I Went On The Greatest Drive Of My Life Today [Road Trip]

It’s tough to tell from this picture but check it out and zoom in on the map embedded below:

I stumbled on this road on the way to the Waitesfield Farmer’s Market to pick up some delicious, delicious Lawson’s Finest Liquids brews. There are, I shit you not, no less than 80 turns on this road, a lot of which are hairpins, and most with changes in elevation mid-turn. Way too many for the typical Vermont Subaru Outback wagon. It seems ridiculous to say this, but this road is life-changing. Made me long for my old Audi B6 S4 “Sabine”…

StoutFest at Armsby Abbey


All I can say is “WOW”. This place really impressed me. Even if Armsby Abbey didn’t have an incredible selection of stouts on tap I would have walked away with the same feeling. The stouts were just icing on the cake.

I couldn’t possible try all of the food and beers they had on tap for StoutFest but what I did try were impeccable. Here’s the skinny:

The Brews:


The Eats:

  • Breakfast Slate – Point and Ryes Blue and House Smoked Chevre from Crystal Brook Farm served with local Wildflower Honey from Honey, Etc., Housemade Breads, Cultured Butter from Vermont, House made Preserves and House Roasted Peanut Butter.
  • Hash – Adams Farm Braised Chuck, Carrots and Spring Ramps, Spring Onion, Soubise, 145 degree Local organic Eggs from Gibson’s Dairy Farm, Currant Gastrique
  • Bacon – Thick slices of our House Cured and Smoked Bacon made with Heritage Pork Belly from Adams Farm

Let’s get the beer out of the way: we didn’t have a bad beer here. I’m pretty sure all of them are rated 90 or above anyway, some creeping up to or at 100. I actually have all three of the Founders Breakfast Stouts in my cellar, I’ve just been waiting for the right day to crack them open and share with friends (need some more FBS and KBS before that happens). Since those beers are sitting in my cellar, I haven’t actually tried any of them and StoutFest was my first time enjoying them.

I’m not going to review every beer we had at StoutFest, but I will talk a little bit about the Founders beers as that was the main draw for me to travel to Worcester for the event. These beers are fantastic. FBS is your typical Imperial Coffee Stout. And by typical I mean awesome. Extremely drinkable with plenty of coffee and chocolate notes. KBS tastes like someone dumped a bottle of bourbon into a keg of FBS (some may think the bourbon flavor is too much, but I loved it). The CBS is very similar to KBS but with the bourbon flavor cut down a bit, a lot more creaminess and some molasses/vanilla sweetness picking up where the bourbon left off. Way more drinkable than the KBS in my opinion and the best beer of the day.

Now let’s talk about the food. We ate breakfast at a place called Mrs. Murphy’s in Southwick, MA as it was right around the corner from my latest Craiglist steal. (The Boston Cream doughnuts are on par with Balla Napoli.) Anyways, we weren’t that hungry but there was no way we weren’t going to grab some food at Armsby Abbey while we were all the way out there.

We waited until after we ordered our second flight to order something. Bacon was a must because seriously the cure and smoke it in house. How could I not order it? Elise wanted the cheese board, which when I saw the description looked pretty skimpy but when it came out I was impressed. Everything on the slate was delicious. The hash was definitely the fancy-pants-iest hash I’ve ever seen, and while I do generally like comfort food like hash un-fucked-with, the chef’s interpretation of this dish was great and it worked extremely well overall.

My experience at Armsby Abbey was pretty amazing. Food rocked. Beers were awesome. Place looks fantastic. Even has some outside dining we didn’t get a chance to take advantage of, but will. Please give me another excuse to drive all the way out to Worcester again and then take all of my money. Thank you.

East Coast Road Trip Advice [Road Trip]

(This is a copy and paste of my post on BeerAdvocate but if I can get some FB and Tumblr friends to help that’d be great!)

