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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sometimes Beer and Ice Cream Don't Mix

For those of you who follow The Pour Travelers blog, you probably have read about our weekends trips to nearby Millmont, PA, where we enjoy a few quiet, beer-soaked days in seclusion. OK, while maybe not entirely in seclusion, our little excursions to the chalet DO include jaunts to a few nearby breweries. We typically rotate Saturday drives to State College and Williamsport based on what we’re feeling, as both are about an hour’s drive from the chalet. After our previous two visits to the chalet (one was so cold that we didn’t feel like going outside; the other, we were just too lethargic to bother leaving the chalet), we decided to head to Happy Valley, my alma mater. Most friends who know me know of my disdain for Penn State (I won’t go into specifics), but I still have a soft spot for the town of State College itself. Our visits always seem to drum up a few vague memories from my college years back in the mid-90s. Yes, I know… I’m old.

After an intense kickboxing session with our personal trainer, we went home to get cleaned up and headed off to my happy place – Selin’s Grove Brewing Company. “The Pub,” as us locals call it, is a real diamond in the rough. I won’t bore you with all of the details of my love affair with this place; I’ll just say that it’s a special place. Summer into the fall season is always my favorite time of year to visit the Pub. Their amazing Kriek is usually flowing by mid-June and there’s a good chance that the IPA is on tap (or even better, on the hand pull)! To my delight, both beers were on tap during our visit. I’d also wanted to try the new Summer Solstice Dubbel, but it had kicked. This is a lighter version of their winter anniversary ale brewed with orange peel and coriander. We also caught wind that a new stout would likely be added to the tap roster on Saturday. Lucky for us, a trip to chalet more often than not includes a return stop to the Pub on the way back home. Aside from the beer, we always run into great folks at the Pub, and this time was no exception. As usual, some good ol’ conversation resulted in more beer as well as our late departure, so we didn’t arrive at the chalet until around midnight. So it was a nice evening that looked something like this: IPA > Stealth Triple > Phoenix Kriek > Scottish Ale + Cold Brew Coffee on nitro. #winning.

Rise of the Phoenix!

After a hearty breakfast the following morning, we pointed our compass to Happy Valley and headed off on the hour-long drive. But first, a quick stop at one of our favorite coffee shops and breweries in the quaint town of Millheim. We always make it a point to stop in to Inglebean for a quick visit. We enjoyed some tasty iced coffee while I tried my best to remember the chords to a few Rush tunes while I strummed the house guitar. I’ll stick to drums, thank you very much.

Just up the street is Elk Creek Café and Aleworks, a place we’ve been frequenting since it first opened its doors in 2007. The beer, food and service here have always been top-notch, and I always look forward to our stop here. On this particular visit, we enjoyed two seasonal offerings: Yarrington’s Best Bitter (named after head brewer Tim Yarrington) and the Penn’s Valley Pilsner, an honest to goodness German-inspired Pilsner lager. I always enjoy Elk Creek’s traditional ales on nitro our cask (they offer fantastic low ABV English milds and bitters from time to time). Both beers hit the spot, and we were soon ready to ship off to Happy Valley.

Yarrington's Best Bitter. Look at that crown!

First on our agenda once we rolled into the valley was to hit up a recent favorite of ours, the aptly named Happy Valley Brewing Company. We’d visited a few times in the past and have been routinely impressed with their offerings. The vibe of their artwork and atmosphere of the pub both have a barnyard theme. For some reason during this visit, I gravitated to a Belgian-style Pale Ale (not one of my favorites) because it was a beer I hadn’t tried yet. To my surprise, it was quite tasty! Typically, I find the Belgian yeast too overpowering, but this beer (HopGoblin) offered a nice interplay of spicy Belgian yeast, bubblegum notes, and citrusy hop flavor. Brewslut opted for one of their year-round offerings, the Phyrst Family Stout (named after a long-standing family band of the nearby Phyrst Pub on Beaver Avenue).

