Brewpub Adventures!


Journey of Discovery

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This section of the blog is a compendium of our journey through the world of craft beer.

In our travels we have been discovering wonderful brewpubs which have a great selection of craft brews and good food.  We’ve had so much fun with them that we decided to share our findings with all who might be interested.  Most of what we have experienced to date has been in the US, but we have also found them in Canada and South Africa.  One of the nice things about road trips is the opportunity to find new brewpubs.  We have now been in several places where people have been very happy to tell us about their favorite brewpub.  And sometimes we have found them accidentally, in unexpected places.  We’re looking at the possibility of taking a brewpub crawl road trip through the country.  We promise that we won’t try to drive if we have too much beer! 


Natty Greene’s Pub & Brewing Co., Greensboro, NC


Natty Greene’s was a recommendation from our hotel desk clerk in Greensboro, NC.  It was a bit of a drive to get there, and somewhat of an adventure getting back to the hotel, as retracing our path couldn’t happen.  However, this was yet another brewpub that was well worth our efforts to get there.

There are three separate eating areas - an upstairs sports bar, a restaurant and a patio.  We chose the patio, even though it was the smoking section, because the temperatures were so nice.  Fortunately we did not have any noticeable problem with the smoke.

We tried several of their beers - the seasonal Full Moon IPA and Old Town Brown Ale, both of which were very good, and the Buckshot Amber Ale, which was ordinary.  (Several tries later we have to revise our estimate of Buckshot Amber - it is a wonderful beer.)  The food we had was their Barbecue Pig and a Greek salad, both of which were quite good.  We found the staff to be friendly and helpful, and we had excellent service.

Their website is at  http://www.nattygreenes.com/  where you can find a listing of all their beers as well as their menu.

Natty Greene’s is a place we will happily return to when we are in the area.  We very much enjoyed our experience there.  Our initial visit here was on June 16, 2010.


June 30, 2011

We have paid a return visit to Natty Greene’s, and were equally pleased this time.  We tried one different beer, the Colonial IPA, also very good.  We ordered the Railyard sandwich, which is  like a fancy Reuben with coleslaw, and it was one of the best Reuben-type sandwiches we’ve had.  We will continue to return when we are in the area.  The food, beer, service and ambience are all great.

2014:  We now stop here any time we can.  We have enjoyed every visit here.  Don’t forget to check out the additional photos in the album.

                                                      Current brews, June 2011




Outer Banks Brewing Station, Kill Devil Hills, NC

We usually spend the month of July at the Outer Banks in North Carolina, and our favorite place to go for a meal and beer is the Outer Banks Brewing Station, which bills itself as the first wind-powered brewery in the United States.

We have been to the OBBS on many occasions, and the food and beer are always excellent, as is the service.  This link to their website will give you all the information you might want, including the menu and beer list:   http://www.obbrewing.com/.

They always have a Kölsch beer and Lemongrass wheat beer, along with a changing list of ales, porters and stouts.  You can order a sampler if you are not sure what you would be most interested in. 

Our favorite menu items have been Chef Pok’s salad, Caesar salad with chicken and North Cackalakee Fried Shrimp.  For dessert our favorite is the vanilla creme brulee.  The beers change seasonally.  Some of our favorites have been Slap-Happy Abbey, Santa’s Little Sledgehammer, and Abracadabra Brown Ale.

Wait times can be long, especially for large groups on Friday and Saturday nights, due to the large number of people at the beach in the summers.  It can be worth the wait if this is your only night in town.  We are always pleased with the the food and beer.  Our car knows the way to OBBS even when we haven’t planned to go there!  

They also have souvenir glasses and t-shirts available, as well as growlers and other items.

The most recent offering (in effect Summer of 2012) is a beer school, which happens every Wednesday at 3PM.  The school includes a brewery tour and guided tasting with the assistant brewer.  The cost is $8, and reservations are required, because space is limited.  Given the quality of their beer, the cost would be worth it.  We will do this if we have time, and will report on it when we do. 

OBBS also has live music in the back yard, as well as on stage inside the pub.  The back yard has play equipment for children as well as games for adults.  When the interior is crowded, one can always look for a spot to eat in the back yard.  OBBS truly has something to offer anyone, and they are most definitely family oriented.


