ATX, WVU and a Whirlwind of a Weekend

Texas is a completely different place. I think that’s been pretty well documented #texasforever. This was my first time in the state for more than just a layover and I took my talents to Austin. Talents is a loosely defined term.

In a whirlwind of a weekend, I accomplished quite a bit here. The highlight? Witnessing WVU knock down the Longhorns with a two point conversion to go up one point with just seconds remaining. Will Greer is a God.

While the game was amazing, I also managed to go to an EDM concert (The people watching at that is entertainment) and checked out a couple breweries. I visited Brewtorium for lunch and also made a stop at Live Oak. I need more time here as there were plenty more I wanted to check out, but both delivered some good beer. And wow were their spaces huge for craft breweries. Everything really is bigger in Texas. The Spacelaser Double IPA from Brewtorium and Smoaktoberfest from Live Oak were the best of the bunch. The Spacelaser was one of the best Double IPAs I’ve had recently.

Overall, Texas has some great beer, good music and good food. Survived another trip. Till next time, Keep Austin Weird.

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Oh So Good

Well, I am sitting here in class, munching on Jimmy Johns, hoping it soaks up the beer as I mourn the end of the Indians season. Now seems like a good time to talk about O.H.S.O. Brewery and Distillery in Phoenix, Arizona. Need something to take my mind off that embarrassing sweep the tribe suffered.

I had a work trip out to Phoenix last week,and while my free time was limited, I did find some time to visit one Brewery, O.H.S.O. Brewery and Distillery.

The beer was pretty good at O.H.S.O. The bartender was great giving the guy I made friends with next to me, bonding over the Cubs Rockies game that went to extras, and I tastes of their vodkas. The 89 ale and Orange Pedal were both very good beers. The Orange Pedal reminded me of a creamsicle and who doesn’t like creamsicles? I grabbed some food while I was there as well and the mac and cheese with BBQ pork was very good. Could go for a bowl right now. Something else to take my mind off that display the Indians tried to claim was baseball. There is always next year and another beer to try……

 

Vermont and the Search for the Holy Grail

I know I should have written this sooner. Whatever, I have a life (I don’t have a life, I am just lazy). So here is my recap of the beer I drank in Vermont.

How could I not talk about Heady Topper. The Holy Grail (one of them at least) for beer nerds. It was good but that beer was destined to not live up to the hype same as In’N’Out doesn’t live up to the hype. Yeah California, your burger is not that good. You talk about something so much that you think it’s literally birthed from God’s nuts and then it cannot possibly meet that expectation. Nothing against the Alchemist. Their Stowe location was great and I still bought $100 worth of beer. It’s just not the Jesus juice it was talked up to be.

Now, the beer & cider in Vermont is good. Lots to choose from for such a small state. Stowe Cider has some awesome selections and interesting takes on Cider. Same with Woodchuck Cider. The Raspberry Hard Cider was my favorite of the ciders. So drinkable.

I went to several other breweries as well. Ottercreek, Trapp Family, Idletyme, Vermont Brewery, Zero Gravity, Foam, and Lost Nation. Plus, I grabbed other local beers while eating out throughout the week. I drank a lot for 7 days. 2000 vertical climbs though justify this consumption. Each of these places had some great beers. I think though Zero Gravity and Lost Nation were my favorite of these bunch. The Wind (Sour) at Lost Nation was a great beer. Highly recommend that one.

Overall, it was a great trip and I drank some really good beer. Thanks VT. Cheers!IMG_4595

Ann Arbor

This one pains me to write. I hate the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor to me is representative of that. Ann Arbor is the city of Arrogant Assholes. Their Walmart Wolverine fan base is insufferable. I have a strong rule when rooting for college sports teams at a school you didn’t attend, if you ACT score was not within 2 points of the school average you can’t cheer for them. It’s my rule and you must obey. Yet, spending all day Saturday in Ann Arbor was a good time. There, I said it. I had a good time in that city. Like a drug addict admitting their short comings, that was good to get off my chest.

