being late with this post but the past four weeks has been very hectic with work and with all the travel (which included a trip to central Pennsylvania and another to Eastern PA, Maryland and Delaware), it has led to a ton of reviews for the month of March (70 in total).  Unfortunately I think my work travelling is coming to an end which means I may have to go out and get a real job soon.  Anyways, lets get to the good stuff…the good beers for March:

Top 5 Beer Reviews for March (okay, it is 7 but they are solid ticks):

 

The 5 Beer Reviews that made me realize that everything can not be a Wild Ale or Bourbon County variant:

  • Terrapin Brewing Cabernet Barrel Aged Monks Revenge ~ Belgian IPA ~ 9.8% ABV ~ 3.1 /5 Rating
  • Stewarts Brewing Citra IPA ~ American IPA ~ ABV Unknown ~ 3.1 /5 Rating
  • Left Hands Brewing Sawtooth Ale with Peaches ~ English Special Bitter ~ 5.3% ABV ~  2.9 /5 Rating
  • Picobrouwerij Alvinne Phi ~ American Wild Ale ~ 10.0% ABV ~ 2.8 /5 Rating
  • And the beer that made me wish I had chosen a better brewery other than Stewarts was Stewarts Brewing Kolsch ~ Kolsch ~ 2.7 /5 Rating

I know it may catch some of your of guard that there is an Otter Creek in my top 5 beers for this month but they must have finally realized that they can still make good beers and sell them to the masses.  I am not calling them the new White Whale brewery of the week but they have launches three straight beers that are better tan most other shelf beers or even some rarities in some cases.  Obviously, they are still no Cantillon…but few breweries are :)

I am seriously going to start copying and pasting my intro for each entry going forward because it is the same thing, with the exception of the location. I should take that back because it seems like the locations are going to be the same for the time being too…now comes the challenge of finding new breweries/beers to drink.

This installment of the Wandering Idiot lead me to Maryland, Delaware and Eastern Pennsylvania for another beer soaked adventure starting with a nice 620am flight to Baltimore MD. After a long day of work where it seemed like I was spinning my wheels, I was hoping that I would have made it through Philadelphia before the traffic picked up but that was not the case. Instead of trying to force my way through the city, I decided to just hang back for a while, grab some dinner and a couple of beers at Stewarts Brewing Company.

Stewarts Brewing Company is located in Bear DE, not to far from the Maryland border and the University of Delaware.  Unfortunately I could not find much history about the place other than that they have been open for almost 15 years now and have won plenty of medals at the World Beer Cup and GABF, including their most recent Gold Medal in 2013 for their Belgian tripel Stumbling Monk.

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Exterior of Stewarts Brewing Company

Stewarts Brewing company from the interior looks like a family dinner place where the daily special is meatloaf and your waitress is named Flo.  Other than the back corner room with the brewing equipment, the rest of the place just was boring and unimpressive.  Unfortunately, the beer quality was a direct resemblance of the interior…boring and unimpressive.  I would end up coming back here later in the week, drinking different selections and feeling even less impressed the second time around.

While I was there for the first time, I was sort of hungry and settle on some chicken wings and a salad.  I have to be honest that I have only had a bad salad once, to the point where I had to send it back…this time was borderline becoming my second time.  Although my food sucked, I did enjoy my final beer of the night but consumed these beers while there…

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Exterior of Allentown Brew Works

After leaving Stewarts and making the 2 hour drive up to my hotel, I decided to make a quick stop at Allentown Brew Works (home to Fegleys Brew Works).  Fegleys Brew Works was created in 1998 and home to their main brewing equipment and bottling line.  Along with many of their flagship bottled beers, they also offer in house seasonals and one offs.  The exterior as you can see looks to have been revamped at some point to open up the place to lots of natural light.  The interior is great half of the buildings West wall covered in brewing tanks and a long bar that can seat about 25-30 patrons.  In addition to tables covering most of the place, there is a second level for additional dining.  As per my typical agenda, I try to avoid the flagship beers and go for the in-house or seasonal beers but ended up drinking a decent flagship beer…on top of several in house beers too.

