Is that a cockatoo in your pocket?

I have done all the legwork to prep for my trip to Phoenix and the big day has finally arrived.  I land at 12:30 pm (Arizona time) and can’t check into the hotel until 4 pm.  What, oh what, am I going to do with my time while I wait?  Fortunately, I’m a man with a plan.  I get my rental car and head straight to the brewery that looked best for getting pictures.  Those that know me know that I am an animal lover.  However, those that really, really know me know that I’m not really a bird person.  I’ve had dogs and cats who’s owners claim to hate everyone just saunter right on up to me and have a grand old time.  Birds, on the other hand, just don’t seem to like me.  Except for cockatoos.  No idea why that particular exception exists.  Parrots and parakeets bite at me.  Cockatoos put their head down and get close to the bars of the cage so I can scratch their neck.  But I digress.  Regardless of my personal attitude towards birds, The Perch Brewery in Chandler, AZ is a definite must see and a place that I had to bring the 360 camera.

Cockatoo at The Perch Brewery
Slew of other birds at The Perch Brewery
Fancy outhouses at The Perch Brewery

Turns out I made a fantastic choice for the first brewery to hit up on my trip.  Not only did they have a great beer selection, they also had some really interesting food choices.  I got the “Pig Wings”  which are beer marinated pork shanks, dry rubbed, fried, and then grilled.  They look like chicken wings and taste incredible.

Pig Wings at The Perch Brewery

But the real treat was still to come.  Even though I came to The Perch to see the wildlife, I found out that they are super serious about being a cutting edge brewery.  I got a chance to speak with one of the brewers who showed me their stone fermenter.  The Perch has the only stone fermenter in Arizona, and there are less than 10 stone fermenters anywhere in the country.  This is going to give The Perch a great opportunity to play around with some really unique flavors.  My only regret is that their first batch wasn’t going to be ready until just after I had to leave Arizona. What a shame.

Stone fermenter at The Perch Brewery

After all that excitement, I scored what I’m always there for.  I got a growler of their Belgian Peach ale to add to the collection.

Perch Brewery growler of Belgian Peach

From wilderness to Wilderness

Believe it or not, bottle collecting and breweries are not my only hobby.  I also quite enjoy getting myself out into the wilderness from time to time. No camping or anything, but I do really enjoy a good nature trail. Phoenix presented some definite possibilities.  But, being May, it also presented 104 degree temperatures in the heat of the day.  The only way I was going to get to a nature trail was if I got up pretty damn early and got out there before the heat of the day.  Good thing for me that didn’t really interfere with any of my other Saturday plans.  I wanted to hang out with friends who certainly weren’t dumb enough to go out in the heat or get up early on a Saturday, and I wanted to visit breweries that most definitely weren’t open on a Saturday morning.  So, there was nothing standing between me and heading off you know, to a distant land.  An hour’s drive from downtown Phoenix was the Hieroglyphic Trail.

Hieroglyphic Trail

Up in yonder canyon, at the end of the trail, you can still see petroglyphs left by the Hohokam Indians.  Yup… I know… you don’t need to say it.  Petroglyphs on the Hieroglyphic trail.  Somebody somewhere was confused.

Petroglyphs on the Hieroglyphic Trail

Hieroglyphics Trail 04 #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

I’m used to Florida nature trails that are flat, flat, flat.  Climbing up to the petroglyphs was an interesting challenge.  But, then I got to enjoy the nice down hill walk back.  I was better able to pay attention to the wildlife around me and even spotted a cactus that looked like it had boobies.

Boobie Cactus

I didn’t see much in the way of wildlife (outside of nasty, nasty insects) while I was on the trail.  But, as I was driving away I saw a bunch of cars pulled over to the side of the road gawking at a snake.  They asked if anyone was willing to chase it away so no one would run it over.  I got out to take a picture and it diligently ran away.

Snake in the road

The hour drive to the trail, several hours on the trail, and an hour back to Phoenix.  Somehow, I managed to time things just right to be in brewery land right around 11am when they were all opening up.  But, what is the right brewery to stop at when you’ve spent all morning in the wilderness. Believe it or not, there is a definite correct answer to that question.  It’s Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. exterior

There is a big tree decoration in the center of the main brew pub.

Tree decor in Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.

Beyond that, the wilderness decor is pretty low key.  For the most part, it looks quite a bit like a brew pub.

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. tap room

I had worked out my wilderness mojo for the day, so I was definitely good with seeing brewing equipment instead of boobie cacti and snakes.  There were still lot’s of wilderness themes coming my way in the beer names.

