Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #12 Release!

Hey everyone!  

Just wanted to drop a quick post about the Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #12 release today, July 31st!  Well... today if you're reading this from Houston.  For most of you who are reading from Baton Rouge or nearby it's not out yet, but if last year is any indication it will be within a few weeks.  Divine Reserve #11 made its way to us a few weeks later than the Texas release and after the initial wave they weren't extremely hard to find at some of the usual suspects around town like Calandro's, Matherne's, and Whole Foods.  

Last year's offering was an Imperial IPA that served as the genesis for their Endeavour IPA that can be found around town now.  A previous release of Divine Reserve also evolved into Saint Arnold's (facebook - twitter) outstanding Pumpkinator that debuted last fall and should be out again this year.  

This year's batch of Divine Reserve is going to be an old ale, a high-alcohol (10%) beer that is designed to be aged for up to 5 years while developing sherry-like notes.  Which basically means to me that I need to get at least a 6-pack and enjoy them over the next half decade!

So look for Divine Reserve #12 in stores soon, and don't drink it all right away.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Beer Blogger Conference 2012 - Summary Part 4.

Time for Part 4 of my hazy story of the 2012 Beer Bloggers' Conference... pieced together by memory, Foursquare, and UnTappd. 

Sunday, July 15th:
09:30 AM: The first session of the day... yeah I kind of missed it again.  You see, the after-partying after Saturday night's NOMB got to me, and sure enough I was struggling. After a little extra sleep it was time to pack everything... and we somehow managed to get all the glassware, bottles of beer, and other souvenirs into the bags and check out of the hotel.  The conference wasn't over yet though, so we left our bags with the bellhop and rejoined the conference!

11:00 AM: We made it in time to catch the second half of the "Creating A Beer Event" session and I'm glad I did.  There was some really good info regarding logistics and we had two panelists who had operated on totally different levels.  One was working on small-scale tastings and such similar to the one I'm putting on at Roux Wine & Spirits this Thursday, and the other guy was organizing entire festivals.  Maybe one day I'll be at the level to organize an entire festival, but not yet! 

11:30 AM: Time for the ending keynote speech with Randy Mosher, a beer author and co-owner of a new Chicago brewery, 5 Rabbit Cerveceria, which does some latin-inspired beers.  In fact, this reminded me that I tried a few of his beers last night at the NOMB!  I believe it was the 5 Vulture and the 5 Lizard, but my memory is a little fuzzy and Untappd isn't helping either.  That's what happens when your phone dies at a conference like this and you have to rely on memory.  Randy was very entertaining though, and a lot off-beat.  The best part was when he showed some pictures of cauldrons, and just said something to the effect of, "cauldrons, aren't they cool?"  That doesn't sound too funny to you?  Well damn, I guess you had to be there, because it was.

12:30 PM: After plenty of fun, it was time to head home... so Jay and I grabbed the bags from the bellhop, and this time it was a 5' (barely) petite girl that had to go grab them from the back room.  I felt pretty bad for her since we had two duffelbags and Jay's Tony Chachere's soft ice chest stuffed full with beer.  We learned later that they averaged about 40 pounds each, so... well done petite blonde girl!  Apparently there was some sort of hotel shuttle available, but we had to walk a few blocks and then who knows when it was coming, so we took a look at those heavy bags and decided to grab a cab instead.

02:50 PM: We tried to arrange a quicker or easier route home, but it seemed like the planned Indy -> Orlando -> New Orleans trip was still the best bet... so we were on our way home.  No real crazy stories on the flights back... no teenage boys reading softcore porn or aborted landing attempts.  We made it onto our scheduled flights despite being standby passengers and our bags made it with us!

08:05 PM: Central Time again!  Yay!  It turns out we had at least one casualty on the flight, because Jay's bag came off the belt a little wet.  We found out later it was the Bull Jagger Portland Lager that I picked up as an extra during the NOMB.  Well that sucks, but it could have been worse.  

10:00 PM: Casualty number 2!  Of course everything but the one bottle made it through two flights and several baggage handlers fine, but as I was unpacking I dropped one of the Big Eddy snifter glasses, and it shattered into a million pieces.  I might be exaggerating slightly, but it really did shatter and there were pieces everywhere.  Oh well... such is life.

