42 Craft Beer Bar, Miami

I want to start this post by thanking Natalie for actually allowing me to write this blog post and for always putting up with my shit.

For the record, this is Ashley. I have been a follower and supporter of Daze of Beer since the idea popped into Natalie’s brain. Daze of Beer is more of a blog to me, but more of a lifestyle. Being a part of this experience might be the closest thing to a cult that I will ever join. (Even though I really want to be second in command in a cult, one of my lifelong dreams, but that’s a story for another day). In this post, you will hear about the thoughts about beer from myself and Monica.

Moni and Ashley

Ashley and Monica!!

In February 2018 I traveled to Miami, FL with Monica. We just got off of a 5 day cruise that ported out of Miami, and we had all day to spend in Miami before our flight back to Milwaukee. The best idea we could come up with was to check out the local craft beer scene. Originally, the plan was to go to a few breweries, however, Frontier Airlines would not allow us to check our luggage, so we had to pick a place that we could take our suitcases with us, which is when we searched and decided to go to 42 Craft Beer Bar.

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We got out of our Uber and wheeled our suitcases into 42. The staff was very accommodating to us. Monica and I stood out and clearly looked like tourists. The tables around us were people in their late 20’s/early 30’s wearing business casual outfits and were clearly on their lunch breaks. We strolled in with sunburns and thick Wisconsin accents.

We started off our experience at 42 by ordering some spinach and artichoke dip (WHICH WAS AMAZING, as it had a Mexican twist to it) and some local craft beers. I ordered the Havana Lager from Coconut Beach Brewery in Miami, FL. I definitely only ordered this beer in spirit of “Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights”. Monica got Big Rod Coconut Blonde Ale from Miami Brewing. My review of the Havana Lager was that I definitely liked it. It was what I expected from a good lager, but it doesn’t stand out as one of the best beers I’ve ever had. I attempted to interview Monica about the thoughts on her beer. She responded by saying “I don’t know, Natalie doesn’t normally ask us these questions”. However, in the end, Monica did enjoy this beer. She let me take a sip and it you can definitely taste the hint of coconut, which was weird and refreshing!

I decided we should use a rating system like they do in the Podcast, Gilmore Guys. We were to rate our beers between 1-5, but had to pick our own rating system. Here are the ratings of our beers:

Monica’s Big Rod Coconut Blonde Ale, Miami Brewing: 3.5/5 Coconuts

Ashley’s Havana Lager from Coconut Brewing: 4/5 Patrick Swayze Guest Appearances (Like in Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights) (Also, RIP Patrick Swayze) (Pour one out).

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Left: Coconut Blonde Ale Right: Havana Lager

We obviously couldn’t just come to a craft beer bar and not order a second round. Monica ordered the a cherry chocolate quad from Barrel of Monks Brewing in Boca Raton, FL. This is when I learned that Monica likes dark chocolate flavored beers. I guess you can always learn something new about your best friend, right? I ordered a beer called Hop for Teacher (once again, definitely ordered this beer because of it’s name, and then proceeded to sing the song “Don’t Stand So Close to Me by The Police) from J Wakefield Brewing in Miami, FL. I also am a big fan of IPA’s so I was very excited to try an IPA with a cool name. Although it had a cool name, it was a pretty standard IPA in my opinion. It did have a good balance of hops and I did enjoy drinking it. Monica liked her cherry chocolate quad, and it definitely gave her a buzz with a 10.5% ABV.

Now for our ratings of our second round of beers:

Monica’s Chocolate Cherry Quad from Barrel of Monks: 4/5 Mr. Russia’s. (Mr. Russia was our very adorable head waiter on our cruise ship, even though we learned he’d rather be drinking Fireball and Tonic water than beers)

Ashley’s Hop for Teacher IPA from J Wakefield: 3.5/5 Ryan Martin’s (aka Ashley’s professor crush in college).

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Left: Cherry Chocolate Quad. Right: Hop for Teacher

After our beers we paid, we rolled our luggage down the busy streets of Miami trying desperately to find a Starbucks to sober up, however we were only led to Starbucks that was “under construction”. I’ve never been so devastated in my life.  As we were buzzing on our beers and still slightly hungover from all the booze we drank on our cruse, we took a Lyft back to the airport and awaited out flight back to Milwaukee.

My overall plan to explore the Miami craft brewing scene didn’t go as planned, but I’m still happy I got to experience some of it while I had the chance. Until next time, Ashley out! Peace!

Stitch and Snitch Brew Day

Full disclosure: I’ve restarted this post no less than six times. You may be wondering why, but you honestly probably aren’t. But I’m going to tell you anyways. The why is because I seem to suddenly be incapable of writing an intro that is in any way related to the contents of this post coupled with the fact that every single intro ended up being incredibly dark. A lot of guilt for the lack of content. A lot of weird comments about being a twentysomething in a mid-sized city looking for the meaning of life on Tinder and at the bottom of beer bottles. Like they were all really dark. But that’s not what this blog is supposed to be. This blog is supposed to celebrate beer and not bastardize it into some kind of unhealthy coping mechanism, like a Lifetime movie or a very-special-episode of a TGIF show. So here’s where we are going to start today. By celebrating beer.

But not just any beer. My beer.

Remember way back when we went to MobCraft and I mentioned that they are a “crowdsourced” brewery? Meaning, they accept submissions from the masses on what flavor of beer they should brew next, and then people vote and pre-order their favorite beers and the winner gets made into beer. Remember all of this? It’s explained poorly in the original post but look back on it if you want more (mis)information. Well, as you can imagine where this is going, I decided at the end of January to submit a fun beer idea in the interest of science and the constant need to win. Just because I’m losing the war that is “life” doesn’t mean I can’t win a few battles here and there. And why not throw myself into a battle I have no business winning for my idea of a beer that hopefully tastes amazing but might suck, because I have no formal training in flavor profiles? And that’s what I did, guys. I submitted a beer for consideration.

The beer I submitted was named “Stitch and Bitch” but because of rules and laws and modesty standards, they had to change the name to Stitch and Snitch. The idea of it is a sour with raspberry and peach flavors. How fun. At least, that’s what I wanted it to be. I wanted the whole thing to be just really fun. Because for some reason I have trained myself to believe that fun is for other people, something I would never stoop so low as to enjoy on my own. But now, here I am, trying to embrace fun and whimsy.

