2007 I took two road trips. As always there was plenty of good beer
involved and good times as well. In October I usually travel to
Western North Carolina for my annual fall vacation. I usually drive,
but flew in to Atlanta with several friends to attend the sports
car races at Road Atlanta. Then it would be on to NC. This also
enabled me to explore Atlanta's beer scene which has exploded since
Georgia legalized higher ABV beer and brewpubs. The other trip was
to Connecticut via New York. This trip also involved a sports cars
race at Lime Rock Park, CT. Good beer was found from New York City,
New Paltz, NY to Connecticut which had brewpubs at almost every
stop we made. I also made several weekend trips around Florida,
in Tampa good beers have really been discovered. I would say that
Tampa has the best beer scene in Florida. As with all trips the
first order of business is to find good beers to have along. I always
manage to find a good beer store and stock up the ice chest. When
there is a good beer store near one of the brewpubs I will list
it as a "good beer locators tip" and note what was good
about the store. The year started off with a new beer festival in
Jupiter, Florida. At the end of the year I created my "Beer
Resume" to enter the beer drinker of the year contest at
Wynkoop Brewery in Denver, CO. I didn't win but there is always
Brewfest - Jupiter, Florida
Saturday January 27, 2007 I attended the first annual
Jupiter Brewfest with two of my good beer drinking
friends. On the way up we stopped at the Yard House
Restaurant for lunch. Yard House is a small chain
of restaurants that each have over 100 beers on tap.
Most of their locations are on the west coast; this
is the only one in Florida. Saturday lunch is fairly
quiet; apparently the place gets mobbed at certain
times. We found good food and beers to match. This
was a quick visit as we were headed to the festival.
The fest was only a couple of exits up I-95 and we
arrived there about 2:00. The number of people is
limited so it was good that we had tickets in advance.
It was a warm day (for January) and there were 50
plus vendors. At the entrance our tickets were traded
for a pass and tasting glass. The fest is set up around
the town center at Abacoa, a development that has
retail and public areas with residential above or
nearby. It was a fun crowd and there was live music
going most of the day. We made many friends here and
everyone had a great time. There were beers that we
hadn't had as well as some familiar names. Local brewpubs
and restaurants had booths. Big Bear Brewing, Brewzzis,
Titanic and Monkey King were there to name a few.
The complete list is on their website. As the day
went on some of the beer ran out but there were enough
still pumping when closing came. It is dark by 6:30
and the fest officially closed at 7. We had made some
friends at some of the booths and partied on while
they were still there. Rooneys Pub is a local authentic
Irish pub, built and shipped from Ireland, was a great
dinner place after the fest was over. It is within
walking distance and was crowded but we still managed
to get a table and good food. For the first time this
went well and we look forward to next year! Website:
www.jupiterbrewfest.com Yard House Website: www.yardhouse.com
King Brewery - Stuart, Folrida
found Monkey King at the Jupiter festival mentioned
above. Their booth was out of beer when we got to
it. Since Stuart is just up the road we decided to
go there for lunch the following day. This location
used to have a Hops brewery and a couple of local
guys took it over. The food is caribbean with a Florida
flair. They have three beers on tap; See, Hear and
Speak No Evil. I enjoyed the See No Evil, an American
Pale Ale. The menu is different and a refreshing change
from chain type operations. Lunch specials included
Grouper with mango sauce, Jerk pork and tiki pizza.
This could be called a local sports bar as there were
several TVs around the bar and restaurant area. I
wouldn't travel out of the way but if you are visiting
Stuart it is a worthwhile stop with good beer. 2018: This brewery has closed.
Seasons Restaurant and Brewery - Atlanta, GA
Seasons has two locations both serving excellent food
and good beers. I was able to visit both and was pleased
at each. I had dinner at the Sandy Springs location (now closed)
enjoying a peppercorn steak and several beers. They
had Copperhead ESB, dry hopped with a fruity aroma
and a slightly sweet finish, and the "Big O"
an organic version of an English Strong ale. I enjoyed
the Big O and had several for the evening. This organic
ale paired well with my peppercorn steak as well as
with other organic dishes on the menu. The following
day, lunch was at the Alpharetta location. This location
is in the picture to the left; a ski lodge type atmosphere.
They have different beers than the other location.
I found the Plan B IPA excellent and hoppy as advertised.
