Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bourbon Barrel Buddies


Florida was great. I spent some much needed time with my brother and his wife. We went fishing quite a bit, and I had the opportunity to go kayaking with some great guys on a creek that feeds into the St.Johns River. Tasting local fish and paddling through remote creeks are a fantastic way to take in any state's beauty. I was gifted a beautiful banjo from my brother, and have been pickin' and rollin' ever since.
It has been a truely amazing journey thus far. I left Florida earlier this week, and drove around nine hours to Topsail Beach in Eastern North Carolina. I spent the Holiday with my long time friends the Breckner's right on the beach. Tut and Ketza had a blast running mach 5 up and down the beach chasing bird, after bird, after bird. It's amazing to watch the sea life this time of year, with so many birds traveling south, you see more than you would expect with the colder temperatures. Speaking of temperature, and introducing beer into the conversation, I have found so many great websites and articles on beer and temperatures at which they should be sipped at. Of course it is all dependent on personal preference, but sometimes it takes following a guideline once or twice to decide what tastes better at what temp. I enjoy a nice IPA around 68 degrees, or room temp. It brings out all those bitter hops and aromatic blends. The colder it is, the easier it is to procure other attributes, but when your drinking a hoppy brew, you should do it justice by sampling it at a warmer degree. Light beers, like lagers and hefe's taste better colder. Bringing out that light carbonation that gives it little bursts of flavor upon drinking makes for fruity or sometimes oaky libations irresistable.
Back to Turkey day weekend. We drank a beautiful bottle of Macallan's 12 accompanied by a cigar, and discussed the various breweries like the Kentucky Brewery in Lexington. They barrel age an ale in bourbon barrels, bringing out a distinct oakiness that reminds you of the south. A whiskey bite with a smooth finish, incredible. The weekend flew by like I'm sure it did for most, and I packed up the circus show and headed to Emerald Isle to pick up a traveling companion to accompany me back through North Carloina before I head to West Virginia. After a quick visit with her family, and ten turkey sandwhiches later, we were off to Burlington before the next night in Boone. Those of you looking to stretch out a bit should consider western North Carolina. There are endless hikes, waterfalls, and breweries scattered about and most are within just a few hours from one another.
As the weather becomes cooler, I feel like I am feeling normal again. Normal is wearing Xtra Tuffs and wool socks, a nice down jacket, and a very hot cup of Joe, no pun intended...ha...ha...hmm..
The next month of the journey I will spend learning about eastern ales, and will spend time in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. I have some great friends in these parts and look forward to sharing a few cold ones with them. If you are at all interested in purchasing a Joey P. hand made crocheted beanie, or trading me a hat for a couch and some water for the dogs, please e-mail me at I will see you guys in a few, now I am off to go hiking with Tut and Ketza, happy holidays!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

East Coast Post

One week from today I will be leaving St. Augustine for the second leg of my trip this winter. I have visited some outstanding breweries in the midwest, and am excited to see what the Old World has to offer. Some of the Nations oldest pubs are in my near future, and I look forward to any and all experiences that come my way. I have high expectations that the next 2 months will be filled with twists and turns as the road to Maine becomes shorter. As each beer makes me smarter, wiser, and more palate-knowledgeable, I assure you readers that the blog posts I have written so far have been somewhat constructed, and thought out. As a writer, well , more of as a story-teller, I encourage the metaphoric curve ball. If everything was planned out to perfection, this trip would go smoothly, efficiently, and timely. Coincidentally that is too much like a job to me, and for the time being, and for the sake of the book you're going to buy, you wouldn't like anything I wrote that was too planned out.
As a musician, I find that the best lyrics I incorporate into my guitar playing are words right off of my mind. If I just say what I want to say, I have said it. No planning, just a gasoline guitar fueling my fire. So with that said, you should expect creative blogs that will cover my journey so that when you purchase "APWATW" you will be able to look back at the blog and find the day I was at the brewery that your drinking a beer at, with your dog. My choices of breweries are limited to a few things, but please understand that is my goal to provide local beer information for traveling folks like yourself, as well as a few funny stories to keep on your coffee table for years to come.
I am now going to add the total miles driven at the beginning of each post, so that you can see how close together we all are....or maybe it will inspire you to take a weekend getaway to another microbrewery other than your hometown favorite. I am already certain that there is a better beer out there, and I sure as hell plan on finding it.