 

After another 12 hours plus day of work (as it seems to be going lately), I decided that I wanted to get out early for dinner so that I could crash earlier than normal (normal being midnight).  Thankfully, Bethlehem Brew Works was only minutes away from the hotel in downtown Bethlehem.   Bethlehem Brew Works is the newer of the two ‘brew works’ operated by Fegleys.  Bethlehem Brew Works was opened several years later and houses in-house beer production only.  One of the nice things about both locations is that they brew their own in-house and seasonal beers.  Unfortunately, I was not impressed by any of the beers that I had at the Bethlehem location, compared to those had at the Allentown Location.

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Bethlehem Brew Works is a decent sized building with their brewing equipment up by the front windows and between the two levels of the facility.  It featured a long beer that could hold 20-25 patrons with tables running down the other side of the building, on top of a secondary level that is wide open with more tables.  For a Tuesday night, the place was jam packed with people at 630pm…and the menu was very impressive.  I purchased a buffalo meat burger which was cooked perfectly, topped with sautéed onions and mushrooms and a spicy mayo.  Its too bad that the beers that I drank that night didn’t match the quality of the food…

After leaving Bethlehem Brew Works, I had to crack open a bomber that I purchased the previous night at Allentown Brew Works to ‘earn’ my Untappd Hotel Hopper badge…

 

After another long 12+ hour day of work, I found myself just on the outskirts of Philadelphia with some work in the immediate area for the following day.  Since I was in the area, I had to get down to a new place that is supposed to be killing it with their beers…Forest & Main Brewing Company.

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Exterior of Forest & Main Brewing

Forest & Main Brewing Company is located in the small town of Ambler PA, roughly 15 miles Northwest of Philadelphia.  They have been open for roughly two years now with the notion of being ‘that small town brewpub’ and they have maintained it well.  As you can see by the photo above, Forest & Main is situated in a small ranch style house, located in a town with a history well over 200 years old.  The interior of the house is extremely old school with old plank style floor that is so old, you can literally see through the slats into the cellar area.  The bar area is a small 8×12 room in the front of the house with a small 5 stool bar against the back wall with a small bartenders cove in what was probably a former closet.  For dinner I decided on another buffalo burger (love that lean meat…) with home made potato chips which were actually very tasty.  Here is what I had for dessert…

Since I was only ten minutes away from Tired Hands Brewing Company, I decided to give it another try.  My first experience there was less than impressive as far as the beer quality was.  I am sure that their bottle offerings are outstanding but the beers that I have had from them are nothing better than average as a whole.  So here is what I had this time…

Revisiting Hop Hands was a pleasant touch this time along with my pickle plate accompanied with a nice stick of cave aged blue cheese and thinly sliced proschuitto.

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On Wednesday, I had a really weird day which started out with having a Semi Tractor Trailer blowing his engine right in front of me on I-76, thus blowing out a huge cloud of white smoke and covering my rental car in engine oil.  The smoke from the blow out was so bad that when I was finally able to pass the truck, I had to roll down the window of the car because the smoke was very toxic and causing me to violently cough…had to get some ‘fresh’ Philly air in the car before I got really sick.  Work sucked as it typically does when I am on the road but was able to finish up at a decent time, which allowed me to grab an early dinner at Iron Hill Brewery in Wilmington DE.

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant is a regional chain of brewpubs that is based in the PA/DE/NJ with nine locations in the tri-state area.  My sister used to live in Wilmington about a decade ago and Iron Hill was a typical stop for me…again, if I had only started reviewing beers back then instead of waiting until 2011.  Ugh.  Anyways, I remember their beers being average but the place having really good food…and it didn’t disappoint this time either, at least food wise.  I had a really solid Chicken Fajita chopped salad that was huge and tasty, properly seasoned and with solid portions of toppings and chicken.  Unfortunately, the beer quality did not match the food quality this time…

After a disappointing beer selection at Iron Hill, I had to eject early because I was meeting up with a former co-worker for a couple of beers…unfortunately, she wanted to go to Stewarts because she is a mug club member there.  Thankfully for me, they still had their 2011 Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine on tap which was actually pretty solid…but then I saw a new beer on tap that always gets my attention…it is just too bad that it didn’t even come close to what I was hoping it would be.