So, while I keep calling this my beer, I will wholly admit that it is not my beer at all. It is just my silly idea. It is the beer of the fine brewers at MobCraft who looked at my silly idea and thought “Eh, we could probably science this into a beer, right?” And they DID. They put together a recipe and were like “This strongly resembles BEER.” And then I forced everyone I ever met to pre-order/vote for my idea of a beer that was formulated into a stronger beer concept by the lovely people of MobCraft, and thanks to some bullying and I am assuming the kind support of strangers (as I do not have nearly enough actual friends and family to solely push me towards victory) my silly beer idea won. Which means that my silly idea will be an actual beer. A beer that I pitched to accompany a very specific experience. Sometimes I do stupid things like this, but it’s all of your faults for enabling me to do these stupid these.

So, anyways, the fine people at MobCraft invited me and my entourage to Brew Day to see my beer be conceived. While normally I had no interest in witnessing the conception of anything, this was a little different and a touch more sciencey. Adam, who was in charge of making my awesome idea of a beer, and Henry, co-founder/co-owner/delightful human, were so kind and patient to explain all the things that go into beer, specifically my beer, and the processes involved. We got to see it go step-by-step and then we all drank beer waste, which is like a sweeter, less gross version of bong water, I would imagine. It was a beautiful day. I got to meet so many lovely people who work in different aspects of the business, like Kayla who is the director of operations, and Sam, who does their graphics work. Everyone was so kind and welcoming and willing to listen to me talk and answer my questions and put forth so much effort on their Sunday to make me and my entourage* feel welcome and at home.

Do I wish I could write more objectively about the experience? Of course. But I am just so blinded by the sweet and kind gestures of the whole day. It would be so easy to throw a crowdsource beer winner a t-shirt and say “beat it” but at MobCraft, they welcome these winners into their brewery and let them feel apart of the process, which is so cool. It humanizes the whole effort. Beer is about more than catching a buzz on a Tuesday night alone in your living room watching Australia’s Next Top Model. Beer, especially craft beer and local brewers, is about community. It is something the people of MobCraft are clearly passionate about and want to share their passion with anyone who wants to be apart of the culture.

It’s hard to believe that just eight months ago I started this blog, this Beer Journey, as a joke. Bought a cheap domain (and an expensive vanity domain, heyoh, daze.beer) and paid for the cheapest hosting platform I could find, just to jokingly be like “We had beer here. It was fine.” And now, I am sitting here genuinely excited about where I am going to go next. Where my next beer is going to come from. I look forward to hearing more stories from people who pursued their passions, to talking to people in the industry who don’t do this to be rich or famous or cool (although there is an inherent coolness about being a craft brewer). They do it because they love beer and want to share their love. Beer is the perfectly complex mix of art and science and the people who pour their souls into these pints are also perfectly complex humans.

So, thanks to MobCraft here in Milwaukee and to my friends and family for support both my beer idea and my silly beer hobby and thanks to society for supporting this.

*My parents, Emily, Sam, Jake, Ashley, Karen.

Not The Blatz History Tour, Downtown Milwaukee

I tried my best. That’s where I am going to start today. By letting you know that I tried my best. What this post was supposed to be was about the history of Blatz brewing in Milwaukee. How they started here, why they left, where they are now. It was supposed to talk about the beautiful old buildings downtown that have since been converted into various condos and businesses and urban thought spaces. That was the plan. I made an effort. Back in November I bought a Groupon for a 4-pack for the tour. It was half off, then they were doing 20% off for Black Friday. I got the deal for $20 total.

But the holidays happened and life got busy. And the winter is so cold and leaving the house yields too much effort sometimes. I was on vacation for two weeks. My friends had their own various life activities happening. The time was running out. Groupons are only good for 90 days. But then we found a weekend. Our last weekend. And we made it happen. We planned to go. We planned to take this tour. But the instructions were vague. No where on the website for the Blatz tour were there any instructions as to how to book with Groupons. Only a way to buy tickets full price. On the Groupon itself, it literally just said “show up and present Groupon.” So we called. And they guy on the phone was an asshole. First of all, the website itself was a mess and a half. It looked thrown together by someone in haste with the intention to finish it later and they just never did. Also, it was incredibly hard to find a phone number to contact them by. And the last issue was that there was conflicting information as to where this place even was. The address was list differently in different places of their website. Some things said it was located above Bar Louie and other things said it was located across the street from Bar Louie. Very different locations. Water Street is a wide street guys. So anyways, Ashley calls and the man who answers sounded like he was picking up his personal cell phone and the background noise made it sound like he was running errands in his general life. She asked about the Groupon and he proceeded to make a big show about HE SUPPOSES he could SQUEEZE US onto a tour although we are supposed to book WAY IN ADVANCE but if we SHOW UP he will DO HIS BEST. Mind you, online it was showing 20/20 spots available for the tour we planned on attending.

But anyways, we show up. Or, well, no. We did not show up. Because we could not find the place. We wandered around Water Street, circling Bar Louie, reading addresses, examining signs, walking down alleys, looking for any indication that we might be remotely close to the address given. (Also, I should mention that some of the places the address was listed just straight up gave Bar Louie’s address). We couldn’t find it. Couldn’t find anything. Couldn’t find the nondescript door some people described. Couldn’t find the staircase some people mentioned online. Couldn’t find anything. So we said fuck it and went to the new arcade bar on Old World 3rd called 1983. And guess what? It was a delight. So what if I burned $20 on a Groupon that I never got to use? Instead, I got to play pinball and drink craft beer from Utah for hours. The Sunday afternoon vibe was chill and the staff were delightful, as long as you didn’t try to get a beer during their smoke breaks that they would not pause for anybody. We had a good time. We also took a lot of pictures because for once, I actually started to look at different camera settings on both my phone and Tim’s and realized, oh. Maybe they aren’t just bullshitting us with all those demo photos on commercials to sell us phones? Maybe I just don’t know how to use my phone? Also, there may have just been something about the lighting of the bar that made me feel so inspired about how my cell phone photos were turning out. OR MAYBE pinball machines are just he most photogenic type of machine.

