Zinzinnati

I spent last weekend in Cincinnati visiting my best friend, and loyal BBs reader, Haley! Cincinnati has a booming craft beer scene, and we packed as much Cincy beer as we could into my short trip.
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I arrived late on Friday night and we relaxed on Haley’s roof and enjoyed a couple cans of Rhinegeist Crash. Rhinegeist is probably Cincinnati’s most known craft brewery. The barely three-year-old operation has experienced enormous popularity and growth since opening in June 2013, and they just started expanding distribution to the East Coast. I really enjoyed the flavorful, easy drinking Crash pale ale. It has tropical hop notes, mild bitterness and a short, clean finish.
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On Saturday morning we went to yoga at the newly renovated Central Parkway YMCA and browsed at The City Flea. Our first beer stop of the day was Taft’s Ale House, named for 27th President, William Howard Taft. Taft’s is housed in a renovated Evangelical church. The enormous three floor space has a bar on each floor, tons of seating, a private events space, and a full food menu. We grabbed flights on the top floor (in the balcony?) and took a seat to discuss the important issues of the day. 😉
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Unfortunately they were out of Haley’s favorite beer: Snake in the Grass, a Belgian-style blonde brewed with lemongrass and local basil. I thought all the beers I tried were solid. My favorite was the Nellie’s Key Lime Caribbean Ale, described by Haley’s husband Andrew as “the craft version of a Bud Light Lime.”  It’s a wheat beer brewed with key lime juice and coriander. So refreshing!
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From Taft’s we walked to Rhinegeist, just half a mile up Elm Street. Rhinegeist was having their annual mini Oktoberfest inside, but we went straight to the rooftop bar–Haley and Andrew’s favorite in the city. Rhinegeist has a huge selection of beers and ciders on tap. I wish I could report on the rosé cider, but I only had eyes for beer! Andrew recommend Rhinegeist’s flagship IPA, Truth, the brewery’s most solid offering in his opinion. I wasn’t disappointed! Truth is packed with West Coast hops and effortlessly masks the 7.2% ABV. I also enjoyed Haley’s choice,  Chester, a dry saison brewed with sour cherries.
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The people-watching on the Rhinegeist roof is highly entertaining, but we finally tore ourselves away from lederhosen, bachelorettes, and dress-wearing runners to take in the view. Andrew and Haley pointed out all the old buildings being converted to swanky new apartment buildings and businesses. Like Bushwick, the landscape of Cincinnati is constantly changing, and understandably it hasn’t been without controversy.
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From Rhinegeist we took Cincy’s new street car back to the apartment for a little r&r. Haley and I made this delicious, extra crunchy, pistachio guacamole, and we had more skyline time on their balcony. The coolest sight on the balcony might be the outhouse Andrew built for their dog, Zoe! Do you recognize the material on the roof?? It’s covered in different varieties of Rhinegeist beer cans! Such a great idea. Reduce, reuse, rep great beer. 🙂
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The main event on Saturday evening was a trip to the Cincinnati Oktoberfest, the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany. We hopped back on the street car for a quick one mile trip downtown and emerged in a different world.
Although over half a million people turned out for “Oktoberfest Zinzinnati,” it wasn’t overwhelmingly crowded. We easily grabbed beers and found seats next to an Oom-pah band. Andrew got in touch with his German heritage, grooving along to the music, and even convinced Haley to get up and do the chicken dance with him (am I the only one who didn’t know it’s an Oktoberfest song??)
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Deciding that a lap was in order, we moseyed over to another band with a less traditional set list. An Oom-pah take on oldies and classic rock? You know we were into it. Another round of beers and we found ourselves in a Congo line sandwiched between a gaggle of very enthusiastic International students from the University of Cincinnati and a group of friendly middle-aged Midwesterners. It was one of those moments when you think, “How exactly did I get here?” but decide not to care because you’re having so much fun.
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We ended the evening on the swings at the Smale Riverfront Park, recapping the day and gazing out at the John Roebling Suspension Bridge. The bridge spans the Ohio river between Cincinnati and Covington, Kentucky, and was built 30 years before Roebling started an even bigger project– the Brooklyn Bridge! When worlds collide, it’s a beautiful thing.
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Thank you, Haley and Andrew, for showing me such a good time in Cincinnati! I’m already thinking about my next trip. If you’re a craft beer lover, this growing city needs to be at the top of your vacation wish list!