Hey guys, need some advice. I’m making my annual drive from Albany, NY to Orlando, FL next week and I’m looking to find some stops along the way (to and from). I leave on Thursday morning, hoping to make a very quick stop at DFH Brewpub Rehoboth Beach and make it to my brother’s place in Ocoee, FL some time on Friday. I’ll be there for the week and leave the following Friday morning. I have a few options and questions and maybe you guys can weigh in here and give me some help.

First, I plan on leaving Albany as early as I can Thursday morning and stopping at the DFH Brewpub sometime after lunch. I unfortunately cannot stay for long and need to keep on driving so I’ll be limited to one or two drinks (although worst case my girlfriend can take the wheel afterwards so I don’t mind if they’re two extremely high alcohol drinks!). What are the must-haves at the Brewpub? Is there anything there that I absolutely can’t get any place else? Can I get DFH vodka there? How about food recommendations? Swag recommendations are helpful, too. Also take note that I’ll be there the day before The Weekend of Compelling Ales and Whatnot is happening and I’m not sure if that goes for or against my favor.

Last year we stopped at Sweetwater Tavern in Virginia and we’re looking to find someplace new this year. We also stayed overnight in Richmond but this year we’re going to be driving straight through the night.

As for Cigar City, while I’ll be arriving in Ocoee some time on Friday and technically I could drive over to Cigar City and make Hunahpu Day, I’d be wasting most of the only Saturday I’ll have to spend with my two nephews who I only get to see them a couple of times a year. This would make me feel like a huge douche so I’m not going to do that. However, I do plan on making a visit to Cigar City on one of their school days, probably that Monday or Tuesday. The same questions for DFH Brewpub apply. Must-have beer, food, swag recommendations? Also, if anyone is looking to do an in-person trade for Hunahpu I’d be will to bring whatever I have access to up in NY down with me. I even have some Heady Topper from The Alchemist I can keep in a cooler the whole way to trade as well. Let me know, I don’t mind making a run to the beverage center before leaving for this trip.

Usually we take one night for the boys to go off to drink and smoke cigars and the ladies stay at home with my brother’s kids and drink wine by the pool. Last year we hit up a World of Beer. This year I’m leaning towards going to Redlight Redlight. My brother has never been and it’s so highly rated I figured I’d try to make it there. If that’s not the right decision or if there’s anyplace else I should stop too, feel free to chime in.

Lastly, I’m looking for other ideas to stop while on the road itself. It’s a shame to go through so many states and only eat at crappy fast food and rest stops so I try to go local whenever I can. It does not have to beer related but it does have to be delicious and relatively quick so whatever you suggest I can try to work in a stop either on the way or back. I usually use my trusty TV Food Maps app to hit up places that have been on Man vs Food or Food Network, etc. but if I can plan ahead of time that would be great. Thanks guys!

The Peekskill Brewery Visit [Road Trip]


Hit up The Peekskill Brewery last Sunday on the way home from Bedford Hills where I picked up my Athena Audition speakers. We actually stopped at Captain Lawrence Brewing Company first, not realizing they were closed on Sundays but Peekskill was so close it didn’t really matter. This place was actually surprisingly good and I’m glad we ended up stopping there instead. Atmosphere was great, bar staff was stellar, and the beers were better than expected. I agree with some of the reviews that the food prices were kinda outa whack but that wouldn’t prevent me from visiting again.

We settled into a couple of stools at the bar with an extremely positive and helpful bartender who offered us several tastings without a hassle and great recommendations. I was rocking my Maker’s Mark shirt I picked up at the distillery and was immediately offered a taste of their Vanilla Bourbon Stout (8.5%), which I was told is made with Maker’s soaked vanilla beans. This was an extremely tasty stout I’ve previously sampled at TAP NY.  Elise grabbed a 10oz of this while I settled down with a tulip glass of Old Wagon Ale at 8.2%. These are beers that are available year-round and highly suggest getting if you’re ever around. There’s a $1 off per beer foursquare special if you’re into that sorta thing, too.


While we sipped on these we put in our order for food, again both dishes on recommendation of the bartender. The local cheese and charcuterie board piqued Elise’s interest and the Scotch egg was touted as a local favorite. I’d never even heard of a Scotch egg before but after listening to the description I knew I had to give it a shot.

