Happy Hour with a Southern Charm ;)


Southern Charm

Happy Hour this last Friday started as usual with a text coming from the ether suggesting we start by meeting at Tall Paul’s downtown. It was Maestro who sent it and he suggested meeting around 4:30. You may have seen me mention Tall Paul’s before in another blog post. Their micro-brewery (Alligator Brewing) is one of the first micro-breweries in Gainesville and is located in the center of downtown. Tall Paul’s is the bar where the micro-brewery is located and is a hot spot for a lot of folks who visit downtown at night. They will frequently feature live local bands on the weekends.


I didn’t get there until closer to 5. The Maestro already had a draft sitting in front of him and greeted me as I approached the bar. He was working on a Lagunitas Brewing “A Little Sumpin’ Extra Ale”. I looked over the list of available drafts and decided to go with one of their own microbrews, “Cantaloupe Smoke Habanero”. I could smell the habanero in the odor and there was a definite bite in the aftertaste. And the smoke flavor came through as well but the heat stood out for me. I liked this beer but it would not be for everyone… a point that was driven home later.


The Maestro and I caught up some. Then we heard from Rowdy and the Cooler saying they would join us in a bit. In the interim we finished the brews in front of us and ordered two others. Maestro ordered a Sixpoint Brewing “Jammer” and I ordered an Angry Chair Brewing “Silver Alert”. Maestro was pleased with the Jammer. I was a little hesitant with the Silver Alert at first as the hops flavor was strong in both the tastes and smell, but after a bit it began to grow on me.


It wasn’t long before Rowdy and the Cooler showed up. I recommended the Cantaloupe Smoke Habanero to Rowdy because I knew she liked the pepper brewed beers we had at the Tampa beer fest. The Cooler either had a coke or a cider, I don’t remember. Mostly I don’t remember it because of the reaction that Rowdy had to the Habanero. This is a perfect example of how two separate sets of taste buds can taste the same thing in two different ways.

Rowdy took a sip, then made a face like she had swallowed an ashtray, and said something along the lines of “All I taste is smoke!”

“You don’t taste any of the habanero?” I asked.

“No all I taste is smoke!” she replied. For me the smoke flavor was subtle and the heat from the habanero stood, which I really enjoyed. For her the smoke was the main flavor and she didn’t like it. Rowdy is also not a big fan of stouts. Too many of them taste like coffee and nothing else to her. Whereas I enjoy stouts immensely and love working paste the coffee flavor to pick out the other subtler hints.

After a bit we all agreed that the bar was really too loud for us to easily philosophy with one another, so we decided to close our tabs and head over to House of Beer. Tall Paul’s is a great place for beers, they have some games you can enjoy and feature some good bands occasionally. But a great place for conversing it is not, especially as the night goes on.

When we got to HOB Rowdy had a Green Flash West Coast IPA, which she really likes, Maestro had a Green Flash Jibe Session IPA, which I think he thought was okay, and I had the 5 Lizard Latin Style Witbier by 5 Rabbit Cerveceria, which I had before but decided to rate higher in my Untappd app this time. We gather our brews, staked out a table and began our Philosophying in earnest now without distractions.


After a while we realized that between breaths of discussion we had supped our suds fairly dry and it was time to either retrieve more or move on. Someone suggested eating and I was in a mood to agree with that, as were the others. Maestro had an invite from some friends to join them at Wholly BBQ Café, just down the street. I was feelin’ like BBQ and Rowdy and the Cooler agreed. Maestro was open to suggestion and said if he didn’t like the suggestion he would join his friends for BBQ. I think the Cooler suggested Southern Charm (but it could have been Rowdy) and I said that I had never been there, which was true and kind of strange since I lived near there. So we decided on that. The Maestro passed but suggested the Pentecostal Chicken, then he left to join his friends at Wholly BBQ and the three of us made our way to Southern Charm.


I arrived first, and found a spot in the parking lot next to the building on Hawthorne Road. If you have ever driven by Southern Charm, like I do almost every day, then you have probably thought the building looks kind of small. It truth it doesn’t look much bigger when you pull into the parking lot and the limited spaces kind of cement that. But I looked around the building a bit before I went and saw that there was enough street parking as well to accommodate most of the patrons they could probably hold.