Brooklyn Local Craft Beer Festival

I can honestly say that the Brooklyn Local Craft Beer Festival was the least crowded, most relaxing beer festival I’ve ever been to. We never had to wait in line for beer, there was plenty of room to stand and hang out, and it was after five before breweries started running out of beer. Plus, all the pours were extremely generous, which never hurts. 😉

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After a solid breakfast (We used the stove! We boiled water! We scrambled eggs!), Allison and I got to the festival at around one. It’s held in Carroll Gardens right next to the Carroll Street Bridge, a tiny bridge over the Gowanus Canal. It was an absolutely perfect early fall day: sunny and warm with a slight breeze coming from the water.

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Once inside we basically just bopped around to whichever brewery struck our fancy. It was sooo nice not having to strategically plan our route based on lines. The standout of the day for both of us was Ferrari Beer from Staten Island. We tried the Sour Red Ferrari several times, a medium-bodied, mildly tart brew with a hint of cherry. He also had a very limited amount of his delicious smoked beer, Smoky Hollow, which is a great style for fall. The other sour at the festival was Lithology Brewing’s Ugly Mug, a rye gruit. It was so refreshing–tangy, even lighter bodied than the Ferrari, and with a spritzy carbonation and hint of funk.

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It was awesome talking to brewers that I have a relationship with through Hops and Hocks, and even though I’ve had their beer many times, I couldn’t resist sampling! Third Rail’s Field 2 is one of my favorite NY farmhouse ales; I can’t wait until it’s available in cans again. Allison particularly enjoyed Radiant Pig’s Eastside Rapture, a hoppy wheat that I’ve blogged about before.

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Our favorite IPAs of the day were by Flagship and Other Half.  The Flagship IPA is balanced and juicy with a light to medium body and citrusy hops. It’s the kind of beer that I could drink all day long, so obviously we returned to Flagship a couple of times. 😉 Other Half’s Hop Showers has tropical hop flavors and a distinct funk. They recently released this one in super cool cans.

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We broke for lunch at 3:30 and enjoyed massive sandwiches from Big D’s food truck. I know I sound like a broken record here, but there was absolutely no line for food, and it was super easy to find a spot to sit and eat. I went with their vegan grinder (be proud, Riles!) and Allison enjoyed the spicy chicken.

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After lunch we continued to plug away at our lists. I finally tried Gun Hill Brewing’s infamous Void of Light, which won gold in the foreign-style stout category at GABF last year. They also poured the Catskill Hop Harvest, a sessionable English pale ale with mild, earthy hops.

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At five a couple of breweries started to pack up, but at this point we were losing steam. We made one more stop at Ferrari for a final taste of sour red, and then left to have a photo shoot on the bridge.

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Back home we went to our favorite spot these days, the fire escape, and snapchatted crazy pictures of ourselves talked about our favorite brews of the festival. Mexican takeout and a couple hours of Entourage capped off one of the most pleasant days I’ve had since moving to New York. Cheers to Friday, New York beer, and good memories.

Spring has Sprung

Hi, guys! We hope you all had amazing weekends. It finally feels like spring has arrived in full force. What a relief! Just want to share a few beer scenes from our weekends with you.

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Friday night I drank this bottle of New Holland Blue Sunday Sour with my friend Zoë, before attending a vintage Mad Men party! We put this sour in our H&H Beer of the Month Club packages last month, and I’m so glad that Zoë squirreled away a couple of bottles. It is incredible! Its flavors of oak and malt keep it from being too tart, and it has really nice blackberry notes.

