Tuesday, June 30, 2009

And I Bet You Want to Know All of the Breweries That Beer Trip Has Gone To

Well, then, you came to the right blog:

Beer Trip I
  1. Olde Main Brewing Company in Ames, IA
  2. Bandana Brewery in Mankato, MN (RIP)
  3. Great Waters Brewing Company in St. Paul, MN
  4. Moosehead Pizza and Brewing Company in Wisconsin Dells, WI
  5. Capital Brewing Company in Middleton, WI
  6. Angelic Brewing Company in Madison, WI (RIP)
  7. New Glarus Brewing Company in New Glarus, WI
  8. Randy's Fun Hunters Brewery in Whitewater, WI
  9. Sprecher Brewery in Glendale, WI
  10. Miller Brewery in Milwaukee, WI
  11. Bent River Brewery in Moline, IL
  12. Court Avenue Restaurant and Brewery in Des Moines, IA

Beer Trip II

  1. Gellas's Diner and Liquid Bread Brewing Company in Hays, KS
  2. Sandlot Brewery at Coors Field in Denver, CO
  3. Breckenridge Ball Park Brewpub in Denver, CO
  4. Great Divide Brewing Company in Denver, CO
  5. Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver CO
  6. Boulder Brewing Company in Boulder, CO
  7. Pumphouse Brewery and Restaurant in Longmont, CO
  8. Left Hand Brewery in Longmont, CO
  9. Oskar Blues Grill and Brew in Lyons, CO
  10. Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins, CO
  11. Fort Collins Brewery in Fort Collins, CO
  12. CooperSmith's Pub and Brewing in Fort Collins, CO
  13. New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, CO
  14. Shadows Brewing Company at Snake River Pub & Grill in Cheyenne, WY (RIP)
  15. Thunderhead Brewing Company in Kearney, NE
  16. Lazlo's Brewery and Grill in Lincoln, NE
  17. Upstream Brewing Company in Omaha, NE

Beer Trip 2.5

  1. Weston Brewing Company at O'Malley's Pub in Weston, MO
  2. Jobber's Canyon Restaurant and Brewery in Omaha, NE (RIP)
  3. Dempsey's Brewpub, Pub, and Restaurant in Watertown, SD
  4. Granite City Food and Brewery in Sioux Falls, SD
  5. Depot Deli and Lounge in Shenandoah, IA

Beer Trip III

  1. O’Fallon Brewing Company in O'Fallon, MO
  2. Schlafly's Taproom in St. Louis, MO
  3. Turoni’s Pizzery and Brewery in Evansville, IN
  4. Bluegrass Brewing Company in Louisville, KY
  5. BarrelHouse Brewing Company in Cincinnati, OH
  6. Barley's Brewing in Columbus, OH
  7. Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, OH
  8. Arbor Brewing Company in Ann Arbor, MI
  9. Kuhnhenn Brewing Company in Warren, MI
  10. Michigan Brewing Company in Webberville, MI
  11. Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, MI
  12. New Holland Brewing Company in Holland, MI
  13. Bell's Brewing Company at Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo, MI
  14. Arcadia Brewing Company in Battle Creek, MI
  15. The Livery in Benton Harbor, MI
  16. Three Floyds Brewing Company in Munster, IN
  17. Flossmoor Station Restaurant and Brewery in Flossmoor, IL
  18. Old Capitol Brew Works and Public House in Iowa City, IA
  19. Millstream Brewing Company in Amana, IA
  20. Rock Bottom Brewing Company in West Des Moines, IA

Beer 3.5

  1. Springfield Brewing Company in Springfield, MO
  2. Hickok's Steakhouse and Brewery in Springfield, MO (RIP)
  3. Bootlegger's Restaurant and Brewery in Aurora, MO
  4. Bosco's Brewpub in Little Rock, AR
  5. Vino's Brewpub in Little Rock, AR
  6. Diamond Bear Brewing Company in Little Rock, AR
  7. Hog Haus Brewery in Fayetteville, AR

Beer Trip IV

  1. 5th Quadrant in Portland, OR
  2. Alameda Brewhouse in Portland, OR
  3. Amnesia Brewing in Portland, OR
  4. BridgePort Brewpub and Bakery in Portland, OR
  5. Concordia Brewery at Kennedy School (McMenamins) in Portland, OR
  6. Deschutes Brewery & Public House in Portland, OR
  7. Full Sail Brewing Company in Portland, OR
  8. Hair of the Dog Brewing Company in Portland, OR
  9. Laurelwood Pub and Brewery in Portland, OR
  10. Lucky Labrador Brewing in Portland, OR
  11. Rock Bottom Brewing Company in Portland, OR
  12. Roots Organic Brewing in Portland, OR
  13. Tugboat Brewpub and Cafe in Portland, OR
  14. Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland, OR
  15. Block 15 Restaurant and Brewery in Corvalis, OR
  16. Rogue Ales in Newport, OR
  17. Pelican Pub and Brewery in Pacific City, OR
  18. Fish Brewing & Fish Tail Brewpub in Olympia, WA
  19. Elysian Fields Brewery in Seattle, WA
  20. Pyramid Alehouse, Brewery and Restaurant in Seattle, WA
  21. Engine House #9 in Tacoma, WA

Beer Trip 4.5

  1. Marshall Brewing Company in Tulsa, OK
  2. Choc Brewing Company at Pete's Place in Krebs, OK
  3. Belle Isle Brewing Company in Oklahoma City, OK
  4. Hank is Wiser Brewery in Cheney, KS
  5. River City Brewing Company in Wichita, KS

Well, friends, if my math is correct, that makes it 87 breweries/brewpubs on Beer Trip so far. So it looks like in about a month's time, Beer Trip will see it's 100th brewery visit! That is pretty exciting, huh?

Love ya!


Monday, June 29, 2009

Where Has Beer Trip Been?

Well, let me be the one to tell you:

South Dakota

This year will be Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa again, but where will we go next? Stay tuned....


Andy's tales of BT II

Hi! This is Andy...aka Caddy depending on which version of trips you are reading. I would of loved to say I've been apart of this endeavour from BT I, but sadly enough I wasn't able to get the time off to go with Timmy and Dan, so i start out on BT II.

