On the Road Again (and Again…)

It has been a confusing (and exhausting) summer for travel so far for my family and me, with an even higher than usual degree of independent travel for the four of us. It began with the spousal unit making professional trips to a meeting in St. Louis and a retreat in Ocean City at the end of May and beginning of June, and that was followed in short order by a professional trip for me to Salt Lake City in the middle of June. At the end of June, we sent one of the offspring on a church mission trip to rural upstate NY and I drove the other one to a gymnastics camp in the more-or-less geographical center of Pennsylvania. Since I was already headed west, I continued onward to spend a night in Pittsburgh with my brother and then headed north to the Cleveland area to check in on my mother’s recovery from her midwinter hospitalization before returning home for a couple of rare days with only adults at home. When offspring S got back from his mission trip, the three of us then piled into the car to drive to Maryland for a reunion with Dr. Mrs. Dr. Dave’s family and to help her parents prep their house for sale as her father finally commits to giving up a yard to putter in and living full-time in a high-rise Florida condo, and to wrap up the crazy travel I drove on the morning of July 4th back to PA to pick up Mr. G (the gymnast) and bring him back to join the rest of the family.

What all this has to do with beer is that (1) I have had a variety of chances to try some local brews (and not as much to time to sample things here at home) and (2) the coming and going has my head spinning to the extent that my notes are incomplete in a few places. Be that as it may, here is some of what has been going on the beer front.
IMG_0527At home, I slowly worked my way through the Two Roads “beer bus,” a twelve –pack of cans of four of their beers: a session IPA, a pilsner, a white IPA, and the particularly memorable (and potent) tripel blonde ale made with rye known as Rye 95 (a pun on their location along the I-95 corridor in Connecticut). I have also been working on a mix pack from Stone Brewing which is mostly on the hop-heavy end of the spectrum (their recently revamped American pale ale, a session IPA, and yet another bastard, their Arrogant Bastard ale), plus a less hoppy but intensely spicy saison.

In Salt Lake City, a new site for the AP Chemistry exam reading, my roommate and social director (also Dr. Dave) was recovering from neck surgery. His medication regime had him battling fatigue and avoiding mixing alcohol with pain-killers and muscle relaxants, so I spent less of my free time drinking beer and more engaging in outdoor activities. The beer I enjoyed most was actually an accident, the result of confusion on the part of a new waitress who couldn’t distinguish between and IPA and a brown ale, so I ended up with the Uinta Bristlecone brown ale. Happily, this was a really pleasant beer, and although it was served much colder than a brown ale should be (it almost felt like there were ice crystals in the head), this local Utah beer (yes, even in Utah they are brewing beer these days) had a nice malty sweetness and was really refreshing.

In the brief time we were all home, we enjoyed a father’s day dinner at Doherty’s pub where I pickedIMG_0566 out another rainbow sampler, but this is one of the occasions where my attention span flagged so all I can say is that everything was good. The following weekend I brought a six-pack of Six Point Sweet Action to a party with some of our singing friends, but the food and the conversation (not to mention the backyard chickens at our friends’ rural southern RI home) were more of an attraction than the beer so I can’t come up with a comment on this one either.

My brother brews some of his own beer, and one of the ones he offered me was this nice, fizzy summer ale which had just a hint of extra yeastiness but little if any of the usual home brew notes. Several years ago, while visiting a good friend and doing a vertical tasting of several beers that he had brewed with the students in his chemistry lab, we decided that one of highest accolades for a home brewed beer is being able to say that it doesn’t taste like home brew.

While in Cleveland, I settled on the Burning River pale ale from Great Lakes brewing during my visit. (It took a while to locate this at the store since they have changed to a more illustrational style for the label art.) No dinners out this time—my mom’s hearing is such that restaurant noise makes conversation nearly impossible so we either ate in her assisted living apartment or in the communal dining room where there is far less ambient noise than a typical restaurant. I brought the remainder of a six-pack home to New England to keep some of the other beers company.

In Maryland, dinner out was the norm, though as pictured here we did enjoy a final family crab feast on my in-laws’ deck overlooking the South River. IMG_0590My brother-in-law encouraged me in my pursuit of local beers, so we split a six-pack (OK, I actually drank most of it) of Baltimore-based Heavy Seas’ Small Craft Warning, which they describe as an über pils and which has a nice “toasty” flavor from some extra maltiness when compared to a typical pilsner. On the night of the U.S. vs. Japan women’s World Cup soccer final, we ended up at our favorite local rib joint. With dinner I had the Vienna Lager from Virginia-based Devils Backbone brewery, and then followed that during the anticlimactic second half of the game (after the flurry of four USA goals in the first 16 minutes pretty much put the game out of reach before it had even started) with my brother-in-law’s recommendation of what I think was an amber ale from Jailbreak in Laurel, MD.

Having spent a pleasant few days with my wife’s family (and coming home with a carful of otherwise-soon-to-be-abandoned kitchen and dining wares), we are home for a couple of days before the next round of camps and family trips starts up. Summer is flying by, but I will have most of the next few weeks at home to rest up, try to beat my body into shape for the fall cross-country season, tackle some random household projects, and get a jump on prepping two substantially new courses for the coming academic year. All that also means that I will be looking forward to an interesting beer or two at the end of the day, so there should be more beer news in the weeks ahead. Cheers!