Surprise, Surprise, or, Patrick Uses the Same Hulk Hogan Picture Twice in One Blog…

I’m starting off a Benedict Beer Blog post talking about beer.

I know.  I’m surprised too, brother!

I drank a few good beers today.

I was at C’est Cheese in Port Jefferson this afternoon.  I ordered a glass of Grimm Artisinal Ales Rainbow Dome.

Just look at it.  Rainbow Dome is a hazy, golden, juicy, gorgeous looking beer.  This is a dry-hopped, oak aged wild/sour beer, brewed with apricots.  I can’t stop looking at this picture.  It’s unbelievably CRUSHABLE at 5%ABV.

One sniff and you’re smacked in the face by fruit and citrus (this is dry-hopped with El Dorado, Cascade, and Columbus).  Taste is tart, lemon zest, mango, peach, apricot.  It’s not too acidic and the mouthfeel is creamy.  If it wasn’t too hard to come by, I would make this my summer go-to brew.  Throw me poolside, on a shaded recliner (is that a thing?  I think I could be a millionaire), with a glass of this.  Heaven.

I sat down at C’est Cheese to write today, but that went out the window.  A minute or two after I ordered, Bryan, a fellow C’est Beer member (it’s $20 for the membership and you get discounts on draft beer, and special bottles and cans), who we had met a few weeks back, sat down, and we chatted about our mutual Long Island beer friends, Matt and Lauri from Moustache Brewing Company (go back and read my love letter to these two cuties, if you haven’t!). 

What’s amazing is that everyone who meet Matt and Lauri talk about how passionate they are, and what amazing beer they’re making.  What’s interesting is, in every conversation I have about them, their passion is always mentioned first.  I think that’s why Holly and I gravitated towards them when we lived out here, because they are hard working people who laid it all on the line to do what they’re passionate about, and that is so admirable.  Ok, I’m gushing again.

Bryan and I also discussed my trip to Boston with Holly, and the amazing, juicy IPAs coming out of the Northeast.  He often travels to Tree House Brewing Company to pick up their insanely out of control juice bomb IPAs (as well as their top of the heap stouts).  This dude is all about beer, and all about community, so I’m so glad we got to spend an hour or so chatting.

I also ordered a Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union, an India Pale Lager from this Lager-only brewery in Framingham, Massachusetts.  This is a lager brewed with “classic American hops” (it doesn’t list which ones, but I’m sure the C hops, like Cascade and Columbus, are in there).  What I love about India Pale Lagers, or IPLs, is that the malt balances out the hops, so it finishes with a smooth malty sweetness that you find in a great lager.  I’m sad Holly and I didn’t make it to this brewery, because I don’t believe I give lagers enough credit (Brooklyn Brewery and Sam Adams Brewery are really the only two lagers I will see on a regular basis), and from reviews I’ve read and hearing them talk on podcasts, these guys have perfected the style and are taking it to the next level.  Cheers to them!

Last weekend, for Fathers Day, we bought my Dad a few beers, one was Central Waters Brewing Company Rye Barrel Aged Chocolate Porter, and the other, a Great Divide Brewing Company Chocolate Oak-Aged Yeti Imperial Stout.  Dad had a little left over of the Yeti (he has yet to open the Porter), so I poured an ounce or two into a wine glass to try it.  

It poured out viscous and jet-black.  Smells like you’ve just walked into a chocolate shop, like sweet oak and bakers chocolate.  Taste is similar, it envelops your mouth and evokes flavors of bitter chocolate, dark roasted coffee, with a little heat on the back end from the addition of cayenne pepper.  What a fantastic beer.  Be careful, all you out there in Internetland, this baby clocks in at 9.5%, so, as rapper Iced Cube would say, “prior to wrecking yourself, please check yourself.” (I’m 99% sure that’s right.)

Later in the evening, we went to my Grandparents’ house in Port Jeff Station, and I drank…  A Bud Light.  Yup.  

“One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong…”

Choicest hops (sure…), Best Barley Malt (you know it ain’t the best because they’re telling you it’s the best) and RICE?

I’m just as surprised as you, brother.
Why rice?  I’m still not really sure.  What I’ve heard forever is that it’s cheaper, and you don’t become a multi-billion dollar company by using expensive ingredients, I guess.  But, Anheuser-Busch’s website says it’s more expensive, and helps give the beer a lighter, crisper taste.  So who knows.

So yeah, I drank one of these tonight.  I drank one of these because, when your 87 year old Grandpa, who’s dealing with a particularly nasty bout of skin cancer, says “Beer man!  Have a beer with your Grandpa!”, you pop open that ice cold brew and drink it with a couple of slices of pizza.  I could say that this was the best beer of the day (it wasn’t), but pizza, a cold beer, and conversation with family always makes for an amazing experience.  Also, it was like 72 degrees outside, so that didn’t hurt, either.

Poolside dinner with a…  Beer?