All in all it was a really good trip... the one thing I learned that I absolutely want to implement on my blog is to tell more of a story with each post.  And I want to focus on more local beers/breweries/events/festivals/etc.  So, in the upcoming weeks start looking for some more focus on the local breweries, that's my plan.  Cheers everyone, and here are a few good pictures that didn't make the last few posts!

Barrel aging at the Goose Island Brewpub

Haymarket Pub & Brewery

Another picture of Jay during his session

We found some more Louisiana beer!

The insane sorting / packaging system at Monarch

Monday, July 23, 2012

Beer Blogger Conference 2012 - Summary Part 3.

Time for Part 3 of my hazy story of the 2012 Beer Bloggers' Conference... pieced together by memory, Foursquare, and UnTappd. 

Saturday, July 14th:
09:30 AM: The first session of the day covered the three-tier system and kicked off at 9:30 AM, but I missed it. I could have forced myself to get up and get ready, but I already know what's up with the three-tier system... it's shoved down our throats in Louisiana more than most states.  Anyway, Jay was on the panel for the 10:30 session, and I wasn't going to miss that one.

10:30 AM: Back to the conference, I grabbed a spot at the very front so I could take a few pictures for Jay during the session.  He was panelizing on the topic: Networking with Local Breweries, Distributors, and Retailers.  Now as a beer blogger networking with local breweries is a no-brainer and something I've done a pretty good job of.  I've worked some with the retailers although more through Raise A Glass than the blog, but I am hosting my first ever beer tasting July 26th at Roux Wine & Spirits!  So that will be fun, and it's a product of networking with retailers.  I've never had much luck working with the local distributors though... Mockler invited Jay and I out there for a tour of the place one time and we had some good talks with them about the craft beer world and their plans but nothing developed past that, which is a shame.  Randy Clemens was on the panel from Stone Brewing, and he absolutely cracked me up, with one of the best answers to a question yet.  When asked what could be done when someone just doesn't seem responsive to networking, he simple said, "Fuck 'em." and left it at that.  Jay did a great job presenting but was a little rushed for time.  It happens.  Here's a picture though!

Jay loses the facial hair part of the competition.

11:30 AM: International Beers in the US! First off, they supplied a few beers, and the Pilsner Urquell helped me get a beer in before noon.  And we all know you can't drink all day if you don't start before noon!  They had some really interesting information regarding how they are trying to keep their beer as fresh as possible and temperature controlled all the way from Pilsen, Czech Republic to New York and then throughout the country.  Fresh Pilsner Urquell is good Pilsner Urquell.  Skunked Pilsner Urquell is fucking nasty.

Fresh Pilsner Urquell,  before noon!

12:30 PM: We all headed upstairs where the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company had the place set up for us.  We were started off with their Hefeweizen which I really enjoyed, then moved on to the Summer Shandy, which is a mix between beer and lemonade.  Um... if you like hard lemonade you'd probably like this one, because that's basically what it was.  The next beer on the docket was the Big Eddy Imperial IPA, from their "Big Eddy" series of bigger limited beers, and it was quite impressive.  I think this one turned some heads around the room as far as what Leinenkugel's can do.  We get some Leinie's in Baton Rouge but it's just the standards... if this one makes it we are in for a treat.  The final beer was a Big Eddy Wee Heavy and it was also very good, so props to Leinenkugel for putting out some really good beers and thanks for the lunch!  Oh, and as a bonus they gave us each a Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout to take home, I'll try it at some point and give a review!

Proof that they can (and do) make really good beer.

02:00 PM: It was time for the next session, but I had a beer run to make, so I made a quick trip up to the room to drop some beers off and then headed to Crown Liquors, which was about a mile walk from the hotel.   I wasn't the only one with the idea, as there were plenty of beer bloggers looking through the beer racks!  I settled on a trio of Three Floyds beers and an Indiana mixed 6-pack, then it was another mile walk back to the conference.  See, conferences are good for my new years' resolution

A few of the beers that made it home!

