So many beer stories, so little time... This week I'm taking it cross country, beginning in my own backyard: South Florida.
I had the privilege of attending the inaugural Beer Academy class at Riverside Market in Ft. Lauderdale. Absolutely one of the coolest places for beer that I've ever seen. 10 fridges of craft, bottle openers from the ceiling, good food and an honor system in which you lay for your beers via empty bottles is how this place rolls. We learned the basics of beer, the different types, how it's made, and sampled a few different styles including a 2011 Dogfish Head Bitches Brew. Say whaaatt! That was amazing. I've never been so exited to be back in school. Class resumes this week. I plan on being valedictorian.
I hit the road, or should I say sky, to visit some family up in the Chicago / Indiana area. First beer of the trip was in Granger, Indiana at Granite City Food and Brewing. I had the flight which included 7 samplers for only $3.95. Yes, I said $3.95. There was the pale ales, the bock, the brown ale, the single IPA, a hybrid brown ale and pale ale, however, the "Growler trip back to my brother's fridge" was their Batch 1000, an American Double IPA. It didn't have a Double IPA presence, but, I can't get big growlers in Florida, so something was going back to the house, and this was it. Easy drinking, but tasted like a single IPA.
So off to the Windy City we went, to not stop - until we hit the 103rd floor in the Willis Tower (it will always be Sears Tower to me). After looking for all of my relatives houses from 1,300 feet via the Skywalk Tower, it was time for dinner at my Uncle's house in the city. He prepared for his craft beer, beer nerd niece's visit by stocking up on a Summer Beach pack of Point Brewery. This was strategic on his part since we have relatives that are from Steven's Point Wisconsin, where the beer is from. Uncle of the Year for him. My favorite was the 2012 Black Ale. Went very nice, with an al fresco dinner in an oasis of a backyard, in the middle of the city.
This next portion is more of a public service announcement. Ruth Chris Steakhouse has good craft! I opted for the Three Floyds Pride and Joy, a mild ale. Was a great compliment to my juicy steak and baked potato. After dinner, we hit up Martin's grocery store that has make your own 6 packs for $9.99! I picked up: Bell's Porter and Oarsman Ale, Upland Brewing Elmer's Porter, Shiner Ruby Redbird, Four Horsemen Irish Stout, and the favorite was: Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald. Such. A. Treat. Malty, roasty, creamy but not too much coffee. I loved this one.
Fast forward to Midway Airport. I try Green Line American Pale Ale from Goose Island along with some chicken parm at Harry Carey's. The Green Line tasted like someone forgot to rinse the dish washing soap out. Not a fan. I was a fan of the food, however their service needs work, training and some basic people skills. Once I found their bottle selection though, the Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA more than made up for it. It had an immense floral bouquet, with hops for days. This was my first Firestone brew, and I am very impressed. Honestly though, there's never been a California beer I haven't liked.
So back to Florida I go, and cannot wait to see what beer school has in store for us this week!