Yeah I threw cold cheese on that slice because TREAT YO’SELF!
My Aunt Mary said to me at dinner, “Patrick, you’re going to be so mad at me.  All I drink is Coors Light.”  I prepared in my head some pilsners she could drink instead (Victory Brewing Prima Pils and Sixpoint The Crisp stick out), and I said “I can give you a few alternatives.” And she responded “But I don’t want any!” And I said “That’s ok.  That’s the whole point of my blog, is you should drink what you like.  Beer should be fun.”

I don’t like that Anheuser-Busch, Miller-Coors, etc. are trying to run smaller breweries, like our dear ones at Moustache, out of town, and are buying up Craft Breweries like crazy, but I’m not going to pontificate or force my Aunt to change her beer choice at an awesome dinner with family.  I might pick up a six pack of Prima Pils at the next party, and have her try it, but I’m certainly not going to spoil anyone else’s experience if they’re not interested.  I drink Goose Island.  I drink Lagunitas (who are in partnership with Heinekin), and I drink Ballast Point (who are in partnership with Constellation Beer, who produce Corona).   I don’t think, if you’re having fun with it, you should have to apologize for what you like to drink.  If you can change someone’s mind with an experience, it’s much better than telling them what NOT to drink.

Anheuser-Busch needs to apologize if they change their name to America, though.  That’s for sure.  Because that’s absolute nonsense.

Till next week!  Cheers!

Happy Fathers Day! Or, How I Turned My Dad Into a Stout Monster!

Happy Father’s Day!  I’m temporarily changing the name of this blog to the Benedict DAD Blog, so I can talk about my DAD.

10517553_846067222815_7651413625099699257_nLook at these handsome fellas!

11885195_966783616195_6710537173623158056_nSilliness on Journey Into Imagination in Epcot, Walt Disney World

11927488_10153666328678793_3504356497854311776_oDad and Holly intensely trying to defeat the evil Emperor Zurg on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin in Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World.

My Dad, Chris “MusicDktr” Benedict, is simply a fantastic human being.  He’s a quiet guy, until you get to know him.  He’s funny as hell, and sometimes you’ll only hear it if you’re sitting right next to him.  My Uncle Rod says he’s the funniest person he knows, and I can’t dispute that.  

My Grandma Dottie, on the left, Uncle Rod in the middle, and my Dad, with a Walkman, on the right.

He’s a natural comedian (I believe that having taught music to elementary school-aged children for 35 years sort of forces you to be a comedian), and I think I wouldn’t have been half as good at Improv if I didn’t get my humor from my parents.

Sometimes, I’ll walk around my apartment making strange noises with my mouth, and I’ll wonder to myself how I got so…  Special (read: Weird).  Then, I think back to when I was a child, and my sister Jessica and I would have back to back music lessons, Jess was learning the violin and I was learning to play cello (it never panned out for me, unfortunately, because Little Cello Boy Patrick had tiny hands, not unlike Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.  Ooh, check it out!  I just used topical, political humor!).  We would sit with my Dad while we waited for the other to be done with their lesson, and my Dad brought this notebook with him and would doodle all over it, and if I recall correctly, on most pages, would write “EKI EKI EKI EKI EKI ZUM PANG!  ZOO WOMB PANG NIWOOMB!!”  This is his favorite nonsensical phrase from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, his favorite movie.

(I texted my Dad to make sure that I was correct about Monty Python and the Holy Grail being his favorite movie, and this was our exchange…)

IMG_0599What can I say, we’re students of comedy.

So yeah, I get my weird humor from my Dad (My Mom, Eileen absolutely contributes to this, as well!). 

But, this is a blog about beer, right?

My Dad’s been a wine drinker, for as long as I’ve known him (which, if my calculations are correct, is forever).  My parents used to host wine tastings at our house, they have a wine club, Wine By Joe, where they order wine in bulk at a discount from their friend (the aforementioned Joe), so their wine rack is always stocked up.  Holly and I always try and find wine-specific gifts for them for Anniversaries, Birthdays, etc. and I think the present that gets the most use is a small wine fridge we bought that they keep in their living room, which they keep stocked with delicious white wines.

So, for all the time I’ve known him, my Dad had always been a wine drinker.  The first instance I remember seeing the little “stout sparkle” in his eyes was at the Third Avenue Ale House, about two years or so ago.  We were out with my Uncle Rod (you know, that shirtless guy in the picture above?), who lives right around the corner (sucks to live around the corner from a delicious craft beer bar with amazing food, doesn’t it, Rod?).  Dad ordered a Founders Brewing Company Breakfast Stout, 8.3% ABV, brewed with flaked oats, bitter chocolate, and coffee.  He was hooked!  The monster was growing inside him…  A chocolate-y, coffee-y, roasty, sweet, delicious monster.

I don’t think any of us thought Dad would turn into a beer man, but he got a taste for the Breakfast Stout, and found out that his local Beer Distributer, Port Jeff Beverage, thanks to owner Bruce Bezner, had enough stocked away to last for quite a while (Founders releases Breakfast Stout only from September-December, but I still see it on shelves around NYC and on Long Island).  He now enjoys a Breakfast Stout (or similar) instead of a glass of wine.

He sends pictures, too, like this:

Or this

Check out that Cantaloupe!

