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Friday, January 31, 2014

Strolling Through Savannah

Nearly to our Florida destination, we stopped for two nights in Savannah, GA. We used Airbnb to find a room at a historic home in the Victorian District close to Forsyth Park. It was close to downtown, but far enough away to find parking.

It rained most of the visit, but we still got to get around the city, see the architectural highlights, stroll along the riverfront, and stock up on local treats.

William Washington Gordon Monument, Telfair Academy of Arts & Sciences, & Peeking through the African Church Key Hole (Closed Mondays)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tripping into Gravity (Hunter's Brewing)

This is another from the archives. It's a Belgian Tripel that Hunter's released a while back. It was worth noting.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This orange-tinted brew had an off-white, creamy head that dissipated to a layer of bubbles and a ring. It smelled like sugar and sweet apples.

Taste: This was very sugary sweet. It had a subtle floral hop flavor. It was apple juicy. I normally don't go for something this sweet, but it was a nice treat.

Ceilidh (Hunter's Brewing)

Cold winter days are great days to catch up on beer notes. I still have quite a few from holiday travels and recent indulgences. Winter brews are my favorite, and there are so many to try. I found the notes for this Irish Red in my archives. Hunter's posted that they were brewing another batch, so look for it in the taproom soon.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This brownish brew had a creamy, off-white head that settled to a ring. I smelled malt sweetness and brown sugar.

Taste: It had a malt sweetness and hearty grain flavor.It was biscuity and chewy. A nice substantial beer. It fit the style well. If you drink enough of these, you may feel like you're at a ceilidh.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Zerkle (Obed & Isaac's)

I tried this white IPA at Obed & Isaac's as my dessert. They had two Belgian IPAs, and this was the more smooth of the two. Both were good, but this one had a juiciness and slight spice that set it apart.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This golden brew had a thin, white ring for head. It left light lacing on the glass. It smelled juicy and floral.

Taste: This was citrus juicy with a pithy flavor. It was bitter but smooth. It had a coriander spiciness. I left with a small growler of this brew too.

Froth Bite (Obed & Isaac's)

On a trip through Springfield, IL we took a short detour for a quick lunch and some new brews at Obed & Isaac's. This winter brew seemed fitting for the season, since I was venturing back up to the snow.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This brown brew had an off-white, frothy head. The malt sugars left a thick lacing on the glass.

Taste: It had a mellow spice. It wasn't gritty, and it wasn't overpowering. The spice was balanced with the malt sweetness and bitter hops. All together it was a nice, balanced brew. It was good enough for me to take a small growler home.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lapping it Up in the Land of Lincoln

Obed & Isaac's
500 S 6th St | Springfield, IL

Coming back up from Saint Louis, Mr. K and I tried to make a few stops. Apparently, the Illinois wineries along the way are all closed on Sunday. This brew pub in Springfield was opened and welcoming. We had seen it on one of our last trips up, but this time we made the stop. It has quite a history tied in a small way to Lincoln, of course (he loaned Issac the money to build the house). All of the history can be found on their website. It's an interesting tale about a desire to preserve historic buildings, a chance opportunity to restore a property using a surrogate house, and a dream to brew. This property probably isn't a stranger to brewing, but it's nice to see a modern operation with a tie to history. When we drove up was expecting a bit of a gimmick. Ye olde chips and a pot o'stew. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hell Hound on My Ale (Dogfish Head)

While dodging rain drops in Savannah on a warm December day, Mr. K and I stopped in a pizza joint for a late lunch. Your Pie is a pizza restaurant chain in the Southeast. It's like a Subway for pizza. They have a menu, but you can watch them put on the toppings before they stick it in the smoking hot oven. They had sandwiches and salads, but pizza was on the menu for us. We split a small pie and enjoyed a couple of brews. They had limited selection of craft brew on tap and some bottles. I ordered this limited release DIPA.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This copper-orange brew had a white frothy head. The hop oils left heavy lacing on the plastic cup. It smelled like fruity hops.

Taste: I tasted juicy apple and musky fruit (hops). It had a sweet lemon/tangerine flavor with a little pith. It was there was a lot going on in this brew.

