I’m Not Sad It’s Over, I’m Glad It Happened…..

In the past week Tree House Brewing Company has moved will be moving their location and the Alchemist Brewery is closing its brewery off to the Public as of tomorrow.

Tree House Brewing was is still open at its old location at 63 St. Claire in Brimfield Ma.  I had the opportunity to go here and see its beauty one last time a few weeks ago.  I feel very fortunate and honored to have been able to visit here one more time before they move to Monson, Ma.  Sometimes neighbors are not so neighborly  but with this being said Tree House tried their hardest to appease all in the neighborhood.  This being said I have a feeling that the new brewery will be a sight to see.  If you have seen the photography from their website then you know their eye for style is as keen as it gets!  Also, Dean will still be there to be the friendliest greater at a brewery you have ever met!  Expect great things with 15 barrels of beer being made at one time!

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On the same note The Alchemist Cannery is set to close its doors  after tomorrow.  Also there were issues with neighbors as well which caused this to happen.  A year ago I failed at getting any Heady Topper but this past Monday I was fortunate enough to finally score a case (I’m also in the public frame of mind that one case is enough for one trip per person).   As good as the beer is the bigger treat was walking through the location and seeing it come off the line.  When you go to the cannery it is the place that you would expect to welcome tourists and visitors.  This also being said there will be a new merchandise store coming in the new year.   I don’t blame the Alchemist at all for their decision.  It was a decision to keep the brand going long-term. I know it wasn’t done on intentions but on sustainability!

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This is a sight that the public eye unfortunately will not be able to see.  The fortunate thing is that it will still be made and you might still be able to drink it!

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With more Heady Topper going to retail locations  for the time being this should be a sight less seen as well (maybe)!

I feel fortunate to have beerventures to both of these places and stories to tell (There will be separate blogs with lots of pictures forthcoming).  There is no doubt that both will keep producing fantastic phenomenal beer in the future!

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The Beerventure that was not meant to be!

A little over a year ago my mother came into town to visit. For a bit of background about my mother can be explained with this statement: She is extremely Southern Baptist!

So on this trip we first went to Portland Maine and that being said there would be no beer consumption or brewery visits.  On the way back she had mentioned to me that she wanted to get maple candies for members of a rest home that she volunteers at from time to time.  These candies were at Ben and Jerry’s.  What is next door to Ben and Jerry’s?:

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The Alchemist Cannery!!

That being said I was %110 up for going on this trip so I could get a full case. I couldn’t imagine how it would taste over and over again when I brought it to Boston. So three hours in the car to Boston my mission was to find the Heady.  Once arriving to the Cannery we ran into this familiar sight:

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Image available from Brewdrinkrun.com

Let’s just say that my soul was crushed and that I wasted a trip to VT in my mind. The worst was hearing the following words from my mother:

“God didn’t want you to have that beer!”

Let’s just say that I just wanted to crawl in a ball and sulk in a corner.  Also being with mom meant no sampling!

This being said I did what any self-respecting or deprecating Vermont Tourist would do and went next door to Ben and Jerry’s.  Afterwards I realized that I would be hungry and needed food for the ride home so we stopped at the Skinny Pancake in Montpelier.  I offered to buy an unopened can from the server and he immediately refused.  Afterwards I made the last-ditch effort to go to the  Hunger Mountain Coop and what do you know but no luck. Speaking with the cashier he informed me that they have a two four pack limit and got a pallet of it. It arrived on Friday and was gone by Saturday afternoon.  However I did end up with a bottle of Hill Farmstead “Anna” which was really really good!  Not everything was lost, “Anna” was delicious!

