Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hunnie bu? No no ... Hun ah pu.... 2010

Hey guys and gals,

Got back from Tampa Yesterday morning and boy was that a trip good times though. First things first...
I was hoping to go from NY rainy gloomy weather to FL sunshine 60's. Boy was I wrong, rain rain and more rain.

So I start the day Thursday at work, itching to get to the airport and fly down to Tampa that morning but alas because I'm still on probational period at my new job, taking too much time off is frowned upon and does not help me case if they are on the fence for keeping me. Anyways, I call the day before to a contact I had made through my local beer distributors and was advised not to bring too many bottles to share because a bunch of people were bringing bottles. I proceed to dig through my "suitcase" into the 6 bottle shipper to remove two bottles (Olde Rabbits Foot and a Captain Lawrence Extra Gold). I had packed a second suitcase as my carry on filled with towels and electrica tape which I decided not to bring on my carry on (kind of made me feel like a terrorist so I packed the electrical tape in my check in). I take the train to JFK which was not bad and I of course was way early for my flight.

While in line to check in I just so happened to glance over toward the rest rooms and see a women walk of the othe ladies rest room and call her son over and whisper something as they both stare at the entrance to the bathroom, all of a sudden a thugish looking guy walks out as if nothing were wrong. (The last time I did that I realized my mistake because of all the stalks and NO URNIALS) Anyways I check my bags in walk through the metal detectors and make my way to checkout my gate. With over an hour before my flight I decide to get as burger from Cheeburger Cheeburger and onion rings with ranch dipping sauce(the red font will be explained). (FYI do not buy onion rings from the airport they flippin suck). I pay for my food and get situated at a tall table alone of course and proceed to text and eat. Low and behold the one device that I could not lose or damage falls baby maker (BlackBerry holy spot where the charging port, head phone jack and camera are located) first into the ranch dressing splashing sauce all over my Surly Work shirt. I get cleaned up and try to attempt to get the suace out. Alas it would not charge, and with 3/4 of my baterry left I was screwed as far as communication.

I get on the plane and get seated next to two young ladies and off we went to Tampa, FL. Three hours later I land and recover my huge "suitcase" and make my way to the car rental company. Apparently I went to Tampa just as the Yankees started spring training and all the cars were rented. The only car available amongst all the companies there was a SUV, the gentlemen behind the desk quoted me at $280.00!!!!!! I remember talking to Wayne the Head brewer at Cigar City and vaguely remember him saying that the brewery was rather close to the brewery. I asked the guy behind the count where spruce was and he said not too far and recommended I take a cab. <--- good idea!!!! I finally hail a cab and make my short journey to a The Days Inn and negotiated with the guy at the counter who was rather short and kind of a dick... lol and was able to get a room for two nights. I forgot to mention it was POURING in Tampa, FL. I proceeded to walk to my room outside in the rain. I unpack my suitcase and try to charge my Ranch Phone... lol I fall asleep to some old re-runs. Friday morning rolls around and alas the rain has yet to stop and I make my way to get my continental breakfast which consisted of room temp apple juice and Frosted flakes in pre-packaged containers. I get a cab and head off to Cigar City to get on the huge line.

The brewery ends up being literally two blocks from my hotel, so I have the cab driver bring me to Target so I can purchase an umbrella for $2.50. Seeing that it was early I made my way to the whole foods to check out their beer selection, which by the way was not bad. After checking it out I walk to the brewery and stand outside to do what Suitcase Jon does best...

Stand and wait till the tickets were being given out.

Joey the owner saw me pace in front of the brewery and being the cool guy he is let me into the big tasting room to let me get out of the rain. Great guy Joey, THANKS!!

Walking into the tasting area, the first thing I notice, all the empty bottles lining the I beams around the brewery.

As always I meet some cool people, as well as some good ole release buds like.
Jay, Tommy, Phil, Paul and Mike.

We get our tickets, and grabs some brews in the smaller tasting room. The Hunahpu on tap was simply amazing, as well as the Big Sound Scotch ale and the Humidor Jai Alai.

Alas I pick up my beer paraphernalia and make my way to get my growlers. (a rant is coming up real soon) For the growlers, they had forms that we were allowed to fill out and of course I brought flip-top growlers. As I was about to order, the lady at the register informs me that all of my flip-top growlers are too big (they were 33.5oz) and she would not fill them.

Apparently in Florida, they are only allowed to fill growlers 32oz and less, OR 128oz or more.

Luckily Jay drove down and agreed bring them to the next release.

