Home brewing in Connecticut Discussions - CT Beer Trail

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fermentation Friday: "Craziest Concoction"




This month's installment of Fermentation Friday asks the following question...

"What is the craziest concoction you ever came up with, on the fly or prepped, to brew with."


Was this about crazy brewing kit setups, or crazy ideas for brewing up strange beers? I focused on the later, but I'm probably wrong... Life goes on...

Crazy Concoctions
I haven't progressed beyond extract (with grain) kits, I'm still learning to crawl in this world of home brewing. And I still using the basic equipment, a big stainless steel pot, turkey fryer, glass carboy, etc... With that said, I do have some unique ideas for some more interesting beers to make once I get my skills up to par, and here they are:

  • Something (maybe rice based?) w/ light wasabi and ginger flavoring, for pairing with sushi
  • A NUT Brown Ale, with cashew flavoring, maybe try other nuts too, don't ask, I'm nuts...
  • Hard Root Beer (I've seen hard lemonade and hard cider, why not hard root beer?)
  • Hard Ginger Ale (Same comment as above)
  • Thanksgiving Ale, with the same seasonings that go into Mom's stuffing... Think poultry seasoning, with either a Brown Ale base or a Pale Ale base. Might be gross, but who cares?
  • Ginsing, caffeine and multi-vitamin infused low carb beer... A "health" or energy beer?
  • Italian Grinder Beer - Think pizza seasoning, garlic, oregano, etc... Maybe even a hint of tomato (OK, that sounds gross... but might be fun!)
  • Apple Crisp, capture the flavor of Grandma's apple crisp with a sweet apple/cinnamon flavored beer, that ends with a nice dry crispy finish. Need some malty toasty goodness in there too... Think Macintosh apples, brown sugar, and a kick of hops perhaps?
  • Pancake/maple syrup flavoring in a coffee based beer. Breakfast of champs...
OK, most of those ideas are over the top, some have been done already, and most are kind of gross... But I really think the Wasabi/Ginger beer may be a good idea. And the "health beer" and "breakfast beer" would be a fun novelties...

Back to reality... First thing first, I want to move onto making my own standard recipes before I go crazy with stuff like this. A nice English Pale Ale, or an IPA for starters... I'm still learning to crawl, soon I will be walking, but these crazy hair brain ideas are more of a full on sprint, and I'm not in shape just yet. Still it's fun to let your imagination run wild...

hmmmmmm how about Buffalo Chicken flavored beer? ENOUGH!

(Not So) Crazy Brewing Equipment
As far as equipment goes, I purchased an old Gatorade cooler on Craig's List, in the hopes of making a mash tune, but I haven't gotten off the couch to do so yet. That's about as far as I've gotten into crazy ideas. Hold me back, I'm out of control! With the baby coming, time is short, and creativity is used elsewhere. My new homebrew convert (Dave) has already hit the ground running and has made his own wort chiller with some goodies he purchased at Home Depot. But I had this idea yesterday...

What if you could rig up a motor to run on the gases produced by fermentation? Perhaps some day you could power a car off of a large carboy of fermenting IPA! Now that would be something... Think Mr. Fusion from "Back to the Future" meets "Strange Brew." If you recall, Doc Brown dumped a can of Miller in the engine of the old DeLorean. Drive on it for a week or so, and then bottle it for later drinking and start another batch so you can drive to work. (Wash, Rinse, Repeat...) Then again, that was just to power the Flux Capacitor, not the engine. But I digress...

What is Fermentation Friday?
Fermentation Friday is the brain child of Adam from beerbits2 Every month a new topic relating to home brewing is selected and beer bloggers are encouraged to blog about it, typically on the last Friday of the month.

I'll be hosting in Dec!
I'll be hosting Fermentation Friday in December, so chime in if you have any ideas for a good topic. Right now I'm thinking about something like, "How have you shared the gift of homebrewing?" in keeping with the gift giving holiday season... Or, "How do you involve your love of good beer and home brewing in your holiday celebration?"

Any other ideas? Only six more months to go!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Spreading the joy of homebrewing Part 2 - The first tasting (IPA)

Earlier in the month, I took the time to teach a buddy (Dave) how to homebrew, with the moral support of another friend (Kenn).

My goals were two fold:

  1. I wanted to teach a man how to "fish" or in this case how to brew... The old saying goes, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." For me, it should read, "Give a man a beer and he'll enjoy beer for an hour. Teach a man to homebrew and enjoy beer for a lifetime."
  2. I wanted to cultivate a brew buddy.
Mission accomplished on both accounts! And in the process we decided to thumb our collective noses at the hop shortage, and brew up an IPA.