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. brewing equipment

I got myself a Baboquivari Belgian Blonde named for the Baboquivari Peak Wilderness Area. I was getting ready to start asking to interview someone to get more information, when the first of my friends started getting active for the day and asked me to join them for lunch… in 10 minutes.  I weaseled my way into 20 minutes and took the time to get myself a growler of Aravaipa Abbey Dubbel to enjoy later in the hotel.  Before I left, I stopped into the smaller tasting room and discovered that I could have had a much larger selection of bottles and crowlers.

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. tasting (and swag) room

C’est la vie.  I’m really glad I got to squeeze in the trip here, even though it was far too short.

Do you think the owner might like cycling?

All of the research that went into the Phoenix trip is paying off in spades. My own need to get out into the desert to see some petroglyphs combined with the crazy schedules of my friends has resulted in a lot of travel around the Phoenix/Tempe/Scottsdale area.  As I try to fit brewery visits in around everything else, the research list lets me know which of the closest breweries at any given time might be worth a visit.  I went to lunch with a group of friends, shopped for bottles to take back in my checked bags (ask any unfortunate soul that’s been stuck with me when I do this, it takes forever) and I think I have time to squeeze in a brewery before meeting up with friends again for dinner and, of course, another brewery in the evening.  Then again, I have a trunk full of 2 cases of beer and it’s 101 degrees.  I have to really debate as to whether I should take my limited time to return to the hotel with the beer before dinner, or squeeze in the extra brewery and risk ruining the beer in the car.

A quick check of the list and Google Maps shows that the closest brewery with the maximum potential is Pedal Haus Brewery in down town Tempe.  The phrase “down town” can be scary or not depending on how large the area is.  Somehow, I didn’t picture down town Tempe, AZ as being a huge mass of monstrosity buildings that is often accompanied by my least favorite inner-city crap-fest, the lack of parking.  But, despite the general lack of monstrosity buildings, there was no parking to be found out of the streets.  The cheap bastard in me was going to have to suck it up and shell out for a parking garage and then walk to the brewery.  It does make me feel better that the parking garage is cooler than street parking and the beer in the trunk is probably much safer.  But having to walk is not good when I have a very limited amount of time to begin with.  Along with the lack of parking, I’m now envisioning a potential congested down town area brewery with extremely limited space.  In my head I’m picturing a hole in the wall with a small bar, a few tables, and little in the way of decor.  I’ve rarely been so happy to be so wrong.  As I approached Pedal Haus Brewing, the first thing I came across was a little park with some cool rabbit statues.

Rabbit statue park next to Pedal Haus Brewery
Another rabbit statue at the park next to Pedal Haus Brewery

Then when I get to the brewery itself, it’s huge.  There is a domed area out front that I walked through to get to the main building.

Pedal Haus Brewery outside dome #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Domed area outside the main building at Pedal Haus Brewery

And there is a little patio outside decorated with different sized bike wheels.

Pedal Haus Brewery bike wheel patio #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Bike wheel decorations at Pedal Haus Brewery

Inside the brewery is just as impressive.  There are light fixtures all over the place that turned out to be re-purposed brewing equipment.

Brewing equipment light fixtures
More brewing equipment light fixtures

There were plenty of barrels for aging.

Barrels for aging

Brewing equipment.

Brewing equipment

And a bizarre offshoot room with crazy lighting that seemed to have a funky bee hive feel to it.

Funky offshoot room at Pedal Haus Brewery

Let’s take a walk through the place, shall we?

But here’s the best part.  The manager, Michael, sat down with me to answer some questions.  Pedal Haus Brewery has been open for about 2 years and currently operates on a 100 barrel system that is located exclusively at the tap room and restaurant area.  A 100 barrel system is pretty big, but they don’t yet have plans on mass distribution.  They hope to reach that point, but starting up the canning/bottling process is a major expense and they want to be sure they are well prepared.  They chose the down town Tempe area because they like the cultural feel of the area, and because the owner, Julian Wright, is well known as a cyclist in the area. The main style focus for brewing goes to eclectic European styles.

So, the trip was a big win for me.  I got to squeeze in an extra brewery in a busy day, got to experience a place with a truly distinct style, had my million and one questions answered, and walked away with a growler.  Sometimes a little extra effort goes a long way.