I was reminded about this because the news of today was that the cannery will not be open in a couple of weeks for the public.  From my understanding though and I have never been there but people were buying 5 cases of beer at a time which was a strain to them I am sure.  Also how can they ever get their beer out to the companies they have contracted to give their supply to if they can’t keep from getting the beer out the door.  We should look at this as an opportunity to support other businesses when we visit and other beers as well.  In case if you don’t or haven’t thought of the other spots to where you can get Heady Topper then here you go:

Mad River Valley:

Ake’s Den
Big Picture Theatre
Bridge Street Butchery
Castlerock Pub
East Warren Community Market
The Hyde Away
Hostel Tevere
Irasville Country Store
Mad Taco Waitsfield
Mehuron’s Market
Mint Restaurant & Tea Lounge
Mutha Stuffers
Nutty Steph’s VT Granola & Chocolate
Pine Tree Pub
Red Hen Bakery
The Inn at the Round Barn
Village Grocery
Waitsfield Wine Shop
Warren Store

Richmond-Jericho:

Jericho Country Store
Richmond Beverage
Rochmond Mobil Mart

Williston:

McGilliccuddy’s
Mexicali Grill and Cantina
Monty’s Tavern
Natural Provisions Market
Shelbourne Meat Market
Vermont Meat and Seafood Market

Burlington:

1/2 Lounge
60 Battery Street
A Single Pebble
Ake’s Place
Bessery’s Quality Market
Bluebird Barbecue
Bluebird Tavern
Bueno Y Sano
Buon Apetito
Burlington Bar Market and Cafe
Charlie’s Rotisserie & Grill
Cheese Traders
City Market
Daily Planet
Das Bierhaus
El Cortijo
Finnigan’s Pub
El Gato
Gracie’s Liquor
Guild & CO.
Logan’s of Vermont
Halvorson’s Upstreet Cafe
Healthy Living
Henry Street Deli
Higher Ground
Ice House
Juniper Bar
Ken’s Pizza
Manhattan Pizza
Marriot Courtyard
Merolla’s Market
Mr. Mike’s Pizza
Nectar’s
NIKA
Pearl Street Beverage
Penny Cluse Café
Pine Street Deli
Pistou
Pizzeria Verita
Radio Bean
RiRa’s Irish Pub
Route 7 Liquor
Ruben James
Skinny Pancake
Skinny Pancake – BTV Airport
Sweetwaters
The Farmhouse Tap and Grill
The Scuffer
Tratorria Delia
U-SAVE Beverage Center
Windjammer
Winooski Beverage

Waterbury:

Arvad’s Grill and Pub
Blue Stone Pizza
Cold Hollow Cider Mill
Cork Wine Bar & Market
Crossroad Beverage
Hen of the Wood
Michael’s on the Hill
Sunflower Natural Foods
Tanglewoods Restaurant
The Prohibition Pig
The Reservoir
The Village Market

Barre:

Beverage Baron
Corner Stone Pub & Kitchen
M&M Beverage
Mulligan’s Irish Pub

Montpelier:

Berlin Street Mobil
Hunger Mountain Coop
Kismet
Mad Taco Montpelier
Montpelier Village Pizza
Positive Pie
Skinny Pancake
Three Penny Taproom
Uncommon Market

Stowe/Morrisville:

10 Acres Lodge
AlpineMart
Bee’s Knees
Blue Donkey
Burt’s Pub
Cactus Café
Charlie B’s Restaurant
Crop Bistro & Brewery
Edelweiss Mountain Deli
Frida’s Taqueria & Grill
Gracie’s
Green Mountain Inn
Moog’s Place
Mountain Cheese &Wine
O’Grady’s Grill
Pickwick’s
Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge
RimRock’s Mountain Tavern
Stowe Beverage
The Pizza Joint
Tomlinson’s
Top Notch Resort
Stowe Cinema
Vermont Ale House

Essex:

Essex Discount Beverage
The Essex Resortt and Spa
Fairgrounds Beverage
Sweet Clover Market

Winooski:

Misery Loves Company
Monkey House
Mule Bar
Sammy’s Quick Stop

Is Heady Topper that good?!  Yes!  If we were to do a blind taste test with say Night Shift’s “Citranation” orSlumbrew’s “Snow Angel” or Backlash’s “Salute” and have “Heady Topper” as the fourth beer would you have a hard time picking a winner?  You probably would.

It’s true that God didn’t want me to have Heady Topper that day but I did have it and it was good! That being said we can’t treat it like it is the only beer out there.  I did get the bottle of “Anna”.  As a drinker of craft beer and a homebrewer I can say that doing the same thing over and over is boring and unimaginative. If Heady Topper is the only beer that you will drink then you are as closed-minded as the repetitive Bud Light drinker.