The building is basically rectangular in nature running parallel with Hawthorne Road, The parking lot in on the southeast end of the site and the entrance in on the northeast end. They have plenty of outdoor seating as well though no one was sitting outdoors that night. When you walk in the Cashier/Hostess/Wait Station is immediately on the left and the right wall (which is closest to Hawthorne Road) is lined with small four seater wooden tables. The whole dining area is maybe twenty feet by forty feet, with the entrance to the kitchen behind the cashier. There are more four seater tables along the back wall and a larger eight seater in the middle (or maybe that was two four seaters pushed together – didn’t look that close) and another round top table in the back (parking lot end) in front of where the restrooms are located. The décor is soft tones and comforting with a little tip of the hat to diner kitsch as well.

One of the staff members greeted me with a big smile and said she would seat me in a minute. I said that was fine as I was waiting for two more to join me. In about the time I said that she was walking around with a few menus and walking me toward a four-seater along the windows, which is actually where I would have picked to sit. She laid out three place settings and menus and a server would be with me shortly. While I waited I looked over the menu. It was a simple double-sided paper menu folded over as a handout, but it hand a nice front design and a lot to read (see pictures below).


A small group at a table left as I sat down, and it looked like a larger group had just sat at the table in the middle. Another group of four walked in after me and sat a table down from me along the windows. Finally, Rowdy and the Cooler walked in and sat down at our table. It was a few minutes later when the waitress came over and got a our drink order. When she brought those she got our food order. Rowdy went with the meatloaf and a couple of sides (I can’t remember which) and the Cooler went with the catfish and a couple sides. I had heard different recommendations from folks since this place had opened, but I have been wanting to try their Chicken and Waffles.

I know some folks think that is a weird combination but I can remember a visit to my grandma’s sister’s house when we were kids in Pennsylvania and served homemade chicken and waffles and it was one of the best meals I can remember ever having. I have been thinking about trying to remake it myself but just haven’t done it yet. The menu here described their Chicken and Waffles as their Pentecostal Chicken served over a buttered Belgian waffle with natural maple syrup. And since Maestro has suggested the Pentecostal Chicken it sounded like and even better idea. We put our order in and waited…

And waited…

And waited…

If anyone has been around Rowdy when she gets hungry you know that’s not a good idea. The Cooler lived up to his nickname and cooled her off a bit. He pointed out that an 8 top and another 4 top put their order in front of us. And too his point the kitchen didn’t look to be that big so I could see a bottle neck occurring if they got a lot of orders at once.

The food did arrive and the waitress apologized for the wait before it did get there. I didn’t really ask Rowdy and Cooler how their meals were as I was completely enraptured with mine (see pic below). The Pentecostal Chicken is similar to Pentecostal Chicken I have had before but with a little more zest in it. And it was served with a little bit of gravy on it. The waffle was perfect and went really well with the chicken especially with the syrup. Now a traditional Chicken and Waffles up north of the Mason Dixon line is pretty much fried chicken served on a waffle and dusted with powdered sugar.


My great-aunt’s, on the other hand, was a homemade waffle served with chicken in a white gravy poured over it. When I tell some folks about it they kind make a funny face, but the combination was delicious. Southern Charm’s version was almost the best of both worlds. It is definitely one of the tastiest dishes I have had in a while. I was definitely a member of the Clean Plate Club that evening. So was the Cooler. Rowdy ended up taking a to-go box because she couldn’t eat anymore.

We got our check and settled up. Other than the waiting period for our food to come out, I don’t have a complaint at all about Southern Charm. In fact I can’t wait to go back and try a different dish.

A little word of caution, the Chicken and Waffles may be a Yankee dish but the Sweet tea is definitely southern… sweet being the key word.