Brewslut suggested we stop at the Creamery for a quick ice cream cone. Usually, I’m the one who has to beg to stop for ice cream, so I jumped at the chance. For some reason, I was in “too truthful a mood” and made inappropriate jokes while standing in line. I even tried to photo bomb a wedding party photo, which had congregated just outside the Creamery on the sidewalk. After perusing the menu and noticing they discontinued my favorite flavor (Sandusky Blitz), I opted for the Coffee Chip, while Brewslut went with the Mint Chip. The Creamery offers a “one-size-fits-all” cone at a single uniform price. What they apparently forget to do, however, is train their staff on the appropriate size of the ice cream scoops topping the aforementioned cone. Take a look at this hoodwink:

My long-standing disdain for PSU Football flared up to a level where I could no longer control myself and I went on a bit of a tirade (unfortunately for the people around us but fortunately for Brewslut, who thought it was amusing).  The rambunctious, foul-mouthed, video-game-playing little kid in me reared its ugly head, and I found myself setting off a string of obscenity-laden phrases that I can’t even recall a mere few days later. I eventually shook it off and was maybe even a little embarrassed (hard to believe, right?) but I can safely say that next time, we’re going to Meyer Dairy!

After navigating through the altered streets of the PSU campus, we arrived at one of my favorite bars in PA… maybe even the country. Zeno’s Pub is so cool that I feel like an idiot every time I visit because I never hung out there during college. Ah, the humiliation of not getting into beer until my late twenties! But I digress. No trip to State College is complete without a stop to Zeno’s. Fortunately for us, Zeno’s was having a rare Belgian beer event when we arrived.  In the grand scheme of things, I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of Belgian beers. I prefer American craft beer. Not only do I prefer the flavor of pungent in-your-face hops, but I have trouble pronouncing the names of Belgian breweries. However, I suppose I was in the mood for something different on this day, because I went with a flight of four Belgians: Westmalle Tripel; Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux (a super saison); Flanders Fred (a collab between De Proef and Hair of the Dog); and a 2011 vintage of De Halve Maan’s Straffe Hendrik Heritage (a delicious oak-aged Quad).

My Belgian flight at Zeno's.

Combining our efforts, Brewslut and I only chose one repeat (Flanders Fred), so I was able to try these other three gems: Gouden Carolus Cuvée van de Keizer (a strong dark ale); Orval (the quintessential Belgian pale); and finally Liefmans’ Goudenband (a Flanders Oud Bruin).

Beer aside, I also enjoy the bathroom literature Zeno's offers.

Next, it was off to Otto’s Pub & Brewery. Keeping with my Belgian theme, my first selection was Pallet Jack, a relatively new Belgian-style Pale Ale. It was pretty tasty, although I preferred Happy Valley’s HopGoblin a bit more. Also new to us was Triple D IPA. Triple D?! We’ve had and enjoyed Double D on numerous occasions. How can anybody not enjoy some Double Ds in his face? Drinking this was as easy as motorboating a serious set of funbags. I found the 10% ABV to be well-masked and the intense hop profile was supported by a sweet but not cloying malt presence. Good stuff! We also make it a point to grab some snacks here. We opted for the vegan chili and shared tofu wings and chicken thighs with a selection of tasty tipping sauces, our favorite being the spicy peanut sauce.

Soon enough, it was time to skedaddle back to the chalet. But first, a quick stop at Rusty Rail Brewing Co. in Mifflinburg was in order. I must admit that this new brewpub has been hit or miss for us. Given its close proximity to the chalet, we always stop in whenever we visit the area. The building itself is quite impressive, and I must admit that I was hugely impressed with the place on our first visit. Since then, we’ve eaten there and had poor service, and the beers have been all over the map (some good, some mediocre, and some not so good). Since our last visit, Rusty Rail started a limited, small-batch series called Side Track (similar to Tröegs’ Scratch Beer Series or St. Boniface’s Offerings). I settled on a Blood Orange Pale Ale, the first beer in the series. Brewslut opted for #3, a mango wheat ale. Mine was decent, but she was less than thrilled with her selection, unfortunately. At any rate, we will continue to frequent Rusty Rail if not only for the atmosphere. But I do hope they eventually step up their game in the beer and service departments, because the place itself truly is a gem.