Day 1
We head out in the EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle, and I have to say, I wasn't sure what was going to happen on this trip. I just knew that good beer was involved and that I wanted to be apart of it. I knew who Jerry (Cruiser) was and had talked to him before but in short micro bursts of time. I didn't know Jerry, and I have to admit wasn't sure how all this was going to pan out. I'll just say this up front. I came away from this trip much closer friends to the other 3 guys on this trip than I thought i ever would and that is very cool!We get on the highway, Jerry and I look at each other and I could tell we were thinking the same thing, "we're on Beer Trip it's time to start drinking BEER!". We cruise through the middle of Kansas and the whole time I'm thinking to myself, what the hell is Dan doing. He's got us all over the road, swerving back and forth. (later i find out that these winds were causing bigger RV's an rigs to flip over on the same stretch of I-70.) We finally get to Gella's Diner and Liquid Bread Brewing Co.. Here we are in Hays, Ks and I walk into this place and my jaw drops. This place was amazing. Killer set up. Wood and brushed aluminum decor and then the most important part the brewery. Not sure what was spent on the brewery portion of this place but I'm sure there are much bigger breweries who have to be massively jealous of this set up. Best part was that the beers didn't disappoint. We talked to the waitress told her what we were up to, that they had the distinction of being our first stop, then we told her, the all important, we're homebrewers, and asked if the brewer would happen to come out to talk to us. Once again they didn't disappoint and he shows up carrying a bucket of hops out, there is no way he knew how cool we though he was at that point in time. We finished up a wonderful lunch, fantastic sampler and headed on our journey to Denver. We go to a baseball game on all the trips that don't end in .5 and we were able to go see Dan and Timmy's team the Brewers play the Rockies at Coors field. Awesome ballpark and Coors actually put in a micro brewery in the stadium. The beers were what they were but, I'm going to tell you, they had one of the best bartenders EVER! I was stupid, bought 3 beers and my total was $18, I thought I threw out a $20 and walked away. Later, and by later I mean like during the 6th inning I realize I threw out a hundy and not a twenty. I go back fully expecting for that bartender to have taken the rest of the night off after getting a $80 tip. I see her walk around the corner and she looks at me and says "missing a few bucks?" I smile and she lifts up a glass and hands me my $82. I told her that I loved her and promptly gave her $22 and told her that if she didn't stick all of that in her pocket I'd be pissed. She refused to do that and said I wasn't the first and won't be the last. Needless to say she made my night. After the game, we walked across the street to Breckenridge Brewing and had a fun time. We again told the waitress we were on a Beer Trip and she was super cool and gave us some glasses and stickers to put on the EM-50. Most of their beers are ok except for the Vanilla Porter, good God that's a rough beer. We headed back to the LaQuinta where we saw Jerry scale down from floor two to ground level to do some swimming, even though the pool was closed. That was just a rocks star move on his part. Sorry sir the pools closed......um not if you're Jerry...that pool is always open!!! The next year I ended up staying at the same LaQuinta and made sure I pointed out to my wife and kid that is where Jerry scaled down the wall to swim. The more impressive part was the climb up now that I think about it. Jerry, that was one hell of a way to end day one!
Day 2
We woke up in good spirits and that’s easy to do when you’re on Beer Trip! I was particularly excited because I was going to see my pal Mel and we were hitting a couple breweries that made some of my favorite beer. First stop was Great Divide. Makers of Yeti, Fresh Hop, Old Ruffian, and Hercules to name my favs, so yes, I was extremely excited. We walk into what was going to be their new tap room, but when we were there it nothing but a bunch of electricians and remodelers working on an old concrete block room. There were a couple of grain sales reps who walked in before us and so the guy talking to the grain guys kind of looks at us confused as to why there are 4 dorks standing in his brewery and says in what I took as a not so pleasant way “Can I help you guys?” We tell him were here for a tour and he gets the bottling guy to show us around. When he comes out the first question he asks is “You guys want a beer?” Well DUH! It’s already 10 am and I haven’t had one yet, so hells yeah, I’m ready! He pours us what ever we asked for and they had everything on tap except the Fresh Hop I believe. It was very informal but the dude couldn’t have been more cool about all our questions and about showing us everything there was to see. We come back out to where we started and the dude who seemed put off at first asks me what going on. I proceed to tell him that we’re on Beer Trip and what it’s all about. I also work in, once again, the all important statement, we’re also home brewers. Well dudes eyes kind of light up a little bit and then he tells me he’s the brewer for Great Divide. Well then I get a little giddy because standing in front of me is a dude who makes some of my favorite brews and I’m shooting the shit with him. Well he was brewing a beer when we showed up and he takes me up to the mash tun and the kettle and lets me check out all his stuff and how it’s done. We continue to talk for a bit and suddenly he says “Hold up….I have something for your journey” I’m thinking he’s going to go grab us a bottle or two, oh no, I was way off. He comes back with a case of bombers for us. He has all our favorites too! He tells us he wishes he could join us which I thought was very cool. He wanted to be us…..that is just cool! We left there four very happy dudes, we proudly slapped a Great Divide sticker on the EM-50 and off to Wynkoop Brewing we go. We meet Dan’s friend who I’ll refer to as Buttons for lunch and more, yeah you guessed it, beer! The beers and food were decent, but the best part to me was just how much fun we all had just cutting up each other and ourselves…not sure how the button convo got started but the image of seeing 4 dudes sporting buttons while on a beer trip just makes me laugh. I’m still waiting for my button by the way!!!
We arrive at Boulder Brewing, makers of my beloved Mojo IPA. We were there a bit before the tour was to start as this was more formal than GD had been. They offer us up and beer while we wait and who are we to turn down a beer. The chic giving the tour was super cool and there were only 5 people on the tour. It was us 4 and a dude from Germany whose wife was in Boulder at a conference. So he was there to tour breweries while his wife worked, well done my man. We got a nice tour and we even got to talk to the brewer who came up with Hazed and Infused, which was really cool. Our tour ended in their tap room and since they were out of a bunch of taster glasses they decided to just start filling us ¾ pitchers of each of their beers they had on tap. We are a bit responsible on these trips and do designate a driver for each day, so Jerry was just taking baby tastes of each beer. So, four guys drinking what seemed to be endless pitchers of their beer, and quickly pushing us over the edge into beer drunk bliss. It was a nice easy going tour with lots of beer treats at the end that I’m sure the dude from Germany and us won’t soon forget! On to Pumphouse Brewing where we me up with my gal pal Mel. Nothing make a old, fat, married guy feel cooler than having a cool, good looking chic run up and give you a big ole bear hug, so for that Mel, Thanks! Well I’d love to tell you how much I loved the food and brews at Pumphouse, but I was at best foggy at this point. I didn’t dislike anything and I do remember the atmosphere being really cool since we sat outside enjoying our meals and more beers. We all climbed in to the EM-50 and headed to Left Hand Brewing. Well we get there and are greeted by a bitchy bartender. I’m not sure why she was so unhappy, because we were far from unhappy. I remember we all shared a few samplers and one of the funny parts to me was when I went up to get a pint there was this older couple sitting at the bar. They looked at me and asked “Do you like French fries?” which might have possibly been the last question I expected out of dudes mouth. I looked at him and said, “Look at my stomach, what do you think?” with the obvious answer being yes since the furthest thing away from me is skinny. This dude kept going on and on about fries and since I was feeling really good I just let him yap about it, as my passion is beer, his must be fries. We got ourselves nice a lathered up at Left Hand and our intentions were to go back to the Radisson and sleep off our 5 brewery day, but that wouldn’t be very Beer trippy of us. Luckily or unluckily depending on how sick you were the next day there was an Old Chicago in the same parking lot as us. Well we decided that we needed to grace this place with our presence. We go in and well do what we do best, order a beer. We sat at the crowded bar area and proceeded to get even more hammered at this point. There were some great pics taken during this point of the evening. Dan was probably smart and went off to bed, while the rest of us thought our intake of beer wasn’t enough, so we kept drinking. Well we finally hit our limit and somebody suggested we go swimming. Of course any idea after this much drinking sounds like the greatest idea in the history of the world. Timmy and Jerry make it to the pool and legend has it that they swam so much they felt a burning desire to go out to the EM-50 and polish off a growler. Needless to say we all felt beyond rough the next day.

