Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Beer Trip III- Part 1

Beer Trip III was July 25-29, 2007. This trip was the second with the EM-50 and would take us east this time. The trip started out with a black cloud over it, as our founder and leader, Dan, was sick beyond belief when we rolled out of Overland Park. The trip this time had me, Dan, Andy, Jerry, and new inductees Kelly and Ed.

Day One:
Our first stop was across Missouri to O’Fallon Brewing Company in, you guessed, O’Fallon, MO. We arrived a little before 11AM for our tour and tasting. Our tour guide was Fran Caradonna, co-owner with her husband Tony, and she could not have treated us better. Small, but definitely growing operation.
From there it was on to Schlafly’s Taproom in St. Louis. Great food and great beers as expected. Dan had a sickness spell, but being a trooper, he soldiered on. No tour there as it’s their brewpub as opposed to the brewery itself. We enjoyed several great brews before heading out to Evansville, IN to Turoni’s Pizzery and Brewery for dinner. We arrived about 5PM and Dan immediately went to use the facilities. The rest of us sat around feeling horrible that he was so sick. We ate and tried a few beers and decided to get going on to our final destination of the day, Louisville, KY.

We arrived in Louisville pretty late due to the time change from Central Time to Eastern Time. We checked into our hotel which was way nicer than expected, a high rise in downtown Louisville. We decided to just hit Bluegrass Brewing Company since it was late. The cab ride there was terrifying on the way there. I’d expect that in Chicago or another huge city, but we were flying through Louisville like we were being chased by cops. We managed to safely arrive despite the ride over. We were split into two cabs, and the other half had a similar experience. Have to say BBC was an awesome place. I wasn’t expecting much, but it blew me away. The beers lived up to the reputation and were great. But the atmosphere itself made it all the better. Basically they had open jam sessions where people bring their guitars and jam out on the patio. The crowds were crazy as well, and that just added to the fun. After that we cabbed it back to downtown and crashed to rest up for the next day.

Day Two:
The next morning we were up early and ready to start heading north into Ohio. Our first stop was Cincinnati and BarrelHouse Brewing. The brewer treated us great and took us all through the operation. We all know the process very well, but it’s always fun to see at the same time. We all bought a case of bombers, and loaded up for the traditional Brewers game over at Great American Ball Park. The game was a loss, so we’ll move on, except to say they did offer some beers besides Bud/Miller/Coors at the stadium.

Next was Columbus and Barley’s Brewing. This is the point Dan seemed to be at his sickest. He looked awful and spent most of the time in the restroom. Surprisingly good brews and food, although Dan still being sick was a huge bummer. We headed on out for Cleveland, hoping for a leader that felt better and good times. Like all things though, it must get worse before it can better.
We arrived in Cleveland after dark and headed to the downtown Holiday Inn. We passed an exit for Parma en route, and I being drunk had spent the whole time singing “Moon Over Parma” from the Drew Carey Show. Surprised no one punched me. There were huge crowds in the lobby, and something felt off. I go to check in as the rooms were under my name. I stood in line for probably a half hour before getting to the counter. I give her my confirmation info and found out they had overbooked the hotel and we had no rooms. They had a Postal Service convention in town, and they took all the rooms. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, we were sent a half hour south to another Holiday Inn out in the suburbs. No apologies and acted like we should be grateful they did that for us. We decided to hit Great Lakes Brewery before going to the hotel since they were on the way. Great Lakes was in a great area of Cleveland and had a cool set up. The manager couldn’t have treated us better, as he took Dan (who finally was feeling better) and Andy to the already-closed-for-the-night gift shop and gave them a GLBC banner and some free schwag. They let us hang out for a bit even after they closed, giving us a couple of pitchers of whatever we wanted. Ed was cool enough to drive for us so I could drink away my frustration with Holiday Inn and the rest could live it up. We drove out to the ‘burbs and checked in to the hotel and passed out, not suspecting the next day would be one of the most memorable in Beer Trip history….


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