Ann Arbor, Michigan, and United States Events
Ashley's
2016 North American Belgian Beer Festival (NABBF)

Saturday, February 13, 2016. 1 PM to 5 PM

Ashley's Beer & Grill
7525 N Wayne Rd
Westland MI 48185

This is a ticketed event. You can get tickets by going here

There are a number of ticket options. The ticket page will present them to you and you will also be able to get information on what each ticket level gets you, but here is the summary.
  • Early admission, early bird ($45.00)
  • General admission, early bird ($35.00)
  • Early admission (2PM-6PM) ($55.00)
  • General admission (3PM-6PM) ($45.00)
  • VIP Suite (Noon-6PM) ($125.00)
There are generally over 200 beers in the lineup. Check the NABBF website for all information related to the festival. This includes information on the beers, the breweries, tickets, seminars, and more.
Beer Tour, December 2015
Starting in October of 2015 I started to plan a beer buying trip over the Christmas break. This was brought about by two things that happened about the same time. First, an article was posted to Facebook that showed 70 of the countries top breweries and the most efficient route for visiting them (someone had taken the locations for those breweries, put them into a database, then fed them through a computer program that figured out the most efficient route). The following image shows the route and the breweries.

MappedBreweries

To do the entire trip, all 70 breweries, it would take 197 driving hours (8 full days) and it would cover 12,299 miles. Believe me when I say that schedule wouldn't allow you to do much else other than pull into the brewery lot, take a picture, and move on. Not shown on the map, but along this route, there are another 1,414 other breweries that could be visited. To do it all sounds like a grand trip to take once you are retired and can take about a year trying to make the full set of rounds.

The second thing that happened was that I had my name selected in a lottery for some beer. The Bruery in California makes a beer called Black Tuesday; this is one of those beers that is released one time per year and is very difficult to get. I had only seen one actual bottle of this brew in my life and that was while standing in line to get some KBS at Founders (before they moved to tickets). I figured that would be about as close to this beer as I would ever get. With most of the Black Tuesday release going to The Bruery's different beer societies, it makes getting this beer even harder. Near the end of October 2015 I found out that The Bruery also holds a lottery, open to the public, for the opportunity to get Black Tuesday. I figured I would never get picked in the lottery, but I figured I would put my name in. As you can probably guess my name was picked and some Black Tuesday was mine for the buying. The only problem was that while The Bruery would ship the Black Tuesday, they would only ship inside California. The only other option was to pick up the bottles in person at the brewery. So this lottery win, coupled with that map of breweries, set me on the path for a beer road trip.

This trip would take me across the country, with the original plan being to hit ten Breweries and eight World of Beer locations, buying beer at all stops along the way. The plan ended up being very aggressive, leaving early on the morning of December 16th and returning home the night of December 23rd. That was 8 days and right around 6,000 miles. The following is a summary of how my trip went.
Day one, Wednesday, December 16, 2015

On this day I would have my first brewery stop, Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City, Missouri. The final stop of the day would be in Wichita, Kansas. The original plan was to leave home at 2AM, arriving at Boulevard between 1 and 2 PM, leaving for Wichita no later than 4 PM, arriving at my hotel for the night around 7 PM.

I actually left home shortly after 3 in the morning. As it turns out this wasn't a big deal because one thing I neglected to do when planning out the trip was take into account the time zone changes. I picked up an hour heading for Boulevard so in the end I got there between 2 and 3 PM, a little later than planned. Boulevard was much like New Glarus in that they seemed to be more focused on tours and gift shop sales than on running a tap room. They did have a tasting room where you could get samples and full pours, but it was very small and really seemed to be oriented around providing people taking tours a place for a quick taste before and after the tour before sending them on to the gift shop. Not that it was a complete loss. I had a few samples, most of which I found mediocre. The one beer I did really like was an IPA from their Smokestack series. With this information in hand I made my way to the gift shop where bottle sales were handled. They really didn't have a lot to offer, but they did have a number of beers available from their Smokestack series. I bought several of those here is the list.
  • Bourbon Barrel Quad, 2015, Quadrupel aged in bourbon barrels with cherries
  • Imperial Stout, 2015, Imperial Stout with Tart Cherries
  • Love Child #6, 2015, Sour ale
  • Rye On Rye, 2015, Ale aged in rye whisky barrels
  • Sixth Glass, 2015, Quadrupel

Click thumbnail for full size image of Boulevard beers Boulevard

I got on the road about 45 minutes later, getting to Wichita between 6 and 7 PM that night. A lot of traffic. The end result was 924 miles and 14 or 15 hours of drive time.
Day two, Thursday, December 17, 2015