The staff was friendly and gave us good service. I
had a shirt from a Vermont brewery on and met a brewer,
who spotted the shirt, from that state. He is in Atlanta
now and we traded stories and information about the
beer scene in Atlanta. I have met many people just
by having a shirt from a brewery on. It leads to conversations
and usually yields some tip or advice on the local
scene. Alas, lunch came to an end and we were heading
to North Carolina shortly afterward. 2018: FSB still has 2 locations see webiste.
Bar from above.
Store Pub - Decatur, GA
Brick Store pub is located near Atlanta, GA. This
was a great find; We were coming into Atlanta late
and wanted a good dinner with good beer. This filled
the bill perfectly. I found it on the 'net; it was
right on the way to where we were going. It was
on a Friday night and crowded. We got a table outside
fairly quickly. This probably was good as it was
quite noisy inside and we needed dinner as well
as beers. The beer menu was great; about twelve
beers from American micros to Belgian High Gravity
ales. Most of the beers I had not seen on tap; I
started with a Victory Hop Devil Ale. The draft
version was excellent; I really wished we had more
time to try more. The food was enjoyed; the Brunswick
Stew was a good starter and the entree I had went
well with my beer. I tried several beers but it
got late quickly and we had to head on. I did get
to walk around inside and discovered the upstairs
was a separate Belgian Beer bar. It looked cozy
and inviting; I will visit it some other time. Someone
told us that there was a hotel within walking distance;
I began to think of a return visit. In fact I was
able to return at the other end of the trip; I caught
the pub at happy hour. The place is quite different
as there is a big sunlight that makes it totally
different inside. I was on my own that day and met
several people at the bar; enjoying good beer and
life in general. Website: www.brickstorepub.com/
Beer finders tip: There is a great beer store right
down the street from the pub. It is Decatur Wine
and Spirits. They have a good selection of micros
and the high gravity beers too. This store was the
first stop on the trip to have beer for the races
the next morning; a very worthwhile stop.
Billiards and Tap - Decatur, GA
happy hour at the Brickyard I wanted to try Twain's
as they are brewing their own beer. The picture to the
left was taken before I walked across the street to
go there. I probably should have turned around and gone
back to where I was before. Twain's is a big place with
lots of pool tables and other games. It looks like a
fun place but as I found out the beer wasn't. When I
sat at the bar, eventually the bar tender came up to
see what I wanted. He was in no big hurry and didn't
know their beers too well. There are four beers on at
any given time. I tried the Jumping Frog IPA and was
disappointed. I wondered if they were brewing in plastic
buckets. It was flat and not very hoppy. I spoke with
a local next to me and he was drinking a guest beer
as were many others at the bar. This could be a clue.
I tasted one other beer a "IRA" supposed to
be a Red IPA, I guess. It tasted terrible; like nothing
I have ever had. A menu was offered but I knew better
after the beer. Somehow, I finished my one beer, paid
up and headed to one other place I wanted to try.
Mac - Decatur, GA
on a walking tour of Decatur, earlier, I noticed
Taco Mac along the main street. I returned there
for the last beer bar of my vacation. Taco Mac is
a local chain of sports bars with a big beer selection.
This location had 92 beers on tap and over 300 in
bottles. I was not disappointed; they had a wide
selection of good beer. Micros, Belgian ales, beers
for almost any taste. The place wasn't too busy
the night I was there; I'm sure that during games
it could get noisy. I sat at the bar with a view
of all the beer taps. As I looked at the beer menu
(published monthly) I saw several that I had never
tried on tap. Amazingly, the first two I ordered
were "out". I settled on a local beer,
Sweetwater Donkey Punch, a hoppy Barleywine style
ale. This beer is hard to classify; I tried it in
a big bottle one other time. It is indeed very hoppy
and does have a punch! The draft version was better.
The bar was friendly; I spoke to several people
and they all were enjoying the beer selection. Everyone
was drinking good stuff; no Bud drinkers tonight.
