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Craft Beer Tour 2016

A Visit to Mother Road Brewing & Flagstaff Brewing Company – Flagstaff, AZ

After being fooled by Google in Gallup, New Mexico we got back on I-40 and continued west on our Craft Beer Tour 2016.

While there are plenty of new craft breweries in the southern half of Arizona, the same cannot be said for northern Arizona; at least until you hit Flagstaff. We saw one brewery pop up online, but that was after we had passed it; lack of an Internet signal certainly did not help much.

As we approached Flagstaff I knew there were several breweries there that I had yet to try. I had visited Beaver Street Brewery several times over the years, and Lumberyard Brewing Company a couple times, so I knew I wanted something different; I set my GPS for Mother Road Brewing Company, and I am really glad I did. Continue reading

Quarter Celtic Brewpub – Albuquerque New Mexico

As our Craft Beer Tour 2016 continued west on I-40 from Big Texan Brewery in Amarillo we entered New Mexico and a few hours later we found ourselves in Albuquerque. As this would be our stop for the evening, I looked around Google for food and craft beer and came upon Quarter Celtic Brewpub.

I was not sure what to expect at an Irish sounding brewpub located in New Mexico, but as soon as we walked in I could not help but notice all the family crests hanging on the wall that seemed to imply that there were at least a few people of Irish descent that lived there.

Finding Quarter Celtic took a little bit of effort and it probably helps to know where to look since apparently they are the only brewery in New Mexico with underground parking. You will not see it from the street, so when you find the Ace Hardware Store, look for the underground parking structure. With the extreme weather they have in New Mexico, I am sure the residents love it. Continue reading

Big Texan Brewery – Truly handcrafted beer

If you have driven through the Texas panhandle on I-40 around Amarillo in the last 40 years; you have undoubtedly seen the billboards for the Big Texan Steak Ranch. They are pretty tough to miss with their promise of a free 72oz steak. I have seen them several times over the years, but this time there was a sign next to the steak offering that suggested they had a brewery there. I decided that I would stop at the Big Texan for the first time.

Let there be no mistake, the Big Texan Ranch complex, complete with motels, is a tourist stop; it is meant to break up the monotony of the drive. I got the impression that there were several people that stopped with the intention of eating a 75oz steak dinner within an hour, but there was also a shooting gallery, an ice cream and candy store; and now there was a bar offering 11 beers, crafted on site.

When we ordered our flight I told our beertender about our tour and she immediately nodded over to a gentleman to her right; “You want to talk to him; he is the brewer.” Continue reading

Belle Isle Brewery – Oklahoma City Brewpub

As our Craft Beer Tour 2016 continued west on I-44 from Missouri we entered Oklahoma, which presented its own set of issues; not the least of which was availability.

When we left Missouri I had been informed about a bottle release that was happening at a brewery in Tulsa. Unfortunately, the brewery did not have food and they would have closed within an hour or two of our arrival. While I did not really care about food, Tanya did so we would wait until we could find a brewpub. Tulsa was having its own social issues so we decided to continue west to Oklahoma City where we found Belle Isle Restaurant & Brewery. When I say we “found” Belle Isle, do not take that too lightly as it does seem rather hidden since most of the signage was blocked by trees; at least from the street view. It probably helps to know it is there. Continue reading

Missouri Craft Beer on I-44

This portion of our Craft Beer Tour 2016 will be eastbound; beginning in Missouri and ending in Arizona. All of the Missouri portion can be found along I-44.

While it has been five years since the last time I drove along I-44, I seem to have driven this route more than anyone I know. The only reason I mention this is because I have driven through St. James, Missouri many times; so much so that I am readily familiar with some of the billboards you will see along the way. One of those billboards is for St. James Winery; so imagine my surprise when I saw an attachment to the winery’s billboard that suggested there might be a brewery now associated with the winery. Our first stop in Missouri would be Public House Brewing Company, which is located right next door to St. James Winery. Continue reading

Indiana Craft Beer: From North to South

If you have been following along you will recall that Craft Beer Tour 2016 technically began after visiting my buddy George in Reno, Nevada. It was there that I asked Tanya if she wanted to visit her family in Indiana; if she had not been up for it, my backup plan was to head to the Portland, Oregon area. When she said she wanted to go to Indiana, the only brewery that was a planned destination was Three Floyds Brewing in Munster. We have both been there numerous times; and while the rest of the trip would concentrate on visiting places I never heard of, there was no way I was going to northwest Indiana without another stop at Three Floyds.

