Hey Y’all, Check Out These Pictures, Or, Please Don’t Try to Drink This Blog Post…

It’s picture time! I realize I haven’t put up a picture-heavy blog post in a bit, so here’s one coming at’cha!

ALSO: I wrote an article for TigerLyfe Times about Sand City Brewing’s recent Oops! I _____ed My Pants! triple can release! Check that article out over HERE! Thanks for reading!

Radical One from the aforementioned Sand City Brewing. The hop hits keep coming and coming with these guys outta Northport!

#LGM! LIC Beer Project Dutch Kills Kölsch at Citifield! This is my kind of baseball beer! Crisp, malty, fruity and super refreshing!

From Salt House Bar in Galway Ireland! Brouwerij Boon Geuze Mariage Parfait, all the way from Belgium! This beer brought the house down. Tart, funky, dry, and delicious. Absolutely nothing wrong here!

Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co. Particle Pilsner. One of the more hoppy pils’ I’ve had. Bright, crisp citrus is balanced by sweet, cracker like malt. Love it!

A “candid” photograph at Samson’s Birthday party at Greenpoint! Cheers!

Greenpoint Beer & Ale Tremendous. Paired with an, *ahem*, appropriate movie (on VHS, no less!)

My favorite beer of summer, 2017. Carton Brewing Beach, a session Ale with (I believe) Citra hops and orange zest. Bright, beautiful grapefruit and bitter orange, a bit of dankness, but still clean and dry enough and low enough ABV to keep on drinkin’. So, keep on drinkin’!

Also, I’m getting a foot massage whilst I took this photo. So, your opinion is invalid.

Finback x Jacks Abby Spill The Tea IPL. The green tea is a cool addition to the citrus hops and citrus peel, adding a clean, grassy note that’s intriguing. And no need to boil water and risk burning your precious, precious skin. 😘

Singlecut Beersmiths strikes again! Some Cat From Japan Session IPA, and Charlie’s Good Tonight IPA. Both phenomenal beers, and I’m hoping they’ll release them again in the future.

I know, I know, this isn’t beer. But when Holly Kay and I found the Dingle Whiskey Bar tucked away inside Fraunces Tavern down in the Financial District of NYC, we had to stop in and have some Irish Whiskey (at triple the price we paid for it on the Emerald Isle, of course). And it was worth every penny.

Bradco brought this beer back from Michigan. Old Nation Brewing Co. M-43 New England Style IPA. These cats from Williamston, MI have nailed this style, which surprised me. Watch out, New England, Michigan’s coming for you. HARD.

Enjoyed this collaboration by Other Half Brewing and Cloudwater Brewing, Tremendous Ideas. The simple can design also lends this can to take beautiful pictures even when an amateur photographer (me) is behind the camera (iPhone). Also my bed looks super comfy and as I’m writing this, I’m minutes away from hopping into it and drifting into a blissful slumber so, that’s also cool.

This was at Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint. The Hellboy pizza with soppressata picante and Mike’s Hot Honey (yo, MIKE’S HOT HONEY. Who’s this Mike guy? I want to raid his house and take all of his hot honey for my own.). This hot-ass pizza was paired with a Greenpoint Beer & Ale Milk & Honey, a sweet, creamy ale that paired perfectly with the spicy ‘zza, bro.

Threes Brewing SFY (the artist formerly known as SuperF*ckingYawn) IPA, as we prepared for the magical wonder that is the Binky Griptite Orchestra at Threes Greenpoint Location. Binky plays guitar with the Dap Kings, and brought his musician friends to play some amazing 1940s Jazz and R&B and it was absolutely incredible. It was the opposite of SuperF*ckingYawn, but so was this beer, so…

Sometimes, it’s nice to go back to basics. Allagash White, my first Belgian white beer I fell in love with. Simple, refreshing, with notes of orange peel, clove, banana. Sometimes simple is beautiful.

Again, let the hate flow through you. I will combat that hate with Polar Seltzer’s Unicorn Kisses Seltzer. Is it Strawberry Kiwi? We’ll never know. Polar’s been keeping these flavors as mysterious as the mythical beasts on the cans. Damn you, Polar.

