Hop to it: Beer tourism north and south

There's no place like home! There's no place like home! -- The Wizard of Oz

So, some beer magazine named Burlington a "Beertown U.S.A", and local Vermont users on twitter exploded in a frenzy of mutual self-congratulation -- there's a lot of that kind of thinking here, and 'social media' is just an echo chamber, where like associates with like, and herd-like behavior is to be expected. It's quite annoying -- but still I persist.

Anyhow it turns out that this magazine runs a regular feature and that Burlington is just one of several "Beertowns U.S.A.", and that other locales so designated include such hipster-friendly areas as Asheville, NC and Brooklyn, NY.

So let's not get too excited about some facile little article, shall we?

My recent trip to Florida, however, gave me a chance to expand my beer-drinking horizons, although one does not usually associate South Florida as a hotbed for good food and drink.

Close to home: October 2, 2010, the view from Hill Farmstead Brewery, Greensboro Bend, Vermont. (For an earlier version, see here.)

A chilly harvest celebration -- I was glad I had a hat and jacket at this event -- and a bonfire would have been nice as well. The last beer I sampled at here, was some sort of real Belgian quad, with an ABV of over 12%, it wasn't a full pour, thankfully, but I remember that it almost knocked me on my rear, it was strong stuff.

Ahh, Florida: Denny's, Wendy's, and the Mons Venus strip club -- making the turn into Cigar City Brewing.

By happy chance we arrived as the local Whole Foods store was sponsoring a beer and cheese tasting event... so we got to sample beer and nibble on fancy artisan cheese for free.

What every up and coming craft brewery needs: A minivan outfitted with built-in taps: Just throw some kegs in the back and drive to some hospitable venue.

Another brewery we visited -- the beer list at Tampa Bay Brewing Company in Ybor City.

Not shown: Our stop in a crowded, cheerless airport bar at the Atlanta airport. College football was on TV, Georgia-Florida on one screen, and Auburn was thumping some opponent on the other, and the various partisans of these schools, gathered round, and they were really into the spectacle -- watching with a passionate intensity not usually shown for pro sports.

But, as usual, I digress.

There are many times when I am fed up with Vermont and some of the tendencies of my erstwhile neighbors, and the shocking tax bill for my small, old and decidedly unluxurious condominium. But then I ride my bike on the Perry Hill trail network and then go out to the Alchemist (now too popular for its own good) or the Blackback bar, and then all's well in my world, for at least a little while.

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