That’s what life is. Failed plans. Broken promises. Pinball. Arcade games. Billie Jean. The day was short, this post is short, but I had to let everyone know that one, don’t buy the Blatz Groupon. It’s not worth the hassle. And two, adventure is out there if you’re just willing to wander around an urban area long enough to find that one arcade bar you think you may have heard about on Facebook somewhere. Godspeed, minions. Godspeed.

Sun King Brewing, Indianapolis, IN

What is this you see? Do your eyes decieve you?

Nope. That’s right. This is a blog post by somebody other than Natalie. She hinted that this might occur in the State of the Blog posting, but now we are finally here. And I stress the word finally since what I’m writing about happened three months ago.

But first a little about myself. My name is Tim. I’ve made occasional appearances on DoB, but never really blogged before. I’m very opinionated and tend to ramble a lot, so bear with me. (Also, I’m writing this on my phone at O’Hare, attempting to block out the group of sorority sisters trying to steal this charging station away from me. So bear with me if there are spelling or grammatical errors.)

OKAY. BEER. So it was December 1st, the year of our Lord two thousand and seventeen more. The Wisconsin Badgers (holla) were playing in the Big Ten Championship Game against THE Ohio State Fuckeyes Buckeyes. After securing wristbands for the Badgers pep rally before the game, there was a lot of time to kill. Jake was still making his way down to Indianapolis, so I decided to look up things to kill time. And then I stumbled upon Sun King Brewing, located not even a mile from our Airbnb and like a mile and a half from Lucas Oil. So I figured, “why the hell not?”

Jake got into town, and we walked down to the brewery. We passed some sort of ugly sweater party on patio and walked into the tap room. And I fell in love with this place. There was a huge bar with an impressive amount of house taps. There were more OSU fans than I would have liked, but everybody was chill and just having a good time before the game. DB1EEB9C-0770-4BBF-9B62-5A3F66D03C9D

Off to the side, there was a collection of board games and emulators of classic video games. I got very invested in some dude (or woman, I don’t remember, this was three months ago) playing Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. A group behind us grabbed a game of Connect Four. This was shaping up to be my perfect kind of place.B13D6890-6AEF-4682-93BE-FC1D4A28305C

OKAY. NOW ACTUALLY BEER. I started off with the Osiris APA, which was very drinkable. It felt light, but still carried weight with the hippiness, but not overly hoppy. It was pretty much perfectly balanced for me. Jake had a another one of their signature beers: the Sunlight Cream Ale. He took a strong liking to it, calling it “a good drinking beer.” He took it a step further and said he liked it better than MKE’s Outboard, high praise indeed.

And then we got to perusing the menus on the tables, which were hilarious and ridiculous. See Indiana is kind of a backwards state when it comes to liquor laws. You can’t buy prepackaged alcohol on Sunday at all, except if you buy from the facility that brews it, on- site. Every establishment that serves alcohol must also offer full service food, including “hot soups, hot sandwiches, coffee, milk (yes, milk), and soft drinks.” Naturally, Sun King sees this as ridiculous, and wrote their Legally Required Food Menu to reflect their opinions.

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The Hot Pocket is not a snake, but need Politifact to verify.

 

What they did actually have though was a small stand on the opposite side of the tap room that served sausages. Jake got a white sausage with a pretzel bun. One thing I forgot to mention about Sun King is they are very environmentally conscious, including canning their beers instead of bottling. This culture ran down to the utilsils Jake got, which were wooden. Comedy. Gold.

By now we were ready for another beer. Jake can back first with a Cranberry Flanders, which was a Sour Red Ale (maybe his first sour?). He found it sweet and way too easy to down, especially for a high ABV beer. (#getfucked) His quote was “It’s like drinking wine, but it’s beer, so it’s better.” I tried to go for one of their mysteriously named Test IPAs. #1 was the one I wanted, but they had run out the day before, so I took the bartender’s recommendation and went for #2. It was hoppy but smooth, and then I hated myself for starting to like IPAs. I still hate myself, but for reasons other than liking IPAs.

Jake got a third beer, which was the Carmel Apple Triple. The only note I have on it was it was 13.2% ABV. (#getmorefucked) I got a sausage on a pretzel bun and struggled to eat it with a wooden fork as well. By then we decided we should go plug Jake’s meter (did that sound dirty? Because he was street parked, I swear), so we headed back towards the pep rally, but not before I picked up a four pack of Osiris.7D60C524-2DD8-4738-8324-F6CEF88652F4

We (or at least I did) got pretty fucked up at the pep rally, where I think I had MGD and Miller Lite, and Jake somehow found a vendor with a Sunlight Cream Ale. (#CONTINUITY) Also, the last call at the pep rally was like an hour long, which didn’t help me at all, being a well-documented panic drinker.

Overall, the game was enjoyable, minus the late 30s former OSU frat stars trying to relive their college years that sat in front of us. Hornibrook was Hornibrook and lost us the game. Hopefully, the Badgers make another trip to Indy in ’18 and we get another chance to visit Sun King. Cheers!

 

Mittenfest, Bay View

Winter in Wisconsin is a long and bleak process that we must all experience at least once in our short lives. At some point, every year, about mid-January, the world gets dark. Very dark. Claustrophobically dark. Every takes down their Christmas lights and packs away their cheer until next year, and all that is left is a void. The sun never shines. There is constantly snow and salt and grime on the streets, on your shoes, in your house. No one can go outside. It’s too cold. Too wet. Too depressing. Smiling is something that you remember fondly, like a hazy memory, and you’re never too sure if a Good Day will ever happen again. Flipping through Instagram, you only notice the pictures of your “friends” in tropical locales and warm climates drinking margaritas on the beer or beers on the patio and wistfully remember when that was you. But drinking outside in the dead of a Wisconsin winter is as absurd and foreign to you as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

But then, magically, something comes along to change it. Something that does seem absurd on paper but in reality is a heaven-sent savior ready to shake loose whatever frozen depression had settled into your soul. Mittenfest. Wicked Wisconsin winters be damned, for the good people of Milwaukee will not go down with out fight. And that is what I bring forth to you today. The adventures of Mittenfest, right down there in Bay View.