This was basically a travel day, starting in Wichita and ending in Tucson Arizona. Got on the road a little after 4 in the morning and got into Tucson around 8 o'clock that night. I didn't play very close attention to the results of the mapping software when I set this route up. As it turns out the road that I spent most of the day on (for the rest of Kansas, through Oklahoma, through Texas, and through New Mexico) was a throw back to the 1960's, a two lane US highway for most of the way. Most of the trip through the remainder of Kansas was in the dark so I didn't see much of that, but Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico were flat, really flat, and while Oklahoma and the first part of Texas seemed empty, West Texas and most all of the part of New Mexico I was in were just plain empty. I went for long stretches of time, especially in New Mexico not seeing another person, building, anything, not even another car. Eventually I got to a more major expressway, I-10 West, for the last 3 or 4 hours of travel where I encountered by first check point courtesy of US Customs and Border Control. They funneled all the traffic on the highway through this check point, it was very strange to say the least.

The one stop I was supposed to make in Tucson was the first of the eight World of Beer locations. After getting checked into the motel I went out in search of this World of Beer and I could not find it. These things are hidden pretty good. I was really tired at this time so I didn't spend a ton of time looking, but it was a bit frustrating not to be able to find it.

The end result was 1,030 miles and 15 or 16 hours of drive time.
Day three, Friday, December 18, 2015

The schedule for today was to go North to Phoenix where there were two World of Beer locations and my second brewery; Arizona Wilderness. Once I hit those locations it was on to San Diego to get setup for a full day of Breweries and yet more travel. With my first stop, the World of Beer in Gilbert Arizona, I was able to sleep in a little bit, but I was on the road around 9 AM on my way to Gilbert. I got to the area of the Gilbert World of Beer and after a little searching I finally found it. I got there about 20 minutes before they opened so I was able to put together a list of the beers I wanted to get and entered the bar just as they opened, handing over my list of to-go beers. I had originally scheduled at least an hour at each stop, sometimes more, but the searching and the drives made it necessary to pretty much stop, get beer, and get back on the road. So here is what I got at the Gilbert World of Beer.
  • Bells, 30th Anniversary Ale, 2015, Imperial Stout
  • Black Diamond, Dubbel Down, 2015, Belgian style dubbel
  • Brasserie de Tahiti, S.A., Hinano, 2015, Lager
  • Brew Dog, Hardcore IPA, 2015, Imperial India Pale Ale
  • Brew Dog, Punk IPA, 2015, India Pale Ale
  • Destihl Brewery, Dosvidanya, 2014, Russian style extra imperial stout aged in oak bourbon barrels
  • Dogfish Head, Fort, 2015, Belgian style raspberry beer
  • Kiuchi Brewery, Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout, 2015, American double imperial stout
  • Left Coast, Voo Doo, 2015, American Stout
  • Mikkeller, Monks Brew, 2015, Belgian ale aged in bourbon barrels
  • The Lost Abbey, Judgment Day Ale, 2014, Quadrupel brewed with raisins
  • The Lost Abbey, Santo Ron Diego, 2015, American strong ale, brewed with spices and aged in oak barrels

Click thumbnail for full size image of Gilbert WOB beers GilbertWOB

After the Gilbert World of Beer I was off to Arizona Wilderness, the second brewery of the trip. It was only about a 10 or 15 minute drive from the Gilbert WOB and while I almost drove past the place I did see it just in time and pulled in. It's not a huge place, but they had a nice outdoor area (not surprising given the location) and more space inside that it looked like they would have from the outside. It was a little before noon when I got there and I hadn't had a decent meal since leaving so I settled in to have some lunch. Had a chicken club with the requisite smoked green chili's and a sampler. They had a Rye and an IPA that I was hoping to take home with me and they also had a Barleywine that wasn't too bad, just a bit to sweat for my liking. As it turns out they didn't sell bottles or cans, they actually don't can or bottle anything so my only option was a growler or two and I decided not to go that route so I left after lunch with no beer to show for my effort. I did find out that they had just installed a canning line and would start canning the first of January (those new big 32 ounce cans) so I got there a couple of weeks to early or I could have had some cans to bring back.

