Friday, May 29, 2009

New England vacation

The wife and I headed up to New England for a little post-wedding celebration that my parents were throwing us. While we were there we got to visit some of the great beer spots in the New England area. Of course time was short and I didn't get to hit up every place that I wanted to but the places I did get to visit were all great.


We got in at about 10am and after some trouble with the rental car headed straight into the heart of Boston to Newbury St. The wife got her bangs trimmed while I enjoyed a bagel at the coffee shop downstairs. It was a little early still for a beer but it was nice to see that even the coffee shop served good local craft beer from Harpoon and Sam Adams. After much discussion of where to have lunch (I lost out on both The Publick House and Sunset Grill) we ended up at Charley's. Had a great burger that I would add to my top burger places.

After dropping off the little lady off with members of my family, I met up with an old friend I hadn't seen in years and we headed into see the Red Sox/Mets game at Fenway. I hadn't been to Fenway in probably close to 15 years so it was great to see it is still the great ball park I remember. The beer selection at Fenway was a welcomed surprise compared to what was available at Land Shark Stadium (Miami) a few days prior. They had Sam Adam's Boston Lager, Sam Adam's Summer Ale, Amstel Light, Harp, Guinness, Smithwicks, Heinekin, Budweiser American Ale, Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Light and Coors Light. Both Sam Adam's beers had the longest lines out of any of the others. Hopefully the people running the park notice this and get some more craft beers into the park. Though the Red Sox lost, I still had a great time and it was nice to have a Sam Adam's Summer Ale while watching the game. We headed back to the house and called it an early night.


We spent most of Saturday morning running around doing a few errands before we ended up at Rosebud's Diner in Somerville for some late breakfast. Because I was having breakfast I felt it was still a little to early to have a beer but I did see that they had Harpoon Rootbeer on the menu so I decided to give that a try. I must say Harpoon makes a pretty fine rootbeer. This is something we should be able to get in Florida so I will be asking for it at our local establishments. I didn't notice until we were walking out that Rosebud's had five different taps of Harpoon beers. I love Boston for the fact that they don't feel that they need to cater to the Bud/Miller/Coors crowd all of the time.

We decided we had a couple of hours to kill before our wedding celebration and that since we were so inspired by all the Harpoon at Rosebud's that we should take ride over to the Harpoon Brewery for a tour. We arrived at the brewery at about 1pm and thought we would have plenty of time for the hour tour before the 5pm party. Unfortunately, when we went to purchase our tickets for the tour they were sold out until the 3:30pm tour which didn't leave us enough time for the tour. We were told we could go check out the gift shop that was open to everyone. I got to purchase some of the Leviathan Quad that I had been looking for and also got a bottle of their new 100 Series Helles Blond Bock as well as a beautiful new glass to drink it from. Although we weren't able to do the tour, Michael, one of Harpoon's Field Promotions Specialists and the cashier of the gift shop, hooked us up with some samples of the Helles Blond Bock and the new UFO White on tap. Both were quite good. I was told by Michael that we should start seeing the UFO White in FL at anytime now, so keep a look out for it.
After the wedding celebration (which was lots of fun so thanks to everyone who came), we headed out with some family and friends to Charlie's Kitchen (different place than the place we went to on Friday) in Harvard Square. My Dad told me he used to go to this place all the time when he was in school and has been an institution in Harvard Square for decades. This was my first time getting to go and check it out. They had just recently added a bier garden which had about 10 beers on tap. I settled on a Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA. It was good to see it served in the correct glassware. This was the first time having this bitterly hopped beer. I let my cousin try it, who was having a Sam Adams (the only beer he really drinks), and he didn't care for it at all. It is not a beer you would want to drink every day but it was a nice strong beer to end a rather long day. One of the best things about Charlie's Kitchen are the great prices. I got my beer and my wife's Red Bull for only $8. In Miami, either of those would have been $8 by themselves at a bar. The food was also very inexpensive. The curfew in Boston is one thing I'm not so used to living in Miami but it helped bring the night to an end at a reasonable hour.