It came out presented on a small plate with a few greens on the side. It was a soft-boiled egg (very slightly runny yolk) that’s shell was removed, then wrapped in sausage, breaded and deep fried. This was an extremely unique combo and definitely something I’ll have to try to replicate at home. If you’ve never had this before, you gotta try it at least once.

The local cheese and charcuterie board was honestly a little light for the amount of money it cost. I don’t know if it was just the presentation on the plate or what but as you can see from the picture it looked sparse. Considering we were splitting the board, we knew we were going to have to supplement with something else so I put in a quick order for some of their house-made handcut fries. The fries were awesome.


Somewhere during the meal I was wavering between my second drink being a Super Kitty from Keegan Ales or something else from Peekskill. I generally try not to drink guest brews while at a brewery, but as I’ve mentioned before Keegan’s Joe Mama’s Milk is one of my favorite beers and I just haven’t seen Super Kitty on tap any place else. The always accommodating bartender poured me a taste of the Super Kitty to help me decide. I’m extremely surprised this has a rating of Exceptional on BeerAdvocate. This tasted like Hurricane Kitty with a splash of Malibu Rum. Tons of coconut I wasn’t really expecting from the beer. I passed.

The bartender suggested a glass of their Society & Solitude Series #1, a collaboration beer with Hill Farmstead Brewery, rated the #6 brewery in the world according to Rate Beer. It’s a single hop Double IPA brewed with Sigel Hop Farms’ “high oil” Cascade hops and was god damn delicious. Since this beer isn’t going to be around forever, and Peekskill is one of the few places it’s actually available I just had to get a glass. I’m a big fan of beers made with cascade hops and this beer is no different; huge citrus in the aroma and taste as expected.
Hill Farmstead Society and Solitude #1
There was some sticker shock when we got the bill, but overall Peekskill was a very pleasant experience and it earns a highly recommend from me. It’s conveniently located right at the Metro-North station so the city folk can make a stop without even getting a DUI. They’re in the process of moving to a new location just a block away to expand to a new a 15 bbl system from their current 3.5 bbl system, and I’ll be sure to check out the new digs.

Southern Tier Brewing Company Tour [Part 2]

After a treacherous trip and a quick pint while we waited for our tour guide, we entered the brew house. The doors open to a row of huge fermentation tanks that you walk along before getting to the first stop. The guide talked us through the typical process of making beer while sipping on some of my favorite beers. The lowest alcohol beer was their IPA, starting at 7.3%. From there we went to their new 2X Stout weighing in at 7.5%, followed by the 2X IPA at 8.2.

Now, there’s a lot of haters out there regarding their new 2X Milk Stout. I had it for my first time at Hoosick Street Beverage while we were picking up brews before Man Camping. Granted, I’m a huge Milk Stout fan and am willing to forgive even when it isn’t the best beer. I ended up finishing the bottle we tried at HSB, and picking up a 6-pack to go along with the Dales Pale Ale and The Alchemist Heady Topper I brought for the trip. It’s definitely not the best Milk Stout I’ve had (Joe Mama’s) or even Southern Tier’s best stout (Choklat) but I’ll gladly drink it again.

After trying the first few beers, pitchers of which were split between the patrons (some partaking in more of the pitchers than others *ahem*) we went for a walk around. We were able to see some of the beers they are barrel aging which, much like their oak-aged Pumpking, is something new for Southern Tier. Their large keg cooler and their bottle storage rooms followed. Swinging back around to where we started we finished off pitchers of Oak Aged Pumpking (8.6%) and Choklat, a whopping 11% ABV beer.

At this point, lunch was very much in order. We arrived back to The Empty Pint to find that almost all of the tables were filled. We ordered up two pulled pork sandwiches and sat down with our new-found friends from the tour to chat over a pitcher of Raspberry Wheat Ale (a much needed break from the big beers at only 4.5%).