Originally posted July 1, 2010


Wind River Brewing Co., Pinedale, WY


We discovered the Wind River Brewing Co. by accident during our summer road trip in 2009.   We were tired from a long day of driving when we reached Pinedale, and were trying to decide what kind of dinner we were in the mood for when we spotted the sign for Wind River Brewing Co.  Our dinner choice at that point became a no-brainer.   The best part is that we discovered a combination of excellent beer, food, and service.  Since our hotel was only a few blocks away we tried several of their beers with our dinner.  We definitely tried the Out of Order Porter and the Gale Force Pale Ale, and probably the Buckin’ Bitter.  

Everybody there was very nice and the service was great.  We bought a couple of t-shirts because they did not have souvenir glasses at the time.  We were told to contact the manager about getting glasses, which we did after we returned home, and were able to get them to ship some to us.

Wind River Brewing Co. now has a website, which includes both their beers and their menu.  http://www.windriverbrewingco.com/

If we are in the area we will definitely be visiting Wind River Brewing Co. again.  We are confident that additional visits will be as pleasant as our first one.


Update:  In August, 2013 we were finally able to revisit Wind River Brewing Co.  In four years there have been tremendous changes, mostly in their physical building which is greatly expanded.  The beer and food are still excellent, so our original opinion has been validated.  The photo album has additional pictures to show you what it looks like now.


                                                        View from the parking lot in 2013

Originally posted July 2010

Freetail Brewing Co., San Antonio, TX


The Freetail Brewing Co. opened in December, 2008.  They took their name from the Mexican freetail bat which spends part of the year in the San Antonio area.  They are a windmill powered brewery, and they have also become an official US soccer bar.

Our first visit was shortly after they opened and their own brews were not yet available due to a glitch in the brewing process.  However, on our next visit we were able to try their original beers.  As with any place, some of their beers are better than others, but for the most part they are excellent, and there is usually a good variety of them to choose from.  They have done some wonderful experimental beers.

Freetail also takes pride in their food, which is excellent.  Their specialty is pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven.  Our favorite dinner is a Caesar salad with a Pizza Carbonara.   The menu of casual food should have something to fit everyone’s taste.

We make a point of stopping at Freetail every time we are in San Antonio and have always been pleased.  They have a monthly newsletter which is a lot of fun, and a web site that has all the information you need:

http://www.freetailbrewing.com/

There are more photos in the album.

Originally posted July, 2010

Moab Brewery, Moab, UT

On our 2009 road trip we spent two nights in Moab, so we could go to Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.  We were delighted to find that the brewery was within easy walking distance of our hotel.  We ate dinner there both nights we were in town and really enjoyed it.  The place has a nice ambience, the beer was great, as was the food and the service.  We really had a chance to see the level of their commitment to quality on our second night when we decided to buy a bottle of their Belgian-style beer.  They had discovered that not all the bottles were well carbonated, and they opened bottles for us until we found one with the right level of carbonation.

At this distance in time away from our experience, it is difficult to remember what food we ordered, but it was definitely interesting and tasty, something we have come to expect from brewpubs.  The menu, along with their beers and their online retail store can be found at their very well done website:  http://www.themoabbrewery.com/

The Moab Brewery does a very good job of proving that one can have great beer without high alcohol content.  This is another place we will certainly visit if we are in the area, and would recommend for their food and service, as well as their beer.

July, 2010: As a post-script, we had such good memories of the Moab Brewery that we altered the course of our trip so we could visit it again.  We enjoyed our visit as much this time as we had before.  Not only were the beer, food and service excellent, we also had a great time watching some of the people there.  The brewpub seems to attract nice people.


August, 2013:  As we were planning to visit Arches National Park, we had to eat (and drink beer) at Moab Brewery.  Yet again it was a wonderful choice.  If you are like us and want a salad to go with your beer, their gyro salad is a great choice.  The beers are still as good as we remembered them to be.  They have added a room to the restaurant which is like an enclosed patio.  This time we are able to include photos in this album, to give you a feel for the place.



BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, El Paso, TX

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BJ’s is a chain that can be found all along the west coast, plus Nevada and Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Florida.  Our main experience with BJ’s is in El Paso, TX, where we live.  We are grateful for BJ’s presence, because they have everything one could want in a restaurant.  They brew their own beer, which is excellent.  They have a standard list of beers, plus seasonal ones - the best of the latter that we have tried is their pumpkin ale, which truly does taste like pumpkin pie.  A recent (2016) addition to their seasonals, in Texas) is their Bourbon Barrel Stout, which is phenomenally good.

