"Beer in Colorado" is dedicated to that divine elixir born of the marriage of water, malt, hops, and yeast as interpreted
by those living in Colorado. Follow the author as he visits every brewery in the state, creates experimental homebrews,
attends beer festivals, tries interesting beers from around the world, and spreads the good word of beer. Prost!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Boston Beer Bloggers Conference: Part 3

The weather leaving Pittsburgh was dangerously wet—Nicole and I’d be less drenched if we drove under Niagara Falls.  Piling on the problems was the fact the streets were utterly unfamiliar.  However, with the help of GPS and sailor-worthy cursing on my part, we found the interstate and continued eastward towards the Beer Bloggers Conference.
SkyRush's first drop

We camped in central Pennsylvania, awoke, and once again indulged in some roller coaster action at Hersheypark.  With eleven coasters (of which we rode all), Hersheypark was by far the largest park we’d yet visited on our marathon road-trip to the Atlantic.  Thankfully, it wasn’t insanely crowded.  In fact, we were able to log-in three go-arounds on thir newest ride, SkyRush.  SkyRush is pretty rad because, of the four seats in a row, the outermost hang over the edges of the track, dangling riders in the void.  It adds a touch more thrill to an already intense coaster.

After leaving Hershey, Nicole and I headed towards our next destination, Long Valley, New Jersey, where we claimed a campsite and—true to our nature—employed the use of our smartphones to search for the nearest brewery.  In this case, it happened to be the Long Valley Pub & Brewery (LVPB).

For those who watch too much The Sopranos and Jersey Shore and for those who buy into New York City’s propagandistic teasing, one might assume one can’t swing a dead cat in Jersey without hitting a goombah, a fake-tanned tool, or a landfill.  However, fans of Zach Braff might recall Jersey’s nickname: The Garden State.  After negotiating the drive to the brewery in Long Valley, the reason for the epithet becomes abundantly clear.  The narrow, windy country roads navigating through old-growth forests, farmlands, stone walls, and cottages is less GTL and more 4-H.

We turned right at the first traffic light we’d seen for miles, drove up a small incline, and arrived at the brewery.  I’m a big proponent for the industrial area brewery (See: Strange Brewing Company, CAUTION: Brewing Co., and Yellow SpringsBrewery) because they turn shady neighborhoods into craft beer destinations that regular, law-abiding consumers will visit without trepidation.  They are the breweries that inspire communities, the breweries that transform land largely deemed worthless into sudsy paradises.  Do you want to hang out by the old factory amid the smoke-belching smokestacks?  No, nobody does unless there’s beer involved; in which case, I’m already there.  That’s the magic of a brewery brave enough to tread where other businesses fear.    

Then again, I can’t help but fall in love with breweries located in already-awe-inspiring locations.  Stone Brewing Co.’s Old Testament-esque beer garden?  Awesome.  The Church Brew Works from the day before?  Literally divine.  LVPB belongs in this group; the structure in which it resides is already beautiful and the brewery within just adds to the allure.  With a stone façade, vaulted, wood ceilings, and general grandeur, one might think that LVPB—like The Church—was built in a decommissioned cathedral.  The truth, however, is more secular yet nonetheless inspirational; the brewery is in a barn!

Inside LVPB

This monument to the rustic boasts an extensive, rock-tiled patio (a feature not included in the original design, I’m guessing).  The weather that day—for probably the first time on our entire trip—was neither rainy nor oppressively hot so we opted to enjoy our brews outside.  The pub-on-the-moors ambiance of the interior with its fireplace, wrought iron, and stained wood was certainly appealing but I elect to drink in the great outdoors whenever reasonable.  I ordered the oak-aged version of their Lazy Jake Porter (ABV N/A).  It’s a sufficient beer and the vanilla notes from the oak shine through but it isn’t necessarily the type of beer that makes one stand up and rejoice.  Lazy Jake isn’t a bad beer by any means but, when compared to the picturesque, pastoral setting, anything could be outperformed by the surroundings—the Hope Diamond wouldn’t shine as bright if brought to LVPB.  Let’s just say Lazy Jake is a “good beer” because that’s accurate—it just isn’t outstanding (despite the accolades).