And if I happen to be enjoying a stout, I’ll text him back…

Evil Twin Brewing Imperial Biscotti Break, in my top 2 Non-Barrel-Aged Imperial Stouts (Alesmith Speedway Stout is my #1).  This is bursting with flavors of chocolate, coffee, but also vanilla, and almond.  It’s like drinking coffee after you’ve dunked a biscotti into it.  Unreal.

One night, I was over at Uncle Rod’s (on the rare occasion I visit him on the Upper East Side and we DON’T go to the Third Avenue Ale House) and, we just so happened to be drinking some Breakfast Stout, so I texted him this.

A glorious sight!

What have I created??!?!?!!  A monster!

I’m actually thrilled.  I’m thrilled because, I started this blog to write about my experiences with beer.  Sometimes, the beer itself steps aside and you focus on what’s in front of you; where you are, who you’re with, and you’re living in the experience.  I’m so glad that this simple, amazing tasting brew brought my Dad into the world of Craft Beer.

I look forward to our Lunches and Dinners at C’est Cheese in Port Jefferson, because Joe Ciardullo (who is also a Dad!  Look at me, keeping with the theme!)  has such a passion for not only cheese (which is absolutely our favorite food), but for Craft Beer.  Joe’s always got Breakfast Stout on the menu (thanks, Joe!), but Dad’s branching out and will often try something new.  He loves dark beers.  He’ll always try a sip of whatever IPA, Saison, or Sour  Holly and I are drinking, but he’s got a taste for the coffee and chocolate bitterness offered by Porters or Stouts.  My Mom, too, will try a sip of any beer I give her, and share in the experience.  From what she’s tasted, she loves the flavors of Saisons, Lambics and sour Goses, or anything with fruit in it!  I’m so glad to be able to share these beer experiences with my family and friends.

I never really knew the difference between a Porter and a Stout.  I looked it up a few months ago, and found this article.

Most people say it’s the type of barley used, but this is a fascinating read into why it’s more complicated than that.  From the article, “All stouts are types of porter.  But not all porters are stouts.  Only the stronger ones.”

When I was out in California, I stopped in a little unassuming liquor store on the way to dinner with my roommate Ali.  We were browsing the shelves and fridges, when I saw two bottles of Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout with a shiny beacon of light behind them, as if sent down from the heavens above.  This is a Bourbon Barrel Aged version of their Breakfast Stout.  At 12% ABV, it picks up flavors from the bourbon barrel, like oak, caramel, and vanilla.  It’s smooth as hell, with not a lot of heat even though the ABV is so high.

My friend Justin had requested I bring back a Russian River Brewing Pliny the Elder back with me, as he had done when he went to California.  I didn’t have the chance to make it up to Russian River, and missed out on the bottles distributed near the hotel I stayed in.  I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to pick up one for Justin, and one for my Dad.


Long story short, Dad’s hooked on Bourbon Barrel Aged Stouts now!  As rare as the KBS was, I couldn’t find any more here in NY.  I suggested New Holland Brewing Company Dragon’s Milk Stout, as it’s one of the best readily available Bourbon Barrel Stouts, and Port Jeff Beverage is stocked up on them.

What my parents’ fridge looks like now…

Look at this guy!  Boulder Brewing Company Shake Chocolate Porter.  Like father, like son!

I texted him this a couple of weeks ago.  Cheers to Moustache Brewing Company for the awesome teku glass!

Last weekend, we brought him two cans of the Awake Coffee Porter we picked up from Night Shift Brewing Company in Everett, Massachusetts.  A lower ABV porter packed with unbelievable coffee, chocolate, and malt sweetness.  This is an unbelievable beer.

The label art is gorgeous, as well.

What Sunday dinners usually look like now.

It’s so cool to see my Dad so into craft beer, and I’m so happy he likes to share his experiences with me even when we’re not together.  I’m glad I was able to be a part of his craft beer story, and look forward to what beer he’s going to fall in love with next!

Happy Fathers Day, to The Stout Monster himself, Chris “MusicDktr” Benedict, and all the other Fathers out there!


Smooth as Tennessee Whiskey…

“Of emotions, of love, of breakup, of love and hate and death and dying, mama, apple pie, and the whole thing. It covers a lot of territory, country music does.” -Johnny Cash

Holly and I took a quick trip down to Nashville, TN to attend the wedding of our dear friend, and Holly’s former roommate, Sara, and her fiancé JP.

We hadn’t seen Sara in a few years, as she moved to Nashville shortly after we got married (March of 2011), and then down to Dallas, TX.  I had met JP only once (I believe), but when we first got to chatting, it was like we were old friends.

Reflecting back on our short time there, it seems the city of Nashville is like that, as well.  Everyone we met, from our AirB&B hosts, to boot store salespeople (you bet Holly got a pair of boots!), to Sara and JP’s friends, and even friends we haven’t seen in several years, welcomed us with open arms.

Mister Hat’s Boots!

Look at those cute little boots!