While this is not a brewery event, I felt like it was worthy of content as the bar hosting this preposterously delightful outdoor street festival, Burnhearts, is well-known for their craft beer selection. Plus, they partnered with two breweries, Central Waters of Central Wisconsin and Founder’s of Detroit, which were both serving some awesome and rare beers. As well as beer, there were Old Fashions and a full bar instead Burnheart’s. The best part was, this was about four blocks from where I live so I didn’t have to drive or park or Uber or risk Monica trying to buy drugs from the Lyft driver (again). We could just walk. So, Ashley, Monica, and I were joined by Daze of Beer newbie Molly (who is the person who clued us into this event) and we hit up the mean streets of the most hipster part of the city occupied by the most hipster people of the city to drink beer outside on a brisk 20-degree day. There was live music, flowing drinks, and delightfully friendly drunk hispters all ready to make the most of the day.

And boy did we make the most of the day. I cannot recall exactly what we all drank, but I can give you an overview. I believe every beer I had was from Central Waters. I had their HHG which was an American Pale Ale that I really enjoyed. There was also a IPA I drank that I do not remember the name of. Ashley and Monica also tried their cider that was a vibrant yellow and kinda looked like pee? But they may have liked it. I don’t know. Then there was the coconut rum porter that Molly got that definitely tasted like coconut rum and the memory of past mistakes. None of us like this porter, let me tell you. Also, I have been poking around on both Central Waters and Founders’ websites to find out the name of it and to confirm that it was coconut rum and not spiced rum, but I cannot find any trace that this beer ever existed. But it did. Let me tell you it most certainly did. And I can tell you this with such certainty for several reasons.

One, Molly ordered it. And we all tried it. And no one liked it. And then I went to the bathroom, and while waiting in line, the two girls approached the guys standing in front of me and offered them one for free because they had also bought one and did not like it. And the guys accepted the free beer, didn’t like it, and then shared it with me, and I shared it with the girl behind me. None of us liked it. And then these same girls gave these same guys another one because their other friend also bought this rum porter and also did not like it, so these guys just gave me the beer. And the girl behind me and I shared it. It was a beer that no one liked but brought everyone together. It is a very similar effect the Kardashians or the Patriots have on people.

But anyways, by this time the temperature was dropping and it was snowing. The live music had wrapped up and it was dark and they were just lowkey DJing music. That’s when the dance party busted out. I don’t know if anything in this world can ever recreate the feeling of being drunk on beer and Old Fashions, dancing in an inch of freshly fallen snow, under a black, winter sky and blue stage lights with thousands of other drunk hispters who on any other day would be too “cool” to dance so silly in public. I met strangers and danced with them. I met friends of friends and danced with them. I was invited back to a guy’s after party, which I then tried to attend, but his more sober friend told both him and me and my friends that we were not invited. Which was a good thing because we left Molly behind with other strangers. Everyone loved everyone. The world felt warm and safe and welcoming. It was the kind of thing that you don’t often feel in the dead of winter on Super Bowl weekend in a state where their football team hadn’t even made the playoffs. It was good.

So, shout out to Burnhearts. Shout out to the people of Milwaukee. And shout out to Molly and Ashley and Monica for their undying devotion to drinking, outdoor activities that involve drinking, fun, and new and

Hop Farm Brewing Co., Pittsburgh, PA

I feel an awkward, judgmental silence coming from you right now. It’s taking a lot to not immediately burst into a nervous sweat while I frantically and incoherently babble on and on about how long it’s been since content, real content, has graced this blog and how the holidays are hard and hectic, and how I promise to do better next time, I swear. I’m not sure if saying any of that will help though. I don’t know if that’s how I can win back your affection. I know I said a lot of things last time we were together. Things about hope. And faith. And optimism for the new year. Disappointing you was never my goal, I hope you know that, right? I hope that you understand that things get crazy sometimes. Life runs away from us. The weekends are full, the nights are cold and long, and sometimes it’s hard to muster the strength and energy to drink beer somewhere other than the shower. But I promise, we will try harder in the coming weeks.

But here I am, writing from Pittsburgh’s beautiful North Shore, hot off a trip to a, do I dare say it? A… oh my God. An actual, real life, honest to God brewery. Stop fainting. I am just as shocked as you, but guys. It happened. I. Went. To. A. Brewery. Now, I recognize to the casual reader who may not see the time stamps on all these posts, they might be like “of course. that’s the premise of this blog.” But to the die hard fans (stop laughing), you know that I have not gone to a brewery since NOVEMBER and even then, it was a repeat of a past brewery. My God. Who have I become?

But fret not, for now, I am fresh off a flight from a local Pittsburgh delight called Hop Farm Brewing Co. I wandered into the taproom just around noon to find a couple sitting at the bar and a jolly crowd at the table. I ordered four 5oz pours, as I was alone and needed to try as much of the menu as possible in order to properly assess the situation I was working with. This was especially risky because I did no research before heading into Pittsburgh. I had no idea what kind craft beer scene they had and this brewery just happened to be the first one that popped up on GoogleMaps when I left the Warhol Museum* in search of beer. It could have been total garbage for all I knew, but it was where I decided to check out.

Before I get into the beers that I ordered, let me start by saying that this brewery was very much in it’s element. When I was driving there, having just come from beautiful downtown Pittsburgh that was clean and shiny, visiting a museum just a block from PNC Park, I was rather greeted with rundown and dilapidated houses and abandoned business. At first, I was put off. Oh? This neighborhood? Really? But then within half a block, I was greeted by the familiar face of gentrification, the kind of places craft breweries are thriving. While the neighborhood looked worn and forgotten, looking more closely, you could see the spin studios and artisanal bread shoppes. It was foolish for me to question the neighborhood of this brewery, because so many breweries thrive in neighborhoods that are just starting to turn away from the grime and into the… intentional grime?