GHOB Tap Takeover; and Public & General: A Happy Hour Review

My weekend started a bit early last week. Not in the sense that I didn’t work on Friday, but in the sense that I went out for a beer on Thursday evening. I don’t often go out on a work night, but I happened to be out at a Meet-up Group when I got a text from the Maestro. He was also out at a gathering and wanted to stop at the Green Flash/Alpine Takeover being held at Gainesville House of Beer.

Since it was on the way home from my location and since my head was swimming with all of the information I had received at the meeting I decided a beer was not only in order but would help me to sort out some of the afore mentioned information. That’s as good an excuse as any to sample new beers. Besides, one of the things that Gainesville House of Beer does very well is a Tap Takeover. There is always a good variety of the beers that a particular brewery has and they always have some nice swag to give away.

By the time I had arrived the Maestro already had a beer in front of him, Alpine Brewing’s Duet, which he was rather satisfied with. I was also glad to see one of my favorite Beer Servers on hand, Kat. If you haven’t see any of my other comments about Kat then you should know that she is one of the most knowledgeable beer aficionados around, as well as a very charming young lady.


The Maestro had already had an Alpine Brewing’s Hoppy Birthday, which he was also very fond of. But I started out with the Duet instead. It had a hoppy aroma and flavor with a slightly sweet after taste. While we worked on these beers, Maestro and I caught up with each other.


After a bit we were ready for another. Maestro selected a Green Flash Soul Style IPA and I had an Alpine Brewing’s Captain Stout. I liked it, it had hints of coffee and chocolate, but had an aftertaste that I couldn’t identify. It wasn’t as creamy as most stouts are. It was good, but probably not the best stout I had ever had. The Maestro had realized he had sampled the Soul Style IPA before but increased his rating this time from 3 to 3 ½ stars (out of 5) on the Untappd app.

We talked some more then decided to end our night with that round. We stuck around long enough for Maestro to win some swag. I mentioned to Maestro that I had read about a new local place in the paper that was where the “Brew Spot” used to be. He agreed that it sounded like a good idea for a Friday Happy Hour and left it to me to pass word on to the group. We said our goodnights and headed out.

At Mid-day the next day I sent out a text to our band of beer connoisseurs to meet at Public & General around 5 PM. Maestro replied that he was trying to get rid of a cold, which I had noticed him coming down with the previous night, so he would have to pass. Rowdy wasn’t sure she could make it as she was taking Abuelita to see the doctor, (Note – this is not our beer swilling friend “The Doctor”). I knew the Doctor was working this weekend, and that the Chemist and the Deck-orator were on a beach weekend. I did not hear from the Cooler and Rowdy didn’t know yet if he was coming or not.

By the time 5 PM had arrived I was pulling into the parking lot at 1000 NE 16th AVE. The last time I had been at this location it was called the Brew Spot and it was a little different. As I recall, the idea for that business was a local café that served tea, coffee, craft beer and wine. And it served food as well. The food was okay and the service the same. The layout was kind of a hodgepodge of a reading lounge, a small restaurant and a back dance hall. The hall was also used as a little community center where the owner tutored young folks in math. While the concept had a very altruistic intent behind it, from a business stand point it is very difficult to run a business that way without a very strict business plan. I don’t know that is the reason that Brew Spot closed, that is just a supposition based on limited observation and rumors.

Now that it has re-opened as Public & General I saw differences as soon as I walked in the door. The front portion, which was formally the lounge/bar/café/restaurant/kitchen, has been transformed into a little market/bistro. On the right are some racks with various wines and beers available for purchase, as well as some coolers with more variety of both. On the left is a refrigerated case with cheeses and a counter with a register. Behind the counter is the kitchen, which is the same location it was when it was the Brew Spot.

The big room in the back which I referred to earlier as the ballroom (for lack of a better description) has been transformed into a large bar room with a large “L” shaped bar and a few tables for dining. Behind the bar are shadow boxes displaying various bottle of wines and beers. Off to the right as you walk into the bar is a little cubby/sitting area with a settee and a couple chairs. That seemed a little out of place to me but if you decided to have a band or DJ set-up these items could more easily be moved out of the way to allow that.


