#BeerCurious in 2017: A Year in Review
As another Year of Beer closes, we like to start the new year reflecting on all the good brews and good times we’ve enjoyed in 2017. We also look forward to all the planned and unexpected fun times that await us in 2018. It’s a time of reminiscing and goal creating.
For us, our beer explorations and celebrations are all about the experience surrounding them. It’s not just about the liquid in the glass, can or bottle. It’s about the people with whom we’re spending the moment. It’s about the place we’re at – the music playing, the movie airing, the games being played, the whatever it is we’re doing. It’s about the food we’re pairing with the beer whether it be a fancy schmancy, 4-course dinner or simply the latest, limited edition flavor of LAY’S potato chips we just tore into for a late night snack.
Many of our beery moments are shared with the world on Instagram. It’s a quick look into the things that intrigue us on an almost daily basis. Want to SEE what we’re drinking? That’s pretty much the place to do it. While we do in depth beer reviews from time to time on this website, we really like to share our ‘in the moment’ tasting experiences by snapping a quick pic and doing a 30 second review of sorts on Instagram. And, we love checking in and seeing what you all are posting as well! Derek and I are very #BeerCurious.
We also share a bunch of different beer-related subject matter:
- our #LabelLoves (cool beer label and can designs),
- Derek’s pro-brewing and homebrewing things,
- our #beercats Jasmine, Bella and little kitten Max working the camera side by side our latest beer scores,
- us going on brewery day trips,
- hitting up beer releases,
- going to beer festivals,
- and other brew-related shenanigans.
Derek and I sure love our beercations. In fact, we dedicated an entire section of our website to showcase our journeys and our recommendations so you can customize your own beer trips. In 2017, we visited 4 different states to taste what’s been brewing.
“But you go to Massachusetts All. The. Time!” Yeah. We do. We have family in northern MA that we visit on the regular. Each time we try to hit new breweries, restaurants, pubs, and such. Of course, we do a quick swing by our favs. Our trip we took this past spring turned out to be more than we bargained for. Instead of spending the planned 5 day, long weekend, Derek’s gall bladder decided to take a nose dive and he had to be admitted for emergency surgery. There were some complications. His recovery time would take awhile. Needless to say, our short trip turned into a 17 day stay while we waited for Derek to get the green light from the Docs to make the 7.5 hour drive home. Our friends joked that it was our “Gall Bladder Beer Tour.”
The upside? We we’re staying at my Mom’s place. I loved being able to spend more time with her. And, I got to explore more breweries than I had initially planned. Also hit a few bottle shops. Picking up as many bottles and cans as possible so Derek could enjoy the fruits of our trip after he made a full recovery. He also may have snuck of few quick sips before that. (wink)
You can read MA beercation recommendations plus follow the links to more in depth brewery reviews for Trillium, Tree House, Jack’s Abbey, Aeronaut, Exhibit A and more.MASSACHUSETTS BEERCATION
We were able to hit up Portland, Maine the day before Derek’s gall bladder surgery. It was about 1.5 hours from where we were staying so we thought we’d do as many breweries as possible in the short time we had. It was the first time we got to try anything from Bissell Brothers. Being the hop heads that we are, it was an IPA-destination must stop. The newest Oxbow location was a short drive from Bissell Brothers. We’ve been big fans of Oxbow farmhouse ales for quite some time and had to drink it from the source. And it was definitely worth the visit! While in the area we hit up the funky cool, Urban Farm Fermentory with their meads, beer, gruits and kombucha. Both stops were quite excellent. Check out our Maine beercations page for an inside look at our Maine experience.MAINE BEERCATION
New York Hudson Valley
In August, we focused on the middle area of the Hudson River Valley for a little beercation getaway for our wedding anniversary. It was wonderful. We took our time and treated each day like a relaxed Sunday Funday. We loved the rural, laid back vibe of the area. And, we were quite impressed with the beers coming from Suarez, Plan B, Equilibrium and Hudson Valley. Each brewery, pretty much new kids on the block and kicking some serious brewing ass right out of the gate. Get the specifics about each stop on our Hudson Valley Region, New York beer trip.NEW YORK BEERCATION
Coastal Delaware Beach Trip & NYE Celebration
Visiting slower, lower Delaware is an annual trip for us. It’s where we like to vacation with family each September in Rehoboth Beach. And, at times we make additional trips throughout the year for a quick getaway. Home to Dogfish Head, Revelation, Mispillion, Dewey and soon Iron Hill, there’s lots of beer to explore when there. Tons of great restaurants, most of which have craft beer on the drink list. Our favorites being Henlopen City Oyster House and Salt Air Restaurant. This year we decided to spend New Year’s Eve weekend in Rehoboth with a couple of beer-loving friends to brewery hop. Even did an impromptu bottleshare in the lobby of Hotel Rehoboth. Then ending our excursion at Dogfish Head Brewpub for the New Year countdown. Good times. We’ll soon get our Coastal Delaware Beercation recommendations live on the site. So much beer to hunt… so little time to write! 🙂
2017 Beer Events
Harrisburg Beer Week
2017 was the 3rd year for Harrisburg Beer Week. I’m one of the co-founders and co-organizers of the now 10 day long beer celebration in Harrisburg, PA full of different beer fests, competitions, tap-takeovers, special releases, rare beers, beer pairing menus, etc. Derek also assists with organizing and executing 1 of the signature events: Battle of the Homebrewers. While it’s a year-long planning and recruiting initiative, we do take some days off during Beer Week to enjoy the deliciousness of our efforts and to connect with the local beer community one-on-one… in person. We’ve been able to meet several people in person that we’ve only ever chatted online with in the past. It’s nice to put a face to the name!