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So, back to the inside and my flight. I got their Sugar Plum Fairie French Saison which was a delightful beer. It was crisp and sparkly, with a refreshingly sweet finish. I really enjoyed it and had I had friends with me, I would have probably gladly gotten a full pour of it. But as I was alone, I couldn’t be bogged down by just one beer (especially one at 9.5% ABV). It felt seasonally appropriate without being too heavy. The next beer on the flight was Purple 21 which was a classic English bitters style beer. I was hesitant to order it at first, because I wasn’t super familiar with that style of beer, but it was a pleasant surprise. It had lavender flavors, which as we all know, I love. I love lavender flavored coffees and cupcakes and pastries. I love lavender scents. I love it. But, I did not love this beer. I did like this beer. I think I like the style of beer and will definitely order it again, but it’s the lavender that was the drawback in my opinion. It was very flowery, which is to be expected, but at the same time, it had a hint of soap. Like you were at your grandmother’s sister’s house, using the guest bathroom that hasn’t been used this decade with a bar of soap that hasn’t been changed this century. And again, I liked it. I just couldn’t shake that emotional connection. The next beer on the flight was their nitro IPA. It was dark. But I like nitros. But it was dark. That’s all I’ve got to say about it. And then the last beer was a classic Natalie mistake. I ordered the Hippie Heffer which was a hefenweizen style beer. Guys. I don’t know how many times I have to tell you (and myself) that I do not like hefenweizen style beers. Why do I keep doing this? Why am I so broken? I have a strong sense that this beer is actually really good to people who are normal and well-rounded, but to me it had a good start and a hefenweizen finish. And it’s that finish, that makes a hefenweizen a hefenweizen, that ruins the whole experience for me.

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But while I was there, the taproom filled in quite nicely. And the couple that were there when I came in and another gentleman who came in to get a growler filled were chatting about other breweries in the area, so of course I jumped in and asked for recommendation for other locals that they enjoyed. They then spouted off about 10 different places for me to check out, plus a couple along my route back to Wisconsin. Unfortunately, I do not believe I will make it to another brewery. The weather is rainy and taking a turn for the cold, and I wish to be back in Wisconsin before the winter weather returns, but I do like the list I have amassed for my next visit to Pittsburgh.

In whole, the brewery was delightful. It gave me a chance to interact directly with the locals of Pittsburgh, who turn out to be some of the nicest people I’ve bumped into recently. The city is so beautiful. The streets are easy to navigate. There are bridges everywhere that add to the aesthetic of the skyline rather than just functioning purely out of necessity to traverse the Allegheny River. Other than the one barista who needed to confirm another barista “felt like” making me a drink before she would allow me to order a coffee at this coffee shop I am currently sitting at, everyone here has been painfully, insultingly kind. Even the hipsters at the Warhol museum. Everyone just wanted to welcome you to their great city that I feel is often overshadowed by their big brother to the East. And while I have also never been to Philadelphia, I doubt anyone there could provide such a warm and welcoming feeling as the people of Pittsburgh gave to me. Thanks Pittsburgh. I genuinely cannot wait to return.

*Amazing museum if you ever went through that Andy Warhol phase in high school like myself (and many other faux interesting people) did. Also, just amazing in general. If you’re in Pittsburgh, would recommend highly.

Hoppy Holidaze!

This post is hardly a post, but I just wanted to briefly take a moment to reflect on the first seven months of beer and the year to come. This will be like those annual family updates people send with their Christmas cards under the false delusion that people actually care what your children have been doing for the last twelve months and haven’t seen their train wrecked lives on social media all year. Like, you can write all day about how great Rebecca is doing in her first year of college and how stellar her grades are and how involved in the campus community she is, but that doesn’t magically erase the pictures of her doing a keg stand I saw on Facebook last weekend. And sure, your son Jimmy might be a “budding artist” and how exciting it is for you as a parent to watch his creative interests “flourish” but the only “budding art” I’ve seen come out of your son in the last few years is in the form of actual bud. Weed. Marijuana. Devil’s lettuce. Carol, your son is a  drug dealer. Everyone knows it. Stop trying to convince us otherwise in your annual family newsletter. How else did he afford that Gucci watch? Stop pretending.

But I digress. This isn’t about your shitty cousins and your aunts that are in denial about it. This is about us. About beer. About family.

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While the Beer train hasn’t always been the most concise, timely, or appropriate blog on the internet, the experiences that have been had in the name of creating content have been precious (or something). In the last seven months since this endeavor has begun, I have watched as my friends (you people) have flourished into beer snobs. I recently had a very disgusting conversation about Terrapin Beer Co.’s Hopsecutioner IPA, which, as we discussed, was boring and very much just an IPA with nothing unique or special or distinguishing about it. Then we devolved into just referring to it as a LiePA. That’s actually super cool, considering that fact that a year ago most of us wouldn’t even drink an IPA and now we not only enjoy IPAs but know the difference between good and bad and fine ones. That’s incredible! We are beer snobs!

And the message has spread. People have visited breweries in the name of “Daze of Beer” in over six states. Not every one of those visits got write-ups on the blog, but every single one had the Daze of Beer spirit in their heart while this bizarrely unique and geographically (but not ethnically) diverse family sipped local brews. Drinking local isn’t just an idea, it’s a lifestyle, and one that I am proud to watch my conspirators and collaborators take part in. Starting shortly, probably just after the new year, you’ll probably to start seeing other names on the “author” tags. I won’t be the only one spewing my gospel on this blog. And I think that will only help to grow this audience, because nihilism isn’t cute anymore but I just can’t seem to reign it in.

Speaking of the impending doom of 2018, this is may be something to look forward to. The continuation of this journey. When this idea was conceived in April and the journey was started in May, it looked nothing like what it has evolved into. I thought we were going to hastily whip through all that Milwaukee has to offer and then I would have just spent 40 dollars on two different domain names for nothing. But what it has become is a pleasure. A nice way to interact with my friends outside our comfort zone in settings that have now transformed into our comfort zones. We didn’t just look at breweries as checklist items that need to be scratched off, but have come to love and protect them with full hearts. And 2018 is going to be a time for us to further grow and develop this weirdly sincere passion I now have that six months ago I referred solely to as a “joke.” Tim’s homebrewing now. I’m becoming more disciplined (though not any more timely or eloquent) as a writer/blogger. Jake has been pitching some incredibly convincing podcast concepts and ideas in correlation to this blog. Ashley has been taking an active and concerted interest in the “What’s next?” department.

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Maybe in 2018, we take it on the road. Weekends at other breweries out of state. Maybe we do finally start that podcast. Maybe more than just four people actually sift through the bullshit and find something redeeming in the words I lay to screen. Who knows? Maybe this will all come crashing down around us. But there is a future here, I feel, and while that seems sappy and out of character for me to see a future in anything, this is the place that I feel it. In this blog.

