Monday, September 20, 2010

Beer Trip VI-Day Five

Day Five. Always a sad day for me. We normally take it easy on the fifth day, as the previous four have caught up to us. Also, the majority has wives and kids at home, and they don’t want to return home half-wasted. We set out from Ogallala, NE early in the morning. Our first of only two stops that day was actually a repeat visit: Thunderhead Brewing in Kearney. We had stopped there in Beer Trip II just as a stopping point, honestly not expecting too much. Thankfully we were treated to some excellent brews, so good in fact, we wanted to return. As luck would have it, we even had the same waitress we had four years ago. She remembered us somewhat, but the group had changed a lot since then.


Again, the brews were really good. That’s one of my favorite parts of Beer Trip. You’re in a small city in a low populated state, yet you find delicious beers being produced there. The Cornstalker Dark Wheat is one of my favorites, along with their MacTawisch Scottish Ale. They also have begun canning a couple of their beers since the last time we had visited. The Goldenfrau Honey Wheat and the Cornstalker are both available to take home or, because they can instead of bottle, to take tailgating, to parks, or camping. It’s a good thing, in my humble opinion, that more and more craft brewers are canning some of their beers. Bottles will always have a place, but for portability, you can’t beat a can of beer.

After we finished up lunch and brews at Thunderhead, it was time to go to our final destination, Nebraska Brewing Company in Papillion, Nebraska. We had heard the buzz in the beer community about what they were doing there and were excited to finally visit. We’re only a few hours south of NBC, but they don’t distribute to our area, and none of us had found the time to go up there, even for a day trip. Thanks to social networking I had connected with the owner, Paul, on Facebook. I had told him what we are all about and that we were going to be visiting, and we all hoped we could meet him if it fit into his schedule. Luckily for us he said he would be there and was looking forward to it.

We arrived in the late afternoon. It is located in your standard suburban outdoor shopping center, but what goes on inside is anything but standard. Also, we were meeting with some fellow craft beer advocates, Chad who lives in the Omaha area, and Dave, who came up from KC. We were welcomed by Paul almost as soon as we got in the door. He had set aside some tables for us in the bar area of the restaurant and he, along with his wife Kim, were soon bringing us over a huge selection of their fantastic beers. Their Hop God IPA I could not get enough of. It comes as no surprise it medaled in the World Beer Cup. It’s a Belgian style Tripel but hopped like an American IPA. It was a beer of true beauty. Thankfully I wasn’t driving that day, so my only concern was keeping my taste buds alive. The Cardinal Pale Ale was another hit with me. Throughout the tasting experience Paul and Kim were both there telling us about the beers, telling their story, and making the experience even better. I feel like I say it too much, but it never fails, that you will never meet greater people than those in the craft beer industry. They even pulled out some of their special and limited releases for us to try. Again, they are worthy of the high marks they receive. The Melange A Trois, which just won a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival on Saturday, and Black Betty were amazing.

Before we ate Paul took us on a tour of the facility. I was oddly fascinated by the fact their brew system came from Japan. Maybe it’s because most everywhere you visit get theirs from Germany, so this was really cool to me. Also, they actually barrel-aged their beers right there in the restaurant. I assumed they were there for decoration, but no, they actually were filled with delicious brew.

After the tour we ate dinner (no surprise, awesome food too) and hung out with Paul and Kim some more. We ended up staying about three hours longer than we had planned, but that’s a very good thing. Paul and Kim humored us by each putting a sticker on the back of the EM-50. Without any doubt in this one Tripper’s opinion, the best Day Five stop in BT history, and one of the best ever on any of the Beer Trips. I was unable to go there for the Black Betty release this fall because work has me out of the country, but I don’t plan on missing any more of their releases.

It was the perfect end to one of the best Beer Trips we have taken. Now the planning for Beer Trip VII begins in earnest, and the hope that it will be as good as VI. No matter what, I know we’ll meet great people and have a great time. You’ll be hearing from me soon, I’m sure.
Cheers!
Tim