I had read in the paper that Public & General had a wide selection of wines and that they featured European brand brews. This was true and I sat at the bar and ordered a Veltins Pilsner, which was on tap. Veltins is a German Brewery, and while I had this one before I thought it tasted better this time than the last. But I selected it because the other beers on tap (there are only 5 taps) were just a bit heavier in flavor and I wanted to start lighter. The other beers on tap were Doc’s Cider, Tucher Franconian Dark Lager, Unibroue Le Fin du Monde, and Unibroue Raftman Pale Ale. They also had over 20 other bottled beers listed on the menu, many of which were European or a European style of beer.


While I was supping this cold brew down I started talking with another patron who sat at the bar. He was a local resident from the neighborhood and seemed very glad that they had opened the place back up and was pleased with the changes.

Rowdy called me and said she was coming and bringing Abuelita with her. They had spent some time at the doctor’s office and were both hungry. She asked me what they had for food so I read the menu to her. She told me she would be there soon. After I hung up I informed the lady behind the bar that I would be joined by others and asked if it would be a problem for me to move to a table. She said it wouldn’t be and that when we were ready to order we could just come up to the bar to order. So I sat at a table and checked my phone for the usual social interaction while I waited.


Rowdy soon showed up with Abuelita in tow and they sat at the table with me. I explained that food and drinks were ordered at the bar and they would hold your credit card for the tab. Rowdy went to the bar and ordered a water for Abuelita and a Southern Star Brewing’s Bombshell Blonde for herself. I had finished the Pilsner by the time they sat down so I ordered the Tucher Franconian Dark Lager.


After we got our drinks we went back to the table to look over the menu (see picture below). They had three sandwiches, three salads and half a dozen sides to choose from. Abuelita wanted a sandwich so she ordered a brisket sandwich. Rowdy ordered a pasta salad, and I went for the hamburger and a side of house fries. Rowdy and I went back up to the bar and placed our food order. Then we went back to the table and caught up with each other. Abuelita filled me in on her doctor visit and how she was doing. After a little bit of catching up with all three of us the food arrived.


Abuelita was surprised at the size of the sandwich and said she would not be able to eat the whole thing. And it was a sizeable sandwich coming served on a hoagie roll. Rowdy’s pasta salad came out in a large stainless steel bowl. She asked for another bowl so she and Abuelita could share their dishes. My burger and house fries came out just after their dishes. All three of us enjoyed the food. I particularly liked the combination of toppings on my burger. And I really liked that the fries came with a side of mayo for dipping, German style.


Over all I was very pleased with our visit to Public & General. And I think Rowdy and Abuelita would agree with me. I sent a text to Maestro telling him to inform his wife, Muse, that they had a large wine selection so she could join us there some time. Abuelita asked about their hours because she wanted to bring her friends for lunch sometime. I would have liked to talk to the owner and find out if they were going to rotate taps or just use the beers on tap all the time but he was busy with customers and I didn’t want to interfere.

We browsed around the market a little before we left and when Rowdy saw the cheese plate on the chalkboard menu she said “Oh cool! That will be great for a to-go box.”

On of the folks behind the counter replied that the owner was really good and paring wines with different cheeses and could make recommendations for those kinds of things.

Overall this was a good experience. The staff was friendly, the food was delicious and the wine and beer selection was really good. The layout when compared to the previous business is much better. I got the feeling that the owner knows his wine and beers pretty well, but I couldn’t tell you how knowedgable the rest of the staff is on them. It wasn’t a large menu but what they did do they seemed to do pretty well, which is more important than having a larger selection. I recommend stopping by if you get the chance. I know I will go back again.


Craft Beer Enthusiasts – Creatures of Habit?