Nobody needs any reminder that 2017 was not the best year on record for any of us. Personally and locally and globally, it’s been a wild ride with ever plummeting downs and fewer and fewer ups. But throughout that, there’s still been beer and Beer. Beer has lasted the test of time. And maybe it was the Beer that got us through 2017 and maybe it will be the beer and Beer that will get us through 2018. Whatever may happen, it’s been a hell of a ride so far and I think this is the one thing in this world that will certainly only get better in 2018.

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Lakefront Brewery Redux, Riverwest

Life is short. I hope you remember that every single day you wake up and start getting dressed for a job you hate in a city you never wanted to live in in a state that has been suffocating you for twenty five years. Life is short. Why are we wasting so much time just going about our routines when there is a whole world out there just waiting to be explored? Well, I will tell you why. Life is short but it’s also the longest thing you will ever do. At the end of life, there is no part two. You’re dead. You don’t get to restart and go for a high score. This is it guys. You will die one day and there is nothing left after that. Your short life will be over and you will wonder What have I even done? Isn’t that the real question, though. What have I even done?

On a personal note, what I will have done is spent hours, days of my short/long life drinking beer and going to breweries and writing about it on a blog that only three people read. Is that what I want to be remembered for? As if anyone would actually remember this about me. But I have said that this blog will be our legacy, and if there is one thing I want to be apart of my legacy it is this. This time I have squandered in my mid-twenties drinking beer with people I don’t hate repeating the same things over and over again until one day one of us gives up and disappears. Did you catch the key phrase in that sentence? The one about how we do the same things over and over again? Just like how every day I do the same thing. I go to work. I look at other jobs. I wonder why I didn’t quit two years ago when I wanted to. Or a year ago when I wanted to. Or six months ago. Or yesterday. I just keep doing it. And that is what life is. Repeating and rehashing past events trying to capture the initial magic until one day you die and realize that nothing will ever live up to the hype. Not adulthood. Not heroin. Not. Even. Beer.

For this post, we fall victim to just this very thing, as you can probably gather from the title. We go to Lakefront Brewery again. I’m not resentful. I had a delightful time mostly, again, but it is just another mark in a life full of rehashed events.

So, this visit brought together a large crew of people who are virgins in terms of the Daze scene. We got some old standards to show (Jake, Ashley, Monica, and me) but along with them came JD, Danny, Claire, and Druecke, none of whom have ever been to a Daze of Beer gathering. In fact, I think this was the first brewery any of them have even visited in Milwaukee? Don’t hold me to that. I don’t know their lives. But in terms of great places to “lose it,” Lakefront is definitely on the top of that list. Not everyone’s “first times” can be special. Sometimes it’s just kinda average and you think to yourself, “Oh, that’s it?” And then you have to try again, and hopefully you figure out what the fuss is about. But Lakefront really brings something. They’re gentle and caring but still know when to throw in a spicy beer with a witty tour guide. They just really know how to take care of a person.

We were also going over Thanksgiving weekend, which is when Lakefront releases their special Black Friday Imperial Stout. Bottles sold out Friday, and we were there Saturday, but they still had it on tap. Limited one beer a person. Does not work with drink chips. And as a good blogger, I really wanted to get one, but as I am not a Good Blogger ™, I kind of forgot about halfway through the visit that I was planning on getting one at the end of the tour.

Here’s a quick rundown of the beers we had without going into detail on anything because there were just to many of us.

Listed in order of how we drank them.

Natalie:
Stranded Coconut Ale, Centennial IPa, Rendezvous
Ashley:
Stranded Coconut Ale, Clutch Cargo, Stranded Coconut Ale
Monica:
Stranded Coconut Ale, Clutch Cargo
JD:
Stranded Coconut Ale, Centennial IPA (traded in two drink chips for one full sized beer)
Jake:
Oktoberfest, Centennial IPA
Danny:
Stranded Coconut Ale, Pumpkin Ale, Hulle Melon, Oktoberfest, New Grist Ginger
Claire:
New Grist Ginger, Pumpkin Ale

A couple of things to note. We all found the coconut ale delightful but strange as it had a very summer-y feel but it wasn’t brewed in the summer, it was made in the fall. But that didn’t detract from it. In the bleak and cold Wisconsin landscape, it’s sometimes nice to have those little reminders that warm weather and joy still exist somewhere, even if it’s not, you know, here. Also, I really did not like the Rendezous. It was a style of beer I was unfamiliar with, and failed to write down so I cannot report back on, but I didn’t like it. I believe Danny and Monica helped me finish it. It was a dark and bitter beer that cut deep to my emotions without being kind, or polite, or helpful in the least.

And so the tour commenced. We had a new tour guide who was a little scattered and definitely still working through his spiel, but once he got the jitters out in the first room, he really came into his own. I know that it was by no means his first tour, but as a person who has professionally given 20 minute long guided walking tours through an environmentally sensitive house, I could definitely see that he was probably within his first ten or so tours. But nonetheless, he was a delight. By no means “underemployed theatre major” levels of delightful, but that probably comes with experience. Also, completely unprompted, but at the start of the tour in the middle of a sentence, another man came running in that works at the brewery with a beer for a tour guide, commanded that he chug it, the tour guide obeyed, and then we all proceeded with the tour like nothing ever happened.

I’d like to believe it is because we have become complacent with life and no long question the absurdity that arises in the day-to-day because the government has conditioned us to no longer see the absurdity. It’s all absurd. Every last moment of life. So no one questions the tour guide being forced to close his eyes, open his throat and just swallow the damn beer because that is what life is now. Just the constant barrage of commands being thrown at us that ten years ago we would never have dreamed of, but are just apart of our daily existence. Cell phones track our every move. Life no longer can continue as status quo. Bitter. Cold. Dark. Absurdity.

So anyways, Danny earned a free beer for participating in a nice glove wave. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, too bad. Go on the Lakefront tour and figure it out.

After the tour, we had another beer, and then pocketed our last tokens and headed over to Stubby’s to grab our free beers with dinner. Does that ending feel abrupt? Well, don’t fret about it because it didn’t really end. Nothing really ended. Life is still continuing. I didn’t cease to exist after our Stubby’s dinner. No one did. We all just kept walking through those moments step-by-step, together and apart. So we went to Lakefront again. And we probably will do it another time. And another.

