Breweries, road trip

HoP: The Dragon’s Lair

I had such a blah experience with House of Pendragon that I wasn’t even going to write about it.  I hate saying mean things in print and out loud.  So I was just going to lock this visit in my vault, give them the benefit of the doubt and return another time to get a better taste of what HoP has to offer.

But the research department of my huge blog happened to have given me an article from the Fresno Bee that was dated March 22, 2017.  I didn’t get a chance to read it until the night I got home from my #roadtrip, which happened to be about 8 hours after my visit to The Dragon’s Lair.

Robert Rodriguez, a reporter for the Bee,  wrote about this new trend in brewing called New England or Northeast IPA’s.  He describes them as “juicy, hazy” and as I read, I remembered what the brewtender at The Dragon’s Lair said about their Qui Gon Jinn & Juice when Sean asked what an “NE Style IPA” was.  She used those exact words.  So it took me a second but I finally realized we had tried something new and innovative at The Dragon’s Lair without even grasping that.  Maybe a short review of HoP was in order, I thought.  I can be really nice when I’m trying to be.

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Bad picture of the menu board

I guess I should start with why I had a shitty time.  First, there is major construction in the immediate area of the brewery that made getting there a bitch.  Then, there was no parking.  Their lot was full so we had to park a little ways down the street.  Next, there was a huge line just to get in when we first walked up.  Then, there were a ton of unsupervised kids running amok.  Also, it was freezing that day and the wind was blowing through the warehouse. And the Old Man had a bad time at first because he got a 12 oz. pour instead of a 16 oz. like I did.  Whew!  That’s a lot of negative stuff, sorry.

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About that line…I stood in the outside one while Sean went inside to see what the other line was all about.  The outside line was to get tickets and a wristband to drink.

After reading this chalkboard sign, it was apparent they were having some kind of special event.  It was their 4th year anniversary and they had a commemorative 14.5 oz glass you could get with a pour for $12.50.  Otherwise, you could get a taster ticket for a 5 oz pour for $3.00 or a 12 oz or 16 oz pour for $5.75.  And they charged tax.  Hmmmph.  And they were using plastic cups.  I heard Mother Nature cry a little.

About that second line….it went pretty quick.  Like I mentioned before, we had a question about the Jinn & Juice.  The brewtender was knowledgeable and told us what we wanted to know.  I ordered the Lancelot IPA which was a 7% and Sean was the brave one who went with the 8% Qui Gon Jinn & Juice IPA.  The Lancelot was nice and flavorful and I liked the amount of hops, not too bitter.

The Old Man was immediately unhappy with his choice.  Not because of the taste.  He said it was indeed juicy & fruity more than bitter and it was a pretty hazy yellow color.  It was an all-around great beer.  But he didn’t realize when he ordered that it came in a 12 oz cup.

 Anybody who knows my man, knows he does not stand for shit like that.  He was pissed and drank his Jinn & Juice so fast he could barely enjoy the taste.

I advised him to get another one that came in a 16 oz cup and he would feel better.  He left me for a few minutes and came back with a 16 oz cup full of  Red Wedding Cake Red Ale.  It was a deep red and tasted sweet, not at all like a 7% ale.  He relished his second beer at a slower pace and went from Hulk to Banner by the time it was finished.

The Dragon’s Lair is the brewery and tasting room that House of Pendragon Brewing Company calls home.  HoP has another location in Clovis that seems to be popular but we wanted the brewery experience so we drove the extra bit out of our way to visit them.

They use kegs and sacks of grain for seating and there is a lot of it.  We were lucky to find seating right away considering the crowd that was there.  I was tickled that their theme is the Arthurian legends.

There were two food trucks. One was a gourmet popcorn truck  DSC05057and the other was a hot dog cart.  The hot dog cart offered veggie dogs but it was extra to substitute one.  It started to sprinkle while we were there and the popcorn people moved inside with their table of free samples.