Inside LVPB
We camped for the night and in the morning pointed north.  That day, we drove through five—count ‘em five—states!  It’s easy to lose perspective on size when living in a vast, western state where one can drive for hours and never cross a border, where citizens explore remote corners of their home state like it’s a foreign land, and where the beauty and splendor makes one wonder why anybody lives anywhere else.  Indeed, compared to the West, all those New England states just seem so damn cute!  Oh, who’s a little state?  Who’s a little state?  You are!  Yes you are!  Oh, yes you are!  Cootchie, cootchie, coo!

Due to our GPS’s terrible route judgment (it gained my trust in Pittsburgh and lost it in New York), we drove through Manhattan—during rush hour.  That was a tense drive, to say the least.  Oh, don’t you worry about me, though, worry about the locals; I may have been born a small town boy but I out-aggro’d those damn Yankee commuters like I was in a soft-core demolition derby.  I may not be accustomed to such heavy traffic but I have driven the Million Dollar Highway with over two inches of solid ice on the road, through three feet of snowy visibility, and with temperatures hovering around negative ten.  After that, Manhattan’s a leisurely cruise through the countryside.

We crossed into Connecticut and then into Rhode Island where we made a brief stop in Providence to visit a brewery that may sound familiar to Colorado beer geeks: Trinity Brewhouse (not TRiNiTY BREWiNG COMPANY).

Today, it’s practically a rite of passage for breweries to receive a cease-and-desist letter, one wonders why the two Trinities haven’t yet come to blows.  Is it because they’re simply ignorant of each other’s existence?  Is it because one knows about the other but doesn’t want to rock the boat and possibly ruin their reputation by filing a suit?  Is it because their official names are technically and legally distinct (Brewhouse vs. BREWiNG COMPANY)?  Is it because they’re both aware of each other but, because they’re chill companies and are nearly 2,000 miles apart, they realize the shared name really isn’t hurting either side?  I don’t know, but the story gets weirder; Colorado folks know our Trinity makes a saison called Elektrick Cukumbahh whereas the Rhode Island Trinity has an IPA called Electric Cucumber!  Make of that what you will (BREAKING NEWS!  I just figured something out—Trinity Brewhouse does not make a beer called Electric Cucumber.  Instead, an Untappd patron simply became confused and misspelled, mislabeled the style, and mistakenly attributed Elektrick Cukumbahh to the brewery in Providence.  Most people checking into “Electric Cucumber” checked into places in or near Colorado.  The confusion of the Untappd community was, until now, my confusion).  Whatever the case, I prefer to believe both breweries are laid-back and allow the other to continue operations unobstructed because, though faced with the contrary every day, I still believe in the existence of human decency.

Inside Trinity

Trinity Brewhouse is located on a corner storefront near downtown and derives its name from the Trinity Square neighborhood in which it resides (Trinity Square?  Oxymoronic much?).  The place gives off a vague Boulder-on-the-water vibe; crunchy, hippie bumper stickers plastered about, colorful and carnival-esque artwork, and a general aura exuding an eco-friendly, socially-liberal mindset.  Yep, that sounds like Boulder, except Trinity puts the nautical spin on it with their beer list painted on oars. 

We had a sample platter consisting of Kӧlsch (3.5% ABV), IPA (7.4% ABV), Tommy’s Red (4.5% ABV), Belgian Saison (4% ABV), Belgian Strawberry (11% ABV), and Larkin’s Irish Stout (4.5% ABV).  Call me a sissy if you want but the strawberry beer was the best of the platter; it’s subtle on the titular fruit and big on Belgian yeasty goodness.  Heck, it’s 11% ABV so, really, it was the manliest beer there!  Tommy’s was also semi-memorable for its pronounced hop flavor among balancing malts.

Excuse my dopey look at Trinity

After Trinity, we kept on our route and camped in our fifth state of the day: Massachusetts.  I swear to you, we will eventually get to a point in these posts where we’ll talk about the actual Beer Bloggers Conference.  We’re just not at that point.  



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