*note: I didn’t take pictures because life is meaningless. Everything is constantly evolving but also unchanging. If you want pictures, just google Lakefront. You will see that it is all the same. Or check out my last Lakefront post. Life is all the same. Fortunately, we all die. Farewell.

Pabst History Tour, Milwaukee

Sometimes, late at night, when the world has largely gone to bed and my mind is settling in for a restful slumber in my Bay View flat, the soft whispers of distant voices pass through my head as I hear the words that are oft repeated to me,  Zac Brown Band is really good live. The words sit heavy on my heart as I give into a fitful night of sleep, tossing and turning, wondering if those proclamations are true. Is Zac Brown Band actually really good live? 

But there’s got to be something said about Zac Brown. His idea of what relaxation looks very similar to what a good Wisconsin weekend is. Sitting by a lake, remembering that time you went to Mexico once, but not really Mexico, but rather a resort pandering to white people so as to not risk exposing them to too much culture (and drug cartels) that allows them to drink as much as they want for whatever they paid for the all-inclusive pricing. But the lake is good enough for you because you have an iced cold PBR and another forty-eight in the fridge that you’ve inherited from all your drunk grandparents and uncles and cousins and siblings. That’s summer in Wisconsin. A cabin up north, a lake, beer, cultural insensitivity and pretending you’re drinking local when actually, the beer you’re drinking hasn’t been brewed in Wisconsin in over twenty years. PBR. That’s right. The beer of hicks and hipsters alike. That’s what we’re talking about on this post. Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.

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Wow, let me start by saying, this post chronologically comes in about halfway through the last one. Oktoberfest was both before and after this tour of ours, but I felt like this was better saved for afterwards. Unfortunately for anyone who is staunchly against my tangents and is fuming with rage over the fact that the last post was not a brewery post, I have terrible news for you. This isn’t either! It’s a historical tour of Pabst. But there was beer.

Honestly, this was such a delightful trip but it’s been so long, I don’t even know if I remember much about it. Included in the tour was two drink chips, which seemed like a sweet deal since I think Ashley bought this tour on Groupon for like $20 for the four of us. So that made the tour like $5/piece and then we all had beer. You get your first beer in this old little bar that the Pabst employees used to drink in back in the day when they were still headquartered in Milwaukee. It was cozy, for sure, and they were showing a football game on the television. This is where we all got our first drinks. Jake and Tim both got a Pabst Andeker first and Ashley and I got the Potosi Tangerine IPA. Very Wisconsin of us, if I do say so myself. The beers were fine. I don’t honestly remember being particularly blown away by them.

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Then at the start of the tour we were all welcomed into this beautiful hall filled with tables and chairs. It used to be the corporate offices, but now is rented out for weddings and events. Also, important note, Pabst does not own this place anymore. A local historian bent on preserving the history of the city bought it. And honestly, it’s for the best. A lot of the old warehouses and factory buildings that used to be apart of the brewery are either being converted into urban lofts or being torn down so more condos can be built on top of the sacred, hallowed grounds of where one of America’s favorite* beers was once brewed. Say it with me guys. URBAN RENEWAL. Bet you thought I was going to say gentrification didn’t you?

In defense of forward development in the city, I won’t get into gentrification or well-worn rants about erasing lower income populations and minorities from the city’s landscape because that’s not what is happening here. These are just abandoned buildings that have not been used in decades and they are occupying many city blocks just sitting there, empty. On one hand, it’s sad to think about the history of the city being bulldozed, but on the other, the important buildings are being preserved while the ugly ones are being made into condos. It doesn’t make sense for that much land to be wasted by abandoned husks of memories. The land needs to be utilized. This is a city, after all, and that is prime real estate. Honestly, by converting and redeveloping this unused, uninhabited space into expensive, fancy condos, it probably staves off outward expansion and destruction of culture and heritage that thrives just north and south of downtown. And also, I know that gentrification isn’t necessarily a dirty word. Some people see it as a chance for a neighborhood to be revitalized and given opportunity for an economic boom. And I’m also not an idiot. I live in an neighborhood that was once populated heavily by Polish immigrants, who then moved further south and were replaced by a heavily Latin population. Now the neighborhood is very white, very young, very millennial. I am a part of the problem too, guys.

Anyways, we were in the beer hall. I don’t know if you remember that or not because I sure as shit did not. Here we sat through a forty minute long chitchat/video about the history of Pabst. We found out that it used to be called Best Beer, not because they were conceded assholes, but the man who founded Pabst’s last name was Best. It wasn’t until his daughter married a man named Fredrick Pabst who then took over the company so Mr. Best could enjoy retirement that the name changed. And honestly, dumb name change right? Like, it’s hard to get away with calling your beer “Best Beer” if that’s not your last name, but who doesn’t want to be selling their beer and telling people “oh, it’s the Best.” But I digress. It’s been 150 years and we’re still drinking it at frat parties and dive bars in the northwoods so I guess it doesn’t matter.

Also, at some point, Jake won a free beer because Jake knew what the word Pabst meant in German. This is appropriate to mention, because as I brought up in our previous post, Jake spent three weeks in Germany as a social experiment and I’ve spent years in the German Pavilion at Epcot. So, I will concede to him that his German education awarded him a free beer and my time in the German Pavilion has earned me mostly melancholic longing for experiences and people that I will never have the privilege to enjoy again. We’ll give Jake a win in this column.

Before we got to leave off from off from the beer hall into the old offices, we got more beer! Woo! Tim and Ashley got actual PBRs, I got my official beer selection of 2017, which if you do not at this point know what it is, you can show yourself out, and Jake got a Pabst Oktoberfest which he decided was his favorite Oktberfest beer (maybe of all time?). Then, we got to casually join a large group of people and check out some of the old offices. It was cool. I don’t really have more to say that is remotely intellectual other than the fact that it was just super neat. The old hall was neat. The abandon-y sad looking parts of the building were neat. Everything was neat. Someone even declared this the best Daze of Beer event thus far, and I would probably have to agree.

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After the tour, we got to just hang out for a little bit. We drank some more in the beer hall. I finally got a PBR to just feel the spirits of the dead factory workers who once worked on those hallowed grounds, making this very beer for every man (or woman) to enjoy. It was nice. The building is beautiful and old and captures the spirit of this city that I love and hate. No one stopped us as we explored a cute little balcony. No one cared. Everyone was just chilling out and drinking beer on this beautiful Sunday afternoon.

