The NHC was a blast, far more fun than I ever imagined. I also underestimated how much beer would be served. All day, every day, there was a constant stream of beer from 10 AM through 2 AM. Between seminars, speakers, and walking through the Expo no-one was without a sample of homebrewed beer/wine/mead/cider. By far the best part of the conference was the Pro-Brewers Panel and Club Night. The Panel was a Q/A with some folks in the industry who answered any and all questions for more than an hour. Club Night is when over 80 Homebrew clubs, including Philly Homebrew, serve beers to all guests for over 3 hours. It's a night to remember, or not.
After the NHC, I had 3 days to recover before hitting the road on a 10 day road-trip with Gillian through the New England region. We started with camping at Sacandaga State Park in New York. Our campsite was situated directly on the Sacandaga River which made for a pleasant constant noise of running water. After that, we set off for Burlington, VT. We had high expectations for Burlington but were a bit disappointed. It seems to be just another college town, not that dissimilar from State College, PA. While this can be enjoyable, I thought there would be more things to do in the city itself.
The next leg of the trip was Portland, Maine, but we had a few stops to make on the way. My first mission was to find cases of Heady Topper from The Alchemist, but I completely failed as the entire state seemed to be sold out by the time we arrived. I scored (1) can in town and enjoyed it immensely, but that's it. After, we swung in to Rock Art Brewery followed by Hill Farmstead. I was quite blown away by just how remote Hill Farmstead is. Shaun Hill is the founder/brewer and is really doing some amazing things with beer. That was our final pit-stop before continuing on to Portland.
Once in Portland, we ate and drank delicious food and beer. I had (3) Lobster rolls and a few whole lobster (from a Lobster CSA - yes, that exists). We visited Allagash brewery and had a few of their Cool Ship beers, some better than others. We were lucky enough to stay with friends who knew exactly where to take us.
After our departure from Portland, we went on to camp lakeside at Pawtuckaway State Park in New Hampshire. We went on a 5 mile hike where we encountered no less than 1,000,000 mosquitoes' fortunately GLG came up with a trick where we held pine branches and swung them around for the duration of the hike. The hike was followed up with a much-needed Festina Peche. We departed the following morning for Boston. Once in Boston, we grabbed a sandwich at the Parrish Cafe downtown and washed it down with a Boston Lager. We went on to see the USS Constitution and some other local sites, followed up with a great last dinner with some charcuterie and a split-roasted chicken.
All in all, it was a great trip and we got to try some fantastic beers. Being able to visit Hill Farmstead was great, and I totally respect what they are doing there. The Northeast is a beautiful place to drive/visit and I can't recommend it enough. That being said, I did realize quickly upon returning home that Philly really is the best beer city in terms of diversity and selection. We are really lucky to have bars around that have 30 plus taps with ever-changing selections.
Now all we need is a few more good breweries to open in the city....