We started our East Coast adventure with a crazy dash across the country from the Boulder City Beer Fest in Nevada (just outside of Las Vegas) over the Vail Pass (it’s never easy – rock slides, snow storms, insane winds), we made a quick stop to reload on beer shirts at our Tapped Life home base in Denver and kept haulin’. We (and little dog, Ida) needed to be in Baltimore in two days to set up shop at the Beer, Bourbon and BBQ at the Timonium Fairgrounds. We stopped just outside St. Louis, grabbed some tasty ribs and mac & cheese at Pappy’s for a late dinner and crashed for the night. Another 14 hours to go. East coast tour de brufest.
April 1-2: Beer, Bourbon & BBQ – Baltimore, MD
We made it to Baltimore with a little time to spare so we checked into our Ida-friendly hotel and went looking for a finely crafted local beer and quite possibly some food. One of our favorite parts of the Tapped Lifestyle is cruising around the cities we tap and trying to get a feel for the craftiness of each one. They all have their own life and energy. Some cities are like a creamy, dark stout – mysterious and cloudy while others are light and crisp like a smartly brewed kolsch.
After accidentally finding ourselves in the middle of the Under Amour complex (looks like a nice place to spend the work day), we realized the impact this company has on the Baltimore waterfront and city as a whole.
We stumbled into Nick’s Fish House, also on the waterfront, and learned about Union Brewery (a local Baltimore craft player) and happily tasted their Duckpin Pale Ale which Nick’s had on draught. We also got to wrap our lips around a Loose Cannon (also on draught) by the city’s own, Heavy Seas Beer. After a quick conversation with our waiter we learned that Nick’s Fish House had recently been purchased by Under Amour as had quite a bit of local, waterfront real estate and several other businesses. Is clothing and apparel the road to riches…these Masters of Beer Shirts certainly hope so.
The Beer, Bourbon & BBQ show kicked off Friday night with a pretty large crowd and they were hungry and thirsty…thirsty for Beer Shirts! Saturday brought a bigger and hungrier crowd. These Marylanders (Baltimorians?) sampled BBQ in all flavors – pork, beef and chicken. They ate ribs and sausages and licked sticky sauce off their beer and whiskey soaked fingers. These lucky people sampled bourbons, local craft beers, rare national craft beers, sparking ciders and hard sodas (uhhh…this tastes just like a creamcicle).
Surprise, surprise, the biggest Tapped Life seller was the Makin’ Bacon t-shirt.
April 8-9: Atlantic City Beer & Music Festival – Atlantic City, NJ
The drive into Atlantic City was beautiful. We drove through bright green fields, quaint historic towns and we even had the pleasure of grabbing an Italian Hoagie from Primo Hoagies somewhere north of Newark (where we hit several very large potholes).
We pulled into the city just in time to find the Convention Center and load-in for the Friday night session of the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival. We got pretty lucky (or unlucky depending on your feeling about the bands) with our space placement, which was just in front of the stage. After getting set-up we took a moment to check out the venue and noticed the sand castle being constructed in the middle of the floor and then we noticed the HUGE line of people waiting to get their craft on. Game on!
Saturday was the big two-session day with a total of 6 bands playing between noon and 10pm. Saturday’s first session featured The Superweaks, Superheaven and Manchester Orchestra. Second session started with Solace, Backyard Super Heroes and my favorite of the whole weekend, Reel Big Fish (a throwback to my youth). These guys put on a fun set, playing originals and fun ska-inspired covers.
I got a chance to try three breweries that had been on my list but I had yet to find so I consider this to be a mighty successful event. My bird-brained buddy (he studies birds) lives in Cape May has suggested the Cape May IPA to me on multiple occasions so I finally got to shut him up.
Dark City Brewing’s (Asbury Park, NJ) Urban Decay is a REALLY dark and REALLY tasty Imperial Stout. It’s available on Nitro, as well. I love those creamy, dark beers.
And finally I found a Horny Goat. While Horny Goat is not a local NJ brewery, its Tango Delta Tangerine IPA has been on my “to-try” list for quite some time. It has a nice color, almost a golden orange. The smell is reminiscent of tangerine but not overwhelming, the flavor is well balanced with a big citrusy burst at the end.
Atlantic City’s favorite Tapped Life shirt was the Grateful Hop Head which seems fitting at a music festival.
April 15-16: Boston Beer Summit – Boston, MA
Boston is an awesome beer town. We really enjoyed our couple days this crafty city. Having grown up in upstate NY and VT, we have been to Boston more than a couple times before (can you say 5th Grade Field Trip?) but this was the first time rocking our beer goggles.
The Castle at Park Plaza is a great old Boston building with a ton of history (not to mention, beer stained floors). It was originally a First Corp of Cadets armory building and rumor around the beerfest was there was a full shooting range in the basement.
The guys who produce the Boston Beer Summit really know how to put on a party and they should…this festival is a granddaddy in the world of brewfests with Tapped Life joining the 18th Annual. They had a great list of regional breweries this year. One of my favorite samples included a dry-hopped pilsner, Fresh Cut from Peak Organic of Portland, ME, which would pair with a summer day mowing the lawn. There are four Beer Summits per year…we’re hoping to hang some shirts each time.
For the first time ever, Boston’s bestseller was something other than a t-shirt, the Dog Beers Tank Top, which is incredible as Boston Beer Summit was its introduction.
Our arrival in Boston coincided nicely with an old friend’s birthday and gave us a chance to celebrate with some locals at The Kirkland Tap & Trotter in Somerville. While we were there early for brunch and we focused mostly on Mimosas and Sorbet Floats, this place has an amazing craft beer list. They have a lot of great regional brew options as well as some national favorites. They have big bottles, fruity beers, sours, classics, seasonals and cellar-aged so you should have no problem finding a micro-brewed match for each palate.
Oh, and the food was friggin’ amazing. We had a doughnut that I would like to take to bed and my KT & T Corned Beef Hash was super-tasty (although I would have loved a little more on the plate). At our table I was also able to witness the beauty that was the Brioche French Toast, the KT & T Brown Rice Brunch Bowl and a regal Grass-fed Cheeseburger.
And the Tour de Brufest continues shortly with Tapped Life coverage of Tap NY Festival, the Leesburg Craft Beer Festival, the Thread City Hop Fest and another round of Beer, Bourbon & BBQ in Charlotte, NC.
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