With my new growlers in hand, I stop by the Days Inn and drop off my merchandise. I figure I should get some food before I get trashed, so off to Sonic. On a side note there are TONS of strip clubs on the way to Cigar City Brewing Co. (CCB). I pick up a root beer float and food and head over to CCB for some beers and to hang with buddies.

As the night goes on bottles get popped, glasses get downed and low and behold I create the Hunahpu float (with my left over ice cream). If you ever get a bottle you wont regret this.

After the release Jay, Tom and their buddies pick me up to chill with them at a sandwich place but get turn away because the kitchen was closed, lame. So we head over to a semi upscale resturant where we grab food and had a great time. Oh yeah Brodie and your wife, you guys are awesome!!! and I hope to see you guys soon!!

Sorry again for the LATE post.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cigar City? Why not...

Hey guys and gals,

Getting ready to leave for Tampa Bay, Florida. I'll take tons of photos and let you all know how it goes when I get back. Catch yall on the flipside.


~Suitcase Jon

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Long Drive Explained...

Hey guys and gals, so here is the down low on how this beerventures starts.

March 5th a Friday I drive into Long Island to hit up a few of my usual places to go and see what they have gotten in stock and to stock up for a mini tasting with a friend. Tasting goes well and this is where you see who are the real men/ maniac or pansies/ posers.

I start driving for East End around 4am solo on this trip, unfortunately my traveling partner tried to convince me no to go but alas the Beer Hunter inside me beckons to obtain this years Gratitude 09 (which I must say was pretty darn good fresh but I can only begin to imagine how good it will be down the road) and possibly score a 5 year vertical.

I realize half way into my drive I didn't bring a camera so at one of the rest stops I make I pick one up, in addition to a shamrock milkshake from McDonalds (haha mind you this is 7:30am). I get into the town of Pittsburgh and it looks like a nice town but as I drive further into this town I start seeing CVS, Walgreens, Duane Reade, etc... on just about every other block on the main roads... Anywho I get to the brewery around 11:15am and low and behold there are people waiting, die hard fans like me. I park my car and of course I have to use the rest room and since East End is tucked away in a interesting neighborhood a rest room was no where in sight. Naturally I get out and make my way to the second row of the " daddy van" (yes I drive a soccer dad van) unscrew the top of a gatorade bottle and relieve myself...

I leave to get some cash from am ATM at one of the many Walgreen's and make my way back to find the Head Brewer Scott had come out to greet the craft beer drinkers and get an idea of how many people were planning on purchasing the infamous 5yr vertical (mind you these stacks were selling for $400).

Upon entering the brewery a bit unorganized but cool people were there none the less. From the outside its a bit run down but that doesn't affect the quality of the beer which is outstanding. After getting my vertical and Wooden Nickel which is their anniversary brew (a saison) I proceeded to unleash the slew of bottles I brought to share.

Ithaca LeBleu

Captain Lawrence Birra DeCicco
Brooklyn Brewery Cookie Jar Porter
Troegs Scratch 27
Southampton Grand Cru (funny story about this, I went to a beer distributor I go to often to pick up a Cuvee de Fleur, mind you the two bottles have similar labels. I did not realize this until I pull the bottle out of my bag to find I picked up the Grand Cru instead (solid spiced beer regardless))

I'm glad all those who brought bottles to share enjoyed what I brought and I enjoyed the other bottles that everyone else brought to share as well. Memorable moment, me being the genius brought a LeBleu which requires a corkscrew failed to bring one. "Necessity if the mother of invention" pocket knife + elbow grease = opened bottled of Lebleu with cork shoved back into bottle. HA.

Picked up some beer paraphernalia as usual for my two sisters and my dad. Also picked up two growlers.
1 growler of Best of the 'Burgh Winner/Belgian IPA: Bouillon De Houblon
1 growler of Session Ale #36: Nooner Scottish Ale.

After sharing some more brews with the great people at East End I packed my car and started the long lonely journey back to NY from Pittsburgh (6hr drive straight/ 7.5 with rest stops and 3 cups of coffee).

Of course before heading back I asked around for a local bottle shop that had a decent selection, Rob recommended D's Six pack and Dogs. There bottle selection is not bad but their wings and hot dogs are out of this world. I ordered D's dusted wings and a bacon cheese hot dog. Looking back on it I should have ordered two hot dogs. D's has my recommendation for food as well as a decent craft selection on tap.

On my way back I forgot to fill up before I started my journey back so it was nerve wrecking trying to get to a gas station while the gas empty light is on. Alas I pulled up to a no named gas station and filled up and was on my way. Picked two expresso coffees at a Starbucks due to my inability to stay awake during long drives (the lack of sun light didn't help).... ha... Luckily I get back home safe and sound to brave another trip/ release.

