#137 – Scratch Brewing Company in Ava, IL

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(1) THE BREWERY & OUR EXPERIENCE

Our first Illinois brewery to visit during our trip last year was Scratch Brewing Company located on some farmland about an hour and a half southeast of St. Louis, MO. Scratch was one of the most distinctly unique, beautiful, and remote breweries that we saw all year and remained that way through to the end. With a focus on locality, the people at the brewery forage and/ or grow ingredients on their land to use in the beer recipes; mushrooms, roots, pine needles, multiple herbs & spices, and hops for example. During our time sampling in their taproom, we got to try some Gruits, a Gotlandsricka, a Licorice Basil Schwarzbier, a beer made with maple sap instead of water, and a handful of other beers that prove this is not your everyday brewery; the best part is they are brewed well and we enjoyed each and every one of them! The Scratch crew also told us that they were planning to only enter beers that do not have hops in them at GABF in Denver later in the year and when we ran into them at the festival a few months later they had done just that. Do not miss out on an opportunity to visit the amazing people, location, scenery, and beers that make up Scratch Brewing Company – it’s the full package!

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#114 – Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport, PA

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(1) OUR EXPERIENCE

After spending the night camping at the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon on Easter Sunday, we made our way over to the original brewpub location of Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport, PA. While there, we were able to sample 11 different Bullfrog beers of varying styles and chow down on some great & affordable lunch specials. The owner, Steve Koch, was kind enough to spend some time chatting with us about the past, present, and future state of the business, including details about their recently opened production facility, expansion plans, sour program, and upcoming beers. With the world’s largest outdoor portraiture mural on the outside of the building, it shouldn’t be hard for you to find this one-of-a-kind brewery when you make some time to go visit them!

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#108 – Relic Brewing Co in Plainville, CT

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(1) OUR EXPERIENCE

After getting in touch with Mark, the owner/ head brewer/ sole-operator of Relic Brewing, we visited with him on a rainy Tuesday morning. The brewery was not open to the public that day, so we talked with him while he kept himself busy brewing away. Mark is very well traveled and has been to over 50 countries across the world, so we first spent some time talking about our travel experiences. He ended up ordering a pizza later on, so we all indulged while tasting some of his unique, delicious, small-batch beers and talked about which breweries we need to visit later in our trip. If we weren’t on such a tight budget, I would have definitely walked out of there with some of the artwork hung in the taproom for sale, but alas, we are, so we said our goodbyes and ran out to the van in the rain.

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#77 – Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery in Goochland, VA

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Following an early 9 am stop at Midnight Brewery, we traveled west through the VA countryside to visit our second brewery of the day before lunch. Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery sits on 221 acres of land, 83 acres of which are wooded and will remain untouched for the enjoyment of guests to the brewery. Their name pays homage to the small creek running through the property that was named in pre-colonial times for the wildlife that stopped for a refreshing drink. The farm style building was built on site to house the brewery and is intended to appropriately blend in with the landscape. The concept is to be as water conscious and sustainable as possible by growing many of the brewing ingredients on site – many crop terraces can be seen in the fields surrounding the building. Currently various hops, barley, pumpkins, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are planted with further plans to do herbs, additional berries, grapes, figs, oranges, and more in the future.

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Michael’s Thoughts 3/24/2014 – Part 1

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Yet again I’m a little behind on this, so I’m going to split this up into 3 parts and post them throughout the day. Last I updated we were back in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with Chase and Nicole from Foothills and we had a blast hanging out with them. We ended up trekking over to Greensboro where we met up with our friend Nick and his partner in crime Audrey. Nick used to be a brewer at Deep Ellum Brewing back in Dallas, which is where we met him, but he has since moved back to his home state of NC to be the brewer for Haw River Farmhouse Ales in Saxapahaw. The night we stayed there, it ended up snowing pretty hard, so we just stayed in and hung out while eating cookies that their neighbor made for us. It was a great time and definitely comforting to be around some Dallas people.