Beer Trip II Notes from 2006

Hey pals,
It's Dan again, letting you read about Beer Trip II from my blog when we got back. This will be the last of these, because I didn't write about Beer Trip III or Beer Trip IV (or any of the Point Fives we took). I hope you love this more than you love breakfast burritos:

Day One

The plan was to leave the house at 7:30 AM on Wednesday, and we were actually ahead of schedule. We (Caddylac, Timmy, the Cruiser, and I) pulled out of my driveway at 7:19 AM, so Beer Trip II was off to a great start. The first stop was in Hays, Kansas, so I’ll not bore you with tales of the road from my house to there, because besides the four of us bullshitting each other (which was entertaining to me), it’s a pretty boring fucking drive and nothing happened. The highlight was probably Caddy and the Cruiser cracking open a beer once we got on the highway at about 7:30 AM. Eventually, around 11:10 AM, we arrived at Gella’s Diner and Liquid Bread Brewing Company and right away we were impressed. The brewpub is located in a renovated Western Union building, and it was beautiful and spacious on the inside. I think Caddylac was the one who said it best: “You could drop this place anywhere (New York, L.A., wherever), and it would fit in and look great!” It was a great looking place. We sat down, ordered some sampler trays of beer, and ordered our lunch. A huge plus for this place was that they had garlic fries. I’m a big fan of the garlic fries, and these were very good. If you have access to adding a menu item to a restaurant, you need to add garlic fries to it. Anyway, lunch went along just fine (we even got to talk to the brewer for a couple of seconds who made us a sticker for the RV) and their beers were outstanding, and we asked for four growlers and our bill. This was at 12:18 PM. Granted, the place was pretty crowded and they seemed understaffed, but we didn’t end up leaving the place until 1:03 PM because it took so long to get our bill and change. Yes, I did keep track of the time like that, because we planned on leaving Hays at 1 PM, so we thought we were going to be way ahead of schedule for our ride into Denver when we asked for our bill. Instead, we were a little behind (since we also had to stop and get gas). Anyway, all it all, it was a great experience, and would recommend anyone driving along I-70 in Kansas to make a stop at Gella’s if you want some really good beer and great food.We left Hayes and headed to Denver. Wow! Did that ride really suck as well! Western Kansas has a much deserved reputation for being a boring, boring drive, but I think Eastern Colorado needs to be given some credit too. Holy shit was that a boring drive! I must have quoted “Dumb and Dumber” at least ten times saying, “That John Denver’s full of shit!” I didn’t know that Denver was pretty much where the mountains started. I do now. We planned on getting to our posh La Quinta Inn in Downtown Denver at 5 PM, and that was about right. Maybe 5:15 PM or so, but we had plenty of time to take shits, change shirts and put on a new layer of deodorant, and then walk to Coors Field for the 7 PM start. We got to the stadium, and it made me remember why I loved downtown ballparks. It was less than a mile from the hotel to the stadium, and there was so much to do all around the stadium. And inside the stadium too, as we hit our second brewpub of Beer Trip II, the Sandlot Brewery. The place was kinda cool, but I was thinking it was going to be a sit down restaurant with servers, when instead you had to go to the bar to order beers. Now, the bartenders were great, but it just wasn’t what I thought it’d be. The beers were okay, I guess, nice for a ballpark, but nothing too exciting. As for the game, well, it sucked. There was a rain delay before the game, but the actual game is what sucked. The Brewers lost 8-2 and it was never really close. The park was cool, and I even had a Coors Beer at Coors Field, which I always think is a must. I’ll always have a Busch at Busch Stadium and a Miller at Miller Park too. See, I’m not a complete beer snob. Just mostly.After the game, we went to our final brewpub of Day One, the Breckenridge Ball Park Brewpub. We were all feeling pretty good, but it was so close to the park that we had to go. The place was really cool, and it had a nice crowd for a Wednesday. Now let me state that I am not a fan of Breckenridge beers, but the beers here were pretty good. At least they were to my recollection. It was a long day, and I had had a few, so my memory isn’t 100%. I do know that our waitress was awesome, as she gave us each free tasting glasses and stickers (for the back of the RV). After a few samples and a beer, we walked back home to crash for the night. But not before the Cruiser decided that since the gate to the pool was locked that he’s climb down from the second floor (where our room was) to inside of the pool area and go for a little swim. It was pretty impressive way to end day one.

Day Two

Thursday’s activities started earlier than any other day, as we arrived at the Great Divide Brewing Company in downtown Denver (a couple blocks from Coors Field) around 9:50 AM. It was located in a building that you wouldn’t know was a brewery if you just walked by it. Inside the brewery, there was a ton of construction going on. Great Divide doesn’t have regularly scheduled tours, so you just kinda walk in and see if someone can give you a tour. We got in, talked to one of the brewers for a bit, had a couple of samples, and then the head of bottling showed us around. For those of you who don’t know, Great Divide makes some of my favorite beers, and after the tour we got, I like this place even more. The tour guide couldn’t have been any cooler, as he showed us all around the place and just shot the shit with us for about a solid hour. He and the brewer who was on duty just talked about whatever with us and were solid guys. They said they were jealous of us for going on Beer Trip II, and we were all jealous of them for working at a kick-ass brewery. They gave us free stickers, coasters, bottle openers, and on top of all that, they gave us a free case of their beer! So needless to say, I really love these guys now. After the tour, we were going to have lunch at the Wynkoop Brewing Company, where I was excited to go because my friend and Lulu’s former roommate Dahlbeeyotch was meeting us there. Whereas the beers weren’t my favorite and the food was pretty good but nothing amazing, this was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. Basically it was everyone making fun of each other and themselves all lunch, and we were cracking up the whole time. We had to be the loudest table in the place and I’m sure the rest of the restaurant weren’t loving us because of that (and we were there for about an hour and a half). Dahlbeeyotch said that she was going to make us all buttons for Beer Trip III, and I thought Caddy was going to piss himself (he actually may have; I didn’t check). We had a great time, but unfortunately, Dahlbeeyotch had to go to work and fortunately, we had three more breweries to hit. Next up for us was a trip up the road to Boulder where we hit the Boulder Brewing Company. Boulder makes two of my favorite beers, Mojo and Hazed & Infused, so this was another place I was really looking forward to. We had another really great tour guide, and we had a lot of free beers. Too bad for the Cruiser, because he was the DD that day and only had sips. Our tour consisted of the four of us and a guy from Germany who was in town with his wife who had a work conference (who was a really cool guy), so our tour was pretty much whatever we wanted her to talk about. She even poured us some beer right from the tanks, which was pretty good also. Basically by the time we left Boulder, all of us were feeling really good. Especially me.For dinner, we drove over to Longmont for the Pumphouse Brewery and Restaurant, where we met Caddy’s friend Melissa. From the best of my recollection, dinner was really good, as were the beers. I’m not sure what else to tell you about that because I don’t have memories of anything specific that was interesting (I was kinda drunk). From there, we hit yet another place, the Left Hand Brewery. I remember thinking the place was nice, the service wasn’t too friendly, that I ordered a sample tray, and called my wife. And that’s about it. When we left Left Hand, we went back to the hotel. Right next door in the same parking lot as our sweet Radisson Hotel was an Old Chicago, and for some reason we decided to go in and have some more beers. I ordered some Sicilian Pepperoni Rolls and a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. I think I had two of the Pepperoni Rolls, half of my beer (if that), and decided that it’d be best for me to go back to the hotel and pass out. Which is exactly what I did. Apparently I missed a lot of interesting things after I left, rumors of which I cannot prove actually happened, so I will just end Day Two’s recap with this: holy shit, was I really fucking hung-over the next morning!

