Where Hops go to Heaven

There’s a place in Delaware that takes the most special hops and makes them into deliciously refreshing concoctions. Little hops get told bedtime stories about being taken to the Dogfish Head Brewery and loving made into 90 Minute IPA. Alright I’ll stop, but let me tell you how I spent last Sunday!!!!

The original Dogfish Head Brewing was just an hour drive south of Dover so we all loaded into the car, including our growler. I’m sure that by the time we actually arrived Josh was about ready to toss me out of the car. This is a trip I have been talking about for weeks. My dear friend Austin lent me “Brewing up a Business” written by the breweries founder. An inspiration for any beer lover or aspiring entrepreneur. This read follows his path and rise to success while sharing inside stories about the history of Dogfish Head. We took it with us, planning to put a few beer rings in it for Austin.

I have a passion for beer, while I enjoy drinking it I also like reading about it and the people who create brands that started a subculture. The micro-brewing industry is broad, delicious and rich with innovationist. Dogfish Head has managed to capitalize on the very unique characters of strong beers and the adventurous drinker.

So…What was it like? For starters, super busy, we had to wait about 30 minutes to be seated. That was plenty of time to pick out goodies from the company store. The guy also knows his way around merchandising. Had it not been drizzling the wait would have flown by, the entire place is was bustling with people coming to grab a 6-pack and talking about beer. Thankfully we were seated in a corner and could take some goofy shots on the DL. I may have squealed like a little girl when I opened the menu and perused the delicious choices. It took less time to pick from the beer list then the food list. What am I saying we didn’t “pick” from the list just picked what to have first. Josh picked settled on one of the wood fire pizzas, a staple to the original menu. I went for fish and chips made with beer batter. We actually tried almost all of the brews they had on tap at the time and took home a growler of Midas Touch. All of them were delicious; usually when you do a tasting you start with the lightest and work to the darker beers. We did not follow those rules but it didn’t matter. Not going in this order can affect in a negative way the lighter beers taste and the darker are over powering. Since each Dogfish Head beer has unique and stand alone characters we didn’t feel like any one was a wrecking ball. The strangest thing is that Josh likes IPAs, but not the standard 90 Minute from here. I don’t usually like IPAs but really enjoy the 90 Minute. You just never know what will happen.

So we tried:

90 Minute IPA

Raison DEtre

Indian Brown Ale

Midas Touch

Shelter Pale Ale

120 Minute IPA

Burton Baton

Chicory Stout

Chateau Jiahu

My Antonia

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Virginia is For Lovers, Beer Lovers

The saying “Local Beer Tastes Better” is emblazoned across the back of a t-shirt at Blue Mountain Brewing Company. It’s hard to get excited about the love of micro-brewing around here. I’m starting to feel like this is less a philosophy and more of a way of life in Virginia. Each trip we have had to this area has included a visit to at least one local brewery. They have a passion for craft beer that I find unmatched. Most bars prides themselves in the area taps they have available. As we begin our way up the East Coast we are plotting out three landmark stops. Dogfish Head in Delaware, Magic Hat in Vermont and Flying Dog in Maryland; all built during the boom of craft beer and all amazing breweries.

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Most of you know we love craft beer, finding delicious and unique placed to imbibe. Visiting a real star of a brewpub makes for great memories.

***This is part of a series of posts called “Travel Tuesday“, each covering topics unique to our lifestyle***

Vida Loca

We’ve been pretty busy the last few days, fun busy. Since finding out that we would be visiting Asheville, NC on this tour I have been planning our visit. Bound to be packed with food, music, shopping, fishing, beers and a little history. The past few nights we have been out to see concerts, not leaving much time to write. I just can resist sharing a little story early, more to come next week.

We jumped at the opportunity to see Abigail Washburn opening for The Wood Brothers. Abigail is pretty popular in Minnesota and I’ve been a fan for years. She put on a great show but what really blew us away was that her husband and banjo legend Béla Fleck showed up to play a few songs. It was as truly incredible experience. I’m certain that I sounded like a groupie at that point.

Whata Brew

Now we did something really cool this weekend, we helped bottle a home-brew beer.  Austin is one of my oldest and dearest friends.  He now resides in Greensboro with his lovely wife Katherine and has taken quite a shine to home-brewing.  We have been lucky enough to have a few tastes of his yeasty concoctions before but never to actually take part in the process.  He had recently started a batch of Milk and Honey stout, made with honey he brought back from Africa.  A truly one of a kind chance.

We of course started by cracking open a few bottles from the fridge.

Then began the not so glamorous sanitation process, amazing how I was able to avoid getting my hands wet.

Here she comes!!!  Five gallons of yummy fresh homebrew

Austin set up the syphon and began to move the beer to a bucket with a tap for filling.