Some places were just made for a 360 camera

I’m in Pittsburgh having flown there straight from Queens.  The work is still flowing, but I find myself with an afternoon to myself in which I’m not so tired I can barely think.  This is it!  This is the day to get out to breweries.  Talking to someone at the work site, I hear tell of a church that has been converted to a brewery.  Sounds interesting.  Then, I have a talk with an Uber driver about breweries in the area.  He knows nothing about beer, and even less about why people would visit breweries.  But, he’s heard of a brewery that was converted from a church.  OK.  Now I have to see this place.  It becomes priority numero uno on brewery afternoon in Pittsburgh.  From outside, you wouldn’t even know The Church Brew Works was a brewery without looking at the sign.

The Church Brew Works exterior

When I walk through the doors, I immediately remember architecture from all those times from my youth when I actually went to church.

The Church Brew Works entrance
Stairs leading to upper level seating

Ahhhh, North East Church architecture.  But, then I walked into the main part of the church.  Holy made for a 360 camera Batman!  So much to see here!

OK. I’m calling it. The Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh was specifically designed for 360 pictures. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Wow!  I couldn’t even sit down and get a beer at first.  I had to walk all over this place and get pictures of every nook and cranny.

Brewing equipment at alter of The Church Brew Works
Serving equipment behind bar area at The Church Brew Works
Motorcycle made of bottle caps
Big rock? Fossilized dinosaur poop?
Stuff to buy
Entrance half of The Church Brew Works
Alter half of The Church Brew Workds

Ahhh, but you’re talking to me again as you’re reading.  You’re saying “but, is there more to this place than just pictures?”  Turns out there is.  I just wanted to get the pictures out of the way first as the place was just so visually stunning and photogenic.

I sat down with one of the brewers (Brian) and had a really good discussion about the story behind the brewery.  Of course, my first question had to be “Is the theme based on a highly religious background on the part of the owners?”  Turns out it is not.  The parish was going through a lot of movement and restructuring in the area and the building itself came up for sale.  The owners saw the potential that lead me to walk all over taking pictures before I even sat down for a drink and they leaped at the opportunity.  It really seemed to pay off.  I highly recommend reading the history page of the breweries website as there was a lot of painstaking work that went into the specifics of how this place looks.

Brian also had some interesting perspectives on brewers.  Specifically, he had an observation that many brewers seem to have one of two different training styles.  Many brewers are artists at heart.  Their training is in the art of brewing and they tend to focus on exploration of new and unique styles and flavors.  Then there are the brewers that have a primarily engineering background (like Brian).  They are often chemists at heart and like to focus on perfecting existing styles and flavors.  Brian’s passion is in the flavor that water adds to beer.  The flavor in water comes from stuff that isn’t H2O itself such as minerals.  When he is home brewing in small batches he likes to start with distilled water and then create flavors of water that complement the style of beer he is brewing.  Fascinating!

And, of course, I did manage to get a bottle while I was there.  They had a fantastic Belgian Tripel.

The Church Brew Works 2000 Tripel

If you are ever in Pittsburgh, you NEED to get to this place.  It is quite an experience.

That means what now?

When last we left our intrepid anti-hero, he was living it up with a trip to Queens, NY.  From there I went straight on to Pittsburgh.  I don’t mean that I went home and then flew up to Pittsburgh the next week.  I mean that I had an interesting conversation with the travel agent in which I booked a flight from Orlando to Queens, then from Queens to Pittsburgh and no flight back to Orlando because I wasn’t sure when I would be done working in Pittsburgh.  I’m sure I’m on some sort of government watch list for booking that set of flights.

Anywho… I get to Pittsburgh, I’m tired, and I need dinner.  I want to stay close to the hotel, but I have a rental car (for the first day only) and can’t resist finding a brewery a bit further out.  My research said that my best bet was to go to Heidelberg, PA and check out Insurrection AleWorks.

Insurrection AleWorks

Despite a long walk down a hallway, the actual tap room area is not all that large.

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

But, as I’ve mentioned before, the size of a brewery is never indicative of how good they are.  The food at Insurrection was exactly what I typically look for.  A menu full of odd things that I just won’t find anywhere else such as Jamaican Hot Chocolate Habanero wings and a list of cheeses with such oddities as Rattlesnake.  As I would soon find out, the Pittsburgh area was going to be a mecca of interesting foods everywhere I turned.  I was even able to find bizarre and delicious food at an airport sports bar.  I’m sure I gained about 10 lbs on this trip.

