#129 – Vino’s Brewpub in Little Rock, AR

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(1) THE BREWERY & OUR EXPERIENCE

Our first Arkansas brewery visit back in May (2014) was to Vino’s Brewpub in Little Rock. We met with Josiah Moody who was the head brewer at that point in time, but he has since moved on to his own project as a gypsy brewer under the tag Moody Brews. Josiah informed us about all kinds of cool things Vino’s has done, like hosting live music multiple times a week from local bands as well as bigger acts like Queens of the Stone Age. A cream ale, pale ale, IPA, and stout are the four year-round beers they offer for you to enjoy with their excellent pizza, but they also have specialty releases such as the blood orange saison we tried. The environment at Vino’s is top notch and we highly recommend a trip there next time you’re in Little Rock!

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#120 – Jackie O’s Brewery in Athens, OH

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(1) OUR EXPERIENCE

Our visit to Jackie O’s was top notch and ended up being the longest one we’ve had yet, as we spent just over 12 hours talking to their owner, brewers, and other staff between our visits to the new production brewery and the original brewpub location downtown. This growing Ohio brewery has many unique things going on, like having their own farm offsite to grow ingredients on, multiple bottle releases every year, expanding barrel age and sour programs, and more; all of which you can get more information about by reading below. Their brews are packaged in kegs, cans, and multiple sizes of bottles for you to purchase and share with your friends, growler fills are offered at the production facility tap room, and the brewpub has excellent food to pair with whatever you end up drinking. As of now, you can only find Jackie O’s beer in Ohio and in a few counties in Kentucky, so be sure to pick some up if you’re ever in the area!

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#118 – Mountain State Brewing Co in Thomas, WV

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(1) OUR EXPERIENCE

After waking up in Pittsburgh and realizing our van had been spray-painted over night, we made the drive down to Mountain State Brewing in Thomas, WV. The location we visited is in a beautiful ski town and they also have two other locations nearby. Kate Lane was there to speak to us during our visit and she told us that she gets to focus on the seasonal recipes. At Mountain State they’re “making good beer and we’re making people happy,” and they further making people happy by holding the annual Brew Skies Festival which is being held on July 25 & 26th this year (more info below). A trip to West Virginia without a visit to Mountain State would be a poor choice, so make sure to drop by when you’re in the area!

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#96 – Dock Street Brewing Co in Philadelphia, PA

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When it came time to think of what I wanted to do for my 30th birthday in Philadelphia, the first thing that came to mind was try a Philly Cheesesteak and naturally the second was to try a beer made with roasted goat brains. Luckily for me, Dock Street Brewing Co in West Philadelphia just happened to be releasing their beer known as Walker that day – an American Pale Stout brewed with roasted goat brains and conditioned over cranberries – so we made an bonus stop there. We ended up thoroughly enjoying everything the brewery had to offer, so we got in contact with them and went back two days later for an official stop on Tuesday, 4/1/14.

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#91 – Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Newark, DE

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The evening of Thursday 3/27 consisted of a visit to the first brewpub chain of our American Tour. Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant currently has 10 locations spread throughout Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania with an eleventh site projected to open this November in Ardmore, PA. The brewpub gets its name from a Revolutionary War battlefield in DE and was founded by longtime homebrewers, Kevin Finn and Mark Eddleson, in partnership with experienced restaurateur Kevin Davies. Iron Hill is different from some of the other regional brewpub chains in that each location has their own brewing staff making beers on site. Due to this, each location is able to enter competitions individually and Iron Hill brewers have consistently taken home World Beer Cup awards as well as GABF medals every year they have been in operation. We selected to stop through the original location in Newark, which opened November 14th 1996 and is located just down the street from the University of Delaware, where we were excited to share a few beers and chat with Head Brewer, Justin Sproul.

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#83 – The Brewer’s Art in Baltimore, MD

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On 3/20/14 we made the short drive across northern Maryland to downtown Baltimore, where we spent much of the afternoon at the beautiful George Peabody Library prior to making the short half mile shuffle to The Brewer’s Art, one of Maryland’s first brewpubs which opened for business on Friday September 13, 1996. The Brewer’s Art is integrated into a beautiful space with ornate woodwork and decorative accents the likes not seen in many modern structures. The building was erected at the turn of the previous century and served as the private residence of an investment banker – a man who did not want to lose everything to a fire like the one which had just destroyed downtown Baltimore in 1905, and therefore built one of the first fire-proof structures in area. This was great for protecting his family and belongings but thick steel and concrete proved quite the obstacle in trying to convert the space into the brewpub that it is today. This afternoon, one of the brewpubs original owners, Volker Stewart, agreed to meet with us, tell us The Brewer’s Art story, and show us around his unique facility.

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#80 – Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Roseland, VA

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After our visit to Blue Mountain on Thursday, 3/13/14, we took a scenic drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains over to the brewpub that serves as a basecamp for Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Roseland, VA. Devils Backbone has incredible views in the valley where they are located close to the Appalachian Trail and was awarded Small Brewpub & Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year in 2012 as well as Small Brewing Company & Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year in 2013. We lucked into our visit there after running into COO Hayes Humphreys over at Three Notch’d Brewing the night before, who set us up to meet with head brewer Jason Oliver and assistant brewer Aaron Reilly.