Just call me Betty Draper, er, I mean, Betty Francis
Just call me Betty Draper, er, I mean, Betty Francis

On Saturday Maddy and I were both working all day, but work isn’t so bad when you get to spend the day talking to brewers and beer lovers! We had a crazy successful tasting at H&H. Folksbier, a new Carroll Gardens-based brewery, was in the shop from 2-6 pouring samples of their three beers. My favorite is Echo Maker, a dark rye. Despite it’s dark color and coffee/cocoa notes, it’s still super refreshing. Their pilsner and Alpine ale are tasty too. Sunshine Daydream, their pilsner, is crisp to the point of being almost effervescent, and it has a really nice hop presence. It’s definitely one for day drinking in spring/summer weather. I was excited to sell SO many growlers of Folksbier beer, and to get chat a little bit with Glen and Travis.

Glen and Folksbier brewmaster, Travis Kauffman
Glen and Folksbier brewmaster, Travis Kauffman

Maddy worked at the Thomas Jefferson Craft Beer Tasting at Poplar Forest this weekend. Eleven regional breweries, including Foothills, Wild Wolf, and Parkway (obviously), were there pouring beer, and there was also live music, local food, and work by local artisans! Sounds like an amazing way to spend a Saturday; I wish I could have been there!

Running into familiar faces is one of the best things about beer fests!
Running into familiar faces is one of the best things about beer fests!

On Sunday evening I finally made it up to Astoria! Amanda’s friend Jamie knew about an awesome beer garden called Studio Square, and we spent a few Sunday Funday hours there drinking beer and having deep girl talk (my absolute favorite way to spend an afternoon). Their beer list, while large, is pretty basic. I enjoyed a Goose Island IPA, Amanda had the Coney Island Pilsner, and Kristin got one of my favorite local saisons, the Two Roads Worker’s Comp. Jamie went with a pitcher of their house-made white sangria. 😉 I can’t wait to go back to Studio Square in the summer! There is SO MUCH outdoor space, and Jamie said that they often have live music, or screen big sporting events.

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Cheers to Monday and more spring weather in the forecast!

BBs do Brewdo

On Saturday we went to Blacksburg’s annual beer fest, Brewdo. This was Brewdo’s sixth year, and in addition to having beer from 40+ breweries, the festival also featured cider, Attimo wine, live music, and home brewing and cooking demonstrations. We have a few criticisms of Brewdo. Once the majority of festival goers had arrived at around 1, the venue felt crowded, and the lines for beer and food were loooooong. Worse still, many breweries ran out of beer and packed up their tents by 3, with half of the festival remaining! I bought a 20 pour bracelet and left having used only 13. Despite these drawbacks, we still managed to have a good time. 😉

IMG_3733Beer connoisseur, fashionista, florist. Anything this girl can’t do?

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Parkway had the prettiest tent by far. Trust me, it’s not like I’m biased…

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My favorite tap handle yet!

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What’s better than pumpkin pie? Hardywood’s Farmhouse Pumpkin

IMG_3760 When it comes to beer drinking, I’d say we learned from the best

IMG_3753 Saucony Creek Maple Mistress, made with roasted butternut squash and natural maple syrup. Not kidding. And yes, it is amazing.

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Beer festivals are the best setting for tipsy heart-to-hearts with lifelong friends

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Parkway Brewing, bringing people together since 2013

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New Belgium’s Hop the Pond is made with hops from England, Australia and the United States!

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Look at this cool dude.

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The Meter’s Running was like a miniature No BS! We approve.

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Different beer fest, same beautiful companions

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It got even more crowded as the day went on..

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Heavy Seas Loose Cannon never gets old

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Mom liked the mistress too

We weren’t able to try every beer (or even the majority!), but of those we had, here are some standouts:

Best pumpkin: Hardywood Farmhouse Pumpkin
Runner up: Foothills Cottonwood Pumpkin
Best IPA: New Belgium Hop the Pond
Runner up: Schlafly Tasmanian IPA
Best beer of the day: Saucony Creek Maple Mistress
Runner up: In our eyes nothing even came close…

We ended our night at Blacksburg’s new Mellow Mushroom! Free pizza, more delicious brews, and a perfect view of the Blacksburg sunset from their huuuge patio. Can’t beat it.

