Welcoming Fall with Craft Beer…. Gainesville Style (AKA – The Blarneyman Returns)

The last day of summer and the first day of fall have recently passed and we are now in the beginning of my favorite season of the year… Fall. The scorching heat of summer is gone and the cool breezes of the fall are here. Football season, both college and pro, are in full swing. Gainesville is hopping with the students back to school and the weekends with Gator home games are jam packed. This also is the time of year that begins a lot of traditional beerfests (Oktoberfest, etc.) as well as Tap Takeovers.

My beer sampling this last weekend actually started on Thursday after I finished work. I stopped at Lucky’s Market and found out they were having a beer sampling featuring Oskar Blues Brewing (Longmont, CO). I didn’t know that at first and followed my normal routine of stopping at the draft counter and supping a pint before I go grocery shopping.

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After I finished my pint of Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA (a nice hoppy beer) I wandered back toward the beer and wine section and was informed about the beer samples being offered. There were two young ladies there pouring free samples of the beers being featured at Lucky’s by Oskar Blues. I will tell you now that I have already had Dale’s Pale Ale and Little Yella Pils by them before and found them both enjoyable. So with the nice IPA I had sampled at the beer counter I was looking forward to the others.

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I asked for the G’Knight, an Imperial Red IPA first. Wow!!… This was a very good IPA. Nice and smooth with a hoppy flavor it is probably one of the best Imperial Red’s I have had to date. The next sample was Old Chub, a scotch ale. It was good but not as good as the G’Knight. I followed that up with the Ten FIDY, an American Imperial Stout, which was really smooth tasting. I liked it almost as much as the Imperial Red. To drive home the point of much I liked these, I grabbed a 4 pack of the Imperial Red and a mixed 12 containing the Pinner Throwback, Dale’s Pale Ale, Little Yella Pils and Old Chub. The young ladies serving samples tried talking me into wearing some swag they were giving away. It was basically an empty Pinner can fastened to a necklace of shiny plastic beads. I’m a 50 years old (+) man! Why would I wear such a ridiculous thing?!

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Because two pretty young ladies serving beer samples asked me to.

I continued my shopping for groceries and eventually made my way home as I knew the next day our brave band of beer bacchanalians were having a special visitor come into town…

The Blarneyman was returning!!!

Some of us had already discussed a general plan for the evening. We knew that both Gainesville House of Beer and BrassTap of Gainesville were having events we wanted to attend. So we decided to meet at House of Beer first and begin our Friday Happy Hour there. Why not start from a familiar launch pad. If you’ve been reading this blog then you know that I go there frequently. If you haven’t then shame on you, and get yourself down there.

By the time I got home from work, changed the dog and walked my clothes, cleaned up and made my way to HOB it was approaching 5PM. Everyone else coming that night was already there so I had some catching up to do. Rowdy and the Cooler made it. The Doctor was probably the first to arrive as he usually is, and Maestro had brought the Blarneyman with him. I said my howdy-do’s and decided to get my first beer of the evening. I wanted to start slow so I went with a very nice German lager, Ayinger Brauweisse.

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I also bought a pint for the Blarneyman (I don’t remember what he was drinking) as I had said I would before he came (Rule #67 of the Art of Beer (an upcoming series of Blogs) – “Never promise a pint to a man and leave him unfulfilled, as you create a thirsty enemy and create bad beer karma for yourself.”) Besides, the Blarneyman was kind enough to bring me a gift so I had to reciprocate.

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The back of a Guinness Tee that Blarneyman gave me.

I also went outside to the truck real quick and retrieved the swag the girls at Lucky’s asked to wear the day before and brought it in for Rowdy as she loves that stuff.

And so as the Philosphying began, we began talking with and amongst ourselves, you would here an occasional one liner that has background to it but the innuendo is much more interesting. For instance… “If you want to get a hotel and do something on Sunday…”, or there’s “We can do something Saturday too…” and of course there was “And the Doctor will be available…” and of course the infamous “…and he likes it sticky.” Have fun filling in the blanks yourself.

The Blarneyman took the time to introduce himself and the rest of us to a fixture at HOB, known simply among our group as Da Fadder. From what I know of him, this priestly fellow works at one of the local hospitals. Haven’t taken much time to do more than say hello to him occasionally but I have wanted to drag him into some conversations for no other reason than to get his take on different topics depending on the subject matter at hand.

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After a couple of rounds we decided to go refuel with solid fuel at Winghouse, then we would continue on to BrassTap. Rowdy and the Cooler headed home as they were leaving early for an out of town trip. I followed the Maestro to his house where he dropped his car off and he, the Blarneyman and I continued on and met the Doctor at the parking lot near BrassTap. From there we walked just down the street to Winghouse. The Blarneyman hadn’t been there before and the Doctor and I were old hats at the place so we were happy to introduce him to it. If you read this blog then you’ve read my previous review of it. If you haven’t read it then do so, or better yet head there yourself. The beer is good the wings are hot and the girls are both. 😉 One of my former Air Force buddies asked if this was Hooters South, which is funny because Hooters started in Florida in Clearwater and you can’t get a whole lot further south than that.

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We ordered the Swamp Head Stump Knocker for drinking and I ordered the Sampler platter for my meal. This has two thin hamburger sliders, five wings and five boneless wings with whatever sauces you like (for me that is the Garlic Parmesan and Extreme mixed). We enjoyed the meal, the scenery and the sports on the various TVs. And when we finished we walked down the street to BrassTap.

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If you’ve been reading this blog, you should have also seen one or two reviews involving the BrassTap. If you haven’t read them, again… SHAME ON YOU! …and get yourself down there! I can tell you honestly that it was SRO that evening (for you younger kids out there SRO is old guy talk for Standing Room Only). Luckily the folks there know us pretty well and the Doctor was able to find a spot at the bar where we could put our orders in. Did I mention that this was a Swamp Head Tap Takeover that night? No, I guess I didn’t. Of the 60 taps they have, 35 of them were all different Swamp Head brews. And they had a great selection to choose from. Allen and Brad and the rest of the folks there had their hands full but they were getting it done.

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My first beer there was also my first Pumpkin beer of the year, Swamp Head’s Pumpkin Spice Latte, which I thought was pretty good and reminded me of pumpkin pie. After a bit I switched to a Swamp Head Strawberry Vanilla Cream Ale.

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While we were supping our first round of suds, I saw the band starting to set up. I remember seeing something about an Irish band playing, and I didn’t recognize one of the instruments so I walked up and asked what it was.

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The red-haired lass who responded, who I would later find out was named Victoria Van Arnam, told me it was a dulcimer, which I then recognized as I was close enough to see it better. What I had never seen before were the tiny and delicate hammers she would later use to play the instrument. The gent who played with her, Jason Catron, played a variety of instruments and provided the vocals. They played a variety of classic Irish folk tunes and it wasn’t long before a lot of patrons were joining them. The name of their duo is Jig to a Milestone and if you ever have the opportunity to see them I highly recommend doing so.

Shortly after I finished talking to the musicians, one our merry band spotted an open table which we quickly snagged. We ordered another round of beers and began Philosophying in earnest. This was also refered to throughout the evening as” networking” and “building bridges”. I prefer “Philosophying” but to each his or her own. I also know that it wasn’t long before we were joining in with the musicians depending on the Irish tune they were playing.

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I finished the evening with a nice smooth stout that I let the bartender pick out for me. Luckily he knows what he is doing.

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All in all it was an excellent way to ring in the fall and start a weekend. I highly recommend it.

Papabear

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