 

Good Ol’ Friday…it is very unusual that I ever work on a Friday, it is not because I am lazy but more of the fact that I usually don’t have any work leftover from the week but this week I was slammed.  After another long 10 hour day of work, I had three hours to kill before my flight back to Buffalo, so I made another stop at Frisco Tap & Brewhouse.  This was my second trip to this place and loved it the first time, so I was more than happy to make a stop here on my way to the airport.

When I arrived at Frisco Tap & Brewhouse, it was roughly around 530pm and there was not a parking spot to be had.  Thankfully, this must have been a (good) problem that they run into and started offering Valet Parking free of charge.  Yes, a brewpub that offers Valet Parking…very posh. The place was jam packed with about 90% of the tables filled but thankfully, I was able to get the last open spot at the bar. For dinner, I ordered a solid Buffalo Meat burger topped with a local sliced pickle and a chipotle mayo.  Solid as hell food along with some interesting beers.

I will probably make a stop to Frisco Tap every time I have to fly out of Baltimore airport because of its great tap selection and close proximity to the airport.  I really got to say that I was severely disappointed in the barrel aged Monks Revenge.  This was one of the first beers that I ever had from Terrapin and still like it to this day but the  Cabernet barrel really cut out of the original flavor and actually made the beer taste like a tequila barrel aged beer….I like tequila and tequila barrel beers but this one was no where even close to the quality of the original base beer.

 

 

As the running intro for almost all of my entries lately begin….work…blah blah blah….travel….blah blah blah…..and Beer!  This week it took me back to the lovely area of Central Pennsylvania…Chambersburg, Harrisburg, State College and the sweetest place on earth, Hershey.

On my first night in the area, I ended up in Chambersburg PA, which is just a couple miles north of the PA/MD border.  In my previous trip to this particular area, I had hooked up with a Beer Advocate user that I had previously traded with, for a beer or two.  Well, sometimes when you are having fun, you don’t realize that it is past midnight and you have cracked more than a couple beers.  My friend Travis had invited several of his friends over to sample beers and the night took off from there…until the next day actually.  Here was a list of the cracks from that night…

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Although it was awesome to get to stack up a three year vertical of Bourbon County Fruit Stouts, it also did all of his in for the night too.  Thankfully, my hotel was less than a mile away from where we were or it would have been a long ride back that night.

On Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to meet up with a now former coworker for dinner.  The only problem was that I wanted to go to different breweries that night and both of them were 25 minutes in each direction…not to mention hat my hotel was 20 minutes in a completely different direction.  Making an executive decision (because this determined the fate of the world, obviously), I decided to head East and go to Spring House Brewery.
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Spring House Brewery opened up in 2006 by head brewer Matt Kearsy.  He has a very familiar story where he hated his job, was an avid home brewer and finally said ‘Fuck It’, I’m opening a brewery’.  His original location was done right at his home, which was built in the 1790s and had a functioning natural spring (until the 1970s) in the basement, hence the name Spring House Brewery.  Unfortunately, when you base a brewery out of your house, things could get a little hectic and congested, so he decided to open The Taproom in downtown Lancaster in early 2011.

I had first discovered Spring House Brewery at the GABF in 2012.  During the first session (Thursday Night), it was one of those fluke things where you are walking around, happen to see a long line to a brewery, see some catchy names and say, ‘Why Not’.  Holy Shit, now I knew why there was such a long line, the beer was fantastic as I got to taste Braaaiins! (their pumpkin beer) and was blown away.  My best friends had tried Satan’s Bake Sale (mint chocolate chip stout) and had the same reaction…well, two more times through the line that night and we were hooked.   We had gone back to their booth during the third session (Saturday Afternoon) and they were almost wiped out of beer completely…which by the end of the session, they had vacated their booth because they were sold out.  Fast forward one full year, when I return back to the GABF Saturday afternoon sessions, with my buddy Matt and his friend Aaron, I had pointed out that we needed to get to Spring House but when we finally made our way over there, again, they were down to their last beer and sold out by the end of the session.

