More like a day we truly can call ours. But the title should stay true to the lyrics of the song (look it up kids).
It’s January in Central Florida. We’re having mild sunny days. This is why winter has such awesome events as the Central Florida Highland Games and the upcoming Orlando Wetlands Festival at this time of year. But, people are not the only ones flocking to the area to get warm. There is a spring about 45 minutes north of us where manatees congregate to bask in the warm waters. So, Mrs. UsedHair and I made the drive up to Blue Spring State Park to watch the manatees and rent a canoe. The trip was great and Mrs. UsedHair got some fantastic pictures.
Now, I don’t drive 45 minutes away without first checking to see if there is a brewery in the area. So once we were done having legitimate fun and I saw that the day was still young, I broached the topic that if we ventured another 10 minutes north of the park we could hit a new brewery. I know, and fear, in my heart of hearts that someday I will push too far and Mrs. UsedHair will say she’s tired of always going to new breweries. Today was not that day. She was just as up for a beer as I was. So, we headed up to Persimmon Hollow Brewing in Deland, FL.
What a fantastic place. They are dog friendly, have a great slogan (Drink sensibly, but get weird), and have put a lot of creativity into their decor. They even have urinals made out of old kegs. Phenomenal!
The sexy chick in the white shirt to the right is Mrs. UsedHair, BTW.
They even had interesting meat snacks on a cool rack that they give to you in a tasting glass.
I got a flight and, of course, enjoyed every beer. We also met a few friendly people and had some great conversations.
All this is well and good. But, at the end of the day it’s all about the bottles. I’m OK with growlers, but I would always rather have regular bottles. Fortunately, they had three good looking beers in bomber-style bottles for $10 each. Not a bad price at all. Talk about a great day.
My Saturday started like so may others… Playing board games and drinking beer at a twice-a-month event: Booze & Boards. This event takes place in the best possible venue, a bar called The Geek Easy that’s located in the back of A Comic Shop in Orlando, FL. Aside from the awesome people that I hang out with, one of the perks of the event is that The Geek Easy is really good about bringing in new beer at reasonable prices so that I can usually find something there to add to the collection. The only new beer they had this week was Terrapin Mosaic. Normally rye beers and IPAs are not styles I particularly enjoy, and a beer that is both is a big gamble. Turned out it wasn’t too bad so I was able to add a can to the collection (go me).
This was all well and good, but not much of a story. However, one of my friends then said that they were going to have to leave early so they could go to a Star Wars art event at The Hourglass Brewery about 20 minutes away. A what at the where now? How did this get by me? Star Wars and beer? I would have felt bad about ditching the board game event early but my friends are all so awesome that we all decided to ditch early for the Star Wars event just so that none of the other people would feel bad (we’re all pretty selfless like that).
A quick 20 minute drive later I found myself at Houglass Brewing ready to see some art and find a new beer. Somehow, There always seems to be a price to pay when something is really worth getting. Turns out the place was packed as I’ve never seen it packed before.
Unfortunately, I’m quite crowd aversive and it took all I had to not turn around and walk right back out the door. I took a long gander at the Star Wars art work
Looked at a few tables of prints, gritted my teeth and waited on line for a drink. The only beers they had in bottles were great big 25.4 oz bourbon barrel aged items for $20 each. Not only is that expensive, but if I’m launching myself into drinking a high alcohol (8.4% ABV) large beer I’m also signing on to stay somewhere long enough to process that alcohol. I wasn’t sure just how I was going to manage all of this when my friend Angela saved the day by finding us a table at a somewhat quieter taco place, Wako Taco, next door. Food and a harbor from the madness were all I needed. I got myself a fantastic autumn ale brewed with butternut squash and aged in a bourbon barrel, Nut Squasher.
Then I got a delicious chimichanga from a place cool enough to have a Deadpool chimichanga truck on the counter.
I ate, drank, and was merry with a great group of people in a great place. All told that’s really what it’s all about.
Last year I was in Arizona for a meetup of a community of people that met through the comments section of the great (but now defunct) podcast Jack Mangan’s Deadpan. While I was searching for beer bottles at various Phoenix hot spots I heard tell that there were stores that were selling growler cans. All of the Growlers I had heard of were both glass and used exclusively at brew pubs. Growlers at stores was an unheard of thing for me. I checked a few places and could not find them anywhere. When I got back to Florida I started checking stores and came up short here as well. I did find growlers at stores, but they were glass. After that I didn’t think too much about it.
Yesterday I was at the Central Florida Scottish Highland Games which I have mentioned in a previous post. I had a fantastic time, drank plenty of Dunedin beer and listened to live music from Off-Kilter, Rathkeltair, and Albannach. Although the event ran until 9pm, they stopped selling beer tickets at 5 so we decided to explore a new brew pub that just so happened to be a measly 2 miles away. As with just about every brew pub in the area Red Cypress Brewing
had a fantastic selection of excellent beers. I got a flight
And Mrs. UsedHair dipped her feet in the fountain.