Day Three

So yeah, I didn’t have a good morning on Day Three. As my friend Fittsie used to say, I was over-served. Anyway, after a sluggish start, we were ready to start the beer drinking at 11:30 at Oskar Blues Grill and Brew in Lyons, Colorado. Oskar’s is famous among the beer dork community for being a solid microbrewer and selling their beer in cans, instead of bottles like most microbreweries. I kinda think it’s pretty cool. The place was nice, as Lyons is a really cool little down at the base of the mountain. We sat on the deck and had a nice view. After a little “hair of the dog” with some tasty beers and some really good food, we all were feeling a lot better and were on our way. Our next stop after lunch was in my new favorite city in the world, Fort Collins, Colorado. What a great town! Also located at the base of the mountains, Fort Collins has several really great breweries there. They also have an Anheuser Busch brewery on top of the good places, but who gives a shit! Our first brewery stop in Fort Collins was Odell Brewing Company. It was located on a side street and was a nice looking place. The people there were cool, and I actually got carded THREE times there, which I thought was funny. The tour was the same as every other tour basically, but since I’m a member of the American Homebrewer’s Association, I got to have the $3 sample tray for free! Yeah, that $97 membership is already paying for itself! The beers were good, but I can get them here so it wasn’t anything too exciting. Good tour if you’re in Ft. Collins, but nothing too cool.After Odell’s, we went to the cleverly named Fort Collins Brewery just down the road. Well, it would have been just down the road but I’m a moron and gave Caddy the wrong directions. We got there eventually, and the place was kinda hard to find anyway unless you knew where it was. It was basically a warehouse with a taproom. Although the taproom was really nice, and the people and beer there were really good. The beers were better than we expected, and the waitress and bartender could not have been cooler. They even sold the Cruiser and me jugs of their Brewlesque Brown, which was only available in jugs to members of their “Jug Club.” I have to really thank the Cruiser for his pouting, because that’s what sealed the deal on that one. We hung out there for a sampler tray and a pint, and then we headed to the hotel to check in. We stayed at the world-famous Fort Collins Motel 8, and that lived up to all the hype.For dinner, we took a cab to our final brewpub of the day, CooperSmith’s Pub and Brewing, for dinner. It was pretty well-hyped by several people that day, and when we got there we were excited. It was a cool looking place. We went to check in with the hostess, and we were told it’d be a 35 minute wait, so we just sat at the bar. Well, the food was good, but the beers were just so-so. Not nearly as good as we were lead to believe they’d be. We had our dinner and left, and then we walked to another Old Chicago for a beer before Caddy’s friend Mel picked us up and took us back to the sweet Motel 8. And that was pretty much Day Three. Three breweries visited, and basically just a day to recover from the day before. So really, it was a pretty good day.

Day Four

Day Four of Beer Trip II was a really, really good day. We started up later than usual, because we had a 11:30 AM VIP tour at the New Belgium Brewing Company. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a “VIP Tour” at New Belgium. You see, a while back, I was at a liquor store where I was buying some New Belgium 1554 (because we were brewing a clone of it). I was looking to see what else was at the liquor store when I overheard a couple of guys talking about New Belgium. I looked up, and one was an employee of the liquor store and the other guy was wearing a New Belgium jacket. The employee walked away, and I went up to the New Belgium guy and said, “Sorry, but I overheard you talking. Do you work for New Belgium?” He said he did and told me his name was Scott. We were talking about their beer “Two Below,” because I wondered if they were going to bottle it. He said it was just on draft only for now, and then we proceeded to talk about beer for a few minutes. At the end of the conversation, he said, “If you ever go to Fort Collins, you’ll need to stop by the brewery for a tour.” I responded, “Actually, I’ll be going there in August on a beer trip with some friends, and we are definitely going to be going there.” He seemed kinda surprised, in a good way, we talked for a few more minutes about Beer Trip II. Then he said, “Here’s my card. Send me an email when you know when you’ll be there, and I’ll set you up with a VIP tour.” And we went on our ways. A couple days later I emailed him thanking him for taking the time to just talk beer with me for a few minutes. Back in April, when we locked down the time when we’d be in Fort Collins, I emailed him again, and he told me he’d work on setting up a VIP tour for us. He emailed me later that same day with a day and time. That was about the extent of it. A couple weeks before we left on Beer Trip II, I emailed him again, just to make sure everything was set, and he said it was fine, just to show up there a little before 11:30 AM to check in. So we get up to the brewery about 11:10 AM and go to check in. One thing we weren’t expecting though: the place was packed. I mean, really packed. We had to park on the street because the parking lot was full. I waited in line to tell the bartender we were there, and the line took forever. And you could see that there was a huge tour (probably 40 people) in progress already, so I was a little concerned that we’d get the same deal. Eventually, I got to the bar, told the lady why we were there, and she seemed really excited about it and went to the back. She came out a few seconds later, told us to wait at the side of the bar, and that Matt would be coming out to give us our tour. Matt came out, and we (just the four of us and Matt) started the tour.Let me start out the tour portion of this entry by telling you that this wasn’t a typical tour at all. This was a genuine VIP tour. Many of the things we did are not allowed on most tours, for safety reasons. The tour started out like most tours with the history of the company. In New Belgium’s case, it wasn’t too different than other companies’ beginnings (the founder liked the beer he had when he was on vacation in Belgium and decided to make his own beer because he couldn’t get that style of beer here in the States). Matt explained the history more in depth because the tour ahead of us was still in the main room, but it was pretty interesting still. We eventually went into that room, and Matt showed us their first equipment. Standard tour information, really, yet it was still kinda cool. We walked to the main room of the tour, and Matt showed us the tanks where they brew a batch occasionally, but they weren’t at that time. As the other tour went ahead, Matt pulled us over to a bar on the side and said that since we were homebrewers and knew our stuff, he was going to give us some samples earlier than they normally do of stuff you can’t get get or outside of the brewery, as well as their flagship beer, Fat Tire. The first beer was their Saison, and while I’m not a fan of the style, I did like theirs. Next was the Fat Tire, which I’ve had plenty of times before and think is pretty good. The last was a sample of their Abbey Grand Cru, and it was awesome. One of the best beers I ever had. I wish they sold it, but unfortunately, they don’t. Awesome stuff. We went on the tour a bit further, seeing and talking about typical tour things. Then Matt told us to put on our safety goggles. We did, and then he led us up a staircase to the roof. On the roof, he told us to start climbing, as we had to go up about four more flights of stairs to the very top of the brewery. Up there, you could see a beautiful view of Fort Collins and the Rocky Mountains. You could also see the Anheuser Busch brewery up the road, but who gives a shit? Up there we saw all of their brewing vessels, which contained about 12 million bottles of beer in them. We also got to see their water treatment plant from the roof, which they built themselves for themselves to not take a burden on the city’s treatment plant. The whole thing was really impressive, and not something you get on the standard tour. We came down and back in, and next went through the bottling area, something that is a no-no on most other tours due to safety reasons. It was pretty interesting, for me. We walked around some more, and we went to their ten 500-gallon oak barrels where New Belgium makes their La Folie, a rare and expensive beer that is famous among the beer dork community. Matt told us not to tell anyone that we did it (so don’t tell anyone), but he let us drink some of the La Folie from the spicket of one of the barrels, and it was pretty yummy. He showed us around a lot of the normally “off-limits areas” to tours places, and even let Cruiser and I go down the employee slide. At the end of the tour, Matt said, “Well, Scott wanted me to treat you well, so we’re giving you guys six samples of our beer instead of the normal four that other tours get.” We thanked him, and then he said, “Also, we’re giving you guys each one free six-pack of your choice.” We were all pretty shocked about that, and thanked him again. Then he said, “And finally, we’re giving you guys 40% off of whatever you want, beer included.” We were really shocked. I was dumbfounded. Not only did they just give us by far the best brewery tour that I ever had been on with the coolest tour guide (although not as hot as the Boulder chick), but they were giving us free beer and a huge discount. Needless to say, I was in love with the place. I really want to move to Fort Collins and work for New Belgium. It was awesome.After we left the brewery (where we probably spent about $250 combined as a group), we went to a liquor store on the way out of town. I only spent about $10, but the others got several boxes worth of beer. Then we were on our way to Cheyenne, where we went to the Snake River Pub and Grill, where the Shadows Brewing Company is located. The place was really cool, although they only had one beer of theirs on tap. Apparently they had a big festival a few days prior, and that was all they had. The one they did have was really good, as was the food, and soon we were on our way to North Platte, Nebraska where we were calling it a night. We did go to the hotel bar for a couple of beers (including a Fat Tire), and we called it a night.

