Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Beer Odyssey to Fredericksburg, Virginia

Terry and I decided that it was time for a beer trip once again. What better destination than the 30th Annual Blue and Grey Show in Fredericksburg, Virginia. This is perhaps the largest show on the East Coast.
To make it even more interesting, we decided to take the long way and visit as many breweries and brewpubs as we could in the 4 days that we had allotted.

So we passed through US Customs at Ogdensburg at 11:45 AM on Thursday, Feb 12. (mileage on the old Volvo was 244575 kms.)
Our first stop was Binghampton, NY (244916 km) to visit Sam the Beer Man (a distributor) to pick up some Smuttynose IPA for the hotel room later.
We passed through Scranton, PA around 5:10 PM and finally hit King of Prussia, PA at 7:00 PM. (245225 km)
This is a suburb of Philadelphia and the home of Rock Bottom Brew Pub (actually a chain).
We checked into the Motel 6 since the RB manager had told us it was just across the street.
What he didn't say was that there were no pedestrian crossings to this mall! And of course we wanted to drink, not drive!
What to do?? Why, call a taxi, of course!
We spoke with Steve at Main Line Taxi who was very understanding of our situation. I guess he felt sorry for us because he sent a limo to pick us up and drive us across to the huge mall. He also sent a car later on to get us back to the motel.
We ordered food and lots of beer! There was a Cask Conditioned House IPA available and we made full use of the barkeeps pulling arm! This was a very hoppy but not bitter beer at 6.6% and we enjoyed it immensely! The food was great also.

Next morning it was in to Philly to pick up a receiver. Not only are we Hop-Heads but now we are also Marantz-Maniacs!
After stopping at a diner for breakfast, it was on to Twin Lakes Brewing in Greenville, DE, home of Vice President Biden. They were busy kegging a Vice-Presidential Ale when we arrived.
We met Matt Day, Director of Sales who offered us several samples of their product.
They have an idyllic location and use a former art studio for the brewery. Since it is a land conservancy area (only one house per 100 acres) the water is very pure and untreated.
We picked up a growler of their Pale Ale for later quaffing.

Next was lunch at Stewart's Brew Pub in Bear, DE. (245380 km)
This place has been operating since 1995 and it's in a strip mall!
We had a decent lunch with a very nice IPA. They do a large variety of beers here.

We continued heading south and finally found Dogfish Head Brewing in Milton DE around 4:00 PM. (245493 km)
The brewery was very busy as a tour was just getting started.
We met Nora Sheehan, the Brewceptionist and snagged a few goodie bags of labels, etc.
We opted to just try the samples at the bar. There was Aprihop, 90-minute IPA and 120-minute IPA and a few others available. Of course, I was anticipating the 120-minute IPA after hearing so much about it. I was not disappointed!! I worked my way through the other beers and then went for the 120-minute. Wow! At 18% (yes 18%) and 120 IBU's you would think it would be almost undrinkable. Terry and I were surprised at how delicious it was and how easy it went down.
That's me enjoying a 120-minute IPA in the lounge!
Before leaving, we purchased a few 6-packs and a 4-pack of 120-minute IPA (for $30) ! This will make a nice item for a future tasting.....stay tuned!

Dogfish Head operates a brewpub in Rehoboth Beach and that's where we headed next.
We checked into our hotel just down the street and walked up to the brewpub for dinner.
This brewpub is used as a "test bed" for any new brews they come up with and if the clientele like it, it becomes a regular product. There are about 20 taps at the bar, but as usual, we went for the IPA. While waiting for our table, we sat at the bar. I noticed that there was a supply of liquor on the back-bar labeled Rum, Vodka, and Jin. (?) We met a couple from Baltimore, DE (not MD) who were quite friendly and he told us that there was a distillery upstairs where Dogfish made their liquor! Later on, he brought over a couple of Jin and Tonics for us to sample! A very pleasant evening.

Next morning, we checked out the beach before leaving for Fredericksburg, VA and the B&G show. We drove across Delaware and over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, heading south until we reached Fredericksburg around 2:15 PM (245828 km).

Of course, by this time the show was mostly over, but display tables were still set up and the Hospitality Room was in full swing! The great part of this show is that they have 4 kegs going 24/7 for the duration! We met up with our other Canadian friends who always attend and spent an enjoyable evening with them.
Room-to-Room trading is the highlight of this show and you're sure to find whatever breweriana you may desire. Here's a pic of someone's room who specializes in neon signs!

The next morning, we decided to head directly home, but then came to our senses! Victory Brewing in Downington, PA was only a bit off our route, so off we went.
We made our way North through DC, Baltimore, MD, and Wilmington, DE before crossing into Pennsylvania.
We found the Brewery easily( 246152 km), but it was mainly a very busy restaurant (on the left side of the pic) and didn't really cater to beer enthusiasts it seemed. There was a gift shop where we purchased some glasses and 6-packs of Hop Devil (yum!) and we actually scored some labels.

We then headed back up I476 and I81 with the obligatory stop at the Cracker Barrel in Binghampton to satisfy Terry's craving! (246464 km)
We had no problems going through Customs with all our goodies and we arrived safe and sound back in Iroquois around 8:45PM (246820). If you've been keeping track, that's a total of 2245 kms. That Volvo wagon was great!

All in all, a very fun trip with lots of beer tasting to boot!

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