Brews and Boston

Ah Boston. Bean Town. The place where you can get a killer bowl of chow-da. And "pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd!"

Boston has always been one of my favorite cities to visit, and Eric has never been! So, when the opportunity presented itself to head up to Hartford, CT for a Dave Matthews Band show, I thought to myself, we have two options here. We could either head to Rhode Island and stop in Newport or Providence, or we can keep heading north, and visit Boston. Boston won out!

Before we go any further, we have to talk about our lunch stop on the drive up to Hartford. It's totally not beer related, but equally as awesome. 

Someone (ahem, not me!) wasn't really paying attention to the whole let's do anything possible to avoid NYC and 95 in Connecticut. Well, the bonus of the misguided, we ended up at Super Duper Weenie for lunch. If you're ever driving up 95 in Fairfield, STOP and grab one of these super weenies! 

Super Duper Weenie has tons of options for toppings, but I just went plain and old school, just a simple addition of ketchup. Eric went with their homemade relish which took him back to childhood as it had a hint of applesauce (don't ask!) Their fries are awesome too. It was a great stop as we took the long way around to Hartford!

Now, you might think there wouldn't be much to report until we got to Boston, but oh how wrong that would be! We stayed in Hartford the night of the show. After some Beer Advocate and a little other research, I came across a small family of restaurants called Max Restaurant Group. Within the group there are some pretty awesome sounding places. One in particular jumped out at me - MaxBurger, located in West Hartford, CT.

West Hartford has a great downtown area, which includes Max Burger. If you’re in the area, check this place out. Even if you’re kind of close to West Hartford, go!

We were starving by the time we got to Max Burger, so we decided to start with an appetizer – Spicy Tuna Salsa Cruda. It was like a spicy tuna tartar type dish, and it was SO good. I went with The Grateful Veg house made quinoa-sunflower seed burger. With the cheddar cheese, red onion, roasted tomatoes, baby arugula, green goddess dressing and avocado, it's damn good. They also offered THE BEST gluten free, dairy free bun I’ve had. Ever. Every other restaurant, take note!

Eric went for the real deal burger and had the Blackjack, a blackened burger with jalapeño jack cheese, roasted green chills, guacamole, and honey-chipotle onions, served on an artesian roll. I stole a bite of it, and it was so tasty!

Another oh-happy-day moment for the two of us? I could get edamame as my side instead of fries, and Eric went with Sweet Potato Fries instead of the standard potato fries. We were both quite thrilled with our choices!

We washed down our meals with a couple Brewtus Maximus draughts, brewed by Thomas Hooker Brewing Co. of Bloomfield, CT.  This pale ale is a collaboration between Max Restaurant Group and the brewery, and is only available at Max Restaurant Group joints. Oh, and $1 from the sale of every beer benefits the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Nice.
Max Burger was such a great way to kick off our concert going night! We headed over to the show, not sure what to expect. We figured it would be something like the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, and it totally was. The downside, much like when we’re in Camden for a show, is that we struggled to find a decent beer. After wandering around for nearly 20 minutes, just as we were about to give up, we turned the corner and saw Harpoon IPA on draught. Sweet baby Jesus, we were happy. I’m pretty sure the girl that waited on us thought I was already drunk, I got that excited! Not a bad beer to drink as the sounds of Dave Matthews Band filled the air.

Although our stay was brief, the time in the Hartford area was fantastic. And then we were officially Boston bound!

I've visited Boston at least a dozen times, if not more, during my college years. During college I was part of the Walt Disney World College Program where I met some of the greatest people I know, who just happen to live in the New England area. Going to visit them was always an adventure, and often included a trip to Boston! 
My list of things I hoped we could do was seriously a mile long. Poor Eric was probably overwhelmed with all of my options! We got checked into our hotel (thanks to my fantastically awesome friend, David), and we were on our way to start touring the city! It was pretty stinking hot up there over Memorial Day weekend. As we wandered around Faneuil Hall, we decided to escape the heat and hop into Durgin Park for a cold beer. Their craft beer bottle and can list was a lot more impressive than we thought it would be. The beers on tap weren’t too bad. We decided to grad a traditional Boston brew, Samuel Adams Summer Ale. After that, we had another Harpoon IPA. It was a nice way to break up our afternoon. 

For dinner that night we headed over to LTK Bar and Kitchen, where we had one of the best servers we’d had in a long time. We, of course, had to get Legal’s Famous Clam Chowder to start our dinner off.  We followed that up with the Tortilla, Apple and Goat Cheese Salad that also had avocado and roasted red peppers, tossed in a chipotle orange dressing. For dinner we split the Lobster Wrap – local lobster, avocado, bacon and chipotle mayo on grilled flatbread – and the Tuna Burger with chili sambai and roasted pepper aioli. We couldn’t have asked for a better meal in Boston. Bonus: they serve pretty awesome beer too! That night, we went with the Cambridge Brewing Company Big Man IPA, which is one of CBC’s seasonal brews. The hops were definitely prominent in this brew. It went so well with our meal. Dinner here was the perfect way to end our first night in Boston!