Watching the beer fill the bucket was mesmerizing

Now we check for alcohol content

As the bottles are filled some need to be capped

Austin demonstrating proper filling technique

Josh is a natural

Not a drop was wasted!!!!

Our 4th the Tourist Part

Along with spending the weekend with friends and enjoying wholesome activities we also tour a few local hot spots.  Before the grandkids arrived our friend’s parents took us on a county-wide tasting.  These are still a little new for us but so much fun.  We started at Veritas Winery where our hosts were members.  You can tell what kind of events the winery had in mind when they build the grounds and main building.  It is just the perfect spot for a wedding.  Not only do they have amazing lobby, stunning gardens framed with rolling hills but the reception room is set like something you find in the Wedding magazines.  I could have spent the day walking around, had it not been 90 out I might have.

With that said the wines we tasted were all very strong and spicy.  For someone who is just learning I didn’t really like any of them.  These are more for someone who had developed a pallet.  Heading down the road a bit we found King Family Vineyards, when we pulled in it looked like we were going to be almost alone there.  However we didn’t see the second parking lot full of visitors.  never the less our tasting was very personal and in-depth.  This had the feel of being at someones farm, a million dollar farm but a farm.  It was very low-key and friendly.  The patio was filled with families and there were kids running around.  One crazy feature was te polo field.  Yeah a polo field in the middle of nowhere.  Gives you perspective on the type of folks that live around the area.  We even got a tutorial on the sport from a young player who was working in the stable.  He was wonderful, I am sure we asked some really stupid questions but he just answered everything with a full explanation.  A true embassador for the sport and local club.

Even though the wines here were a little lighter it was still to strong for my taste.  Our friends did get a bottle of this dessert wine, that we had last night.  Josh grilled some pound cake and Katheryn poured the wine on top and added a scoop of ice-cream.  Folks I am telling you that this is the way to eat pound cake.  I would even bet that adding any type of booze to grilled pound cake would we heavenly.

Last but not least was Starr Hill Brewery and their free sampling!!!!  Yep folks I said free beer.  The Jomo, main lager, was something that we all enjoyed.  The light flavor and perfect hop is a winner.  We were delighted with stories about each beer from the bartender, I am sure this is a coveted job.  Love is a summer Hef that is now brewed year around, most woman prefer a hefeweizen or a wheat beer.  I think they have done a wonderful job tapping that market.  Since Love is no longer seasonal they have brought out a lime accented lager for summer, yuck!  Around the taps we went in to stouts and IPAs.  All good but the winners were Jomo and Love.  The growlers were filled and we went back to nap and tap into the goodies.

Dude Fest

After some wholesome fun with the Campbells we moved onto Charlotte to see Bryan.  Bryan is Josh’s oldest friend, they have been buds since Cub Scouts and over the years their friendship has been a strong guiding force for each other.  We used to spend a week with Bryan every year but now we just catch him as we can, this is the first time we have been able to spend a day with him.  Bryan has alway been great about showing us unique and truly “Charlotte” places on our visits.  He reads the blog, we get some help from time to time with content for our posts.  He took us to Lupie’s Cafe for a bite and some chatting, Bryan was so kind to find a vegetarian friendly restaurant.  Next we hit up Common Market, tucked into the wonderful arty area of town is a crazy cool place.  We rolled into a Bodega with coolers full of amazing brews and shelves of organic grub.  I was in heaven, well the lack of AC was not fun but I managed,  the gems below helped.

They also have a bar with taps and wines by the glass.  The concept here is that you can buy the bottles and drink them in the lounge.  Now this is a great loop in the liquor laws.  He showed us a few others like this.  Actually that has been an interesting part of traveling, the variety in how beer is sold across the country.  But I digress, you clicked to here about DUDE FEST.

Yes we did attend Dude Fest Charlotte a charity festival celebrating all things manly.  Beer, music, motorcycles and hot wings.  We had a blast wondering around the three venues listening to bands, we really came to see Truckstop Preachers.  Josh and I are huge Rock A Billy and hard country music fans, I still can’t belive we only paid $15 to see them.  We spent the evening hooting and hollering at the stage shows including a Burlesque Troup.  Being around Bryan is a good for the soul as a vacation.

From Holland with Love

Now I am a firm believer that this is the perfect way to start your weekend! A sampler from a killer MicoBrewey call New Holland Brewery in Holland, MI set the mood right. With the aid of some liquid relaxants we headed to the beach. I am not a huge fan of sand in the crack but I just wanted to soak up some sun. Josh loves to swim so we thought Holland, MI would be a great place for our day off.
Josh doing him impression of James Bond
One of the other super cool parts of the weekend was this dog park, they had little obstacles and hydrants it was a hoot. We must have come during beard day.