We arrived on Saturday afternoon, and took a Lyft ($5 off coupon, babaaaaaay!) to our AirB&B in East Nashville.  We met Kat, one of the owners of the house, who was lovely, and got us acquainted with the space.  As we unpacked, and realized that our idea of Lyfting around town all weekend was going to be way more expensive than we realized (it was $20 to get from the airport to the B&B, even with the coupon), we looked into renting a car, and found a deal for a compact car for $35.  So, we Lyfted right back to the airport, and still spent less money than we would have if we relied on Uber and Lyft.  I don’t regret our rides to and fro the airport, though, as our drivers were very knowledgeable and friendly, offering advice on where to go and specifically, where to eat.  We did NOT starve.

First thing we did once we got our car (which, by the way, they upgraded to a pretty SWEET SUV.  Holly kept referring to it as her “Truck”, which is super cute), was head over to Centennial Park, in Downtown Nashville, to meet up with Sara and catch some free music.  We found a parking spot, got out of the Truck (That’s what I’m gonna call it from now on, too) and were taken aback by this massive stone building in the middle of the park.


I texted my coworker, David (who grew up in Nashville and had sent me a number of recommendations of things to do there).  He said “The Parthenon!  I love that place!”  Living in Queens, we have a lot of old buildings/structures that have been abandoned since the World’s Fair, so I thought this was similar.

We walked up the large steps in the front of the building, and the large brass doors were locked, so we shrugged, and continued our walk around the park.  It was beautiful from the outside, and Sara and Jenna (one of Holly’s classmates from AMDA, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy here in NYC) were meeting us shortly, so we decided to move on.

A smart man once said, “Good things are often stumbled upon, when in search of the nearest restroom…”  And I am that smart man.

There were restrooms underneath The Parthenon, and nature was calling, so we both stepped inside, only to find that the restrooms were at the entrance to the MUSEUM(!!!)!  We love museums!  We answered nature’s call, paid our admission fee, and stepped into the museum.  As it turns out, The Parthenon in Nashville is a full-scale replica of The Parthenon in Athens, and was built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition.  Inside are paintings from 19th and 20th Century Artists, as well as photographs from the Exposition, the building of The Parthenon, etc.  This is why Nashville is called “The Athens of The South”, but you probably already knew that.

Oh yeah, also inside the museum?  AN UNBELIEVABLY HUGE REPLICA OF THE STATUE OF ATHENA HOLDING A TINY STATUE OF NIKE (god of Victory, also, I’m legally obliged to write “Just Do It” each time I write the word Nike “Just Do It”) AND HOLDING A GIANT SHIELD WITH A WACKY FACE ON IT AND ALSO A GIANT SERPENT.  It’s WILD.  And I’m sorry for all the caps.  But just look at this thing.

Athena and Nike “Just Do It”
A massive shield with a wacky face

A normal-sized Holly for scale.

It was WILD.

After our walk through the park and the museum, we had built up a powerful thirst.  And, this is a Beer Blog, lest ye forget (and by “lest ye forget” I mean “I should probably write about beer…”), so the only provision that could quench our thirst was a fine local ale!  David had told me about Yazoo Brewery, located right in Downtown Nashville.  They had a booth set up outside the free concert, so we grabbed two of their Hop Perfect IPAs, and sat down at a picnic table just off the side of the stage.  A band called The Mowglis was playing (I think I had heard one or two of their songs), and we weren’t terribly interested in them, but wanted to just relax and enjoy the warm weather and cool beers.

Yazoo Brewing Hop Perfect IPA, 5.7% ABV, malt forward, with some citrus from the hops. I gave it 3.5/5 on Untapped.  Totally refreshing!

We ended up meeting and chatting with a local retired couple who usually walk to Centennial Park for the music, beer and wine, and the food trucks.  They were so excited to talk about their city, and find out where we were from and what we were doing.  We chatted with them for about 15 minutes before Sara and Jenna joined us.  We decided to drive over to The Pharmacy, a burger and craft beer bar in East Nashville (just a mile or 2 from our AirB&B).  As we waited for our table, I enjoyed an Against The Grain 35k Milk Stout. At 7%, this is a higher ABV milk stout (they usually hit between 4 and 5%), and I got notes of chocolate and coffee, with a sweetness from the milk.  

An artsy photograph of my Against The Grain 35k Milk Stout

Against the Grain is from Louisville, KY, but are distributed in New York, and I’d had their fantastic Citra Ass Down (amazing name) IPA. These guys are making great beer and don’t take themselves seriously.  Check them out!

We met JP’s sister Emily and her daughter (and flower girl) Kayleigh, and sat down for dinner.  This is what I ate.

Heart attack?  More like fart attack! Holy moly, the bathroom didn’t know what it had coming!  Gross.

This was a beef stroganoff burger with tots.  It was out of control.  David had warned me that he didn’t like the bun, as it is doughy, and it didn’t bother me much, but it was quite soggy from all the juice and the sour cream.  Real messy, but real good.  The tots were ok, I’m totally spoiled with the amazing Tetris Tots at Barcade in Chelsea, NYC, so these don’t compare.  The beer!  Founders Brewing Company Rubaeus, a tart, sweet, low ABV raspberry ale, which was a lovely complement to the heavy, creamy, meatburger.  We definitely didn’t starve.

