The 24 hour beer-a-thon (from hell)

Posted: April 12, 2012 in Beer Drinking Adventures

So the journey begins with a quick 35 minute trek to drop my daughter off at my moms house for the weekend. Although I love my daughter more than anything in the world, it is nice once in a while to have some adult time…and with adult beverages.

After picking up my buddy John, we were on our magical adventure to Syracuse NY for a night of some bar hopping and a beer release the next morning.  After arriving at our hotel just before 9pm, our friend Scott arrived at the hotel too and played tour host for the evening.  First stop was J. Ryans in downtown Syracuse.  It is kind of smallish place with a pseudo irish themed exterior but has a been given some high praise as being one of the top beer bars in Syracuse.  The interior has a very low key appeal to it, kind of ‘lets chill out’ type of feel.  J. Ryans had a very nice and extensive beer menu with 69 taps and most of which were really solid selections.  Had a few really good beers, a decent order of Chicken Quesadillas and were on our way to the next stop.  Downtown Syracuse was like a ghost town when we were talking from J. Ryans to Blue Tusk, so much the fact that the only person we saw tried to pan handle us for money.  Scott dragged us into a place with he said “was kind of a gay bar but had a really decent tap selection”.  Well, needless to say, the place was loud, extremelt warm, the taps were okay but not enough to make us stay even for one.  That didnt bother me as  sweat whenever the temperature gets above 60 degrees or when I get grab assed by another dude…both instances did not occur thankfully.  We then stopped at Blue Tusk which is a kind of cool place but had a weaker (and way over priced) tap selection. I dont mind dishing out 10 bucks for a beer but it better be something uber rare and extremely good…we didnt get neither.  After staying for one beer, Scott and his girlfriend bailed out.  John and I ordered one more over priced round and then figured we would call it a night….or so we thought.

Now, there was certain things I can truly believe in…like the best laid plans dont always work….nothing good ever happens after 2am….and talking to strangers in the bathroom is ALWAYS a bad idea.  Now…mix all of them together and the story gets real interesting.  A simple, harmless conversation about the best steaks served in Buffalo peaked the interest of another bathroom user…after pleasantries were exachanged (outside of the bathroom now), it turns out we met the bar manager and a bartender from Jack Astors (a kind of chain-esque style place inside the Walden Galleria Mall outside of Buffalo).  Needless to say we ended up at another bar called Als (instead of going back to our hotel)…beer were consumed, shots wer ordered and the remainder of the night was Fade to Black.  Needless to say, I dont remember the cab ride back to the hotel, getting into the room, or passing out.  On a funny side note, when John and I woke up the next morning, his pants were laying on the floor completely soaking wet, no one knows why.  Floor wasnt wet and he said he didnt piss himself either.  The power of Ruffies I guess…

Now that the frustration of this next part has worn off, I can finally tell this part of the story. On saturday morning, John and I left our hotel in Syracuse and headed down to Ithaca NY for the release of Ithaca Le Blue.  Le Blue is a sour blueberry ale and is an extremely highly rated sour ale.  In previous years, the brewery has always released 250 cases (3000 bottles) of this beer.  We arrived at the brewery at 10:40am (approx 20 minutes before they open) and there were a minimum of 150+ people waiting in a long line wrapping from the front door, along the front of the building, through the parking lot and down the street.  After jumping in the back of the line, got a couple of conversations with the guys around us. One guy drove up from Philly with his mom (ouch) and the couple in front of us drove all night from Upper Vermont. Yeah, the beer is that good that people will drive 6+ hours for the release of it. 11am rolls around and an eployee from the brewery walks down the line (probably getting a rough head count) and there are another 50-60 people behind us now. At 11am, an employee from the brewery made an announcement that there were only 100 cases being sold…the problem with this was that she only made it to the people at the front of the line and that they didnt change their one case per person limit.   So, after waiting over three hours, they sold out before I even got to peer inside the front windows.  Pissed off and running late, we bolted out of there before someone got hurt.

(A side note to this release, not only did the brewery not lower their bottle limit, knowing full well that they had a ton of people, but somehow people who bought cases also managed to buy single bottles too…and did I mention that they only had one cashier, hence the three hour wait)(total clusterf#$k).

From Ithaca, we had to drive back to Buffalo, pick up our wives at our respective homes and haul ass down to Erie PA for the Erie Brew Fest.  Now, the brewfest started at 5pm…and we didnt leave Buffalo until after 4pm…do the math, we were 45 minutes late walking through the door.  It was somewhat crowded and some of the beer had already been kicked from the afternoon session but it didnt take away from the expereince at all.  One good thing about the Erie Brew Fest was that it brought in a lot of brewers who do not attend the Buffalo Brew Fest or even distribute in NY, so it was a nice chance of pace.  Also to my surprise, several brewers even had special beers that they offered within the last hour of the festival.  Blue Canoe offered a really flavorful Barleywine and the Erie Terminal offered their Peanut Butter Cup Porter, both really good selections.  The winner of Best Beer of the fest was hand downs VooDoo Brewings More Cowbell.  It was a nitro Imperial Oatmeal Milk Stout with a realy smooth milk chocolate/lactose flavor…not my style preference but was really solid offering.

Needless to say, after a very long day, we stopped for Mexican food in Erie PA and headed home about 10pm.  If there are some lessons I learned during this trip, they are that bathroom conversations are never good, brewery releases can be a mess whethere they were in the past or not, and there is nothing better than a brew fest after a long day (except for Buffalos, they manage to make theirs worse every year).  End Scene.

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