03:00 PM: It was time for one of the sessions I was looking forward to the most, and I don't think I was along in this one, the Spiegelau comparative tasting featuring the Brooklyn Brewery and Garrett Oliver!  The rumor was already floating around that some Brooklyn Black Ops was in the house, so we were pretty geeked about that.  First though, we learned exactly why Spiegelau is superior, and it had a LOT to do with the quality and relative thin-ness of their glasses.  If you get to chance to use them, they are far thinner than a typical beer glass, and also more clear.  The first beer we tried was the Brooklyn Sorachi Ace in the tall pilsner glass side by side with a shaker pint... and yes it made a difference.  The beer had a much more powerful aroma and held its head longer in the Spiegelau glass.  From there we tried the Brooklyner Whear beer in the wheat beer glass and the Brooklyn East India Pale Ale in their lager glass.  Up next was the tulip glass so we were all hoping for the Black Ops, but instead they rolled out some Local 2.  A great beer, yeah, but there was a definite bit of disappointment in the room... greedy beer bloggers!  After enjoying the Local 2 and a few more words from Garrett Oliver and the Spiegelau rep they gave in and announced that as a special treat we would be getting some Black Ops.  FUCK YEAH GARRETT OLIVER YOU'RE THE MAN!  This is one that I'd been longing to try for quite a while, especially since Brooklyn is available down in Baton Rouge, and it did not disappoint at all.  Talk about ending the session on a high note! 

So good.  So very very good.

04:15 PM: As if we needed any more beer, it was time to roll out to the Indiana Microbrewers Festival.  Wait, so there's a beer festival going on the same weekend we're in town (good timing, organizers!) AND we get to go, AND our admission is included in the cost of the conference?  This weekend just keeps on getting better doesn't it?  So everybody basically hauls ass upstairs to drop off their glassware sets and extra bottles and then hauls ass back down to catch the buses... and we're off.

04:45 PM: We make it to the festival and everyone heads in... from where we walk in it appears to be a large softball field with a row of port-o-lets on the left side and then two really big tents serving up beer... well alright, I like tents serving up beer!  Once we got closer it became apparent that there was far more down the hill behind the tents, in fact there was another entire lawn ringed with tents from some breweries that I recognized from earlier in the conference like Ram and Upland.  I wasted no time grabbing a beer and getting right back in line for a second one.  After a few more brews I realized that there was even more to it... another lower area filled with tents featuring local breweries.  (I guess everyone here was a local brewery now that I think about it... it is in the name!) I just kept trying different beers, not bothering to check in, and marveling at how many options there were.  Eventually I found Jay again and some other beer bloggers and we made sure to catch at least one of Sun King's beer releases, which were timed for every half hour!  In what seemed like no time we were headed back to the bus... man I wish I could have spent the whole afternoon here but there were other things to do!

Oooh look, we're in the VIP line!  Or is it the DD line?

06:30 PM: Bus it out to Monarch Beverage, which is part of World Class Beer, the largest beverage distributor in the nation!   We arrived in two groups and started off with a catered dinner... nothing special as far as the food goes but there were a few selections of good beer! I tried a Bell's Lager Of The Lakes and Atwater Grand Circus IPA before we were treated to a Gulden Draak 9000 Quad, and then a Bell's Black Note Stout.  I must say the Black Note Stout was fantastic and I enjoyed the Quad as well.  Then we were off to the tour!  We started off with an HR lecture about how awesome the healthcare benefits are at Monarch, and I've gotta admit that they put my cushy government job benefits to shame.  Good for them!  Then it was on the warehouse, which was extremely impressive.  I want to say they said it was over 2 million cases of alcohol, which would last them about a week and a half if they got no new stock in.  So basically they process over a million cases of booze per week.  Incredible, and even more incredible to see it stacked up across a massive climate-controlled warehouse.  It puts the role of the distributor in a different perspective to comprehend all of that inventory getting to the right place at the right time.  And with their new sorting/tracking systems we were told they were at 100% order accuracy.  I mean, I can't prove that, but it was an impressive display of technology.

Tour group #1 goes in search of the Ark of the Covenant.

