Our little group of Beer Bacchanalians has started a tradition to coincide with the Annual Gator Homecoming Parade. Actually, the Maestro started it a couple of years ago. Last year he and I rekindled it and did so again this year. I don’t know how often something needs to be repeated before you can officially call it a tradition but we’re going to go with three and call this official. (If someone out there disagrees with that, it’s my blog… Get your own!!)
Now the Homecoming Parade in Gainesville is not a new tradition. It has gone on for many years and will continue to do so. And many people have been coming to the parade for years; some even bring their folding chairs to the exact same spot and have been doing so for so long the other folks around them all expect to see each other annually. I have been in the parade myself more than a few times with a float that my employer used to sponsor (Rowdy got me into to working on those). So I have been tied to the parade tradition on and off for over 10 years now.
For the last few years (at least) the Blarneyman and his Blushing Bride have made it a point to visit Gainesville during Homecoming to see both the parade and the game on the next day. This year was no exception and we decided (those of us who could) to meet up the night before the parade start celebrating early. So the Maestro suggested meeting at the Hop Top (see last blog) which isn’t far from his home.
I arrived first and decided to order one I hadn’t had before. It came from Terrapin Brewing and was the Vapricot, a very smooth tasting Double IPA with nice apricot notes. Not long after that the Maestro arrived and we were both conversing with Tyler, the barman at Hop Top. Not too long after that the Deck-orator arrived and we pretty much had the bar to ourselves though on a Thursday I can see how that would happen, especially since it is still a fairly new establishment.
After a bit I was ready for a second and ordered the Sam Adams Octoberfest since I like Octoberfest beers and they still had it one tap. It wasn’t too long after that beer arrived that the Blarneyman and his Blushing Bride arrived and the Philosophying began in earnest. We all began catching up with each and discussing those of our friends who couldn’t make it out that night and how they were doing.
After a while I felt another brew was in order so I ordered an old standby from Swamp Head brewery, Wild Night. I was trying to stick to the lighter craft beers so I could hang out longer as I would need to. We continued on with Philosophying and eventually decided to move on. The Deck-Orator was heading home and the rest of us decided to drive over to the Maestro’s house and see if his wife, the Muse, was going to join us for dinner.
Muse wasn’t home yet so we were waiting for a bit to see if she showed and had a beverage while we waited. After a bit she joined us and we decided to head over to Winghouse for some grub. I had kind of influenced that decision because I had told the Maestro earlier on that I figured I would head over there for dinner as he, Blarneyman and Blushing Bride were tentatively going to watch Gator Basketball Exhibition game. I thought that while they were doing that I would get some wings, then walk on over to BrassTap where they were featuring 16 different taps of Stouts, in honor of International Stout Day, and wait for them to join me after the game. Instead, we all went to Winghouse for an evening meal. The Maestro, Blarneyman and I each decided on Swamp Head’s Stumpknocker to accompany our meals, though we all had different items off of the menu.
When our meal was finished we decided to walk on over from the Winghouse to BrassTap, where we could partake of the afore mentioned Stouts and also participate in trivia night. They were pretty packed but we were able to snag a table as someone was leaving. One of the bartenders walked over to the table and took our order and in honor of International Stout Day I ordered a Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout. The flavor was definitely coffee based and I was quite pleased with it.
We sat around for a bit and listened to the last two trivia questions (By the way – the answer to the last movie sound bite was “Speed, Keanu Reeves and Jeff Daniels); and Philosophied some more. We also discussed plans for the next day’s parade. After that round of beers we all decided to call it an evening and parted ways until the morning.
The next morning I woke up with the sunrise (thanks to my dog Tucker) and began getting ready for the day. A slice of toast and a couple of cups of coffee is a little spare for my breakfast but I knew the rest of the day would probably be laden with calories. And I was providing some of those calories myself.
About 9:30 that morning I headed away from the house toward downtown Gainesville. Coming into town on University Avenue, I noticed traffic was heavier than usual, but that was not unexpected as I figured a lot of folks would be coming in to claim their spots for watching the parade. When I got to the intersection of University and Main, I turned north and headed to a little known shop across from the Publix Plaza on Main Street, called Daylight Donuts.
If you have never sampled any of the pastries from Daylight Donuts, then I feel sorry for your palate and your belly, as they are probably the best I have had in quite a long time. The donuts, the cinnamon rolls, the breakfast pastries and especially the apple fritters are all exceptionally good. You owe to yourself to stop by this little shop with a lot of flavor when you get the chance.
I figured since Gainesville House of Beer was accommodating enough to open up for us early, the least I could do was bring some donuts for the staff and the other patrons to share. So I picked a dozen donuts for my friends and another dozen donuts and a box of apple fritters for whomever else was going to be there. Then I headed off to HOB.
I got to HOB about 5 minutes after 10 and saw that they already had a couple other patrons there. I greeted Greg, the barman on duty that morning, and placed the donuts on the counter and explained what they were for. He smiled and agreed with me about the quality of the donuts that Daylight produces. I took a couple of fritters and added them to my box for my friends and went out to the patio and staked out some seats for the parade.
Then I went back inside and ordered as close as I could find to a breakfast stout, which was Duck Rabbit Brewery’s Milk Stout, and in case you wondered, it is a really good Stout. Not long after that the Maestro and the Blarneyman showed up and the earnest Philosphying commenced.
Over the next couple of hours we sat and discussed various things and greeted passersby on the street, a few other folks joined us on the patio. After a bit the other members of our party began strolling in. Muse, Rowdy, Blushing Bride and a few others joined us after the finished the Gallop (a charity walk). Deck-Orator showed up but the Chemist was not with her as he was working. The parade usually starts around Noon down by the College in front of the Stadium on University Avenue, but by the time it gets to HOB, which is at the tail end of the route its usually about 45 minutes later.
So the next couple of hours was spent watching and cheering the different parade entrants, and sampling beers and donuts. The Doctor was on call and working but was able to drop by and say hi to everyone though he didn’t partake in the beers. Some of the excerpts are pictured below.
And speaking of cheering, no one was quite as upbeat and vocal of their admiration for the parade participants as was Blushing Bride. So much so that from now on when she is mentioned in this blog she will be known as the Cheerleader.
After the parade was over we all went our ways but some of us decided to get together for dinner that night. After a few back and forth calls throughout the day we ended getting reservations for dinner at the Blue Gill, a newer restaurant on SW 13th Street not far from Shands. I had heard good things about it but hadn’t been there before.
They have a very nice atmosphere there and a wide ranging menu. They have daily specials and regularly featured food items on their menu. Since I hadn’t been there before I thought I would start with one of their staples and see how well they do that before I venture into their specials. I ordered their Brisket plate which came accompanied with steamed vegetables and garlic potatoes, all covered with a creamy poblano cheese sauce. I also ordered the Caesar salad for an appetizer and their Moonlight Lemonade for a beverage, all of which were very tasty.
All in all the day was well spent with friends, a tradition well worth repeating next year with the same folks and with new ones as well. If you’re interested then mark your calendar and make sure to show up at HOB the morning of the parade for a donut and a beer.