I remember it was around 2:00 PM on Sunday afternoon at Big Grove Brewery when I told Big Grove managing partner Doug Goettsch and Tanya that we would be having dinner at Three Floyds Brewpub that evening. Goettsch reminded me that it was still another three or four hours to Munster; but as they would be open until 11:15 PM this would not be a problem; or so I thought. Continue reading

Iowa Craft Beer: Granite City and Big Grove Brewery

After having lunch in Lincoln, Nebraska we found our way back to I-80 and set our sights on Des Moines, Iowa.

I am not entirely sure how Granite City Food & Brewery got the nod for our final destination of the evening as in retrospect there seems to be a lot happening there; I suspect because it was the closest brewpub to the interstate, it was getting late and Tanya was hungry. Whatever the reason, it was a good stop.

The Granite City Food & Brewery location we stopped at was in the Clive section of Des Moines; I am still not exactly sure what that means, but if you are in Des Moines asking for directions, I am sure that will help out. Continue reading

North Platte Rail Days and Nebraska Craft Beer

If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times; timing is everything. It was Friday morning; day six of Craft Beer Tour 2016, day eight on the road and Tanya wanted Cracker Barrel. The closest one was pretty far out of the way and backtracking from whence we came; but it was what she wanted. The point being that we got a pretty late start out of Denver; and we were starting off deeper than when we had ended the prior day.

We took I-76 eastbound which landed us about 100 miles into Nebraska when it connected to I-80; Tanya was not having much luck finding anything around us on her iPhone, so I asked her to text a friend of mine that lives in northern Nebraska for some assistance. Cliff suggested we continue east to North Platte, where we would turn off and go down the road to Loop Brewing Company. Cliff knew nothing of the brewery, but it was the closest thing happening; so we headed that way. Continue reading

Visits to Fort Collins Brewery, Colorado Plus and Baere Brewing

When we left Laramie on Thursday morning we cut across the bottom eastern half of Wyoming to get to I-25 southbound towards Denver. Denver has plenty of craft beer and if I was not careful I could end up there for a few days; however, the real reason I even drove down there was to see family that live in the Denver area.

Since food was a pretty important concern, and it was already after noon, we set the GPS for Fort Collins Brewery & Tavern, a massive brewpub located in Fort Collins.

When I say it was massive, I mean it was probably bigger than anything we have in the South Bay area. When we were there they had 12 brews on tap; each of them pretty solid for their style for the most part. I don’t recall thinking the Apricot Sour Ale was very sour; while I did enjoy the Far Away IPA. Oh yeah; their Oktoberfest was pretty dead on.

As we were going to meet my brother and his wife in a few hours for dinner, we had their Grilled Indian Fry Bread as an appetizer to hold us over; it was pretty tasty. Continue reading

A Craft Beer Tour of Southern Wyoming

I have ridden along I-80 many times on my way to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally; so when we left Salt Lake City I already knew that we would spend the night in Evanston, Wyoming. I have stayed there many times in the past and was confident that with the craft beer explosion, Evanston had to have at least one brewery.

I was right, they had one; Suds Brothers Brewery which is a brewpub that has been open about seven years. Suds Brothers had seven brews on tap while we were there; with our favorites again leaning towards the lighter, more refreshing varieties like the Orange Honey Wheat, Kolsch and Misty Mountain IPA. The staff was quite friendly and the fried ravioli was pretty good; I wish there had been a meat filled version instead of just cheese, but Tanya really liked them.

Suds Brothers Brewery is located at 1012 Main Street in Evanston, Wyoming. Continue reading

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