But, I’m sure you’re asking in your head (because you’re like that, don’t try to tell me you’re not), what about the beer?  Isn’t this a beer blog?  Well, hold your horses, I’m getting there.  The beer menu had a wide variety of styles and I was able to put together an eclectic flight that I’m sure would make some purists somewhere cry.  But, what caught my eye for my collection was a beer called восстание.  A challenge I often face in collecting is tracking all of the beers in the collection.  In this case, I was wondering how my poor spreadsheet that I’m hoping to turn into a full blown database is going to handle Cyrillic.  Just in case, I ask the server what восстание means in English so that I can enter a backup name.  Turns out it means “insurrection”… you know, the name of the brewery.  Crazy.

So, the collection is one growler stronger, I have beer to drink in the hotel after long shifts of work, and I’ve started a trend of fantastic food.  The trip is definitely off to a good start.

My goodness the thoughts in your head right now.  You know I can hear you bitching already, right?  “But were you able to enter Cyrillic into Excel?”  Yes, crybabies.  I was able to put Cyrillic into Excel.  Now go have a beer and calm down.

You got your chocolate in my peanut butter

I was recently at a 7-11 with Mrs. UsedHair and we were admiring the decadence of the double gulp insulated mug.

52 oz double gulp mug

Mrs. UsedHair liked the Army design as UsedHair Jr. was in the Army.  my only problem was that I couldn’t think of anything of which I would want 52 ounces in one shot.  But then I noticed the sticker.

8 hours cold sticker

This mug claims to keep liquids cold for 8 hours.  I could probably drink 52 ounces of beer in 8 hours.  Probably.  It would mean drinking for a whole evening without having to get up off the couch even once.  There was just one hitch.  I collect single bottles and cans.  That’s all I shop for.  I don’t have 52 ounces of any single beer around my house.  I would have to find a beer with just enough class, color, and charm to drink from a 7-11 double gulp mug.

Well, it just so happens that I was listening to an episode of At The Bar Podcast in which they were discussing a news story that helped me out.  As it turns out, Walmart is being sued because they sell a line of beer that (so the claim goes) is disguised as craft beer.  Just what does that mean?  Well, the 12 pack of beer in question is clearly labeled as being from Trouble Brewing.

Walmart 12 pack of “craft” beer
Walmart “craft” beer

As it turns out, there is an actual Trouble Brewing in Ireland, but none whatsoever here in the US.  The Trouble Brewing listed on the Walmart beer cans is a thinly veiled front for Genesee Brewing Company.  When I was growing up in Upstate New York, Genesee was known for it’s bargain basement quality beer.  Since then, it has been sold and mergered a few times and now rests in the hands of Cerveceria Costa Rica S.A.  Such news worthy beer definitely belongs in my collection.  For me, the bigger issue is not that the beer is made by a mass distributor.  Rather, the fact that the beer is made by Genesee makes it of about the right amount of class to be appropriate for a 7-11 double gulp.  My own personal challenge had begun.  Check out the video to see me preparing to drink a mish-mash of 5 cans of low quality beer in one night.  There’s a reward at the end of the video as you get to see that this mug really-really likes me.

So how did the night go?  Well, believe it or not, I’m not really used to drinking 5 beers in a night.  Craft beer is typically expensive, so I keep myself paced pretty well.  Getting through 5 beers, of questionable quality, all mixed together in a bucket, was not the most enjoyable evening I’ve ever had.   But I powered through it.  The biggest side effect I noticed was well after I drank the beer.  I will occasionally get up in the middle of the night with heartburn and have to take a tums.  I’m then fine and go back to sleep for the rest of the night.  I had to get up 4 times that night with the same heartburn.  That was a tums filled night to be sure.  But now I have a story, an insulated mug that I’ll never use again, and 4 new cans for the collection.

On Night in Queens – Where am I again?

So now…where were we? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh…okay. “Westley and Buttercup raced along the ravine floor.”

No, no.  That’s not it.  I was working at LaGuardia Airport in Queens and decided I could hit one brewery on a free night.  I met a guy at the first brewery that wasn’t going to have any of that and started acting as my personal beer sherpa in Long Island City.  We went together to a second brewery and had a grand old time.  But the evening wasn’t over yet.  There was one more brewery within walking distance in Long Island City that I had to see.  Big Alice wasn’t big and Rockaway Brewing wasn’t in Rockaway.  Would this be a similarly oddly named brewery?  Nope.  I was in for a third completely and utterly different style of brewery in the same city.  But LIC Beer Project (Long Island City, LIC, get it?) was definitely in Long Island City and didn’t really have any juxtapositions from it’s name going on.