I especially love the collaboration beers that get released during Little Big Beer Fest which serves high ABV beers that are unique to the fest or the region. Some beers you’ll never ever get to taste again. The local brewers really go all out for this one!
I even got to participate in a collaboration beer which was super cool. Tierney, Colleen and I from StoutsAndStilettos.com made an oatmeal cookie stout, called ‘Fresh Out the Kitchen’, with Boneshire Brew Works and released it during Harrisburg Beer Week.HARRISBURG BEER WEEK
SAVOR in D.C.
This is a beer fest like no other. SAVOR 2017 (An American Craft Beer & Food Experience) was beyond amazing. With 172 beers from 86 breweries, there were lots of flavors to explore. We’re so #BeerCurious and went crazy tasting as many as we possibly could – within reason. I mean, we did have to drive home the next day. So having a hangover was not to be in the cards! With each brew being a small pour. Like really small pour. Our goal of driving home without a hangover was easily achieved. Our go-to hunts were for IPAs, barrel-aged saisons and sours. It was the first time we got to try beers from Lord Hobo, Adroit Theory, Right Proper and the Lost Abbey. Many of the beers at the fest were new to us and most likely would never be reachable unless we drove to the individual breweries themselves.
The food sampling is great, too. But for us it’s all about the beer and the opportunity to talk directly with the brewery owners and brewers themselves. It’s not every beer fest that you get to see the celebs of the beer industry just walking around rubbing shoulders with everyone else. This year we got to say ‘hello’ and talk with Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head), Peter Boukeart (New Belgium), John Stemler (Free Will), Larry Sidor (Crux Fermentation Project), Julia Hertz (Brewers Association) – just to name a few.SAVOR BEER FEST
Art of Tröegs Gallery Opening at the Splinter Cellar.
In its 2nd year, Art of Tröegs gallery opening took place in July. We had an incredible time socializing with fellow beer bloggers, podcasters, ingredients suppliers and our friends at Tröegs Independent Brewing while sipping on the 2017 Wild Elf release directly poured from the foedres in the room. Yep. You read that right. We had the very first sip of Wild Elf available months before it was bottled and distributed.
Many of the artists featured in the gallery were in attendance, including the winner of the competition: Marni Manning. If you don’t already know, Tröegs holds an art contest each and every year. Each piece submitted must focus on the Tröegs brand in some way shape or form. The Trogner brothers, John and Chris, pick the winner and runners up – all of which get their artwork displayed in the Splinter Cellar gallery for an entire year. Some really neat and creative pieces to view while sipping brews.ART OF TRöEGS EVENT
Stoudts IPA Throwdown Homebrew Competition
Stoudts Brewing Co. celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2017 with various special events scheduled each month. This wasn’t your typical homebrew competition. All beers that were eligible for the judging portion of the competition had to be India Pale Ales (IPAs for short) AND they had to have Cascade hops somewhere in the recipe. Brewers were allowed to use other hops in addition to Cascade. All other aspects of the beer ingredients and brewing process were up to the individual homebrewer. It was a no-holds-barred, get-as-creative-as-you-like or as-traditional-as-you-like event. Just like we like it! Derek competed in the first annual Stoudt’s IPA Throwdown Homebrew Competition in November. His “Still Evolving” New England style IPA took 3rd place! Sweet!!