I had a taco dinner and was able to have Great Divide
Hercules Double IPA with it. I have always liked
this beer from the bottle; the draft version really
rocks. This is one of the best IPAs anyway but on
tap it is scary; it goes down very smoothly without
the usual alcohol taste associated with a 9.2% double
IPA. I said goodbye to my new friends and headed
to my hotel. It had been a great two weeks but it
was now over. I flew back to Miami the following
day and certainly will return for the Decatur Beer
Festival next October. (I missed it by a day this
Taproom - Asheville, NC
is Asheville's original taproom. Opened in 1994 with
many local beers on tap, they started the good beer
scene in Asheville. My first visit was in 1994; all
the taps were unknown to me and, unfortunately many
are gone. I enjoyed that first visit and continue to
in 2007. Some of the original taps didn't even have
names; now the locals rule supported by great out of
state beers. They still feature many from NC, which
is the next great beer happening state, in my opinion.
The local organic brewery, Pisgah Brewing, has five
taps and makes special beer exclusively for this bar.
Highlands Brewing, also local, used to be brewed below
the bar until they out grew the space. In fact for several
years Barley's almost could have been called a brewpub
with Highlands as their house beer. Highlands has several
taps also. More than half the taps go to local or NC
breweries. For a complete list, see their website, updated
monthly. Barley's has great house pizza as well as other
pub fare on their menu. I usually find a way to get
to Barley's every year when I am in North Carolina.
This year, I was visiting with friends and wanted to
show them Asheville beer scene. We found a book, in
our hotel, that proclaimed Asheville the "Beer
Mecca of the East"! I never put it that way but
they are right. The Asheville area has about 200,000
residents. There are five breweries and many good beer
bars / taprooms in that area. By contrast, in my hometown
of Miami, FL, with two million residents, there are
no breweries, one brewpub and a few good beer bars!
This is partly why I think NC in the hot beer state.
This appreciation and enjoyment of good local beers
is seen throughout the state. In Florida most convenience
stores and gas stations have the big three and a few
imports. In NC, I saw great selection in a small gas
station store! Clearly the good beer scene has really
taken hold in North Carolina. Website: www.barleystaproom.com/
Brewing Company - Black Mountain, NC
Brewing is the newest brewery of the five in the Asheville
area. I found out about them in an article in the Southern
Brew News. These guys have brewed many different
styles and are on their 250th batch of beer. Everything
brewed is all organic and they have a loyal following
in the local area. They can count me and my friends
as loyal fans after our visit. I knew about where the
brewery is located and planned to drive up the Blue
Ridge Parkway as far as possible, get off and come around
to Black Mountain. It happened to be a Thursday and
we had worked our way to Mount Mitchell State Park.
It was mid afternoon and we had been to the summit and
saw "rime ice" on the trees! It was 30 out
and had been 60 at the start of our day in Asheville.
We had finished lunch at the "slow service"
cafe and I was looking at maps to see how we would return
to Asheville. I happened on the above mentioned article
and read it looking for their phone number and / or
directions. The article states that they are open to
the public on Thursdays from 4 - 8 PM. "It's a
rustic set up - no tables, chairs or snacks, just a
line of beer lovers that snakes past the tanks and sometimes
out the door." Since it was almost 4 I said "What
are we doing here; we need to get to this brewery and
do the right thing - drink some beer!" It took
a little over an hour to get there and it turned out
to be one of the coolest breweries we have ever been
to. It is in an old business park on a back road just
west of Black Mountain. On Thursdays a bunch of locals
converge on the place and drink good beer, talk about
it and just enjoy life in general. We made many friends
among the crowd of about 50 people. The owners and brewers
all work the open house and are available to promote
their beer as well as all good beer in general. They
are cool guys and really are on to something, I think.
I felt as if I was looking at the begriming of something
big. I will return many times, I'm sure and I have a
feeling that one day these guys will be one of the most
popular regional breweries in western NC. They know
their beer and make it well. I had a Harvest Style ale
called "Equinox", also a Belgian Triple called
Solstice. Both were excellent; both in taste and style
accuracy. They give out logo pint glasses to everyone
and you can keep it if you want to. There are four beers
on any given Thursday; the beers change weekly depending
on what they can spare for the tastings. This visit
is exactly what I mean when I say that everything leads
to good beer. We hit them on the right day at the right
time; all unplanned. That is what makes some of the
best happenings; spontaneous and unscripted. I will
be back and look forward to trying some more of their
styles as well as the camaraderie at the brewery. Website:
of the Wood Pub / Greenman Ales - Asheville, NC
of the Wood Pub is the home of Greenman Ales; a brewery
located nearby. This is a cool local Celtic style pub
that serves authentic pub fare and ales to match. We
visited there on a Thursday, which is their Bluegrass
jam night. This was another surprise and was appreciated.