Fan favorites Moustache Brewing Co. made this delightful Saison brewed with Lavender, Honey, and Lemon Verbena. They knocked it out of the park, with floral, sweet, banana, and citrus dancing mischievously around the palate, this beer is simply a delight. Love you, Moustache Gang!

Thanks to my dear friend Will Russell, for asking me to be a part of his wedding party. As part of our Groomsmen’s gift, he got us these HEAVY DUTY USS Enterprise Bottle Openers. This is insanely dope and I will use it always. Make it so.

Treehouse Brewing Company, if you don’t know, now you know. Christopher Benedict, if you don’t know, now you know. Get with the times, y’all.

Interboro Spirits & Ales x Pipeworks Brewing Mad Fat! Unicorn. Thanks Bradco for sharing!! Mad Fat! Fluid plus Ninja Vs. Unicorn equals an amazing liquid combo. New York x Chicago, taking over the world.

If you’re not salivating by now, you need to let me know, and I’ll take you out and buy you a beer. So, if you’ve made it this far, and it’s had no effect on you, let me know. The next one’s on me.

Until next time!

Cheers!

Ireland Day 3, or, How I Became An Unofficial Dough Bro By Proxy…

My goodness, Holly Kay and I are photogenic, aren't we?

It doesn't hurt to have the heart of Galway City as the background, though, to be honest.

We spent our third full day in Ireland in Galway City. Our day was filled with shopping, eating, and drinking.

We enjoyed lunch again at The Dough Bros, (you'll remember these guys from Day 1) and this time, we were able to meet and chat with Eugene, one of the owners (or should I say, one of the Bros) about their journey from Food Truck to Pop-Up to an amazing Wood-Fired Pizza restaurant in the heart of Galway City.

Myself and Eugene. Am I a Dough Bro by Proxy? Let's say yes. The ultimate decision will be up to the actual Dough Bros.

Also, I got this great picture of my cousin Molly enjoying her pizza…

This is a fantastic photograph. It belongs in the National Geographic of Pizza. You're welcome.

We did some more shopping and I met Chris Pine, as depicted by the above photo. Mm, he's handsome. We both told each other a joke and were laughing at each other's joke. I think that's clear.

Day 3 was sporadically rainy, but the sun came out a few times which made the roads glisten, which was pretty magical!

We had dinner at Rouge, on Dominick St., right near the beautiful Claddagh river, and this is a photo of a steak, topped with foie gras. I REPEAT. THIS IS A PHOTO OF A STEAK. COVERED IN FOIE GRAS. DO NOT PANIC.

Since we were merely a block away, we ended our evening again at The Salt House, and, along with the Galway Bay Brewery beer we enjoyed, I figured, since I was only 700 miles from Brouwerij Boon, I should take advantage.

Vat 109 is a Geuze (a blend of young and old Lambics) made of 10% new Lambic and 90% old Lambic. The old Lambic was brewed in April of 2014, and aged in a 100 year old oak cask used primarily for Cognac. It was blended with the new Lambic and bottled in April of 2016.

I picked up tart cherries and raspberries, with some funk, followed by some sweetness from the ANCIENT COGNAC BARREL. This was a real treat, shared among family and friends, and was very special. So happy we found it in the fridge at Salt House, singing its sweet siren song of sourful sourness and sweetness. With just a dash of (we want the) funk… (Gotta get dat funk.)

We ended the night with some Traditional Irish music and beer at Carroll's. Here's a video of the end of their wonderful set. Check it out, and let us know what you think!

Next time, you'll get to see our adventure at Galway Bay Brewery, and more!

Thanks for reading!

Cheers!

Mikkeller NYC Coming Soon to CitiField, or, OMG LGM MKLR NYC FTW!

Thanks to my good friend Justin, friend of the Blog, loyal Met fan and member of the 7 Line Army, for sharing this amazing news!

Click HERE for the announcement video from the Orange & Blue Thing show!

Justin enjoying some Galway Bay Brewery Of Foam and Fury IIPA.

Justin was in St. Louis this evening (for a Mets game, of course) and texted me the news.  Needless to say, I began to levitate with excitement like a giant orange and blue balloon.