Damn free samples!  Sean had some and that made me want some so I ended up filling a couple of handfuls of popcorn & chowing down.  Well, the kids also liked the free samples and all the little “adorable shitheads” started hanging around the popcorn table.  Luckily we were close to leaving so it wasn’t too annoying but I will never understand why it is popular for breweries to be kid friendly.

I said it in the beginning and I’ll repeat it: House of Pendragon deserves a second visit.  I feel in a way like it is unfair to judge them based on this one experience.  There was enough cool stuff about them to outweigh the negatives.  This summer when I can spend more time exploring the newer breweries in Fresno and the surrounding areas, I will stop in at the Clovis location and maybe even The Dragon’s Lair again.  I’ll take better pictures, I’ll have more than one beer, I’ll take notes while I’m there.  Everything about my subsequent call to HoP will be better.  All you have to do is sit back and wait.

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Beers I drink, Breweries, road trip

Sequoia Brewing Company

The Sequoia Brewing Company is an old standard of mine in Fresno, CA.  I’m there practically every April on the way to Oakhurst for some much needed R&R.

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We have been to Sequoia Brewing so many times that we are both very familiar with the beers.  Neither of us agreed out loud that we wanted to try something different but it seemed to be the unspoken consensuses.  Thanks to the “Specials” board out in front, we found what we were looking for;  two new brews that we were eager to sample.

I started off with the “So You Like IPA’s” Series #1 because I loved the high 7.4%.  It was delicious.  The taste was more malty than hoppy but the hops did creep up on me.  The bitterness was slight and it went down smooth.  I seem to remember that the IPA’s that Sequoia and Tioga Sequoia offer are not as hoppy as IPA’s available in Southern California.  The Old Man tried the Spring Bock which measured 7.2%.  It was a golden colored lager with a smoky aftertaste.

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In German, “bock” means “goat” and it is used to show a particular beer has a kick to it.  The Spring Bock indeed had a kick.  I tried some of Sean’s and liked it so much I ordered it for beers #2 and #3.  I got Sean’s original choice and he got mine for his second round.  He was as impressed with the IPA as I was.  There are a total of 3 varieties in the “So You Like IPA’s” series and we are excited to come back and try them.

Sequoia Brewing has specials for Happy Hour and we were hungry after our 4 hours just spent on the road.  We’ve had the pizza here before and it leaves something to be desired.  So we opted for the pretzel bites and we were not disappointed.

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The pretzel bites are small pieces of a larger soft pretzel that is deep fried to perfection and then salted and served with a side of stone ground mustard.  We ate that shit up fast! It was such a needed snack that ended up being our dinner.  Sequoia has a limited selection for vegetarians and I really wish they would offer a veggie burger.  They do have a veggie sandwich that sounds appetizing so I commend them for that effort.

Happy hour was coming to an end so we quickly ordered our third and last round.  I stayed with the  Spring Bock and Sean went back to the traditional menu to sample a Garage Sale Rye Pale Ale.  In the past, the Old Man has enjoyed rye IPA’s so he figured the rye pale ale would be just as good.  Coming in at a 6.0%, it was flavorful and crisp.  It had a nice dark red color.

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When it came time to pay the man, we were giggling with delight at the price of our beers.  I had to take a picture of my receipt to show off just how cheap the craft brewed beers are during happy hour.  $3.47!  $3.47?  Hell yeah!

Sequoia Brewing Company could teach other breweries a lesson about pricing.  Lately, I have been paying $6 and $7 for pints at local breweries.  They were no better and no less ABV than the $3.47 beers at Sequoia.  At a brewery, you cut out the middle man.  Where do some of them get off charging more than $5 for a pint?  I guess it’s the greedy American way.  The prices at SBC are refreshing and make me want to go drink and drink some more.

I probably won’t be back to Sequoia Brewing Co. until next Spring break.  If I was a local, I’d drink there more often but it’s just another one of those great stops on a #roadtrip. It’s nice to know I have a place to sit and enjoy some beers and unwind from the long drive.

