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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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

Escape to the Mountains

Life gets really busy sometimes. It gets cluttered and confusing. We get pulled in a million directions. Some we want to do, some we have to do and some we feel we should. Sometimes we just need a break. Vermont to me is a great place to get away. Particularly, the mountains in Vermont. I spent the last week in Stowe, VT doing not much else but hiking, drinking beer and sitting in the hot tub. While I did have some great beer, even tried out the famous Heady Topper from the Alchemist (I’ll detail all the beer in another post), the mountains are my favorite part of being up there.

In the mountains, cell phones barely work, if at all. Modern civilization is not around you. It’s quiet. The only thing to listen to is your own mind. I hiked on average about 22,000 steps and over 150 flights of stairs per day. Don’t worry I drank and ate all those calories burned. It can be quite a climb sometimes. The views are worth it though.

View from the Summit of Mount Hunger

I hiked Mountains like Mount Hunger, saw three different waterfalls, and countless other trails such as the Stowe Pinnacle. Each view more gorgeous than the last.

Reaching your destination after a grueling climb, dripping in sweat is a self accomplishment you can take satisfaction in. From up there, you realize how small you are but how much you can accomplish. Getting away sometimes is exactly what you need to think clearly, to understand your next step. Or just realize you want to chase waterfalls.

Bingham Falls
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Peak Preak: A Preakness Story

Can the written word do justice for what was 10 hours of wall to wall bros, beers and mud? That is up for debate, but oh what a day.

A horse race is always a great day to throw on obnoxious clothes like your name is Wilson Wellington Williams the Fourth ready for another day at the Country Club (Side note, we really did meet a guy who referred to himself as “The Fourth”, dude was blacked out by noon and a douche since birth). The Preakness is no exception with this. From there, the day is filled with booze, music and of course the race.

I can’t begin to explain how we took over the Mug and Vine Club part of the infield. We had a group of 20 plus shouting random phrases, pounding Barefoot mini wine bottles in hopes to fill up the whole table, and forcing each other to chug pink moscato. We ran that place up until the largest man at the table puked for the second time of the day all before 1. Unfortunately, the big man could not rally from this one. RIP to those tables. Despite the loss of those tables, we charged on. There were more Black Eyed Susans to drink.

Did I tell you about the mud? My dry cleaner has her work cut out for her. Girls, check the weather before wearing heels. Eating it face first in the mud is a good laugh for the rest of us, but you will quickly regret it. My shoes didn’t survive the weekend and I am hoping my red pants do. Then there was music. Who knew these fine gentleman named Post Malone and 21 Savage were good? Rap music and horse racing are a shit show match made in heaven.

Then there are the races. The thing about the infield is, you can’t see the race. You see 2-3 seconds as the horses flash by. Yeah, betting on things you have no knowledge of is a rush, but in fact I think most people just wanted the horses to finish so they could drunkenly call a surging Uber ride home. The Preakness was everything I hoped it would be and more. That place is THE PLAY.  However, it is Monday so back to the Rat Race.

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.

Back to Beer and I’m all Jacked Up

When I visit multiple breweries in a short span, I usually combine them into one post. However, Jacked Up Brewery in Escondido, California deserves its own post for their excellent service and crisp clean beer.

The place has been open since January and is run by a husband and wife duo. Michael and his wife Caroline were enthusiastic and appreciative of my business. Caroline took the time to explain their story from home brewing for their neighbors to entering brewing contests where they started to pick up awards regularly. With the knowledge that their beer was officially good, they soon started the plans to open their own brewery and a couple years later were able to officially open their doors and let the taps flow.

The beer was excellent here. Their NE Hazy IPA was a delicious beer and a great take on the increasingly popular style.

They are planning to launch a membership club and the details of it sound like something beer lovers in the area should definitely join. Expansion plans are in the works as well. This is a place that I see will grow and standout in the San Diego area beer market and it starts with the service provided by these owners.

Day 2 & 3 Asheville

Day 2 and 3 were each filled with more beer and some hiking on day 2. Asheville contains many breweries and we went to several. Wicked Weed Brewing and Blue Mountain on Day 2. Day 3 included Catawba, Burial Brewing and Green Man.

Wicked Weed had fantastic beer and the house chips and beer cheese were very good. Artery clogging cheese is one of my favorites. Their Riverkeeper IPA was a well done and consistent. A great beer.

Blue Mountain had some of the best pizza around and was right down the road from our AirBnB in Weaverville. The small little brew pub also had some good live music that we managed to catch the end of, plus the waitress was this nice sweet grandma type if your grandma smoked weed daily.