Long story short, Mikkeller Brewing, which began in 2006 as a Gypsy Brewery (they had no official brew house, brewing on friends’ systems to produce their beer), and has expanded with Bars and Brewpubs worldwide.  There are bars in Copenhagen, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and more, and a partnership brewery with Alesmith in San Diego.

Two Mikkeller exclusive beers for CitiField

Today, Jimmy Raras, Executive Vice President of Mikkeller NYC announced that Mikkeller will be opening a 10,000 sq ft Brewery, Kitchen, and Restaurant with 60 taps (mostly Mikkeller, but there’s bound to be some amazing guest taps) on the 126th street side of CitiField, that will be open year-round.  The goal is to make Willets Point and Flushing a place to come not only during baseball season, but all year.  

Mikkeller Henry Hops IPA

Breweries make great neighbors, and I can only assume Mikkeller will do great things for the Flushing community, and as someone who can be to Flushing in 10 minutes, I’m fully on board.

Mikkeller Say Hey Sally Pils

What do you think?  Are you excited for a new Brewery in Queens?  Do you think the space should have been sold to a more local Brewer? Let us here at Benedict Beer Blog know!

Until next time!  

Cheers!

Ireland Day 2, or, “In The Midnight Hour, We Cried Moher, Moher, Moher.”

It’s not a bad thing to wake up with this view of Galway Bay…

Absolutely breathtaking.

I brought some beer over to Ireland for our Galway friends Alan and Darren, who we had met last November, and Will, who we were supposed to meet but it didn’t align on our last trip.  Why not do a photo shoot over Galway Bay with some amazing American Craft Beer?

Singlecut Beersmiths Heavy Boots of Lead (Rye Barrel Aged) and Jenny Said.

I haven’t had a chance to try the Rye Barrel version of the Heavy Boots, but this imperial stout boasts flavors of vanilla, toasted marshmallow, coffee, and chocolate.

Jenny Said is a beautifully hopped IIPA with notes of tropical and stone fruit, with some dank pine and some sweetness.

Interboro Spirits & Ales may be a newer brewery, but they’re pumping out some of the finest liquids in NYC.  I’ve written about these before, so I’ll spare you the details, but if you’ve had ’em, you know I’m spitting truth, and if you haven’t, you’ll just have to take my word for it.  Hopefully they’ll pump out another batch of Stay G-O-L-D, and I know they release Mad Fat! Fluid on the regz.  Get ’em.

Funky Buddha Last Snow, a coffee coconut Porter that smells like walking into a Dunkin Donuts, and tastes like a delicious cup of coconut coffee.  This is amazing stuff!

After a light breakfast, we headed out on the beautiful scenic drive up to the Cliffs of Moher.  We decided we would eat lunch before walking along the cliffs, so we stopped at Vaughans Anchor Inn, in Liscannor, for a bite and a pint.  

Quaint!

My first pint, and Holly’s first glass, of Guinness! What’s great about Ireland is that EVERY pub offers glasses of beer (half pints), which are perfectly sized for Miss Holly Kay!

I ordered mussels in white wine sauce, and we had some amazing soda bread.  As I went outside to take a photo, I noticed some local beer on the shelf and asked the barkeep about it.  

They were bottles from Western Herd Brewing Co., brewed only about 25 minutes from Liscannor.

I ordered the Blue Jumper IPA, which was nicely balanced, with more herbal, medicinal hop character than the citrus bombs here in the Northeastern US.  This is more of a traditionally styled IPA.  I shared this one with my Uncle Gerard!

And the Cliffs?  Well…

They were gorgeous…

And we’re not so bad ourselves!

Don’t push my Dad, ‘cuz he’s close to the…  EEEEDGE!

Oh, you want Moher?

I’ll give you Moher.  We spent nearly 2 hours walking along the cliffs (close enough to get some great pictures but far enough away that nobody fell off a Cliff of Moher), and stopped for some chocolate at Hazel Mountain Chocolate 🍫!

For dinner, we found ourselves (all 15 of us!) at The Brasserie on the Corner in Galway, which shares its space with Blake’s Bar (which you’ll remember from THIS post). I ate steak (because why wouldn’t you?) and paired it with…

Independent Brewing Connemara IPA.  Another well balanced beer with flavors of citrusy black tea!  Delightful!