LIC Beer Project exterior

The best way I can describe LIC Beer Project is “ultra”.  Ultra-hip, ultra-modern, ultra-sleek, ultra-polished, ultra-etc. Even the naming convention of calling themselves a beer project rather than a brewery spoke to the “ultra” feel of the place.  LIC had a feel like nothing else in a town with at least 2 other breweries.

Final stop of the night. Long Island City Brewing. So many breweries in one night. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

LIC barrels

The only thing I could find that they had in common with another brewery in the area was the love of graffiti that I had also seen at Rockaway Brewing.

LIC graffiti

But, once again, the “ultra” feel of LIC comes to light in that they take the love of graffiti and ramp it up such that the graffiti art permeates almost all of their can designs.

Speaking of cans… I was able able to score 2 containers at LIC.  The first was a bottle that I was drawn to strictly because of the name.  I was an exchange student in Spain my last year of high school, so I have a love of all things related to Spanish culture.  So a beer called Dulcinea was something I definitely had to have.  The second beer was an IPA.  I’m not usually that into IPAs, but the person behind the bar was excited to hear about my collection and offered to sell me a rare can that she had been squirreling away.  How can I resist a rare can.  To their credit, it was a really good IPA and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

So, the evening has been very productive, and somewhere along the way I lost my beer sherpa Jared.  Now, I’m really tired and know I’m going to have to pay the price at work the next day as I have to get us super early.  But I head back to the hotel knowing I’ve made the absolute most out of my trip.

 

One night in Queens – Big things come in small packages

I got to work for a few days at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, NY.  Most of the time I was working far to hard and on such odd hours that I couldn’t really think about going out anywhere.  But, at some point in the trip, that magic evening came when I didn’t have to work at night and didn’t have to be back at work at 4am.  This was definitely a brewery night.  I found brewery that I wanted to try in the Long Island City area of Queens.  I would just slip out for a single brewery, just to say I got to one in Queens.  Well, that turned into a whole adventure.  Let’s take the night one step at a time.

The brewery that I had planned was up first.  It was picked solely on the grounds of being closest to my hotel (and therefore the cheapest Uber ride).  With a name like Big Alice Brewing, I expected either a large brewery, large taproom, or a large person behind the bar.  Big Alice was none of those things.

Big Alice Brewing Exterior

Like so many other breweries, Big Alice was quite unassuming from the outside, with nothing more than a hand painted sign above a single door. Inside was quite the opposite of Big.

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

However, in the tiny place, they had some excellent barrels that I hope were once used to age something.

Big Alice barrel
Another Big Alice barrel

I thought maybe this was just a small taproom for a larger brewery.  Nope.  You can see the brewery right behind the bar, and they were nice enough to let me get a picture.

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Now, if you’re anything like me, you know that the size of a brewery has nothing to do either way with the quality and variety of the beer that gets produced.  So, I had to get a flight to see just how good the beer there was.

Big Alice flight

With a lineup of a sweep potato farmhouse ale, a kiwi belgian ale, a jalapeno rye, as well as IPAs, kolsches, and stouts, this place really knows how to round out a beer selection.  I felt so good about the jalapeno rye that I got a growler of it to take back to the hotel.

And, of course, let’s take a super quick video tour.

Now, this is where my story usually ends.  I grab an Uber and head on home.  But not this time.  I made an awesome friend at Big Alice named Jared.  He is a local to the Long Island City area and shares my enthusiasm for beer and was quite excited to hear about my adventures all over the world.  But, Jared was not having any of my plans to head back to the hotel after visiting only one brewery in Long Island City.  He took it upon himself to act as my personal beer sherpa and we headed out to the next brewery within walking distance.  I was in for a night of three breweries that each had very, very different personalities.  Next post… you get to find out where Jared took me when we left Big Alice.

Dog day afternoon

If there is one thing that Mrs. UsedHair and I like as much as beer, it would have to be dogs.  We have three of them ourselves.  As they are all rescue dogs, I suppose you could call them UsedHair’s Used Dogs.

UsedHair’s Used Dogs

We’ve been very pleased to see a trend of having combined dog and beer festivals in our area.   The first one we attended was too small to write about, had only giant corporation beer companies represented, and limited the beer samples with a punch card (which always cheeses me off).  But, the second one we found was definitely worth writing about.

