So on Sunday, November 4th, my grandmother passed away down in Florida.
I flew down the following Friday to attend the memorial, and be with my family.
After a weekend of grieving and joyful remembrance, I opted to drive home instead of fly.
So...I figured...might as well stop at a brewery or two
Spent the night in Charlotte, NC...where I visited a brewery which was high on my "I must get there" list. NoDa Brewing.
An amazing atmosphere, and tap list truly made me glad to have gone through the trouble to get there. They do a "NoDable" release every Tuesday night...it's Tuesday! Lucky me. This Tuesday it was "Word to Your Mother", a spicy farmhouse red ale. Other stand-outs were their Robust Porter aged on cocoa nibs, and Imperial Red aged in oak on fresh berries.
Wouldn't you know it...another brewery right across the street!
I stopped in to Song Bird real quick, as I guess technically they weren't open, but were having some sort of staff meeting and the door was open...so I went in. They were just wrapping up, and kindly offer me a few samples, great group there. The Raise a Ruckus Dark Rye was my favorite, a nice balance between a brown ale and farmhouse.
The night was topped off with some great BBQ at Midwood Smokehouse, which had killer pork and hush-puppies!
The next day I drove the rest, and once I entered PA, I stopped for lunch at Al's of Hampden. It's a pizza shop, with an extensive bottle shop, and home of Pizza Boy Brewing. Pizza Boy recently brought on Terry Hawbaker of Bullfrog and The Farmers Cabinet fame to act as head brewer, this was a great move. Absolutely amazing stuff coming out of the tanks there, and a flight was required.
Sunny-side Up stout on cask with locally roasted beans, an amazingly smooth bourbon barrel aged barley-wine, and blueberry sour were my favorites...but they were all honestly great.
A few days ago, I ventured out into NJ for some post Sandy mt biking with a buddy, and got to visit Neshaminy Creek Brewing on the way home.
I've had there beers quite a few times, as they are fairly local to me, and many local pubs offer their goods. First time at the brewery though, and boy was it a small outfit, but pumping out some great stuff. I also grabbed a growler of their Tribute Tripel, a big and sweet Belgian inspired golden ale.
This morning was the release event at Victory Brewing, introducing "Red Thunder", their Baltic Thunder (Porter) aged in red wine barrels. They opened unusually early (8am), and even offered a limited breakfast menu at the brewpub. A friend joined me, and we ate an drank quite happily at was we feared was far too early in the morning.
The beer itself was pretty darn good, especially since I had my doubts going in. We had the standard Baltic Thunder alongside the Red Thunder for a proper comparison, and it was night an day difference. The regular offering is creamy, sweet, and heavy with coffee/chocolate flavors. The barreled version smells like a glass of Cabernet, is remarkably dry, with oak red wine tannins over shadowing the roasted notes completely. As is warmed, it all melded together beautifully, and really won me over.
Hopefully this is a good sign of things to come from their barrel program, as they have bourbon-barrel aged Old Horizontal, and white wine barrel aged Golden Monkey waiting in the wings for release.
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