09:00 PM: After the tour it was back to the buses and back to the Marriott for the infamous (or so I had heard) Night Of Many Bottles, of NOMB.  All of the conference attendees and sponsors had brought beers with them to share, so the tables were filled with beers from across the country, sorted by region.  Within a few minutes of walking in I had tried a Three Floyds Apocalypse Cow, an Alchemist Heady Topper, a Bruery Black Tuesday, and even a Westvleteren 12.  The hits kept coming all night long, and it got pretty hazy, but man, what a night full of good beer.  The Tin Roof that Jay and I brought received good reception among the beer nerds, which was nice to see.  I don't think anyone would put it on par with the beers I just mentioned but some session beers hit the spot as well.  So much beer... and the conference wasn't even over!

Southern Beers!

Check back for part 4 tomorrow!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beer Blogger Conference 2012 - Summary Part 2.

Time for Part 2 of my hazy story of the 2012 Beer Bloggers' Conference... pieced together by memory, Foursquare, and UnTappd. (You missed part 1?  Well here's a link just for you.)

Friday, July 13th:
07:30 AM: Time to wake up... we have a bus to catch.  Well, first a cab to catch because we had no intentions of walking over a mile back to the HoJo to meet the group with two bags and a collapsible ice chest full of a case of Tin Roof beer.

08:30 AM: The bus should be on the road by now... but it's not... where'd our Brooklyn Brewery contingent go off to anyway?

08:40 AM: Oh, there they are!  And we're off... I managed to stay awake long enough to see U.S. Cellular Field, then it was nap time for this guy.

10:45 AM: 11:45 AM: Apparently I slept through the signs saying we were going to Eastern Time... but that's cool because my phone remembered.  We were pulling off the interstate into Lafayette, Indiana at the time, to get some lunch at the Lafayette Brewing Company! As with Goose Island I really expected this to be "on your own" with the drinking and food but they rolled out the red carpet for us.  We were ushered up some stairs (drunk test) to a large open second floor space with beer waiting and a serving line with some BBQ and fixings.  On each table was a pitcher of their Tippecanoe Common Ale, Gypsy Pils, and Black Angus Oatmeal Stout.  They also had the bar going with taps pouring samples of all their other beer styles. The owner of the place was even there to welcome us and talk with us about the beers and the brewery, very cool!  The food itself was underwhelming but still appreciated, and I was able to try tasting pours of most of the rest of their beers, including the Black Rock CDA, Admirality IPA, and Dharma Black IPA.  My favorite of the night was probably the French Vanilla Black Angus Oatmeal Stout, which the owner explained was the normal stout transferred through a "hop randall" sort of device that had been packed with french vanilla coffee beans.  Very nice, and very ingenious.  For dessert we were also served a 13-year aged Big Boris Barleywine, and as excited as I was this one didn't deliver.  I think it was a little TOO aged, quite flat and way too boozy-hot to be truly enjoyed.  All in all though, a great stop and many thanks to the Lafayette Brewing Company for having us!

Do you really need a caption?

Big Boris Barleywine

01:30 PM: Back on the bus, headed to Indy!  BrewDad handed me a Goose Island Honker's Ale for the ride... hell yeah dude!

03:00 PM: We're at the Marriott Downtown in Indianapolis... nice hotel, and time for a quick rest before the party starts downstairs.  Plus as always it seems, phones needed to be charged up.

03:45 PM: Time for the registration and trade show!  We got fancy hanging name tags to wear around and proclaim our beer nerddom to the world!  Fine by me, plus it's nice to put names to faces and help me remember all the people I had met on the Chicago excursion.  The "trade show" was pretty small, a handful of breweries and sponsors hawking their wares, but in this case that means beer!  Upland Brewing Company from Bloomington, Indiana was there and was one of my favorites.  Their Upland Wheat and Dragonfly IPA were solid but the Sour Reserve was absolutely fantastic.  We also got a chance to try the Sam Adams 13th Hour Stout which was pretty nice.  The Ram Restaurant & Brewery showed up as well with a nice barleywine, but I missed this check in so... dammit I can't really remember what the name was.

04:30 PM: Introduction speech with Julia Herz!  Very well done, emphasis on our place in the beer world as bloggers.  It's nice to feel important.

05:00 PM: Keynote speech with Garrett Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery.  I met Garrett Oliver once before at a beer event at the Avenue Pub in New Orleans, he's a really nice guy, knows his beer, and knows how to tell a story.  In fact one of the things he emphasized the most in his speech was the need for us to tell a story with our blogs.  That might be one of the points that resonated the most with me out of the entire weekend, so thanks again Mr. Oliver! 