After leaving Arizona Wilderness I was off on another 10 to 15 minute drive to find the second World of Beer location in Tempe. I pretty much drove right to this location, but this one is right downtown Tempe in a bar and restaurant district and the University right next door so parking was a bit of an issue. A couple times around the block and I found someone pulling out of a space right next to the WOB so I was able to pull in there, feed the meter for a 30 minute stay, and head into the bar. This was kind of a cool location, it looked like it might have been a bank in a previous life as there was a vault on one wall, still there with the door and all, and from what I could see some seating inside the vault. The ceilings were so high that they also had what I would call a loft area giving them a second level over about half the space. Here is what I got from the Tempe World of Beer.
  • Black Market, Blackberry Sour, 2015, Sour ale with blackberries
  • Black Market, Cherry Sour, 2015, Sour ale with cherries
  • Brasserie Sant James, 1904, 2015, American Wild, aged in wine barrels
  • Brew Dog, Dogma, 2015, Ale brewed with honey, kola nut, poppy seed, and guarana
  • Brouwerij Oud Beersel, Oud Beersel Gueze, 2015, Gueze
  • Cervejaria Wals, Belo Ipe, 2015, Quadrupel
  • Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan, Sraffe Hendrik Quadrupel, 2015, Quadrupel
  • Industrial Cervecera S.A./Compania Cervecera De Nicaragua, Tona Cerveza, 2015, Lager
  • Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, Cerasus, 2015, Organic kriek brewed with Oregon cherries
  • Ska Brewing Company, Cru D'Etat, 2015, Belgian strong dark
  • The Lost Abbey, Devotion, 2015, Belgian golden ale
  • Traquair House Brewery Lld, Traquair House Ale, 2015, Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy, aged in oak vessels

Click thumbnail for full size image of Tempe WOB beers TempeWOB

After getting my to go beers from the Tempe World of Beer it was back on the road for the drive to San Diego. This one took me up, over, and through the mountains to get into California. Actually San Diego itself is really hilly, I hadn't realized just how much this city was built into the mountains until I got there. This mountain travel was nerve wracking as it was after dark and mountains aren't something I generally drive through living in Michigan. To top it off there were two more border control check points through the day, one of those in the mountains and I-10 going through the mountains, especially as it neared San Diego was narrow (no real shoulders). I made it through and got to my hotel around 9 PM that night, very much on the tired side. I briefly entertained trying to find the two breweries that were fairly close to my hotel, but I was really tired and opted instead to just fall into bed and get some sleep.

The end result was 540 miles and roughly 12 hours of drive time.
Day four, Saturday, December 19, 2015

For this day I had three breweries to visit to start the day, two in the San Diego area, Ballast Point and Ale Smith, and a third about an hour North, The Bruery. Once I checked out of the hotel I headed to one of the four Ballast Point locations in the San Diego area. This location reminded me of 3 Floyds in Indiana as it was tucked away in an office park with what appeared to be some light industry thrown in for good measure. Not a location you would normally associated with a brewery. Overall I was disappointed in the to-go options and only picked up a couple of six packs and a couple of bombers. Here is the list of things I got from Ballast Point.
  • Graperuit Sculpin, 2015, Grapefruit IPA
  • Homework Series - Batch #6, 2015, Robust Porter
  • Sculpin, 2015, IPA
  • Victory At Sea, 2015, Imperial Porter with Coffee

Click thumbnail for full size image of Ballast Point beers BallastPoint

From there I went to Ale Smith. Got to the location that my driving instructions gave me and there was no Ale Smith, but there was a sign indicating they had moved around the corner. A little ride around the corner and there it was. Brand new place, huge actually. I remembered reading somewhere that they had done an expansion and this appeared to be it. Large new brewery with tasting room attached. They kept the ceilings in the tasting room the same basic height as the brewing facility and they had several large garage doors that went almost to the ceiling so it was high and airy. It would be a pretty cool place to hang out for a day or night. Anyway, they only sold their regular beers at the bar, but they had some specials in the gift shop. Picked up 6, 750 ml bottles there (all some sort of barrel aged). Guy said if I could do it to store them for at least 2 years, they all get better over time (shouldn't be an issue). Here were the items I picked up at Ale Smith.
  • Old Numbskull, 2015, Barley Wine, aged in bourbon barrels
  • Reforged - 20th Anniversary Ale, 2015, Blend of Wee Heavy, Imperial Stout, and Barleywine, bourbon barrel aged
  • Wee Heavy, 2015, Scotch Ale/Wee Heavey, aged in bourbon barrels

Click thumbnail for full size image of Ale Smith beers AleSmith

With Ale Smith located and beers purchased it was time to head to The Bruery and track down that Black Tuesday. The Bruery was about an hour north (close to Los Angeles). Started running into some traffic, but I got there a little over an hour later, went into the pub, bought a dozen bottles, then headed to their specialty outlet (where they hand out the beer for the different levels of their beer society and the lottery winners). This was the main driver for this trip, the opportunity to get some bottles of Black Tuesday and after starting this in October I was finally here to pick up the beer. There was a guy in there picking up 81 bottles of various offerings (and I thought I was buying a bunch of beer :)). Anyway, got my Black Tuesday and several other selections from the tasting room (real nice tasting room, not fancy but obviously very popular as it was full). Here are the beers from The Bruery.
  • Black Tuesday, 2015, Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels
  • Bois, 2015, Ale aged in rye whisky barrels, 2013 Anniversary
  • Elements of Funk: Brettanomyees Drei, 2015, Specialty blonde ale
  • Mash, 2015, Barleywine style ale aged in bourbon barrels
  • Mischeif, 2015, Belgian style hoppy golden ale
  • Oude Tart, 2015, Flemish style red aged in oak barrels
  • Rueuze, 2015, Sour blonde aged in oak barrels

