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Craft Beer Tour 2017: Arizona

These photos were taken Tuesday, October 24 at Saddle Mountain Brewing Company in Goodyear, and Prison Hill Brewing Company in Yuma, Arizona.

When I woke up Tuesday in Las Cruces, I had one goal and that was to make it to Yuma by the end of the day. It was going to require close to 600 miles of driving, but with Arizona’s speed limits and the fact that I was going to gain another hour as soon as I hit the Arizona border, it was definitely doable. I had thought about stopping in Tucson but I received a text informing me some friends were in the Phoenix area, so I looked for something a little closer for them. I recalled that Saddle Mountain Brewing won gold at GABF, and they were close to I-10, so we made plans to meet at Saddle Mountain.

Saddle Mountain Brewing is a brewpub that opened in late 2014; I actually visited them once before in April 2016. They took gold at GABF this year for their Clan Destine Scottish Ale, so I was looking forward to experiencing Saddle Mountain 18 months later. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tour 2017: New Mexico

Leaving El Paso, I headed west for about an hour to Las Cruces, New Mexico which was a planned stop for the day. I was aware of three craft breweries in Las Cruces, but as it was Monday, one was closed; I chose High Desert Brewing because it was the closest to my motel.

High Desert Brewing Company is a brewpub that has been open since July of 1997 and is apparently the second oldest brewery in New Mexico. Everything they brew is done in small batches of about 100 gallons each. Apparently they brew 27 different beers; on the night of my visit they had 11 available as well as their root beer.

While being shown around the brewhouse, I was told that High Desert Brewing never had any aspirations of becoming bigger than they are; they always just wanted to be a simple, local spot for craft beer and food lovers. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tour 2017: Ohio

When I left off; my Craft Beer Tour 2017 was leaving the Grand Rapids area and honestly, I was not sure which way I wanted to go. As I saw it, I had two ways I could venture. On the one hand, I have had very little time in New England and the leaves were beginning to change colors, so that would be cool. On the other hand, I knew I was going to head down to the Carolinas, so New England would add another couple thousand miles to my trip. I would have been okay with that, but literally everywhere I went saw their weather worsen with my arrival!

I am not kidding, every evening I would get an alert on my phone that the weather would be anywhere from 10 to 20 degrees cooler the next day. I had people in North Carolina suggest I was Old Man Winter; relatives in South Carolina apologized for not having enough blankets, because “it never gets this cold.” I even heard the Dallas-Fort Worth weatherman say that they may have just experienced their last hot day of the year. Heck, even when I got home it was 102 at 2:00 PM; 24 hours later it was 73. I was getting a little paranoid as I had not really packed for inclement weather. I decided I could not risk the weather in New England and decided to head south instead. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tour 2017: West Michigan

These photos are of the breweries I visited in Michigan; in order, they were Founders Brewing (two visits), Bell’s Brewery, New Holland Brewing, Our Brewing, Rockford Brewing, Perrin Brewing, Elk Brewing, and Greyline Brewing Company.

After driving back and forth between Grand Rapids and Detroit, in the pouring rain, and another four hours of technical work, I was ready for Craft Beer Tour 2017 to get back on course. First stop would be the Founders Brewing taproom.

As we were pulling off the freeway it was easy to spot the huge red brick building with “Founders Brewing” emblazoned with yellow letters. As we were parking I could not but help notice the fermenters in the windows; they appeared to be three stories tall, but I could not see clearly enough to see where their feet were. I hoped I would have a good view of the brewhouse, because it looked a little too busy for me to ask for a quick personal tour like I do at the smaller breweries. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tour 2017: Iowa and Indiana

By the time I finished exploring the craft breweries in Nebraska, it was getting late Monday afternoon and I had an appointment in Detroit on Wednesday morning, so the road trip of my Craft Beer Tour 2017 suddenly became a drive; which is not nearly as much fun. It did not help that as I continued eastbound, I would lose another hour before I hit Michigan. Anyway, enough complaining.

