Monday, July 14, 2014

Headed back to the Bluegrass

I'm headed back to the Bluegrass state this week.  I haven't really been back to visit since I left in 2007 with the exception of a very quick trip to pick up my bottles of Maker's Mark when my barrel was ready.

One of my activities while I'm visiting will be to attend the Forecastle Music Festival.  When I mentioned to my friends I will be staying with that I might be coming in, they immediately suggested that we go to Forecastle.  I checked it out online and when I saw the lineup, I was definitely game.

In preparation for the festival and to make sure I didn't miss any great acts, I took advantage of the Forecastle 2014 Lineup playlist on Spotify.  I already knew I wanted to catch Nickel Creek on Sunday, but the rest of my weekend was pretty open.

What surprised me is the number of songs I recognized but had never really associated with who the artist was.  One of these was Jason Isbell - Alabama Pines is a much played song during my workday.  I also discovered a couple of new favorites, including The Soul Rebels (reminds me of Dirty Dozen Brass Band), and Jill Andrews.

Stay tuned for more updates during the weekend.  And if you happen to be attending, be sure and download the Forecastle 2014 App for schedule details, maps and more.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Dogfish Head Brewery Visit

Last week I was in Baltimore for the US Junior Chamber Annual Meeting and TOYA Awards Banquet. While I was in Baltimore, I had a little free time on Friday and I was able to travel to Dogfish Head Brewery located in Milton, DE about a 2 hour drive from my hotel.  I had heard of Dogfish's awesome brews, but sadly they are not available in Iowa.

While I didn't have time to take a tour, I did get a chance to sample several of their amazing beers, and purchase some to bring back.

It was tough to choose only 4 beers to sample, but in the end I chose:

  • Aprihop, is a spring seasonal American IPA with apricots,
  • 60-minute IPA, Dogfish's best selling beer which is continuously hopped for 60 minutes, 
  • 90-minute IPA, this is Dogfish's first beer that was continuously hopped and led to siblings, 60-minute, 75-minute and 120-minute IPAs, and 
  • Chicory Stout, which is only available in draft and was an excellent choice.  I'm a big fan of coffee stouts and the Chicory stout didn't disappoint.

The beers that I picked up to bring home were, 60-minute IPA, Festina Peche, another seasonal brew, which is a Berliner Weisse for that tart flavor that reminded me of the New Glaurus Enigma, and some of the Indian Brown Ale, a cross between American Brown, India Pale Ale, and Scotch Ale.  It was tough to not drink too much of my bounty before I left.

On site at the brewery is also, Bunyan's Lunchbox, a food truck featuring gourmet brats infused with beer.  I tried the Spicy Espresso brat which includes some of the Chicory Stout.  (pictured right)

And thanks to my friend, Tom, who in addition to letting me borrow his car for the trip to the brewery also offered to haul my goodies home.  Because flying home with 18 bottles of beer just doesn't work so well.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Summit Brewery and home brew supply run

A couple of years ago, I started a tradition of running up to the Twin Cities for some IKEA retail therapy.  This year when I went I brought my friend Ryan with and added a few beer stops to the itinerary.

We headed up on Friday night, and even though the forecast said no snow, about an hour outside of Minneapolis, the white stuff started to fly.  We arrived at the hotel safely and got checked in.

When we woke up on Saturday morning, the snow hadn't really stopped and while it was pretty to look at, wasn't as much fun to drive in.  We had made reserverations for a 10am tour at Summit Brewery, which has been one of favorite midwest craft breweries ever since I started getting into craft beers many years ago.

Summit's tour is free and includes 3 - 10 oz samples. #ilovefreebeer  The tour begins in the Ratskeller (German for "council room") with a short presentation on the history of Summitt, which has been making awesome beer since 1986, then we split into two groups and began our tour of the brew operations including the copper brew kettles and brew-house, the fermentation cellar, and the bottle-house.

After our tour was the best part, the samples.  The main beer I was looking forward to trying was the Oatmeal Stout, which is nitrogen carbonated and only available in draught.

The folks at Summit are fun and knowledgeable and I would highly recommend a tour, maybe just not during a snow storm.

Ryan is a home-brewer, and had got me started in home-brewing as well.  After starting our morning with some brews, we then stopped by Northern Brewer and Midwest Supplies to pick up some kits, and other supplies (so we could save on shipping of course, I'm pretty sure we made up for the savings).

I ended up buying three kits, a Spiced Winter Ale from Northern Brewer, Hex Nut Brown Ale and Peace Coffee Java Stout from Midwest Supplies.

After out stops at Northern Brewer and Midwest we stopped by Steel Toe Brewing and sampled a flight of their beers, before grabbing dinner at Five Guys and heading back to the hotel.

Even with the snow, it was a great trip and I look forward to heading back next year.  Maybe even sooner.