Click thumbnails for full size image of The Bruery beers TheBruery   BlackTuesday

Once all the beer was purchased it was time to get back on the road and get to my hotel for the night which was up North in San Francisco. It was already mid afternoon and the drive to San Francisco was about 7 hours. Traffic around Los Angeles was brutal, but once past there things went pretty smooth until the last 3 hours or so and then it rained pretty much the rest of the way. Not horribly bad, but it just added to the whole stress of this drive. Found my hotel about 9 that night, feeling even worse than the night before.

The end result was 530 miles and about 12 hours of drive time.
Day five, Sunday, December 20, 2015

Day five was to include two stops, a party store just down the road from my hotel (it's the one I make most of my on-line purchases from) and of course Russian River about an hour North of San Francisco in a city called Santa Rosa. I was on the road again a little after 10 to find the party store. I got the location where they were supposed to be and could not find their store front. There was just no place to park around there so I had to try and spot if while driving and I didn't have any luck. I don't know if I was looking on the wrong side of the road or if they are just real low key, but no luck in finding the place. Of course since I do buy on-line from them I did order some beer from them once I was back home. Here is what I ended up with from the party store.
  • Brouwerij De Ranke, Cuvee De Ranke, 2015, Sour/Wild Ale
  • De Proef brouwerij, De Proef Reserve Signature Ale (with Tomme Arthur of Port Brewing), 2015, Belgian strong pale
  • Deschutes Brewery, Abyss, 2015, 2015 Reserve, Imperial Stout
  • Deschutes Brewery, Black Butte XXVII, 2015, 27th Birthday Reserve, Imperial Porter
  • Firestone Walker, Double Jack, 2015, Double IPA
  • Firestone Walker, Union Jack, 2015, IPA
  • Goose Island, Bourbon County, 2015, Bourban barrel aged stout
  • Prairie Artisan Ales, 3rd Anniversary Ale, 2015, Farmhouse ale brewed with raspberries
  • Sierra Nevada, Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale, 2015, Barrel aged, Kentucky bourbon
  • Stone Brewing, Double Bastard in the Rye, 2015, Double Bastard aged in Templeton Rye Whiskey barrels

Click thumbnails for full size image of Blackwell's beers Blackwells   Blackwells

After my unsuccessful search for the party store it was time to move on to Santa Rosa and Russian River. Just as I crossed over the Golden Gate bridge it started to rain and rained pretty much the entire way to Santa Rosa. Most of the time this wasn't hard rain, although sometimes it was, it was just wet (at least this time it was daylight or what passed for daylight in the gray and gloom). Got to Santa Rosa about an hour later, found Russian River, more importantly found a parking space not to far from the brewery and made my way there. In what must be a pretty common occurrence, since they have canopy tents setup in front of the brewery, there was a line waiting to get into the pub. After standing there for a few minutes I figured out that if I was just getting beer and leaving I could get in so I made my up the line to the security guy, told him I was there just to get beer, and was let in. Went to their store to the left of the entrance and came away with the following.
  • Blind Pig, 2015, IPA
  • Consecration, 2015, Sour ale aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with currants added
  • Damnation, 2015, Golden ale
  • Pliny the Elder, 2015, Double IPA
  • Redemption, 2015, Blonde Ale
  • Sanctification, 2015, Sour blonde ale

The only downside was that they had a 12 bottle limit on Pliny (probably because of the holidays and an uptick in demand) and I didn't notice until I got home, but I ended up getting one less beer than I had anticipated. Other than Pliny they had six other beers available in bottles and I had ordered some of all six. When I got home and started unpacking the beers I noticed I only got five of those six other types so I missed one (but I did get some official Pliny glasses!).
Click thumbnail for full size image of Russian River beers RussianRiver

With the Russianm River beers purchased it was time to get back on the road to try and beat the bad weather out of California. It was still raining when I started and that continued for about the next hour, then it was clear sailing for a while. This is also where the first adjustment was made to the schedule. The night before, while in the hotel in San Francisco, I had looked at the next two days and refreshed my memory on the planned travel. This day was supposed to be a long push, getting all the way to Salt Lake City. As I was looking at that and taking into account the level of exhaustion I was already feeling from the previous long days of travel I was quite sure that I would never make it to Salt Lake City. I would have been on the road until 1, probably 2 in the morning, needing to get up the next morning to drop down to Denver to hit the three World of Beer locations there. Knowing it was to far I shortened up that days drive, instead shooting for a place called Elko Nevada, and deciding to cut out the trip to Denver and those WOB locations. As it turns out this was even a better choice than just trying not to fall asleep while driving.