05:45 PM: Live Beer Blogging!  So this is where we all sit around a table (10 in total) and different breweries come by and get 5 minutes to pour us some beer and talk about their key points.  We are supposed to take notes as best we can and then blog about it!  I actually thought I was going to be able to keep up on my TouchPad... HAHAHAHA, no.  Not a chance in hell, most people couldn't keep up on laptops.  So no live beer blogging post from me... just this recap.
1) Boulder Brewing Hazed & Infused: Nothing new, nothing special, but I did like the honesty that their rep used, letting us all know that this is the beer that pays their bills and allows them to keep brewing other stuff.
2) Karl Strauss Wreck Alley Imperial Stout: 9.5% stout out of San Diego, brewed with cocoa nibs and named after a popular diving spot.  Pretty solid.

Wreck Alley Imperial Stout, and a camera flash.

3) Schlafly A IPA: I really enjoyed this IPA out of St. Louis, tasted like it was brewed with a lot of Simcoe hops, and it's even served at Busch Stadium!
4) Barley Island Damien Belgian Strong Ale: A very nice beer from a small brewpub in Indiana.
5) Fountain Square Working Mans' Pilner: Came in an interesting plastic re-fillable bottle, probably because the brewery is draft only.  Good local gateway beer.
6) Flat 12 Bierwerks Pogue's Run Porter: I enjoyed this one a lot, from a German-tradition brewery in Indianapolis. 

Pogue's Run Porter

7) Triton Brewing Magnificent Amber: Another local beer from Indianapolis, but this one failed to impress me.  I noted that it was the weakest offering yet.  Sorry guys!
8) Three Floyds Arctic Panzer Wolf: All I noted on this one was "Awesome.  Really freaking awesome."  I guess I liked it.

Pretty cool label huh?  I snagged one.  Score!

9) New Belgium Shift Pale Lager: Boring.  Really, you're going to bring a pale lager to a beer bloggers' conference?  These types of beer have their place, and this isn't it.
10) Ram Endgame Imperial Stout: Thanks to Ram for ending this on a high note!  This was probably my second favorite beer after the Three Floyd's.
And with that we were done... but not before grabbing a half-full (I'm an optimist) bottle of Arctic Panzer Wolf that was left on our table.

07:00 PM: After a quick run up the elevators to put stuff down it was time to walk (a little over a mile... getting my miles in on this trip for sure!) to the Tomlinson Tap Room for dinner and, of course, more beer.  The tap room is located on the second floor of their City Market building, which looks to be an old gymnasium with a huge open center.  Oops, I said no more architecture... anyway the point is that it made the place pretty crowded when we packed 100 or so beer bloggers in.  We were each handed a tasting glass for unlimited samples and a token for a free full pint.  The food was served on a serving cart in the center of the space and they had some decent sausages and pasta on the second course, which is what I caught.  After sampling a Robert The Bruce Scottish Ale from Three Floyds I went with the Rye IPA from Bloomington Brewing Company as my full pint to accompany my sausage plate.  While eating a couple of beers from the brand new (or maybe still in planning) Indiana City Brewing in Indianapolis, their Beyond The Pale Belgian Pale and Shadowboxer Oatmeal Stout.  I hate to be critical, but the Beyond The Pale was terrible, way too much sage and lemon flavors to it, it was almost like drinking dawn dish detergent.  Fortunately the Shadowboxer was a good bit better... I would drink it again.  We also had the chance to try numerous other beers, my list included the New Albanian Knobentinus, Flat 12 Mustache Ride Red, Barley Island Barfly IPA, Three Floyds Pride & Joy Mild Ale, The Bier Brewery PDG Ale, the Figure Eight Ro Shampo Imperial Red, and Upland Nut Hugger Brown Ale. (Don't worry folks, these were all just 2 ounce (at most) samples!)