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That’s a wrap!

Denver: Day 1

Greetings, earthlings! I was lucky enough to score a pass to The Great American Beer Festival (Parkway is amazing), which is why I’m writing you all FROM DENVER!! Yesterday was a whirlwind of airport and plane annoyance, but the promise of beer(s) kept me strong through it all! Here are the highlights of the day!

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First plane ride ever!

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In the clouds, just the way I like it

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Honkers Ale at the Goose Island outpost…IN THE AIRPORT

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Matilda in the airport becuase…#treatyoself

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Flying into Denver! You can kinda see the mountains..hehe

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 Odell Brewery’s Loose Leaf American Session, at Biker Jim’s, a gourmet hot dog restaurant. Dad, you MUST try this place!
I was a little disappointed by this beer, not much flavor or hop presence.

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Up next: Crooked Stave, a brewery that specializes in sour beers

Wild Colorado
Colorado Wild Sage: Mildly sour with a slight sage aftertaste, a solid brew

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Apricot Petit Sour: Tart initial flavor and a sweet aftertaste
BALLIN’ SOUR…I want one right now…it’s 8:30 am…get over it

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Batch 100: Sour brewed with kumquats and dry hopped with centennial hops.
Sour, earthy goodness

My favorite beer of the night, and ironically the only beer I don’t have a picture of, was Oskar Blues’ Coconut Porter. The coconut was JUST perfect in this yummy brew.

That’s it for now, peeps!  Talk to you soon!

-M

Top of the Hops

The place: Charlottesville, VA
The festival: Top of the Hops
The posse: The four best gals (Maddy, Rach, Allison, and Ham (Pam))
The occasion: Continuing Ham’s birthday celebration!

On Saturday afternoon we departed the beautiful Inn at Court Square and headed to the Top of the Hops Beer Fest in downtown Charlottesville. Festival-goers were lined up halfway down the mall, but thanks to our very important friend Keno, we skipped the line and were some of the first people in the pavilion!

We’ll be honest, peeps, from the cider garden, to the VIP tent, to the unlimited tastings, to the glass of wine we had with lunch (it was complimentary, no judgement) things got sloppy pretty quickly. Sometimes we talk your ear off about every little detail of the beers we try, but today we’re just going to share our pictures and what we remember of the festival…

photo-163 pm: Starting things off with a classy group selfie

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IMG_3148 Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter, we have anxiously awaited your arrival

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Blonde Hunny Cheers say what??

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4 pm: Mom wins the C’ville celeb sighting game..figures

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IMG_3166 5 pm: Time for a cider break!

IMG_3177 Maddy’s new favorite beer, the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (enjoyed in the VIP area, no less).

VIP What, these don’t look like VIPs to you??

IMG_3176 Hardywood Bourbon DIPA…yeah, it’s as good as it sounds

0920141820 Enjoying the afternoon sun and the Will Overman Band

IMG_3195 6:30 pm: Not sure what we were drinking at this point…

IMG_3191 Beautiful Charlottesville

IMG_3201 10 pm: Pooped.

Virginia Craft Brewers Fest

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Last weekend we had the privilege of attending the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest at Devil’s Backbone in Nelson County. All of the 50+ breweries that attended the festival are located in Virginia. It’s crazy how many we haven’t visited/didn’t even know about!

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Maddy worked the festival for Parkway, and she asked if Allison and I could tag along and pour beer too, which meant we all got in for free. 😉 We had an amazing time moseying around the grounds of Devil’s Backbone, talking to talented Virginia brewers and trying delicious beers, but most of the fun occurred while working at the Parkway tent! Tasters were super complimentary of the two brews that Parkway served: the Get Bent Mountain IPA and a barrel-aged version of their Magella. The latter, a Belgian strong dark ale aged in Jack Daniels and Catoctin Creek barrels, was particularly crowd-pleasing. Many festivalgoers claimed it was the “best beer of the day,” and came back to try it again and again.