While leaving California I ran into snow in the pass getting over the mountains. It took an hour and half to get through that pass and finally getting down the road again (there was a traffic jam in the pass that would have made Los Angeles proud). By the time I made it to Elko I was beyond exhausted, it was a struggle just to get my bags up to the hotel room. I was supposed to be on the road at 6 o'clock the next morning so I just fell into bed and got what sleep I could.

The end result was 584 miles and 12 hours of drive time.
Day six, Monday, December 21, 2015

Even though I was exhausted I didn't sleep well in Elko, waking up about 5 AM and decided to start getting ready to get back on the road. I looked out the window and noticed it was snowing and looked for some local weather to see what I had in front of me. The only "local" news I could find was from Salt Lake City and I quickly found out that a winter storm was coming to the area and if you were going through the mountains, it would be best to get through them in the morning as the storm would hit that afternoon and once it got there travel through the mountains would be very slow it not shut down. If I was still going to Denver I would have probably been trapped by the winter storm either in Denver or somehwere in Utah or Wyoming. As it was I got on the road a little before 6 AM, got to Salt Lake City about 10 AM, getting through the mountains and into Wyoming by early afternoon. I wasn't clear yet though as that winter storm chased me half way across Wyoming. They almost closed I-80 East at Laramie and were recommending that high light trailers not continue (the winds were gusting at over 60 mph and could flip those lighter trailers over). I finally made it out of Wyoming and into Nebraska, with the target being North Platte (this was the same place I was supposed to be even if I had gone to Denver so I was in the same location, just didn't include the Denver stops). I finally got to North Platte and my hotel about 10 PM that night, exhausted and feeling bad.

The end result was 906 miles and 14 or 15 hours of drive time.
Day seven, Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The night before, even though I was very tired, I also knew there was some bad weather following me and since the next couple of days were into Minnesota and Wisconsin so I started checking weather in those locations for the next couple of days. I was seeing expectations of freezing drizzle, sleet, and snow in both Minnesota and Wisconsin as well as into Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan by time I got back down into those states. Given how awful I was already feeling and not wanting to deal with winter weather in my exhausted state of mind I decided then that I would cut the last two days and would make a push for home on day seven. That would mean I would miss Topling Goliath in Iowa, Surly in Minnesota, New Glarus in Wisconsin, and the two World of Beer locations in the Chicago area. I would be going pretty much right past 3 Floyds so I planned on keeping my stop there on the agenda.

I got on the road a little before 6 AM the next morning still exhausted and still feeling pretty awful. It took pretty much all day to get through Nebraska and Iowa, but I was pulling into the Chicago area right around 5 PM. I dropped off I-94 at Munster and went to 3 Floyds and picked up the following.
  • Alpha Klaus, 2015, Christmas Porter
  • Chevalier Bertrand Du Guesclin, 2015, American sour aged in wine barrels with blueberries
  • Gumballhead, 2015, American pale wheat
  • Yum Yum, 2015, American session ale

Click thumbnail for full size image of 3 Floyds beers 3Floyds

The selection at 3 Floyds was very limited, they only four beers available and I got some of each. I have never seen the available beers so limited on a stop at 3 Floyds and again assumed it was because of the upcoming holidays and everyone buying up beer. Anyway, I got my beers from there and got back on the road, getting to East University just as the clock rolled to 10 PM. It took me over an hour to unpack the car, not because it had so much stuff, but because I was so tired. I would take a load up and then have to sit down and recover; I was feeling pretty awful by time I got home and was barely functioning.
The end result was 1,000 miles and 15 or 16 hours of drive time.
The aftermath.

I got home the night of the 22nd rather than the night of the 23rd so I was able to take a day and rest some before driving across the state for Christmas. Still it took four or five days before I even came close to feeling normal again. Once home I did make some post trip purchases, going to Founders on the 24th, then back across to Grand Rapids on the 26th to get to Vivant (I wanted some of their fifth anniversary beer, which as called Barrel Weiss, and was the firt bottled offering they have ever done). I also threw in a trip to Blue Front just to see what they might have and ended up getting the following things.
  • Brewery Vivant, Barrel Weiss, 2015, Berliner Weiss - 5th anniversary ale
  • Brewery Vivant, Undertaker, 2015, Belgian style dark ale
  • Founders, Azacca, 2015, IPA
  • Founders, Centennial, 2015, IPA
  • Founders, Imperial Stout, 2015, Russian Imperial Stout (Founders calls this 2016 Imperial Stout, but I am going by the bottle on date which is 2015)
  • Goose Island, Matilda, 2015, Belgian style pale ale
  • Goose Island, Sofie, 2015, Belgian style farmhouse ale