On Sunday the only thing we really had planned was heading to see the Red Sox take on the Royals. Thanks to my awesome friend, David, we had a gift card to check out The Baseball Tavern, located right outside of the entrance to Fenway. While we were there, we grabbed a couple pints of Wachusett Brewing Company Green Monsta IPA – quite fitting for what the rest of the day was all about! Once we got into Fenway, we proceeded to grab another Green Monsta IPA. Friends were in Boston the same weekend we were there, so we caught up with them and had a few more beers during the game – we went with Harpoon IPA and a Sam Adams Summer (do you see a pattern in our beer choices while in Boston?!) 

Fortunately, I hadn’t been carded at this point in the day (and it was well into our day!)  After the game, we all decided to head across the street to Cask ‘n Flagon for a bite to eat and a couple more beers with our friends. This is when I realized that my ID was back at the hotel. So, after a quick taxi ride back to the room (and the awesome taxi driver waiting for me outside of the hotel) I left the game a little early so I could grab it. When I got back to Fenway, I the game was still going on, so I stopped into Boston Beer Works to kill some time before the game was over. My beer of choice at BBW was their Watermelon Ale, complete with a wedge of watermelon and all. It was a really great beer –totally reminiscent of 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon. 

Once the game was over, we headed to Cask ‘n Flagon, where we proceeded to drink the go-to beer of the holiday weekend – Harpoon! We stayed there for a bit with the friends, and then made our way to Cambridge and Harvard Square. While in Cambridge, we went to LordHobo, a funky cool place will a diverse tap list. We had a High & MightyBeer Co. Beer of the Gods, as well as Green Flash West Coast IPA. Not too shabby.

We also popped in flat top johnny’s  while in Cambridge. There are tons of pool tables to keep you occupied when visiting this laidback joint.This time around, we thought we’d have a little something from our home state, and went with a Dogfish Head 60 Minute. Before we headed out of flat top johnny’s, we tried another Cambridge Brewing Company brew, Tall Tale Pale Ale. As we later learned, flat top johnny’s has a great relationship with CBC and feature several of their brews year round.

Our original plan was to check out both Harpoon Brewery and Sam Adams while we were in town, but as it usually happens, we ran out of time to do both, so we decided to check out Sam Adams. The original brewery isn’t downtown, it’s located in Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston. We took a taxi over, which is probably the easiest way to get there. More on how we got back in a sec.

The tour is free, they ask for a $2 donation which goes to a local charity. Can’t beat that. During the tour you receive three samples of Sam Adams brews. For our tour we tried their Boston Lager, Summer Ale, and Boston 26.2 Brew, the brewery’s own version of gose, a rare type of beer associated with the German city of Leipzig.

Once the tour was complete, and we picked up a few goodies in the giftshop, we hopped on a trolley that takes you from the brewery (and back) to Doyle’s Cafe, the first spot in Boston to serve Samual Adams.  Back in 1986 Doyle’s Café and Sam Adams Jim Koch, partnered up making Doyles the first purveyor of Sam Adams beer, making them the first bar to put them on tap. The trolley ride alone is worth heading over there! Our driver was extremely entertaining and provided us a sneak peak of what Doyle’s would have on tap once we got there. The bummer, he thought their Red Brick Irish Red Ale, which is typically only found in Boston, would be on tap. Once we got there we found out that they didn’t. But they did have the Summer Ale, which is what we went with. Note to anyone that’s going to visit the brewery and Doyle’s afterwards. If you’re thinking about purchasing one of the Boston Lager glasses, hold off until you go to Doyle’s. You get a glass with the purchase of the beer! Not a bad deal!

Because we were going to be getting on the road and heading back to Delaware once we finished up the tour, we decided to grab a bite to eat at Doyle’s while we were there. The food was great! We went with the chowda (of course – when in Rome…) and totally splurged on an order of Onion Rings. They were fantastic – and supposedly made with Sam Adams Lager beer batter.

On our way back to the brewery, the trolley driver, seriously the most entertaining man in Boston, asked if anyone needed to be dropped off at the T station. We did, which was awesome! It made our trip back to the hotel way easier!

What started out as a good excuse to go see Dave Matthews Band one more time (thank goodness Eric is such a good sport!) ended with a trip around one of my favorite areas and favorite cities. We're looking forward to finding another excuse to get up there again soon!