Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beercation 2010

Nine states, six beer stores, two breweries, one beer garden, and one really full trunk on the way home - it was a good trip. Almost a full year late, I know, I had to post something to get this thing going though...

Our 16 hour drive to our first stop in Atlanta GA was really only interupted by two things, bathroom breaks, and beer stores (we fit a breakfast in there too, but only because we saw the place on the way to beer store). You really don't have to drive too far before the wonder that is Fat Tire Ale (New Belgium Brewing Co) presents itself. I've heard word that it's coming to PA as soon as this fall...would make a great Christmas present. Buying beer in a grocery store is still odd to me, but in the southern states almost everywhere except PA, that is how it's done. Selection is limited, but there were a few things that needed to get picked up, mostly Fat Tire and and New Belgiums summer ale Skinny Dip.

We made two great stops in Atlanta GA. One was at 5 Seasons Brewing Company. They have several locations in Atlanta, we chose The Westside (on the western side of town, very clever)because of it's proximity to Hop City (more on that to come). Good beer selection, good food, Lauren had the fish tacos, she said they were awesome. The one problem quality I found in mostly all of the southern beers was how watery / light they were. I guess it makes sense, it's hot down there, and a Thomas Creek "Up The Creek Extreme IPA" isn't always the best option. 5 Seasons had some legitimate beers though. The best by far was their Quinte55ence:

A Belgian Quintuple--if there was such a thing. A celebration of the opening of 5 Seasons-North.

There are 5 malts, 5 hops, 5 of this, 5 of that 25 of these things and 25 of those things over there. It is a BIG beer.

Very rich, very complex. But don’t be scared of it—or maybe you should.

They also had this badass fire truck.

Then we walked next door to Hop City. I've never seen anything like this in my life. I've been in specialty beer stores before, big ones, but nothing like this. I think we were in there for about an hour. They have the finest bottle selection of regional micros and belgian beers I have ever seen. Shelves and shelves and shelves of bottles of beer, literally.

It was not until our way home that we stopped in at Blue Mountain Brewery, the brewery highlight of the trip. Most breweries offer a nice bar, the trendy chalkboard w/ the beer list, visible fermenters etc, but not acres of land with a huge hop garden, all backdropped by the Blue Mountains of Virginia.

I was a bit dissapointed to learn that their hops are only used in one of their beers, their Full Nelson:

Bursting with local hop flavor, our flagship Virginia Pale Ale features our own farm-grown Cascade variety hops as one of the key ingredients. A strong malt backbone gives this ale a rich taste and vibrant copper color, while the generous addition of hops contribute a pronounced bitterness and floral, citrus aroma.

We were lucky enough to be able to pick up some of their very tasty Mandolin Artisanal Ale:

A pale beer born of a single malt. Balance derived from whole-flower hops. Created from water drawn deep beneath the feet of the world’s oldest mountains. Flavor driven by a faithful dedication to excess. All brought to life by yeast from a holy place. Great beer is a riddle that does not need to be solved! Available as long as each batch lasts, March-July.

This was a great gem of a brewery that luckily Lauren saw a brochure for in the hotel lobby. Great food there, good people, and the best view from a brewery porch that I've ever seen.

I still have several beers from this trip that have been aging this past year. I'm sure one upcoming summer night Lauren and I will crack open a bottle or two, look at some pictures, and almost in a way take the whole trip again. And isn't that what it's all about folks?.

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