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As I wrap this up, I would like to mention that while I have been talking about how Pabst isn’t brewed in Milwaukee anymore, it’s not wholly true. A few years back, Pabst announced  are turn to their homeland and owned a small craft brewery that brews actual beer. It’s just not Pabst Blue Ribbon. In fact, when I was googling to see what is actually brewed in Milwaukee, Jake and Tim’s Andekers were. Apparently they brew crafts and also older beers that had previously been discontinued to preserve the beer’s heritage and the connection it has to the city. I won’t get into it too much here because at some point in the future, we will probably check out the actual Pabst brewpub which is in the same mess of old abandoned brewery buildings still on Juneau.

While this wasn’t the best written or most interesting post I could have done, it was rather inspiring. Milwaukee has such a vast and rich history, especially when it comes to brewing, and it’s really cool to see something that has not only shaped this city, but has shaped pop culture. Pabst Blue Ribbon is a (in)famous beer. Country singers and rappers and my hipster roommate in Florida and JD Hartley all sing and talk and obsess over this rather unremarkable beer. Our grandfathers drank it. Someone of our grandfathers made it. But more importantly, this beer made us. This day was definitely something to remind us that Milwaukee hasn’t always just been a shithole, it used to be a shithole with a lot more beer.

*citation needed

Oktoberfest, Pere Marquette Park

October first is a very important day for me, personally. It’s not necessarily anything that involves beer. October 1st is a day that my life changed, even before I had a life to change. October 1st is the day that the world was first welcomed to greet the future, and experience imagination and technology, arts and science, world cultures. October 1st will forever mark the day that both the world and the World changed forever. October 1st, 1982 is the day the Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow opened it’s gates and welcomed all of us to a place like no other. That’s the day my home opened. That’s the day my heart changed, even though I wouldn’t even have a heart for another 11 years. That’s my day.

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Cheers, baby.

But since my life is bitter and cold, I could not be home on such an important day. Instead, I was enjoying brunch and planning on attending the Pabst History Tour (post to come) while wistfully following all the activities of the 35th anniversary celebration by proxy through my friends on SnapChat and Facebook and Instagram. I did toast to Epcot at brunch while all my friends who don’t understand how to accept their lord and savior, Figment, into their hearts stared at me with deep concern that I had finally, officially, lost my mind. But then, like a sign from the heavens, while sipping a beermosa on the gorgeous fall morning, a man wandered past the establishment in which we were dining wearing lederhosen. At first we thought, Oh, maybe that old man works at the Old German Beer Hall which was just a few storefront down from us. But he seemed old. And then another passed. I got nostalgic for things like Werthers caramels and the currywurst of the Germany pavilion at Epcot and shared an antidote about how my adviser in college’s wife’s uncle was from Germany and when he retired he moved to Florida and now works in Germany at Epcot. Jake also spent a month in German and tried to steal my emotions by talking about how he’s actually been to Germany, but I couldn’t be deterred. Epcot was my home. Germany was just a social experiment for himself.

And so, we concluded our brunch, with time to spare before our tour, we followed the growing, raucous sounds of polka music and crowds of people and found what we were not looking for but have always been seeking. An Oktoberfest celebration put on by Milwaukee County Parks on the Milwaukee River. And that was the moment we made content on the fly. So, without further adieu, on this special not-on-format-but-still-on-brand edition of Daze of Beer, we drink beer outside and listen to polka at Oktoberfest.

As I said, we stumbled upon this celebration already in full swing although it was around noon. The delightful thing about Wisconsinites and Germans and people who enjoy German culture is that it’s never too early to have a beer, especially if you’re having a beer outside with other people. That’s hard science. Go ahead, if you’re sitting on your porch at 8am and there are at least three other people on said porch and you and at least one of those other people have a beer in hand, if you crack it, no one will judge you. In some niche circles, they will cheer you on. We have normalized alcoholism and it’s quite charming.

So, we figured, what the h*ck, might as well beer with the best of them. Jake, being the bold and bawdy bard that he is, got a litre and started with the Staten Oktoberfest. Jake definitely also started this impromptu content creation with the bold claim of “This is actually pretty yummy. This might be my favorite Oktoberfest beer.” And I trust him on that quote I actually wrote down, because he’s been to Germany and also, he also made some intelligent remarks on Third Space’s attempt at an Oktoberfest beer previously. Tim got himself the Goose Fest Bier. Then Ashley and I both got the New Glarius Staghorn.

We stood around and took some beautiful, well lit photos while I just kept repeating “This. Makes. Me. So. Happy.” I really like drinking outside during nice weather. It’s strange as a person who does not typically enjoy the outdoors, but I like being within the safe confines of  a city setting, as were on this fine day, with the sun shining, drinking a beer. But unfortunately, joy cannot last forever, and we could only drink one lonesome beer before having to say “auf wiedersehen” to the entire party to catch our Pabst tour. But fret not, fore following our tour, we returned.

Upon our arrival back to Oktoberfest, we immediately grabbed a beer because again, can’t just stand around outside and not drink. That’d be a waste of time. Jake got the Staghorn Little, Tim went with the Sprecker Oktoberfest, as did Ashley, and I got the Spaten Lager. We also grabbed some food. Brunch was far behind us and the fall sun was starting to lay low in the sky, and it was time for late lunch/early dinner. We all got brats and chips and also someone got cheese curds that were quite good. And in the tradition of German beer halls, we sat at a long communal table (actually just several picnic tables pushed together) and that’s when we were regaled with tales by drunken bags players about how the bags tournament is horseshit. They laid out their plight, expressed their emotions, looked for our advice, and Jake said, “Yeah, sounds like horseshit.” And that’s how Jake made friends with drunk bags players at Oktoberfest. Our German forefathers would be so. proud.

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We enjoyed some more polka, but the festivities were winding down. The beer wasn’t flowing and the crowds were thinning. Also, I had planned on a taking a nap that day when I left my house around 10am and now I was finding it closing in on 5pm and I was exhausted. So we gathered our lives together and headed home.

Next time, we hear more about that Pabst History Tour. It’s not a brewery but there’s still beer!