We headed over to 3 Crow Bar, one of the 3 bars in Nashville that still allow smoking indoors.  I had a Coffee IPA from New Heights Brewing Company, which was tasty (like an espresso with lemon peel twist), but it was really hard to enjoy in a cloud of cigarette smoke.  On a side note, the bouncer looked like a young Marc Maron, so it had that going for it!

After an amazing night’s sleep on the soft AirB&B bed, Holly and I decided on Breakfast at Barista Parlor!  This is a small coffee chain around Nashville that David touted as having one of the best biscuit sandwiches in Nashville, also amazing coffee!  I had El Eden, which had flavors of dried pineapple and plums.  It was fantastic.  The biscuit sandwiches were absolutely unreal (we didn’t starve), and Holly said it was the best biscuit sandwich she’s ever eaten.

Dat biscuit tho.
Gorgeous, warehouse-like open space with cool table markers!
Delicious coffee.

After breakfast, it was off to Broadway, which, as my Mom described it, consists of bar, bar, boot store.  Bar, bar, boot store.  She wasn’t kidding.

Bar, bar, boot store!

It was time to get Holly some boots!  As some of you know, Holly Kay used to be a DJ on a Country Music Radio Station on Long Island.  She was laid off, as they told her the station was moving in a different direction.  (They now have all male DJs.).  Holly was 100% the best thing about that radio station.  She had a huge following of listeners who would come to her live events just to spend time with her.  (You should see her line dance!). Anyway, Holly had a few pairs of boots, and threw them away out of spite (which she regrets now, and I regret not stopping her), but if there’s any place to get boots, it’s gotta be in Nashville!  (See above picture of those cute boots!)

We stopped at a bar (because bar, bar, boot store!) called Rippy’s for some live country music, and a beer, before heading back to get ready for the wedding.

I drank a Falls City Beer Hipster Repellant IPA, outta Louisville, KY.  Another easy drinking, malt forward IPA.  I’m spoiled with the hop forward IPAs from New York and New England, but it says something about your beer if you can make a nicely balanced IPA, because not everyone loves being punched in the face with every sip.  

Holly had a Yazoo Brewing Hefeweizen, which was outrageously refreshing, with flavors of citrus, banana, and clove, and went down “smooth as Tennessee Whiskey”, which, coincidentally, was being sung as she drank it.

​Tennessee Whiskey…

We headed back to the AirB&B, got ready, and headed to Sara and JP’s wedding, at the Buchanan Log House, a gorgeous, outdoor location just a few miles from the airport.  It was an absolutely gorgeous, intimate, celebration of their love for one another.  We had a great time seeing Raj again (after about 7 years), and meeting Glenna, Tripp and Amy, and Alan and Jolinda.  It was a small wedding, so to be able to meet and share stories about Sara and JP, how everybody knew each other, made the evening even more special.

 And the icing on the cake?  JP’s Groomsman Nate works for Fanatic Brewing Company, in Knoxville, TN.  He provided the beer for the reception!  The first I tried was the Tennessee Blonde.

Definitely a warm weather brew, 5% ABV, light, with grassy and citrus hops with a sugary sweet malt backbone.  You got a lawn to mow?  Peep this ish.
I also got to try the Fanatic Pale Ale.  This was a classic pale, malt forward with some orange citrus from the hops, another crushable, outdoor drinking brew, that paired perfectly with the food, provided by Edley’s BBQ, and the dance floor grooves from Sara and JP’s wedding playlist (Which ranged from Queen Bey to Luke Bryan).  

If you ever find yourself in Knoxville (and we certainly will now that Sara and JP are moving there!), stop by Fanatic Brewing Company!

We stayed until the bitter end of the wedding, chatting with our new friends and helping with clean-up, and we decided to join Raj and Glenna at The Basement East, a music venue in East Nashville (read: Brooklyn) where Raj’s friend Emma was hanging out after performing.  We walked into the venue to the sweet, sweet sounds of a drone metal band, so we ordered our beer and headed outside.  Both Raj and I had let our bow ties down (as one does not have a full range of dance moves if one’s bow tie is still tied), and Holly and Glenna wanted to wear them, so Emma snapped this amazing shot…

Those damn hipsters.

I enjoyed a Mayday Brewery Old Salem, a kettle sour.  5.4% ABV, made with rye, which gave it a sweet, spicy flavor in addition to the tart sour.  Hopped with Falconer’s Flight.  Funky as hell, and I loved it!

We had all decided on Brunch the next morning at AMOT – A Matter of Taste, a completely gluten free spot that had KILLER food, and a great, local beer list, and also, our new friend Tripp works there!  I had chicken with cornbread waffles, and a jalapeño maple syrup (you heard that right).  

We didn’t starve.
I paired this amazing brunch with Southern Prohibition Brewing Co. Soul Glo Saison, fresh on draft from their brewery in Hattiesburg, MS.  This is a delicious, 8.4%ABV (well masked), saison, with notes of fresh squeezed lemon and orange juice, banana, and spices.  Great substitute for a Mimosa!  (Although, they did have 3 dollar Mimosas…  You should go there.)