Today, after a long day at work, and after passing my physical fitness test (I'm in the military), I decided to crack open the first bottle and test the brew. If all went well, I'd bring a 6 pack in to work this weekend and share it with some gents about to be promoted...

The verdict is...




Not too bad, but it may need a little more conditioning. Amber in color, slight haze, and a delightful creamy head that clings to the sides of the glass. The hops are apparent, but I could use a little more... (When did I become a hop-head?) The malty flavor adds balance, with a buttery/biscuity finish. This coupled with the "moderate" (moderate for a hop-head) hop level will make this an approachable IPA for those of my friends that aren't quite hop-heads yet.



Not awesome, but not too bad either. Very drinkable, and would serve as a good "bridge" IPA to indoctrinate a non-IPA loving beer drinker. Would like to try making something similar, but with more hops, and oak barrel age it. Some day...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More beer bloggers of note

I've recently added a couple new sites to my Other Beer Bloggers of Note section, located towards the bottom of the site along the right side. If you haven't check out these blogs, you really should. Each one offers a unique perspective on beer and/or home brewing. My most recent additions are highlighted below:

  • Confessions of a BeerkGeek (Eli the Mad (Beer) Man has a ton of interesting content on his site. If you haven't checked it out yet, you really need to do so now!)
  • Beer for Chicks (Christina Perozzi works to dispel many misconceptions that women have about beer. She knows her stuff and has an interesting site, go there now!)

If I linked to your site, it means I like it and read it. But I sure would appreciate it if you reciprocated. (hint-hint)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Final Thoughts on the American Craft Beer Fest


Attending the American Craft Beer Fest came at a cost... A 4 hour round trip with today's gas prices, 45 minutes in line, $40 spent each (not including parking, food, and the previously mentioned gas), soar feet and some serious exhaustion and even a little dehydration...

Was going to the American Craft Beer Fest really worth it? I've had a full night's sleep to and plenty of time to ruminate over it and I can honestly say, YES IT WAS!

I posted my initial thoughts last night here, but I think Kenn summed it up perfectly when he said...


"It's not about spending $40 for 4 hours of 'little beers'... it's more about the experience..."

Kenn enjoying the experience...


Getting there not half the fun, but not bad...

Logistically, getting to the fest was a breeze, traffic was light, parking was ample, and the ticket purchasing and line waiting portions of the day were very tolerable. Parking was ample, anywhere from $10 - $12 for the day, or if you had plenty of change in your car, you could fill a parking meter and get enough time for the session for about $3-$4. Next year, consider bringing quarters.

The mean man scares me daddy...
I caught a brief glimpse of Todd Alström, while I was purchasing my ticket, and really wanted to say hi and snag a photo op with him. But he was really busy, and I wasn't sure he ever forgave me for that time I mistakenly broke his forum rules and "pimped my blog" there. He had given me a stern talking to, and there's only so many Mia Culpas a guy can give... Actually, I'm kidding... Todd was very gracious, and forgiving... I'm really just a little afraid of him and his facial hair, not to mention that crazed look in his eyes... LOL!



Who are these people?

Waiting in line gave us a chance to size up the crowd we would be spending the early afternoon with. We decided that if you "added everyone up and divided by how ever many folks were there" you'd get an average guy in his mid to late 30s with moderate to high beer knowledge, looking to broaden his horizons a bit and have a good time, essential someone much like myself. Now don't get me wrong, there was also a fair amount of female beer drinkers in the crowd, as well as some older and some younger folks. One guy commented that this would be the place to go if you were a single lady looking for a guy. Especially if your idea guy loves beer. So there you go ladies, this may be the venue for you!

Tons of beer and tons of people...

Can you feel the excitement?
There was a very tangible sense of excitement in the crowd, waiting for the doors to open and the event to begin. Everyone was nice, I did not encounter a single drunken idiot, not even in the mirror! As the crowd got larger, and the room got a little louder, folks remained calm, jovial and courteous. If someone bumped into you, they smiled and said they were sorry. Unplanned discussions on various beer related topics would pop up between small groups of friends and complete strangers alike. It wasn't uncommon for a random person to say, "Hey have you tried this beer yet? You gotta try it, it's perfect!"

There was a wide variety of beers and breweries to choose from. Some had longer lines than others, but the lines moved quickly. The good folks serving up their beers were more than happy to discuss the finer points of products to help educate.