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Beers I drink, Breweries

Fall Brewing Company

Saturday morning, we drove right past Fall Brewing Company and the door was open.  We circled around the block so we could park and check it out.  But when we got back, the door was closed.  We checked the hours and we were about 15 minutes too early.  Not ones to sit around and wait, we went somewhere else to conduct our drinking.  But later that night, in our final stop of a day of brewery-hopping, we ended up right back in front.

This time, there was no question about it being open.  DSC04288 It was packed.  It was after 5:00 so the crowd was not a big surprise.  We found an open table for five and then sent the men over to order.

The beer menu at Fall Brewing is varied.  There is something for everyone.  I’m pretty sure I had the Green Hat IPA because it was a 7.3%er.  I say “pretty sure” because somehow, I failed to collect any notes about this awesome brewery.  So there will be lots of pictures and less words this time.  You’ll love it.

 

Here’s a clear view of the brews that they offer.

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Art by Emily Connell

There was an art exhibit going on at the time I visited Fall Brewing called the #PlushRockArtShow.  I got a bunch of pics of the album cover art that this artist stitched together and the work is extraordinary.

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May I say who is calling?

 

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Where’s the Midol?

I got to observe some cute doggies.  I didn’t engage them because I was too far gone to make sense and I didn’t want to freak anyone out – dog or human.

 

Fall Brewing has some merchandise available too.

 

The best part about Fall Brewing Co. is the punk rock decor.  The boy’s room was covered with old fliers from shows more than 20 years ago.  That’s around the time all the millennials in the place were being born!  I’m old!

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Outside food is welcome at Fall and there was a food truck out in front on that Saturday night.  It was called Anthem and it was a 100% vegan food truck!  I could’ve shit my pants right there when I saw their vegan menu.  Everything looked so delicious but I was in between meals so I didn’t try anything.

 

Fall Brewing Company definitely fills a niche in the San Diego #craftbeer scene.  They are worth a visit to check out the brews as well as the cool wall-art.  Say, “Hi,” to this guy for me!

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Breweries

Council Brewing Company

If you are going to San Diego, you have many choices when it comes to drinking good #craftbeer.  There are a lot of breweries you can visit and they are each wonderful in their own ways.  But I believe Council Brewing Company is maybe a little more wonderful and definitely worth a stop.

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They are a self-described “nano-brewery” but the menu offers a diverse selection.  By the time I got to Council on that fine Saturday, I was already buzzed.  That may have clouded my vision and led me to order a 7.0% Make IPAs Clear Again.  Whatever it was, I was extremely pleased with my selection.  It had a strong number behind it but it didn’t taste like a typically overly hoppy west coast IPA.  It was a mellow IPA that was very drinkable.

The old man went with the award-winning Bully Pulpit that was a high 7.2% ABV.  DSC04199

I snapped this picture of him behind the cut-out.  The term comes from a speech by Teddy Roosevelt in which he refers to the White House as a “bully pulpit.”  The brew itself is another great IPA from Council.  Not too hoppy at all, very clean finish.  I can see why it was the medal winner.

Carie tried the Farmer’s Gold Belgian Saison and she liked the light 5.7% beer and Ck started off with a 5.2% Pilsner called Diamond In The Grain.

 

Neither of them could resist getting their pictures taken with the Bully Pulpit cut-out either.

 

Here is a nice, readable picture of the menu-board.  It’s surprisingly well-populated list of alcoholic delights.

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Council Brewing is like any other brewery, kid and dog-friendly.  Which is good in one way and bad in another, for me at least.  But I’m not complaining.  The kids in there were quiet and not running all over the place.  The parents had trained them well.  We were probably louder than the kids and we had just as much fun playing with the blocks.  I got to meet this sweetie too!

When it was time for our second round, we all tried something new.  Except Carie, who knows a good thing when she finds it.  She stuck with the Farmer’s Gold.  I got a 100% Maybe IPA that was lighter than my first and measured in at 6.3%.  Again, I was impressed with the flavor of their brews….delicious!