Click thumbnails for full size image of Brewery Vivant beers BreweryVivant   Founders Founders   Blue Front BlueFront

So would I do this again? No I wouldn't, at least not the way I did this. There has to be some downtime built in so you can unwind, get some decent rest, eat a decent meal, and actually stop and enjoy some of the places you are going to. So I would look to limit the drive times to somewhere in the 8 to 10 hour range, do all the driving during the day, then spend some time relaxing at the nights destination (hopefully at some brewery or just a layover between brewery stops). I'm already thinking of a mini trip this Spring or early Summer to get to the three breweries I missed on this trip and probably swing by those two World of Beers in Chicago. I figure a three to four day long weekend and I can do those locations and end up feeling a lot better at the end than when I did after this long version. I just didn't anticipate how exhausting this trip was going to be the way that I did it so some adjustments would be needed for any future trips. So there you have it, how the trip went and what didn't work out. I did bring home a lot of beers that I'm looking forward to trying so that part worked out as planned, I just ended up a lot more tired than I had expected and feeling not real good for several days.
Beer Tour, April 2016
As the beer tour went on in December I got very tired and ended up cutting the last two days of stops. This meant not making it to Toppling Goliath in Decorah, Iowa, Surly in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, and New Glarus in New Glarus, Wisconsin, as well as skipping a couple of World of Beer locations in the Chicago area. Well each year I take three days off from work during the time frame of the Frozen Four so if Michigan makes it I can jump in the car or on a plane and attend. This year Michigan got knocked out of the tournament in the finals of thier regional which left me with three vacation days and looking for something to do. To fill the time I decided to hit those locations that I skipped during the beer tour in December so here are the events of hitting those breweries and World of Beer locations the first week of April.

This time I did things very differently. All of the driving was done during daylight hours (a little easier to do this time of year as the days are longer). The earliest I left was 9 AM and latest I arrived at my destination was around 7 PM (this was a late starting day). I always had time at my destination to go out and have a couple of beers with dinner and then head back to the hotel to chill out, get some sleep, and then continue on the next day. This was nowhere near the frenetic pace that I was on in December and was a nice little trip around the Midwest.

NOTE:  There aren't any pictures of these beers. I screwed up when taking them and by the time I figured that out all the beers were shelved in the beer closet. I didn't want to dig them back out just to do a few shots.
Day one, Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The plan for this day was to hit two breweries; 3 Floyds in Munster, Indiana and New Glarus in New Glarus, Wisconsin. A couple of years ago 3 Floyds put a limit on how much beer you could buy to go. By stopping there on the way out it also allowed me to stop there on the way back and pick up a few more items. I left home at 10 AM and got to 3 Floyds around 1 PM (this was 2 PM Michigan time, but you cross a time zone just before you get to the exit for 3 Floyds so I picked up an hour there). I got a big surprise when I arrived as they had a beer available I wasn't expecting and I ended up getting two cases of this beer (adding this stop on the way out already paid dividends). The surprise beer is listed below.
  • Zombie Dust, 2016, American Pale Ale
This was a surprise because Zombie Dust was not listed as one of the beers available on their website and when I got there the door even had a sign on it that said No Zombie Dust (although I think that may be a standard sign they just keep on the door these days). Anyway when I walked into the to go kiosk there was Zombie Dust listed on the chalk board and my visit was over about 60 seconds later with my first purchase of the trip.

After my stop at 3 Floyds I was off to New Glarus and I needed to be there by 5 PM when they close. I made my way through rain, Chicago traffic, the ever present construction on the highways around Chicago, through the back country of Wisconsin (New Glarus is sort of off the beaten trail) and arrived at the brewery between 4:15 and 4:30 PM. This was good. The bad part was that the beer I wanted most from them, their double IPA now called Scream was out of stock (it used to just be labeled IIPA). I looked around and did pick up a few things from New Glarus.
  • Oud Bruin, 2016, Oak aged Belgian flanders style
  • Raspberry Tart, 2016, Wisconsin ale brewed with Raspberries
  • Serendipity, Happy Accident Fruit Ale, 2016, Oak aged sour ale brewed with cherries, apples, and cranberries
  • Wisconsin Belgian Red, 2016, Wisconsin ale brewed with Cherries
The plan from the beginning of this trip was to go another 30 minutes North to Madison and spend the night there so after making my purchases at New Glarus it was back into the car for the short trip to Madison. Once checked into the hotel I headed downtown in search of some food and a libation or two. There are a ton of bars and restaurants in Madison and there seemed to be even more than the last time I was in town. I had been to several of the bars on prior visits so this time I decided to check out the local offering by HopCat (it was a HopCat, nothing much more to say about that). However, there is a liquor store in Madison that has a real nice selection of beers and wines (Riley's Wines of the World if anyone is ever in Madison and is looking to pick up some sort of alcohol). Since HopCat was just a block away from Riley's I took the short walk down the block while I was in the neighborhood and picked up the following.
  • New Glarus, Scream, 2016, Double IPA
So I didn't get any Scream from the brewery, but I scored me some at Riley's so day one of this road trip was pretty much a complete success. After making this purchase it was back to the hotel and a couple of hours of chill time, then some sleep, before starting day two.

