drink local

This post was written on 2015-10-12 and revised, updated, and published on 2016-08-12. It’s sort of disjointed even though I already split it up into two separate posts, but I just wanted to be done with it, so I clicked publish.

Drinking local beverages, whether that be coffee, tea, soda, beer, wine, or liquors, is an extension of the recently popularized “eat local” movement. To people just a few generations ago, this idea would have been common sense, but capitalism and some wars and insane advertising happened and for several decades Americans have had options limited by just a few major producers with limited offerings and mediocre quality. Many local producers had to close up shop because they couldn’t match the prices of mass producers or meet the crazy regulations placed on them by the government.

The eating and drinking local movement has become popular again recently because, in my opinion, it is a way to support local artisans, businesses, and chefs. Supporting local shops has become a more normal thing to do and people have started to understand that it helps everyone involved and cycles money back into their own families and businesses, encourages diversity, strengthens the community, and is more sustainable (see this Time article or this Huffington Post article to learn more). People enjoy creating something unique and doing it for their own community and sharing it with their friends and neighbors. These products combine local ingredients, history, and names, are often higher quality than mass produced products, and are a reason to be proud of your local community.

Local craft breweries have been opening up all over the area and it’s really exciting to me. Within 10-15 miles there are several establishments that I can drive to for a good meal with delicious food and fresh beer. I can bring home a growler or stay a few hours to see local original music. It’s one of my favorite things. There are also local distilleries and meaderies and wineries and cideries and coffee roasters that are passionate about what they produce and are eager to share what they do with anyone who is interested.

Recently someone in my life asked what I was doing that weekend and I responded that I was attending a craft beer festival (Cheesetoberfest). That person then asked me what craft beer was. I did not know how to respond. It took me by surprise and it’s something that I thought every adult who isn’t living under an actual rock knows about.

One of the hardest things that I have learned about becoming an adult is realizing that not everyone in my life has had the same privileges or experiences. It’s weird to say, but craft beer and purchasing/drinking local is something that I am excited about. Not everyone understands this or understands how to brew beer or taste beer, but everyone can enjoy beer. It just takes time to communicate with people who may have a completely different perception of what beer is. Once someone can understand that and taste a style of beer that they enjoy, I feel like they get it. There is more out there than just American adjunct light lager.

The craft beer industry is complicated. I’ll eventually follow this up with a post about my thoughts on macro beer monopolies and craft beer ownership, but for now I’ll just say that you should know who makes the beer that you drink. Many local breweries make great beer, and we should be proud of that. Here is a map to show you where the closest brewery to your location in the USA.

Also, here is a photo of me and my wife at Cheesetoberfest, an excellent event run by Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company in Dover, DE:

Badgerbrews

At the start of 2016 I started a new Instagram account called Badgerbrews. I have debated about whether or not to start a separate blog for beer and brewing related posts and I have decided for now to just keep all of my content in one place here on this site. I keep going back and forth about whether that is a good choice, but it is just easier for me to use a single site. I’ll put a link to this “Beer & Brewing” category in that Instagram profile link so that only the beer posts show up for visitors from that source.

This is my journey through the world of fermented craft & homebrew beverages. Some of the content will be about commercial beers and breweries, some of it will be me homebrewing beverages, and other posts will be about other vineyards, distilleries, meaderies, cideries, and fermented beverages that I can find.

I plan to expand on some of the stories and posts that I upload to Instagram here on this blog.

Most likely I will use this as sort of a brew log with photos and recipes and processes and measurements from each batch which I will slowly upload over time. In 2015 I was trying to brew 100 gallons, for no specific reason other than that I thought that I could hit that threshold. I ended up brewing 21 batches (totalling 83.4 gallons) of beer that year, which taught me a ton about brewing processes, ingredients, & sanitization. Most of those batches were either for sharing with friends at Firefly music festival, for entering in the state fair homebrew competition (my Peach IPA won 2nd place in the Delaware ingredient category), and for our wedding, where we had 8 different homebrews + a homebrew cider + a homebrew wine.

Lots of batches fermenting and waiting to be bottled:

In 2016 I have not brewed as much, but when the summer heat starts to die down I’m sure I’ll start brewing more. I have a few new ideas for some fall and winter beers.

road-trip! (or, a 6-day beer tour)

I recently completed a 6-day voyage across/around/up/down the area known as New England. I don’t really know what was so bad about the old England that they had to make this New England, but she is very beautiful, so I will accept it for what it is. We went in with no real plans, but had so much fun. Things Cara and I learned:

  • no weigh station in north america is open.
  • hidden driveways are always visible.
  • shouting “green means go!” every time the ez-pass light or red light changes to green will never cease to amuse me.
  • hiding under a towel to block reflections on your laptop screen is very effective.
  • Quebec has close to nothing in English.
  • Quebec-type Canadians don’t say “Eh.”
  • Quebec-type Asian-Canadians speak French!
  • driving like you’re from Jersey is fun.
  • Bronx pizza is amazing.
  • Canadian accents > Boston accents > Bronx accents
  • home is nice.
  • beds are nice.

Stories.

Nomnom. Left Newark Monday morning and headed to Connecticut to meet our friend Elizabeth and go to a grocery store. What?