Day 2 we also did a bunch of hiking. It was a bit foggy but we still caught some great views at various overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

On Day 3, we explored Downtown Asheville and did a mini brewery trail with Catawba, Burial and Greenman. The triple IPA at Burial Brewing packs a big punch and Greenman provides a no frills dog friendly tasting room with clean crisp beers. Additionally, the small batch brews at Catawba were delicious and unique. The Red Rhum IPA was a good one.

Asheville has great food, some of the best beer and hiking with majestic views. It is a fairly manageable city and doesn't overpower you or leave feeling like you didn't see much. A great weekend spot. The art was beautiful and this is coming from someone who has little interest in art usually. Take a trip to the mountains and see what you find. You'll enjoy it.

Asheville Day 1

So we made it. Asheville day 1. Some may say I am neurotic for spreadsheeting my vacations, but it allows for maximum intake.

On the first day here, we managed to check out two breweries, Asheville Brewing Company and Hi-Wire Brewing. Both cool spots. Asheville had a very good DIPA (double IPA) and their tater tots with Queso were like a Mexican fried heaven in your mouth. Hi-Wire has a small industrial tap room and plenty of good beers. Both are essential parts of the beer scene down here.

Additionally, we checked out Sky bar and it's amazing views of Asheville and Battery Park Book Exchange along with the River Arts District. Battery Park Book Exchange is a really cool spot where you can drink wine, beer and buy used books. You also trade in your used books for bar credits. Shoutout to my old teachers who got me to keep my books each year. I'm finally going to be able to buy booze with them. Day 2 I'm looking forward to you.

Weightless Beer

Lakes, beer, dogs. What better way to spend Memorial Day weekend? Over the holiday weekend, I went to Northern Michigan and on my way up there I stopped in Milan, Michigan at Original Gravity Brewing Co. I had quick beer there while enjoying a delicious turkey chipotle sandwich. I tried their witbier while I was there and was greeted by the very friendly staff. The small little brewery has a great staff and was the perfect lunch time stop on my way up north. The bartender and I talked about kayaking and was attentive throughout my time. The witbier was called Wheeler Witbier and was very refreshing on the warm summer day. If I wasn’t on a long drive I definitely would have tried more. An excellent stop in the Michigan beer scene that is overall one of the best states for beer. IMG_1962

Beantown, Sam Adams, Merica

When traveling to a new city, it is hard to know what to expect. You create an image in your head of what the city looks like, what the food tastes like, how the place feels. However, when you get there that image can be completely wrong. This is not one of those times.

This weekend I visited Boston, Massachusetts, home to the Sox, Harvard and Tom Brady. While I may dislike (hate) Tom Brady, Harvard would probably (definitely) reject me, and the Sox have caused me some (lots) of heartache over the years, I have to say Boston is an amazing city. It is clean, vibrant and, besides the awful traffic, a city with lots to offer.

Of course in a new city I need to check out the breweries. We visited two, Harpoon Brewery and Boston Brewery also known as Samuel Adams. Both gave great tours. Harpoons tour included a 30 minute tasting with as many as you wanted. For  five bucks that cannot be beat. Plus, in their beer hall you have to try their pretzels. That is a game changer and my girlfriend, Olivia, agrees with me. Best pretzel we have had. Samuel Adams’ tour was extremely informative with a mini beer tasting class and three different beers all  for free with a small donation to a few charities being encouraged. Well worth it for the beer and tour. Then after we headed to Doyle’s nearby where they give you a free glass of Sam Adams’ specific glass designed for the perfect drink to take with a beer purchase.

In addition, to the breweries Boston is filled with great food, (the Mac and Cheese at Stephanie’s on Newbury is one of the best I’ve tried),  historic landmarks and beautiful parks (Good Will Hunting). Additionally, the old taverns such  as Bell in Hand and Warren Tavern take you back to the 1700s when men like Paul Revere frequented these places. Talk about drinking a beer for freedom. A city like this right on the water is a beautiful place, I just wish it had been a little warmer.

I think one of the most interesting things about the city is Uber Pool. Now I know other places have this, but it is not here in Cleveland yet and the concept is very interesting. Uber in itself is an app about trusting a stranger to give you a ride. In an age where we are more and more connected electronically but less and less connected personally, Uber Pool allows you to not only get a ride from a stranger but share a ride with one. Some of these rides are silent, but others such as the girl going in town for a grad school interview or the local with suggestions on things to do can create a connection sometimes lost among strangers. When we part we go on our way to never see each other again but for a few minutes you can  trust a stranger. Boston was great for that. It is a city that lived up to those expectations I had created in my head. When I first arrived, I tweeted that the city was in my top five I have visited after just a few hours and a follower of mine responded back that it would soon be in my top three. They were right.