The jam was on as we came in so we found a table away
form the stage as people were standing and enjoying
the music and we didn't want to be in the middle of
everything. The pub is a cozy place; the bar is in the
middle surrounded by long pub tables on either side.
The ceiling is low; as you look around it could be an
old Colonial pub! The menu has traditional favorites;
even though we were late they were still serving. Their
beers all were great; I know the styles and they did
them justice. One of the great things about brewpubing
is that each brewer interprets the styles differently.
This makes for some interesting tasting and it is cool
to see what each brewer does. The IPA was hoppy but
not like the typical American style is now. It still
had big flavor; it was a nice change. The Pale Ale also
was a fine brew. My friends had the Stout and a Porter
which went over well. The stout is nitro so it pours
out creamy and black. The food paired well with the
beers; the Irish Stew was flavorful and filling. The
fish and chips were authentic and fresh. Overall for
beer and food we found the right place that night. The
bonus was the Bluegrass jam still going on as we ate
dinner. There were probably seven or eight guys playing;
several with their backs to the audience. The group
plays with everyone able to see each other for different
musical communications. This is also how a bunch of
players would play in any setting. It was really great
to see real counrty music; we don't get much in South
Florida. Western NC has plenty of Bluegrass and it is
popular; I listen to a local station, WNCW
and they play plenty of Bluegrass and advertise local
concerts and festivals. It was cool to happen to get
to see this group in a great setting. The group was
winding down, some of the guys left but several played
on. It was a good day but time to go. I walked up and
stood and listened for while then we headed home to
the hotel. Website: www.jackofthewood.com
Update 2018 Under new ownership since 2010, Greenman has grown in many ways. With 2 buildings, 3 taprooms and distribution through out the southeast Greenman has evolved into a well respected brewery with a wide variety of ales available. More at their updated website.
Bay Brewing Company - Ybor City
have visited TBB several times; this was the first in their
new location. They have a great selection of their beers and
guest beers. This was a stop for "a beer" that turned
into a full blown St Patrick's day parade just outside the
World of Beer - Bar and Retail - Tampa, FL
original World of Beer is a Tampa area institution with hundreds
of beers available.The best selection in Florida. They now
opened a bar with the same beers and some on tap. By the end
of our visit there were girls dancing on the bar!
Ale Works - St Augustine, FL
local pub right by the Bridge of Lions. I have visited many
times; the restaurant is excellent and always has fresh seafood.
The renovated brewery is brewing good ales again. Great lunch
on the balcony overlooking the water and parks.
Brewing - Coral Gables, FL
is my "home" brewpub so there could be some bias.
They have six regular ales and several seasonal's on tap.
Good varied menu; something for everyone. Mug Club members
meet on Wednesdays for happy hour and dinner on the house!
Brewing Company - Pier 59 New York City
first brewpub visited on the trip. Lunch on the fourth of
July overlooking the Hudson river. They have a decent selection
of beers; I chose the IPA. Good pub grub; seating inside and
out with brewing facilities behind glass, nearby.
Beer Store - Somewhere along 5 W New York
store is a big metal building along 5W on the way north. The
store has many signs for the big three; we good beer drinkers
are relegated to a hidden back room where they actually have
some good beers. Some looked old so be careful.
Guilded Otter Brewing Company - New Paltz, NY
trip was routed through New Paltz to try this brewpub. It
didn't disappoint. Good selection of beer styles in a big
open bar with dining rooms off the sides. Our late dinner
was excellent with many choices on the menu and service was
Time Beverage - Poughkeepsie, NY
beer store of the future is here now. Every available beer
in NY is at this store; as singles, six packs or kegs! They
also have growlers to go of 12 beers on tap at the store.
This place could be called "Good Beer Larry's" if
I opened a store!
Cambridge House Brewpub - Granby, CT.
one gets "Brewpub of the Trip" from me. A bit hard
to find but well worth it. Outstanding menu paired with great
brews, friendly atmosphere and service as well. Lobster mac
& cheese, stout steak and Abijah IPA anyone?
Brewing Company - Willimantic, CT.
beer and food in an old post office! They have several of
their own and guest beers available. The menu had a good variety.
We were there late on Sunday night and some things were out.
We will return on a better night next time.