Back at the chalet, we enjoyed a nightcap including Welcome to Scoville (an IPA brewed with peppers from Jailbreak Brewing) and Smuttlabs: The Stallion (an imperial stout aged in wine barrels from Smuttynose Brewing). The former came from a random variety case brought to Tröegs and passed around to co-workers. I was able to snag a can of this and a DIPA. We enjoyed the DIPA more than this one. The latter I received as a result of beer bartering with Smuttynose on our recent trip to New England. It’s always good to travel with local beer. Lucky for me, I’m typically swimming in free beer from Tröegs, so I always have a good selection in tow.

More often than not, we pay a second visit to Selin’s Grove on the return trip home. I was thrilled to see not only the brand new Roasted Oat Stout on the wall, but also IPA on handpull (super fresh and delicious) as well as the Summer Solstice Dubbel on tap, which must have returned on Saturday at some point. Two new beers for me! Of course, I slid a Phoenix Kriek in there, as well as more Oat Stout blended with the nitro cold brew coffee. I always joke that I love the soup at Selin’s Grove as much as the beer (no joke, actually) but now I have a third thing to look forward to when we visit: the cold brew! God damn is this stuff tasty! We also had lunch, and I think it was the first time I’d ever ordered a salad from the menu. (Note to self: Must do that again… and be sure to add the smoked salmon!)

After another enjoyable visit to the Pub, we headed to Al’s of Hampden (Brewslut’s part-time employer), as we’d seen a pair of beers hit tap lines a few days prior: Juicebox and Gypsy Tears. Both are from SOLE Artisan Ales (a new brewery I wrote about recently). After my experience with Kushy Clouds, a damn fine Pale Ale, I was eager to try these beers. It seems they’ve been benefitting from some internet hype lately, too. Thankfully, both beers were still available when we arrived at Al’s, so we quickly ordered. Terry was hanging out and was also nice enough to let us sample the then-fermenting Magic… Under Where? IPA brewed especially for my Ffej of July shindig. He also poured some Magical Brettanomyces Tour #3 from Trinity, a brewery we’d once visited during a trip to Colorado (NOTE: They’re located in Colorado Springs). We rounded out our visit with the amazing new beer, Amoré Shark, a Triple IPA aged in wine barrels, and another Trinity offering: Seven Day Sour. The fact that I still had money on my Al’s gift card made the visit even sweeter!

Afterwards, we enjoyed some Tröegs back at Julie and Eric’s house, where we recorded a podcast interview dedicated to our Rush tribute band, Solar Federation. If you like Rush, check us out. If not… well, just keep coming back for the beer porn!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Official FOJ14 Beer... Revealed!

I have the unique privilege of knowing a lot of people. Fortunately for me, I've got some friends in high places. For whatever reason, most people seem to like me. I'm just one of those guys who likes to be liked, I guess (even though I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who'd love the opportunity to send me a bag of edible dicks in the mail some day). Of course, I’d likely reciprocate to those very same people, so no harm no foul, right?

The craft beer industry is a pretty tight knit group, and two of my favorite people happen to cohabitate at the same brewery.

Al Kominski, proprietor and face (God help them!) of both Al's of Hampden and its sister brewery, Pizza Boy, is one of the most generous people I know. He's also one of the most honest (to which anyone who follows him on social media can attest). To illustrate Al's generosity, let's go back to the very first time Brewslut and I set foot inside the original Al's location on Wertzville Road in Enola, PA. 

