Coastal Empire Beer Company, Savannah, GA

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There are two reasons I write this blog.  The first is that I love craft beer.  The second is that I love meeting the people who make craft beer.  This is a story about both reasons.  When I recently traveled to Savannah, Georgia for business I contacted a few breweries that offered hours only on days I would not be in town.  I heard from one brewery that they would not be able to accommodate a visit from me.  However when I reached out to Coastal Empire Beer Company, the co-founder, Kevin Haborak, told me that I was welcome to drop by.  So, I did.  Today, on the way back to the airport.

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Kevin arranged for his brother Chris to meet me, show me around, and allow me to taste practically everything on tap.  These guys make awesome beer.  Let me try to step you through a few of these.  The Savannah Brown is a delicious brown ale, caramelly, sweet, malty, solid and very drinkable.  The sort of brown ale you’d drink several of, especially say in the fall when there’s a slight chill in the air.  The barrel aged version of this is like putting it on steroids.  Wow!  The flavor from the barrels makes it all that much richer.  This puts it in the category of a sipping beer that I would enjoy after dinner instead of dessert, in a snifter.  Perfect.  Going a completely different direction is the Tybee Island Blonde Ale.  This is a great option for hot summer days.  Cans of this are perfect for the beach.  One of these after cutting the lawn would be perfect.  I also tried a pineapple, coconut and sea salt gose which is basically a secret weapon.  Wow!  This beer is off the hook!  Its sweet and salty and tart all at the same time.  My tastebuds were all over the place.  Let me wrap with Dawn Patrol.  Think Imperial Stout.  Think Chocolatey goodness.  Think Mole.  Think Peppery Spices.  Wrap all four of those together.  KaBam!  This is crazy good.

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If you line in Savannah or are visiting Savannah you must stop in here.  There’s at least one beer for every person’s tastebuds.  You will love this beer.  I need to figure out how to get distribution north to Maryland.  The rest of the country needs these beers.  Chris and Kevin, thank you for taking the time to meet with me.  Thanks for the snifter.  I will eagerly anticipate drinking Dawn Patrol from it in the comfort of my own home some day.  And, I’m hoping to bring my wife to Savannah at some point and will definitely stop in to see you when I do.  Keep up the great work!

Intuition Ale Works, Jacksonville, FL

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I stopped in at Intuition Ale Works in Jacksonville, Florida and enjoyed Tall, Dark + Cherry.  I was hoping for more cherry flavor, but it did deliver as a chocolate stout with hint of cherry.  Of course, you wouldn’t want the cherry to be overpowering any way.

I’ll also mention that several years ago while on business in Jacksonville I had the opportunity to stop by and was given a private tour by the owner which was totally cool.

New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, WI

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I stopped in at New Glarus Brewing Company in New Glarus, Wisconsin. Getting there is quite a trip from most major cities, but worth every minute of the drive.  I enjoyed a sample of the Spotted Cow, which New Glarus is famous for.  This is a delicious farmhouse ale which everyone should try.  Very drinkable.  This would be a go to beer for me if available back home.  I also tried the Sour Raspberry which was delicious!  The self guided brewery tour is also worth the trip.  Stop in if you have a chance.

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Abita Brewing Company, Abita Springs, LA

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I stopped in at Abita Brewing Company in Abita Springs, Louisiana for a brewery tour.  WOW, just WOW!

Getting to Abita from New Orleans is an interesting trip.  The drive across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway bridge absolutely looks like a bridge into the ocean or a bridge to nowhere.  Over 20 miles of bridge.  But the trip is well worth the drive.

The Abita Brewing Company tour is well worth the time.  The tour guides greeted us and gave us ample time to taste Abita beers.  In fact, they allowed visitors to pour their own beers, opening up the taps to us.  In countless brewery visits and tours this is the first time I’ve enjoyed this kind of hospitality.  And, I must say I took advantage of it.  I tried many of the offerings on tap.

The mainstay Abita Amber is a solid go to amber beer.  Period.  Purple Haze is a refreshing beer with a hint of raspberry – from the raspberries included in the brewing process.  Wrought Iron IPA is an absolutely delicious IPA – I heartily recommend this.  The beer that surprised me was the Strawberry Harvest Lager.  I found this to be delicious and refreshing.  I really enjoyed this.  Andygator is intense.  How about I just leave it at that.  I tried the Two Boots Saison and concluded I’m just not sophisticated enough for this.  I was delighted with the Macchiato Espresso Milk Stout – smooth and delicious.  And I filled my cup with Abita Root Beer for the road which was also delicious.

Did you catch that they let us pour our own samples.  WOW.

So maybe the key to all this success is the Abita Springs water.  Or maybe they’re just great brewers.  Or both.

Seriously, if you’re ever in New Orleans or otherwise near the brewery you need to stop by!

And, please check out Abita on MicrobrewingAmerica!

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NoDa Brewing Company, Charlotte, NC

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I stopped in at NoDa Brewing Company in Charlotte, North Carolina and enjoyed some beer and a tour.  The Salted Caramel Stout was smooth and sweet.  And the Sucette A L’abricot was light and refreshing.  Also, the Experimental Hop Project was a great citrusy hop forward selection.  I greatly enjoyed all of the selections I tried.  The tour was delightful and offered a walk-through of the brewery including a discussion of each brewing process along the way.

