I had some time to burn before I started a position at a new company so I decided to take a bit of a solo beer road trip. I started planning about a week in advance, with an aim to be able to hit some of my favorite breweries from the Mid Atlantic and Northeast on their release days. Here’s a recap of The Big Ferowcious Beer Run
Saturday 9/23/17 – Zwanze Day – Jolly Pumpkin, Dexter, MI
After only doing Zwanze Day previously in Chicago, I wanted to get out and do a new location. Jolly Pumpkin is relatively new as a hosting location. This turned out to be a great decision. Cantillon pours of everything available only had a long line for the first 45 minutes or so, and every selection including the Zwanze beer were available for more than an hour. Beers like St. Lam and Viggy lasted almost 3 hours.
There were many guest breweries, so much so that this felt more like a conventional beer fest. As it turned out, multiple breweries I planned to visit in the upcoming week were here like Other Half, and The Veil. The cost was appreciably higher than other Zwanze events in more costlier markets, but I did feel I got my money’s worth.
Monday 9/25/17 – Columbus, OH
I departed from my parents Michigan home for a quick 2.5 hour drive south to Columbus. This was my first time, which unfortunately was hampered by many closures of prominent beer spots in Columbus. This stop was planned though for 2 reasons: 1 to see my friend Jim who I always enjoy crushing bottles with up in the Northern Lower part of Michigan. Always great to see good friends you knew, before you both got into craft beer. Secondly I was able to pick up an allotment from the previous day from Hoof Hearted. They released a peach milkshake IPA called Who’d Like to Hold My Clipboard (Peach.) Given this was only a Monday, we did some bottle sharing of some Seventh Son items, and a few Chicago items I brought, but had a short evening.
Tuesday 9/26/17 – The Veil, The Answer – Richmond, VA
The build up of cans, crowlers, bottles and cases continued in Richmond. The Veil does their weekly can release on Tuesdays and The Answer does their controversial Joose crowlers the same day. Following a 7.5 hour drive from Columbus through West Virginia and Virginia, I arrived at Richmond stop #1: The Veil.
The Veil released DIPAs If You’re Drinking This It’s Too Late, and Human Adult collaborations with Drake, and Trillium respectively. They also released a marzen called Deathless and a fruited gose called Never Together. I arrived around 5:30 and the line was about an hour. I tried a couple of their impressive Triple IPAs on tap that all somehow walk the line of not being too malty, perfectly. The space feels very modern with a lot of gray and unusual taxidermy.
Immediately after, I rolled over to The Answer for my first time. I loaded up on Joose crowlers and sat down at the bar to try some of their stellar IPAs and Andall stouts. The Answer is very large as a brewpub. Unfortunately I arrived too late to try the food I’d heard so much about. I bought a nice stemmed glass and prepared to leave. As I walked to my car outside, I walked by An Bui, owner, face, and namesake of The Answer. He asked me if I’d like some more glasses to take with me. After a quick trip inside, he returned with 6 pieces of various glassware from mini tasters, to an Andall tilt, to multiple video game glasses, that had been recently released. A very generous surprise no doubt. We spent the next while chatting about beer experiences and sobering up via a large bag of Costco Steak Strips
Wednesday 9/27/17 – Tired Hands – Ardmore, PA
A 5 hour ride from Richmond, through DC, and Baltimore brought me to suburban Philadelphia to Tired Hands. I first loaded up on the can release of the day which was a DIPA called Why Laugh When You Can Cry, and the new classic Alien Church. Tired Hands has 3 establishments in a small area. This includes their production space that also has a full service brewpub restaurant. They also have a full retail store with tons of merch and bottles, and their smaller original brewpub space with a more limited menu. There are entirely different beers between their different sites.
Thursday 9/28/17 – Tree House – Charlton, MA
After waking up in Philadelphia and checking out Independence Hall, I got back on the road for a 4.5 hour drive to make my way to Massachusetts. Strategically I tried to make sure to drive through the late morning and early afternoon, to not get hung up in trying to pass through the New York metro area. This was my first time at the new Tree House location. I was fortunate enough to try the previous location and the differences were vast. Tree House feels like a monument to the idea of what they hoped their brewery could be. It really is impressive with how the owners chose to carry out their vision in this secluded hillside brewery. It’s rural, but the grounds are manicured and the wood work everywhere looks incredible.