Exiting Nebraska, I entered Iowa. I drove through Iowa last year and was tempted to divert to Salon and Big Grove Brewery, but I also wanted to go up to Toppling Goliath; but the time thing was becoming an issue. I decided to power through Iowa, because there was a brewery in Indiana that I was stopping at, no matter what. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tour 2017: Nebraska

When the Brewers Association offered me the opportunity to cover the 2017 Great American Beer Festival I decided that I would use the opportunity to visit some of my siblings and perhaps enjoy some craft beer along the way. These photos were taken at Blue Blood Brewing, Zipline Brewing, Upstream Brewing, and Kros Strain Brewing. Continue reading

The Road to GABF: Day One

Thanks to the Brewers Association, I am attending my first Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver, Colorado. As I have recently become the patriarch of my family, I decided that I would drive to Denver so I could use it as my jumping off point for my Craft Beer Tour 2017.

I left Monday morning, but got a later than planned start, which ended up messing with my scheduled craft beer stops; those being Zion Brewery and Moab Brewery. Because of my late start, Zion ended up being too far off I-15 for me to make the detour. After that, there just was nothing along the way in Utah. My advice is that if you are traveling through southern Utah, bring some craft beer with you; the drive is beautiful, but dry.

So, while the title of this article is The Road to GABF: Day One, the photos do not really begin until Tuesday, when I arrived in Grand Junction, Colorado and visited Kannah Creek Brewing Company. Continue reading

Yorkshire Square Brewery Ribbon Cutting

If it seemed a little overcast and drizzly Saturday afternoon, it was most likely because Yorkshire Square Brewery held their ribbon cutting and grand opening and along with the genuine English-style cask ales, they also furnished us with some authentic English-style weather.

No matter the weather, friends, family and craft beer aficionados were gathering outside in the Yorkshire Square parking lot for up to a half hour before opening time, anxiously awaiting a pour of their first authentic English pint in the South Bay.

The ribbon cutting was attended by Torrance Mayor Pat Furey, and city council members Mike Griffiths and Kurt Weideman; who presented Yorkshire Square with a Certificate of Recognition . . . and noted that Yorkshire Square is the 10th brewery for the City of Torrance (11th if you count Zymurgy) Continue reading

Yorkshire Square Brewery: From the Beginning

A Yorkshire Square vessel is a two-story brewing system consisting of a shallow chamber approximately two meters high, above which is a walled deck. Cooled wort, the liquid extracted from malted barley, is fermented in the lower chamber, while the yeasty head settles on the deck above.

So, what I learned was that Yorkshire Square was not a place in England, former home of Yorkshire Square Brewery founder, Gary Croft, but rather a brewing system popular in the northern portion of England. Croft informed me that there are no Yorkshire Square fermenters in the US, but he is going to do his best to change that before too long. In the meantime, he is happy to announce that the Yorkshire Square Brewery in Torrance is now brewing beer, and they will be having their soft open beginning Wednesday, April 19 at 5:00 PM. Continue reading

DBA Turns 21 Beer Dinner at The Propagator

In March of 1996, the fledgling Firestone Walker Brewing Company out of Paso Robles, California released their first beer; DBA British Pale Ale. Thursday evening, 30 or 40 Firestone Walker fans met at Firestone Walker’s newest location, The Propagator, in Marina del Rey to celebrate DBA becoming of age, at the DBA Turns 21 beer dinner, hosted by Firestone Walkers first employee, Jeffers Richardson.

While we enjoyed a pour of Schwarzbier, a roasty German style black lager which was brewed at The Propagator by Ben Maushardt, Jeffers told us about the early days at Firestone Walker; go back as far as his initial job interview which involved babysitting a 5 year-old.

DBA, Double Barrel Ale, is often credit to being developed by Jeffers, but he gives full credit to Adam Firestone and David Walker as it was only because of their insistence that the beer be fermented using oak and stainless barrels, then blending them. It was obviously a great idea, and DBA has become not only a flagship brew for them, but it is also the base for several of their other beers. This beer dinner would celebrate the many uses of DBA as well as the beer itself. Continue reading

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