Day Five

For Beer Trip II Day Five, it was a fun day, but pretty uneventful. Basically, we went to three breweries in Nebraska. The first brewery we went to was Thunderhead Brewing Company in Kearney, Nebraska around 11 AM. It was located in a cool little part of this little town, and surprisingly the beers were outstanding. Very, very good. I was shocked how good they were, considering that this was just a small town that actually had two breweries. We only ate appetizers, but they were good too. Our next stop was in Lincoln where we had a light, late lunch at Lazlo’s Brewery and Grill, which featured Empyrean Brewing Company’s beer. The place was cool, food was good, service was very good, and the beers were okay. Nothing much to write about there. Finally, we got into Omaha around 4:15 PM where we had a light dinner at Upstream Brewing Company. Most of the beers were weak, some were pretty good, but again, besides being located in a cool building in a cool part of town and having good service, there wasn’t much to say about it. Then we drove through a ton of rain the three hours back to my house.

Beer Trip I Notes from 2005

This is your good pal Dan. I am adding my blog notes from August of 2005 from right after Beer Trip I. I won't edit it for spelling or grammar because I am lazy (but I will take out unnecessary things, but enjoy the not-quite-as-clever-as-I-remember blog (complete with some no-longer-active links):

Day One

Wednesday morning Timmy showed up at my house around 8 AM so that we could load up my car and head out by 8:30 AM. We were on the road at 8:20 AM with five pieces of luggage, four coolers, and one mini-cooler. The trip to Ames, IA, was pretty uneventful, with me missing only one on-ramp from a detour and one rest area stop so Timmy could get a pamphlet that read, “Forget the bar scene! Meet county singles here!” Unfortunately for Timmy, the pamphlet cost $1.00, and we didn’t have change, so he was out of luck. We arrived in Ames a little after noon and had lunch at the Olde Main Brewing Company along with our first samplers. The place seemed really small, until I went to piss and saw a huge non-smoking section on the other side of the bathroom. It was a pretty nice place. The sampler was the strangest of the trip, as it included seven five-ounce samplers and a root beer. Never saw a root beer in a beer sampler before, but it was okay. The beers were pretty good, nothing bad or spectacular (their Red Ale was my favorite), but the guys sitting at the next table asked us how we liked them as they were leaving. We told them they were pretty good, and he asked if we’d been there before since they were the brewers. We were telling them that they were the first stop on our trip, and they were so captivated by our Beer Trip. They thought we were the coolest guys in the world, and were “honored” that we stopped there. They told us to go to the New Glarus Brewing Company, which we told them we already were planning on, and then told us to by “all of their apple beer that they have!!!” One guy mentioned that we should have brought a camera to make a movie about it (which I originally planned on doing, but didn’t since there were only two of us on the trip). He told us that we “could’ve gotten rich by doing that!” Oh well. We left a little around 1:30 PM to head to Mankato, MN. When we got to there, we went to our hotel, just chilled for a bit, and cleaned up before heading to the Bandana Brewery for dinner and beers. Lots o’ beers. You see, at the Bandana Brewery, they had a Wednesday night special that was probably the best drink special I’d ever heard of. From 8-11 PM, you could drink all you wanted for just $5. Five bucks!!! Needless to say that besides each of us singing two karaoke songs a piece (with the roughest lesbian chicks I’ve ever seen running it), we got our money’s worth. Our cab picked us up around 11:15 PM (there was really no need to stay much after the special ended), and we got back to the hotel, changed into our swim trunks, and were in the pool before 11:30 PM. Luckily, neither of us drowned, and sometime after that we went to bed. Day One in the books.