From the DFH site:
Hellhound is a super-hoppy ale that hits 100 IBUs in the brewhouse and 10% ABV. It's dry-hopped with 100% Centennial hops at a rate of 100 kilos per 100 barrel brew-length. Can you tell we're stoked for this mighty musical centennial?

To accentuate and magnify the citrusy notes of the Centennial hops (and as a shoutout to Robert Johnson's mentor Blind Lemon Jefferson), we add dried lemon peel and flesh to the whirlpool.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Moonlighting at Moon River

Moon River Brewing Company
21 West Bay Street | Savannah, GA

We had a two-night stopover in Savannah, GA on our way through the deep south down to Florida. I'd heard of Moon River Brewing Company and was eager to try it. Georgia isn't known for their craft brew scene, but breweries are opening everywhere. We were waiting for a ghost tour to start and wanted to grab a quick bite and taste their brews before heading out. It was a first stop on our trip so we'd have time to come back if we wanted to.

This spot had a great beer garden. It was nice to be able to sit outside in December. They had movies playing and good music. It was an upbeat disco that was low enough not to interrupt my conversation, but loud enough to be able to make out.

The food was decent. Mr. K and I split a pulled pork sandwich and leek-goat cheese cakes. They had some pretty basic American but interesting fare on a crowded menu of burgers, wings, soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, steaks, tuna, salmon, chicken, ribs, crab cakes, and sausage dishes. They had something for everyone.

We did end up coming back the next day, its location close to the riverfront made it the perfect place to take cover during the storm. We got a veggie wrap and deliciously crispy wings with moon river style (a tangy bbq sauce).

Overall the beer was good. They had a good selection ranging from a light wheat to IPA and a roasted black ale. With complex tasting notes and fairly low alcohol content and seemed more about the flavor than the booze.

They had bottles from some well-known craft breweries available too, like Dogfish Head and Allagash.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Wrecking Bar: The Beer

Below is a quick run-down of the brews I tried at Wrecking Bar Brewpub (Atlanta, GA). I tried to be quick about it, I wanted to enjoy the delicious food and wonderful company.

Breaking Bob Kölsch
VERY easy drinking, light, crisp ale. | ABV: 4.8% 

Look and Smell: This light-gold beer had a white bubbly head. It had a light grain smell.
Taste: It was light but the grain flavor came through. It had a light bitterness. I'm not one to go for lagers, but this was flavorful without the lager aftertaste. I was pleasantly surprised.

Atlanta Altbier
An easy-drinking, amber-brown German beer. | ABV: 5.3% IBU: 30

Look and Smell: This amber brew had a white head. The smell was really light. It wasn't that the bar smells were overpowering, I just couldn't pick up anything distinct with my limited smell.
Taste: It had a bitterness to balance out the caramel malt. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Southern Comfort at Wrecking Bar

Wrecking Bar Brewpub
292 Moreland Ave NE | Atlanta, GA

When traveling, it's hard to find good restaurants through all of the noise. There is somewhere to eat on every corner. Streets are lined with fast-food joints. Some people have trusted websites, others ask for recommendations from locals, for me a good way to narrow the search for a good restaurant is to focus on brewpubs. I find that many pubs concerned with crafting brews have menus that match. Now with the explosion of craft breweries, it's not so much a rule of thumb, but it's a good way to filter through the restaurant madness. 

This past holiday, while driving through Atlanta in the rain I quickly searched for somewhere to eat. Surprisingly, only a couple of brewpubs popped up on my search. Looking at the online menu at Wrecking Bar it seemed like the spot to go, and I wasn't disappointed.

Overall, this was a restaurant worth noting. It was comfortable and cozy. The staff was friendly without hovering and chatted up the regulars. The food was fresh, rich and flavorful. The bar was well stocked with some high-end bourbons and whiskeys. The beer they brewed was delicious.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Artistic Surprises in Chattanooga

During a meandering road trip down through the south, we stopped at a hotel in Chattanooga to lay our heads. We got there late from Kentucky's Mammoth Caves and planned on leaving first thing in the morning to head to Savannah.

