This is what my trip is looking like so far:
- Get to the airport in Atlanta tomorrow around 2:00 pm. Find Ed immediately. He gets access to the Delta Sky Lounge and the free drinks, and he can bring two guests. Drink heavily (this time I have a reason, more on that later). Flight leaves at 5:30 pm.
- Arrive in London at 7:00 am. No time for napping, that's what airplanes (and the previously mentioned heavy drinking) are for. On the bus at 9:30 with 17 other Atlanta/Athens folks. Tour and beer tasting at Fuller's before lunch. Beer drinking and touring of Hook Norton Brewery after lunch. Pub crawl of Chipping Norton. I don't know what Chipping Norton is, but I assume that it is a place, one that is presumably in England, and that the pubs there have a lot of interesting beers.
- Tour of Marston's Brewery on Tuesday morning, some traveling through the country side, lunch, etc. Then we hit the UK Pub Of The Year for happy hour. It is called the Kelham Island Tavern. Next it looks like we are drinking beer all over that town, including in the train station, and something called The Fat Cat. They have interesting names for things and places over there, which will be more apparent later.
- I am very excited about Wednesday. We get to tour the Samuel Smith's brewery and have lunch in their cellar bar. I can only imagine what awaits there. This visit will be followed by a nap on the bus, which will most likely be interrupted by a strong need to urinate. Just a hunch. By 5:00 pm we will be touring the York Brewery and having dinner afterward. We will be drinking most of the time that we are awake, so if I don't actually say that, it is still safe to assume that we will be drinking. What did you think the bus was for? It has fridge for what I consider one, and only one, reason: keeping beer cold.
- On Thursday we are going to visit a malting house. That is the name for the building in which barley is malted for beer making. Hopefully it uses the old-world process of floor malting, where the malts are raked over an enormous floor during the drying process. This is known to be relatively uncommon in the modern era, and practiced most widely in England. We have a noon tour of the Moorehouse Brewery, followed by some cellar tour of what must be a pretty awesome pub. It is called the Grey Mare Inn. Sounds old and tweedy, doesn't it? Then it is back on the bus headed for Fleetwood. Pretty full day so far......but wait, there is the Fleetwood Beer Festival that night. I have seen the huge line-up of beers being offered, and I have only heard of about 5% of them. This should be a busy evening. By busy I mean blurry, with difficulty balancing and forming complete sentences at times. Again, just a hunch.
- The next day we are back in London, and having lunch at the Cock Hotel. Here is proof that the English have a far more refined sense of humor than we do here in America. I think it is safe to say that if the Cock Hotel were in, maybe, Cleveland for example, they would have changed the name a long time ago. I personally know at least a dozen people who would steal the sign out front just to have it around and snicker that, "It's called the Cock hotel! Get it? Cock!" Yes, I have those friends too, just like you do. So childish! So after I steal as many things as possible from the Cock Hotel, we are off to pub crawl the great watering holes of London. There is a handy little thing called the CAMRA Guide, which will send you into all of the right places. CAMRA or the Campaign For Real Ales is a group that came about in the 80's (I think) in England to support the true, cask-conditioned (aka "real") ales that were getting harder to find in England and the rest of the world. They were the driving force behind a renewed appreciation for and the proliferation of the beers that made England famous, but were beginning to die out. Without CAMRA, big business was taking over British brewing like it did in America in the 50's & 60's. Without CAMRA, probably no FC in the UK.
- Lastly on Saturday we are doing all of the touristy stuff in London, which I am looking forward to very much. It just would not be right to go all the way to England and not see the sights. Luckily that won't take all day, so back to the CAMRA guide and London pub crawl part two. This night will include all kinds of stops, including the London Pub Of The Year, Bricklayer's Arms.
- Then we head home Sunday morning with a lot of photos and good memories. I am traveling with some really cool people, so we should have a blast. Hopefully I do not find out what an eight-hour flight is like with a bad hangover. I have done five hours back from California felling rough, and that is bad enough. I would have jumped to my death if the flight attendant had opened the door for some reason. I was actually hoping that she would for about two hours of that flight.
- We have Sweetwater IPA casks that have been dry-hopped with Centennial hops. Metropolis will tap one on Friday the 19th while I am gone. Cumming will tap one on Wednesday the 24th to celebrate their two-year anniversary. Canton will be tapping one on Saturday the 27th to celebrate their one-year anniversary. The fourth one is going to Peachtree City in early March.
- Tuesday the 23rd is our next beer dinner. It is sold out, sorry. If you have not seen the menu, you can view at www.tacomac.com. Click on "Events". We are very proud of this menu.
- If you are a Dean or Chancellor level Brewniversity member, you should have received an invite from me for something on Monday the 22nd as well.
- Doesn't sound like a full week yet? Well I am going to the Hawks game on Friday and making a cask of beer at Sweetwater in the afternoon before going to Canton for their cask event Saturday night. All of this after a week of traveling in England. No, I am not asking for sympathy. Just hoping that someone out there will remember all of this in case they find me wandering around aimlessly somewhere. Point me in the right direction and remind me where I supposed to be. Thank you.
PS- Still the hottest Austin Powers girl is still Elizabeth Hurley for me. I know....over Heather Graham and Beyonce Knowles. I think it's the accent.