Sights and Bites Along Cape Cod's Old King's Highway

Every summer, thousands of drivers get caught in the crawling queue that backs up the Mid-Cape Highway, chipping away at patience and time better spent at the beach or on the water. Starting in Sandwich on the Upper Cape, dodge the traffic and take a scenic detour down the Old King's Highway, a quieter road that hugs the coast out to Provincetown. From cranberry bogs to picturesque church steeples, there’s much more to see on Route 6A and plenty of places to pull off for a quick snack or leisurely diversion.

Founded in 1969 and recognizable by its wrought iron roadside statue, Titcomb’s Bookshop has evolved from a small antiquarian book dealer into a three-story business with an international following. Stop in to flip through A History of Chowder, grab a game for the kids, or pick up a paperback to bring to Sandy Neck Beach Park just up the road. Lifeguarded from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the beach is accessible with a parking sticker or a day pass ($15-20). Go for a dip, read under your umbrella, or take a short hike on the nature trail to look for signs of deer, reptiles, and wading birds. After a little sun, continue into Barnstable for a visit to Cape Cod Beer, a craft brewery that proudly advertises “a vacation in every pint.” Cape Cod Red, a full-flavored amber ale is their bestseller, but on a hot day, Beach Blonde, a golden-hued easy drinker might be a better choice. Time your stop with a tour and tasting (Monday-Saturday), or grab a growler to go (from $11).

Round Three: The Great Northeast Brewery Tour

It's been a busy winter. Definitely the busiest I can remember. Since January 15th, when Voyageur Press published my third book, I've been up and down the East Coast from Maryland to Maine and back. Snow and ice stymied my plans here and there, but overall it's been wonderful meeting so many people who want to learn more about craft beer, and I've enjoyed returning to many of the breweries Bethany and I visited during our research for The Great Northeast Brewery Tour. In fact, it's been so much fun that I'm hitting the road a third time at the end of the month, beginning in Newburyport, Massachusetts. 

Once again, for details about times and locations, please check out the book's Facebook page or follow me on Twitter. See you in a few weeks!
  • Friday, March 21, 2014 - RiverWalk Brewing Company (Newburyport, MA) 
  • Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - BRIX Wine Shop (Boston, MA) 
  • Thursday, March 27, 2014 - Moat Mountain Brewing Company (North Conway, NH)
  • Friday, March 28, 2014 - Oxbow Brewing Company (Newcastle, ME)
  • Friday, March 28, 2014 - Elements: Books, Coffee, Beer (Biddeford, ME)
  • Sunday, March 30, 2014 - Metropolitan Kitchen & Lounge (Annapolis, MD) 
  • Thursday, April 3, 2014 - Thomas Hooker Brewing Company (Bloomfield, CT)  
  • Friday, April 4, 2014 - The Spotty Dog Books & Ale (Hudson, NY)

A Tale of Two Poutines

It was the best of ideas, it was the worst of ideas, it was a day of wisdom, it was a day of foolishness. This is how my epic tale of poutine consumption begins. Because how else would you describe a person's decision to eat, in under an hour mind you, two generous servings of a dish consisting of gravy-soaked french fries and squeaky chunks of cheese curd? Which isn't to say I regretted it. I've always tended to agree with Oscar Wilde's philosophy on life: "Everything in moderation, including moderation."

Late last year, Tourism New Brunswick, an office of the provincial government, invited me to spend a few days in Moncton, Saint John, and the capital of Fredericton, also known as the City of Stately Elms. By the time I turned up at Greater Moncton International Airport, warm weather had already gone south for the winter, and the nightly news forecast small amounts of snow for the duration of my visit. So, realizing that I'd be spending more time indoors than out, I prepared to experience New Brunswick with knife and fork in hand. And from my first meal to my last, I wasn't the least bit disappointed. 

At Tide & Boar Gastropub, Chef Michel Savoie served a charcuterie board with house-made pate, smoked salmon, boar sausage, smoked beef brisket, Bay of Fundy scallops, and my first taste of dulse, a red seaweed common to the cuisine of the Maritimes. Plus, after sharing a bottle of Unibroue's Grande Reserve 17 with Chef Savoie and owner Chad Steeves, I can confidently say that this Belgian-style dark ale has the ability to make a memorable meal even better. Next, Chef Jesse Vergen at Saint John Ale House dazzled my senses with a tasting menu that began with enormous oysters on the half shell and finished with a fried pumpkin pie pastry dusted with cinnamon sugar. Moosehead Cask Ale was my beer of choice that evening.

More Northeast Brewery Tour... Touring

Nearly a month has passed since Voyageur Press published The Great Northeast Brewery Tour. The reception has been positive so far, and I've kept busy with appearances at bookstores and breweries and interviews with reporters in Connecticut, Maryland, and New York City. Snowstorms and the "Polar Vortex" teamed up to challenge my promotional efforts, but even extreme winter weather couldn't keep people away. (I'm guessing that thermal underwear convinced those on the fence to venture out in spite of the low temperatures.)