We had first learned about Al's self-proclaimed "hole-in-the-wall" pizza joint by way of a billboard advertisement on Rt. 11/15, not too far from my place of employment at the time. None of my beer circle friends had heard of it, yet the billboard boasted "Mix-n-Match your own six-pack!" While this practice has become commonplace in PA over the last few years, it was virtually unheard of a decade ago. Brewslut and I decided to pay a visit to Al’s one day after work.

Al's of Hampden wasn't much to look at back then. As a matter of fact, it was about as "hole-in-the-wall" as you can get. But the thing that drew us in and kept us coming back (aside from the great beer selection) was the staff, namely Al himself.

Only we didn't know who Al was the first time we'd set foot inside his modest establishment. Here’s our first impression of Al:

We walked in and we’re greeted by this little guy with a big personality. He said to us, “You two look like you like good beer!” He then proceeded to hand us a bomber of Terrapin’s then-unreleased Depth Charge, an espresso milk stout. “I have a whole case of it but it’s not registered to sell in PA yet, so you can have it.”

Allow me to reiterate… this is my first interaction with Al.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to remain in Al’s good graces. Brewslut has held a part-time “beer wench” position at Al’s for the last 5+ years, and Al has been responsible for most of the beers I serve at my annual Ffej of July festival since then. Over the years, I’ve seen his business prosper, and I’m proud to say that I discovered this place for my group of beer friends.

Al and I at the old shop. Photo taken with my old shitty flip phone.
Then there’s Terry.

We first met Terry Hawbaker when he was brewing at Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport, PA through our mutual friend, Deuane. Unless you’ve been living in a bomb shelter for ten years, you know Deuane. EVERYBODY knows Deuane. Even if you think you don’t know Deuane… trust me, you know him. Terry knew him well enough to brew a beer for him during his tenure at Bullfrog. The name of the beer? Yup, you guessed it: Deuane.

But enough about Deuane. Let’s talk about Terry.

Another shitty flip phone pic. This one was taken at the release
of Sunny Side Up at Little Amps Coffee in Harrisburg.
 Most folks in my beer circle know that I’m quite partial to barrel-aged beers. Imperial stouts and barleywines soaked in bourbon or rum barrels give me plenty of wood (in more ways than one), and sitting stalwart at the top of my list of “favorite barleywines of all time” would certainly be Terry’s Barrel Aged Old Toad Barleywine. Brewslut and I liked Terry’s beers so much that we (OK…she) joined the Bullfrog mug club even though we live two hours away from the pub.

Over the years, we’ve followed Terry on his brewing adventures after he vacated Bullfrog, including a brief stint at the Farmer’s Cabinet in Philadelphia. Even though I don’t believe in that astrology nonsense, the stars were indeed aligned when Terry and Al met. Their Wonder Twin powers were activated! Terry became the head brewer of Pizza Boy shortly after Al got the brewery up and running at the original Al’s location. I was fortunate enough to help bottle a few of the very first releases, including Permasmile and Intangible (the latter would become the name of Terry’s sour side project brewery, iNTaNGiBLe aLeS).

As you can probably imagine, the practice of shit-talking among brewers runs rampant in the craft beer industry. While its intentions are good-natured and fun, it is also a feverishly competitive sport. I believe it could someday qualify as an Olympic event. As a result of considerable verbal bitch-slapping among our circle of friends, a few years back we decided to host the inaugural IPA Challenge at Ffej of July Goes to Eleven. I teamed up with Terry, while Al and my buddy Dan got together. The competition was simple: brew the better beer. Terry has proven himself to be the king of the competition, which eventually morphed into him brewing the official beer for FOJ.

And this leads me to the crux of this already long-winded blog. I’m pleased to announce that this year’s FOJ beer shall be dubbed:

Magic… Under Where?

I’ll bet you’re thinking to yourself, “Huh?!”

Let me provide a brief explanation. (Brief... heh heh.)