To my readers and those folks I met at East End, I had a pleasure meeting ya'll and I look forward to seeing you at the next release. Shout out to Bill, Rob and Livefast. I'll see you are the next release.

I will update with photos from the disposable camera once I get that sucka developed.

But I do have a pic of the haul.


~Suitcase Jon

LONG Drive to East End

Hey guys and gals, got back from The East End release of Gratitude 09' yesterday but I haven't had time to post about it. I will post later today about the release but just popping in for an update.


~Suitcase Jon

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Once upon a time....

There lived a young boy..... who lived in a one bedroom apartment....just kidding

I started this blog as a way to keep track of my beer adventures and so that other fellow craft beer drinkers can live vicariously through me or find some sort of commonality in our journey into the great world of craft beer.

On my next post I will tell you the reader (who else? right) those 5 w's you learned in current events class.
but not How....ha

I actually recently returned from Portsmouth, NH for the release of Kate The Great.
I must say the drive was well worth it and a special thanks to Brennan the Resturant manager, Tod the Brewer of KTG, the head chef and all the great staff at the Portsmouth Brewery. That being said.

I go on my beerventures with a good friend of mine speedwayjim and his friend whose new alias is "Duck Duck Steph". I convinced said friend we should drive early to Portsmouth and prior to leaving I posted on Beer Advocate a desperate ISO (in search of) thread for a bottle or two of KTG. We leave around 9:50pm and off we go arriving at Portsmouth, NH around 2:00am to a line of about 20-25 ppl. I of course attempt to leave the moving vehicle to get on the line.. ha.

One thing that never cease to amaze me is the friendly people you meet at these releases and events. There I met another blogger Katy who was very kind and a trooper to brave the weather despite her recent surgery.

During our wait, of course from prior releases the itch came back... at many beer releases I've been to many craft drinkers break out bottles to share with all who contribute, but alas Portsmouth is in a residential neighborhood and no tastings were allowed. Thus to satisfy this itch at 2:30am I broke out a Bells Hopslam and shared it with Jim but alas us craft drinkers one brew rarely satisfies the palate. I run back to the car to retrieve a Founders Backwoods Bastard and cracked that open. Half way through the lights to the paraphernalia shop turn on and an up roar of excitement is heard. There were rumors that they would be handing out Calendar pages (ticket to ensure 2 bottles of KTG) early, and boy were they right. I finished the rest of the Backwoods... and prepared to obtain my ticket. We get our tickets (Mine was Lucille Jan 30/31) I should get two days worth of bottles but alas my play on words couldn't get me those bottles.

Right before leaving the car to get our bottles, I decided to check BA for any offer and low and behold I have an offer for one of the bottles I brought to trade just in case. Special thanks to Husslerc for trading. Straight up 1 Olde Rabbits Foot for 1 Kate The great, and as always I throw in a bottle of Hopslam as an extra. Three KTG not a bad haul at all.

I forgetting that at all these releases beer paraphernalia is the most important part. Partly because I get stuff for my sisters and dad from all my journeys, but also to Rock/ rep clothing from good breweries.

We finally get out bottles and bad on line for the tapping of KTG. We get up to about 15 people ahead of us before the Restaurant manager Brennan announces that they have reached capacity and will try their best to make our wait a bit more comfortable. During our wait we were given Pretzel bread and oysters to hold us over till we got in. Luckily for those only looking to try KTG they opened up their patio with only chairs. After the long wait we finally get in and share a table with three other "beer geeks" and partake of the long awaited KTG. Finally having Kate the Great for the first time despite having bottles of 2008, and 2009, I must say "Kate was Worth the wait". On my next post I will link and post my review of Kate. After another glass of Kate I ordered the milk stout to finish of because I still had to drive. Looking back on it I should have had another glass of Kate, but alas I have my bottles to hold me over till the next release.

The service at Portsmouth was top notch and I must say this is a brew pub that I would come back even if Kate was not being served. The 5hour drive was well worth it, and the only thing to make the dreaded 5hour drive back was the thought of a Kate 2011. Ha.

*On a side note the first time I heard of Kate The great it was when Speedwayjim, Wheatman106 and I first started out crash course in Craft beer. Mind you this was about 8 months ago. We decided that we would try this when the release came around again. I'll elaborate in future post about the craft beer crash course.

One thing I must say I enjoy about these releases are the people you meet who share the same passion/ love for masterfully made brews and the time spent with my fellow beer hunters.

Till my next post "Keep drinking the good stuff",


~Suitcase Jon

P.S.- Let me know what you think of my first post.... all feedback is much appreciated.