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):
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.