It took me a while to come up with the “theme” for FOJ14. After a quick Google search on the significance of the number 14, I was delighted to find that Joseph Smith, the person responsible for the creation of one of the dumbest religions on the market, had his “vision” that would ultimately lead to the creation of Mormonism at the ripe age of 14. Knowing more about Mormons than one who isn’t a practicing Mormon should know, Brewslut took to the task of enlightening me on some fun Mormon facts. For example, as children they are forbidden from slow dancing with a member of the opposite sex at school dances. They also are not allowed to drink caffeinated beverages. They love green gelatin. But perhaps my favorite on the list is a certain wardrobe custom, whereby they wear a type of unflattering underwear called “garments.” I’ve seen pictures, and these baggy white atrocities can make even the most unfuckable sea donkey that much more unattractive. These are sometimes referred to as… I kid you not… magic underwear. Hence the name of this year’s beer. (Editor’s Note: I really wanted to name it Hamster Style but got out-voted. If you don’t get the reference, Google it!)

So expect this crushable, low ABV Simcoe hop bomb to please the masses at this year’s festivities. I know I’ll be drinking the shit out of it! 

Terry concocting the recipe for Magic... Under Where?

Monday, June 6, 2016

When Music & Beer Collide

Until recently, Brewslut and I have spent several of our wedding anniversary weekends attending Philly Beer Week. Sometimes my band schedule interferes with our drinking plans. However, this time my two passions crossed paths when The Heavy Push (one of my many bands) was asked to perform at this year’s Bonifest.

For those of you who are not familiar, Bonifest is an annual festival organized by Saint Boniface Brewing Co. in Ephrata, PA. Brewslut and I attended last year and had a blast, so we had already planned to attend in 2016. Turns out the event had been scheduled on the actual day of our 17th anniversary. Dain (my buddy and one of the co-owners of Saint Boniface) asked if one of my bands wanted to play. The wife was cool with it, and since I was going to be there anyway, I might as well make some scratch, right?

The goat shirt!
To compound matters, my other musician friend Corty Byron (with whom I perform in a Doors tribute band called Ride the Snake) asked me to fill in for his drummer that evening during the final band slot of 6 to 8 p.m. I’d pulled double duty many times before, so it was no big deal. There were plenty of friends attending so Brewslut wouldn’t feel too neglected. Plus I had plenty of downtime between sets to imbibe and shoot the breeze with her and our peeps.

Bonifest festival grounds (ie. their parking lot)
We’d checked out the beer list in advance, and I was stoked to see a bunch of special firkin tappings on the schedule for the day. I was able to get a taste of the bourbon barrel-aged Hegemony Imperial Stout, which was pretty damn amazing, as well as the habanero spiked cream ale, a variation of one of its Offering Series. Unfortunately, I missed the chance to sample the Citra dry-hopped Paideia with blood oranges, which tapped while I was on stage and sold out in less than 15 minutes. Quite a feat! Brewslut said it was awesome. Happy anniversary to me? Hmmm…

Brewslut in the lounge position.
I was also ecstatic to see the Berliner Weisse on tap throughout the day, which is probably in my Top 3 Berliners of all time. Seriously folks, it’s THAT GOOD! Mike (another of the owners) was kind enough to get me some woodruff syrup from his personal stash to complement the tartness of the beer. If you are unfamiliar with woodruff syrup, I won’t bore you with a lengthy description. You can read about it here on Wikipedia. I also downed a couple of Shandys, a concoction comprised of equal parts Berliner Weisse and lemonade, which made for a refreshing thirst-quencher while getting some aerobic exercise on stage (ie: drumming).

Somewhere in the middle of the day, I meandered inside the tasting room and saw another of the Offering series on tap – Molasses Porter. I had this on a previous visit and enjoyed it quite a bit, so I obviously had to order one, right? It offered a nice contrast to the hoppy Paidela and tart Berliners I’d consumed throughout the day. Speaking of Paideia, I also enjoyed a few cans of this gem throughout the day (which by the way drinks amazing well from aluminum). The batch on hand was super-fresh and bursting with citrusy hop goodness! This is their flagship beer, and for good reason too. Pick up a 6-pack next time you see it in the coolers at your local beer shop.