Pabst Ad

How many of you remember back in the “Good Ole Days” when you had your “Go-to-beer”. I’m talking back when craft beer was the crazy uncle trying to brew something in his garage and it ended up tasting like someone cleaned their socks in the water first. My dad was a PBR man so that was what I had for my first sips of beer as a young lad. Back then American Beer Drinkers were pretty much at the mercy of the big breweries advertising departments. Miller Brewing, Anheuser-Busch, Coors and Pabst were the big guys and they battled it out with each other using sports figures, sex appeal and comedy in their commercials, vying for our dollars anyway they could.

tastes-great-less-fillingCoors Ad

That was how “Light Beer” came about by the way. Two factors helped the rise of the vile drink: America and beer drinkers as a whole were becoming a wee bit more health “aware”; and more and more women started becoming income generators. These two groups fell victim to the myth that light beer is better for you. While truthfully is does have less calories per serving, if you’re drinking a six pack at a time it’s still putting the calories on you…. And you give up so much flavor!

Budweiser ad

This segues back to my original thought, which is that for years Americans were subjected to American Style lagers and a few Pilsners to sustain our beer needs. Ever since the repeal of Prohibition we have been subjected to the whims of government sticking their fingers in the beer barrel and limiting the alcohol and flavor of beer. It was only after Jimmy Carter signed H.R. 1337, which went into effect on February 1st, 1979, and legalizing home brewing at a Federal level that we began to see higher alcohol content and more flavors in our beers. But this was a very slow moving growth at first.


In 1981, an 18 year old version of me, left the US for the first time and traveled to his first military station in what was then West Germany. Up to that date my limited exposure to beer had been the more commonly known American brands. On Christmas Eve of 1981, I arrived at Hahn AB and after recovering from jet lag, I was invited to a small Christmas dinner with my sponsor, Waldo, his then girlfriend and his roommate, Ray. I have to admit I don’t remember the girlfriend’s name because Waldo didn’t date her for much longer after I had arrived. But I do remember that night. It was at the girlfriend’s apartment in the little town of Lautzenhausen outside the base. Waldo, Ray and I walked there. And I was introduced to both German wines (a topic for another day) and German beer. I can’t tell you what I had for dinner but I do remember enjoying the evening and when dinner was over Ray and I walked back through the town toward the base… But not without stopping at a Gasthaus or two… or three on the way. I became immersed in the German beer drinking culture that evening and spent the next two years learning more about German beers as well as those of other European countries.


I had lagers and pilsners that were better tasting and much stronger than I had ever had in the US. I drank from a glass boot (after learning the proper way to do so) and a Yard glass. I had Hefeweizens and Bocks and Dunkels. I discovered Belgians and Eise beers and that the French aren’t just good at making wines. I sampled beers from Denmark, Holland (the home grown Heineken is much better than what we get here), Sweden, Switzerland, and Italy. I found out that there many more beers to try than I could find and some beers could only be had at certain times of the year or in certain restaurants because they made their own. I discovered the best pretzels ever (as well as the chicken dance) and that ladies carrying several liters of beer in each hand was commonplace in the Hofbrauhaus in Munich. And that beer was an excellent ingredient in cooking and not just in beer-batter fish. I didn’t know it then but those two years laid the groundwork for my Craft Beer Enthusiasm many years later.


When I came back to the States beer was never the same. All the guys I was serving with at the base in North Carolina were drinking Budweiser, Busch, Miller or their light versions. I settled for Michelob as it was the only popular brew I could tolerate. Whenever I ran into other servicemen who had served overseas we would invariably talk to each other about the beers we could get overseas. One of my friends served in England and talked about the ales, porters and stouts he had. Another served in the Philippines and talked about a lot of different Asian beers. The one thing we agreed on was that most American beers left us wanting something else.


The truth is what we wanted was variety. Sometimes we would talk about local beers, beers that you could only get where you grew up. Little known breweries to the rest of the U.S. were local legends to us. One weekend two friends and I drove up to Maryland so we could by 2 cases each of Genessee Cream Ale and 12 Horse Ale. Why…. because we couldn’t get it where we were. And if we couldn’t get it then some of us tried to make it. My generation was the first to be able to do home-brewing since before prohibition.

That same desire is what drove home brewing to become the Craft Beer “Phenomena” of today. Variety is the spice of life. That isn’t just an old saying to get kids to eat all of the food on their plates instead of the just the one item they like. It is a veritable truth.

