Tuesday, November 8, 2011

9.30.11 Great American Beer Festival - Denver CO

One of our bucket list items was to go to the Great American Beer Festival (GABF). This festival brings together breweries from all over the country. We had two tickets to two sessions: Friday night and Saturday afternoon. The sessions are 4 hours of drinking… I mean sampling different beers from across the country.

We arrived in Denver in the morning and headed over to a local French restaurant for lunch. After getting our fill of carbs, we headed to our hotel where Oskar Blues had taken over the taps.

We have our first mile high beers. I headed up to the room to make our pretzel necklaces – a must for any beer tasting.

Our other friends were hesitant to wear the necklaces, but were singing its praises by the end of the first session. We headed out for four hours of drinking. I made it about two hours before I needed a pizza break. I just couldn’t keep up. The amount of beer was overwhelming. Some key highlights were the Oskar Blues Silent Disco where everyone in the roped off area wears headphones and the DJ spins some tunes.

The other unique offering was the 30th anniversary booth featuring the beers that were at the very first GABF. Some brewers even dug out the old recipes.

Saturday morning, we headed to Sam’s #3 for breakfast. Sam’s was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. It was worth the hour wait. The pork green chile was fantastic!!!

 I was ready for Day Two – pretzel necklace in place. We hit the booths. This time we decided to brave the cheese line. The wait was 45 precious beer drinking minutes. Thankfully, we had a plan. I stood in line and Glenn went to the nearby booths and brought beer back to me. The cheese booth was very impressive once we got to the front. Plus they were pouring some of the beers that had the longest wait so it evened out. After the session, we headed across the street to sample more beer! We worked out way down the street to our dinner reservation at Rioja. Everyone had a great meal – except for me. I drew the short straw with a terrible pasta dish. The dish had no sauce – none – not even a little dribble of butter. It was a mess. After dinner, we headed to Wynkoop Brewing to try some of their brews, then to Hayters’ Club and then I was done. We hit up Jimmy John’s and headed back to the hotel.
Sunday, we headed to see a good friend from college for brunch and then headed out to Boulder for some more beer. We visited Avery Brewing and Twisted Pine. Avery was fantastic.

 We tried their tap room exclusives and Glenn loved the barrel aged sour. We were not a big fan of the beers at Twisted Pine so our visit there was short. We swung by another friend’s house and then hit the airport after a fantastic weekend in Denver.

For those interested, our favorite beers were:

Pizza Port Bacon and Eggs Stout

Duck Rabbit Milk Stout

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

Russian River Imperial Stout

Breckinridge Barrel Aged Vanilla Porter

21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat

Crabtree Chunkin Pumpkin

Airdale Dark and Stormy

Ska Fresh Hops

Mad River Chile Beer

Avery Out of sight house blend stout

Avery Eremita

Avery’s Ellie’s Brown Ale

Hollister Tiny Bubbles

Sunday, November 6, 2011

9.23.11 Weekend in New York City

In September, I had another work trip to New York City so we decided to make another weekend of it. This time, we flew together so no worries about Glenn missing half the fun. Friday, we both worked from our respective city offices and then headed out to Brooklyn for an amazing dinner with one of Glenn’s co-workers. We ate until we had to be rolled out of there!

Saturday morning, we headed to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. I was able to secure free tickets through Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day. I had never before toured an aircraft carrier. It was incredible.

One of the highlights was meeting one of the men who served on the aircraft carrier during World War II. He was a mechanic and told us stories about how they moved the aircraft around the plane. My favorite moment was when Glenn asked, “Does it look like it did when you lived on it?”. He was trying to figure out what types of renovations occur on these types of aircraft carriers. The veteran answered, “Well no, it’s a museum now.”

Just outside the museum, Yankee Fan Fest was going on. Glenn is a die-hard Red Sox fan, but I was happy to get some free ice cream, hummus, chips and pens. I even got to snag a self-heating thermal shirt Uniqlo before the store even opened. Yippee! From the pier, we headed over to Blue Smoke. An episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate on Food Network featured their potato chips so we had to check them out. We ordered several appetizers. I had my first ever deviled egg. It was pretty darn good. My favorite was the shrimp corn dogs.

We still had a few hours until the Yankee Game so we headed to Brooklyn Brewery. I loved the vibe at Brooklyn Brewery. It felt like a neighborhood hang out.

Softball teams were enjoying pitchers and pizza. We sampled the Oktoberfest, Weisse, Companion and Blast. This weekend was the last weekend of the NYC Craft Beer Week so we stopped at Mugs on the way back to the Subway to sample the BluePoint White IPA and Harbor Brewing Black Duck Stout. The White IPA was really good. Then it was time to head to Yankee Stadium.

We got there early and walked around. We had great seats. Unfortunately, the Red Sox were not able to pull out a win, but we really enjoyed the afternoon at the ballpark.

Post game, we headed back to Chelsea to find a local bar for dinner and drinks. After a disastrous stop at Flying Puck (cranky bartender and mediocre beer), we consulted the Craft Beer app and ended up at Guilty Goose. The restaurant was only six months. We had a fantastic time sampling beers, chatting with the owner and eating their fantastic food.

We liked it so much we went back the next day for brunch.
Poached duck eggs over ham on a biscuit with jalapeno hollandaise
Goose confit goat cheese omelet

After brunch, we hit the submway to head to Governors’ Island Art Fair. 
Marachi on the Subway
It was a contemporary art show so we had our usual reactions of confusion and occasionally liking something.

We had a few hours before our flight so we headed to Mustang Sally’s to watch the Patriots game. I love that we have been to NYC enough times that we now just act like we live there – hitting local bars for football rather than feeling pressured to see more.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

2011 Labor Day Weekend: Indianapolis

Over Labor Day weekend, we headed to Indianapolis to snuggle our new niece, celebrate our cousin's first birthday,  and fit in some fun adventures. For lunch on Saturday we headed to Rib Fest to sample some award winning barbeque. My mom, dad, husband and I fanned out to sample different ribs from across the country. Glenn even found a gluten free option so my mom could join in the fun. We had a great job heading from booth to booth.

One of the highlights for me was the corn on the cob. There is nothing like Indiana corn on the cob. Yum!  The festival overall was very fun.  We were impressed that admission was free early in the day. The live music stage was rocking with local talent. As the day went on more named acts were on the line up. The downside was that it was very expensive.  As for the barbeque, we all had a different favorite booths and I was super excited to get an elephant ear!

Connor Prairie in Fischer, Indiana offers a Symphony on the Prairie musical program during the summer. My parents are regulars and we were excited to get to join them. The big act was Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.  We arrived early and set up camp and our dinner buffet.My parents laid out an awesome spread. It was a beautiful night – just cold enough for pants and sweatshirts. Sunset was amazing and then the music started.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was fantastic! We had a terrific time and fireworks capped off the night. When we got home, I immediately started researching if Tampa has anything like this.