Memorial Day 4-day weekend roaming (#beer #roadtrip #homebrew)
Published on May 31st, 2011 @ 08:00:00 am , using 1801 words, 859 views
I took Friday off, making Memorial Day weekend into a 4 day weekend, and we set out with a vague plan to end up at a few different places. Maybe. Unless we changed our mind. :D This time, we decided to avoid interstates/freeways, and instead take only state roads. Turns out that in addition to being more interesting and scenic, they're also (usually) a shorter and faster way to get places.
So we left Thursday afternoon around, hell, I don't remember - 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon, directly after leaving my office. Our first destination was 3 Floyds.
Now, of course, we'd been there before, but had to go again. Hell, we've even entertained plans of going up-n-back to FFF on a weeknight. Many people say FFF's a little like a cult - and if so, well, we've drank the kool-aid. Lots of it. Had a great time there, then checked into the hotel, and realized we probably needed some more food. After realizing that not much was open, we headed to Crown Brewing, as they have a pizza place connected. Had a very yummy pizza, and enjoyed talking with the server girls. ;)
We knew Beer Geeks Pub was nearby, so we plotted to end the night there. We'd heard good things about it - they have murals on the walls of "geek icons" enjoying beers - Yoda, Spock, Einstein, etc. And lots of craft beer on tap and in bottles. Figured it'd be our kind of place. Well, the murals were cool, and the beer was certainly good, but... They had a bunch-o-TVs with a basketball game on, and most of the patrons were way more into that than beer or anything "geeky." I can't even remember what beer I had, though I remember she had 2 pints, and then Viking Blod mead which was insanely good. Anyway. Probably not ever going back there!
So we slept the sleep of the dead, and awoke Friday morning ready for further adventure. We were in Hammond, which is insanely close to Chicago, and in Chicago dwells Intelligentsia Coffee. If there's one thing we like nearly as much as craft beer, it's quality coffee, and Intelli is probably the best. So, first order of business for Friday was to head into Chicago for some coffee.
Now, most people say you should never drive into Chicago, and instead take a train. We now know why. Anyway, we drove in, paid the tolls, found Intelli, paid for parking, and then had some coffee. Most. expensive. coffee. EVAR. Not the coffee itself, but the aforementioned tolls and parking. Totally worth it! Would do it again, except we won't, as we'll take public transit in, instead.
The rest of the day's plans included Shoreline Brewery, Figure 8 Brewing, and Back Road Brewery. Shoreline opens at 11, and they are a restaurant as well, so we planned to eat there and then go to the other 2 places. They're not overly far apart. But, we had some time to kill, so we spent a little time at Blue Chip Casino in Hammond. Was fun.
Shoreline was fairly good. Not a place we'd make a "destination" but it was good enough and we don't regret having gone. We found out that Back Road doesn't open until 4 and is only open until 6, so we figure "another time," and heading to F8 - as they open at 3 and we'd arrive pretty much right around then.
Figure 8 was awesome. The brewer/owner used to be a programmer for pinball machines. Very cool! He also makes kick-ass beer. We enjoyed a chat with him, and asked where was nearly that had good food and was not a chain. He recommended 3 different places, so we set off to see which one we'd end up near first.
That turned out to be Pikk's Tavern, a very (very!) nice tavern and semi-high-end steakhouse. We tried their frites and scotch eggs which were insanely good. We briefly thought of eating our full meal there, but figured since we would be traveling on state roads, we'd end up happening by some cool looking mom-n-pop diner/restaurant along the way to our next destination, so we skipped eating at Pikk's - a decision we'd soon regret. :D
Before leaving Valpo, we got some snacks at South Bend Chocolate.
Our next destination was Muncie - where lies the infamous Heorot Tavern, home of the most craft beer taps in Indiana (and supposedly insanely cool to boot). Turns out there was nothing, zip, zilch, along the road from Valpo to Muncie. Not a damned thing. Except some road obstruction that caused such a loud sound that it scared the shit out of both of us. No damage to the car, though.
We arrived in Muncie fairly late, checked into the hotel, and then set out to find food. Well, it was after 8 and a lot of places were closing. We ended up... gah... at Applebee's. We needed protein; most of our food up to this point was low on the protein and we're used to getting a lot. Anyway. It sucked, but it was protein. Heh.
Saturday dawned, and we needed coffee. On a previous trip to Muncie, we remembered there was Blue Bottle Coffee downtown (right near Heorot too!) So we headed there. Got some coffee, asked the vegan barista who their roaster was... and she didn't know. Scary stuff. The coffee was not horrible though.