Unsung heroes we salute you!
The real unsung hero of this fest were the lowly rinse bucket swappers. Now I don't know if that's and official title, but that's what I called them. In between samples, you go to one of the many rinse stations set up through out the fest. There you find 4 cooler jugs of clean water to rinse out your sample cup with. After swishing a little clean water around, you dump it into a bucket. Those buckets quickly filled with a mixture of beer, water, and what ever other unpleasant substances folks decided to dump in them. And they filled up quickly. This is where the lowly rinse bucket swappers would swoop down and save the day by changing out those nasty buckets and refilling the all important water jugs. With out them, the fest floor would be a sticky, stinky mess and it would be nearly impossible to get a quality untainted sample. Heroes I tell you, heroes!

What did we get out of this day?
We got the chance to hit the open road, leave town and have a little adventure. Once at the fest we got to try a wide variety of beers in styles we may not have been overly familiar with. Kenn learned that he really enjoys Porters and Stouts, but not so much the Imperial Stouts. I got to try some interesting things like blended beers, oak aged beers, etc...

Beers of note from my point of view were:
My thoughts on twittering the event
So I gave Twitter another try, and sorta twitter blogged my way through the fest... Looking at the text messages I sent, I'm not sure if this little service I provided was of any use or entertainment value to anyone who may have checked it out.

That being said, it served a purpose for me. I didn't need to take extensive notes to remember the event. The twitter updates serve as memory joggers for me the next morning. That being said, there's only so much you can say in a sentence or two while typing on your cell phone, especially if you have clumsy monkey hands like me...


I may try to do something like this again, in the future, but I'll need to have some twitter updates planned. In other words, an outline to follow and twitter on. Cover the scene, what is the atmosphere at the event, twitter that, and then check that off my list. What was my first beer of the event, twitter that with a 1 sentence review, and check that off the list. Ask Garrett Oliver something deep, twitter that and his response, then check that off the list, etc.

My free-form Twittering amounted to a lot of gibber jabber to someone that was not there next to me all day long. I need to take a more organized approach next time. But all those people, all that beer, it was all very distracting, and a lot to encapsulate via twitter updates... Besides, the more I typed, the less beer I could enjoy...

Next time I'll bring extra video cards and get a couple short interviews as well... It was a learning experience, but over all, still a lot of fun...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

American Craft Beer Fest: Good Times






I just got back from the American Craft Beer Fest in Boston, and boy are my arms tired! Somethings I learned the hard way:

  • Sandals are not the best thing to have on your feet if you're going to be standing and walking around all day
  • Twitter updates from your phone to your blog sound cool, but in retrospect, may not be all that interesting to those that read your blog
  • Beer "celebs" are really just normal people
  • 4 hours of unlimited 2 ounce beers is really more than enough time
  • After 8 samples, it becomes hard to really appreciate the subtle nuances of the beer

Twitter updates seemed like a good idea, but in retrospect, I'm not sure...
What do you think? Was it worth while doing the Twitter thing?


All that aside, I had a blast! If you get a chance to attend one of the beeradvocate.com sponsored beer fests in the future, I recommend you take advantage of the opportunity. This was a great chance to sample a wide variety of beer, and hang out with some great folks!

Look, it's Garrett Oliver, no really, that's him! He poured me a beer!

My first stop was the Brooklyn Brewery table. Garrett Oliver poured me a beer and we chatted very briefly. Kenn tried to get a photo of us, but my camera was a little slow, so I got the photo below with Garrett right before he went on stage to give his talk. A very approachable guy, but I'm not sure what he was thinking with that cowboy shirt. Are those hops? LOL! That being said, my second chin decided to pay me a visit for this photo. Good times!

What's worse the shirt or my double chin???

The folks at Flying Dog Brewery continue to impress me with their kindness. I recognized Steph, that kind and generous young lady from Flying Dog, that continues to send me samples for my reviewing purposes. They were kind enough to let me go behind the counter, breaking a ACBF rule, so I could get a photo with them. Thanks guys, you're the best!

Flying Dog Brewery, by far the nicest people I've had the pleasure
of meeting in the beer industry to date!
Thanks for all the samples Steph, please keep them coming...

I have no idea who the folks pictured above are, but I was very impressed by their pretzel necklaces. Although if one had a pretzel necklace and the other a mustard necklace it may have been a little more impressive. A few folks had these edible pieces of jewelry on them, a great idea for the fest. A few other folks had necklaces that would hold their sampling cups for them, brilliant! I really needed something to keep my cell phone close but out of hand...

