Twisting and Sampling in Lititiz

Where else can you go to the site of the first pretzel factory in the new world and get to learn how to twist your own pretzel.  Then walk just a few blocks and begin to smell the aroma of chocolate?  And even better samples are inside where that smell is coming from!  You have reached the home of Wilbur Chocolate and the famous chocolate bud! Then step across a threshold and feel like you’ve crossed the sea into an English pub. This is no gimmicky over the top themed place – it feels like the real thing as you cozy up to a  pub table with another group and enjoy hearty fare  (all the while being to enjoy this experience as a family).  Bulls Head Public House is amazing! Ordering up at the bar added an even more relaxed feeling and it was difficult to leave (luckily the delicious dinner is followed by just as good dessert – sticky toffee pudding – allowing all plenty of time to relax.)

What a great impromptu day trip just focusing in on the one town of Lititz.  We usually start this journey to Lancaster County either much earlier or stay overnight… but got a late start.

.. However for the short drive of 1.5 hours it was well worth the experience.. Oh and the goodies we brought home (close to ten pounds of pretzels and chocolate)…


Biking the Perkiomen to the Schuylkill and Beyond

There are so many great trials to bike ride on in my area.   This past weekend we took an incredible bike ride – flat but very scenic.  We started the ride on the Perkiomen Trail at Lower Perkiomen Valley Park.  This part of the trail is flat. (We have now pretty much ridden the entire trail at different times – some of it contains hills).  We connected with the Schuylkill Trail- well obviously right at the Schuylkill River. – and went east towards the city.  We road the trail straight through Valley Forge National Park.   On most trails you need to be cautious of going around those walking.  However on this trip we were the ones people were speeding and trying to get around.   There are some serious rides on the trail.  We had an entire family team zoom by us all in a row.  (I was in a bit of a panic as I tried to continue riding straight as they zoomed past.  Not sure I would take younger kids out on this trail for a leisure ride.)

After Riverside Cemetery we turned around and at the Betzwood Picnic Area diverted off the trail to a nonpaved bike trail (River Trail) through the park.  (With our comfort cross trek bikes we can do this..)  The park on this side of the river is not as developed but there were several interesting stops along the way.  This required some backtracking when we reached the end to get back to ths Schuylkill Trail but in return we got to pass the most amazing old barn at Pawling Farm.   Check out this person’s site for pictures (did not have camera on me that day).   

This was a bit of a drive from home but well worth it.  We ended the day by having a beer at Iron Hill Brewery in Phoenixville where they just happened to be serving 8 pumpkin beers! What  way to end a great ride!

Back in my own Backyard

The apples are ripening and the pumpkins are growing.  The weather begins to get cooler and the humidity at last will disappear.  The leaves have already begun  to change and the mums are starting to open again.  Oh….we are just a few days away  from the official start to my most favorite season in Pennsylvania – Autumn!  Over the next few months I will journey across my countryside and visit the festivals, apple orchards, and pumpkin patches.  I will ride the rail trails, kayak the lakes, and hike the trails all over Easter Pennsylvania.  Menus will change to roasted butternut squash, apple crisps, and of course our favorite pumpkin beers.  A visit to our favorite brewery, Weyerbacher, will most certainly be on the list of things to do to pick up some of our favorite Imperial Pumpkin Ale… This in my opinion is the best season in Pennsylvania and a great time to visit if you are thinking of taking a weekend trip to visit the countryside surrounding Philadelphia!  

Post Post about our trip to South Carolina

As I finish up sharing my journey to South Carolina,  I am sure it is apparent I am writing this after the fact.  I have not yet mastered the technique of setting aside time to write my blog as I do it.  Our days were filled with morning adventures, many already listed, but also a bike ride that was rerouted due to a bridge painting (Waccamaw Neck Bikeway),  swimming in the ocean and the two pools, and walking down to the crabbing dock to read.  Evenings were filled with great dinners eating in with fresh seafood from Murells Inlet and out – Bistro 217 to celebrate a birthday and River Room for our final night out –  (We arrived too late to fully explore Georgetown but did get to witness a marriage proposal on the dock while we dined.)   Our daughter suggested puzzles and so much to all of our surprise (I had never done a puzzle and was leery of the idea) we spent late nights working on the 1000 piece puzzle (we finished only one completely).  This trip was about downtime, relaxation, but still was filled with adventure, history, and good local beer and food.  Any why the delay from my return until now in finishing this?  Well… summer 2015 vacation is already in the works….