And, when in Rome…  Drink Galway Bay Brewery beer!

This was a delightful milk stout with roasted coffee and chocolate.  Another amazing brew from Will and the gang!

After our amazing dinner we made our first visit to The Salt House, another Galway Bay Brewery bar right in Galway City, with views of the Claddagh river (see above photo), and boasting an amazing beer menu with fine liquids from all over the world.

I enjoyed the Hexed IPA, and it put a spell on me (🤣😉) with it’s dank, citrus hop notes and just a bit of sweetness.  This was AMAZING, and also not the last one I drank during our vacay.

What happened next was one of the greatest stumble (and I mean STUMBLE) upons EVER!  We found a pub with a 15-piece big band playing some AMAZING jazz.  It was stunning.

Click this for the amazing video (THANK YOU HOLLY KAY!)
​​

Sometimes, you gotta end your night with some JAAAAAAZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!  It was another absolutely wonderful day with my love, Holly and my family!

Until next time…

Cheers!

Moustache Brewing Co. Blue Box, Or Benedict Beer Blog’s Beer of the Week! Also, Happy 3rd Anniversary, Moustache!

We here at Benedict Beer Blog would love to take a minute to wish a Happy 3rd Anniversary to our dear friends Lauri and Matt Spitz at Moustache Brewing Co.!

They celebrated this past Saturday, and we weren’t able to make it to their gorgeous space in Riverhead, I figured it would be fitting to feature them in our first EVER Beer of the Week Blog Post!

This beer is amazing.  Trust me, I’m a Doctor.  Wink!

Holly Kay asked me what beer we could share with our Eggplant Parmesan dinner the other night, so I pulled this out of the fridge for us (at 10.5% ABV, it’s a great beer to share with those you love!).  With powerful citrus and pine notes balanced by sweet malt, this beer packs quite the flavorful punch in a 16 oz can.  (Not unlike its namesake, its bigger on the inside…  Nyuk Nyuk Nuuk…). Be careful, though, it drinks super easy for a >10% beer.  It’s dangerously delicious.

Don’t Blink…  This angel will sneak up on you, real quick.

I’ve seen nothing but universal love for this well balanced, bombshell of a brew from our lovelies in Riverhead.  #drinklocal 🍺🤛🏻

Thanks for checking us out!  If you’ve been to Moustache, let us know about your experience in the comments!

Until next time…

Cheers!

This Post Sucks!  Or, Does It?

Do you have a beer that constantly surprises you?

Do you have a beer that, with each taste, a smile creeps across that sweet mug of yours, and you chuckle to yourself about how damn good that last sip was?

Do you have a beer that inspires you?

I took a sip of beer a few nights ago and stopped in my tracks.  I was overwhelmed with thoughts of my (in retrospect, very short) craft beer journey.

This was the first IPA that blew me away.  Holly Kay and I were at Tap and Barrel in Smithtown to see our dear friend Matthew Spitz (from the absolutely unbelievable Moustache Brewing Co.) and his band Royal City Riot, whose sole mission was to groove our mind, body and spirit with their reggae/ska/dancehall jamz, and groove our mind, body and spirit they did.  My goodness.  (Please refer to my Love Letter to Moustache Brewing Co. to learn more about Matt and Lauri Spitz, their baby, Moustache, and how amazing they are.).

I saw they had Lagunitas Sucks IPA on tap, and I was drawn to it, of course, because of the name.  I was still naive about IPAs at that point (please refer to This Blog Post in which I have my brother Chris, who’s new to beer, try 3 >100 IBU IPAs, and the results are as expected!), and wanted to try something new.  

I took one sip, and thought “THIS is the reason I got into craft beer.”  I was overwhelmed with brown sugar (which is interesting when you hear the story about this beer), plum sweetness, and toasted caramel from the malts, balanced with a blast of lemon and orange zest citrus from the hops.  One of the most flavorful, balanced IPAs I had ever drank.


Lagunitas Sucks!  Also, my foot!