Given the fact that I was only about 20 minutes away from Lancaster, PA, its just made sense to get out while I could.  When I arrived, the place was about a quarter filled, had some dim lighting to go with the mildly macabre décor, but had a nice feel to it.  The service was decent, they had 9 beers on tap at the time that I went, along with 3 bottles for sale to go as well.  Here is what I consumed while on premises…

For the most part, Spring House Brewing met my expectations for the evening.  While not every beer was a complete success in my eyes, there were more hits than misses.  Spring House would definitely make a nice watering hole if it were located in my backyard…unfortunately, it is not.  Until next time Spring House…

It is amazing how things chance in such a short period of time when it comes to the weather.  As in most places, we have a saying in Buffalo…if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.  Such seemed to be the case for me on Wednesday too when the previous day had a high of 65 degrees, Wednesday was in the lower 20′s.  It just made for another miserable 12 hour work day with constant bands of rain/snow.  After arriving at the hotel in Hershey, I made a quick turnaround and headed to the closest brewery near my hotel, Troegs Brewing Company.

Troegs Brewing Company was created in 1997 by a pair of brothers who became overwhelmed by the craft beer scene in Colorado.  While they enjoyed their several years in Colorado, they wanted to get a full blown production brewery up and running back in the mid-atlantic area where there was less competition and less pressure.  Troegs had out grown their previous brewery and moved into a new facility in 2011, where they could meet the demand for their beers.  My first trip to Troegs was about 6 months after they had moved into their new facility.  To this day, I still stick to the fact that Troegs has the largest tasting room that I have ever been in (and I am over 120+ breweries visited).

I ran into Troegs really because I was curious to see what new or interesting beers that they might have on tap.  In my previous trip to Troegs, they had 4 different Scratch series beers on tap but unfortunately, it was not as abundant this day.  Actually, when I walked in and saw the draft board, it literally became…’well, I should have one beer while I am here’, as there wasn’t a single scratch beer on tap, and the only ‘special’ beers was Nugget Nectar and…

…but then I also saw this little nugget on the board too.
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Now the quick story behind this beer being an In House Only bottle was because of issues with the carbonation inside the bottle.  The brewers were concerned about the carbonation pressure of the bottles and didn’t feel safe with releasing it to the public with corks that could crush someones eye, so they kept the entire release In House Only, to be opened by Troegs Certified Serving Professionals.

After leaving Troegs, I headed to the other side of the capital city of PA to a small town called Enola, where Al’s of Hampden is located…home of Pizza Boy Brewing Company.
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Al’s of Hampden/Pizza Boy Brewing was started several years ago as a pizza parlor but then the owner Al got into serving local craft beer.  Within the past 18 months, they have since moved into a bigger facility now offering 102 taps of liquid goodness but still offering many taps of local craft beer, in paying homage to their craft beer roots.  With 102 taps staring me down, I did the only thing I thought was safe…head for the rarer bottles :)…

All I can say about Pizza Boy is that make sure that you eat before you arrive, as I thought the pizza was shit…but their beer list is amazing, especially for someone who is not local to the area or state for that matter.
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Thursday was just another shitty work day where the weather sucked, people wasted my time and things didn’t go according to plan…thankfully, my last stop of the day was 20 minutes away from Selin’s Grove Brewing Company located in Selinsgrove, PA.  While this brewery may not be known to a lot of people, but to the trained palate (and beer geek), Selin’s Grove is known for making some of the best fruit beers in the world (literally).

Selins Grove Brewing Company opened up in 1996 by a husband and wife team that were striking out in their craft brewing adventure after both were working at New Belgium Brewing for several years, in various positions.  They really became real brewers when they replaced their 3 barrel system in 2004 with some second hand equipment purchased from Avery Brewing.  Since their real brewing expansion in 2004, they have since upgraded their system several more times in the past decade to keep up with demand with their beers, especially with their Kriek, Framboise, and Pumpkin beers which are some of the highest rate in the world.