Day Two

When I last left you, I was going to sleep drunk on Wednesday night. Or “passing out” is probably a better way to describe it. Anyway, I woke up not feeling very well the next day. No vomiting, but it wasn’t far off. I made Timmy drive to our first stop of the day, the Great Waters Brewing Company in Saint Paul, MN, where we had lunch and another round of samplers. Did I mention that I was feeling like shit? Well, I ordered a hamburger because it seemed like the best bet for my stomach. I was wrong. Whenever I order meat, I always order it well-done. Well, this hamburger was very pink, almost red. It was pretty gross. Unfortunately, I don’t remember if I ordered it well-done or not, and I was in no mood to argue or send something back. Plus, I wasn’t really all that hungry. They had an eight-beer sampler, although they only had seven different kinds of beer that day. So the bartender came up to us and said that we could have the eighth beer be a half pint of which ever beer we liked most (for me, it was the I.P.A.). That was pretty cool of him, so I was happier with the place. Also, I took a nice crap while I was there, so that was making me feel better. And for the first time in my life, the “hair of the dog” method worked for me. As we paid our bill and left, I actually felt pretty good. I was shocked, actually. I didn’t feel sick, drunk, or even buzzed. I just felt normal, which was perfect. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t so good. It poured almost the entire three-hour trip to our next stop, the Moosejaw Pizza and Brewing Company in Wisconsin Dells, WI, which from the outside looks like the Branson of the Great Lakes region. The building was a cool, huge, log cabin looking building. We were one of the few people in the place, which again was huge so it seemed weird, and we ordered another sampler and a pizza. The sampler included ten beers, my favorite being the Kilbourn Hop Ale. The pizza was really fucking good. I don’t know if it was because I ate very little beforehand, but it was one of the best pizzas I’d ever had, and I’m not that big of a fan of thin-crust pizzas.After Moosejaw, we drove to our hotel in Madison, WI, before heading to the Capitol Brewing Company in Middleton, WI. Capital didn’t have food. They were just a brewery with a beer garden. At first, Timmy and I were both disappointed as not only was it raining and there was little space under that canopy to stand (and nowhere to sit), but they didn’t serve samplers. They had five beers on tap, and they cost $3.50 a piece for them. I found that to be a little steep for a brewery, but luckily the beers were really good. With the exception of their Brown Ale, which had a cardboard aftertaste, their beers were probably the best we had on the trip. The Fest Beer was my fave. It eventually stopped raining, and Timmy and I sat at a picnic table bullshitting and listening to the music. It’s there that I found out Timmy used to be roommates with the brother of my wife’s ex-boyfriends, which was pretty odd. The beer garden was only open until 9 PM, so it was winding down when one of the brewers walked by and asked how I was doing (Timmy was taking one of his 37 pisses during the two hours we were there). I told him that I was having a good time, and I was a big fan of their place and beers. He asked, “Have you never been here before?” I told him that I hadn’t, and then told him about our trip. He, much like the guys at Olde Main, was pretty intrigued by this. We talked for a few minutes, and as Timmy came back the guy told us to have a good, safe trip. Then about five minutes later, about 8:55 PM, he sat down next to us and handed us each a beer. He said, “Since you guys aren’t going to be around for the big beer fest this weekend, I brought you the first glasses of our Oktoberfest Beer that we’re unveiling at it on Saturday. You’re the first two non-Capital workers having it!” I thought that was pretty cool, and that beer was by far the best beer I had on the trip so far. It was awesome. We talked for a couple more minutes, thanked him again, and he walked away. He came back a couple minutes later and gave us each a half-glass of what he called their “Double Oktoberfest”, which had more alcohol content and flavor to it. He said that they only had one batch of it, and it was only for the employees of Capital and their friends, and he actually apologized for only giving us a half-glass. That half-glass was one of the best beers I’d ever had in my life. After that, we were feeling pretty good, so we called the cab company and went back to the hotel. When we were dropped off, Timmy decided to have a smoke, and I went inside to grab one of my jugs of beer and a couple of glasses and join him out front because there were a bunch of people standing there. I was wearing my t-shirt that said “Kansas” on it, and as I step outside, before I even get to Timmy, this young couple asked me, “Are you from Kansas?” I said, “Well, that’s where I live now.” The girl responded, “Cool! I’m from Oklahoma and he’s from Arkansas!” I said something to the effect of “Wow, my state touches your state!” or something sarcastic like that, until I was interrupted by a 60-year-old woman who said, “You look just like that one famous actor!” Now I’ve only been told that I look like one person ever, and it had happened twice before. So I guessed, “Brendan Fraser?” “Yes!” she yelped. She kept telling me how I looked just like him in the face, which I think is not true, but at least she didn’t say I looked like Edward James Olmos. Then she walked up to me and started touching my face. I stepped back, and then she told two Indian guys to come over and look at me closer. These guys had no idea what she was talking about, but accommodated her because she was really drunk and, I assume, really rich. Eventually, hotel security told us to go to the back of the hotel, which Timmy, the old lady, the two Indian guys, and I did. I offered the others some of my beer from the jug, and the old lady, who was really starting to get annoying and scary to me, told me that she only drinks wine. She offered me some, and I’m not sure if it was me just being drunk and stupid or if it was me wanting her to go inside and call it a night, but I pounded it. She was kinda shocked at that, and then went inside to get more. That’s when Timmy and I decided that this was our best chance to bolt, and we left to go inside and called it a night.

Day Three

On Friday, I woke up feeling pretty good. At least much better than the day before. We actually woke up and checked out ahead of schedule, which seemed to be the theme of the day. We went to have lunch and more beer samplers at the Angelic Brewing Company which is located in downtown Madison, WI. Again, we were the first (and only) people there, which made sense since we were there at 11 AM. I decided that since I was in Wisconsin, I’d get the Wisconsin Ale and Cheese Soup for starters, which was pretty tasty. I got another burger, well-done this time, but still didn’t eat much. The beer sampler was only five beers, which was very welcome to us both. They were good, but we didn’t want to start Day Three of Beer Trip 2005 with a lot of beer in our bellies. Lunch was good (their Scottish Ale was their best beer), and we left Angelic before noon, about an hour ahead of what we figured we would. Our next stop was in New Glarus, WI, a town of less than a thousand people about 45 minutes from Madison, for the cleverly named New Glarus Brewing Company. New Glarus Brewing Company is pretty famous amongst the beer community for making great beer, and they were even featured in the movie “American Beer”, so Timmy and I were both looking forward to checking it out. According to their website, they have a self-guided walking tour, which seemed pretty cool. We could get there, check out the place at our own pace, and not have to listen to the brewing process being told to me for the hundredth time. Well, part of the tour that we’d walk was probably less than 50 yards total, so we just kinda of walked through it in less than ten minutes. We planned on spending and hour and a half there. The tour itself was pretty underwhelming, to be honest. At the end of the tour, you can do a tasting. Tastings cost $3.69, and they include a glass you can keep and three samples of their choosing. They probably have over a dozen different beers there, and you only get to try three of them. I understand that they don’t want people to get drunk there or anything, but limiting it to three, and not even being able to choose which three, was a little disappointing. My favorite style of beer is India Pale Ale (IPA). Unfortunately, a lot of places make “IPAs” that aren’t really IPAs. They just call them that. They usually suck balls. Well, New Glarus makes at least two different kinds, and I wasn’t allowed to try either. The beers I did get to try were pretty good (especially the Uff-da Bock), but I had to decide in the gift shop which beers, if any, I wanted to buy (including their IPAs) without trying them. Luckily for them, I gave them a shot. I already had to buy a lot of beer for Doncock, Smitty, and Mr. C., so I bought a good amount for myself too. I also bought my kid a couple of NGBC stuffed animals, figuring that nothing’s more white trash than giving an almost 16 month old boy some beer company toys. After all that, we were done by 1:30 PM, even after I took a nice crap there and called Mr. C. and bullshitted with him so that we didn’t get to our next stop too early. Monroe, WI, isn’t too far from New Glarus, but I didn’t know how to get to the brewery in that town, what time their tours were, if they even had any on Fridays (which I later found out they did), and it was probably a good idea not to go to four breweries in one day, anyway. Instead, we drove on to our next stop, Randy’s Fun Hunters Brewery in Whitewater, WI. Now, I’ve been to Whitewater several times in my life as it’s only about 20 minutes from where I grew up, but it had been over ten years since my last visit. And Mapquest let us down, so we were a little lost. Not too bad, especially since we had time to waste. We found a Wal-Mart, where we could waste a little time as I bought my kid some Milwaukee Brewers clothes. Eventually, we found our way to Randy’s, but there wasn’t one car in the parking lot at 3:15 PM on a Friday afternoon, so we went to fill up with gas and get ice first. Well, we tried to waste time for a while, but there’s not too much to do in Whitewater on a Friday afternoon. We just decided to just go in. There was no one inside, and there didn’t even seem to be anyone working. It took almost 20 minutes to get seated, and then it took us about 20 minutes to get our beer samples. About halfway through our five samples, Six Pat met us there for dinner. The dinner was good, the beers were so-so (Brown Ale was the best), and we were done well before 5 PM. After that, we went to see my friend DJ’s new house on the lake. We hung out for a bit over there before heading to Smitty’s house, where we were spending the next two nights. We settled in, and then went over to my friend Huebnerd’s parents’ lake house to chill and take a boat ride. I should say his parents’ mansion, and their place was huge and beautiful. We were out on the boat for a couple of hours, and then just hung out before going home and crashing for the night. It was a nice, calm, relaxing night. Exactly what we needed for the day ahead of us…