09:00 PM: Or something like this... I don't remember when but eventually it was pub crawl time, and we were off to the first stop, the Massachusetts Avenue Pub.  This was a nice small little pub with a small but impressive tap list.  Everything was local (I think!) and I went with a Flat 12 Summer Cycle, which despite the name was a super hoppy citrusy IPA.  I loved it, great take on a citrus beer but still something a hop head would enjoy.  I was very impressed!  Bonus points because this place showed up on my credit card statement as Avenue Pub and that had me all sorts of confused for a second.

10:00 PM: Guess what!  I'm just guessing at the times right now... no clue when we really left Mass. Ave. Pub and made our way to the Rathskeller German beer garden, but we did.  And I'm glad we did!  This place was awesome, a big outdoor (they also had a large indoor space but the party was outside) beer garden with a few bars and a stage for the band.  They were rocking out to some Rolling Stones when we walked in and Kathleen Joyce of the National Beer Wholesalers Association was nice enough to buy me one of the house beers, a Rathskeller Amber brewed by Sun King Brewing.  Before too long (it was either 10 or 11 local time, I really don't know people) the band had to quit playing due to noise restrictions, but we kept hanging out long enough for me to grab a Weihenstephaner Kristallweissbier.  This is one that I don't really hit up all that often but man it's a tasty beer.  Exactly what the style should be and proof that the Germans can make some damn fine beers when they want to. 

Paint It Black.

11:30 PM: Guessing again on the time, but I know we spend a good while at Rathskeller before making our way to the final pit stop, MacNiven's Restaurant & Bar.  Again, like the Mass. Ave. Pub this was a charming little pub-styled place with a nice old school feel.  I didn't order food, but I did order a Java Mac by Sun King Brewing, which was a very nice coffee infused scottish ale.  I also had a taste of a new friend's Pappy Van Muckle, a bourbon barrel (duh) aged Wee Heavy also by Sun King.  Two really good beers, fortunately I wasn't done with Sun King Brewing on this trip.

12:30 PM: Headed back to crash, tomorrow is a long day! 

There will be more... check back for part 3 of this fun weekend of beer!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Beer Blogger Conference 2012 - Summary Part 1.

Alright, I've had a couple of days to think about how I wanted to do this... and mainly came to the conclusion that I really doubt most readers want to know the exact details of a beer bloggers' conference that they weren't even at.  I mean, other than a few beer blogger friends, does anyone else really give a shit?  I didn't think so.  However, I'd still like to use this space as a bit of a journal, and attempt a little different type of entry... a play by play of the weekend.  My hazy story of the 2012 Beer Bloggers' Conference... pieced together by my hazy memory, Foursquare, and UnTappd. 

Thursday, July 12th: 

03:30 AM: Holy crap, it's early.  Jay Ducote of BiteAndBooze.com and I were flying Southwest Airlines on standby buddy passes thanks to the lovely and talented Amanda Ball, and the flight with the most seats was the 6:30 out of New Orleans.  Knowing we needed to be there at least an hour early and were looking at an hour drive plus some time to get ready and wanting to give ourselves a little cushion... yikes.  You know what's worst than flying at 6:30 AM though?  Not flying at all because there's no standby room... or paying for your flights.   

05:15 AM: Well the drive was fine, we made it to New Orleans, the flight had plenty of room, and everything was looking smooth so far!   The best thing about Southwest Airlines, other than the buddy passes, is the free checked bags.  Especially when you have a case of Tin Roof Beer to bring for the hyped "Night Of Many Bottles" Saturday night.  Oops, we have cans.  They'll get over it. 

06:30 AM: Take off, nap.  Wake up during the flight to notice that the barely out of high school (if even that) kid next to me was reading "50 Shades Darker" and laugh.  It was a dude, not even a chick.  What the fuck, kid?  Resume napping...

08:30 AM: Attempt to land at Chicago Midway... decide 50' off the ground that there is someone in the way and pull up.  Well, I guess that's better than landing on top of another plane and dying in a massive steel and plastic fireball and cutting this blog post a bit short, right?

08:45 AM: Arrive at Chicago Midway, take the El downtown, find our hotel, take a load off for a bit... still tired!

A room with a view.