But even better, we made new friends at the competition. Derek generally competes in the Harrisburg/Hershey area. We really wanted to expand our network of homebrewer colleagues and friends and decided to go outside of our competition zone. Many of the homebrewers present were from the greater Philadelphia area. We had a great time talking beer, brewing and the local craft beer scene.STOUDTS HOMBREW COMPETITION
2017 Bottle Shares
Some of our favorite samplings not only happened at SAVOR but also at a variety of bottle shares at friend’s houses in 2017. “What’s a bottle share?” Well. They can be fairly formal where everyone brings them Whalez or Unicorns (hard to find or rare beers). Some bottle shares on the other hand can be super casual, totally impromptu and showcase easier to find but downright delicious beers. But the premise is the same: Bring a beer or two to share with a small group of friends. Think big bottles (750 ml or higher), growlers, crowlers or 2 16 oz cans of the same beer.
It’s a way to get a taste of breweries you’ve never heard of before, breweries you might never get the chance to visit or it can be a way to try beer styles that you might not have otherwise had the opportunity to taste. I love that you don’t have to spend a fortune to participate. It’s not like you had to outright buy all 10-15 beers you get to drink at a bottle share.
Some of our favorites from this type of event:
- Monkish ‘Relax Your Mind’ New England Style DIPA
- Almanac ‘Pumpkin Pie De Brettaville’ Pumpkin/Yam Beer
- Cantillon ‘Saint Lamvinus’ (2016) Lambic
- Pizza Boy ‘LegenDAIRY Plums’ Milkshake IPA
- Frost ‘Au-Dank-Cious’ DIPA
- WeldWerks ‘Juicy Bits’ New England Style DIPA
- Trillium ‘Two Hundred Thousand Trillion’ New England DIPA
- Brew Gentlemen ‘Recertified’ New England Style DIPA
- Dancing Gnome ‘Infinite Highway’ New England Style DIPA
- Uinta ‘Birthday Suit (24th Anniversary)’ Sour Cherry Blonde Ale
- Forest & Main ‘Arutam’ Saison
Getting to sample beers and share your thoughts on what you’re tasting is both fun AND educational. Not everyone experiences beer the same way. Each individual person may detect a different flavor, mouthfeel or aroma. Some folks have a deeper sense of taste and can pick out the nuances in each sip. Others are brewers who can taste what ingredients went into making the beer and how it was brewed. I find it very informative to push my tasting abilities and learn from the most experienced tasters and brewers. Helps me to better speak about what it is I’m tasting in each beer.
Not all bottle shares have to be this “nerdy.” For me, I sometimes like to push my nerd skills. But other times, I just like to hang out, play darts while listening to some tunes and laughing over silly, fun group discussions… just shooting the shit with friends. And, every once in awhile exclaim and acknowledge when we’re drinking a damn, fine beer.
2017 Beer Trades
I’ll say it once, I’ll say it twice… we don’t do beer trades. Except when we do. (wink) We don’t make trading beer an every day thing for a variety of reasons. Mostly because it’s incredibly expensive to ship beer. And, well, it’s kinda illegal to ship beer. I mean. There’s that. However, we do have some local friends that also beercation or visit some pretty stellar breweries throughout the year. When you can make the trade in person and get the beer ‘guaranteed fresh,’ we’re down to swap brews from time to time. We really got to explore some interesting beers coming out of Virginia this way. A few standouts were:
- Aslin ‘Johann Buys a Broat’ New England Style DIPA
- Aslin ‘Double Orange Starfish’ New England Style DIPA
- The Veil ‘Fried Fried Chicken Chicken’ New England Style DIPA
- The Veil ‘GooseBumpz’ New England Style DIPA
I think you probably see a theme here. We search out and love well-crafted New England IPAs! #SorryNotSorry. We like what we like.
Be #BeerCurious in 2018
“What’s #BeerCurious Anyways?” Simply put – Explore. Learn. Challenge your palette with new beer styles. Revisit styles that aren’t your preference. Make the trek to a new brewery. Explore new brews from your tried and true favorite breweries. Blend 2 different beers together (ie. chocolate stout + strawberry lambic). Try a well-crafted beer cocktail for goodness sake. Curiosity may have killed the cat. But in terms of beer, curiosity will make you a more well-rounded drinker. You’ll start to learn what it is about a beer that you like or what it is that you dislike. You won’t love all of the beer you try. Heck. You might downright hate some with the only option to drain pour the horrible bastard. But in the process of exploring, you will expose yourself to beers that blow your mind. And fumbling through a few shelf turds to get to the exquisite beers of all time is worth the effort. So get out there and be #BeerCurious in 2018!