The end result was 508 miles and about 7 1/2 hours of drive time.
Day 2, Thursday, April 7, 2016

The plan for day two was to start at a World of Beer location in Middleton, Wisconsin (basically a suburb of Madison). From there I was going to make the trip up to Minneapolis/St.Paul, Minnesota to visit Surly Brewing. The World of Beer opened at 11 AM so I hung out at the hotel until about 10:30, checked out, and then headed out on day two. I found the WOB location easily and got there just as they opened. Ordered a beer and a sandwich and started working my way through the bottle list. First, let me say that instead of the printed bottle lists that I have seen at another WOB location, the bottle list here was on an Ipad (they essentially ran the WOB app on the Ipad so I had all the filtering options available to me). It made searching through the bottles very, very easy. Anyway, enough about that, I ended up with 12 bottles and managed to pick up a couple more countries along the way. Here's the list.
  • Pivovar Zlaty Bazant a.s., Slovak Republic, Golden Pheasant, 2016, Czech Pilsener/Lager
  • Deschutes, Obsidian Stout, 2016, Stout
  • Evil Twin, Soft DK (or Soft Dookie), 2015, Imperial Stout
  • Karlovaċka Pivovara Croatia (Hrvatska), Karlovacko, 2016, Czech Pilsener
  • Kulmbacher Brauerei AG Germany, EKU 28, 2016, Doppelbock
  • Green Flash, Soul Style IPA, 2016, IPA
  • Hinterland, Luna Coffee Stout, 2016, Stout
  • New Glarus, Moon Man, 2016, North coast pale ale
  • Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V. Belgium, Kasteel Donker, 2013, Quadruple
  • Jolly Pumpkin, Oro de Calabaza, 2016, Belgian golden ale
  • Lagunitas, Sucks (Brown Shugga Substitution Ale), 2016, Imperial IPA
  • North Coast, Old Stock Ale, 2015,
After finishing lunch and getting the beers from WOB I was back on the road for Minneapolis/St. Paul. It was about a three and half hour drive when things were all said and done, getting checked into the hotel about 4:30. Once I was checked in I headed out in search of Surly and found it quite easily. I got there right around 5 PM and this place was packed. I got lucky and got there just in front of another rush of people and got one of the last chairs at the bar. I ordered up a burger and a beer and settled in for a couple of hours of Surly time. Had a couple different IPA's, a small taste (4 oz) of a sour (which wasn't bad), and a black double IPA. From what I understand this place is only about a year old (built a new facility after some laws were changed that allowed breweries to have tasting rooms) and it was pretty cool. I would call it industrial modern in appearance; a lot of metal, stone/brick, exposed ducts, etc... A pretty cool brewery that I would definitely go back to. The bad news is that because of another Minnesota law they can't sell any beers to go. I could have done a growler, but I didn't think that was a good way to go. By the time I found out about this law it was to late to go driving around Minneapolis looking for a liquor store that sold Surly or at least the Surly beer's I was looking for so I came home empty handed from Surly. So this day was a partial success. I did get some beer from the WOB location and I did go to Surly, I just got no beer to bring home.

For the day I drove 299.5 miles and spent about four to four and half total hours driving.
Day 3, Friday, April 8, 2016