Pints and Paws in Sanford, FL is everything you would expect in a great local beer festival with over 60 breweries (local and national) represented.

Pints And Paws beer festival #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

So, for a start (and it’s a really good start) I get to chat with representatives of great existing breweries like Orange Blossom Brewing Co.

Orange Blossom Brewing car

And I get to chat with reps from breweries that are ramping up to their grand opening, like the guys at Tactical Brewing.

Tactical Brewing at Pints and Paws beer/dog festival

Any friends that have been out in public with me know that I have a “squirrel” reaction any time I see a dog.  So, this place had me distracted left and right with all the cute dogs.

Dog in a carrier
Puppy!!!
St. Patrick’s Day dogs
Mermaid Dogs
Our dog Cria and Mrs. UsedHair!!!!

On top of everything else, I got to wear the beer helmet that Mrs. UsedHair made for me (I’m the dope on the right wearing the UsedHair’s Used Bottles t-shirt).

Beer head gear

Last, but not least… every collectors dream, I walked away with tons and tons of swag.

Swag from Pints and Paws
More swag from Pints and Paws
Yet more swag from Pints and Paws

I even managed to convince some of the vendors to let me keep the bottles after trying their beer.

Containers from Pints and Paws

So, let’s wrap this up by saying that I highly recommend going to one of these beer/dog festivals.  As one final look, here is the 360 video tour of about 2/3 of the event.

Be bold!

Slowly but surely, I’m finding the opportunities to get to the legion of Central Florida breweries.  After the last trip to Super South Georgia, I was fortunate enough to pass through Jacksonville, on my own, somewhere around dinner time.  In Jacksonville, dinnertime means one thing more than any other… get off the roads and find somewhere to eat, because traffic isn’t letting you go anywhere anyway.  So, I looked for breweries close to I-95 that might have some good food.  Turns out that Bold City Brewery fit the bill on both counts.  It was time for a detour!

Finding some breweries is a process that makes me happy that we have progressed to a point where we have GPS on our phones.  Aside from the great big fermentation tank out back, I would never have guessed from the outside that this was anything other than an industrial building of some sort or other.

Bold City industrial building

But, true to the kind of quirky neighborhoods in which breweries tend to reside, there was some interesting graffiti on the building across the street.

Bold City graffiti on the building across the street

And, what quirky neighborhood would be complete without a completely random and inexplicable billboard on the other side of the parking lot?

Bold City inexplicable billboard

To be honest, that’s a pretty good start to a brewery visit for me.  Quirky and I get along quite well.  Must be time to see what the inside looks like.

Stopped in at Bold City Brewery on my way home through Jacksonville. Very impressed so far. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Pretty damn nice on the inside.  The industrial vibe is completely gone… except for a giant window that looks out into the brewing area and the Bodega where I got some astounding fried nachos with pulled chicken.  And, of course, my attention was immediately drawn to the bottle collection displayed in the tap room.

Bold City bottle collection

Bonus points if you spotted the Duff Beer.  And, as if that isn’t enough, they have interesting beer-related products for sale, such as beer hand lotion.  Crazy.

Bold City beer hand lotion

So, the quirky industrial exterior works and the interior vibe has it going on as well.  What about the beer?  I have to admit, I already knew about the beer as they have a great brown ale in distribution that I’ve had several times before.

Bold City Duke’s Cold Nose Brown Ale

But at the brewery you get to see a picture of the actual Duke for which the beer is named.  He’s quite the cute sucker too.

Bold City picture of Duke

So, I knew the beer was going to be great.  What surprised me was that when the bartender noticed I was a first time customer, he immediately provided me with a free flight so I could get a feel for their full range of styles.  That is the best business move I’ve seen from a brewery in many, many years.

Bold City free-first-time-flight

You can also see in the picture a set of Jax Ale Trail booklets in which you can get stamps from many of the Jacksonville breweries.  Another great business move.  I think these guys are going to be around for a while. After the flight, I ordered a pumpkin ale and got a free pint glass because I kicked the keg.

Bold City pint glass

This is definitely my kind of place.  If it wasn’t a two hour drive, I would make this a regular stop.

But, let’s get down to the nitty gritty here.  Did I get a bottle for the collection?  Hell yes.  They have growlers and I have a growler koozie that I keep handy for long return home drives.  So the trip was a success on all fronts.  Let’s check out a 360 video tour so you can see the whole shebang.  I think you’ll be surprised at how big the whole place is based on the size of the taproom in the 360 picture.