Dunedin’s Mobile Brewhouse On Wheels

My friend and colleague, Gerard Walen, has an interesting story on CraftBeer.com about a mobile brewery that drove from Florida to Oregon. In Collaboration On the FL-ORegon Trail, Walen details the rolling brewery built by the Dunedin Brewery and its journey to Oregon, and then on to Denver for GABF. Check it out. Gerard can normally be found on Road Trips For Beer, and recently finished the Florida Breweries book in the same series as my northern California guidebook, which will be published this April.

The Mobile Brewhouse.

The Magic of Brewing, the Joy of Beer

Take a tour of the Suffolk brewery Greene King with head brewer John Bexon hosted by UK beer writer Roger Protz. The video, entitled The Magic of Brewing, the Joy of Beer, runs just under a half-hour and includes a tour of Greene King’s “traditional brew house and fermenting area, taking in the ancient wooden vats where Strong Suffolk is matured.” Enjoy.

Travel + Leisure Chooses The Best American Beer Cities

Travel + Leisure magazine, in their July 2011 issue, made their picks for America’s Best Beer Cities. Actually, the title is a bit misleading. It’s not really the “best” cities so much as the most “popular;” and most popular according to the magazine’s readers; and not all of their readers but specifically the ones who took the time to answer the poll. Looking more closely, the readers polled were asked to choose among 35 pre-chosen cities, too, meaning there was no chance for any town not on the starting list, too. Asheville, NC, for example, was presumably not among the 35 cities on Travel + Leisure’s list.

So that’s a very different thing and probably accounts for what I can only describe as some odd, but interesting, inconsistencies with other similar polls. Certainly Portland deserves the top spot, though it probably goes without saying I’d place San Francisco a tad higher than ninth. But Philly fourth from the cellar — along with San Diego even lower? — that seems like a travesty.

It does, however, tell us how people who like travel enough to subscribe to a periodical devoted to it perceive which cities are best for beer. Undoubtedly, many people voted for their local city so in a sense it’s partly a reflection of the magazine’s geographic readership. But that probably doesn’t tell the whole story. When asked to rank 35 cities, most people (apart from the very well traveled) I’d wager have not been to all of the cities. That would mean they’d be inclined to go with what they’d heard or read about the cities they hadn’t personally visited. They’d make a value judgment based on that particular city’s perception of beer-worthiness. Seen through that prism, it’s a more interesting list, to me at least. It also means I need to visit Savannah. What’s your take on the list?

Travel + Leisure’s 2011 Poll: America’s Best Beer Cities

  1. Portland, OR
  2. Denver, CO
  3. Seattle, WA
  4. Providence, RI
  5. Portland, ME
  6. Savannah, GA
  7. Boston, MA
  8. Austin, TX
  9. San Francisco, CA
  10. Nashville, TN
  11. Kansas City, MO
  12. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
  13. Charleston, SC
  14. Chicago, IL
  15. Anchorage, AK
  16. New Orleans, LA
  17. Philadelphia, PA
  18. San Diego, CA
  19. Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ
  20. Houston, TX

The Street Picks The “10 Best Craft Beer Vacation Destinations”

The Street is a financial media company that covers the business world. Apparently they noticed that craft beer is doing well and put together a list of the
10 Best Craft Beer Vacation Destinations
. Here’s the list below, though it’s not clear to me if the destinations are in any particular order or not.

  1. Full Sail Brewery, Hood River, OR
  2. Stone World Bistro and Gardens, Escondido, CA
  3. Highland Brewery, Asheville, NC
  4. Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY
  5. D.G. Yuengling & Sons brewery, Pottsville, PA
  6. Portland, Maine
  7. Samuel Adams Brewery, Boston, MA
  8. Sierra Nevada Brewery, Chico, CA
  9. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton/Rehoboth Beach, DE
  10. Wisconsin

I love Yuengling, and it is a great tour, but it’s hard to lump America’s oldest brewery in with the more recent craft brewers. And the new owners of Anchor Brewery will be surprised to learn that they’re owned by North American Brewing, as incorrectly cited in the article.

Overall, it’s not a bad list. I’ve been to seven of the ten destinations and can attest to those, and I’ve heard great things about the other ones. But it seems weird that Colorado, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon are all noticeably absent. What places do you think are missing?

Beer Amongst The Belgians

British beer writer Tim Webb is working on what looks to be an interesting documentary series on beer in Belgium, to be called Beer Amongst The Belgians. The series is directed by Taylor Brush for Spotted Tail Productions. The video is listed as the “the final of the promotional episode.” The “promotional episode is a proof-of-concept to find funding to finance the six hour-long episodes.” It’s about 26 minutes, and is a great start, I’d say. Enjoy.