From there, we walked around some shops with Sara and JP, and Raj and Glenna, and headed back to the airport.  

I would love to come back to this city and explore some more, and I used that Johnny Cash quote in the beginning of this post, because, like Country music, I felt that Nashville also covers a lot of territory, and we only just scratched the surface.  This city had such personality, and the folks we met (or reconnected with) treated us with such love and hospitality, I won’t think twice before going back.  Thanks so much to Sara and JP for allowing us the opportunity to share in your love, we truly appreciated it.

Until next time!


Our Quick Trip to Boston, or I’m So Glad I Locked That Down…

The other day, Holly said to me, “We need to do more Beer Adventures so you have more fodder for your Blog!”  I told this to my coworker Kevin, and he said “Did you look down at your wedding ring and say ‘I made the right decision?'”  I responded, “Yeah, I’m so glad I locked that down…”

Holly and I are continuing our 2016 by finding more opportunities to do something different.  We live in the greatest, worst, dirtiest, prettiest, smelliest, most expensive city in the world.  This year started off with a bang (literally) when our ceiling collapsed, at 12:01am on January 1st.  (Ok, I don’t know exactly when it collapsed, as we were out at Singlecut Brewery with Alex, Shelbie, Ryan, Erica, and Rafa for the quietest, most amazing New Years celebration we’ve ever had.  So it may have happened in 2015.  We’ll never know.).  Things could definitely be worse, so we’ve been making a conscious effort to be present in the moment, and venture out and explore as much as possible.

“Hi.” -2016


I got a text from Holly the other day, as we had the next day off together.  “Wanna drive to Vermont tonight and crash at a B&B and spend all day touring breweries? Or we could do Upstate NY.”  I thought that Vermont was a bit far for an overnight, so I did a little research, and we decided on Boston!  We left right after work, and as I got onto the Whitestone Bridge, Holly asks, “Can I make us a playlist for our ride?”  I said “Of course!”  She responds “THIS IS GOING TO BE LIKE JOCK JAMS.”  And like Jock Jams, it was.  We got to hear a freaking non-radio edit of Chumbawumba’s Tub Thumping.  Absolutely not-to-be-missed.  Also, it made the nearly 4 hour drive go by in a flash.

We had gift certificates for, so we booked a quaint little, definitely not haunted, Bed & Breakfast in Brookline, MA, called Coolidge Corner.

Sitting room on the second floor of our (DEFINITELY NOT HAUNTED) Bed & Breakfast

Room 16.  That bed was amazingly comfortable!!

A tiny iron burn on the hardwood that definitely wasn’t left there by a tiny ghost boy trying to iron his ghost clothing.

Cool old dresses, that way the ghosts have something to wear as they galavant the hallways whilst we’re asleep. (Because who wants to see a naked ghost?)

A Nest thermostat to cover up the fact that the temperature changes are actually caused by the ghost of this Cherub Boy.

In actuality, I didn’t see one ghost (not even a naked one), and frankly, I’m disappointed.  Minus one star on Trip Advisor.

We absolutely loved this place, and would definitely stay there again.  The staff is wonderful, and the bed was really comfy!

Boston is home to a ton of breweries, but the ones we decided we would try to hit in our limited time were: Sam Adams Brewing, and Trillium Brewing, which are inside the city, and Night Shift Brewing, and Lord Hobo Brewing Co., which are just North of the city.  The long shot, though, was Tree House Brewing.  Their brewery is in Monson, in Western Massachusetts.  I wasn’t sure we’d be able to make that one, as it was an hour and a half from Boston, but it was a possibility, as (I thought) they were (sort of) on the way home.  More on that later.

So basically, we tore through Boston.  We got up early and had an amazing Breakfast spread (because what’s a Bed & Breakfast without Breakfast?  I’ll tell you what.  It’s Just Bed.). We headed out to Sam Adams Brewery to catch one of their first tours of the day.  Holly and I agreed this tour was our favorite part of the trip.  Sam Adams is the second largest Craft Brewery in the United States (Yuengling Brewery is the largest).  They make a delicious lager, but you know that.  Their other offerings are hit or miss, but they’ve been around for 32 years, and are still 100% privately owned and going strong.


A goober in front of Sam Adams Brewery.  Photo Credit to Holly Kay!

The facility is absolutely gorgeous.  The exterior of their buildings is a dark, reddish brown brick, combined with the cobblestone streets on their property, evoked a feeling of Old-World Germany.  We got our tickets for the tour, and wandered around the lobby, waiting for the tour to start.  (BTW, Tours are free!  They ask for a $2 donation, all of which goes to local Boston Charities!). Our tour guide was named Tom, and he was so passionate about the brand, and about beer in general!  Super well spoken and articulate about the ingredients that go into beer and the brewing process in general.


Tom, mid sentence.  Photo Credit to Holly Kay!

We got to taste different types of barley (they get darker as they roast them for longer, and the more they’re roasted, the darker your beer is!  SCIENCE!!).

