Saturday, July 2, 2016

Memorial Weekend in New England

We spent our Memorial Day Weekend in New England.  More specifically Vermont, but we did catch a few sights in Boston (two breweries).

We were traveling to Vermont so Holly could run the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington.   That report will be the topic of a future post.  In this post, we will focus on all the other activities.

We had an early morning flight to Boston (cheapest option) so we opted to stay overnight by O'Hare at a hotel in Rosemont's Entertainment District.  We enjoyed some beers at Hofbrauhaus, then more good beers with dinner at Park Tavern, and a nightcap at King's: a high-end-retro-themed bowling alley.  Ever have a Pop Rock Martini? Fun night.

The drive from Logan Airport to Burlington was approximately 3.5 hours.  We picked up lunch at the New Hampshire rest stop/deli/diner/c-store/discount liquor market.  The drive was uneventful and void of things to look at.  Every once in a while we did get a pretty view, but overall a tree-lined boring drive.

After checking into the hotel we made our way to downtown Burlington.  It's a nice college town situated on Lake Champlain.  There is a pedestrian mall (like Denver and Boulder) lined with shops, restaurants, pan handlers.  This town, again much like Boulder, attracted a lot of hippy wannabes.  We enjoyed a flight of beers at Vermont Pub and Brewery before we moved up the mall to Three Needs Taproom and Brewery.  When we arrived we found they no longer had their own beer available.  However, there were many other local options.  The one consistent thing that we found is that Vermont supports its local brewers and businesses.

We met Jessica (Holly's race partner), Jessica's daughter, and Jessica's father for dinner at Pizzeria Verita.  Oddly enough we saw someone who attended our wedding over 20 years ago at the restaurant.   Since she was someone's +1 we didn't say hello.  After dinner we went to the mall and listened to a band before returning to the hotel.

The race expo was in our hotel so it was easy to get to.  After the expo we took off for the Ben & Jerry's factory tour.  We arrived at 10:40 and the next available tour was at 11:10.  While we waited we bought some ice cream cones and checked out The Flavor Graveyard.  Retired flavors each had their own witty headstones.  While on the tour we found out that this building was now an R&D facility and main production lines were at other Unilever (corporate parent) facilities.  Not as "small time" as the marketing leads us to believe.  Our tour consisted of watching two videos, staring at a factory floor (not running) and trying a prototype flavor ice cream.   It was an ok experience, but not really worth the drive out of town for this event alone.

For some reason we thought going into downtown Burlington for lunch on a beautiful day was a good idea.  Traffic in town was awful.  We settled in at the indoor bar of Sweetwaters, which ended up being a great spot with really good food and some nice dark beers on tap.   After lunch, we headed south to tour the Vermont Teddy Bear Company.  Again, no lines were running on the weekend, but the tour guide walked visitors through the area and demonstrated each stage of the bear-making process.

Once we left the factory we headed to Magic Hat Brewing (we actually passed a brewery without stopping to get here).  The production brewery had a nice store and tap room.  You could not just sit here and order pints.  State law allowed 4 free samples per-person.  Their counting skills were horrible.  We did find one or two beers we liked (most lean toward the hoppy-side) and we enjoyed the atmosphere inside the store.  On the way back to town Dave managed to find the time to stop at Queen City Brewing which was across the street from Zero Gravity Brewing.  Queen City offered traditional British and German style beers in a nice setting.

We don't know the guy in the middle
While Holly and Jess were running the marathon, Dave met up with a college roommate at Zero Gravity (fortunately on the race course).  They had a nice gose on tap and it was a perfect beer for sipping at 9am.  Later in the evening we visited Zero Gravity's Flatbread location and enjoyed brown ales and dunkels.  We closed our evening at Nectar's, the place that helped make Phish famous (did not know that until someone told us).  It was cleaner inside than expected.  Good beer offering and decent chicken wings.

Back to Boston the next morning.  We decided this was the day to do the Sam Adam's Brewery Tour (it's been on Dave's must-do list for over 20 years).  This place is hidden off-the-beaten-path down some narrow streets.  We had to wait over an hour for our tour time and the lobby displays only occupied us for so long.  Thank goodness for iPhones.  The original facility is now a pilot plant and limited edition brewery.  Three local bars that supported the brewery in its beginnings get special releases.  The tour was well conducted and allowed guests to touch and taste the malt and hops to see the different characteristics.  After playing with ingredients and staring at copper kettles we went into the tasting room and enjoyed some generous sampling.  We each received a tasting glass to bring home.  After Sam's we headed to another favorite  - Harpoon.  Great beers and only 2-3 miles from the airport.  On this day (Memorial Day) the place was packed with every twentysomething living in the area.  We had just enough time to have a beer and big pretzels for lunch.   On the way out we ran into our friend Tom, who just arrived in Boston for a business trip.

Amazing how much we were able to cram into the weekend, including a full marathon.

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