Yes, we were tourists in a grocery store. Stew Leonard‘s is the largest dairy store in the world (arguably). They had lots of animatronics and the whole store was a continuous maze instead of separate aisles. They had delicious free samples everywhere and an incredible variety of any food you could want in the buffet at the end. So exciting ^_^ Got to tour Elizabeth’s beautiful house and meet her parents, then headed northesternly towards the coast. Arrived in Boston, reserved a spot at the open mic at the Cantab Lounge, found a hotel, and headed back to play the open mic. So much fun.

Tuesday we toured the Sam Adams brewery (which was incredible) and ate delicious Irish food and walked wherever we wanted downtown. Then we couched it in Cara’s roommate’s brother Brian’s house next to Boston College yay.

We babysat their son Wednesday morning so that Brian could get some research done and then we headed through Salem (witch hunting) towards Portland, Maine. We set up camp and it looked windy and threateningly rainy, but we headed into town anyway. Played at the Dogfish Bar and Grill open mic (extremely well run and recorded and only one homeless man bothered us) and looked around the city some. Our campsite was on a lake so it was amazing and we cooked s’mores and nommed and there was no rain.

From there we trecked northwest through New Hampshire and Vermont. All the road signs were bilingual, so we expected the transition into French Canada to go smoothly – as soon as we crossed the border, everything was foreign. Completely French. I do not speak or read or care to understand French. Cara knows enough, so we found a bank and converted money and asked Ben to text us a campsite to set up at and we journeyed towards it with a Garmin that pronounces French words about as well as a three year-old Eskimo. Anyway, the deskgirl hostess was really cute and spoke English and we got a campsite, set up, cooked American hot dogs on the fire, and drove into Montreal. I managed to locate the most expensive parking lot in the city, but we didn’t know any better. Walked around the historic areas, through some college campuses, trying to find some Asians speaking French. Success! Then I tried to creepily make us follow college agers so that we could find somewhere to hang out, but they were boring. Most of the bars were fancy and upscale, so we located a sportsbar microbrewery place that looked safe. The hostess said something in French and I said “can we sit at the bar?” Stupid Americans. She understood though and the bartender gave us menus in English ^_^ Their grapefruity seasonal brew was delicious. Cooked more s’mores at camp and slept on Canadian ground.

Friday we packed up and headed towards New York – we crossed at an extremely small border town and got detained, searched, and questioned! That sounds more exciting than it was, but supposedly it was just a normal random inspection. I told them we had no weapons and then the camp hatchet was the first thing they saw in the trunk lols. Anyway, we drove into Vermont eventually, toured Magic Hat (nomnom), and found our friend Kelsey‘s museum. I had neglected to research what this Shelburne Museum was, so I was expecting boring old paintings in a single building. This place was incredible. She got us through the gates with fancy employee guest passes and then she showed us around – there are many many acres of 39 historic buildings, 25 of which had been brought there from far away places. There was a 220-foot steamship chilling in a valley nowhere near water. There was a fully operational printing press, and circus poster exhibits, and old fancy guns, and 3D paper art, and historic merry-go-round horses with original paint…it was amazing. I wish we had had more time there to look around. Kelsey got off work and we drove the scenic route to her apartment in downtown Burlington and unloaded and got changed and walked to Bueno y Sano, which had incredible quesadillas. Then we went to the Champlain Valley Expo and saw The Avett Brothers (the John Oates band opened up). They were so good. I was really happy. Kelsey was much happier. Cara was happy too but not feeling well. Anyway, it was impressive and the Asian cellist was fiddling and it was a ton of fun. Traffic leaving the show wasn’t bad, but I still wish we had a hovercraft. Slept on couches and air mattresses yay.

We woke up and went to the Burlington Farmer’s Market for breakfast and watched the babies play in the fountain and walked around all the vendors. Got some delicious maple “creemies” (soft serve ice cream) and walked down to Lake Champlain (which you can see from Kelsey’s house yay). Fun times. Got on the road by noon and met Denise in the Bronx around 6 for pizza dinner then drove back to Delaware to drop off Cara and then drop off Michael. So much epicness. So much driving. So much memories. So much food. So much awesome.

Beer.

We aren’t alcoholics, but we did want to tour lots of breweries and taste everything yay

 

Sam Adams!
Monday, Cantab Lounge in Cambridge, MA
Sam Adams Summer Ales
Tuesday, Sam Adams Brewery in Boston, MA (their tour was an hour of amazingness)
Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Samuel Adams Summer Ale
Samuel Adams Wee Heavy
Wednesday, Dogfish Bar and Grill in Portland, ME
Smutty Nose Shoals Pale Ales
Thursday, Les 3 Brasseurs in Montreal, QC, CA
Les 3 Brasseurs Summer Ale
Les 3 Brasseurs Amber Passion
Friday, Magic Hat in Burlington, VT
Magic Hat Wacko Summer Ale
Magic Hat #9 Not Quite Pale Ale
Magic Hat Circus Boy Hefeweizen
Saturday
12 hours of driving back to Newark, DE to enjoy my favorite Yuengeling Lager

It was such a fun trip.

Thiles
The real reason that I went to Boston – to pick up one of these very limited edition three color 7″ “Man in the Middle” singles that Chris Thile and Michael Daves released a few days beforehand ^_^

Me and Cara!
Me and Cara with Canada hats!

 

We saw the Avett Brothers in Vermont – they were absolutely amazing. This is during one of the last songs where it was just the two brothers screaming <3