Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We're Baaaaaaack!!

Heeeeeyy... you... Yeah, no, I remember you.  T-t-tim, right?  No, it's Tommy.  Tommy, right?  No, not that either?  Hmmm... ok, let's just start from the beginning.

Hello Interweb.  Tony, here.  1/2 of Beer411.  A few years ago my cousin Katie and I set up this blog to enlighten our family and friends out there about the In's and Out's of the Craft Beer World.  At times, things can be a bit daunting, so with a little courage and a little education - perhaps you too can impress your friends at the next company outing, or happy hour amongst friends, or even perhaps on date night.  Throughout our adventures in tastings, brewfests, beercations, reviews, releases and more - I hope you enjoy your stay here at our little corner of the internet.  And if you post your beer pics on Instagram, don't forget to tag your pictures with #Beer411 so you can show up on our site!

While it's been a few months since we last spoke, I'm going to start with this past wkd.  CT FRIENDS - START TAKING NOTES.  My sisters (who all live in different states) decided to coordinate a little trip up North to Maine and New Hampshire.  Being the only part of the equation coming from CT, I wanted to plan out my trip wisely.  Truth be told, anytime I'm out of the state, I ALWAYS try and pick up some stuff that I can't normally find in my local area.

CT FRIENDS - I have found the promise land.

After a little google search for package stores along the Mass Pike or 495, I stumbled across Julio Liquors in Westborough, MA.  When I go up North, my journey takes me from 84 to the Mass Pike to 495 and so on.  Looking at my GPS, Julio's only seemed to be about 10 minutes off of the highway.  I didn't want to go TOO far out of my way, but this was close enough to explore.  After taking Exit 11 off of the Mass Pike, I took the 2nd Exit (23B) off of 495 North, and before I knew it, I was there.

Let's just say, this didn't get a 100 Rating on BeerAdvocate for nothing.

I could have EASILY dropped more money then I did, but let me tell you... I was in beer heaven.  Night Shift Brewing, Lost Abbey, AleSmith, 21st Amendment, Great Divide, Firestone Walker, The Bruery... this place had it all!  And I'm SURE I missed a bunch of other names.

So... as you look to the months ahead, and see that trip up North on the calendar... make it a point to swing by Julio's.  Again, it's only about 10 minutes off of 495, and there's a Starbucks right next door.  Boom.

As I continued to drive north, I had a few other stops I wanted to make.  One of the things I LOVE to do is visit breweries in New Hampshire and Maine and bring up some local beer from CT.  Spread the good word that is Craft Beer.  The people that work in the industry obviously do it because they enjoy beer, so why not delivery some local goodness?!  So I delivered one of my favorites, New England Brewing's 668 to the good people at the Throwback Brewery in North Hampton, NH.  (Listen, after I dealt with the parking lot that was 495, I needed a beer.)  That and the coffee I got at Starbucks was letting me know that I should stop too...

First off, I love their slogan: TASTE THE LOCAL.  It took some serious will power NOT to buy a hoodie or shirt that had their slogan.  I have about 24 hoodies and 64 shirts... I don't need any more (And maybe if I keep telling myself that, I'll actually believe it).  I can't go through all the beers I sampled, but I'll say that they are definitely worth the trip.  I left there with a growler of Hog Happy Hefeweizen.  4.9%, just a touch of grainy sweetness, well carbed - great for a hot summer day.

The next morning as I woke up in Maine, I got a great workout in the AM, then set the GPS to one of my favorite breweries... Allagash.  I arrived at about 10:30am before the crazy Memorial Wkd rush with a 6 pack of Two Roads Lil Heaven, their newest Session IPA.  Let me say this... not only does Allagash continually make delicious beer, but they have an AMAZING team of people that work there.  It was great seeing some familiar faces from last year when I visited... and one of them even remembered me!  Soon after I arrived I found myself going through my own personal flight:  Allagash White, Saison, Victor, Victoria and Curieux.  YUM. YUM. YUM.  Thank you Rachel and Nick and everyone else I met that morning.  Enjoy the #CTBeer!!

Side bar... I also ran into my new friends at the Maine Brew Bus that I met during the Rising Pint Brewfest at The Rent just a few weeks ago!  They happened to be touring Allagash while I was there!  For more information on the Maine Brew Bus, check them out here.

In our conversations over my flight, I was informed that the space across the street which was formally occupied by the Maine Beer Company (when they were much smaller), was now the home of a NEW brewery called Bissell Brothers Brewing.  How could I NOT stop by?!  Unfortunately, they weren't open at the time, BUT... as luck would have it, ANOTHER brewery that was right next door WAS open... the Foundation Brewing Co.

I was informed that they had only been open 10 weeks.  I had a great time sampling the few they had on draft... and even left with a small growler of their Wanderlust #1, 4.3%, Summer Saison style that was dry hopped with several hops varieties.

Later on that day, we visited the Banded Horn Brewing Co in Biddeford.  I got to meet Ian McConnell, their head brewer and delivered another great #CTBeer offering, Relic Darkness Falls.  The beer here was also very good... my favorites were the Veridian IPA (a fresh IPA with lots of peach/mango flavors) and The Mountain (a RIS clocking in at 12%... which in my opinion, rivals Goose Island BCBS).

It was AT Banded Horn when I also very fittingly checked into my 1,000th unique beer on Untappd while I was with my family.  Great to think that I've had so many unique beers but there are still so many more to try out there!!

The last two places we visited were Elements, which was only about 3 blocks away from Banded Horn.  This place consisted of beer, coffee and used books.  It's a bloggers paradise.  Not a whole lot but great local offerings on tap, cans/bottles, not to mention some delicious coffee drinks.  The LAST place was the Run of the Mill also only a few blocks away.  Nice little pub with classic fare and their own beer on draft.

We crammed a lot in during the few days we were there... but it was so worth it.  There were a ton of places we didn't get to see this time around but hey... I have lot of yummy delicious beer to work my way through in the next few weeks.  Perhaps a review is in the very near future.

Next time you plan on visiting a brewery out of state, maybe bring along some local beer and pay it forward!  This industry is full of awesome people, why not spread the good word?  And don't forget to do a little research before hitting the road.  Addresses, tasting hours, etc.  You'll be glad you did.

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If you have any comments or are curious about a beer, feel free to let us know!

Me and the sibs at Banded Horn.