Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! 


Me and my dad outside the Guinness brewery in Dublin

Take the Canal to Fairport Brewing Co.

OK, so we didn't take the canal, we drove. Though it's a quick 20 minute drive to the Rochester suburb of Fairport. It's a really nice area, built right on the Erie Canal. Lots of shops, small restaurants, and Fairport's very own small batch brewery.

Fairport Brewing Co.

Up until this past Sunday, I'd only ever had one of Fairport's offerings. An alt beer I took a growler of with us on our recent trip to NC. So needless to say I was very excited about giving their beers a try and to check out the tasting room.

The building sits right on the corner as you turn down Main street, and from the outside it looks really small. As you open the front door it seems small too, but the building opens up nicely to the bar and a second seating area to the side of it. They had 6 beers on tap, and a root beer which is what the Mrs. wanted a pint of. I ordered my tasting and sat down to enjoy what Fairport had on tap that day.

Toppling Jon's Shattered Elbow Amber Lager
Trail Town Nut Brown
Irish Farm House
Raiders Red Ale
Peter J IPA
Apollo 8 Double IPA

All the beers I tried were solid, but I enjoyed the Trail Town Nut Brown the best. It had great malt character with a nutty overtone throughout. The Apollo 8 was really good as well. A hazy appearance from all those IBU's.

All in all I'd say that Fairport Brewing is up to some good. They are getting more accounts throughout the area so I look forward to seeing what they come up with next!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Well, I was supposed to be blogging about my homebrew club meeting tonight, but Mother Nature had other ideas!

Here in Rochester, we are under a blizzard warning until tomorrow morning, so our meeting got cancelled. 

What beer pairs well with blizzards? I went with a barleywine. Anchor's Old Foghorn to be exact. 

A strong malty backbone with a hint of hops that help cut through the higher alcohols. Definitely keeping me warm despite the 50 mph winds outside! 

Hopefully you are being safe and drinking something great if you are in the path of this storm. If you aren't in the path of this storm, then I still hope you are drinking something great! 


Saturday, March 8, 2014

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

For any of you who may not know, I'm from Ohio. And as any good Ohio born beer-lover, I approve of pretty much anything that Great Lakes Brewing Company does.

Their Christmas Ale is second to none, and their Dortmunder Gold has won more medals than you can shake a stick at. In my eyes, GLBC can do no wrong.

Enter Chillwave Double IPA.

In 2013, I sat down and had a pint of Great Lakes newest Double IPA, Alchemy Hour. It had just been released and the supply was limited, so when I saw it on the board of the Thirsty Turtle in my home-town, I knew I needed to try it. It was amazing. The best IPA I'd ever had, and my favorite beer from 2013.

Fast forward to 2014. A new name was needed. (the name "Alchemy Hour" had already been claimed by another brewery) While "Chillwave" isn't nearly as sexy as "Alchemy Hour" the contents of the bottle remain the same. Mosaic and Nugget hops, with just a touch of sweetness from an addition of honey malt. It's so well balanced, the first one I had in 2013 opened my eyes to what a great IPA could be. (Sorry West Coasters, I'm from Ohio after all!)

Luckily we have some great local resources. AJ's Beer Warehouse and Great Lakes Brewing were doing a tasting of Chillwave and the Conway's Irish Ale last weekend, so I went and picked up a 4-pack of one of my absolute favorites. (Plus a very handy keychain bottle opener!) Great Lakes doubled the batch this year, so it should be easier to come by, I may need to stock up!

Hope you all are getting into the beers that you really dig this time of year. Seems like a lot of in-demand beers are hitting the shelves lately. What are some of your top picks? Anything I should search out for 2014? Let us know in the comments or drop me a line!


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Farewell Queen City

It was a sad thing, putting my suitcase in the car for the long drive home, but all good things must come to an end.

It was a fantastic 10 days in Charlotte with some of our very best friends and some pretty great beers.

Charlotte's growth as a beer-centric city is pretty astonishing. When we lived there from 2007-2009, there wasn't much to speak of in terms of craft beer, but I suppose that's probably true of a lot of American cities at that time. It was great to see the breweries, and their beers being served at bars and restaurants around the city. It was cool seeing all the people in those small tasting rooms, enjoying pints with friends, bonding over beer.