PS- I have added two new links to my blog. One is my Facebook music page, which many of you have seen. It has links to my entire album, "Alaskan Afternoon" recorded Winter 2010. I also have added a donation link if you're at all interested in helping me fund this journey of journey's to reconnect old friendships, meet great new folks, and accomplish my goal of 100 breweries in 50 United States!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

4,000 miles from Home.

In the midst of my fraternal retreat, I was able to visit the Orlando Brewing Company in, you guessed it, Orlando, Florida. My brother PJ, his wife Jaime, and myself headed down today to sample an all organic selection of beer. It is true, organic tastes better. There were 12 beers that we sampled in all, and I must say they were all unique and very tasty. The brewery has a choir practice, which consisted of a 5 piece set of stringed instruments, a drum, and a mouth harp. There was no singing, but you could pick out a few familiar tunes as the crowd watched a few pet dogs wrestle in front of the bar. Good beer, good music, good dogs, and good company. These are MY elements, and when all four align, you know you've done something right.
So as I plan my winter, I have to look at what I've already accomplished. I have been to Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennesee, North carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. 17 more states are on the menu, and 34 more breweries. I am nearly a third of the way threw my first winters' travels, and am confronted with my next decision. I have thought long and hard about it, those who know me know that this isn't something I usually do, and am happy to announce to the world that I will be traveling north and east this winter, all the way to Maine, and then head back to Michigan in mid March as I plan for my summer. I originally was heading out west and was going to drive up to Alaska for my Summer season, but now that I am here I feel very strong that a westward trip is most essential for the Winter of 2011.
So now I am planning my trip through the some of the oldest breweries and pubs in America, and my "beerdar" has to be fine tuned for the belgian brews and the lagers. I enjoy dark beer, hoppy beer, and creative beer. Well, now that I've written that, you could say that I just love beer in general.
"APWATW" wouldn't be possible if things went smoothly and were planned out to a tee. When you travel, it is what you do when things go wrong that defines an experience. My stories include dog sledding at 50 below in Alaska all the way to playing my first punk rock show in the attic of a mansion's gatehouse.
So now I encourage those of you East of Ohio and north of Florida to recommend some breweries that you enjoy, and I will consider them for my book. Until next post, Yukon Ho!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Forever Fall