Most beer drinkers are creatures of habit. They want their “Go-to-beer” and nothing else. That’s what they like and that’s all they want. And you know what… there’s nothing wrong with. If you like a particular beer, then drink that beer. Sometimes the certainty and comfort we get from little things like a favorite beer or food or tv show can help us get through the difficult things that life throws at us.

Most craft beer drinkers are also creatures of habit. But it’s not the “Go-to-beer” they gain comfort from… it’s the experience of a new flavor or style of beer. If you polled craft beer enthusiasts I’m sure you would find they share some of the following traits:

  1. They don’t repeat a craft beer if one that they haven’t had is available, unless it’s a style they don’t care for.
  2. They like to travel. It may be to different fests, or breweries, or bier-gardens or simply a different place to try craft beer, but it still gets them out of the house.
  3. They do have their “Go-to-tap-locations”, places with rotating tap lists and other craft beer enthusiasts who share their zest for flavorful beer.

There may be other traits shared among them but I think these three are the biggies. But those three are also why Craft Beer is not a fad or “Phenomena” but is here to stay. If you closed all the craft breweries down, we would still make our own. So find a beer you haven’t had and enjoy the change of taste. Even if you have to have it out your favorite glass at home it’s still better than settling for the same ol’ same ol’!


Bad A** Beer Fest 2015 – Tampa Bay Brewing Company (Subtitled – “We’re Baaa-aack!!” Craft Beer Crew Road Trip)

First off, let me apologize for not blogging in a while. It wasn’t that we haven’t been sampling any of the local Gainesville pubs, breweries and eateries… we have.  🙂

And it wasn’t that I have started several documents intending to post them here… I did.

But if you have ever done any writing then you know that there is a creative process to it. And this process can be mentally draining. If you’re already occupied with other matters then it can drain some of that energy out of the process, making it very difficult to finish a line of thought. Suffice it to say that there will be several postings in the near future that have been in the process for a while. Ok, apologies out of the way let’s use the lousy weather today to do some catching up.


I learned about the Bad A** Beer Fest about a month ago via Facebook. This was the 2nd Annual so I apparently missed last year’s. I began talking it up to my local craft beer crew, who were very reluctant to go to a beer fest. They seemed to have a bias against beer fests, where these biases came from I don’t know. But we have all wanted to do a road trip together to some different breweries so this seemed like a good opportunity to explore multiple breweries from around Tampa at one stop… which is one of the best advantages of any beer fest.

Badassbeerfest 001
the Cooler, Rowdy and me on the ride down from Gainesville. the Maestro doesn’t do pictures.

It was kind of back and forth for a while. Rowdy wanted to go but getting anyone else to go was iffy at best. The day before, I found out that the Maestro was coming and Rowdy told me that she and the Cooler were coming as well. I offered to drive because I was going to go whether anyone else went or not, and I have a vehicle that accommodates four people well for a road trip. Maestro suggested a different route that taking the interstate down to Tampa, which I was in favor of. If you have ever driven around Tampa in the last couple of years then you know that the I-75 traffic is terrible because of all the construction that is going on. We opted instead to head down along the west coast of Florida and come into the Beer Fest site from the north instead of trying to come into Tampa from the east. A choice which proved better as we went because the rain on the way down was much like the rain we’re having today. And trying to drive through down pours on the interstate is much more dangerous than on the less traveled highway.



General Admission for the fest started at 7 PM, and VIP entry started at 6. None of us opted for the VIP entry because the only advantages we could see were that you got a tour of the Tampa Bay Brewing Company’s new brewery in Westchase (where the event was held) and an hour head start on the beer sampling. Considering that the event was scheduled to last til 11 PM, the idea of paying for an additional hour of sampling seemed a little ridiculous. And while touring the brewery might be interesting if you haven’t toured a brewery before, it did not interest any of us. However, there were folks coming in for the VIP access even as late as 10 minutes before General Admission began.


