Friday, August 28, 2015

One For The Road

We recently returned from a lengthy family road trip. During the course of it we covered 3203 miles through thirteen states with stops in:

Des Moines
Kansas City
St. Louis
New Orleans

We visited museums, parks, caves, battlefields, and breweries. Traveling provides excellent opportunities to find beers otherwise not available in your home market and I made the most of them on this journey.

It started at the Exile Brewing in Des Moines, Iowa. It was located in downtown Des Moines in an old industrial building (the basement had a dungeon like feel to it in a good way). The beer was good and the food was even better.

While in the great Des Moines metro area I also made a point to stop by a store to procure some Toppling Goliath. The Decorah, Iowa brewery has long been on my “must try” wish list and I was excited to get my grubby paws on their Golden Nugget IPA. It was quite tasty, but I’m not sure it really lived up to the hype (no Todd The Axe Man it be) .

Next up was Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City. Boulevard is a well establish craft brewer and their facility was impressive. However, the tap room was small and with only two bar keeps on a sultry Saturday afternoon, there was a bit of a wait to get a beer. The beer itself was decent, but not especially exciting which has been my general impression of Boulevard overall.

During our time in Kansas City I also procured some Ale Mucho Hoppo from Charleville Brewing (Missouri) and Crop Duster Mid-American IPA from Thunderhead Brewing (Nebraska). The Ale Mucho Hoppo is a really nice double IPA. The Crop Duster had a fantastic can design and was pretty tasty as well.

While I have been able to enjoy beer from Schlafly in the past I was looking forward to visiting in person while we were in St. Louis. We ended up hitting the tap room downtown. It was a fairly large place in an older building. The food was great and the beer was fantastic especially the American IPA on cask and unfiltered hefeweizen. Nice to be able to pick up a sampler 12-pack to go too (and walk around downtown St. Louis with it on a steaming afternoon).

We spent three days in New Orleans which provided for ample opportunity to indulge in local favorites. It started at the Crescent City Brewhouse whose beer and food has a definite German influence. I thoroughly enjoyed their fine hefeweizen which went down especially well on a blistering hot afternoon.

While shopping at Target, I picked up a six-pack of Southern Hops'pitality IPA from Lazy Magnolia (Mississippi). It’s a decent IPA and I have to admit that it was rather convenient to explore the beer aisle while grabbing some groceries (although we had to have another clerk check out our beer purchase).

NOLA Brewing offered a number of interesting brews at their tap room near the river. The Mecha Double IPA is a delicious hop bomb. They also had a barbecue establishment that shared their property where you could order and pick up ‘cue from a window. It’s a set up that Minnesota tap rooms would do well to emulate. Unless we still have some sort of silly law against it (likely).

On the way out of the Big Easy, I snagged some Mississippi Fire Ant Imperial Red from Southern Prohibition Brewing (Hattiesburg, MS). The can features an awesome design of a giant version of said fire ant dragging a victim away. The beer itself was big and bold if a bit too boozy.

The most pleasant surprise of the trip was likely the all too short time we spent in Nashville. Our positive views of the city were no doubt influenced by our visits to two tap rooms within easy walking distance of each other. We kicked off at the Yazoo Brewery which was packed on a Saturday afternoon. It has a funky, arty sort of vibe to it and well-crafted beer to go with it. The Jackalope Brewery has an even more funky environment and was a fun place to hang and imbibe their fine beers. The Dire Wolf IPA was especially good and $7 for a 32oz growler of it was a hell of a deal (that was growler & beer for seven bones not just the refill).

Our next stop was in Louisville which include a stop at one of the Bluegrass Brewing locations. They had a cool covered area for outdoor seating and we again enjoyed some high quality beer and grub. The Alt and Atta Boy IPA were both quite tasty offerings.

Kentucky is bourbon country and I made a trip to a local liquor store in Louisville to procure the brown elixir of life. The selection was amazing and even a little intimidating. There were so many options it was hard to decide which one to go with. I finally selected Angels Envy and it turned out to be a heavenly choice. I also picked up an IPA from West Sixth Brewing (Lexington, KY) which was also ended up being a good call.

Perhaps the greatest disappointment of the journey was not being able to make a stop at 3 Floyds Brewing in Munster, Indiana. It was on our original itinerary, but since the entire state of Indiana is currently undergoing road construction of some sort or another, we had to adjust our route to Chicago and Munster was no longer within range. I did quaff an Alpha King in Chicago, but it wasn’t the same as being there. Next time…

I did get to try another Indiana brewer when I picked up a four-pack of Fistful of Hops Orange from Sun King Brewing (Indianapolis). As promised it delivered a citrusy hop punch.

The last stop on our trip was in Chicago. There I paired Anti-Hero IPA and Fist City brews from Revolution Brewing with the city’s legendary deep dish pizza. A delightful combination.

A lot of miles, a lot of beers, and a lot of fun. As our six-year-old son asked moments after arriving home from the adventure, “Now what?” Good question son, good question.