Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day Two Report Part 1

Our second day of Beer Tour was a slow meander up the Maine coast. We land first in Kennebunk at the Federal Jack's Brewery at 11am.

Oddly the power went out just before we got there and the staff apologized they wouldn't be able to cook anything. "That's okay: we're just here for the beer!" we replied. So no problem, we got seated and delivered two orders of the sampler. Oddly most of the beer was from Shipyard Brewery. Chris dutifully took notes of all our tastings. Favorites of the group were the Brown Ale and Chamberlain. I loved the taste of the 'Taint Town a British bitter. (Read the story of Taint Town here.) Taint town unfortunately was the only beer not sold in the gift shop; it was only available in the bar.

Next stop was Biddeford-Saco. On an island between the two towns is a charming repurposed industrial complex with the Run of the Mill Public House and Brewery.

This was my favorite brewpub on the trip. A dark interior with rustic wood everywhere, the big windows opened up to the water. The food was amazing. The cooks weren't thrown off by my request for a reuben vegi burger. The beer was cleverly named: Alewife Ale, Bug Lager, Smelt Camp Strong Ale, Impact Pale Ale, and Cassk Kickin IPA. Folks were fans of the Alewife Ale and Tarbox Cream Stout.

Our trick to making friends everywhere was to announce that we were on a beer tour. The staff were all helpful in making suggestions for our next stop and we learned a bit about the politics and economics of breweries in Maine. Apparently the 'cute and local' Shipyard owned a lot of the breweries we were planning on visiting. Whenever a brewery wasn't doing too well Shipyard would buy it up. Or if a brewery grew past it's capacity they'd give their recipe to Shipyard to brew.

Well, there went our quaint little brewery fantasy. Turns out Shipyard owns Seadog, Casco Bay and Kennebunk. (Later in their brewery we'll see Peak Organic boxes in their brewery too.)

After Saco it was just another hour to Portland. . .

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day One Report

Well I've finally taken this book for a spin. Colleen, Adrian, Chris and I have headed up the Eastern Seaboard for Beer Tour. First stop was lovely Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The schedule was tight: we did a tour at Smutty Nose, then Redhook and finished it off at the Portsmouth Brewery.

Smutty Nose has been our favorite so far. A real microbrewery, you could tell these folks really care about their beer. With no interest on taking over the entire market, the owner has turned down offers to pair up with a distributor to go big, favoring having control over his beer and brewing process. They offer unlimited samples before and after the tour.

Next up was Redhook. Redhook it turns out is a bit of a traitor to many craft-beer enthusiasts. Several years back they sold 33% of their company share to Anheuser Busch to pair distribution with them. Now they're one of the top beers in the country, but some think at a sacrifice to their beer. I didn't find it too lacking. For $1 we got a tasting glass and a tour with a old hippie. (And I'm not just being prejudice here. The guy was wearing tie-dye and was a former Berkley resident.) It was very Sam Adams-styled. Quick tour with lots of scripted jokes finished with lots of beer at the end. And this time no only 3 beers a tasting rule. We drank it up!

We ended the night at the Portsmouth Brewery with a flight of eight beers and a free pint courtesy of a coupon from the Smutty Nose Brewery. Desert was a delicious milk stout with a shot of vanilla stoli dropped in . . . mmmmmm.

Day One Count: 17 beers

More reporting to come . . .

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day Two checkin

A quick hello from Sebago Brewery!

Day One of Brewery Tour

Just about an hour North of Boston you'll hit the
land of 'Live Free or Die'. Free from the puritanical 'no happy hour' and only 3 tastes per tour rules, we drank it all down at Smutty Nose, Redhook and the Portsmouth Brewery.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Romantic Boston

What cities come to mind when you think romantic? Paris? Buenos Ares? Savannah?

Certainly not Boston.

But Boston can have it's moments. Here's my picks for romantic places around town this Valentine's Day.

Arnold Arboretum
During the Winter season, it's a cold desolate place, but when the lilacs are in bloom and the grass is green, this is a great romantic place to have a picnic. Better yet, sneak off the path on the hills in the woods for some alone time.

South End side streets
Wander down Boston's South End side streets, peek in windows and imagine the life you could lead if you had the money to live in these brown stones shaded by trees.

Charles River
Water is romantic. I believe Venice proves that. So get away from the joggers and stroll the bridges above the pools near the Hatch Shell to be Boston's own Venice.

Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum
Link arms with your lover and stroll through the decadent house and gardens imagining you're in the romantic Victorian era.

Boston Harbor
After dusk when the boat signals glitter and the office building lights make a pretty picture, Boston's harbor is an excellent place for a picnic. Plenty of benches offer perches, just pack your corkscrew, some wine and cheese.

Griggs Park
Carved out by a glacier eons ago, Griggs Park in Brookline with it's gardens and weeping willows is a lovely place to stroll with your partner.

North End
When the moon hits your eyes like a big pizza pie--that's amore. What better place to have a romantic dinner or get serenaded by an Italian Stallion (see above) then the little Italy of Boston? The Jersey Shore has given guidos a bad name, but old school Italians know how to do amore. Every restaurant is guaranteed to be candlelit and playing romantic music.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New Discount Site!

If you know me, you know how I get excited about Groupons (and Living Socials, CoupMes and BuyWithMes).

Every day new deals in my inbox, so good I can barely control myself from clicking 'buy'. So tempting, in fact, that this month I've put the kibash on buying these things for 28 days.

That's why it's so hard to resist this new site I've discovered: Dig Deals.

$50 Bella Luna giftcard for $25
$50 Jacob Wirth giftcard for $25
$50 Otherside Cafe giftcard for $25

And countless other restaurants that I know now that I must try. Arrrg!

One good thing is that they aren't delivered to your inbox, so no daily temptation at least.