Today’s infographic is a travel guide to visiting English breweries and other beer destinations by train, entitled the Rail Ale Trail. It was created last year by Red Spotted Hanky, a UK travel website.
Today’s infographic is courtesy of Travel Insurance, and is entitled A Beer Tour of America. It’s geared toward the big boys and a few of the larger regionals, but if you were shopping for travel insurance, this would still be a far better way to spend your time.
You can see the chart full size at Travel Insurance.
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 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
- Portland, OR
- Denver, CO
- Seattle, WA
- Providence, RI
- Portland, ME
- Savannah, GA
- Boston, MA
- Austin, TX
- San Francisco, CA
- Nashville, TN
- Kansas City, MO
- Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
- Charleston, SC
- Chicago, IL
- Anchorage, AK
- New Orleans, LA
- Philadelphia, PA
- San Diego, CA
- Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ
- Houston, TX
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.
- Full Sail Brewery, Hood River, OR
- Stone World Bistro and Gardens, Escondido, CA
- Highland Brewery, Asheville, NC
- Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY
- D.G. Yuengling & Sons brewery, Pottsville, PA
- Portland, Maine
- Samuel Adams Brewery, Boston, MA
- Sierra Nevada Brewery, Chico, CA
- Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton/Rehoboth Beach, DE
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After that, I cabbed back to the after party at Monk’s Cafe, where many out-of-town brewers had congregated.
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.
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.
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.
I just returned from yet another trip to visit beer destinations, in this case beer gardens in Queens and Brooklyn, an emerging trend there. So it’s fitting that The Session is all about traveling for beer. Our 29th monthly trip is hosted by Beer by Bart tourguides Gail and Steve.
Their chosen topic is “Will Travel For Beer,” which they describe as follows:
If you see the words “travel” and “beer” and instead of your best tourist sagas you think of work or logistics, we want to know your tips and strategies on the road. (Perhaps for getting prized bottles home.)
And if you haven’t done much travel for fine beer, either for work or pleasure, but you have a trip you’d love to do, tell us where you’d like to go seeking the experience and the community of beer. Who would you want to meet at your destination, who would your travel-mates be, and what would you most want to taste when you arrived?
Details please, whichever way you take this! You’re welcome to pull out the vacation slide show if you wish. By all means have a beer that reminds you of the trip, and describe it if you wish. This episode of The Session goes up on Friday July 3rd, 2009. Finish early and maybe you can go someplace for the weekend!
For me, beer and travel are inextricably linked. I can’t really imagine them being separated from one another. Travel is beer, at least for me. Of course, unlike most people I do this for a living — or try to — and so it makes sense that any time I go somewhere, even if it’s just a family vacation, I also check out the beer scene, what breweries are there, etc. I spent my honeymoon visiting breweries in the Pacific Northwest. Frankly, I don’t travel nearly enough but with two young kids it’s not always possible.
I’m actually behind in putting up photos of all my beer trips, but time is short these days and deadlines are always looming, so I’m working on it. But there are still quite a few you can see at the old photo gallery. I’ve started moving them all over to a Flickr Pro account, where you’ll be able to more photos from all of the events, since I don’t have to worry about taxing my server there.
I’d say my favorite trip would have to be to the Traquair House Brewery located in Traquair House, Scotland’s oldest continuously inhabited home. You have to take two buses south from Edinburgh, and then walk about 2 miles from town to get to the house. It’s pretty remote and completely worth the effort. The house has secret passageways, a hedge maze and an unimaginably old brewery. My photos from that trip are on film, so one of these days I’ll have to scan those pictures. Until then, here’s a shot from the Traquair House website.
You probably noticed that last week I was in Boston for a day, judging the Longshot Homebrew Contest finals at the Boston Beer Co. brewery there in Jamaica Plain. After we finished and had a late lunch, the rest of the day was open. My only plan was to try some more beer and, hopefully, some more frites. As we were waiting for judging to begin, several people in the Samuel Adams marketing department had suggestions of places around town with great frites. Armed with several names, I had a mission. And that’s how Thursday became a Fryday.
At lunch, Todd and Jason Alström, from Beer Advocate, mentioned they had to go to Boston Beerworks where they were being interviewed and then afterwards would be pleased to join me on my fry crawl. Bob Townsend, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (and my favorite new person from Georgia) also tagged along since he had time to kill until he was meeting a friend for dinner later. So the Frites Foursome hailed a cab and our adventure began.
Out first stop was Boston Beerworks, the one near Fenway Park. Todd and Jason had to meet Boston Globe reporter Joseph P. Kahn so he could interview them about Beer Advocate and their upcoming beer festival. The article was subsequently published yesterday, entitled The Beer Necessities.
The brewery is just inside the door.
New signs hang behind the bar announcing which beers they have on tap. Bob and I waited here while Todd & Jason were interviewed and had some beers and, of course, an order of frites. Here, you can see my review of their frites.
The unsubtle sign above the entrance door, in case you weren’t sure what you’d been drinking as you leave. Our next stop was the first recommendation, Eastern Standard. For some reason I only took a photo of the frites here, oh and their handmade chips, so here’s what it looked like inside.
After that, we stopped for a quick pint at The Other Side, a cool organic dive bar near my hotel.
No frites, but they had a pretty decent beer list, both on tap and in bottles.
The vibe was Toronado meets Santa Cruz Organic Cafe, with loft seating, local art on the walls and an impressive menu of unusual dishes all made with local and natural ingredients.
Our next stop was another recommendation, Brasserie Joe, a French bistro, also attached to a hotel, the Colonnade Hotel.
Another nice place, with a contract beer on tap made by Brooklyn Brewing (tasted like their Pilsner). The frites were appropriately Belgian-style, served in a silver cup lined with a checkerboard paper. After I took photos of the frites for their review, our bartender asked me what I was doing and then, bemused I suspect, brought us over some delicious hot bread and carrots in a horseradish-based sauce. Also, Dann Paquette, from Pretty Things, met us at Brasserie Jo and joined us on our crawl.
Our last stop on the fry crawl was Cambridge Brewing, where we were to meet up with Bob Townsend again and also where Andy Crouch would join us. Bob had ordered some frites, so I was able to try his. They were somewhat different than the ones I had the last time I was there. I had a great talk with Dann there, and he has some exciting things going on. I was dying to try some of his beers, so …
Our last stop of the evening was the nearby Hungry Mother, where I had an opportunity to try two of Dann’s beers. First, I sampled the Jack D’Or, a really wonderful beer. Pretty Things took a saison and really put their own stamp on it, Saison Americain indeed. I also tried the Baby Tree, his interpretation of quadruple. It was likewise outstanding. Between talking beer and philosophy with Dann and how good his beers are, I think Pretty Things may be my favorite new brewery. So far they’re only in Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania.
Dann Paquette, Andy Crouch and Todd Alström showing off Pretty Things’ Baby Tree at the Hungry Mother..