Sunday we got up early to get on the road to Maine. My good friend Tim picked us up at my parent's house and we were on our way to Lovell, ME and Ebenezer's Pub. Ebenezer's is rated the top beer bar in the world so I had pretty high hopes heading up there. It was a beautiful hour drive that reminded me of what I've always liked about Maine. It should also be known that Ebenezer's is in the middle of nowhere. You would think a bar with such a reputation would be in a big city but it makes perfect sense to be right where it is. As we walked into Ebenezer's the size was one of the first things I noticed. There were only about 10 tables in the place and the bar area was also quite small. We were sat by our lovely waitress, Hanna. She let us take our time looking over the extensive beer and food menus. It took her a few back-and-forths, checking on us before we had decided on what we would be drinking. You can sample anything they have one tap for half the cost of a full glass. I started with a sampler of Cantillion Kreik '06, Brooklyn Blunderbuss Old Ale, Smuttynose S'muttonator, Dogfish Head Palo Santo and Black Albert. The wife had a sampler with Rogue Imperial Ale, Hapt Kappitel Abt, Hops Injour, Bier du Boucanier Red, and Avec Les Bon Veux. We sipped those while I decided on the Chimay Cheeseburger. Not only were the beers amazing but the food was also out of this world. I would say another one of the best burgers I've ever had. While we were enjoying our beer and food, we talked with the very friendly staff who told us that the owners, Chris and Jen, were getting ready to open another new bar in Brunswick, ME and that some of the staff that was working today were training for the new bar. I had heard what an extensive cellar Enebezer's had and I asked our waitress Hanna if there was any way we could possibly see it. She said she would give Chris a call and see if he was around to talk to us down in the cellar. He fortunately was and would be heading over in a few minutes to show us around. While we waited I decided to try a sampling of the Scadlis Noel and Val Dui Triple; two great beers that I had never had on tap. Both were amazing. Chris showed up a few minutes later and swooped us away to the cellar. Just walking down the stairs into the cellar made my jaw drop. Two magnums of Stone Double Bastard just sitting there. I barely got in the door of the cellar before I was once again floored with a whole shelf of Russian River Beatification and another of Russian River Concecration. We weren't more then a moment into the cellar before Chris started pouring beers for us. I wish I could remember exactly what he had poured for us but I was so overwelmed by his amazing collection of beers that I didn't make a mental note of what he was serving us (I was also about 4 beers in by this point as well). He told us all about the new bar and showed us some of the artwork that had been handpainted for it and the glassblown tap handles he had just got in as well. We also talked about our similar musical backgrounds. He told us he was going to have to make it quick when we went down into the cellar because he needed to get over to the new bar but he was more then generous with his time and and his beer. He also was very kind by giving us each a bottle of Black Albert to take home with us. The guy could not have been more nice or humble. We returned to the bar as Chris took off in his old-ass Altima that he joked was "his Corvette" from all the money he makes off of Ebenezer's. We all finshed off the day with one of the best blueberry pies any of us had ever had. We said bye to Hanna and the other very friendly staff at Ebenezer's and headed back to the car for the ride back to my parent's house. Being at Ebenezer's was like being at a friend's house and it made me kind of sad to leave. I am greatly looking forward to visiting again soon. Tim dropped us off at the folks house and we just stayed in and visited with them before calling it a night.

On Monday, we just visited with the family before heading back to Boston for the airport. Once again while we were out getting something to eat, it was good to see that the resturants in Maine also support their local brewery's by having Allagash, Shipyard, Seadog or one of many fine Maine brews on tap. When we got to the airport while we were waiting for our flight, we tried to grab a beer at the brewpub in the airport. They wouldn't let us sit at a table without ordering food and the bar was full so, we had to miss out on one last beer. Overall, we had a great trip and I look forward to doing it again soon.

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