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Sean ordered a Questionable Advice IPA that was a 6.7% and Ck delighted his taste buds with a 3 Berry Beatitude Saison.  Even though it was a light 4.5% ABV, it was so tart & tasty.  We had Charlie join us for our second round and he went for the heaviest right away.  He got an 8% Royal Blood Imperial Red IPA that was dark in color and tasted like coffee.

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They have a special menu of sours that are brewed at another location called The Magic Factory.

 

One of them is called Lickable Staves and I was curious about what a “stave” was so I asked the brewtender.  He informed me that it is a plank of wood in a barrel.  So next time I go back, I definitely want to try the sour Likable Staves.

 

I liked Council Brewing Company a lot.  The only disadvantage is that it is tiny and not meant for crowds.  But the selection is extensive and the brews are good.  They brew truly craft beer and it is obvious once you try your first taste.

Go ahead and do yourself a favor.  Visit and enjoy Council Brew then check it off your list of things to do in #SanDiego.  Your drunk self will thank you.

 

 

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Breweries, Game Night Drunk, Stuff i do when i drink

Bay City Brewing Company

Last month I was lucky enough to try a new location of a previously-visited brewery, At Ease @ Barrel Harbor, and to experience a whole new brewery, AleSmith Brewing Company, while I was in San Diego for the weekend.  This month, I found myself in San Diego again with a lot of time and a lot of nothing to do.  So you know what I did?  I got drunk.

I started out the day right with a big breakfast and then a visit to the Villainous Lair where Ck picked up a new Munchkin game called MOOPS: Monster Mash-ups.  Then it was time to commence the drinking that I knew was going to happen all day long.

Our first stop was at Bay City Brewing Company.  It is located in an industrial area off the 8 freeway and close to Mission Bay (hence, the “bay” in “Bay City”).  Bay City is also about a two minute drive from Modern Times Beer.

Bay City is spacious and seemed even more so when we got there a little after it opened at noon because of the lack of people.  More folks eventually showed up and I got to meet two dogs during my time there.  Always the highlight!

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A well-behaved Frenchie

 

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The Pug that wandered in from the storm

Their menu isn’t extensive so I was able to pick out right away what I wanted to try.

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I went for the basically-named San Diego Pale Ale and the one with the highest ABV, 7.7%.

Sean tried a Power Play IPA that I told him to get because I wanted to try that one too and I knew he would like it.  It measured in with a 6.9% ABV.

Carie had the Vienna Lager, a mellow 5.0%, and Ck had the Dark Lager that came in at 5.3% ABV.

The Pale Ale & the IPA were very hoppy.  Very resinous tasting and mine killed my taste buds in such a way that I was able to enjoy the rest of my pint.  Otherwise, I would’ve been scowling with every sip.  I tried little sips of Ck’s & Carie’s lagers and they were so light in comparison.  They were delicious and worth a second visit.

We sat around a pallet table that was big enough for 8 people and played a game of Munchkin. It was so much fun because our group has been talking about doing it for about as long as we’ve been playing Munchkin, which is about 3 years.  Finally!  Our wish come true!

We didn’t have a game board but not to fear!  Ck had purchased each of us our own 10-siders that corresponded to our home-game Munchkin colors.  What a thoughtful guy!

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I languished around level 1 for so long as the rest of those munchkins rose up until Carie eventually claimed the win.

The brewtender who came to collect our empty glasses also asked if we wanted refills and the answer of course, was, “Yes, please!”  That was a nice touch of service and I will always remember Bay City as very customer-oriented.

A brew tour bus came through so it got a little crowded for about half an hour but then it cleared out and it was just our gang of four with a Frenchie guy and a couple other humans left over.

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A woman from the tour pissed everywhere around the toilet and nowhere in the toilet.  What, did she think she was in the men’s room?  Sidenote: Bitches please!  At least clean your piss up so I don’t have to if you can’t use a toilet seat the right way.  It’s your own damn piss.  Bitches. The bathrooms were nice and clean other than that little incident.

