2nd Story Brewing, Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia treated me well. Ever since my adventures to Utah last summer where I thought I would be just fine and suffered greatly at the hands of a society that is incredibly restrictive of their booze and women, I have this lurking sense of anxiety when I decide to do things alone and independently. It hasn’t stopped me. Clearly you’ve seen how far I’ve come on my solo travels since my post nearly a year ago about my visit to Squatters but that doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t think about that feeling of being stranded in a city where you don’t know anybody and everything just sucks. But that feeling didn’t even begin to cross into my consciousness when I was in Philly because I had a great time.

Monday morning, after spending the night with Nicole in Baltimore, I caught a bus back to Philly to continue my urban exploration of the City of Brotherly Love. The weather was gorgeous, warm but not hot, and the people were the perfect mix of disinterested in my bullshit and caught up in their own. My first stop back in the city was not a brewery, but rather, the Mutter Museum. I’d highly recommend checking it out. After that, I strolled around the city without much plan. I didn’t necessarily feel like I needed to hit up another brewery so I didn’t even make the effort. However, fate had other plans, and as I wandered around, wondering what I should do with my final two hours before I needed to head back to the airport, I stumbled upon 2nd Story Brewing while trying to figure out where I was and why was the road closed, even to foot traffic.

As I am an “adult” with a “real” job that forces me to be in an office from approximately 9am to 5pm every day, much as the Dolly Parton song suggests, I am not very well acquainted with the 2pm on a Monday brewery scene. But not to fear, because most people probably aren’t. I say that because I was one of two people in the entire place. 2nd Story is more of a brewpub, which means they have a full menu and a very restaurant-y vibe. I would have loved to eat there, but I had already eaten at Five Guys about an hour and a half prior and was in no mood for more food. But that is alright, because that left enough room to drink four beers. At 2pm. On. A. Monday.

The first beer I had was the Pier 53, which was an America IPA. Now, let’s talk about this term. “American” IPA. I was always under the impression that there are IPAs and there are APAs, but in my time in Philadelphia, I learned of the term “American IPA.” But here’s the rub. I still don’t know if they are different or not. Some places on the web are just like “APAs are America IPAs” and other places are like “no, they are similar but NOT the same.” I also consulted Nicole on this matter, but since she knows just about as much about beer as I do she was also very confused. But regardless, it was good.

Also, while I was sitting at the bar, the bar manager and restaurant manager had very different ideas on what kind of music they should be listening to and the poor bartender seemed to be stuck in between. The bar manager was very into the Grateful Dead and the restaurant manager was very into Tom Petty and they kept switching back and forth, and bitching at the poor bartender for allowing the other guy to change the music. At first I thought it was a friendly kind of joke, but over the course of my two hours at this brewery, sitting at the bar, with no one else in the place to dilute the experience, I realized that they were not fucking around.

My second beer was a Anniversary Triple IPA. I think I enjoyed it, but I also think I found it a little too hoppy. Maybe I shouldn’t have waited almost three months to write this and then I could’ve had a more insightful thought on the matter, but unfortunately, I have been busy being a social butterfly and not a depressed shut-in as of late, so I haven’t gotten around to writing while the memories were fresh.

The third and forth beers I had were both their Que Hora Es? Mexican Lager. It was like a Landshark, but better! But still, I would rather have a Landshark for the sake of irony alone.

Overall, I would say this was  radically different kind of brewery than Evil Genius. This was very refined, traditional, and focused on your classic “beer flavors” whereas Evil Genius was really big on the kitschy and kooky things you can do with beer. That doesn’t make one better than the other, but just that they are radically different places with completely different styles of beer.

But the one thing I would like to note about 2nd Story is not about their beer, but about their bathrooms. There bathrooms are the most inclusive bathrooms I have used outside of a liberal arts college campus. They didn’t have men’s or women’s restrooms but rather just “restrooms.” You walked into this space with a long line of sinks, turned a corner, and there was a long line of floor to ceiling stalls. You walked into your little cube, used it, walked out, and washed your hands. Everyone was together. In one place. It didn’t matter who you were or how you identified. You just peed and went on your way to the communal hand wash station. That is amazing, especially for a city with such a reputation as Philadelphia. I loved it.

So, in close, Philadelphia is great and I can’t wait to go back. They had so many breweries I didn’t get a chance to visit but the two I went to were amazing. Can’t wait for the next adventure in the City of Beertherly Love.