Although this was not my first time stopping here, I was still excited when I arrived because I was hoping to have a chance to get to try another fruit beer…and I was so fortunate to get these beers while I was here…

Although the place is small and dark on the inside, always worth the stop if you can snag one of their famed fruit beers.

From Selins Grove Brewing, I made the half hour drive north up into Williamsport, PA (home of the Little League World Series).  Thankfully, I have never had the pleasure of working in the area during said Little League World Series, I have been to this town many times and have hit up this place on many occasions.
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Bullfrog Brewery opened up in 1996 in downtown Williamsport and maintains the same location, brewing system that they started with since the beginning.  In early 2013, they opened a small secondary location for which they use to brew additional beer, fill kegs and sixtels.  Bullfrog was known to have brewed some ‘White Whale’ sours but that seemed to end when their head brewer left Bullfrog in 2012 for Pizza Boy Brewing.  While the Jazz Night was annoyingly loud and some of the locals I could have done without, I still managed to put down several more selections from Bullfrog…

Another week is in the books…just another travel adventure for a Wandering Idiot.  And Yes, I am still standing…

Didn’t 2014 just start yesterday???    It really seems to be just like yesterday that we had turned the page for the new year but instead I am writing the second installment of my monthly beer reviews for 2014.  Again, another crazy month with work travel and just general doings that included a trip to sunny Newfoundland and another visit to the Del-Mar-Va region too.  It is funny too because when the weather is crappy, the amount of reviews I do goes up but the amount of tastings drops off dramatically.  Anyways, other than complaining about work and being cooped up in the house, lets get to the good stuff..

Top 5 Beer Reviews for February (hey, 6 is actually really good considering the past few months was at 9):

The 5 Beer Reviews that made me wish that I never went to Newfoundland as all 5 beers were had on that trip:

  • Molson Rickards Oakhouse ~ Amber / Red Lager ~ 2.8 /5 Rating
  • Coors Brewing Original ~ American Adjunct Lager ~ 2.0 /5 Rating
  • Henieken Birra Moretti ~ American Adjunct Lager ~ 1.9  /5 Rating
  • Molson Black Horse~ American Adjunct Lager ~ 1.4 /5 Rating
  • And the beverage that made me regret going to Canada (again) was Labatt Brewing Blue Star  ~ American Adjunct Lager ~ 1.3 /5 Rating

If you are to draw any conclusions from this month is A) Not every place I go to is a craft beer paradise and B) American Adjunct Lagers suck, not matter which country they are made in.

The reason why I referred to this post as a return to my roots, it would have to go back to my earlier Craft Beer years.  In 2003, my sister had to Wilmington DE from middle of nowhere GA and while I was drinking better beer at this point in my life, I never really took it seriously.  So, like most people, I got my first real hacks on Dogfish Head.  When my sister moved to Delaware, one of my first stops in the state was to Dogfish Head.  I became a fan instantly because like their slogan is…Off Centers Ales for Off Centered People.  I truly took that statement to heart because I went all in on their crazy beer styles.  It was something new, something different, something decent to drink finally…and that’s the beginnings of the monster that I am today.  But before we jump into Dogfish Head, lets get back to the real time beginning of this trip.

To regurgitate the same opening line….work…travel…and I ended up in (Insert Location Here).  This time the location was Maryland and Delaware.  Unlike my previous destination, this week actually quite a few locations for me to belly up for some craft beer goodness.  On Monday, my flight getting into Baltimore arrived just before 10am, but after a rough day of work, I wasn’t able to complete as much as I had hoped…thankfully, since my last stop of the day was less than one mile from a location of DuClaw Brewing, that’s where my first stop of the week was.