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Behind the scenes at Bay City Brewing Co.

The brew vats are set up off in the back.  They are lit up with cool blue lighting that goes with the silver of the tanks.  Cool design, owners!

There is a back patio area that I didn’t get to visit because I love sitting on my ass.  Next time I’m at Bay City Brewing, I will check it out.

I liked this brewery a lot.  It is roomy enough to deal with crowds and has some pretty tasty beer.  I would recommend starting with the light end of their spectrum and you won’t be disappointed.

The location is another great thing about Bay City that will definitely bring me back in.  Parking could be better but when I was there, parking wasn’t an issue so I won’t complain.  I’ll just say, I would hate to have to find close parking after 4:30 on most weekdays and all time during weekend nights.

Bay City Brewing Company is a must stop if you are in the Mission Bay area.  I had a great time there and will be back, for sure.

 

 

 

 

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Breweries, road trip, Stuff i do when i drink

At Ease @ Barrel Harbor

Barrel Harbor is a San Diego brewery with a great reputation and a decent local distribution.  Their original location, 2575 Pioneer Ave. #104, Vista CA , attracts all types of people.  From hipster beer-snobs, like the two pictured here, dsc03959

to casual one-pinters, it seems everyone likes Barrel Harbor.  And now there is a whole new plethora of reasons to like them.

In January of 2017, @BarrelHarbor opened a new location.  They collaborated with At Ease Games and popped up right next door, which gave way to one of the greatest tap rooms ever: At Ease @ Barrel Harbor.

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So the brewery is connected to a game shop, which i thought was really cool.  What goes together better than beer and games?  I looked around At Ease Games for a little while and my friends ended up buying some Munchkin card packs and a new Cthulhu game.  When we were done there, we headed next door to begin our Sunday of brewery-hopping.

The new location is huge.  Located at 8990 Miramar Rd., San Diego CA, they’ve got 16 taps and so many different delicious choices, I could’ve spent all day there.  Here is a picture of their menu board & current offerings:

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It was close to noon when I walked into At Ease @ Barrel Harbor and it was empty, save for the lone brewtender.  I wanted to start with something light so I tried the South Island Pilsner with a 5.2% ABV.  The beer was served in a tall, kinda skinny pint glass that made it seem really fancy.  dsc03941The Old Man tried the Barrel Harbor Red Ale with the same ABV.  Ck had what I had and Carie had a Blunderbuss Belgian Blonde that charts at 6.5%.

My pilsner was a golden color and it was cold and not flat.  In fact, there were so many bubbles coming off the bottom that it looked like champagne.  It tasted crisp and a bit citrusy.  I liked it a lot.

Everybody else enjoyed their choices as well.  When it was time for a second round, I wanted something harder so I sent Sean up to the bar with the explicit instruction to find me something “strong and good.”  When he came back with my Little Nugget IPA, I was not disappointed.  It was 7.4% and didn’t taste overwhelmingly hoppy.  It went down smooth and had a clean finish.  I wasn’t paying attention to what everyone ordered for their second beer so I can only say that the two I tried were top notch, tasty, & full of flavor.

dsc03953There is an area in the middle of the place where you can buy merchandise like shirts and pint glasses engraved with the Barrel Harbor logo.

They have demo games available at that counter too.  You can choose any game you want to play and if you like it enough, you can go next door and buy it.

At the rear is the game room.  This is where the experienced role-players go.  There are gaming tables set up so you can spread out and conduct a real adventure with your friends.


The longer we sat drinking, the more people showed up and headed to the back.  The game room is a popular addition to this brewery.

 

Since At Ease @ Barrel Harbor is located near a military base, they offer discounts for the service, police, & firefighters.

There are specials  listed on the menu outside like the BOGO 50% on Tuesdays.dsc03946

Like most breweries, Barrel Harbor allows pets and children.  The pets part I like; don’t get me started on the kids.