Alter Ego, Green and Haze were all available with better limits than I was used to seeing. Even though it was very slow on a Thursday and they did open the on-site taps, I had to get to Boston for my first Fenway experience.
While this is a beer blog at its core, I’m nearly as much of a baseball fan as I am a beer nerd. Going into this trip I had been to 18 stadiums. A cold, windy late September night made for #19. Highly recommended if you haven’t been to Fenway or Boston previously.
Friday 9/29/17 – Trillium, Tree House – Canton, MA
Waking up in suburban Boston, I hit a few bottle shops before my first Trillium experience. It was a very chill Friday afternoon with lots of tasty double dry hopped items available. Trillium is so much different from all the other current popular producers. While they do case limits of their beers like many others, they had so many different options that the idea of getting limits for several items becomes untenable, well for most customers anyway
I’ll also say Trillium’s merch sales area definitely needs some work. All glassware is stored behind the bar of their retail/growler sales so you can’t touch it or pick it up for a closer look. Their sales people will show it to you individually piece by piece, but it feels like you’re clogging up the line. That’s my only strike on their establishment.
Next up was a quick trip back to Tree House. They had all 3 can selections as the day before, but also added bottles of Double Shot Costa Rica Santa Rosa. This Tree House experience was vastly different from the previous day. The line was an hour long wrapping around their top parking lot around 3 sides. I was fortunate enough to get everything available while enjoying the setting sun and then jumped back in my car to make my way to Brooklyn for the Saturday morning Other Half release.
Saturday 9/30/17 – Other Half – Brooklyn, MA
After staying in one of the most sketchy lodging choices I’ve ever made, I went to Other Half bright and early for the 3 beer Saturday morning release. I was able to make it to Other Half back in May for the first time during a long weekend in NYC, but I didn’t arrive early for the release that time. Here, I arrived 2 hours early and found a fascinating Beer Can swap meet taking place in the line around Other Half. I hadn’t ever read anything about this previously so it was certainly new to me.
These swappers mostly had cans of recent releases from other breweries in the Mid Atlantic/North East. This included breweries like Equilibrium, Alchemist, Bissell Brothers, and the previous weeks Other Half cans, as well as other more far flung breweries like Monkish. Luckily I had a Jeep full of comparable items so I made some on the spot trades for previous weeks Other Half.
At Other Half they released Highballers on Death Mountain, Dare I Say..A Double IPA, and Double Dry Hopped Double Citra Daydream. I spent a few hours sucking down haze before returning to my hotel and heading for baseball stadium #20, Yankee Stadium.
Yankee Stadium is everything you’d think it’d be. Palatial, expensive, and modern, Yankee Stadium for a team on the upswing was a decent place to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Following that, I ducked into Fools Gold for some pours before heading back to Brooklyn.
Sunday 10/1/17 – Finback – Brooklyn, NY
I wasn’t ready to begin driving West, so I dropped in to Finback. It’s a terrific space. Above average beers that still have a ways to go. Picked up some Human cans in a mostly short visit. This concluded the beer acquisition portion of the trip, as I now had about 14 hours of driving to get back to Chicago.
All said, I drove nearly 2800 miles, somehow surpassing my estimate by about 700 miles. In total, in purchases made for friends and myself, we collectively spent well over $2000 amassing over 350 cans, crowlers, growlers and bottles. It was a wild week with very little downtime which I do regret that facet of. The trip was so goal oriented and laser focused on releases that I didn’t get to spend more time exploring cities I’d never seen before, specifically Richmond, and Boston. Getting to tick 2 new baseball stadiums helped make it more worthwhile though.
The trip netted weeks of great hops and a great bottle share for those that helped to fund the trip. Shout-out to those of you who kicked in to make this trip sting a bit less on the bank account. Hope you enjoyed the fruits of the trip!