Evil Genius Beer Company, Philadelphia, PA

Picture it: Thursday, April 19th. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A weary case manager sits at her desk with her officemate and boss brainstorming quick weekend getaways to help her manage the lingering winter blues that have gotten her down. Anything within 8 hours. Those are the only guidelines. No reasonable solution is offered. The hope of a weekend away dims. Fast-forward three hours, she sits at her desk, eating some sort of leftover from the previous night that cannot quell her hunger for adventure. She’s clicking through Google Flights, trying to look forward to her summer trip to Colorado. And then she sees it. Airfare. $6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Good God, that must be a mistake. $6? There must be a missing zero or a decimal error or something. But no. It is not a mistake. Within minutes, she has herself booked on a $6 one way flight to Philly and $6 back. Between terrorism fees and taxes, she has herself a $25 round trick ticket to the city of Brotherly Love leaving Sunday morning and returning Monday night. She did it. She escaped the Good Land another time.

Dramatic? Yes. But guys! I went to Philadelphia! One two days notice! With no plans! And nothing but a backpack! Was it crazy and impulsive? Yes. Did I have a good time? Yes. Did I drink beer? Of. Fucking. Course I drank beer. So welcome to this fine edition of the blog where I talk about one of the most delightfully silly and meta and nostalgic breweries I could have come across. Evil Genius Beer Co. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

So, I have been trying to get out to Philly for a while, but this trip was so sudden and unexpected I had nothing in mind when I got off the plane at Philadelphia International Airport. I didn’t research any breweries and all I had was a note on my phone with a list of things recommended to me by my officemate. And his list was mostly comprised of his sentimental attachment to his hometown and less interested in my base pleasures, which is beer.

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The actual list.

But anyways, I found myself standing in the designated rideshare pick-up area frantically googling “breweries philadelphia” because I had nothing planned and I just chose the first one that popped up on the “near me” list without even looking at their website. And can I tell you how big of a mistake this was? Just kidding. It was actually one of the most perfectly random Google suggestions that could have crossed my way.

My Lyft driver was quite concerned about my course of action, I must say. He told me numerous times he would never be okay with his daughter, no matter how old she was, just blindly wandering the streets of Philadelphia alone and into some brewery without any plan or purpose. And when he pulled up to the curb, he asked if I felt safe getting out and if I didn’t, he would take me somewhere else. Other than the obviously questionable subway that ran overhead, it was very much the neighborhood you find a brewery. People were hugging in the streets. There was a place on the corner serving brunch with a cute chalkboard sidewalk sign out front. This is where my people were. This is where I belonged. Of course, before I truly departed from my Lyft, I told the driver if I was stabbed, I would haunt the shit out of his car. But we had a good rapport so I do not feel guilty about this at all.

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First nice day in Philly, so the windows were open.

Walking in, the place had just opened. It was 12pm on a Sunday and there were two guys sitting at the small space at the bar, and another bunch at a table. To order, you walk up to the counter and they have a small queue system in place. I decided to go for a five-pour flight to start my day and stood and stared at the board behind the taps with wonder and awe. While having a brewery theme is, to an extent, niche and obnoxious, it can be done right. As mentioned in the Broken Bat post, some themes can be fun. I will also say that the specific theme that Evil Genius was going for also had the ability to be tacky or abused or too kitschy. But, they handled it with grace and dignity, and I was not annoyed by it. Which is saying something as I am annoyed by almost everything. All their beers were named (maybe inspired?) as pop culture references. It was like the Gilmore Girls of beer, really.

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The beer menus were on VHS clamshell cases.

So, as I stated, I got a five pour flight to start. The beers I got in the flight were the Kill It! Kill It With Fire!, #ICANTEVEN, ET Goes Home, Aziz! Lights!, and Scotty Doesn’t Know. The Kill It! was a style of beer that I am not familiar with at all. Mostly because I don’t know anything about beer and I have been running a beer blog for over a year now (I know this because I just paid for another year at this beautiful domain) and I still don’t know shit. But anyways, it was a Biere de Garde with plum and elderberry.  I thought it was good but I didn’t quite get the plum and elderberry flavors. The thing I did appreciate about this beer was that it was beer. That might sound silly, but with a lot of beers (especially some of the ones I’m about to talk about in this very post) with the experimental IPAs and sours, the taste of beer is lost to the kookiness. But this beer was beer, which is something I want to start getting back to more. Beer flavored beer.

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The #ICANTEVEN was a watermelon blonde ale which I did not like. Not because the beer was bad but because it tastes like watermelon. Guess what family? I hate watermelon. I hate it so much. Now, you might be wondering, “Hey, dumb ass, if you hate watermelon, why did you order a beer that was supposed to taste like watermelon?” And the short answer of it is that I am, in fact, a dumb ass. The long answer is that I like watermelon flavored things. Like Jolly Ranchers and juice. But this beer legitimately tasted like watermelon, not the chemically reproduced in a lab equivalent of a memory of what watermelon used to taste like once upon a time before the Great War. I think that speaks to how the beer was made (with real watermelon I would guess) but it also means that I had a hard time finishing it. (But I did finish it because I’m a Guida and Guidas don’t leave beer on the table. That’s alcohol abuse.)