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Parkway’s selections were definitely some of the best, but we had phenomenal beers outside of our tent too. Two of my favorites were the Capitol City Sommer Hefeweizen and Lickinghole Creek’s rosemary saison. Maddy particularly enjoyed O’Connor’s S-Turns, a  honey saison, and Strangeways’ bourbon bock. We all agreed that Hardywood Park’s Gingerbread Stout stole the show though. It’s the perfect balance of creamy, milk stout and just the right amount of gingerbread flavor. We can’t wait to buy a few bottles during the holiday season.

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At 5 o’clock as the festival began to wind down, awards were given out for the highest-ranking beer in each style category. Out of 222 beers entered, Parkway’s Raven’s Roost was named the best porter in Virginia, and their Bridge Builder, the second best blonde.

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At the brewmaster request, Maddy wore the medals when we went out on the town that night, and we were SO EXCITED to find Raven’s Roost on tap at the Whiskey Jar! There’s nothing like drinking your brewery’s award-winning beer while wearing the medal it earned earlier that day!

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Beertopia

Last weekend we attended our second beer festival of the season, Big Lick Beertopia in Salem! Our parents, who are also well-versed in the art of beer drinking, (perhaps you remember them from these posts?) joined us. The pours were much larger than those at Rocktown, and we all ended up a bit sloshed. 😉 1/3 of a pint glass counted as one pour, and we bought two 20 pour tickets and two 10 pour tickets to split between the four of us. That’s a lot of beer, folks! Luckily, our sister Riley graciously agreed to be our DD. Some of our favorite beers of the day were the Hoppocalypse Imperial Red Ale by Apocalypse Ale Works, the Double D Double IPA by Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company, the Southern Tier Eurotrash Pilz, and the Woodchuck Summer Cider. Okay, okay, the Sumer Cider was one of Mom and Rachel’s favorites. Here are a few scenes from our splendid day!

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First up, Stone’s Belgian IPA! Mom started with a Starr Hill Love.IMG_2427Either the Blue Mountain Lager or the Sunken City Dam Lager….IMG_2441Nothing compliments an engagement ring like a Blonde Hunny!IMG_2443We decided to get Blonde Hunnies of our own.IMG_2491
The Hop Work Orange? The Sierra Nevada Torpedo? IMG_2493

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Blue Ridge Blue and Brew

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to score a free ticket(Thanks Parkway!) to a beer festival out at Mountain Lake. While it was mostly pouring rain the entire time (hey, short beer lines), I still had so much fun! There were 8 local breweries in attendance, which gave me the chance to try a few things I wasn’t that familiar with and some old favorites,too. My picks of the day were:

The honey wheat ale from Jefferson Brewery, my second pour of the day and a very tasty treat (they even brought orange wedges).

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A new saison from Alewerks, which in my opinion was more like a blonde ale than a saison, but it was still extremely refreshing. Call it whatever you want Alewerks, you know I’m still gonna drink it!

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And lastly, Hoptimization from Three Brothers. Now, I’ve had this hoppy brew in the bottle before and was unimpressed, but on tap, the Hoptimization is gorgeous. The hops are there beer babes, and they are earthy and hella delicious! If you find this beer on tap..TRY IT.

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Are you thirsty yet?

-M

American Craft Beer Week

Did you know that we’re in the midst of an important national holiday?? American Craft Beer Week runs from May 12th-18th, which means we have an excuse a duty to drink more beer this week! There are festivals and events happening throughout the country, so make sure to look into what’s going on in your neck of the woods. I’m hoping to make it to a couple of events at Three Notch’d this week; they have quite an impressive lineup in honor of ACBW. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few pictures of the delicious brews I had at the sweetlife festival this weekend! It’s official, Flying Dog never disappoints.

photo 1-5The Sweetlife Pale Wheat Ale- light, citrusy, and refreshing, but surprisingly hoppy too!

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The Bloodline Blood Orange Ale- I liked this one even more. It’s brewed with blood orange peel and juice.

photo 4-2The Snake Dog IPA- I still prefer the Raging Bitch, but at least I got my IPA fix. I enjoyed this baby while watching Bastille!

Tell us, how do you plan to celebrate American Craft Beer Week?