During our day visit to Ann Arbor, we tried three different breweries, Arbor Brewing, Jolly Pumpkin and Grizzly Peak. Each had some good beers and good food. We went heavy on the carbs going with soft pretzels, truffle fries and mac & cheese at each respectively. I like to justify this as carb loading. Regardless, the food was good. Arbor Brewing was probably my favorite of the three with the large selection of beer variety. The Pollination Sensation Honey Lavender Ale was the best one of the day. Top notch beer. Though, if sours are your thing then head to the Jolly Pumpkin. They specialize in sours and have quite a large number of them. The state of Michigan continues to be near the top in beer quality and Ann Arbor did not disappoint despite their reputation as Arrogant Assholes. I may even go back.

First Four, Dayton, and a Gas Leak

There are certain sporting events that every guy should go to. Things that don’t require being a fan of either team to enjoy. The NCAA First Four in Dayton is one.

My buddy and I drove down for Day two of the First Four and took in the city of Dayton. We managed to stuff our faces in food ranging from poutine to pizza. We visited five breweries. Lock 27, Dayton Beer Company, Warped Wing, Carillon and Toxic City are all doing really good things with beer. Dayton Beer Company had a great stout. I really enjoyed Lock 27 as the best of the bunch though. Really nice location next to the Dayton minor league baseball team. I imagine that makes for a great summer night.

Then, there is the First Four. We saw two games with the second one being a great one. Syracuse vs Arizona State came down to the end. The crowd was dyed orange as this was clearly a Cuse home game. Really not a bad seat in that arena. I can see why they play those games there in this small midwestern city. Just pure hoops fans in Dayton as we saw people wearing shirts ranging from Ohio State to South Dakota State. First Four does not disappoint.

Now, I have to say I’ve never had and issue with AirBnB and credit to the company and our hosts for refunding our money. See we couldn’t stay in the house because not only was the furnace broken, which they told us as we arrived but we walked into the place and it clearly smelled of a gas leak. If you lit up a cig, I’d imagine that placing blowing up like a fireworks display. So after a day of drinking and right as the hangover hit due to no alcohol in the First Four, we drove home at midnight. Three hours back to Cleveland made for a late night but it was a hell of a day. Dayton didn’t disappoint.

Filled to the BRIM

East side vs west side. Each part of Cleveland has a very distinct feel and culture. Sometimes, it is hard to believe they are the same metropolitan area. While I am a West sider, I do venture on over to the East side often where my girlfriend lives.

Saturday night, we went out with friends to BRIM Kitchen & Brewery in Willoughby. While I had quickly stopped in once before for a drink while killing a few minutes, this was my first time really sitting down to enjoy the place.

BRIM is located just passed the main portion of Downtown Willoughby. The inside is very modern and has that clean, slick feel to it. The brewery process is visible behind the bar as well.

I tried a couple of the beers BRIM had on tap that night as we grabbed dinner. They had a real interesting Christmas Fruit beer called Mr. Kringle and a pretty decent light blonde ale called the Brim Less. Both were solid, though nothing blew me away from a beer standpoint.

For dinner, I had the Sunday Gravy and a side of mac and cheese. The Sunday Gravy red sauce was definitely the best part of my meal. I cleaned the plate for your reference.

Overall, the place is solid. It was busy throughout and has a good ambiance. Nothing blew me away but no complaints either. Solid experience sums it up perfectly.

Country Music and Beer: An American Tradition

Friday morning I caught a plane out to Nashville, Tennessee for work and after taking care of some business, I had the rest of the day, and Saturday, to take in the area. I have been to Nashville before, (Check that trip out Here) but had not been to the breweries in town. So this time, I made sure I got to some of them.