The ET Goes Home was a Double IPA that tasted like strawberry milkshake. Or at least that is what is was supposed to taste like on paper. In practice, in my notes, I wrote that the gimmick outsold the taste. Philly was nearly a month ago at the time of me writing this (timeliness be damned) so I’m not sure I have more to elaborate on the matter.

The Aziz! Lights! falls into the same category as the #ICANTEVEN which is simply. I am an idiot. This was a cucumber IPA, and I am sure to someone it is refreshing, but I don’t like cucumber. Why did I order this? It tasted like cucumber. Unless a cucumber has spent the majority of it’s life in vinegar and comes out a pickle, I will not eat it. I will not let it diffuse in my beverages. I won’t let Jimmy John’s put it on my veggie sandwich. I. Do. Not. Like. It. And I did not like this beer. Because I’m, again, stupid.

The Scotty Doesn’t Know was a oatmeal pale ale. Apparently I liked it because all I wrote in my notes was “‘Twas good.” Which honestly, is probably a glowing endorsement from me. I don’t even know myself that well anymore.

So, after I wrapped up my flight, I was starving to death because I hadn’t eaten all day. And I had just flown in from Milwaukee. But, as I believe in thoroughness of life and was also having a grand time reading I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara pre-Golden State Killer capture (read the book, it’s amazing), I decided to have one last beer. So I got a full pour of the Stacy’s Mom citra IPA. My notes on this beer say this is “what I live for” and it’s light and “less pretentious” than many IPAs. Now, let me take a moment to be self reflective on this statement. Assuming a beer can be pretentious and priding another beer in being less so, in and of itself is pretentious. I think I was starving to death and a little too up on my own bullshit at this point. But guys, I was in the city of Brotherly fucking Love. The city of the Super Bowl Champions. The city that for the last two and a half years of my life I have had to listen to my officemate prattle on and on about how about his the greatest city in the world, no matter what the Schuyler Sisters insist on. I was wrapped up in my love of Philadelphia and was totally fine being pretentious. I had wandered into a city I had never been in before with just a backpack on my back, no plans, no where to go, and I was feeling free and independent. This is what happens when I travel alone. I get too into my own bullshit.

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But anyways, by the time I finished the Stacy’s Mom, I needed to get food. I should mention that there is a light menu at the brewery but my aforementioned officemate had given me an extensive list of food recommendations that I needed to tackle in my less than 48-hour stopover in Philadelphia and I could not waste a meal on a salad. So I closed my tab and headed out.

Since visiting Evil Genius, though, I have become an avid fan of their social media accounts. This is a brewery run by nerds for nerds, and it devastates me that I do not live closer to the lab and cannot visit more frequently. I will also say that the only moment of melancholy I experienced on my solo travels was in this brewery as I sat there reading the beer list and taking in the atmosphere thinking about how much Jake and Ashley would’ve loved that place. The beertender said my told my total was twelve doll hairs at some point. Doll. Hairs. That’s shit Ashley would’ve been all over. I won’t get too sappy about my visit to Philly (especially since I have another post in this two-part City of Beertherly Love series coming up), but this brewery was a great first impression on the city. It was unassuming and disinterested in being anything other than what it wanted to be. It’s definitely on my list for when my friends and I inevitably return. I loved Philadelphia and can’t wait to go back.

Broken Bat Brewery, Historic Third Ward, Milwaukee

The idea of spring in Wisconsin is rather amusing. It’s cute to think that just because the calendar says that it’s April means that you will see beautiful flowers budding from the ground and trees starting to sprout leaves. It’s a fantasy. The reality is that even if it is April 7th, you very well might be forced to squeeze into a tiny brewery on the lower floor in the Third Ward with hundreds of people to celebrate a one year anniversary. And that’s what we did, guys. We paid a fine visit to Broken Bat Brewery in Milwaukee’s Third Ward to celebrate one year of beer with them.

