Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Coffee, with a beer chaser

I think night times are shorter in Boston or something, because I swear that Saturday morning came around faster than normal. But at least the rain had abated and the sun was shining, so we had that going for us. Plus we were still on holidays, and you know how I feel about that.

Emerging from the hotel and out into society, me and J-Train headed to Fanueil Hall and wound our way around the food stalls and trinket stands in Quincy Market. At this point in the day I was only being sustained by one in-room coffee pod and let me tell you that was nowhere near sufficient. Decaffeinated as we were, we both ordered a Starbucks coffee and immediately regretted it. Sometimes they are drinkable, sometimes they are just not - and you never know until that first, fateful sip. Sad faces all round.

Getting past our coffee craving, I suggested to J-Train that we be a bit rebellious and take the train out to Stony Brook, to tour the Samuel Adams Brewery. I mean, why not - right? And so after a bit of train route wrangling, we were on our way.

The Samuel Adams Brewery is located in the quiet but suburban area of Stony Brook, an easy 15 minute train ride from central Boston. When we came out of the station, I had a momentary panic that we wouldn’t be able to find the brewery. But it turned out we were blessed on two fronts – on the one hand, we had a crowd of young beer-drinkers to follow; and secondly, the street signs clearly marked where we needed to go.

Arriving a little before 1pm, we managed to squeeze ourselves into the free tour at 1.40pm. While we waited we just sat outside in the fresh air and watched a steady stream of people come and go. When we finally got inside, the one-hour tour went surprisingly quickly. Our tour guide (Meghan) was an enthusiastic Samuel Adams employee – and probably customer too. She knew her stuff and did a good job of imparting her knowledge about how Samuel Adams combines barley, hops, yeast and water to produce the best beers in Boston. I felt a bit sorry for Meghan really because all of us knew that part of our tour included a free tasting, and people were obviously pumped for it. As we moved around the brewery, we learned about the mixing machines and hoses and donating leftover slop to nearby dairies for cattle feed. Poor Meghan was only able to capture the attention of about half our group – the rest were way too distracted by the promise of freebies. And when we finally got into the tasting room, Meghan really had no hope at all. And yet she was a real trooper cause she didn’t give up. Meghan ended up shouting her instructions about the tasting notes for each of the three beers we tried. Whenever she could, she did make some snide remarks about the yahoos in the room (none of whom were listening, because they were too busy chugging their tastings and having belching competitions).

We opted out of the free trolley service to nearby Doyle's cafe/pub, where we could have picked up a free “perfect pint” glass (created especially for the brewery by Boston-based scientists). We were eager to get back to the city because we had free tickets to a Motorcycle Expo (with bikers, their chicks and all the trimmings).

Yep, you heard me. More to come.

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