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Michael’s Thoughts – 3/24/14 Part 3

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It ended up only being a 20 minute drive over to our friend Teddy’s place, who is a guy I have known almost my entire life. We grew up in the same neighborhood and used to ride the same school bus as kids. It had been about 12 years since I last saw him, so we spent that first night catching up on things and talking to his girlfriend Kelsey as the snow continued to come down outside. By the time we woke up the next morning, there was over 6 inches of snow outside, so Bluejacket got in touch with us to reschedule our visit to Wednesday (it was Monday). Because of that, we spent the whole day with Teddy and Kelsey working on our laptops, hanging out, playing bananagrams, watching jeopardy, and of course trying out some good beers. We did the same thing there with them the next day, then said our goodbyes Wednesday morning.

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[Haggis, Teddy, Me]

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[Teddy’s Balcony]

Our trip to Bluejacket in DC was pretty sweet, and afterwards we drove up to Frederick, MD to visit with Flying Dog. That night we stayed with Caroline, a woman we got in touch with through Couchsurfing, and her boyfriend Richard. She was super quirky and fun, so we had a good time watching TV and talking about all kinds of things (including the Simpsons, hell yea). In the morning, she fed and caffeinated us and then we took off to head into Baltimore. In Baltimore, we went to an awesome library known as the George Peabody library to get some writing done, and then went to two breweries. The first of which, The Brewer’s Art, offered us tickets to go see the premiere of Brewmore that night, which is a documentary about brewing in Maryland. We went to see it that night and absolutely loved the film which gave us insights into the area that we otherwise would not have got, and after the film they actually announced that we were in the theater, so people came up to us afterwards to ask about our trip.

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We spent some time in the lobby drinking local craft beer and talking with people, who told us that a lot of them were going over to Liam Flynn’s to keep the night going. We joined them for about an hour, and then made our way to Jason’s apartment, who is a friend of Sarah, the girl we stayed with in Savannah that is a friend of our friend Alex. So yea, he was the friend of a friend of a friend and opened up his apartment to us. We watched The Wizard that night with him and his roommate, which is such a God awful movie that I couldn’t keep my eyes off of it. I passed out before it ended, and the next morning we went to Max’s Taphouse to try a few good beers, and then made our way to Heavy Seas Beer/ Clipper City Brewing, and then drove across the bridge that connects the western part of Maryland to the Eastern Shore.

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[Max’s Taphouse]

Haggis’ dad’s friend Tom and his wife Linda live over in the Eastern Shore, and that is where we spent 2 nights getting caught up on writing. Haggis and Tom are both huge KU fans, so I sat there awkwardly as they watched their team lose to Stanford. Ouch. But on a good note, I finally got completely caught up for the first time since we left, and Brandon almost did as well. We also spent a night hanging out with Kevin, who is going to open up Chester River Brewing Company soon, so he took us over to his future site and we talked about his endeavor. Tom and Linda were overwhelmingly kind to us while we were there and it was hard to leave, but we needed to make our way south to visit 2 breweries that day!

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[Me, Tom, Haggis]

Our first visit that day was to Evolution Craft (which was pretty damn awesome) and then we drove over to Burley Oak in Berlin, MD. We spent most of the night there chillin’ with their staff and listening to live music while a charity event was going on. Our couchsurfing hosts, Sarah and Andrew, met us there as well, so we followed them to their place, stayed the night with them, and they made us coffee the next morning while we got to know them. Once we left, we went back to Burley Oak to help them mash-in a batch of their beer called ‘Merica and then made our way out to see the Atlantic Ocean. It was cold as hell, so we took pictures of the ocean, promptly got back in the van, and crossed the border into Delaware.

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[Me, Andrew, Haggis, Sarah]

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[Mashing in at Burley Oak]

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[Atlantic Ocean!]

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[We’re in… Delaware]

Dogfish Head’s brewpub was our first visit of the day, then we went to the production facility where we went on a small, 5-person tour of their impressive facilities. It was not snowing when we got there, but by the time the tour was done there was a solid amount of snow that had fallen, so rather than sleep in the van as we had planned, we camped up in a Hampton Inn last night. That’s where we are now and we’re going to Mispillion River Brewing today! Until next time…

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[MORE PHOTOS!]
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[Dogfish – Before tour]

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[Dogfish – After tour]

#67 – Trophy Brewing Co. in Raleigh, NC

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After waiting out another winter storm, on 3/4/14 we headed east from Greensboro to our first brewery visit in North Carolina’s ‘triangle’ which, for those unfamiliar, consists of the area between Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. We were very happy that afternoon for the opportunity to speak with Les Stewart, head brewer for Trophy Brewing Company. Trophy is a 3 bbl nano-brewery that was founded by Chris Powers and David Lockwood who also own Busy Bee Cafe, a popular Raleigh beer bar. The brewpub just celebrated their one year anniversary before our visit with a party in the roped off parking lot featuring some special release beers and has been seeing expedient growth since its inception. The restaurant and bar area are fairly limited in space and they were previously only open for dinner, however, have opened up their doors for lunch on the weekends to accommodate demand. While Les and his assistant brewer, Josh Wing, are certainly making some great beers for the area, he was quick to give a lot of the credit for the success and quick turnover in beers to the pizza. “Those guys do an amazing job,” he said about the kitchen staff who are busy turning out pies with many locally sourced ingredients as well as a meat and veggie feature pie every day – they even utilize the beers in the dough and sauce.

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#48 – Twain’s Billiards & Tap in Decatur, GA

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After surviving the ice and snow onslaught, our good friend Sarah made her way up from Savannah and joined us at Twain’s Billiards and Tap in Decatur, GA on Thursday, 2/13/14. Owner and co-founder Ethan Wurtzel greeted us when we walked in the door, then poured us a flight of beers to enjoy as we talked to him about the brewpub. Twain’s is, and always has been, a place where you can hang out, eat, drink, watch sporting events on TV, play shuffleboard, darts, pool, and other games; it’s a very interactive establishment.

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