The Alchemist is doing the right thing and they are allowing the businesses around them sell their beer which will make everyone more profitable in the long run!

Beerventure: Indiana and Michigan (Three Brewery Stops In One Day With A Surprising Twist)

So the day after the Chicago Marathon I felt it was a good idea to escape the city of Chicago for a day and head east to “Beer City 2013” Grand Rapids, MI. So a friend whom I had caught up with went with me on the trip.  Our first stop was Three Floyds Brewery and Brewpub in Munster:

Three Floyd’s is a very interesting place to say the least.  My assumption was that they opened up at 11 am but it didn’t open until 11:30.  There was already a couple of people waiting to get inside even though it wasn’t opening for 30 minutes.

Once inside it was what you would expect, There was a long line to the beer store side of things and the place started to fill up!

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Three Floyd’s was very interesting to say the least.  It was in an industrial park which to be honest going to different breweries you will find a lot of breweries that are in industrial parks though.  That Bison Burger you see in the picture above with truffle fries was by far the best food I had on the full trip to Chicago including Giordano’s pizza!   The only think I was upset about is that there wasn’t more flight options available.  The only options available were the four house beers and there were more than 20 on their list.  My friend felt a little geeked out because this has to be the official brewery and brewpub of the movie “Heavy Metal”.  I mean the bartender was tattooed from head to toe with tattoos (emphasis on the face). After this we decided it was time to Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids is an interesting town because it is just like any other town you have within a 30 mile radius if you are not in a Mountain time state. This being said it was interesting to go back to Eastern Standard time.  We arrived in at Founders and I must say that it almost looks like a nice bar or function hall and not so much a brewery if you look at it at the right angle.  In my opinion Founders is definitely a top 10 brewery with the beers they produce and their taste.  At the brewery they had the staples such as All Day IPA and Centennial Pale Ale but they also had some of their rare stuff like Barrel Aged Mango Main Guy!  Oh and just to say it Barrel Aged Mango Main Guy was just that good!

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We next went to Brewery Vivant.  It was very interesting to say the least.  Built inside of a former church or funeral home you have to say there is some terrific ambiance here!  You could create your own flight here as well which was really cool.  Also I got to talk to some of the local residents about beer trading and the gentleman I spoke with brought up Night Shift in Massachusetts (I ran by foot there and back home the other night).  It was interesting to have a beer called “Love Shadow” which was really good as well! After this it was time to head back to Chicago…..

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This is where the trouble began.  I was pulled over and I took a couple of minutes to do it.  The police officer was less than pleased and I couldn’t figure the car out to roll down the window (it was a rental car). That being said I was asked to step out of the car and take the test a police officer asks you to take when you have had a couple of beers to drink.  I had to describe what a flight was to the officer but I think he might have not understood.  Afterwards he ordered the breathalyzer.  It was a scary incident.  I didn’t feel close to drunk but scared.  I was pulled over because I left my headlights off! The breathalyzer was in another police car so I sat in the back of a police car with a plastic seat.  When the other officer got there they set it to zero! I blew into it….time elapsed… also think about my friend who is in the car waiting and not for sure what to do…it was a 0.50 which is .3 under the limit.  I was free to go but it was scary.  It made me realize and let others know that you have to be careful when you have had some beer to drink and you are driving!  Also I was suggested to go to TGIfridays up the street. I tried to find something more local but no luck.  I drove back to Chicago, ate a Chicago Style Hot Dog, Did my #deckaday, and then went to bed.

P.S. The video below is a prime example of what can happen to you if you do drink too much!

Beerventure: Wisconsin!