11:30 AM:  Jay and I took off on foot to Frontera Restaurant in Chicago. This wasn't actually part of the conference, but we were there early and met up with good friend Kevin Hebert at this acclaimed Mexican restaurant and were thoroughly impressed.  They also had a pretty nice selection of regional beers, which had me smiling.  I love it when a restaurant pays attention to their beer selections and at least makes an effort.  The ceviche and mole was all awesome, highly recommend anyone go there if they are in Chicago and want an alternative to deep dish pizza.  Beers: Goose Island Marisol, Tyranena Rocky's Revenge Bourbon Brown, Wild Onion Hop Slayer DIPA.

Wild Onion Hop Slayer Double IPA, can't you read the can?

02:00 PM: After plenty of food, conversation, beer, and dessert it was back to the hotel for us.  While walking I decided to make a short detour and check out the Cloud Gate sculpture, or "the bean," which was pretty close to our hotel, and I'm glad I did.  It was there the last time I visited Chicago on Guys' Trip 2.0 but we never made it downtown that time.  What was even more cool though, was the adjacent stage at the Jay Pritzker Pavillion.  I'd read about it but seeing the architectural marvel up close was pretty fantastic.  And that's going to be it from the architect side of me... but when in Chicago... 

If you look really hard you can find me in the reflection.

Apparently this was permitted as a sculpture, not a building.

04:50 PM: Another nap back at the hotel after checking out some of Millenium Park was nice, plus my phone was dying... but we had a pub crawl to catch.  About a mile walk later we were at the lovely HoJo Downtown motel.  This was the designated hotel for the Chicago excursion but by the time we decided to get a hotel rather than crash with friends it was booked and we went with the Hyatt instead.  Oops! 

06:00 PM: We met a bunch of the bloggers, took a quick walk to the El, played a game of clown car on the train with beer bloggers, and then had a quick walk but around 6 the group made it to the Goose Island Clybourn pub.  I've been to the Goose Island Wrigleyville pub before and loved it. In fact my experience with Bourbon County Stout there years ago was one of the catalysts toward my love for craft beer.  Unfortunately there was no Bourbon County Stout on the menu tonight.  I was actually expecting more of a free-for-all at the pub, with bloggers ordering what they wanted and trying various brews but what we had in store was a full beer dinner!  The Goose Island beers came out in order: Sofie, Lolita, Matilda, Juliet, Madame Rose.  The food certainly satsified, and the gift bags were far better than expected.  I now have a Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat coffee mug sitting at my desk!  Plus some bottles of beer and a sweet bottle opener. 

Goose Island Sofie... isn't she pretty?

08:00PM: Time to move on... the next stop, Piece Brewery & Pizzeria.  The beers: Worryin' Ale Rye, Dysfuntionale IPA, and Roland the Headless Assistant Brewmaster Oatmeal Stout.  I've gotta say that the beers were all really good and I loved the vibe of the old building this place was in.  The pizza also looked and smelled fantastic, almost enough to get a piece even though we had just been fed four courses!  Would go back in a heartbeat. 

Our three beers at Piece Brewery & Pizzeria.

09:00 PM: I'm kind of making up the times now... I don't remember how long we were staying at each place or how long it took to bus between them, but I do know where all we went.  And after Piece Brewery & Pizzeria we went to Revolution Brewing Company, another brewpub somewhere in the Chicago area.  We were on a party bus with a funnel and three-way shot pourer... I wasn't really paying attention to directions!  The place was nice and we were ushered into a room upstairs where I was able to try the Revolution Coup D'Etat Biere De Garde, the Revolution Iron Fist Pale Ale, and a Hop Juice DIPA from Two Brothers Brewing Company.  I love the themes that Revolution plays on, and all three beers were pretty fantastic.  

10:00 PM:  Or somewhere around 10... shit if I know anymore... we pulled up to Haymarket Pub & Brewery.  The head brewer was there to chat with us and talk a little about his beers, which was fantastic.  He also had a special Simcoe IPA tapped just for us.  We started with the Indignant Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout and a Blacksox Porter.  The porter was quite good but it was really overshadowed by the insanity that was that bourbon barrel stout.  In fact, I wanted to say that this was the Templeton Rye version, but I can't say for sure and either way it was whiskey heavy and reservation free.  One of the biggest and best beers I've tried in a while.  Between sips of those two I also had a chance to try the New Holland Dragon's Milk thanks to some new beer blogger friends.  After those were over Jay and I decided to have another round before we caught a cab back to our hotel... so it was time for the Girl And The Goatee II Saison which is a collaboration between Brewmaster Pete Crowley and Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard, and the Lizzie's Simcoe IPA we had been told about.  As much as I enjoyed the saison it was the simcoe IPA that really stood out... mental note, brew more with Simcoe if I can get my hands on some!  Alright... all that beer later it was time to head out.