 

 

 

 

 

I loved how this location is so large.  I should’ve looked to see what the max capacity is.  It seems like it could never get too crowded and there are plenty of places to sit.

 

I’ve been to a lot of breweries but I have to say that At Ease @ Barrel Harbor is the one of my favorites.  The very concept of a game store connected to a brewery is genius.  This is the kind of brewery I will go back to whenever I am in #SanDiego.  It’s fun to exercise your brain with games while also killing those same brain cells with alcohol.  The circle of life.

 

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Beers I drink, Breweries, Out on the town drunk

A Noble Redux

We started with Noble Ale Works a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

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It was long before BrewBroadBlog, long before we acquired a taste for the IPA’s.  One time, we were the only ones present in the tasting room, this was before they opened the tasting room up to the warehouse section next door.  They had a bunch of Angles and Ducks memorabilia and a huge map where visitors placed pins to mark where they were from.

Image result for anaheim angles logo parking lot crisisThis Noble Ale Works died long ago.  They died when a shit ton of folks started parking at Noble for Angles games and crowding the very little space Noble has for “schmoozing.”  We stopped going there because we were sick of the crowds.  We might be beer snobs but, fuck you, hipsters, we were there first.

 

Tonight, we were on a hunt for a brewery.

Image result for old orange brewing company We hit up the Old Orange Brewing Company on Batavia in Orange but they were closed.  They should think about turning off their lights and putting the picnic table back inside if they are not serving beer.  Whatever.

So Noble was the next closest brewery to our house.  If they were crowded we were going to try the Legends Brewery on Lewis.  But the Noble crowd was manageable so we ended our night there.  The best taco truck in OC was there, hawking their meat-filled creations but also offering one with grilled veggies.  Smart choice.

The menu was new and familiar to us at the same time.

Image result for noble ale works menuThey featured the Pistol Whip’d which I used to drink all the time.  It comes in at a 4.5% ABV so I left it alone for the night.  I ventured out to try something stronger and I decided on a Big Whig IPA that was a 6.8%, it was Noble’s attempt at a West Coast IPA.  Whatever that means, right?  It was damn tasty.  It was hoppy but the IBU’s were not overwhelming.  I guess a West Coast IPA is kinda light.

They offered more “light-ish” brews like the Swoll Patrol and the Tank Top but neither appealed to me.  Noble presented several “hoppy-ish” choices, like the Big Whig, and the Tongue Tickles that registered a whopping 8% on the ABV.  Some stouts, like the Man’s Milk, which I think is a hilarious name for beer, came in with a 6.1% and the Double Bam Bam that is an Imperial Red Ale and will get you quite fucked up with an ABV of 8.88%.

Noble has some experimental brews on tap like the Life Is Pitless,

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which is a sour beer that features hints of sour cherry balls from the Most Magical Kingdom in all of Anaheim, Disneyland for you tourists.  The Naughty Sauce is a stout with coffee notes on  nitro to give a certain creaminess to the mouthful you will gulp.

It took about 5 minutes from the time we got our beer to the time we were able to commandeer a table from some losers who couldn’t hack drinking for the rest of the night.  As we sat and drank, we talked about how the Noble Ale Works has changed.  They started out sporty and took on a following they couldn’t keep up with.

Luckily, Noble is expanding.

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We saw the very proof of it tonight in the “Expansion Observation Deck.”  It’s a hallway that leads to closed glass doors that you can peek into.  What you will find is just darkness and maybe some vats.  But they are growing and I couldn’t be happier.

 

Our Big Whig IPA’s lasted a little while but soon we needed to medicate.  So out to the parking lot we went and sparked up a completely legal bowl of weed.  Things are changing.  There are new things on the horizon and I like the way the future looks.  If Noble can expand, so can I.

I just have to remember to stay the hell away from Noble during the baseball season.  It’s packed with lowlifes and trouble makers.  Visit Noble in the off-hours for a great time.  Try an experimental IPA or a light American Lager.  Noble’s got the best of them and it’s totally worth it.  You’ll see.

 

 

 

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