I have chased the colors for nearly two months now, from Skagway, Alaska to St.Augustine, Florida. I seemed to be counting the days of rain, which could be counted on one hand, against the days of cool breezes and cloudless skies. This has been the setting for me as I embark on my journey across the United States. My traveling mind has set a few roots down here as I plan for the second leg of my journey/ Since my start in Michigan about two weeks ago, I have headed south, meandering about the Country frequenting old friends couches, which have been just as comfortable as the old stories dusted off for a special occasion. This is how I have been, and through the years have become. I love to tell stories of all magnitudes. When I was a young Boy Scout, I thrived to hear what others had done and seen. Now I find myself gaining true value from my past decisions and opportunities.
The book that I am creating holds stories from my life that aren't different from many of you. I hold the reigns, and sometimes let the horse sniff out the trail. And what some would call careless or ill-prepared,I call a right to define ones self. As a dog musher, I quickly became keen to reading all of nature's signs; a broken twig, an approaching storm, or a suggestive silence. This perception of the moment makes clear what thoughts are needed when traveling in any fashion. I always wanted to be a cowboy, galloping the vast West, living off the land and living to tell about it. The energy that I am trying to convey in each story derives from a real emotion, like the one you get when you smell the brisk fall air, and the distant sound of geese flying in formation.
The oldest city in the nation, cold for this time of year, welcomes me to my brother and sister's home. Michigan to Florida, 8 states in total, 15 breweries. I'm still waiting for that 16th, choosing two per state is considered by some a travesty. With all of the local craft beers fizzing up, it can be damn tough to pick two, or three...or four. But this is only in part what my book is about. The stories, 100 in total, and 100 microbreweries visited, is about communicating. When I see someone and talk to the in person, the experience is so unique, almost a historic notion in this day and age. It seems easy to connect online, on the phone, or by the pony. A drifter, gypsy, nomad, or viking searches the unknown, not fearing what lurks immediately in front. They care more for the experience of living now, reading or conversing a situation to its full potential. It's almost like giving up and letting nature carry you. I'm not suggesting you go to a grateful dead reunion show, I'm just saying that it's ok to give up every once and a while and re-center your inner "Jerry."
As I prepare for my next 8 state adventure, I hope to live fully, knowing that friends whom I have visited will keep pushing on in their successes and endeavors. The true meaning of any published work of art is to evoke emotion, and that's exactly what I am in search of. Alaska is currently 4,000 miles away from me. I don't think you could convince anyone else that it seems closer than ever during this 40 degree Floridian frost.. see you soon. `

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Welcome one and all!

Hey there!

My name is Joe and those of you who know me know that I love travelling. I began exploring at a young age growing up in Michigan camping with Boy Scouts, as well as the occassional midnight stroll. My passion for movement and adventure really began to grow once I started a venture in Jackson, Wyoming almost five years ago. I learned to to "mush" Alaskan Huskies. These sled dogs were definitive in how I learned to become one with nature, and also to trust something so completetly that love was the result.
Now I don't want to get too far off of what this first post is supposed to be about. Currently North Carolina is home, well at least until tomorrow, then South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. A book was conceived by my mind early last summer, well, actually late June. I had gone through what some would call a life changing experience, and life threw a couple curve balls my direction. Luckily, I spent my pre-teens as a catcher of the local Y team and consider myself well to do in that department. You see, how we determine greatness in my group of friends is simple; conceive ridiculous idea, execute said idea. I may not be the best at the things I do, but nonetheless I try them to my best ability. That is what this book I am writing is about.
I am writing a compilation of stories from my own life, as well as highlighting two micro breweries in each of the 50 states. This blog was created so that you can see what happens to a 26 year old, who doesnt show up to work until April 1st, and has two Alaskan huskies as partners on this expedition across the United States.
So here's the breakdown for the dream I am embarking upon! I will visit two microbrews in each of the 50 United Sates, chosen solely on where me and the dogs end up. Friends houses will occasionally be close to the brewery, other times, I'll stop by the essentials to document true American taste! This blog is designed to let friends and family keep up on my travels, as well as to prove that social networking is more than internet communication. I have made many friends across the Country, most from my seasonal job in South East Alaska, where I am Assistant Manager of a glacier sled dog operation from April-September. Cruise ships bring tourists to us, and we give them a 2 mile sled dog ride across one of the many glaciers in the Juneau Icefield. I will get more into this in the book.
The other part of the book is dedicated to short stories that I have written based on my life experiences. Now, I have seen and done some weird stuff. I simply want to provide the reader,you, with some funny stories while you're reading a book about beer. I love telling stories, I love drinking beer, and for some reason it took me till now to figure out how to travel around and write about both.
Another hobby of mine is music. I play acoustic guitar in the woods, at coffee shops, on top of mountains, and inside smoky buildings. I have played live for 11 years now, and find no greater high than playing in front of a crowd. I will use all of these elements of my creative side to enhance the reader or listeners experience while on this journey.
Well, that is enough for now, thanks for reading, and I will continue to improve the format of these posts, when applicable. Have an amazing day.