For this day the plan was to go to Topling Goliath Brewery in Decorah, Iowa, ending the night in Naperville, Illinois, visiting another World of Beer location. I was checked out of the hotel and on the road at 9 AM with the expected drive time being about 2 3/4 hours. As I got started the snow started, not heavy, just some light flurries. I got settled onto the highway taking me South to Decorah and Toppling Goliath and went through a whole mix of snow. Sometimes it would be snowing heavily, sometimes it was just light flurries, and sometimes it wasn't snowing at all. I made it to Decorah and Toppling Goliath about five minutes to noon and they opened at noon. At noon I headed in and enjoyed my first PseudoSue. I had planned on having lunch here, but they don't serve any food; just beer. So I had a couple of PseudoSue's ordered a pile of beer to go and headed back out on the road. Purchases from Toppling Goliath.
  • Pseudo Sue, 2016, Pale Ale
  • Golden Nugget, 2016, IPA
  • Pompeii, 2016, IPA
With the Toppling Goliath haul secured it was back on the road for Naperville. This should have been about a 3 1/2 hour drive, but there was still snow, sometimes a lot of snow, and for the first two thirds of this portion of the trip I was driving through the backwoods of Iowa on two lane roads (called highway's). They were curvy, had traffic, and were down right slow. The end result is that it took me more like 5 1/2 hours to get to my hotel. Because I spent more time at Toppling Goliath than I anticipated (which wasn't a bad thing) I didn't get to my hotel this night until about 7 PM. Got checked in and then headed out to find the World of Beer in Naperville where I expected to eat dinner. I had some issues with the toll roads as I didn't take any change and all of the exits were change only with no attendants. So I drove around taking different roads for a while trying to find an attended exit. To top it off I didn't have a lot of gas in the car as I hadn't topped up since I was in Decorah so I couldn't spend all night out on those toll roads. Eventually I just took an exit and went through the toll stop, then crossed over the toll road, going through another toll stop to get back on the road, backtracking to where I needed to be. I finally found the Naperville WOB and headed in, ordered a beer, and then tried to order dinner only to find out that they had no kitchen. So I had a couple of beers, got a bunch of beer to go (Ipad bottle list again), headed back to the hotel, stopping at Subway to get something to eat, and ended the night at the hotel. The list of beer from this WOB follows.
  • Alexander Black, Israeli Porter, 2016, Porter
  • 4 Hands Brewing Company, Chocolate Milk Stout, 2016, Stout
  • Cervecería y Maltería Quilmes / Grupo Bemberg, Quilmes, 2016, Lager
  • Saku Brewery LTD, Saku Original, 2016, Lager
  • East African Breweries Ltd (Kenya Breweries), Tusker, 2016, Lager
  • Tyranena Brewing, Chief Blackhawk Porter, 2016, Porter
  • Two Brothers Brewing, Domaine Dupage, 2016, French Country Ale
  • Tallgrass Brewing Company, Buffalo Sweat, 2016, bourbon barrel aged Stout with Vanilla Beans and Cinnamon
  • Surly Brewing, Cynicale, 2016, Saison/Farmhouse Ale
  • Surly Brewing, Furious, 2016, IPA
  • Stone, Pale Ale 2.0, 2016, Pale Ale
  • Revolution Brewing, Eugene, 2016, Porter
Total travel distance for the day was 499.1 miles and that all added up to roughly 8 1/4 hours of driving.
Day 4, Saturday, April 9, 2016

Time for the journey home, but there was also time for two more stops. The day was blue sky and sunshine, but really cold. First stop of the day was going to be the World of Beer in Evanston, about an hour to the North and East. Got on the road at 10 AM and got there a couple minutes past 11 when they open. Went in ordered some lunch and a beer and began working my way through the bottle list (another place with the Ipad based bottle list). I ended up with the following from Evanston.
  • Lao Brewery Company, Beerlao, 2016, Dark Lager
  • Cerveceria Costa Rica, Imperial, 2016, Lager
  • Mythos Breweries S.A., Mythos Hellenic Lager, 2016, Lager
  • Cervecería Nacional Dominicana, Presidente, 2016, Lager
  • San Miguel Brewery Inc., San Miguel, 2016, Pilsner
  • Kombolcha Brewery, St. George Amber, 2016, Lager
  • Firestone Walker, Wookey Jack, 2015, Black Rye IPA
  • Half Acre Beer Company, Big Hugs, 2016, Russian Imperial Stout
  • Shmaltz Brewing Company, He'Brew Death of a Contract Brewer, 2016, Black Ale
  • Brewery Ommegant, Rosetta, 2016, Flanders Oud Bruin
  • Middle Brow Beer Company, Ad Astra, 2016, Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy
  • 4 Hands Brewing Company, Cuvee Ange, 2015, American Wild Ale
After lunch at the Evanston WOB it was back on the road for an hour drive down to 3 Floyds Brewing. Got lucky and was able to walk into the to go kiosk and get my beer right in front of a rush of people doing the same thing. For this stop I got the following beers.
  • 3 Floyds Brewing, Alpha King, 2016, Pale Ale
  • 3 Floyds Brewing, Robert The Bruce, 2016, Scotch Ale
  • 3 Floyds Brewing, Dreadnaught, 2016, Double IPA
  • 3 Floyds Brewing, Space Station Middle Finger, 2016, Pale Ale
  • 3 Floyds Brewing, Quaanto-219, 2016, Triple Imperial Pale
After a quick stop to pick up these offerings from 3 Floyds I was back on the road and headed for home. About 3 and half hours later I was back in Ann Arbor and then the unloading of the car began. An hour later everything was in the apartment and I was able to pull up a chair and relax (after ordering pizza of course). This was a much better way of doing this type of road trip. Contained days of driving with time to relax at each stop, getting decent meals at least once a day. It was certainly a far cry from the frenetic rush across the country and back that I did back in December.

Total travel distance for the day was 322.5 miles with a total drive time of about 5 and a half hours.