After lunch we still had quite the trek ahead of us. We still needed to check into our hotel in Rochester two and a half hours away, make it to the Lovin’ Cup to listen to some tunes and drink some Three Heads Brewing beers. There I would encounter one of the most mind-blowing fried snacks I’ve ever had in my life…

Southern Tier Brewing Company Tour [Part 1]

Last Saturday we decided to take a cross-state road trip to take full advantage of the three day weekend. We had several options, which spawned the longest Facebook post in creation, but eventually decided on going to Southern Tier Brewing Company for a brew tour and Homegrown presented by Three Heads Brewing and Lovin’ Cup in Rochester. My day looked something a little like this:

I’ve been dying to get to Southern Tier and this time of year was ideal for going since I could get Choklat straight from the source. What was not ideal was the 4 snow storms I had to drive through on roads that weren’t yet plowed and having to get up at 5AM to make it to there in plenty of time before the 1PM tour. Google puts the trip at 6 hours and 3 minutes. We got there in around 5:20. Not too shabby considering the conditions and Elise having her eyes closed for half of the time due to my “unique driving skills”.

Anyways, we arrived a little bit early and we had some time to kill. Having never been we decided we had to check out a Wegmans. Being huge Stew Leonard’s fans we had to see how it stacked up. I see some parts like the huge cafeteria and prepared food sections that Price Chopper is clearly trying to rip off, but it’s definitely no Stew Leonard’s. I wouldn’t mind having one in my backyard, though. However, there was something going on there I’d never seen at a grocery store before: a beer tasting. Knowledgeable staff from Ellicottville Brewing Co. (who actually went to Union College and we had plenty of things to chat about) directed me to some beers I couldn’t get around Albany and I walked out with a 12 pack from Great Lakes Brewing Company and a make-your-own sixer.

We stayed there and snooped around a little longer than I’d like (I was gonna be pissed if we got there late and they ran out of spots for the tour) but we were fine. Southern Tier’s pub is called “The Empty Pint” and we were hoping to grab some lunch before the tour. They let you bring your own snacks and such, but they have some soups and pulled pork sandwiches available. Unfortunately, the food wasn’t warmed up (I assume it’s made off premises) so we were left to drink our first pint and the tour on an empty stomach. In retrospect, don’t do this. All of the beers on the tour were 7.5%, on top of a pint of Choklat…eh. Sometime during my pint it started blizzarding, naturally. After poking my head around a bit at the merchandise and the enclosed patio it was time for the tour. We’ll talk about that in my Part 2 post…

Not a bad looking garage. [Hot Rods]

Snapped this while on the tour of The National Corvette Museum. It’s little sneak peaks of the backstage areas like this that make paying for the VIP guided tour worthwhile. (This was the garage for non-Corvette work. The main customer garage was much more substantial).

That reminds me: I’ve never posted any pictures of the road trip for my father’s 60th birthday, going from Albany -> Rochester -> Cleveland -> Cincinnati -> Bowling Greene -> Cincinnati -> Pittsburgh -> Rochester -> Albany in about 5 days. More on that to come.

Vermont Beer Run Take 2 [Road Trip]

My second trip to get Heady topper. This day was good, but could have gone a lot better.

Highlights:

Lowlights:

  • Rock Art beers weren’t really worth the drive. Really, getting my stamp was the best part of that stop, sadly
  • Parking in Burlington sucks
  • American Flatbread is way too expensive for what it is
  • Having shitty shit T-Mobile service and not having GPS for the way home and kinda getting lost
  • Taking the wrong side of Lake Champlain on the way home because of ^
  • Being tired as fuck and barely keeping awake on the drive home because the install of CM7 on my phone the night before took too damn long.
  • Running out of diesel minutes away from my house (and pooch who had been in the crate all day) and then it taking an hour for my fuel pump to prime itself after AAA brought diesel.

OK, that about covers it. That being said, while I love having a fridge stocked with Heady Topper, after how much of a pain in the ass this experience was it’s definitely going to be a while before I make another trip to VT again.