Ken enjoying a beer from Sherwood Forest Breweries...

The four hour window for the session created a false sense of urgency. "We only have 4 hours, we need to try everything, and fast!" In reality, 4 hours was more than enough time to try what ever you wanted. But I think if I were in charge, I'd make it an all day event for the same price. I think folks would take their time more and really think about what they were drinking. I'm not saying folks weren't, but with four hours, and so many beers to sample, I could see how the samples could creep up on you...

American Craft Beer Fest's dark secret, the hidden crappers!
All that "recycled "beer has to go somewhere folks!
Out houses inside... Who da thunk it?!?

What no one wants to talk about... The dark underbelly of the American Craft Beer Fest consists of a rows of secret out houses. In door out houses, no less... Oh the horror! Actually, I would have expected that finding a place to relieve myself would be a challenge, but not the case. These guys are pros and planned accordingly...




While exploring the dark underbelly of the fest, I decided to do a quick interview of two fest volunteers. "How do you like working the fest, is it something you'd do again or recommend to others?" They seemed to like working the fest, but my camera card ran out of space. We may never know how this interview ended... But seriously, there were a lot of folks working to make this a great event. Some even had the pleasure of dumping out the rinse buckets... Not glamorous, but critical none the less. Let's give all those worker bees a big round of applause!


Kenn's brother showed up, he's a real beer geek...
Is that a secret family hand shake?

Kenn and I have very different tastes in beer, but with so many choices, it really didn't matter. We even found a few beers we could agree on...

A very special moment, Kenn (who likes malty beers, and I (a recently converted hop-head), found a beer we could both agree on... Terrapin's Oak Aged Rye Square, bold but balanced! Good stuff!


Kenn, the English teacher who likes a good stout,
enjoys a Shakespeare Stout from Rouge...


While Kenn was getting cultured, I had to try the Hop Obama. I never pass up a novelty that involves politics and beer, even if the brand of politics differs from my own. But I gotta ask, where are the McCain Ales? What gives here people? Conservatives dig quality beer too... I decided to reach across the aisle and try one of these tasty, left leaning, hoppy brews. Not bad, not bad at all! I had a Presidential IPA (a beer made in honor or Bill Clinton) last week in AR, and now this week a Hop Obama... What has become of me?

This is me, having a Hop Obama... Tasty, good stuff...
"Yes we can," enjoy a beer despite our political leanings!
Ah, look at that hopeful look in my eyes...
I like the beer better than the politician.
Why don't they make conservative beers?


This was a great event, but I'm tired. This is a short post, because I'm frankly out of energy...

Next year, if I attend, I'll get a hotel room in the area and make a night of it. I will say that 4 hours of beer sampling exhausted me. I must be getting old. I could have used a nap after the session, to get my second wind, before taking on the city. Kenn and I hiked over to the Bell in Hand for one more beer and some wings before heading home.

Kenn hydrates at the Bell in Hand...

All things considered, I'd say a good time was had by all... If you get a chance to try a fest like this in the future, by all means do so... It offers you a great opportunity to explore your beer tastes, try new styles and new breweries. Give it a try! Some final thoughts (a day later) here.

Cheers!

American Craft Beer Fest (via Twitter)

I'm heading out to Boston this morning to take part in session 1 of the American Craft Beer Fest with a couple of friends. 75 American brewers, 300 craft beers! What more could a guy ask for?

Stay tuned for updates via Twitter...
I've never really used Twitter, minus a few times I goofed around with it as a proof of concept. But today I will try to update my blog, via my cell phone and Twitter, in part to chronicle my adventure, and also to take electronic notes that I will use to flesh out for a full on blog post later in the week. (If I have the time that is...)

This little exercise in electronic media may or may not be of interest to anyone out there in the beer blogging world. I notice I some how gained 4 followers on twitter, although I really never did anything with it. so maybe, at the very least, you four lonely souls will gather some sort of insight into what makes this guy tick...

At any rate, I've moved my Twitter updates to the top of my blog, just above this post as a matter of fact! (Unless you looking at this days later after I've posted again, but you get my point.) If you get bored, stop in and keep tabs on me and the American Craft Beer Fest!

Cheers!

American Craft Beer Fest: Good Times

Final Thoughts on the American Craft Beer Fest

Monday, June 16, 2008

Spreading the joy of homebrewing - hops shortage be damned!