BJ’s has a very nice ambience, and is pleasant even when crowded.  We have never experienced extreme waiting times, and the waiting times are generally shorter than expected.   The food we’ve had is excellent, as are the beers.  The service is also consistently good.  BJ’s is more than a brewpub:  they have a full bar and serve wine, plus they cater to families.  We have seen many families with small children there.

We have yet to try a BJ’s anywhere other than El Paso, but we are confident that we would enjoy any of their locations.  Of course they have a website:  http://www.bjsbrewhouse.com/

The labels below are for the beers that we have regularly enjoyed.  Someone told us that the Jeremiah Red was like Killian’s Irish Red, which put us off initially, but when we finally tried the Jeremiah Red we enjoyed it greatly.  BJ’s may be a chain, but they maintain the brewpub ethic very well.

                 

Follow-up note:  we have since been to The Rim location of BJ’s at I-10, just west of Loop 1604 in San Antonio.  The food was good, but the service just didn’t seem up to the same level as what we’ve experienced in El Paso.  The service wasn’t bad; perhaps it was that the staff is not as friendly as in El Paso.

As of June, 2012 BJ’s has a new addition to their regular beer list:  Hopstorm IPA.  It is up to their usual standard of making excellent beer.


The Pike Brewing Co., Seattle, WA


The Pike Brewing Co. in Seattle, WA was a serendipitous find.  Seattle was the last port of call before disembarking from the 2010 grand world voyage.  We took the shuttle bus into town, thinking to go to the space needle.  The weather wasn’t amenable to having a good view from the space needle (we did not want a repeat of our experience at the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, China), so we stopped into one of the nearby gift shops and asked if there were any brewpubs in the area.  One of the ladies said, “My favorite brewpub is...”, and we knew it would be good.  She directed us to the Pike Brewing Co., at the Pike Street Market.

We had to take a local bus over there because the monorail was out of order.  Pike’s is an unusual brewpub, because it has a very interesting beer museum on the premises.  The food, beer and service were all excellent.  They definitely lived up to our expectations.  We enjoyed our time there and would definitely go back again.  The most memorable part of our meal was the dessert.  We chose their special dessert, which was three locally handmade chocolates made with their beers, and a sampler-sized glass of the matching beer.  We strongly prefer dark chocolate, but even the milk chocolate in this dessert was excellent.  Pike is another place we would enjoy visiting again.

Their website is  http://www.pikebrewing.com/

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                                                       Pike Brewing Beers

                                                          Pike’s Beer Museum


Steamworks Brewery, Vancouver, BC, Canada

The Steamworks Brewery & Pub was an accidental find near the end of our world cruise in 2010, discovered when we were walking to a chocolate store recommended by the bus driver/tour guide for our excursion in Vancouver.  The pub is located within very easy walking distance from Canada Place, the cruise ship terminal, in the Gastown section of the city.

The beer was not the best we’ve had.  The Empress Pale Ale and the stout were much better than the porter, which didn’t have as much flavor as we expected.  We shared something small and simple to eat, which was pretty good.

Even though the beer wasn’t our favorite, we would probably go back there if we are in the area, because it was overall a pleasant experience.

Their website is:  http://www.steamworks.com/



Groggs Pinnacle Brewing, Helper, UT

We discovered Groggs by a billboard along the highway during our 2009 road trip.  We decided to be adventurous and look for the place.  It turned out to be on a small road that was under construction, several miles off the highway.  

Even though it was not easy to get to, Grogg’s had plenty of customers.  The staff was friendly, and the food and beer were pleasant.  Service was okay.  The overall experience was not up to the standard of most of the brewpubs we’ve visited.  But at the same time it was a fun part of our travel adventure.

If we are in the area we might go back to Groggs, to re-evaluate our experience.  Groggs does not have a website.

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Post Script:  We returned to Groggs in August 2013, since we were in the area.  It was a nice experience.   The beers we chose were good, as were the salads we had for lunch.  It turned out to be a reunion of sorts:  our server, Jaymee, was the same one who helped us when we first visited four years ago.  The good news is that the road is finished, and for those of us who can’t remember which exit  to take, they still have a billboard up to guide us.  We did not manage to take a camera in with us, so once again we have no photos.

Groggs Pinnacle Brewing does have a website now, which includes any information you might want about the restaurant.  The website is at

http://www.groggspinnaclebrewing.com/ordereze/1000/Page.aspx


© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com