We could talk about how Heinekin purchased a 50% stake in Lagunitas, which would lead us down the wormhole to AB InBev and their acquisition of multiple Craft Breweries in an attempt to conquer the Craft Beer market.

But we’re not here to talk about that.

I want to talk about the time I didn’t get that promotion I had been working so hard for, and Holly came and picked me up from work (because she’s amazing) and surprised me with a 32oz bottle of Lagunitas Sucks (because she’s incredible.  Also, beautiful.  She has unbelievable brown eyes.  Have you seen those eyes?  My goodness.). She handed it to me, gave me a big old bear hug, and said “Honey, that sucks.” I drew myself a hot bath, popped open that bad boy, enjoyed the sweet, citrusy blend of magic, went to work the next day as cheery and chipper as ever, and got the promotion a week later.  Boom. 

Ok, so, the beer name.  Here’s the story.  Lagunitas has a beer called Brown Shugga.  Due to their capacity issues in 2010, that particular beer, a strong ale with tons and tons of, you guessed it, brown sugar, took a long time to make.  They were trying to expand, but the giant lauter tun (the vessel used to separate the liquid wort from the grain) they were going to used got damaged, so they couldn’t brew Brown Shugga.  They called the IPA they brewed instead Lagunitas Sucks, as a consolation to all the Brown Shugga fans, and a comical, self-deprecating nod to staying humble in the face of success, even when something goes wrong.  It used to be brewed only around Christmastime, but it’s become a year round brew for them, and for good reason.

Every time I come back to this beer, I’m blown away.  Periods of time will go by, and it will disappear from my grocery store, and will show up again months later, and remind me again why I love craft beer so much.  It reminds me of Spitzy, and Holly Kay, and all the adventures we’ve been on since I started getting into craft beer over 5 years ago.  

My Dad’s go-to, Founders Breakfast Stout, and mineD Lagunitas Sucks.

It’s all about love, friendship, and great beer.  And this is a great beer.

Until next time!

Cheers!

P.S. Huge shout out to my dude Brandon (@itsb_ran on the Instagramz) for helping me come up with the second half of my title this week!  Thanks, buddy!

Beer Plus Music Vol. II, or How Singlecut Saved Us From Our Ceiling Collapsing on Our Heads…

“Hey you!  Out there in the cold, getting lonely, getting old, can you feel me?

Hey you! Standing in the aisles, with itchy feet and fading smiles, can you feel me?”

If you can’t feel Pink Floyd, you can’t feel feelings.

So last week, I put together some beer and music pairings.  A few days ago, I thought to myself, “How did I make a beer and music post and not mention one of my favorite (and literally the closest to my apartment) breweries, that is as obsessed with music as they are with beer?”

Singlecut Beersmiths.  37th Avenue, Astoria, Queens.  This is a place you should go, definitely.

This is their entrance!

As far as beer and music collaborations are concerned, these guys are the (ZZ) tops!


They’ve taken a warehouse and made it home.

When you walk through the door of the giant warehouse, you’re welcomed in with large wooden tables, a gorgeous bar, complete with a record player and some unbelievable vinyl, beautiful, dark wood paneling, and gorgeous guitars hanging from the wall.  Lining the walls are framed bags of malt, tying in their passion for beer with their passion for music.

The tap handles?  All designed to look like guitar heads.  The beers?  Mostly named after the brewers’ favorite musicians, or song lyrics.

A video of me mouthing the line that Robert Plant shouted in the middle of “Stairway to Heaven” during a live recording for the 1976 concert movie The Song Remains the Same, which, apparently, still makes him cringe and inspired Singlecut’s IIPA of the same name.

Does Anybody Remember Laughter? IPA clocks in at 7.2% ABV, with aromas and flavors of dank, piney resin and citrus, tropical fruit (mango, pineapple) and pine.  The forests truly do echo with laughter.

If you’ll excuse me…  My hedgegrow is bustled, and frankly, I’m a little alarmed.  I’ll be right back…

Ok, much better.  Back to the beer.

Mo’Shuggie Soulbender IPA, found at Little Tibet, an unassuming, fun restaurant in our neighborhood of Jackson Heights, features Singlecut and other Queens breweries like Transmitter Brewing.

