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…

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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.

Welcome to 2014…the year that I had to start paying for my craft beer trips….errrr, ‘work trips’.   Yes, I know that almost every post recently starts off with me getting laid off and being broke…blah blah blah.  Unfortunately, one thing with my new gig is that it requires a lot more travel in order to make money, so I made trips to Albany, Vermont and Long Island this month with more on the way.  I will skip to the meaty portion of our program and the soft beer porn starts.

Anyways, I have gotten several inquires from several people about why I don’t tick or trade….your answer is that I do.   Since I have officially abandoned that shitty website run by the dickhead Alstrom brothers, I took all of MY INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (yes, any posts, reviews or place reviews on BA are considered Intellectual Property of BA…fuck that.)   All of my intellectual property was posted up onto Ratebeer.com and deleted from BA.  Furthermore, I do have a decent sized trade history including BIFs too but my entire profile was deleted from the craft beer Nazis on BA and I haven’t posted them up on here yet (Im lazy…).   Currently, I am pretty much on a Trading Hiatus for several reasons….1) ISO forums are laughable these days as you can’t really make a trade without it being lopsided or including whales….2) I am sick of boxes getting lost en route….3) I am tired of douchebags who don’t know how to trade….4) I am really trying to scale back the cellar.     But from this disasterpiece of craft beer enlightenment comes the phoenix rising from the ashes as I have kept several trading relationships going with traders that I trust and am opening up the cellar to one and all.  Gone are the days of saving bottles for that special occasion that will never come….gone are the days of hoarding bottles to share with a specific person, whom I cant seem to get a tasting going with….beer sharing should be free and open…and without restraints.    Rant over…here is the purpose of this post…

Top 5 Beer Reviews for January (yes, I realize that there are 9 but that’s how it ended up):

The 5 Beer Reviews that made me regret the start of 2014 already:

  • Flying Bison Holiday Ale ~ Scotch Ale ~ 3.1 /5 Rating
  • Sam Adams Boston Lager ~ Amber / Vienna Lager~ 3.1 /5 Rating
  • Molson Rickards White Ale ~ Witbier ~ 2.7 /5 Rating
  • Flying Bison Rusty Chain ~ Amber Ale ~ 2.5  /5 Rating
  • Molson Rickards Red ~ Amber / Vienna Lager ~ 2.2 /5 Rating  (totally infected….)
  • And the beverage that made me regret going to Canada was Thornbury Village Premium Apple Cider  ~ Cider ~ 1.6 /5 Rating

Several things to note here….

1)   Funky Buddha was on top for the second straight month

2)   Even though I have pulled a 180 0n Bruery and now think they can suck it, two of their beers made the Top 5 list this month (okay…top 9 again)

3)   Bruery Bois comes in 4 versions, the base and three different barrel aged versions.  I happened to bring the 3 barreled versions for a side by side and Brandy was the best but Ratebeer will only list one version for some reason.  Dumb!  They have three different UPC codes for gods sake.

4)   Flying Bison and Rickards both had two beers each on the Bottom 5 (err….6) this month…but I am sure they make a fine beer.   (muhahahahahaha)

…with that said, more travelling in store for February, more bottles to be cracked, more pints to be drained.  Peace.

So it seems that I start off almost every one of my posts lately about getting laid off and now working as an independent contractor…blah blah blah.   So I took two days worth of in Vermont for a fair price but really formed it around specific areas of Vermont…those containing good beer.

After leaving my house at 4am in the morning, driving all the way across New York State in a snowstorm and arriving in Southern Vermont, I had to stop for gas and stretch the legs.  At the small town gas station that I went to, it was the typical ‘Vermont Products Sold Here’ place like every other tourist place in Vermont.  As I went inside to pay for gas (because the pump didn’t take credit cards…yup, rustic), I noticed that the display case had baked goods and one thing caught my eye…the ever so popular Cronut.  Oh Yes, the Cronut…the cross of the Croissant and the Donut.   When I asked for one, the woman had to remind me that it was 4.50 each.   Okay…Ill bite.   Let me tell you about this money suck creation…it basically looked like some smashed 10 croissants on top of each other, carved out the inside hole to make it look like a donut then drizzled it with maple icing.  Fucking Rip Off.

After working all day, the quest was on…the hunt for Heady Topper.  Before Hurricane Sandy rolled through and remodeled the Northeast, Heady Topper was easily available all over the state of Vermont, including distro in the southern part of the state about 45 minutes outside of Albany NY.  After Sandy, distro was shut down and limited to only the northern part of the state.  My goal was to find two places where I could scoop up a case from each.  Thankfully, my last stop for work of the day was on the exact same road as one of the places that got cases of it on Mondays.