Heorot doesn't open until 11, so we had time to kill. The aforementioned vegan/barista mentioned that Muncie has a fairly good farmer's market, that would be a good walk from downtown. We're used to getting a lot more movement than we'd got up to this point, so that sounded good. It was a nice 1.5 - 2 mile walk along the river to the farmer's market; very pretty, enjoyable walk together.
The farmer's market was indeed a very good one! We still had a little time to kill before Herorot opened. She's a baker, and we kept noticing there was a local (non chain) sounding bakery nearby. We headed there and were shocked to learn that while it is indeed a local bakery, their baked goods were lesser quality than what you'd get at a grocery store. Very disappointing.
Luckily, Heorot [sadly, they do not have a website - I suppose they don't need one] was now open, and we were saved. Legends tell of this place, with it's dark wood (and very little lighting) and nordic/viking/hunter theme, and an proprietor with his wolves, and so forth. No wolves on this day, but the legends are true. Heorot rules. I won't bother to further describe the place; it would just fall short of conveying how awesome it is. The beer menu is so voluminous, it's organized by style. I had an amazing doppelbock, and she had, I can't recall how many pints - I just remember it was enough that she kept claiming she was going to pass out on the road to the next destination. :D
The next destination was Hoosier Park Casino in Anderson. She did not, in fact, pass out, but we were both worried she might be "too drunk" for the Casino. Turns out she wasn't, and it was a lot of fun. I won $120, actually - nearly enough to pay for our next planned dinner. The trip was winding down; we wanted a little time near home, too, so our plan was to head into Indy and have dinner at Fogo de Chao. Yes, I know it's a chain, but, it is a higher end chain, and supposedly very good. And there would be tons of meat, something we sorely needed by this point.
We were not disappointed! Thoroughly enjoyed it. We then headed home, unpacked, I experienced a total brain crash (sadly somewhat typical for me post-trip), and then we slept.
Woke up Sunday morning, had an even worse brain situation, and then we decided we would keep our Sunday (sort of) tradition of goign to LBC and then People's Brewing Company. People's has a Black IPA out now, and we hadn't tried it yet. We both had kick-ass double bison burgers at LBC (meat!) and tried their new Golden Lady IPA. Good stuff! Then headed to People's for the BIPA. A very, very good brew. :) We were chatting with Danyel (A FELLOW CARNIVORE!) and mentioned we miiiight head to Beef House in Covington that evening, and she said if we did we had to (1) try the frog legs and (2) have a roll for her.
We didn't end up at Beef House. Instead, we went to Williamsport Falls, and then noticed we were super close to the Illinois border. They sell booze on Sundays in IL! (Illegal in IN.) So we ended up in Racistville, IL. Er, Danville. But yeah, racist. Anyway. They don't have much craft beer in Danville! We did get a 6 pack each of brews from Founders and Smuttynose and got the EFF out of Danville.
Sunday ends, Monday begins. A 10 mile bike ride; feels wonderful to get back to a more normal amount of exercise for us. We quickly formulated a plan to go hiking at Turkey Run and THEN make it to Beef House for dinner. We hadn't been to Turkey Run before, and it was a lot of fun! Very (for us) rugged-ish trails. We hiked for about an hour, then set out for Beef House.
We hadn't eaten yet - so BH was a very welcome sight. The place is regionally famous. It's a 1960's steakhouse, pure and simple. At Danyel's recommendation we did indeed have the froglegs and they were awesome. Our mains were T-bones. Perfect. :)
We ended the day (and the 4-day weekend) comfortably at home, with some very welcome closeness and an episode of Reaper. (And a taste of the Founders Wee Heavy we bought in Racistville.)
Not road trip related, but we taste tested the first bottle of FBoS on Sunday as well. Good stuff! Has some very interesting notes to it; can't wait to see what others makes of it.
Also not road trip related - our new bikes (a pair of 2011 Kona Sutras) should be in this week. They're steel framed, instead of aluminum, which will be very nice for the rough roads. They also have better gearing for hills and the like. They're full blown touring bikes. Rivendell Bicycles got me thinking we needed different bikes to really enjoy the kind of riding we're doing, and want to do. Rivendell bikes are very, very high end, and we couldn't justify the cost, in the end, so we went with the Konas. We are planning to patronize Rivendell for some accessories and clothing, though, as we both feel we owe them something for helping us see bikes in a new light.
Anyway! Stay tuned for another chaotic road trip in mid/late June, when I have a full week off. :D
Good readin’ :) I don’t like beer at all, but the way you write about it makes me want to have another taste!
I can give you some rec’s to help you ease into the world of craft beer. It’s a whole other world from mainstream beer. (Like coffee, really.)