"Beer in Colorado" is dedicated to that divine elixir born of the marriage of water, malt, hops, and yeast as interpreted
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attends beer festivals, tries interesting beers from around the world, and spreads the good word of beer. Prost!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Boston Beer Bloggers Conference: Part 4

The day had come; Nicole and I finally arrived in Massachusetts—the host state of the Beer Bloggers Conference!  We were, however, a few days early and, although we’d yet to officially enter Boston, the state’s so miniscule one could throw a rock across it and hit Maine; everywhere in Massachusetts is near everywhere else in Massachusetts (for perspective, about 12.6 Massachusettses, with a little finagling of the borders, would fit inside one Colorado).  Thus, while we were adjacent to our destination, it made no sense to complete the trip because the hotel room wasn’t yet ready.  Therefore, we camped just south of Beantown in the suburb of Hingham.

Hingham and the surrounding area mirrors our collective assumptions of the quintessential New England town: colonial-style houses, shingle-sided seaside shacks, and roads that zig, zag, loop around, and shoot off in all directions as if the city planners had no concept of a grid.  Then again, with the town being incorporated before America was even a country (1635), the founders probably didn’t have automobiles in mind when they laid out the map; that spaghetti bowl of streets would be easier to navigate if traveling at carriage speeds.      

Inside Sea dog
We made camp at Wompatuck State Park and piled back in the car to search for beer in Hull, a neighboring town.  Hull is, in a word, quaint.  Located on a little spit of land jutting into the Atlantic, Hull’s a little beach town rife with seaside shops and restaurants and, to accentuate the wholesomeness, a carousel.  In many ways, Hull is reminiscent of Amity Island in Jaws sans (I hope) man-eating shark.

Our destination in Hull:  Sea Dog Brewing Co.—sort of.  Actually, Sea Dog is based in Maine but they have several ancillary pubs along the eastern seaboard including, of course, one in Hull.  No actual brewing occurs on premise—to call it a brewery would be a misnomer—but they had beer and fantastic views as the building is perched alongside the shores of Sunset Bay Marina.  If ever a rooftop patio was appropriate, it was the one at Sea Dog.

Patio at Sea Dog (and a little girl photo-bombing my picture)
TANGENT #1: I’m what seasoned sailors call a “land lubber.”  I’m more appreciative of mountains-and-canyons; the open seas do not beckon.  From an evolutionary stance, it’s a reasonable opinion—humans lack gills and Michael Phelps is an inefficient swimmer compared to even the most awkward of fish.  We weren’t designed for water and those who seek the ocean are, I believe, actively fighting Mother Nature’s intentions (similarly, beer geeks and our IPAs; bitterness is innately hardwired into our brains to indicate poison.  Nonetheless, we’ve managed to override the alarm system and can now happily drink hoppy ales without fear).  Besides that, the ocean is boring.  It looks the same no matter where you go.  I can’t be convinced that, if one removed all land-based clues (flora, fauna, culture, terrain), anybody could distinguish Atlantic from Pacific.  Topography, on the other hand, is always unique.  Each peak and valley has an appearance and spirit all its own.  Water is a fantastic accompaniment to land—a rive cutting through a gorge, an alpine tarn—but the show-stopper is always the terrain (tourists visit northern Arizona to see the Grand Canyon, not the Colorado River and Crater Lake is only cool because, hey, it’s in a crater).  Also, salt water irritates my skin.  No, I’m quite content in the continental interior.  All that said, however, when I gazed with all due serenity upon Quincy Bay, at the sailboat masts bobbing languidly against a dusky sky, I understood, on a certain level, why some folks are called to the coast.  END TANGENT.    
Old East India Pale Ale

Whilst enjoying the awe-inspiring seascape, Nicole and I did what every visitor to Massachusetts does and ordered clam chowder (as though our pronunciation of the letter r didn’t already alert locals to our touristy status) and, less indicative of out-of-town behavior, drank Old East India Pale Ale, an English-style IPA.  Like the English themselves, this style of beer is more polite and subdued than its American counterpart making for a beer that’s more herbal and floral than face-smackingly bitter. 

TANGENT #2: does anybody else find it curious that the Northeast—the heart of the American Revolution—typically brews in the same vein as their former overlords while the West—not even American territory in 1776—is more apt to make beer that truly rebels against traditional British ales?  I would think the colonists, with their newfound independence, would want to immediately distance themselves from anything relating to their oppressors.  I suppose when one is putting together a country one doesn’t necessarily have time to dabble in new styles of beer.  END TANGENT.