After a 15 minute ride up into South Burlington, I made a stop Route 7 Liquors for a hopeful case of Heady Topper.  When I arrived, I asked the guy at the counter if they had Heady and what was the case limit.   Unfortunately, it was only a one case per person limit.   Well, after some solid Merc charm (yup, I am known for my charm), I was able to work in a second case for purchase.  🙂

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After a quick stop at the hotel to drop off said beer, I then made the 25 mile drive down into Waterbury VT for ‘dinner’.  First stop of the night was at Prohibition Pig.  It was my understanding that the location where Prohibition Pig currently resides use to be the former home of The Alchemist, maker of Heady Topper.   After Hurricane Sandy came in and ravaged the town of Waterbury, the Alchemist was forced to move because the building was heavily damaged.

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Prohibition Pig

Upon the arrival to Pro Pig, I grabbed a seat in the middle of the bar.  The place itself is a little tight but has a solid long bar made of nice wood.  The side wall has a solid collection of various whisky from all over the world that ranges from the cheap stuff to the most expensive.   For dinner, I decided to go with the pulled pork sandwich with a side of potato salad.  Unfortunately, for the 12.50 that I spent on it, the sandwich was no bigger than a McDonalds Cheeseburger but the potato salad was pretty solid.  Also, the nice thing about visiting in Northern Vermont was that there is plenty of ‘local’ beer on tap…and imbibe I did.

Hill Farmstead Motueka Single Hop Pale Ale ~ American Pale Ale ~ 5.2% ABV

The Alchemist Oursboros ~ American / Imperial IPA ~ 8.8% ABV

Lost Nation Brewing Gose ~ Gose  ~ 4.5% ABV

The Alchemist El Jefe – Black IPA – 7.0% ABV

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Interior of Prohibition Pig

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Blackback Pub

From there it was just a short walk over to Blackback Pub, which is a solid little basement bar.  The bar area is split into two small rooms with a full wrap around wood bar, as you can see in the picture below.  The town was pretty dead that night as it was extremely cold that evening, so the bar itself was almost empty except for the bartender and a single patron.  Something interesting happened while I was there, after bullshitting with the bartender for about 10 minutes, another patron walked into the bar.  He sat down right next to me (weird…) and started bullshitting with the two of us.  Upon learning that I was from the Buffalo area, the other patron informed the bartender to get me a Heady Topper on him…gee, thanks Mister.   But, as with everything…it came with a catch…I wasn’t allowed to check in on Untappd.   I have zero ideas why this had happened or why I wasn’t allowed to tick it but got the impression that the guy was an employee or someone important from The Alchemist.  Don’t know why the secrecy given the fact that it was on tap Heady Topper so I did the only thing I know most people would do…drink it and tick it.  Along with these beers too…

Grassroots/Mikkeller Limoncello IPA ~ American IPA ~ 9.0% ABV

Hill Farmstead Edward ~ American Pale Ale ~ 5.2% ABV

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Interior of Blackback Pub

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The Reservoir

Finally, just hopped across the street to the Reservoir.  Again, another dead place in the freezing cold of a Monday night too.  The Reservoir was a nice wide open space with high ceilings but a very small bar that only fit 5 patrons.  It had much more of a pub fitting to it rather than a bar.  One thing that I noticed between all three places was that there was a lot of carryover of the same beers on tap from place to place.  I know…poor me to go to three places with Heady Topper, Ourosboros and HF Edward on tap…was simply pointing out a fact.  Here is what I slugged down before I made my trip back to my hotel.

Bruery Humulus Lager ~ Imperial Lager ~7.2% ABV

Lawsons Finest Liquids Red Spruce Bitter ~ Spiced/Herb Beer ~ 4.9% ABV

Mystic Brewing Vinland Two ~ Saison / Farmhouse Ale ~ 7.3% ABV

It was kind of funny to me that the second time that I ever got to have a Bruery beer on tap was in a small town in Northern Vermont.  For the record, the first time was Bruery Bois (5th Anniversary beer) in Manhattan about 6 months earlier.

Overall, it was a pretty solid trip even though this time, it was on my own dime as opposed to a company credit card (damn, I miss those days…)  Another thing was that it was actually a smart decision on my part to bring my beer purchases into my hotel room that night…normally I would just leave the shit in my car overnight and never worry about it but it started to get very cold when I returned back to my hotel room.  When I woke up in the morning to warm up my car, it was -14 degrees outside and for the thirty seconds I was outside, the hair on my head froze.