I was able to visit three breweries. I had a couple beers Friday at Cool Springs Brewery in Franklin and then Saturday I visited Yazoo and Jackalope. Before I get into the Breweries, take note of Franklin, Tennessee. It’s a small little suburb of Nashville and the town is pretty much a southern picturesque city. Definitely a cool spot a little away from Downtown Nashville.

Now, onto beer. The one brewery that really stood out for me was Yazoo. I took the tour of Yazoo, relaxed in their tap room and had some of their beers in the city as well. The Hop Perfect IPA was exactly like it’s name, pretty much perfect.

Yazoo was a top notch experience and it’s away from the tourist village known as Broadway. A little less honky-tonk and a little more quality (though who doesn’t love some live country music?).

The tour at Yazoo included three generous samples and while I felt like $8 was a pricey tour, you did get the samples, and a small tasting glass to take home. The tour was a good insight into their history and provided some interesting stories about their beers. Overall, it was easily my favorite of the three breweries I visited. Nashville is known for its music and food but they are doing a pretty good job with the beer over at Yazoo. Yahoo for Yazoo.

New Dog in The Flats

Thirsty Dog is by no means a new brewery. They have been around awhile, brewing many different styles and making some of the best Christmas ale beer around. Recently they just opened up a new spot in The Flats Eastbank in Cleveland.

This location takes over for one of the vacant crop locations that was down there. This is a fairly large space with tables and an indoor and out door bar area. Now, the beer here is true to Thirsty Dog form. With about thirty different taps, there is really something for everyone. Plenty of barrel aged varieties and the traditional Thirsty Dog beers as well. The new taproom has great service, we quickly got seated and our waiter was great throughout the night. I will say the food could still use some work but it was overall pretty good. I had the Mac and cheese and we started with the beer cheese chips. Little more cheese on the chips please. The barrel aged Christmas ale is great one. Stick to one though, it will put you on your ass.

Thirsty dog is a welcomed addition to Cleveland as most people here are already familiar with the beer and their new location should do well in the well talked about revitalized east bank. Cleveland can’t seem to get enough beer.

It’s Hoppin’

I know it’s a terrible pun for a title playing off the brewery’s name. Just ignore it.

Last week, my buddy and I visited Hoppin’ Frog Brewery in Akron, Ohio. This place has been brewing for a decade and has had their taproom open for a few years now. I just had not made my way down yet.

The amount of different beers this place makes is impressive, especially for a place this size. My friend and I tried a variety of their different fall type beers on tap and their famous B.O.R.I.S. Pretty pleased with everything we tried. Quite the variety at this place. I think that is by far the most impressive quality of the place. Just how many different beers they brew and brew well, along with the different barrel aged varieties. The place is a little hard to see from the side of the road but make the trip down, or up, to Akron and check it out. They have something for everyone.

On the Tracks

There are kind of two strategies when it comes to picking the location of your brewery, restaurant or other entertainment spot. You can either try to tap an area with few challengers or you can go to where the foot traffic is. In Cleveland, we saw Portside close at least partly due to their location. Railroad Brewing Company decided to open up in the ever growing suburb of Avon, Ohio. Avon is by no means a brewery hotbed like Ohio City but with a couple of wineries, another brewery and plenty of suburb dwellers that may be looking for a spot not too far from home, it could be a great location for them. It can provide the traffic needed without being lost in the shuffle.

Railroad is a taproom only but you’re welcome to bring your own food in. It is a big open space with a bar and picnic tables that opens up to the outside. They have a large outdoor space surrounding their building which I think could lead to some exciting events in the future. Plus they are dog friendly.

The beer was pretty interesting and provided very unique flavors. The B.O.B., a blood orange Blonde Ale, was very flavorful but not overpowering. It was easy to drink and would be great on a summer day. I also tried the collaboration beer for Cleveland Beer Week and enjoyed that one as well. This tap room is a nice addition to the West Side and to the ever growing Cleveland beer scene. A growing beer scene that never seems to stop.