Day Four

The plan for the day was to have Little Smitty, Six Pat, Shitcel, and Huebnerd (a proud papa as of August 16th) meet us at Smitty’s house at 11:30 AM so we could be on the road at noon. It actually worked pretty well, as we were off at exactly noon. We had to be at the Sprecher Brewery at 12:45 PM to check in for the 1 PM tour. We met Boot and his three ear holes there as well, which was a treat for everyone. The tour was like most brewery tours: explanation of the brewing process, showing of the fermentation tanks, the bottling area, and then the tasting. I’ve seen it before at several places many times, but I know Timmy hadn’t, so I think he liked that part of it. One part that was a little annoying was that Sprecher makes and sells more soda than they do beer, so there were kids on the tour. So they don’t know how to work the tour guide. Instead of waiting until the tasting portion of the tour to ask all their questions, the kids were doing it in the bottling area. It wasn’t really that annoying, but they must have asked a dozen questions. Even the tour guide eventually said, “I will answer the rest of your questions, but let’s head to the tasting room first. I’ll try to answer all of your questions there.” And we were off to the tasting room. I had planned it to where I was standing so that I could get to the front of the line at the tasting room. And after passing about five kids along the way, I was actually the first one in line!!! Are you guys proud of me? Fuckin’ A!!! The tour cost $3 and you got a tasting glass and four tickets for beers. Most of the guys in the group were disappointed with only getting the four samples, but I figured that was the case. That’s better than a lot of places. So the eight of us were drinking our beers and using up our tickets, and Huebnerd gave Timmy and me two of his tickets since he didn’t really like the beer, he was driving, and his wife could have gone in to labor at any time. So that gave us five samples. About ten minutes later, a little boy brought over about five more tickets for all of us to have, so that meant we got six. He came over again about two minutes after that and brought us another bunch of tickets. So that made it seven. Eventually we decided to head out, just before some guy offered us another 20 tickets. We decided it was best to pass, since we still had the Miller tour to go to as well as the Brewers game. Boot left us to go get his washers’ boxes to play washers after the baseball game, so the remaining seven went on the Miller Brewery for a tour. We got on the 3:40 PM tour. The tour was okay. Probably the worst one I had been on, which still was pretty good. And keep in mind that I do like Miller Lite and the “Champagne of Beers”, Miller High Life. You had to watch a 20 minute movie first, and it basically was a 20 minute Miller commercial. Then the walking tour was run by two kids right out of college who had the charisma of stapler and the comedic wit and timing of Stalin. They were about as funny as “Dead Man Walking”. At the end of the tour, you got to try three beers, but the first had to be Miller Lite. I also had a High Life and a Foster’s. And about six bags of the free pretzels. Love them free pretzels. After the tour, we headed off to Miller Park to tailgate and get our tickets. We were meeting the Outlaw up there, and wanted to have all nine tickets together, so we ended up sitting in the club level, which ended up being worth it for me, which I’ll explain in a bit. So we walked in, and it was Lyle Overbay Bobblehead Night, so unlike in Kansas City where they only give them out to 20,000 people, they give one to everyone. They even had “special” ones that had a blue jersey instead of a white one the most people got. I got the blue one, baby!!! How cool am I? (Even my wife congratulated me on that when I got home.) Well, I think maybe the cool bobblehead got to my head, because I was feeling pretty good. Up until the part when I went to go get Timmy and me some hot dogs and beers. I bought them, and then I went over to put some Secret Stadium Sauce on them. Well, I set the tray with the hot dogs and beer on the counter, with the beers on the edge of the table. Well, I put sauce on the first dog, then the second, then the third, and when I grabbed the last one, wouldn’t you know it; the beers fell back onto my lap and on the floor. My leg was soaked, and not only did I feel like a complete dumbass, but I was out the $12 the beers cost. I was pissed. Luckily, we were in the club level, and the club level attendant saw my stupidity and got us free replacement beers, although the cashier was kind of a prick about it. I told him that I appreciated it, and he told, “Hold on!” I told him to take his time, as I was the idiot and they were doing me the favor that I was grateful for. He said, “Listen, I have numbers to account for! Hold on!” Even the attendant told the guy to relax, which I thought was funny. Anyway, the game itself sucked, as the Brewers lost, only had two hits, and scored their only run on a groundout, but we had a great time still. It’s always cool going to a game with over 41,000 there. After the game, we played washers in the parking lot. Also, some of the guys raced each other. It was kinda funny. Boot wanted to race anyone who would race him, like he wanted to prove something. And another thing: some guy with a megaphone was in the parking lot telling everyone how gays were going to hell, and Boot tried to grab his megaphone and talk. The guy eventually went away, and I’m pretty sure got his ass kicked as he went to other parts of the parking lot. We hung out a little longer until the traffic backed off, and just went back to Smitty’s place before going to bed.