We also got to do a HOP APPRAISAL!!  (How do I get a job where all I do are hop appraisals??). A hop appraisal is where you take a handful of hops (in this case, Hallertau), rub your hands together to release the hop oils and aromas, and then smell your hands!!  This is one of the only acceptable time smelling your hands in public is appropriate (in addition to, say, Lush or Bath & Body Works, where smelling your hands is absolutely acceptable, and in fact, encouraged!).  I sniffed the hop flowers before grinding them up, and they smelled like sweetened iced tea, as I rubbed my hands together, and smelled again, they released flavors of lemon citrus, dank pine, and grapefruit.  If I could put this scent in one of those little tree air fresheners, I would.  (Is this a thing already?  If not, I’m going to be a millionaire.)

IMG_2153 Photo Credit to Holly Kay!

Holly Holding Hops!  Photo Credit to Holly Kay!IMG_2162

“Quit smelling your hand, ya weirdo!” -Someone, probably.  Photo Credit to Holly Kay!

After tasting the malt and appraising the hops, we got to see the brew house itself.  Tom articulated the brewing process, from mashing in, which is where you add water to the grain to suck up all that sweet, biscuity sugar to make wort, which is non-fermented beer, to boiling and adding the hops, to adding yeast for the fermentation process.  Yeast are really cool, you guys.  They’re alive!  And they take a dive into the beer, chow down on sugar and oxygen, and they fart out carbon dioxide and alcohol.  It’s amazing.  So next time you take a sip of that delicious craft beverage, remember, you’re drinking yeast farts.  Malty, hoppy, yeasty fart water.  (SCIENCE!!)  But, I digress…

IMG_0111 The Brewhouse!  Photo Credit to Holly Kay!

After chatting about the brewing process, we went into the tasting room, and learned how to professionally taste a beer.  When you’re doing a professional tasting, you use 3 out of 5 senses:

Sight: observe the color of the beer.  Is it filtered, or unfiltered?  How much/what color is the foam head?

Smell: Swirl the beer around in the glass.  What do you smell?  Malt will smell like bread, or biscuits, or sugary sweetness.  Hops will smell like pine, or citrus, or grass, or tea, depending on the type of hop.  Yeast, we learned from Tom, will give a beer like a Hefeweizen (a German Wheat Beer) aromas and flavors of Banana or bubble gum.

Taste: Take a sip of the beer, and keep it on the front of your tongue for two seconds.  Swish it around and swallow.  Then, take another sip and swallow it like a shot, straight down the gullet.  You should get different flavors on the front and back of the palate.  (SCIENCE!!)

As I’ve said in previous blogs, if you don’t do this, that’s ok!  You shouldn’t have to put that much thought into each time you gather for a drink with friends, but sometimes it’s fun to sit and appreciate the hard work these Brewers go through to make good beer.  At Sam Adams, almost the entire brewing process is automated, but all small Craft Brewers, like my friends Matt and Lauri at Moustache Brewing Company, have to sit, wait, stir, and watch their beer for hours.  So much hard work and dedication goes into it.

In the tasting room, we got to sample Boston Lager (you all know how this tastes), Summer Ale (ehhhh…) and Oat Stout (YUM!).  The Oat Stout was an 8% ABV Oatmeal Stout that has not been released to the public.  It was roasty from the malts, with flavors of chocolate and coffee.  We chatted with Tom for a few minutes, and Holly asked if she could take a picture of the two of us, so, here ya go!


Just two guys, with some beer!  Photo Credit to Holly Kay!

And, like any good theme park, you exit through the Gift Shop!  Holly bought a Sam Adams tee, and asked that I take her picture in front of this Rebel Raw sign (she was feeling reaaaaal good after a few tasting glasses of that Oatmeal Stout)

What a cutie!  Hot cha cha!

Next, it was off to Congress Street, home of Trillium Brewing Company.


This is a quick, grab-your-bottles-and-go, shop.  No tasting room at this location(which is sad), but they do have a location just outside the city that has a small tasting room, and there are bars and restaurants throughout Boston that get their beer on tap, including The Publick House (which, coincidentally is about a mile from our B&B). There, I drank the Double Dry Hopped Scaled IPA, which poured like hazy pineapple juice and tasted like a pineapple dream.  (What is a pineapple dream?  I don’t know, I just made that up.  What does a pineapple dream taste like?  Let’s just say it was like melted Dole Whip).  Holly and I picked out a few bottles (Artaic, a double IPA brewed with honey, Upper Case, a double IPA with Mosaic, Galaxy, Citra, and Columbus hops, and Free Rise, a saison dry-hopped with mosaic) grabbed them, and went!  We stopped next door at Row 34 (their slogan is “If we could eat oysters and drink beer for every meal period, we probably would. Professionals Only.”  I’d like to say that we’re professionals.) We wanted a bite to eat and a half pint of Night Shift Whirlpool Pale Ale.  This is a low ABV Pale Ale that is pure golden in color, unfiltered, and tastes like crisp, citrusy pineapple and grapefruit.  This comes in cans, and is available around Boston.  Pick up a 4 pack of you have the opportunity.  Also, we had some unbelievable seafood; half of a giant lobster and some amazingly fresh oysters.