DuClaw Brewing was started in 1995 (in Craft Beer Years, that’s like a long long long time ago) before anyone really knew what a brewpub was.  Since they opened their doors, they have since expanded to several locations and a full time small production brewery location.  I happened to be near their Bel Air, MD location (which is north of Baltimore) and I believe their original location.  Upon entering, it is a wide open floorplan with high ceilings and pretty cool brewiana of their beers along the high part of the walls.  It had a ton of seating along to compliment a long bar with an island, which probably could seat at least 50+ patrons at any given time.  If this were a local place for me, I definitely could see coming here for a game or just popping in for a pint anytime.  For those that do not know, my philosophy when going to a brewpub is ‘go for the goodies’ meaning one-offs, rarities or exclusives.  In keep with said philosophy, here is what I bellied up (or down really) to:

(Note: someone asked me why I didn’t give a little background on the beers…I was posting links of the beer but apparently that wasn’t what they were looking for, so enjoy)

I really liked DuClaw and if I am ever stuck in the Baltimore area again for work, would definitely hit up again.  I didn’t get anything to eat while I was there but they had a full menu and the food didn’t look bad as the bartenders were walking it out to patrons in front of me.

Like most of my craft beer brothers, I too am guilty of something…..being an Untappd whore.  While most of them state they are not, it is crap because it is a great tool to see what your friends are drinking.  I have been called Eliteist by several of friends because I don’t Accept every Untappd invitation but then again, if I have never met you before, then why do I care what you are drinking.  I really do reserve my friends list for drinking buddies and trading partners only.  But, with that being said, none of them have ever reached the Level Two badge for Hotel Hopper.  Since I am in a perfect position to reach Level Ten potentially, I started bringing beer with me on the road (sometimes out of necessity) to get those hotel ticks.  After leaving DuClaw, I headed to the hotel for some work clean up activity and to relax…while there, I sampled this suitcase whale:

After bullshiting in the hotel room, I had to get out, even if for a little while because I was hungry and was sick of being in the hotel room (did enough of that the previous week), so I looked up several highly rated places and decided to settle on Frisco Taphouse and Brewery.  To my surprise when I arrived was that it was an actual brewery too….although the name I listed does say AND BREWERY, every place I looked at reviews only had listed as Frisco Taphouse.  Surprise!!!

From what I could gather about Frisco Taphouse AND BREWERY was that it opened sometime in 2005 and recently moved to this new location within the last 12 months and opened up Push Brewing along with the new location.  The place is great with some really high spacious ceilings, brewiana all over the walls, a nice sized bar that can hold about 25 patrons, tables all around and couches along several walls.  Huge TVs behind the bar area and a small, enclosed brewing facility up by the front windows.  I ordered a Buffalo Meat burger with rice and it was cooked very well but the rice was bland (like rice….go figure).  Frisco offered 50 taps which included several selections from Push Brewing, along with a nice sized bottle collection to pull form too.  Here is what I pulled…

Again, another solid find and a place that I would definitely revisit again the next time I was back in the area, close to BWI airport.

The next day, after another very long day of work, it was time to revisit the beginning of where craft beer really began to blossom for me.  Thankfully my next stop was on my way towards my hotel for the evening, in a small town in lower Delaware…Dogfish Head.  It has literally been a full decade since the last time I stepped through the front door of Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats (their brewpub, not to be confused with the production brewery in Milton DE)…and the place hasn’t changed once bit.  It still had the tight, comfortable feel to it, brewiana all over the walls, small bar that hold 15-16 patrons, nothing flashy…just traditional old time brewpub.  As Dogfish Heads slogan is…Off Centered Ales for Off Centered People, that is exactly what their brewpub exclusive beers have always been it seems (and still is to this day…)