Well, in defiance of the cold and Punxsutawney Phil's pessimistic prediction, I'm hitting the road again at the end of February. This time I'm traveling as far north as Maine, and I'll also be returning to Philadelphia to the south. And while I will have copies with me, I'm more than happy to sign books that you've already purchased. I've listed the confirmed events below, but more information can be found on the book's Facebook page. Keep track of news and reviews by following me on Twitter, and stop by any of these places to say hello:
  • Saturday, February 22, 2014 - Rising Tide Brewing Company (Portland, ME)
  • Sunday, February 23, 2014 - Cape Ann Brewing Company (Gloucester, MA)
  • Sunday, February 23, 2014 - Portsmouth Book & Bar (Portsmouth, NH)
  • Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - Greenlight Bookstore (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Thursday, February 27, 2014 - Lucky's Last Chance (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Friday, February 28, 2014 - The Hop (Beacon, NY)
  • Friday, February 28, 2014 - Crossroads Brewing Company (Athens, NY)
  • Saturday, March 1, 2014 - The Green Toad Bookstore (Oneonta, NY)
  • Saturday, March 1, 2014 - Hopshire Farm and Brewery (Freeville, NY)

5 Reasons to Visit a Brewery in 2014

Not all New Year's resolutions are created equal. Some of us aim high, setting ambitious goals that focus on self improvement: I'm finally going to train for that marathon this year. We like to challenge ourselves to be better, or do more, knowing all along that it will take a fair amount of effort. Others, knowing their limitations, prefer to pick a resolution that's easier to achieve: Maybe this is the year I remember to put the toilet seat down?

Personally, I'm of the opinion that a worthwhile resolution ought to involve a certain amount of fun, or, at the very least, a series of small rewards. Surely we've all learned by now that a little encouragement can go a long way. So with that in mind, I'd like to offer a recommendation. Instead of (or, better yet, in addition to) getting in shape to run a race or remembering to be more courteous in the bathroom, why not make visiting a brewery part of your 2014 game plan?

According to the Brewers Association, a professional organization founded "to promote and protect small and independent American brewers," the U.S. currently contains more than 2,500 breweries. And while Vermont, Oregon, Montana, Alaska, and Colorado have the most per capita, no state is devoid of locally-brewed beer. In fact, there's a good chance you have one or two in your proverbial backyard—probably no more than a 20 or 30 minute drive. If you need suggestions and live somewhere between Washington, D.C. and Maine, just pick up a copy of my new book, The Great Northeast Brewery Tour. But if that's not enough to convince you to go, here are my five reasons to visit a brewery in 2014.

The Great Northeast Brewery Tour: Road Trip Edition

It's been a long time coming, but after almost two years of work, my third book is finally on its way to retailers. I know this because last week an advance copy turned up here at home. The rather self explanatory title is The Great Northeast Brewery Tour. Suffice it to say I put more effort into this project than just about anything else I've worked on in my professional career and I'm proud of how it turned out. What makes me happier still is the fact that it includes a foreword by author and brewer extraordinaire Garrett Oliver as well as images by my talented photographer friend Bethany Bandera.

With the official release date rapidly approaching, I've put together a string of winter events to help promote the book. I'm eager to return to some of the breweries and brewpubs Bethany and I visited so many months ago and look forward to meeting fellow readers, beer drinkers, and road trippers. If you live near one of the places below, please save the date and bring a friend. For details about times and locations, check out The Great Northeast Brewery Tour on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.
  • Saturday, January 18, 2014 - Twin Lakes Brewing Company (Greenville, DE)
  • Monday, January 20, 2014 - Meridian Pint (Washington, DC)
  • Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - Atomic Books (Baltimore, MD)
  • Thursday, January 23, 2014 - Trident Booksellers and Cafe (Boston, MA)
  • Friday, January 24, 2014 - Relic Brewing Company (Plainville, CT)
  • Saturday, January 25, 2014 - Weyerbacher Brewing Company (Easton, PA)
  • Saturday, January 25, 2014 - Turkey Hill Brewing Company (Bloomsburg, PA)
  • Sunday, January 26, 2014 - Dock Street Brewing Company (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Monday, January 27, 2014 - Jimmy's No. 43 (New York, NY) *dinner*
  • Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - Curious Iguana Books (Frederick, MD)
  • Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - Roy-Pitz Brewing Company (Chambersburg, PA)
  • Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales (Milton, DE)
  • Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - Evolution Craft Brewing Company (Salisbury, MD)
  • Thursday, January 30, 2014 - Flying Fish Brewing Company (Somderdale, NJ)
  • Friday, January 31, 2014 - Cape May Brewing Company (Rio Grande, NJ) 
  • Saturday, February 1, 2014 - Troegs Brewing Company (Hershey, PA)
  • Saturday, February 1, 2014 - [words] Bookstore (Maplewood, NJ) 
  • Sunday, February 2, 2014 - Sweet Grass Grill (Tarrytown, NY) *brunch*
  • Sunday, February 2, 2014 - Two Roads Brewing Company (Stratford, CT)