All together, we got to check out 4 breweries:

Birdsong Brewing
NoDa Brewing
Triple C Brewing
Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

Plus I got to try out a lot of other really good NC craft beer. 

Table Rock Pale Ale-One of the better pale ale's I've had
Green Man Forester-Tom's favorite brewery from Asheville
Big Boss Hell's Belle
Natty Greene's Old Town Brown-Dinner out for the birthday girls!

All said and done, it was a pretty great trip. If work or pleasure ever takes you to the Charlotte area, don't worry about the beer. They are doing a lot of things right, and I'd guess that even more is on the horizon. I know that I for one can't wait to head back south and get to the couple of breweries that we missed and check out some more great brews. If it doesn't stop snowing, that trip might be sooner rather than later!

Have any of you gotten to take a beer trip recently or have any beer trips planned for the upcoming year? Let us know about them in the comments section! I'd love to hear if you have any favorite destinations or recommendations for cities that I need to check out!


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mac's to the Rescue and Olde Meck

There were still breweries to be seen and our time was starting to run out. With a weekend full of plans, the time to head out to another brewery had come. Luckily (or so we thought) there was one right up the street.

Four Friends Brewing, which according to their website was established in 2007. Also according to their website, they have a pretty solid line-up of beers. So we were disappointed when we walked up to the doors and were denied access. Apparently we went on the day they were having some trouble with some permits (and apparently some trouble posting that info on their website, twitter feed, or facebook page)

As we hung our heads and trudged back to Tom's truck, a lightbulb went off and we headed a little further up the road to our beer heroes for the day.

Mac's Speed Shop

Mac's opened their doors at their original location in 2005 as a Bike and BBQ joint. I assume that meant that they served a lot of American light lagers, but their BBQ is amazing and they established quite the following. Fast forward to 2014 and they have 5 locations, a killer beer menu, and still probably those light lagers if that's what your into.

As we were not there for the light lagers, we looked to the impressive draft list, and they had added the ability to try a flight of beers to the menu. A new addition since my last trip there. So of course that's what we did. Trying to get as many NC beers in as I could in my trip, my first flight was all North Carolina.

For my first flight I went with:

Ruby Lager-Olde Hickory Brewery
Copperline Amber-Carolina Brewery
Honey Pie Double IPA-Birdsong Brewing
Chocolate Imperial Stout-Natty Greene's

For my second flight, I only had 3 NC beers left to try:
Devil's Britches-Highland Brewing
Bell Ringer-RJ Rockers
KA-BAR Brown-Railhouse Brewery

As we sat outside and drank our flights (that's right, outside, in February. Man I miss Charlotte's winters!) we talked about beers we'd shared, and beers we'd yet to have. I had another pint of Triple C's Cajun Stout (Yum!) and we started thinking about the next stop on our brewery tour.

Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

The last brewery on our journey opened their doors in 2009 and made it their focus to serve high quality German beers. And speaking from a little bit of experience, they have managed to do that very well. Probably the best American examples of styles that I lived on for 3 years I've had since coming back to the states.

When you pull up to the brewery you can tell right away that OMB is the big dog of Charlotte breweries. A big window behind their bar shows off their impressive brewing capacity.  Their beer list is small, but captures many of the German styles and does them all well. We started with a flight as always, and I settled on my four pretty easily. The first four taps please! Brauhaus, Dunkel, Früh Bock, and Bauern Bock. I really enjoyed the Früh Bock, which was their spring release that they had just unveiled a few days prior, but they were all very good. After finishing our flights, we decided that some lunch was in order. The only one of the four breweries we visited that serve their own food, (the others have food trucks during their tasting room hours) they have a very German-centric menu. I settled on a pretzel sandwich with black forrest ham and German potato salad. Their Captain James Jack Pilsener was the perfect accompaniment to my lunch.

After eating our lunch and finishing our drinks, it was time to head back home. The sun was setting on both my time in Charlotte and our brewery trips.

Stay tuned as I wrap up my beer-venture in Charlotte. Thanks for tagging along with me on this adventure so far!