Next Session For The Accidental Tourist

Our 46th Session will be hosted by Mike R. Lynch of Burgers and Brews. His topic is “An Unexpected Discovery: Finding Great Beer in the Last Place You’d Look,” or as he describes it:

I recently drove out to Colorado for a concert, and realized this was a perfect opportunity to stop at as many “beer destinations” as I could. I researched, plotted routes, looked at maps, and generally planned the entire trip around beer. What I was surprised to find was that despite all the amazing stops I planned, one of the best beer experiences of the trip was completely accidental. I found great beer in the last place I thought to look for it.

Has this happened to you? Maybe you stumbled upon a no-name brewpub somewhere and found the perfect pale ale. Maybe, buried in the back of your local beer store, you found a dusty bottle of rare barleywine. Perhaps a friend turned you on to a beer that changed your mind about a brewery or a style. Write about a beer experience that took you by surprise.

So see if you can get off your armchair and make your own unexpected discovery for the next Session on Friday, December 3.

Philly Beer Week Wrap-Up

As ever playing catch-up, here is my wrap-up from the two additional days I spent in Philadelphia for Philly Beer Week. Monday I covered with Hammer Time, and after a quiet Tuesday attended the Lambic Beer Dinner at Monk’s Cafe. Wednesday morning I let my art freak flag fly and took the train to the suburbs for a quick visit to the Barnes Foundation, which I wanted to visit before it’s moved to its new location against the wishes (and the will) of Albert Barnes. When I got back, I headed straight to Standard Tap, in the hopes of getting my own Bear Ninja Cowboy t-shirt — success! — more tater tots and a shopping excursion to the Foodery across the street where I happily ran into two folks from Founders Brewing, Michael Bell and Dave Engbers, doing a tasting there.

Outside Standard Tap.

Then it was off to Nodding Head, where owner Curt Decker had invited me to his Sam, Tomme & Old Beer event, which featured some amazing nibbles (the Keen’s Farmhouse Cheddar was sooo good and so was the pork tenderloin with fig reduction) and ten rare beer from Dogfish Head, Lost Abbey and, of course, Nodding Head.

Nodding Head co-owner Curt Decker
Curt Decker, with Sam Calagione and Tomme Arthur at the Nodding Head bar.

I wasn’t able to stay for the entire event, because I had a 7:00 event I’d committed to, but it was very tempting to stay longer. Some of the beers served which I was lucky enough to try included Dogfish Head’s Immort Ale 2006 and Black & Blue 2008. Then there was Lost Abbey’s Red Barn 2009, Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine 2006 and Lost Abbey Judgment Day 2007. And I finished off the event with a Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA from 2008.

Jack Curtin, Sam Calagione, Ed Friedland and Curt's assistant brewer
Jack Curtin, Sam Calagione, Ed Friedland and Curt’s assistant brewer, Gordon Grubb.

After that, I headed out for my next event, but had to make a quick detour at Fergie’s Pub to say hello to Carol Stoudt from Stoudts Brewing.

Carol Stoudt & me
Carol and me at Fergie’s Pub.

Then I grabbed a cab to the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archeology & Anthropology for the main event of my evening: The Great Lambic Summit.

The Great Lambic Summit
The Great Lambic Summit featuring Armand Debelder (3 Fonteinen) Frank Boon (Brouwerij Boon), and Jean Van Roy (Brasserie Cantillon), along with Dan Shelton (Shelton Brothers).

After that, I cabbed back to the after party at Monk’s Cafe, where many out-of-town brewers had congregated.

Brendan Moylan and me in front of Monk's Cafe
Brendan Moylan wandered up while a group of us were talking outside Monk’s.

Before turning in for the night, I stopped by McGilllin’s Olde Ale House, where a pub crawl between local brewers was supposed to end. Unfortunately, I got there a little to late so I had a quick nightcap and stumbled back to my hotel.

McGillin's Olde Ale House
Late night outside McGilllin’s Olde Ale House, Philadelphia’s oldest bar.

The next day I slept in, then went for a walk to do some sightseeing and pick up gifts for the kids, ending up, as planned, at a cheesesteak place on Market Street — Sonny’s — for my fourth cheesesteak in four days. (You just can’t get a decent authentic one in San Francisco so I tend to go overboard when I’m back East.)

Eventually I ended up at the Kite and Key for the debut of a collaboration beer between Dogfish Head, Stone and Victory; Saison de BUFF. The BUFF part is an acronym for “Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor.” It’s a great saison, spicier than most, but still quite refreshing. It’s made with — try not to break into song — parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme.

Kite & Key co-owner Jim Kirk and me with Sam Calagione, Bill Covaleski & Greg Koch
Kite and Key co-owner Jim Kirk and me with Sam Calagione, Bill Covaleski and Greg Koch.

After that, I caught a ride with the three brewers to the World Cafe Live, but I’ll finish that story in another post.

Below is a slideshow of my last two days at Philly Beer Week. This Flickr gallery is best viewed in full screen. To view it that way, after clicking on the arrow in the center to start the slideshow, click on the button on the bottom right with the four arrows pointing outward on it, to see the photos in glorious full screen. Once in full screen slideshow mode, click on “Show Info” to identify each photo.