Day Five

On Sunday, I woke up feeling better than any other day of the trip, besides Day One. And felt about the same as then. We planned on hitting the road at 9:15 AM, and we were off at 9 AM. The first leg of the trip was pretty uneventful, since we were driving though the worst stretch of highway in the world, I-88 in western Illinois. Western Illinois makes western Kansas look like Vegas. For about a 25 mile stretch, it was down to one lane traffic, only going about 45 MPH, and having orange barrels on each side of the lane about every ten yards. It was almost surreal looking, as they must have had about 100,000 barrels when you consider it was so long, and it was two barrels for each side of the highway and only about ten-to-twenty yards apart. Western Illinois sucks ass! Except for the greatest city in the world, Moline (which is practically Chicago, even if it’s two and a half hours away), where we had our first stop of Day Five. Moline, for those of you who aren’t aware, is the hometown of my friend Rob Deer. Moline Rock City, baby! Anyway, we drove into Moline, and from the highway it didn’t look any different from any other large town/small city. But once we pulled off into the area where the brewpub was, it looked like a fucking ghost town. It looked like Moline got in a battle royal with the three other Quad Cities and came away looking like it just went 15 rounds with Joe Frazier. Anyway, we found the Bent River Brewing Company around noon, and decided to park in the back. So we got out of the car, and within ten to twenty seconds of stepping out of the car, some old lady asked Timmy and I for a quarter to ride the bus. It was pretty damn funny. Timmy had one, gave it to her, and she went on her way, but what better way is there to be greeted in your buddy’s hometown than being asked for change? And she could have at least offered Timmy a handy. Oh well. We walked into Bent River through the back part, and the patio area seemed pretty nice. When we got inside, I think we startled the bartender as I don’t think they expected anyone before 5 PM. It was deader than dead. We ordered a couple of samplers, which came in fours, and a couple of burgers. The beers were actually pretty good in my opinion (I really liked the Dry-Hopped Pale Ale), and the patty melt I had was one of the best hamburgers I had ever had in my life. It was awesome. Timmy liked his burger too. I ordered a growler-to-go for Ron Mexico, Timmy got a pint glass, and we were on our way. Our next stop was John’s Grocery in Iowa City, where I had orders from Mr. C., Ron Mexico, and Doncock to bring them back beer that we cannot get in Kansas. I had a large order myself. In total, I bought eleven six packs, plus about another ten bottles and cans from John’s for the four of us (Timmy just used their bathroom to take another piss). We were there for about 45 minutes, and we were on our way to Des Moines. We originally discussed going to another brewery in Iowa, but we decided that since it was our last day, we just wanted to get home. Our last stop of beer trip (beside a couple more piss stops for Timmy) was the Court Avenue Restaurant and Brewing Company. This place was actually pretty cool, especially considering it was in Des Moines. Actually, I’ve only really driven through Des Moines, so I can’t really say anything bad about it. But Court Avenue was located in a cool part of town, and it looked like it was in an old building that they renovated really nice. It was early, so we only ordered appetizers, but they were good. The sampler was eight beers, and all were pretty tasty except for the Capital Raspberry Wheat, but I don’t like Raspberry beers anyway. I think my favorite was the Blackhawk Stout, as was Timmy’s. We were only there for about an hour or so, and then headed back home. Really an uneventful day, but after five days, it was about as good as we could have hoped for. We arrived at my house just before 9 PM, unpacked our stuff, and then Timmy and I sobbed for about a half hour, knowing that Beer Trip 2005 was in the books. Sniff. I still get teary-eyed thinking about it. It was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken, and the way it sounds, there will be a few more guys joining us next year for Beer Trip 2006 from the responses I’ve gotten.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Beer Trip I-Part One

Beer Trip had a simple beginning. Dan was taking five days to drive up to his hometown in Wisconsin and was going to stop at breweries and brewpubs along the way. At the time he had a blog and posted his plans on there. A coworker, Tim, that he knew in passing read this blog and asked to go along with him. He said 'sure,' and he began plotting the route. Setting out in August of 2005 in the xB, the two had no idea what was about to begin. Tim was a complete novice to craft beer and knew little outside of BMC and the local favorite Boulevard. Dan was already well versed in the culture.

The first stop was in Ames, IA at Olde Main Brewing Company (http://www.oldemainbrewing.com/). Located in a classic midwest downtown setting the beer and food were great. From there it was up to Mankato, MN. The stop there was the now unfortunately closed Bandana Brewery. Located in what can best be described as an old VFW or American Legion hall-it even had a bingo board-they had the best special of any brew pub in many many brew pub visits since. All you can drink from 7-11 for $5. This may explain why they didn't last. Crazy night filled with karaoke and way too many beers. Too many to even remember if they were good or not. The hotel room was a welcome site...if I remember. $5 ALL YOU CAN DRINK!!!!

The morning came way too early. A very hungover Dan tossed the keys at Tim and said "You can drive." The next stop was St. Paul and Great Waters Brewing Co. (http://www.greatwatersbc.com/) located in downtown St. Paul (one of the coolest cities in America, in this bloggers opinion). If memory serves, only a couple beers were consumed by each. And no one named Dan spent half the time in the bathroom. Really. Was at the table the whole time. Luckily, those couple beers was all it took for the hair of the dog affect to work. By the time they left, both actually felt really good. From there it was on to Wisconsin Dells, WI and Moosejaw Pizza and Brewery (http://www.dellsmoosejaw.com/). It's in a log cabin style building in a tourist town. Although, the pizza and beers were both really good and not just another tourist trap. No crazy happenings yet. From there it was on to Mad City. The next entry will pick up there and the events surrounding the visit to Capital Brewery and the interaction with some people and why Madison is known as Mad City. In the meantime, there are very few pics from this first trip so here's a pic of the exit for what I assume is the best city in Iowa.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The History of Beer Trip

Beer Trip was started in the summer of 2005. Dan, a professional beer writer, decided to take a trip to see his friends in Wisconsin. On his drive there he was going to stop at various breweries and brewpubs along the way. He posted his plans in a blog he used to write and a reader and co-worker, Tim, asked to tag along. This trip took the two of them through IA, MN, WI, and IL. The first trip was small and basic. After that trip though, it was decided to make it an annual event.

The next trip doubled the number of participants, adding Andy and Jerry. This trip marked the debut of the EM-50 UAV, the RV that gave them more room for people and beer to bring home. This trip took them through KS, CO, WY, and NE.

After BT II, they couldn't wait an entire year for another one. A small, two day trip was added. Dubbed Beer Trip 2.5, Dan, Andy, and Tim went up through NE, IA, and ND and back in two days.

Beer Trip III added even more to the group. Still including Dan, Tim, Andy, and Jerry, Kelly and Ed joined in. This trip was the biggest yet, going through MO, IL, IN, OH, MI, IL, and IA and hitting a total of 20 breweries and brewpubs.

Beer Trip 3.5 included the same group and went through MO and AR hitting 6 breweries and brewpubs.

Beer Trip IV was a change of pace. It was decided that Portland had to be hit. Instead of using the EM-50 and road tripping it, Dan, Tim, Andy, Kelly and two new participants, Don and Rob flew out west. This trip, besides Portland, included WA, other cities in OR, and even one in the Denver airport.

Beer Trip 4.5 brought the EM-50 back and had Dan, Tim, Andy, Kelly, Rob and the return of Ed, along with newcomer Adam. This took them through KS and OK.

Beer Trip V is upcoming this July and will be following a similar route as BT I, hitting different places for the most part.

More details on each trip, including the breweries visited, will be in future posts.



Creating this website to share the Beer Trip crew's adventures on our semi-annual Beer Trips. More updates to follow. Look forward to everyone's feedback. I hope all members of our crew will post their updates and photos.