Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011 Beer Travel in Review

As I wind down my first year if writing the BBA travel blog, I would like to look back at my favorite places I visited this year.
Best Beer Bar visited:
Beer Temple in Amsterdam. Many factors went into this decision, such as draft and bottle selection, friendliness of service, comfort and layout, and patronage. The beer list was pretty good (details: ), not the best selection I have seen, but really cool to see these beers across the pond. The bartender was really friendly and helpful. The layout was pretty cool. There were also lots of variety of seats from bar stools, dining tables, to lounge chairs, and even a couple seats outside. I even sampled the strongest beer to date there. I met the good people from Raise Your Pints in Mississippi there too.
Honorary mention: Blind Tiger Ale House in New York City. It could have been no.1 if seating and ease of access to the bar were better. Has great tap take overs.
Best Brewery Visit:
Green Flash Brewing Company in San Diego, CA.
There are some great breweries in San Diego, and in terms of popularity, I would guess Green Flash is second to only Stone. The new, expansive tasting room is right on the brewery floor. You can buy cheap samples and inexpensive pints of all of their offerings right there. If the bartenders are not too busy, they will take time to talk beer with you. I would recommend a DD if you go!
Honorary mention: Port City, Alexandria, VA. In only its first year, this brewery came on strong. $5 for 4-5 5oz tastings. The Wit, Port, and two seasonal so far, are great on tap. great tasting room and tour.
Best Store:
Knightly Spirits in Orlando, FL. (Orange Blossom Trail Location)
This was the toughest category to select a top place. Knightly Spirits had a superb selection of regional and national labels and international offerings as well. During my visit, it was the only time I mentioned I was writing a blog for the BBA at that point. The staff was super helpful in pointing out selections of Cigar City and Saint Somewhere bottles.
Further, I follow them on facebook and see that their prices are way cheaper and more reasonable than many other stores. Let’s take Dogfish Head 120 Minute. At the DFH brewery, 1 bottle is $7.50. Nearby liquor Stores in Delaware: $12. Two stores in Northern Virginia, $15! Knightly Spirits, $9. They understand that beers like this can make a lot of coin at once, but keeping the price more than reasonable, keeps clients for ever.
Honorary Mention: Norm’s, Vienna, VA. Friendly staff, great selection, reasonable prices. Loyal clientele.
Upcoming travel blogs for 2012:
Outer Banks, North Carolina
Spring Break preview Daytona Beach, FL
Lots from our Nation’s Capital,
The first ever BBA Road trip! Details TBA!
Sofia, Bulgaria,
Cannes, France
And who knows where else?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nutcracker Ale - Beer Review

Do you like your winter warmers to be a little more straight forward? Nutcracker Ale from the Boulevard Brewing Company is a little lower in alcohol and doesn't have too many holiday spices - just a little extra sugar. The brewmaster says the wet-hopping adds a piney hop flavor to this winter seasonal beer.

Thanks to billybobdick100 for sending us this fine holiday ale. We really appreciate it. Check out his channel:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rogue Santa's Private Reserve Ale - Beer Review

If you're not a big fan of spicy holiday beers, then Santa's Private Reserve Ale from the Rogue Brewery in Newport, Oregon might be the right choice for you. They only use Barley, Hops, Water and Yeast and the spruce hop finish is the defining characteristic of this holiday seasonal. Will it be what the Better Beer Authority wants under the Christmas tree come holiday time?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

From the Heart of the "Heart of it All" (Ohio)

Ohio is known as "The Heart of it All" because of the shape of the state and it's location in the center of the country.  Its capital is located centrally in the heart of the state.   And, in the middle of that city, is a very cool shopping complex called North Market.

With farmer's market stalls on the outside, and international foods and local crafts on the inside, this place is a can't miss in Columbus. James, the beloved host of the Better Beer Authority, took me there while I was visiting for the BBA holiday party

Inside, just to the left of the main entrance is The Barrel and Bottle wine and beer store. It is small, but has a really good selection. They also have three kegs for growler fills. When I was there I saw one from Columbus Brewing Company, Green Flash, and I forgot the third (sorry, it was the day after the BBA party and things were a bit foggy).

North Market is near a lot of the insurance buildings, the hockey arena, hotels and the convention center. It makes for a great lunch spot. Three of us went, I had lunch from the Polish place, James had Vietnamese, and Todd had some Middle Eastern food. Click the link for the North Market earlier in the post to see all the merchants.

I would recommend North Market to anyone visiting Columbus, or to someone who works near there to go for lunch. There are much bigger and better bottle shops in the Columbus area, but The Barrel and Bottle is worth a visit. They may even have your favorite beer available for a growler fill.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Great Lakes Christmas Ale - Beer Review

The holidays are here and the beer section at your local grocery store has been overrun with an assortment of holiday beers. In Ohio one beer stands out above the rest. Christmas Ale from the Great Lakes Brewing Company has managed to build a cult following that buys out any these beers they find at the store. So look for some "Christmas Crack" this holiday season. Find out if our reviewers believe all the hype in this festive episode of the Better Beer Authority.