Nothing pairs with dark beer better than more dark beer.

12:30 AM: Or so... back to the hotel to crash, tomorrow is a busy day.

Stay tuned for part 2 (of 4... unless I get lazy...) coming soon!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Beer Blogger Conference 2012

Well folks, I'm here in Indianapolis for the 2012 Beer Bloggers Conference! There will be a live blogging session later so stay tuned for that.

So far I've hit up the Chicago pub crawl and the Lafayette Brewing Company, with many more stops to come. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My First Official Beer Tasting! - July 26th

Alright, big news folks, I'll be running my first ever beer tasting in a couple of weeks, July 26th, at Roux Wine & Spirits in Prairieville!  The tasting will kick off at 7 PM, at a cost of $20 per person for most people, or $15 if you are a member of the Roux Wine & Spirits VIP Club.  I'll be talking everyone through an 8-beer tasting of Summer brews, including some variants that I think would make for nice Summer drinking.  

The full list includes:

  • Brooklyn Summer Ale
  • Harpoon Summer Ale
  • Sam Adams Summer Ale
  • Sierra Nevada Summerfest
  • Magic Hat #9
  • Full Sail LTD. 04
  • NOLA Blonde
  • Coney Island Albino Python
As you can see there will be four Summer seasonals from some of the big names of craft beer, plus a few that should work very well with the hot weather we've had down here so far.  I made sure to include NOLA Blonde to feature a local beer, plus the opportunity to talk about canned craft beer.  I'm excited about this tasting, and I hope many of my friends out there can come out and support me and also Roux Wine & Spirits.


Monday, July 2, 2012

BeerWalking At The Halfway Point!

Alright folks, I'm halfway through this goal to walk a mile for every alcoholic drink (mostly beer, duh) I consume in 2012.  The rules were pretty simple, although tracking everything has been challenging sometimes.  Especially challenging on some bigger drinking days, but I've tried my best to be as accurate as possible with both the drinking and the mileage.  As for the mileage I've been tracking almost all of it with this fancy pedometer thingy I got on Amazon.com.  OMRON HJ-720ITC Pocket Pedometer with Health Management Software I don't really use the software but after a little calibration (and one battery replacement) I've found that it's extremely accurate when I'm walking.  It bases the distances on number of steps and is calibrated for my walking stride, so when I run it measures low, but that's okay.  

Here are the totals through the end of June:  (And here is the archived day by day activity just for good measure!)
Total Miles: 713.31
Total Drinks: 684.50
Average Miles: 3.92 per day
Average Drinks: 3.76 per day
High Mileage: 9.41 on January 9th
High Drinks: 21 on June 8th (Dogfish Head Brewpub day... yikes!)
Best month: June, 132.55 miles for a 4.42 average
Worst month: March, 98.32 miles for a 3.17 average
Most drinks: June, 138 drinks for a 4.6 average (that Delaware trip did NOT help!)
Least drinks: February, 92.5 drinks for a 3.19 average
What I've really learned is that it takes some effort for me to get more than about 2 miles per day.  On a typical work day I'll get around 1 mile and I might get another one just doing regular activities in the evening, but anything past that requires an effort to get out and walk the dogs, or run the lakes, or even get on the elliptical for a bit if the weather is bad.  As I've gone on I realized that 4 miles is really the goal for me to stay ahead of the drinking.   I've average over 4 miles per day during April, May, and June and it has helped me maintain a pretty steady lead of 20-30 miles over the drinks consumed despite some fun weekends and beer festivals.   As of now I'm about 14 miles short of a 4-mile overall average, so the next goal is going to be to reach that number, and then maintain it.  

As far as weight loss goes, I've seen a drop of about 10 pounds since the start of the year, and now I'm back on the Couch to 5K plan on hoping to see a few more come off!  

Cheers everyone, and be sure to wave if you see me walking around the lakes.