As the sun sets …. let the journey begin

Headed on a family road trip down south. Looking forward to some good family downtime at the beach in South Carolina.  Lots of fun outdoor adventures planned, low country cuisine and lots of fresh seafood.  Being a late starting journey we will drive straight to halfway point of Richmond VA. Looking forward to checking out this city for the first time.  Plan to begin this journey with exploring civil war history, eating southern food, and tasting local craft beers.

BobCate Cafe: The Perfect Ending to our Brew Adventure

We drove up to Bristol Vt for one last place to check out for we had read on Beer Advocate that it had great beer. We had no idea just how good the food was and that to get a table was reservation only! What a great little mountain town! I felt like I was back out West. This would be a great base camp for a future trip to explore North Vermont Breweries. I even had the chance to meet a nice couple who were originally from my hometown state who owned a campground in the area.

I started with Saison De Cassis – mixed into this great beer is Vermont Blackcurrants! It was delicious! And then finished my evening with a Unrepentant Stout. The chocolate and dark coffee definitely come out in this beer and it was perfect ending to a great day!

Next Stop on Route 7: Otter Creek!

Otter Creek BrewingI’ve been a long time fan of Wolaver’s Wildflower Wheat – for me the perfect summer session beer in the middle of a humid afternoon – and so seeing where it is produced was a must stop on our Brewery tour. The Otter Creek Brewing Company is a great brew pub serving all three of their beers with big windows where you can look out at all the shiny tanks producing beer. Although we are familiar with both Otter Creek and Wolaver’s we had not had The Shed, a small Vermont Brewery acquired by Otter Creek. The Shed Mountain Ale was good. Also tried the Wolaver’s Brown Ale and jumped ahead to the fall season and had a Wolaver’s Pumpkin.
Sometime they even offer special test batch one day of the week (not the day we were there). Regardless – this is a great stop to enjoy a few beers low in ABV, have a nice chat with bartenders who know beer, and enjoy some good local food — but get there early. They shut down in the early evening so that the local bars get the spotlight and can make the money selling their beers.

Slow down the journey in Middlebury

Amazing Falls! What a great place to visit on our Central Vermont brewery tour. Otter Creek runs straight through the center of town and you can walk over a great bridge to see it. You can then read about the history of the town on signs posted on the path that runs next to the falls. We had a small bite to eat for lunch at Two Brothers Tavern- a classic neighborhood pub serving good beer and food. I could see this being my local go to spot if I lived here! Also there is plenty of neat shops to visit after eating and before continuing the journey north on our brewery tour. This is my second trip to Middlebury – the first being many years ago. There are a lot of neat things to do in the area so this would be a great place to stay for a few days.

Continue North on Route 7 to Drop-In Brewery

Deliciousness!!  Award for our most favorite beer on today’s brewery tour. And most unobtainable… they do not bottle and so the only option to take with you is to get a growler to go.  The Head Brewer’s main focus is teaching the craft of making beer. This would be a wonderful place to go if interested in learning to make your own beer – both beginner and advanced classes.  You would certainly be learning from someone who really knows how to make good beer!

What we tasted: Sunshine and Hoppiness / Red Dwarf/ Heart of Lothian / Hazard Belgian  / Honey Carry My Bag  (love the names)

What we brought to enjoy by the campfire later that evening: Hazard Belgian

Great Vase!

Foley Brothers

This great new brewery (two years) is just off Route 7 in Brandon VT and was a perfect place to begin our Central Vermont Brew Tour.

Award for the best welcoming party at any brewery… Riley how did I miss getting a picture of you? Wonderful dog who greets you with hugs and kisses.

Award for the most scenic and relaxing brewery location.. enjoyed sipping our pint of Old Hob (an AltBier) outside on the property.

What we tried – a tasting of four beers (which comes with a beautiful beer glass):  Ginger Wheat / Native Brown / Old Hob / Fair Maiden

They sell either large bottles or growlers. We chose a large bottle of Native Brown (made with Maple Syrup) to bring home and enjoy at a later time.