  • Dogfish Head (Province Ales) Wild Carrot Seed Ale ~ Spiced / Herb Ale ~ 5.2% ABV ~ 3.4 /5 Rating (um…it tasted like dirty carrots and seeds, not much more to say)
  • Dogfish Head Raw Creation ~ Spiced / Herb Ale ~ 9.1% ABV ~ 3.2 /5 Rating (collaborative effort between Dogfish Head and D.C. based Gouter, producer of raw, organic tonics and cleanses.  For this beer we decided to go with a Midas Touch recipe base sans saffron (same grain bill, honey, and white Muscat grape juice) combined with Gouter’s Hydrate Tonic, made from Lemon, Cayenne Pepper, Coconut Nectar, Cucumber, and Lemongrass)
  • Dogfish Head Just Richard ~ Old Ale ~ 7.9% ABV ~ 3.6 /5 Rating (Spotted Dick is actually a traditional English dessert, not terribly common here across The Pond.  A spiced bread pudding with raisins, the dessert actually compliments the malty stone fruit flavors of the pale ale and caramel malts, as well as the roasty nutty character added by the roasted Chestnuts.  Originally this beer had a much more suggestive name for fun with our co-workers, but for the sake of staying light hearted, we decided we’d go with Just Richard for the wide release)

While it was great to revisit this place again, especially with the large gap in time between visits, it is more of a tourist trap now.  Other than the three beers I drank this evening, it is all offerings that you can pick up at most corner grocery stores now.  Enough Said.

Again, another hotel, another hotel tick for Untappd…

So while I was stuck in a heavy tourist town for the night, it is quite dead on a Tuesday Night…in February.  I am sure that every night during the summer, it is slamming with people up and down the main drag…but when the snow is falling and the beaches are a little cold, dead as a doornail.  While this next place wasn’t the closest to me, it seemed to have had the most solid line up of all the breweries in the Delmarva region (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia peninsula).

Burley Oak Brewery was opened several years ago with the premise of using local ingredients, coupled with traditional and new brewing practices.  The name of the brewery was interesting enough with BURLEY coming from the land originally named BURLEY PLANTATION back from the 1790s and OAK coming the building itself, originally built as a Cooperage – oak barrel maker.  If they are taking that kind of care with just the name of the place, you can only imagine what they were doing with their beers…and they did not disappoint me one bit…

I was really happy to have found this place and was kind of saddened that I didn’t have more time to spend here.  If I ever get back to this side of the state of Maryland again, definitely a must stop.

So I was able to draw some contract work in the lovely and tropical isle of Newfoundland last week. Yes, I say tropical because aren’t all islands usually tropical??? Seriously, although the temperatures didn’t represent the tropical island that I was speaking of but it did have the same temperature effect as Newfoundland is more of a craft beer desert. Let me explain my craft beer experiences while there…

(End Scene)

…and that pretty much explained it in a nutshell.

Newfoundland only has three craft beer breweries and all of them are based out of St Johns (which is in the Southeast corner of the island) and unfortunately for me, the closest that I got was about 300 Kilometers to St Johns. My first nights stay was all the way up in the St Anthony but I didn’t arrive until 8pm and the entire town was completely shut down by then (literally). The second and third nights were spent down in Deer Lake and the best I could find was a bar with zero patrons, one tap (Bud Light)(which was kicked), and had all of the Budweiser, Labatt and Molson products that I could enjoy. I did use this opportunity to drink a couple of beers that were made for Newfoundland and Labrador only which were Molson Black Horse and Labatt Blue Star. Both beers were similar to Molson Golden and Labatt Blue respectively but slightly sweeter and watered down. Thank God I was smart enough to pack my bag with enough bottles and cans to keep my company while on my trip. Newfoundland = Bring Beer With You.

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My Travel Map (1400+ miles in 4 days)

On a side note, anything north of Deer Lake (Location E) is mostly mountains and national park area.  There is only one road that goes north up to St Anthony (Location C).  It is a two land road that runs through about 50 miles of heavy mountain driving then runs along the coast of the Labrador Sea for the remainder of 300+miles.   Along the way, there are about 5-6 random fishing villages which contained about 25-40 houses, a gas station and a snowmobile dealer.

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This sign was posted every 2 KM

Yes, I did see a Moose.  He was roughly about 8-9 feet tall, crossed the road ahead of me about 100 yards and when I slowed down to take a picture of him, he belted out at me and start moving towards the car….needless to say, I didn’t want to have to explain to the rental car company why the side of my car had dents in it.

