Guinness Factory

Of course when one travels to Ireland for the first time it’s almost a given/requirement to visit the Guinness factory.  While planning the visit, I luckily received tips to purchase tickets in advance to avoid long lines once arriving.

Unlike most brewery tours it was self-guided and you could read through everything and go at your own pace.  You get all information from history to brewing process to marketing and more.

With the tour you received a (free) pint of the stout.  Now, one could go to the 6th floor of the building and have it poured for them, or you could stop by the 4th floor and learn how to pour it properly.  Hello, that’s a given!  So much fun to pour your own brew.

Very fun part of Dublin, Ireland.  Cheers!

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Southern Tier of Choklat Heaven

A friend had been telling me about a chocolate stout recently and I was quite intrigued.  I lean towards IPAs and wheats but will try something off the wall.  She had to wait to go home at Christmas to get this stuff as it’s hard to find around here.  So, last weekend I finally had the great treat of sampling some Southern Tier Choklat.  Per the bottle, it’s a stout brewed with chocolate — sounds deep. WOW, give me some gingerbread, dark cherries and dark chocolate to pair with this and heaven had arrived!  It’s 10% ABV, super smooth and just disappears.  You don’t need much.  It comes in 22oz bottles so pick one up to share with a friend for dessert.

I’m going to have to check out some of Southern Tier’s other stuff, now, too.  They are located in NY and have a nice menu.

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From CO to MD

I visited the breweries in Colorado then went less than a hour north of Washington, DC to check about another great beer producer’s house of heaven.  This time it was Flying Dog.  Now, did you know they started in Colorado and moved to Maryland to grow/expand/make people around here even happier?  Oh, ok, maybe that last part wasn’t the true strategy but I don’t hear any complaints.

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So when considering checking out the Flying Dog Brewery, pull out next year’s calendar.  They have a several month wait list/lead booking time.  I lucked out because I was going alone and was able to snag a spot from a cancellation.  So, if you want to go that route, contact them a day or so before you’d be interested in checking it out.  They only do tours Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

You get there, get carded, get your nice bracelet.

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Pay $5 and get a great glass that you keep (this is jumping ahead as it has delicious fluid in it).  Then the tour begins.

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You get the scoop on the entire history, from the founder, the owner, the random tidbits, the alcohol, drugs, prison time, name, etc.  Neat stuff.  The hallway depicts all of this.  There are more paintings that the camera didn’t quite pick up.

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You continue into the beer processing area and learn about all steps of the brewing process, from when water and hops might initially collide, how they determine each brew (what goes into each one), when/how long it’s in vats, how the bottling process works and the final ‘boxing’/putting it in cases or kegging so we can enjoy it.

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When the tour was done, we headed to the bar where we could pick whatever we wanted.  For $5, we got 5 samples.  Big samples.  I had the staple, Raging Bitch.  Went with the White Wheat.  I tried the rarities — Orchard Ale.  Then some of the seasonals, which were hit or miss.  There were love/hates in the tour group as we discussed them.  The seasonals I tried were this beer and wine funky thing (can’t remember the name) — interesting.  One glass would be all I’d want and then the awesome Dogtoberfest Marzen.

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Great place, great tour, great beer.  Check it out when you’re in the area.

And the beer goes on…

Had to continue enjoying the local brews while in Ft. Collins.  One must take in as much as possible when not at home.  So I took one for the team…

Brewery 5:  Odell Brewing Company.  Sample — $4!  For 6 tastes!  This is another one with the whole (unfortunate) issue of 5 oz pours, 6 beers, 5,000 ft elevation…  This was my first stop of the day.  Hey, I was fresh right.  I had to be so careful and drink responsibly in the sense that there was more to come.  My total favorite was Levity with several close runner ups.

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Brewery 6:  Fort Collins Brewery.  Good name considering where I was.  I found another chili beer here.  After sampling a few I ended with this amazing smoky beer, that was that chili one — Mesquite Chili Lime Ale, part of their Out of the Ashes Smoke Beer Series.  Not describable in words.  Go to the store to find it, or better yet, just head out there to have some (limited edition though, so hurry)!

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Brewery 7:  New Belgium Brewing Company.  This is one of my favorites!  Went on the brewery several years ago and the twirly slide at the end if priceless!  This time I just went to sample.  So many options, so little time.  Many new Lips of Faith to try, other random stuff to sample.  It was packed that it was tough to even move.  I just had sips of some new stuff then finished with my favorite Fat Tire.  Oh happy day.

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All good things must come to an end.  I eventually had to get on a plane and come back east.  I do have a brewery tour scheduled at Flying Dog soon.  Looking forward to that!