Aerial view of the GINORMOUS Half Lobster

The lobster was HUGE.

Small haul from Trillium!

Night Shift Whirlpool Pale Ale!

With that quick taste of Whirlpool, it was time to head up to Night Shift Brewery!  While the tour of Sam Adams was amazing, this was our favorite overall brewery.  It’s in a giant warehouse, with a beautiful, industrial looking tasting room, with the coolest looking flights we’ve ever seen.

Tasting room!

IMG_0191Really awesome wooden flight holder!


We were just north of Boston, right across the street from Teddie Peanut Butter Factory, which was wild, because the smell of freshly roasted peanuts wafted in from one side of the street, while the smell of the bready, malted barley wafted from the other.

There was a separate area in the brew house with free arcade games and cornhole!  (WE LOVE CORNHOLE!).  It doesn’t really matter who won cornhole (it was me) because one of the brewers walked past us and said “You guys are amazing at this.  I’ve never seen anyone play this game so well.”  And our hearts grew three sizes that day!!

IMG_0200 Free arcade games!


Kegs on Kegs on Kegs.
Holly and I were growing tired, but we are intrepid travelers (I was trying to find a witty way to combine “Beer” and “Travelers” into something like “Beerelers”, or how ’bout “Beervelers”?  Neither of those really roll off the tongue, do they?), and we still had places to go!

Our next stop was Lord Hobo Brewing Co., about 20 minutes west of Night Shift.  We arrived at the brewery, whose building looks like a giant castle, with a grey brick facade and a large gate at the entrance.  I couldn’t take a good photo, as the sun was directly behind the building, but it was absolutely massive.

This was an odd tasting room, because they had so much space, but you were unable to buy pints or flights.  They offered free samples, and cans and growlers to-go of their three IPAs, Hobo Life Session IPA, Steal This Can IPA, and BOOM SAUCE (which is an amazing name) double IPA.  I’m not sure if they couldn’t get a license to sell pints on-premises, and don’t get me wrong, the beer is great, all three were classic New England-style juicy hop bombs, and the staff is very friendly, and they have a dog, but the fact that we couldn’t really enjoy the large tasting room made it a bit disappointing.

Delicious IPAs in a MASSIVE, underutilized, space.

So, that’s a lot of breweries, right?  But, like I said before, Holly and I are Beervelers! (That definitely doesn’t work.).  So we looked at the map, and saw that it was about an hour and 30 minutes to Tree House Brewing, and then about 2 hours and 30 minutes from there to our apartment in Jackson Heights.

As it turns out, Tree House wasn’t really “on the way home” as much as it was “in the middle of nowhere”.  It was an absolutely gorgeous drive through the hills of Massachusetts (is that a thing?). Tree House is a Mecca for Beer Geeks who love hops (I fall into both those categories).  But again, overall, Holly and I were a bit disappointed.  We thought it would be a nice way to break up the trip back to New York, stop in and have a taste of some of the best IPAs in the country, maybe have a bite to eat, chat for a little bit, then head home.

I was reading Tree House’s Twitter page to see what beers they were releasing (they release their hoppy IPAs the day they come off the canning line, as hops begin to fade the longer the beer sits in the bottle or can).  So I knew there was going to be a line.  We arrived at the sprawling, farmhouse style building in the middle of nowhere, and were directed to park by employees in red Tree House tee shirts.  We hopped on line with about 100 other people, waiting to purchase their cans and fill their growlers.  We waited in line for about 30 minutes, soaking up the rays of the setting Massachusetts sun, and entered the tasting room.  They weren’t pouring any tastes, only distributing cans for purchase, and filling growlers. Those who wanted growlers filled had to wait an additional 45 minutes to an hour.  Once we got our cans, we packed them up in the car and headed back to New York.  Yes, these guys make unbelievable beer, but we were disappointed in our experience at the brewery, as you couldn’t even enjoy the cans you purchased on property.  They have a beautiful space outdoors with picnic tables and cornhole (CORNHOLE!) but, it appears it’s just for those waiting to get their growlers filled.

Tasting Room and Merchandise at Tree House!


Three Can Release!
IMG_2179 Photo Credit to Holly Kay!IMG_2180

Photo Credit to Holly Kay!IMG_2181

Our disappointmentcertainly won’t stop Beer Lovers from lining up for these liquid masterpieces of beer.  (The beer is worth the wait.)  The facility was beautiful, I only wish we could have spent more time there.  I understand they are opening a new facility, and I hope that they are able to keep up with demand, and create a better on-site beer experience for their customers.

We got home around 10pm, travel weary and with a trunk full of beer!

Absolutely insane.

Our year of adventures continue, and I’m so thankful Holly Kay and I were able to share the experience together on a whim!  Go out and adventure!  Stay in a quaint Bed & Breakfast with ghosts!  Go to a brewery!  Or a vineyard!  Or a museum!  Enjoy the moment, and share your experiences with those around you!  It feels amazing.

Thanks again for reading.