We slept for the night and, at long last, drove to Boston the next morning!  We checked into our hotel but, since we were a day early for the conference, we had time to kill.  We dumped our luggage in the room and ventured out into the city.

Whenever we mention our visit to Boston, the inevitable question is “Did you walk the Freedom Trail?”  Yes, we did—in a way.  The Freedom Trail is a meandering squiggle of a line and any aimless Boston wanderer (e.g. Nicole and I) will inexorably find themselves on that iconic two-brick-wide path.  We saw Old Ironsides, we saw Old North Church, we saw a bunch of cemeteries and more and more churches; we pretty much saw it all (including a place that’s not yet on the list of historical must-sees but a place that, to me as a runner, should be sanctified as a monument of silent reflection: the site of the Boston Marathon Bombing). 

Marathon bombing memorial
After sight-seeing, an internal alarm clock rang in my head and stomach—time for a beer!  Cambridge Brewing Co., suggested to me by a Twitter friend, didn’t look far on the map and, really, it wasn’t; it was a relatively easy walk.  However, with a storm rolling in and rain falling in curtains, that short jaunt seemed an endless, grueling excursion.  Oh, we remained fairly dry hopping to and from storefront overhangs and trees but crossing the Longfellow Bridge—1,767’ of absolutely no shelter—soaked us all the way through.

It doesn't look too bad in this picture but, trust me, it was a deluge
Dripping like a St. Bernard’s jowls, we made it to Kendall Square, walked into Cambridge Brewing, and took a seat.  You cannot begin to imagine our relief!  After that unpleasant stroll, we both needed and deserved a bite and a beer at the self-claimed “one of the nations (sic) first [brewpubs].”  I ordered the pale, hazy yellow Jack Straw (4.2% ABV), an American wild ale with enough summery, tart refreshment that I almost forgot how miserable it was outside. 

Inside Cambridge Brewing

Brewing equipment behind the bar at Cambridge Brewing
Unfortunately, the rain did not stop.  Doubly-unfortunate, we had tickets to a Red Sox game (that game was postponed to a later date; a date when we would have already left Boston).  I’m no fan of Boston professional sports but Nicole is a fan of baseball in general, regardless of team, and was quite disappointed that we’d traveled so far only to miss our opportunity to catch a game at The Green Monster.  Lemon juice in the wounds: the rain let up shortly after the postponement was announced.  I guess we’ll have to come back some day; Fenway Park is over 100 years old, I’m sure it will still be there long enough for us to visit again.
Jack Straw

After leaving the ballpark—heads hung in defeat—we dropped into a local Irish pub (as is customary when in Boston) and had a beer.  We only had one beer, though, because tomorrow was a big day.  Tomorrow was the official start of the Beer Bloggers Conference—when the real fun started. 



The highlight of my summer had finally arrived, the Beer Bloggers Conference in Boston!  I’d never visited Boston before and was very excited about attending a game at Fenway Park.  Fenway isn’t just any baseball stadium, it holds so much baseball history.

Before heading to the game, we wandered around the city and took in the sites of where American history was made.  As game time neared, the clouds rolled in.  Of course, I packed a rain coat but I left it in the car which was valet parked somewhere in the city.  It was only a two mile walk to our dinner at Cambridge Brewing but two miles in the rain is definitely a miserable experience.  After dinner, we continued our soggy trudge to Fenway.  My first stop was the team shop to buy a dry shirt and then we made our way to our seats.  To our relief, they were in a covered section. After sitting for about an hour, the game was called due to weather.  I was pretty upset that I traveled all the way from Colorado and I didn’t get to see a game at Fenway.

The next morning, we continued our exploration of the city (with my newly purchased umbrella in hand).  We took the subway to UMass Boston and visited the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum which was featuring a temporary exhibit on the Bay of Pigs invasion. After the museum, we went in search of local Boston lunch fare and found it at the Beantown Pub where we ordered the quintessential Boston baked beans.  After lunch, we had a few hours to relax but then the conference started and relaxation became a thing of the past.


It aint the mountains but it aint bad; the view from Sea Dog
You can see the Boston skyline from Sea Dog
Fenway Park

The Green Monstah

Hey, look; a Bull & Bush Brewery sticker on a Massachusetts car! The owner was walking up to his car when I took this picture.  We talked briefly of Great American Beer Festival (which is how he knew of B&B).


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