While visiting Chicago I felt like it was appropriate to take a day to visit Wisconsin.  When setting up the Vert Big Bad Wolf Race in Ipswich Ma I saw that Z who runs Wolf Hollow was wearing a New Glarus “Spotted Cow” T-shirt.  I had mentioned how I had tried the beer last year on my previous marathon in Chicago and how good it was.  He told me how beautiful it was.  I took his word for it (I also thought it was a pretty awesome T-shirt).  My point on this is that if Z were to have not have worn that shirt before things got busy that day I may have not have thought to go to New Glarus to their brewery! Also, having “Booyah” from Milwaukee Brewing Company I knew that would be the second stop (or intended third stop) on this Beerventure. Here is the adventure it led to:

I had decided to rent a car with a friend and head to New Glarus, first stop was to the Bridgeport Diner for pancakes,  then to Bridgeport Coffee (because my friend could never have enough coffee), then finally the interstate! Driving through Chicago isn’t the easiest task and considering that the roads were in constant construction on the way to Rockford, IL it was going to make for a long trip! Everything was one lane for about 40 miles which made the ride slow. It also compounds things a little when you get to Beliot, Wi and it just looks like the town where a town police officer is looking to pull someone over for going two miles over the speed limit!  After this it was time to see the beautiful scenery and in running terms get a lot of kills (that is passing runners in a race) over a lot of different cars on the two-lane Wisconsin roads.

We finally reached our destination and the views were spectacular:

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I did take this photo from online and to the person I took it from, I’m sorry and thank you.  Here is a vine to show how awesome it was as well!  I just think that everyone should see the beauty from the outside!

By just viewing the area at the Brewery it looks like it would be the perfect location for a trail race!

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The interior is just as beautiful as the exterior as well:

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The beer here was absolutely delicious and I ended up with a T-shirt, two glasses from tastings, and another purchased glass separately. I also had the “Strawberry Rhubarb” beer which was fantastic as well as “Black Top” and “Staghorn” were awesome as well.  I had a full Pint of “Moon Man” which might have been the most fantastic pale ale I have ever had!

The plan afterwards was to go into Madison for beers but unfortunately after speaking with the lady in the beer shop it was evident that we didn’t have enough time.  We had to get to Milwaukee to go to Milwaukee Brewing Company.  Arriving a couple of minutes after 5pm we were able to go in:

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The tour was $10 but you got full pours of just about everything on draft except for O-Gii which at over 9% you got a token for just one but be it a delicious one with no boozy taste to it as well as a beer token for another MKE beer at a local establishment later.  I wasn’t expecting full pours but they kept coming.  “Pull Chain”, “Louie’s Demise”, “Hop Happy”, and “Polish Moon” were all fantastic!  There fall offering of “Sasquash” had the perfect fall nose in it!

I didn’t used the free beer coupon from New Glarus or the separate token for a free beer from Milwaukee Brewing Company but I have to make sure that I use both of them when I come back to run the Chicago Marathon next year.

Cheers!

#Deckaday tourism

So the November Project is pushing people to do a Deck of Cards workout for 30 31 days.  My thoughts were that I could do it for 10 days then take a few days off for the Chicago Marathon and then go directly back to it. I got called out and those who were taking the day off were called out.  I had told someone that I was going to stop with the #Deckaday around the middle of this week but I realize that this is a 30 31 day commitment and I am at least going to do a 100 days in a row of it in the vein of the 100 x 100 challenge!

I haven’t been able to post pictures to Twitter (and therefore I haven’t announce it over twitter) for the last three days but here is a recap of what happened (I’ve also created #Deckart to make the challenge more creative and maybe fun):

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Elin announced on Tuesday He couldn’t do a #Deckaday so I created his image while doing #deckaday in 16:40.

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#Massdeck was done in 18:20 on Wednesday!

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#Illinoisdeck was done in 19:37 when I got off the plane and got to my friends apartment.

My friend Elin was under doctors order had to stop his #Deckaday.  I had told him that I was going to take it easy and stop doing it but Elin said to go a little slower.  This along with being called out made me reassess.  I am going to push through and keep it up.  Not only for the 31 but for the 100 (at  least).  #Deckxs100 will live and It could further itself into a #deckstreak. Since I am out-of-town I think it might be optimal to give #deckaday tourism a second definition.  This machine plans on going to 100 and maybe further even through the marathon. I have to commit to 31 days in a row if I am to use the #deckaday (it’s the rules).

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I did my deck in 20:47 and now it is time to go to this place above for a Beerventure (Beer Adventure)!