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Nasty Snow Storm next to the Labrador Sea (notice no guard rails)

After I finished my last dealer on Tuesday, I had a 280 mile drive back down Route 430 (Viking Trail) and caught a nasty snowstorm which led to whiteout conditions, which isn’t safe when driving down a slick road with no guard rails right next to the Labrador Sea.  On the picture above was a familiar sight for most of the way…slide off this road and you got about ten foot cushion before you plunge into the sea.  The weather that day was the worst as it was -10F for most of the day with 20-30mph winds blowing.

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Random Scenery Picture

If you notice that there aren’t any tall trees, then you would be correct.  The northern peninsula gets an extremely high amount of wind and most the trees once they get to a certain height just fall over.

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Mountains in the Northern Pennisula

The speed limit along the Viking Trail was 90 kilometers per hour (which roughly translates to 53-54 MPH) but since there is zero police presence in the northern peninsula, it was more of a recommendation than a limit.

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One of about 6 random fishing villages in the Northern Pennisula

This was just a random fishing village…and yes, that is the entire village in one picture.  Those people are hardened as fuck, in my opinion.  The natives of Newfoundland all speak with a mixed accent of Norwegian and Thick Irish but with a Canadian dialect.  It was pretty hard to cut through if you weren’t used to it…and the accent was even thicker in the northern peninsula.  For anyone that watches the show Gold Rush, it was like dealing with a bunch of Tony Beekes for the entire week.

After spending an exhausting week in the craft beer tundra known as Newfoundland, it was nice to come home to some wonderful care packages from those that care.

Recently I have pulled the plus on trading because it was getting too expensive and people are a pain in the ass to deal with.  I have made some good friends during trades and have set up some nice pipelines to other parts of the country with people whom I can rely on and will take pretty much anything they can get.  The good thing about doing it this way, is that I know what they like, they know what I like and we just swap blind boxes back and forth.

The first box to arrive was from my long time trading partner Matt in Southern California.  I started trading with Matt almost three years ago right before the birth of his son (yes Matt, it has been that long) and since then we have traded blind boxes for the whole duration.
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From Left to Right…

  • Bruery 6 Geese A Laying
  • Bootleggers Knuckle Sandwich DIPA
  • Almanac Brewing Valley of the Hearts Delight
  • Almanac Brewing Sourdough Wild Ale
  • Almanac Brewing Brandy Barrel Peche
  • Upright Brewing Gose

Then there is my newest trading partner from the lone star state of Texas.  Chris was kind of a trading newbie when he wanted to join up in one of my BIFs but is a spirited dude when it comes to craft beer.  We just started swapping our boxes and apparently he was stripped of his manhood when I sent my last box because he obviously is showing me how big his craft beer junk is with the size of his box(es).

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From Left to Right…

  • Naughty Brewing I Think She Hung The Moon
  • Five Stones Brewing Sleep Hollow
  • Five Stones Brewing Aloha Pina
  • Five Stones Brewing Rhubarb Cherrylicious
  • Five Stones Brewing Camo
  • Freetail Brewing Old Bat Rastard
  • Freetail Brewing Yo Soy Un Breliner
  • Freetail Brewing Pech’eus x2
  • Freetail Brewing La Muerta
  • NoDa Brewing Tart Attack
  • Jester King Brewing RU55

Oh, if that one wasn’t enough, then there was this box to pile on as well…

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From Left to Right…

  • La Cumbre Brewing Elevated IPA x4
  • Karbach Brewing Mother in Lager x4
  • Jester King Brewing Ol’ Oi
  • La Cumbre Brewing Project Dank
  • Karbach Brewing Yule Shoot Your Eye Out
  • Prairie Artisan Ales Prairie Somewhere
  • Jester King Brewing Atrial Rubicite
  • Ranger Creek Brewing Small Batch Series No.6
  • Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb!
  • Prairie Artisan Ales Prairie Noir

Apparently, this is a classic case of ‘He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not!’  Thanks Boys…Newfie Whales coming back to you.