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Harpoon Brewery, Boston, MA

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I stopped in at Harpoon Brewery in Boston, Massachusetts again (8/5/15) – after lunch at Yankee Lobster Company and before heading to Boston Logan airport.   After having clam chowder and fried clam strips for lunch I needed a good beer before heading home.  The Nordic Saison hit it!  I enjoyed the refreshing tartness of the beer.  Wish I could have stayed for more but my flight was calling for me.  Can’t wait to visit Boston again and stop in at Harpoon!

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I stopped in at the Harpoon Brewery in Boston, Massachusetts and enjoyed the tour.  We toured through the brewing facility and saw the entire operation.  And, during the tour we enjoyed tastings of a number of  beers.  My favorite was the Rye IPA.

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The brewery has quite a tap room and is a great place to stop in for a beer.  The tour is great and I highly recommend it.

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Boston Beer Company, Boston, MA

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I stopped in at the Boston Beer Company in Boston, Massachusetts for the brewery tour.  I completely recommend this tour.  Our tour guide, Amanda, was really funny and very informative.  She went through the entire brewing process and showed us the research brewery.  The facility in Boston is now only for research and development.  The production brewing is now done elsewhere.  And, of course, at the end of the tour we sampled Sam Adams Boston Lager and Summer Ale.  We all know the trademark taste of Sam Adams Boston Lager.  For many folks this was the Renaissance of beer back in the day.

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Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm, Mt. Airy, MD

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I stopped in at the Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm in Mt. Airy, Maryland with my wife and two couples who are good friends.  We had been planning this visit for several weeks and we had a great time.  Each couple enjoyed a flight of beers.  First I tried the Dollyhyde Petit Farmhouse Ale which was tasty and unusually spicy.  Next I tried Goldie’s Best Bitter which was a smooth English ale.  This beer was served on cask which added to the smoothness and creamy texture.  The third beer I tried was the Coppermine Creek Cry Stout which had a very enjoyable coffee taste to it.  And the final beer I tried was the 5th Step IPA.  I felt like I was saving the best for last.  Honestly, all four beers were very good quality.  The Milkhouse Brewery is in the Mt. Airy countryside, a beautiful location in the midst of many farms.  The Stillpoint Farm grows the hops used in making the beer at the brewery.  They also sell some hops to other local brewers.  The tap room is a cozy place with an outdoor patio and covered pavilion.  We spent some time inside and some time out in the pavilion.  We also enjoyed a explanation from one of the brewers of their brewing process – a mini-tour of sorts.  It was a great way to share an afternoon with friends.

Beer: I Stop for Hops 2 I Stop for Hops 2 I Stop for Hops 2 I Stop for Hops 2

Taproom: I Stop for Hops 2 I Stop for Hops 2 I Stop for Hops 2 I Stop for Hops 2

 

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Anchor Brewing, San Francisco, CA

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I had the opportunity to tour Anchor Brewing in San Francisco, California twice.  The first time was in December of 2012 and the second time was today.  This time I was joined by a good friend and business colleague.  He graciously joined me when another good friend and business colleague was unable to tour with me due to changing job responsibilities.  Taking a brewery tour with a friend is much more fun that on my own.  This tour starts with a great history lesson.  Anchor Steam Beer gets its name from the way in the past the brewer used the cool night air in San Francisco to cool the beer in vats on the roof and steam would rise from the beer.  That’s just one tidbit.  I’d recommend this tour to anyone interested in craft beer and beer history.  And, of course, I enjoyed tastes of several of their beers which were generously poured by the tour guide.  Rather than detail each one I’ll comment on Liberty Ale which was the first IPA brewed in the US (according to the tour guide) which is a solid, if understated, IPA but is smooth enough to drink several glasses.  The more recent addition of Anchor IPA is a hoppier IPA and also very enjoyable.  Both satisfied my desire for hops.  I will also point out that the fine folks from Anchor Brewing also participated in the conference social event we were in town for and shared their beers with the participants.  Oh, and if you haven’t tried Anchor Christmas Ale I recommend that as well.  It’s a darker beer with holiday spices.  The recipe changes slightly each year.  It comes in a large bottle which is perfect to bring to a Christmas party.

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Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser), St. Louis, MO

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When in St. Louis what else would you do other than stop in at the Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser) Brewery, St. Louis, Missouri for a tour?  And so I did.  OK, so if you’ve spent any time on this blog you’ll note that I’m no stranger to visiting breweries.  Well, the scale of the Budweiser operation in St. Louis is GINORMOUS.  That’s a technical term.  I’ve never seen anything like this before.  And the tour guide took us through the entire brewing process, walking through many buildings on the Anheuser-Busch campus.  We even saw the clydesdales.  Although my preference is for craft-brewed beer, this was still an excellent tour and a great time.  And, the history of beer in the US was cool to learn about.  At one time there were local and regional breweries across the country.  Anheuser-Busch had a vision of providing beer nationwide and so they did.  What a demonstration of delivering on a business objective.  I’d recommend this tour for all beer enthusiasts.  And, of course, they offered samples at the end.  I actually tried Bud and Bud Lite.  They were crisp and refreshing.  I’ve been brainwashed!

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