For the most part, I've brewed alone. No big groups of guys huddling around the boiling pot drinking and joking it up. I envy guys like this. The life of a solo home brewer is a lonely one.

Oh sure, one of my buddies would occasionally come over and help out a little, but more out of courtesy and an excuse to hang out and have a few beers. While there was an appreciation for the end product, there was no real love of the hobby from those friends.

Not wanting to push my "religion" on my friends, I stopped asking, and brewed alone for the most part. (cue the violins...)

But my buddy Dave G. has been hinting around about a growing interest in home brewing over the past 6 months, and finally decided to take the plunge. The idea started off with a deal, he'd help me fix up the dry wall in future son's bedroom, and I'd teach him how to brew up a batch of beer. A few weeks later, the baby's room is looking pretty good, and there's a 5 gallon batch of IPA bottle conditioning in my basement. All is right in the universe!

YES HIS FIRST HOMEBREW WAS AN IPA! HOP SHORTAGE BE DAMNED!

We made the trip out to my favorite home brew shop to get a simple brew kit and some sanitizer, we ended up leaving with all of that, and a complete array of brewing equipment for Dave as well. He was hooked before we even started to boil out water...

A couple of days later he came over and helped me assemble my new "beer maker" I call "Ol' Bessy" (AKA "Turkey Fryer"). My wife was kind enough to buy me this setup for my birthday back in April. Dave is a bit more handy than I, so he made quick work of the assembly process. He was the same guy that assembled my patio heater a coupe of years ago, a handy guy to have around to say the least...

"It cooks turkey's too?"

Dave yammers on about using the right tool for the right job...
Insert screw B in to washer A while turning nut C, blah blah blah... Got any more beer?



Meh! Slapping together something with this many BTUs can't really be all that hard.
I mean, it's not like it's going to burn down my house or anything!
WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?!?
*GULP*

As a bonus, my friend and former room mate from my college days, Kenn, came by to hang out and have a few beers with us. He even brought a tasty bottle of Cisco's Whale's Tale English Pale Ale with him, which I drank later in the week. Good stuff, review coming soon! THANKS KENN!

"Fowl is fair and fair is fowl!" Kenn adjusts the heat source while Dave stirs the wort...
Kenn, as an English teacher can you tell me if it's "foul" or "fowl"?


I let Dave do most of the work, I figured he'd learn more by doing and that it would be a nice change of pace just to hang out and give instruction, take a few pictures, and enjoy a few home brews. Which reminds me, we were slinging back a few bottles of the Witbier I made for my last batch. It was dual purpose. Nothing better than enjoying home brew while making homebrew, that and I needed the empty bottles for this batch.

Note on the Witbier: I never really did post a blog entry about the results of the Witbier, overall, pretty darn good! The only issue I had with that batch was the faulty flip top seals. I had my fair share of flat beers, but when they were good, they were really good! I made sure to get new seals for this batch, all should be well!


Dave pours the water into the pot and fires up "Ol' Bessy" for her maiden voyage.


Homebrewing is so easy, even this guy can do it! He's a natural!
Careful Dave, you know what they say about hot water!


Teaching someone how to homebrew is lot of fun. And I can honestly say, brewing with at least one more person is much more enjoyable than going at it alone. If you have someone that would like to learn, I highly recommend teaching them. You might just develop yourself a brew buddy.


Dave tries to cram two cheese cloth bags worth of grain into one bag.
That's my bad, I didn't notice the second bag until later... Oops!



As the wort boiled, the guys and I joined my wife in the backyard by the fire pit and talked about a variety of topics: Beer, politics, my wife's pregnancy, beer, etc. It was a very nice and relaxing evening for all. Good times!

Kudos to my wife: She's very pregnant at this point, and she was very open to this last minute brewing endeavor. She even helped me a week later on bottling day. I don't call her my "Ale Wife" for nothing! Apparently the baby likes the smell of brewing beer, the moving stomach tells no lies...



I (AKA "Dad") took a break from brewing to capture my unborn child's reaction to the brewery smells emanating from the back deck of the house. The movements are subtle, but they are there. Note Dave's questions on securing the grain filled cheese cloth bag in the background...

Here's the "Ale Wife" prior to the pregnancy...
And she's still looking pretty damned good today too. I'm a lucky man to say the least...