Mo’Shuggie weighs in at 7.4% ABV, and is brewed with both New Zealand and Australian hop varietals, and has aromas of tropical mango, pineapple, and orange citrus.  The taste follows, with flavors of grapefruit zest, and white peach, leaving it with a dry finish.  Simply, a world class IPA.  Bright, fruity, aromatic, picks you up and drops you on the beach, the ocean lapping at your toes.  Juice, juice, juice.

Singlecut helped Holly and I kick off our 2016. We were undecided on where we wanted to go to celebrate New Years Eve, but we discussed it with some friends, and decided to spend our evening there (not before a quick stop at the Ditmars location of Astoria Bier and Cheese)!

IMG_0606HK Benny looking super cute and wintery…

Holly started out with an Eric More Cowbell! Milk Stout.  This is a creamy, smooth stout at 6% ABV with bitter bakers cocoa and coffee notes with some sugary sweetness.  Great way to kick off the evening.

I had the Bon TNT Pale Ale, which is a hazy, unfiltered Pale Ale (see glass of orange juice in the picture above), a 5% ABV, juicy, citrus refresher and another great beer to kick off our evening.

Singlecut also has the Bon Bon 2XTNT IIPA, which, in my opinion, is as good as and easier to find than all the “New England Style” IPAs that are sought after and waited in line for.  It’s another juicy, citrus bomb that drinks super easy for its 8.2% ABV.  It’s packed with amazing New Zealand and Australian hops (which is appropriate, as Bon is a reference to the late Bon Scott, frontman for AC/DC).  OI! OI!  OI! OI! OI! OI!  He’s dynamite, and he will win the fight.

IMG_0485Boom!

We continued the evening as our friends trickled in, Ryan (manager of Il Bambino, see my love letter to Il Bambino from a few months ago) and Erica, Rafa, and Alex and Shelbie all came by to spend a relatively quiet New Years Eve chatting and celebrating.  The staff at Singlecut are always so welcoming and friendly, and they threw New Years confetti all over the tables, while we all listened to whatever records were spinning that night (I can’t remember exactly, but I think Rolling Stones and T-Rex were both a part of the night).  It was an awesome evening ( aside from getting home at 1am to find our ceiling collapsed in our kitchen, but you’ve probably already read that post.  If you haven’t, check it out here.)

IMG_0632Beer Plus Music Equals Love

IMG_0624Ryan and Erica.  So happy to have these two in our lives!

IMG_0623Alex and Shelbie having a blast!

A grainy picture of Holly, Rafa and I.  It’s grainy because of all the fun we were having.  Also, you know, artsy.  Beer is art.  Grainy selfies are art, too.

Holly and I decided we were going to start the new year with our favorite beer from Singlecut, a MONSTER Imperial Stout called Heavy Boots of Lead.


Is he live or dead?  Has he thoughts within his head?

Named after a lyric from Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”, this is a heavy hitter, at 11.2% ABV.  It tastes like liquid dark chocolate, with hints of vanilla and coffee.  One of my favorite non-barrel aged Imperial Stouts, whenever I see this around, I have to get it.  I could drink this in the middle of summer.

The moral of the story here is, you should absolutely make the trek up to Northern Astoria (don’t go too far, or you’ll end up on Riker’s Island).  They have amazing sour lagers (ahem, lagrrrs), also, try all of their Billy series IPAs, they range from about 5% ABV to 10%, and are all juicy and delicious.  Their newest juice bomb IPA that I love is…

Breathe…  Breathe in the air…

These guys are making absolute world class beers, and have only been around a few years, so I look forward to seeing what these mad scientists will put out next.  Right on the bottle, it says “Mastery knows no shortcut”.  And they’re not taking any.  You know Holly and I will be there, and you should be too.  Although, their traffic might explode after getting the Benedict Beer Blog Bump!  😉

Thanks for reading.  Don’t sleep on Singlecut!

Cheers!

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

IMG_0637

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 bedandbreakfast.com, 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.

IMG_2149

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.

IMG_2159

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!
IMG_2160

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!

IMG_2169

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.

IMG_0123

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!

IMG_0192

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!
IMG_0199

Cornhole!!!

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!

Fermenters!

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.

Cheers!