Then, as I was perusing the growler choices I noticed a bunch of oversized-looking cans. Lo and behold, the can growler finally made its way to the wilds of central Florida. I was quite excited.
It looks just like a giant regular can of beer complete with a pull-tab to open. The only weird thing I had to clarify is just how you refill it once you have popped the pull-tab. Turns out, you don’t. They are meant to be one time use items for people that don’t want to lay out the investment for a glass growler. I’m not sure what the cost on one of these cans is, but it seems like it would be a bit much to waste. Thankfully mine will have a nice home with plenty of good buddies to hang out with. Glad to have been of service.
One of the side effects/perks/symptoms of collecting beer bottles is that I am always on the hunt for new breweries and/or new beers. So, last January when Mrs. Usedhair and I went to The Central Florida Scottish Highland Games. I was pleased to find a brewery that I had not previously heard of selling pitchers of excellent beer there.
I looked up Dunedin Brewery (pronounced like the word “done” and the word “Eden” [like the Garden of Eden])and found that (at about a 2 1/2 hour drive) they were close enough that I should go and far enough away that I would have to combine the trip with something else. Fortunately, Mrs. Usedhair and I decided that after 22 years of marriage without ever having taken a honeymoon trip (but that is another story), it was time to take one this year. We decided to drive down to Sanibel Island as we love beaches, and Mrs. Usedhair loves to collect seashells. A major perk of the trip for me was that the drive would take us more or less right past Dunedin Brewery. If there’s one thing that keeps a marriage going for 22 years, it’s knowing how to balance out a trip to keep both of us happy. Our first stop of the trip was the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. After filling our eyes with beasties for the day, we took the short drive to Dunedin, FL and stopped into Dunedin Brewery for a beer and a bite to eat. My biggest fear in going to any brewery is that they will not have bottles to sell and will only have beer on tap. My second biggest fear is that they brewery will be stocked with only the most standard of beer types (e.g., blonde, IPA, hefeweizen). Turns out Dunedin actually had some really nice bottles with impressive art work. It also helped that the bottles were filled with some really impressive beer styles.
This adventure turned out excellent because I not only got some excellent and unique bottles for the collection, but also because I got to start out a honeymoon trip in the best possible way.
It seems that there is a demand out there for tales of collecting the beer bottles. Here is one where I really had to work to get my beer.
I was in Montréal for a conference and had the day before the conference to truly explore the city. I walked from the hotel to the Olympic Stadium and Botanical Gardens. On the way back to the hotel the mission was to seek out a place that was supposed to have outstanding poutine and to find the beer store I had located on Google Maps. By the time I got to the beer store, I had walked 10 miles and had 4 more miles to walk to get back to the hotel. The plan was to stock up on an even number of beers and distribute the weight between two bags. Some in-store testing led me to believe I could get away with 8 beers on either side for a total of 16 beers. Admitted, in the best possible scenario this was way too much. But, my eyes were bigger than my stomach so to speak. I was trying to focus on Canadian beer. For some reason I was also trying to get a broad range of bottles within each brewery. Here are some of the bottles I got there from Dieu du Ciel and Brasseurs Illimités.
Well, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. And this plan (as is often the case with me) wasn’t exactly best-laid to begin with. For starters, the owners of the store spoke only French and did not seem much impressed with my attempts at explaining in English that I wanted to evenly distribute the load across two bags. They insisted (probably rightly so) that eight bottles in a bag would clack together something fierce and they would likely break. So, they very nicely packed 12 bottles into an empty 12 pack box and left their other 4 bottles loose in a bag. So much for my evenly distributed load.
Next up was the 4 mile hike back to the hotel. It doesn’t seem like it should be that big of a deal considering I walk almost 2 miles every morning with my dogs. However, keep in mind that I had already walked 10 miles that day. The extra mileage combined with a full 12 pack proved to be quite the trial. I tried carying the box on my shoulder. I tried shifting from shoulder to shoulder. In the long run I found that my right arm was better able to handle the load and I mostly carried the 12 pack with the right arm and the bag of 4 bottles with my left.
By the time I got back to the hotel I was thirsty and tired. I set the beer down in front of the door, dug out my room key and opened the door. I then shoved the box through the door with my foot and headed to the bathroom to get some water. This is where I really discovered just how tired my right arm really was. I grabbed the glass filled it with water and went to lift it to my mouth. Unfortunately, my arm had had enough at that point and would not budge towards my mouth. It just sat there with the glass of water as I stared at it desperately trying to will it towards my mouth. Ultimately I just moved my head down to the glass. Then I laid down for a while.
The Canadian bottles in my collection may not seem to special at first glance. But I really did pay for those bottles with my blood, sweat, and tears.