TBBC’s entrance is on the Northeast corner of Race Track Road and the entrance to Monroe Business Park, which is located in the Westchase area of the greater Tampa area. The brewery is the only building on the site and is centrally located on the northern edge of the site. If you come into the entrance, which is on the south of the brewery, there is parking spots all along the west between the brewery and race Track road and along the south along Monroe Business Park entrance. On the east of the brewery is the loading dock area.

Brewery Grounds Map
A map of the TBBC brewery and how the fest was laid out.

For the Beer Fest, all of the parking spots were occupied by brewery tents and merchandise vendors, except for the Southwest corner of the parking lot where a bandstand was erected. The loading dock area on the east side was where the food vendors and the port-a-potties were located (see map above).

The new brewery’s inside equipment

Once we entered the fest, we turned to the immediate left and had samples from the host brewery. I had their Full Moon Madness (a Subtropical Porter) which was a special 20th Anniversary release by TBBC, which I thought was a pretty tasty porter. I don’t recall what the rest of the crew had but they all seemed to like their selection.


And so we began wandering around the fest, sampling the various beers, chatting with our fellow beer lovers and just generally enjoying ourselves. I couldn’t tell you the name of the band but they were doing a great job at covering various songs.


Most of the beer vendors were local Tampa breweries or at least near the Tampa area. And it was a good mix of different types of beer. Though I did notice there were a lot of fruit beers and a lot of spicy beers. I must have had at least three samples of sour beer and another three of beers brewed with peppers. All of them I liked but I do have to give a shout out to Three Palms Brewing with their “The Rooster Says”. This was a really tasty Gose, flavored with Tomato juice and Siracha. To me it tasted like a combination of a Bloody Mary and what we called a “Red Dog” when I was younger, which was tomato juice and beer, an old hangover cure. I just thought it was great.

There were also a great number of IPAs, Porters, Stouts, APAs, Hefeweizens, etc. Most of what I sampled tasted great. I want to mention two other beers that really stood out for me personally. Paw Paw Brewing had three beers to choose from and I selected their Schwarzhound, which is a Chocolate Orange Black Beer. It was really tasty and smelled great. I could smell the hints of orange in the foam and the combination or chocolate and orange had slight coffee undertones. It was just a really good stout.

The last one I want to mention was not a professional brewery, but a home brew club. Being a home brewer myself I like to taste someothers whenever possible. I asked for their Single Hopped APA which was named “Trekkie”. This was a really good Pale Ale, well balanced and smooth. I really liked it and thought about going back for another.


After a couple hours of beer sampling I had decided I had pretty much had enough beer, so I began drinking water while the others continued a little while longer. While we were walking around during the evening we also looked at some of the wares on display at various booths for sale. There were hats, t-shirts, glassware and the regular stickers and coasters available. I ended buying a really cool looking glass and a t-shirt that my friends suggested matched my style of beer drinking.

It seemed to be a really good turnout for the Beer Fest. Beer drinkers from all walks of life were in attendance. I believe I read they were expecting about 3500 people, which I can neither confirm nor deny… I just know there was a whole lotta people.

The outside deck where brewery customers can relax and imbibe.

Which brings about a couple of critiques I have about the fest:

  1. Only 4 food vendors for that many people is no where near enough. There were lines with about a 20 minute wait just to order your food at most of the trucks. The good point about this was that the shortest line for food was at the Jersey Mike’s truck. So I got a really good Philly Cheesesteak. But anyone else who waited at the other trucks had a much longer wait.
  2. The number for port-a-potties for that size a crowd was also very inadequate. Again there was at least a twenty minute wait just to get up to be the next in line. I think the key point that the organizers missed here was this… IT’S A BEER FEST!! What did you not get about making sure there are enough facilities at an event where the featured product is a liquid that makes a large percentage of people have to use a bathroom?! And this leads to…
  3. Why would you have the port-a-potties located so close to the food vendors??!! Enuff said about that.

Overall, my friends and I enjoyed ourselves a lot. I think I have dispelled their concerns about beer fests and will be able to bring them along to future ones I attend. And I think the event organizers did a very good job and other than the three points I mentioned above I wouldn’t have changed anything else. I will definitely be going back again next year. I think my friends will too. Hopefully we can convince some more to join us.