Some nice cans!

Cheers to the fine folks at Saint Boniface for organizing such an awesome event. In addition to enjoying some great beer throughout the day, I’d like to offer myself a well-deserved pat on the back for kicking some serious ass during both bands’ sets. It’s a joy to be able to do what I love while doing something else that I love with the people I love. Is that rampant use of the word love? Perhaps. But you can never have too much love… and I love it when music and beer collides!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Retirement is overrated

“The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

While this quote is generally attributed to Mark Twain (thanks Google), it has been committed to my memory courtesy of Jim Morrison (OK… Val Kilmer), who uttered the phrase in one of my all-time favorite movies: Oliver Stone’s 1991 The Doors. Indeed, hiatus can seem like a death of sorts. Giving up something you love due to time constraints (or any other number of legitimate reasons) can be a sad thing.

Let's be clear, though. I’m not promising anything. Perhaps my 21 followers will rejoice in my return to beer blogging.

With that said, I suppose it’s time to come out of retirement (albeit on a part-time basis) and dip my toes back into the hot tub that is beer blogging. I guess you could say that my recent weekend of beer tripping helped solidify my desire to write about what I drink and the places I travel to enjoy said drinks.

At any rate, here you go.

“NEPA, baby!”

That’s another fun quote from a friend/bandmate of mine originally from the metropolis of Mountain Top, PA.

Where? Exactly.

Yes indeed, Brewslut and I were off to Northeastern PA for a pair of gigs I would be playing over Memorial Day weekend. The impetus of the beer trek took shape when we didn’t want to be woken up by bagpipes at 9 a.m. when the Annville Memorial Day parade swept down Main Street like a jet screamer. But enough of my clever banter, right?

In need of accommodations for Friday evening, we quickly scored a cheap hotel on in the Wilkes-Barre area, a mere hour’s drive from my gig on Saturday. After consulting the fantastic Beer Mapping Project web site and by buddy Deuane, I worked up a quick itinerary for the weekend. 

Up first was a stop at Breaker Brewery, just a few minutes away from the Red Roof Inn at which we were spending the night. We struck up a conversation with some local coal region guys (thanks to the help of Pleeps) and enjoyed some samples and paninis. My turkey panini with blackberry jalapeno jam was quite tasty! Brewslut really liked their Patchtown Peanut Butter Porter, and she followed up her sample with a full pour. The locals were digging that one too.

We closed the place down at 9 p.m. and headed to nearby Krugel’s Georgetown Deli. Known for its extensive bottle shop, they recently added six growler fill stations with rotating taps. We perused the aisles a bit but opted not to eat there. Instead, we headed across town to Sabatini’s. I’m glad we did. We ran into our friend Kristen, one of the owners of Intangible Ales (the other being her fiancée, Terry Hawbaker, head brewer at Pizza Boy), hanging at her old stomping grounds. Sabatini’s new digs were quite impressive! In addition to a self-contained bottle shop with aisles of beer as far as the eye can see, the tap selection was equally impressive. I was surprised to see a few selections from Surley, but I opted first for the local Kushy Clouds, an oatmeal pale ale from SOLE Artisan Ales. (I wanted Surly Cocoa Bender but it had recently kicked.) SOLE, a self-professed “gypsy” brewing company, collaborates with other local breweries and packages some of its beers at nearby Susquehanna Brewing Company. This was indeed a great first impression! Brewslut and I also shared a tasty BBQ chicken pizza and a 16oz. pour of Surly 1349, a gargantuan 13+% black strong ale that was as dark and foreboding as the Tobes of Hades (when not lit by flickering torchlight, anyway). Brewslut had to take the brunt of it since I was driving. After our visit to Sabatini’s, it was off to Red Roof country.