We grabbed a quick hotel breakfast and planned to get on the road. It was rainy and it was gray, but I couldn't resist the urge to go and try to find something special in Chattanooga. We were there, and I couldn't leave without a little exploration. I find some of the best spots on rainy days.

After a quick online search, we headed to the Bluff View Art District. I wasn't sure what to expect. We found a spot to park, pulled up our hoods, and started walking. We saw some neat little cottages and a café. We peeked through the window at a coffee roasting operation and gazed at the river through a decorative railing. We saw a tile fountain and walked up a narrow stairwell through the buildings.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Porter County Chile Mama (Hunter's Brewing)

Talk about a warm weather brew! I visited the Hunter's taproom (Chesterton, Indiana) for the first time in a few weeks and was delighted to find this winter warmer on tap. They've infused the standard Porter County with smoked red chile for a wonderful treat. I took a growler of this home, and it kept me sane while we were snowed in. If only I had some chili to drink it with. They still have this on tap. I wonder if there is enough left to take some home for chili this week...

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This black brew had a reverse coffee-colored head. I smelled a smoky roast and coffee.

Taste: The roast came through. It tasted like a good chili chocolate. It was mellow. The creaminess is wiped off the tongue by the red chile heat and bitter roast flavors. It has a slight molasses flavor as it warms. The roastiness sticks around.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Winter in the Caves

During the holidays, Mr. K and I had the opportunity to take a long, meandering road trip from the Chicago area, through the deep south, to the Sunshine State. My goal was to check out the attractions each state was known for. I wanted to enjoy the ride. I wanted to make frequent and unplanned stops.

On road trips and in brochures, I'd become aware of a vast cave system in the Midwest. Coming from Florida, it's not the first thing you think about when you visit an area. I was making Kentucky a midway stop and thought it would be fun to finally stop and explore the caves. We added Mammoth National Park to our itinerary. National Parks are a great way to discover the United States. They conserve key parts of history and beautiful landscape that define our country.

Mammoth Cave National Park preserves the cave system and a part of the Green River valley and hilly country of south central Kentucky. This is the world's longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles explored. Early guide Stephen Bishop called the cave a "grand, gloomy and peculiar place," but its vast chambers and complex labyrinths have earned its name - Mammoth.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

2013 Festival Recap

I'm a festival-goer. There have been years when every summer weekend is packed with three or more fests. Fests are a good way to get out and explore the place where you live and discover foods, crafts, and artisans you never would have known about. This year was a busy one. I didn't get to go to all of the fests I wanted to. I had to pass over some of the good ones from 2012, but went to several new ones.
The best way to capture my hectic 2013 weekends is a list of the fests. I tried to keep a running list throughout the year. I wrote some posts (linked to in the list). Not all of them were big, not all of them were great, but here is my year in fests…

[See a full set of photos here.]
  1. Dyer Summer Fest
    First Weekend in June | Pheasant Hills Park | Dyer, IN
    This was a standard city fair. It had fair food, carnival rides, and music. They had a beer/wine tent. The night I went was a little more laid back, but I can imagine there would be big crowds in the daytime.
    Tip: Go in the evening and be patient finding street parking.
  2. Hammond Art Walk
    Mid-June | Various Area Galleries | Hammond, IN
    This was a surprising find. It was a good way to get out and about in Hammond, which I'd never really done before. I discovered a large and varied art community mixed with specialized galleries, art centers, and community centers. Ten sites participated in 2013. The work ranged from illustrations to mixed media sculptures. Every time I think of the event, I remember something new and interesting I saw. 
    Tip: Get there early and get an event map at Paul Henry's.
  3. Highland 4th of July
    4th of July Weekend | Main Square Park | Highland, IN
    This was a very low key affair in a small park in Indiana. They had standard fair food, a few craft booths, and a few rides. It was a nice spot to grab a quick lunch, and ice cream, and walk around a bit.
    Tip: Plan on going for lunch or a late-afternoon snack. If you want to go for the rides and the full carnival feel, get there after sunset.