As track records for one year anniversary parties at breweries, we are 0-2 on the seasonably appropriate weather front. If you recall correctly, when we went to Third Space‘s one year anniversary party at the end of September, it was painfully hot. Like 90+ degrees hot that day. The last weekend in September. In Wisconsin. Now, fast forward to April 7th where my friends and I found ourselves walking many, many blocks on a chilly, windy day to visit this brewery. There was no sun, though, thankfully there was also no snow (that would come a week later). But it was still unpleasant. It feels unfair to be promised all the beautiful things that spring has to offer, beer on a patio, sunshine, joy, just to be reminded that joy does not exist in Wisconsin. At least not in spring. Spring is not a re-birth here, it’s a re-hash. It just repeats everything winter did, but it with a meaner, more resentful spin. But we still went for the beer.

Broken Bat is a micro that I am not familiar with at all, but Molly, who joined us on this expedition this fine day, knows the owners. At least she knew the brew master’s in-laws, which paid off in our favor tenfold because we got to pet a very tiny puppy named Roxy that belonged to the people that Molly knew. Bless her. But that’s not why we are here today, to talk about all the dogs we met (Monica pet a dog that has over 75k followers on Instagram and was starstruck all afternoon), we are here to talk about beer.

IMG_1748 2Unfortunately, the place was crowded and it was hard to get to the bar to get a beer, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t still try to drink like the best of them. There was a large group of us on this expedition (Karen, Jake, Tim, Monica, Molly, Ashley, and myself) which allowed for many beers to be split among the crowd. I will also say that it is the first time I have ever been in a tap room where there was a man standing at the door constantly counting heads because they were close to their fire code cap. Not something you typically encounter at a micro on a cold spring day in Wisconsin.

 

In terms of the beer, everything was baseball themed, which delighted Jake, an avid baseball enthusiast. It also made for a more educational day for myself, because I didn’t quite understand almost any of the references that the beers were alluding to. So buckle up guys, because, in addition to getting a beer rundown, you’re also going to get your asses educated in the world of baseball.

Golden Sombrero. In baseball, that means the same player struck out FOUR times in a single game. In beer (as drank by Jake and Karen) is a pilsner that seems appropriate for a soft tailgate. Easy to drink, friendly. Not too offensive.

Flashin’ Leather. Allegedly, this means a famous play that you are going to see replayed over and over again for the rest of your life to remind you that baseball has some exciting moment, although they typically only come around every couple of seasons. For beer (as drank by Jake and Ashley), it was a golden ale that they both enjoyed!

Straight Chedd. Apparently, this means pitchers throw very fast like, all the time. Or sometimes. I’m not sure. I’m not a baseball person, back off okay. But the beer (drank by Jake and Tim and not me because the universe is cruel) it is an apricot pale ale. I don’t even know how they felt about it because when I went to get one, the keg was empty so the guy went to go change the keg, and then came back and it still would not pour, so I had to order something else. I shrugged it off and was like “no biggie, my dude, fuck me up with that Ugly Finder” but then like a couple minutes later, Tim went to get one and it TURNS OUT this guy working at a brewery just straight up doesn’t know how to change a keg. I mean, I don’t either. But I’m a social worker, not a beertender. And I’m not here to narc on someone for being bad at their job (as I am typing this from my desk at work with 20 unread emails), but I am quite distressed that I did not get that beer at that moment. However, it is an incentive to return.

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Climb the Wall. I’m sure this has something to do with catching a ball that is like borderline almost a homerun but a guy defies the laws of physics and Spider-Man’s his way up a wall to make sure that this is not a home run. In terms of beer (consumed by Tim and Molly), it’s a farmhouse ale with notes of orange. I don’t have much else to say about it because there was a lot of beer being consumed and I am a not a Good Blogger™.

Corré Corré. It means “run” in Spanish. Take what you want from that. But Karen and Molly both had this beer, which Karen loved. It’s a Mexican Lager, though, so I mean, Landshark still exists in the world, but if you’re going the craft route. I guess this is a good one too.

Golden Summer Ale. Maybe this one doesn’t actually exist, but I wrote it down that Karen drank it but I can’t find it on the website. Let’s assume that it’s real and I just wrote the name down wrong. Otherwise, I hallucinated an entire beer and that is problematic.

Ugly Finder. I don’t know the baseball history about this beer. I just know that Ashley and I drank it. Ashley by choice, me by default. I think it was fine, but I was still bitter about the Chedd incident.

Overall, I think we had a good trip. Jake really liked the brewery because of his affinity for baseball and beer and the delightfully quaint way this brewery decided to bring his two joys together. I think that maybe we need to go back to get a better opinion of the vibe and environment, though. We were there for two hours and the whole time we stood around, with our backs against the wall while people tried to get back and forth to the bathroom. I would make the bold assumption that we would definitely go back, and probably someday soon. Beer drinking season is officially upon us now that the last snow has fallen and the sun stays out until 8pm. ‘Twas a good day.

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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.

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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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