At any rate, Dave's first go at home brewing was a blast for all of us. It was fun to kick back a little take a back seat, let someone else "drive" for a change. I really enjoyed sharing my hobby, and some quality time with good friends and family is always a good time. Dave liked it so much, he kicked off the training wheels and brewed his own batch of beer at his place a couple of days later. He even went out to Home Depot and purchased the parts to build his own wort chiller. Man this guy is good! Looks like I'll be learning from him as much as he'll be learning from me.

Both batches are now bottle conditioning, and we plan on getting together and sharing our combined efforts with a bunch of friends. Who knows, maybe we'll convert a few more folks to the ways of home brewing.

You've heard of a boy and his dog, I call this one a boy and his wort...
UhOh! "Old Yeller" seems to be foaming, might have to put him down...


Stay tuned for the results of our post brew taste off in a few weeks!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Little Rock, big beer

I just flew home from a week out of town on business, and boy are my arms tired... (cue the snare drum...) No but seriously folks, I really did just get back from Little Rock Arkansas. While I was out there, after my long tedious days in training were over, I took a little time to enjoy the beer culture the area had to offer.

I didn't really take copious notes, do any formal beer reviews, or even take any photos on my little excursions, but here's what I can remember of my time in Little Rock...



Flying Saucer in the River Market area of Little Rock is a great if you're looking for a nice place with an awesome beer selection. It's located right on President Clinton Ave, and you gotta wonder if Slick Willie himself ever had a pint there... The place has a ton of space, and a wall of taps, not to mention a huge selection of bottled beers as well. I started the evening with a Chimay Grand Reserve and an outstanding club sandwich...

Chimay Grand Reserve - Deep amber brown with a full creamy head. Malty with citrus undertones, a nice well balanced beer. A tasty brew to say the least, but the young lady in the catholic school girl's outfit that served me warned me not to steal the Chimay glass it came in... After all, what would the monk's think?

We were there on a Monday night, which means the beers on tap were all $2.75 (all day and night) what a deal!

While I did not get the chance to visit Diamond Bear Brewery, I did get an ample opportunity to taste a few of their beers at various locations in the area, the hotel lobby not the least of them.

Their Honey Weiss was OK... A little light for me, but perhaps something suitable for cooling down on a hot summer afternoon. Their Pale Ale was an all around solid beer, but I think I've been hitting the IPAs a little too much as of late. I really needed something with a more robust flavor, and their Presidential IPA fit the bill nicely.

This was the last beer I had in Little Rock. I grabbed a pint on a whim at the air port last night while I waited for my flight home. That hoppy kick in the pants I was looking for was found in this full bodied, but well balanced beer, packed with flavor.

They really do have a thing for Bill Clinton down there... If I had the time, I would have elected to have another off the tap. FOUR MORE BEERS! FOUR MORE BEERS! (Just kidding, I liked the beer much better than the man... But I digress, it's all about the beer not the politics, right? Lighten up!)

I also enjoyed a tasty Bombay IPA and a Downtown Brown at Boscos, also in the River Market area of Little Rock. Both were very tasty and went down easy in the baking sun and humidity on the back deck overlooking the river front. Some of my co-workers decided to get the sampler, and luckily for me, a couple of them proved that they were not real beer lovers. More free samples for me... Pretty good beer overall, but the food was a little expensive. I think they're going for the more upscale thing with the food, hence the prices, but they do a nice job of pairing the food with the beer... Cool stuff...

Also during the week, I devoured a medium meatball, mushroom and Canadian bacon pizza over a few IPAs brewed and served at Vino's. This is a very unique place, think artsy college coffee shop vibe (complete with local art work for sale on the walls) mixed with a combination of a big city pizza dive and a small local brew pub.

The place was small and crowded, yet finding a table was not an issue. We sat next to the glassed in brewery section. And we were lucky enough to get there before the long line out the door formed up. You go straight to the counter when you walk in and order a slice, or a pizza and what ever beers you want. They do eventually send out a waiter to check if you need refills, and we were more than happy to take them up on that offer.

Their Pinnacle IPA was pretty good, but there Fire House Pale Ale was a little under carbonated for my taste. It may have been an issue with the keg they were serving from. But from what the locals were telling me, the IPA is such a big seller, that they can not keep up the production level required to meet the need. The pizza was OK, with a home made feel to it, but not great. Then again, I live in the North East, pizza mecca of sorts. I may have set the bar a little high for pizza...

And that pretty much sums it up... I encourage you to check out the local beer culture where ever you find yourself on your next business trip. It's fun and makes for a much less boring week... But please, bring a buddy and use the hotel shuttle, it's safer and will make for a more enjoyable evening...

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