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[Haggis, Nicole, Chase, Me]

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[Me, Nick, Audrey, Haggis]

From there, we made our way over to Raleigh, NC where we ended up going to 5 breweries in one day, including Trophy Brewing. It was Mardis Gras, so we had an excuse for once haha. That night we stayed with one of Nick’s friends, but unfortunately we showed up late, so we passed out pretty quickly, and left early the next morning. Before we left, they gave us a breakfast suggestion, so we made our way to Wimpy’s Grill and ate some of the best biscuits either of us have had in our lives. Haggis got the last sausage gravy biscuit which was about the size of my head and completely smothered in gravy. Later on, we went to Fullsteam to get our quota in for the day, which ended up being the same day that Brew Dogs was filming the first episode for their second season. We even got to indulge in the beer they made, which was the most calorific beer coming in at over 600 calories – an imperial stout made with syrup and bacon, then the beer was used to make an ice cream, then that ice cream was added back to the beer to make a float, and more bacon was put on top. Freaking delicious. Cameras and crew were all over the place so be sure to watch that episode and let us know if you see us!

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[Brew Dogs at Fullsteam]

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[Most Calorific Beer Ever]

That night we ended up staying in a super awesome house with Barry & Michele, an incredibly kind couple we had met back at Highland in Asheville. They fed us dinner that night and breakfast the next morning, as we talked with them about the trip, politics, their family, and many other things. From there we shot down to Kinston, went to Mother Earth, and then spent the night at Boiler Room trying out their hot dogs and beer. We talked with quite a few people there, including the bartender, Jamie Cash, who was the only person to laugh at the fact we had visited our 69th brewery that night; she was cool in my book. We slept in our van down by the river that night, then made our way up to Farmville to visit Duck-Rabbit after grabbing some NC BBQ for lunch at Jack Cobb and Son. After Duck-Rabbit, we drove all the way out to the Outer Banks where we parked our van and slept right next to the shore in an RV camping lot where it had flooded earlier in the day. We were able to do so because the lady who works there left a key to get into the park in a mailbox, since she knew it would be closed by the time we got there. The next morning we met her and enjoyed some coffee before heading out.

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[Haggis, Barry, Michele, Me]

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Breakfast that day was at the Digger’s Diner, which is surrounded by paraphernalia related to the monster truck, Grave Digger, as well as farm animals. Odd assortment for sure, but the food was great! We then spent most of the afternoon at Weeping Radish drinking beer, eating sausages, and hanging out with the brewers. We talked with them for quite a while as we sobered up, then made our way north across the border into Norfolk, Virginia.

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We hadn’t planned a place to stay that night, so we jumped on Couchsurfing.org for the first time in hopes that someone would quickly get back to us. Just in case nobody did, we went ahead and found a Wal-Mart parking lot to sleep in, and then our couch surfing request was answered! Amber and Gabriel invited us into their home in Norfolk last minute around 8pm, so we hung out with them for a little, passed out on their floor, then enjoyed some breakfast Amber made for us the next morning. After breakfast, we spent about 5 hours with the brewer of Smartmouth, just talking and laughing over a few good beers of theirs, and then made our way to another couch surfers place also in Norfolk, Amanda and John. They are both doctors at a hospital so had to get up early in the morning (like 4am early), but after getting a much needed hand drum session in with John as he played the guitar, they let us leisurely wake up the next morning and leave after they had already gone to work.

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To be continued…

#66 – Haw River Farmhouse Ales in Saxapahaw, NC

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After our short-lived visit to Winston-Salem, NC, we made a trek to Haw River Farmhouse Ales on Monday, 3/3/14 to visit with Nick Mangili – a friend of ours who we met when he was a brewer at Deep Ellum Brewing Company back in Dallas, TX. He is now brewing test batches for Haw River Farmhouse Ales since they’re not actually open just quite yet. This brewery is going to be incredibly unique, utilize local ingredients including a house yeast they collected from their backyard on their own, and will be opening sometime later this year.

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#56 – Burial Beer Co in Asheville, NC

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We took a drive through the Smoky Mountains after leaving Knoxville to spend some time checking out the scenery, then made our way over to Asheville, NC on Friday, 2/21/14. For four years (2009-2012) Asheville was voted “Beer City USA” with a national poll, and our first stop there was to Burial Beer Co. This small yet ambitious brewery was started on June 15, 2013 by Doug & Jess Reiser and their friend, Tim Gormley.

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