The next morning, we checked out at about 10:30 a.m. with a pretty ambitious schedule ahead of us. Our first stop was the newly opened North Slope Brewing Company in Dallas, PA. We had planned to enjoy brunch at the brewery’s pub, but unfortunately user error on my part had caused us to seek sustenance at a nearby local diner. (Apparently, the internet was broken when I checked their hours of operation. Perhaps my brain was malfunctioning. Either way… shit got fucked up.) After a carbo-licious breakfast burrito, we headed up the road to North Slope. We parked the CRV just as they unlocked the door. We decided to share two sampler trays, which left us unable to try just two beers. While they were pretty hit or miss, my absolute favorite of the bunch was a dry-hopped Belgian-style Witbier called Jungle Boogey. Runner up was Sneaky Banana, a rye Heffeweizen. That one was Pleepleus’ favorite for obvious reasons.

Up next was Endless Brewing Company in Montrose (the destination of our trip if we had just decided to drive straight to my first gig). For the last two years, my band herbie had played at a private festival over Memorial Day weekend called DetFest. Last year, we had some time to hit Endless Brewing on the recommendation of not only Deuane, but also my buddy and avid homebrewer Adam (after whom DetFest is named). Its Grasshopper Pale Ale is a mainstay on the beer menu and always a winner (I picked up a 4-pack of pounder cans during last year’s visit), but my favorite of this particular visit may have been the Stone Crop Maple Amber Ale. I typically see maple syrup used in brown ales, porters and stouts, but this was a first for me. The sweetness of the maple syrup (REAL local maple syrup, by the way… not that sugary Aunt Jemima stuff you get at the supermarket) shined through due to the simplistic nature of the Amber Ale. Whereas stouts and porters are much more rich and malty, I must say using Amber Ale as the base beer was a stroke of genius. Liquid maple candy indeed! Brewslut gravitated to the Triple Bombshell Blonde IPA, which was quite a heavy hitter at around 9% ABV. I love this place because of its meager design and the people that we meet here. I always say that my favorite thing about travelling for beer (besides getting to drink beer) is meeting all the locals and other imbibers along the way.

After an enjoyable visit to Endless, we headed north to nearby Binghamton, NY. Our first stop was Galaxy Brewing Company. Once inside, I was surprised by how spacious the area was. Aside from a long bar and plenty of tables, they also had an adequate stage area perfect for hosting live music. We shared a plate of nachos that were delicious and I washed them down with a sampler flight of mostly IPAs including Singularity, Celestial Nova, and Andromeda. We also enjoyed the Far Star, a barrel-aged farmhouse ale.

Following our voyage across the Galaxy, we turned the corner to nearby Water Street Brewing Company, where we enjoyed more samplers and some conversation with the locals. My favorite was the aptly named Wheat IPA, which was apparently a recent addition to its tap selection. They also had a hybrid Heffeweizen/Bock called “Aaaaah, Bock!” which was pretty tasty.

Our final stop before backtracking to DetFest was another spot recommended by Deuane – The Farmhouse Brewery. Located just a few miles down the road in Owego, Farmhouse boasted an eclectic tasting room with no fewer than 18 house beers and ciders on tap. I felt like I was hanging out in my grandmother’s basement, only she’d been renting it out to three or four 19-year-olds. The names of their offerings were memorable as well. Beers such as Commander Bovine (a wild DIPA), Sour Evangelist (Gose), and Don’t Miss a Beet (a beet saison) were all scrawled on the chalkboard. We tried them all, and then some. Also worth noting was a smoked cider called Smokey McDaddy, which was intensely smoky but somehow worked well within the context of a cider. Think charred Applewood from a recently timbered apple tree. Brewslut enjoyed some other sour-type beers while playing some Nintendo wii 100-pin bowling.

Then it was off to DetFest, where I dug into a cooler of cold Tröegs cans and tore up the stage with herbie. After a long set followed by four hours of sleep (in the back of the CRV, no less), it was off to my next gig just outside of Reading, PA. Hopefully it won’t be another three years until my next blog.

Until next time…