My best friend received tickets to see the Red Sox play in Fenway along with dinner at Strega for her birthday gift (okay, so maybe it was a bit of a gift to myself too). The day of the game dawned cold and rainy. Now when I say cold, I mean frigid, especially for the end of May. The high never made it out of the 50’s and the rain made things just that much more dreary.
Before we ever made it to the game, we toured the Sam Adams Brewery (free beer before the exorbitant prices of concessions at the ball park? Of course!). I’ve toured my fair share of breweries, and this definitely wins first prize for entertaining tour guides and fun atmosphere. The Boston location is their R & D facility. This is also where they brew Utopia. What’s Utopia? This is their 27% alcohol, limited release beer that I’d never heard of. They only sell the concoction on odd number years, and only release between 1,500 and 2,000 bottles with the price per bottle averaging between $150 and $200. Utopia actually won a cognac taste contest…well, it did until they revealed it was actually a beer. Then they took their prize away.
Every tasty thing starts with ingredients, and that’s where the tour began as well. Allowing each person to taste the different roasts of barley (my favorite was the caramel roast, but as much as I enjoy a good dark beer, I wasn’t thrilled with the dark roasted barley. It just tasted burnt.) and rubbing hops between our hands to release the aroma was fun and interesting. I’d never really given too much thought to the ingredients of beer before, and after this part of the tour, a little idea got put in the back of my mind…it would be kind of fun to brew my own beer.
Unsurprisingly, my favorite part of the tour was the tasting. We tried three different brews. The Boston Larger, Summer Ale and a new one that is in development. So new, in fact, it doesn’t have a name. Of course it doesn’t. It was my favorite. All week, I’d been drinking Sam Adams Brick Red, an Irish Red sold only in Boston and Sam Adams Summer Ale (very different, but both delicious). I really enjoyed the explanation of the difference in brewing techniques, clarity in different varieties, and thinking about the actual flavors revealed with each taste. The new beer, referred to as extra special bitters, contains a couple of varieties of English hops and has a great crisp flavor. If you hear about any Sam Adams beers being released that sound a bit like this, let me know.
All good tours end in the gift shop, and this is where our Sam Adams brewery tour ended as well. We were free to peruse the shop with the remnants of our last beer from the tasting (mine was long gone). I was getting a bit nervous about the cold weather predicted for the game, so I was on a hunt for warm…stuff. We’d started the day with a bit of shopping at Faneuil Hall and Quincy Markets. If we were going to go to the game tonight (predicted to be 45 degrees and raining), I was going to need something warmer than anything I packed. Fortunately, I found a hoodie and we both got some gloves. Sam Adams Brewery also supplied a long-sleeved t-shirt from their gift shop. I should have joined my friend in purchasing a beanie, but I foolishly thought the hood would be enough.
Our seats were in the right field bleachers, and pretty great. The Red Sox beat the pants off the Braves, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment at all. There have probably been baseball games in which I paid less attention. I can’t remember them though. There was a lot of texting happening to keep my mind off of the cold. A lot of laughing with my friend, and getting to know the couple sitting behind us. This was the evening that convinced me that I wasn’t as keen to move to Boston as I thought. It was the end of May. This weather was just wrong. We had a great evening, and lasted until the top of the 9th before we gave up and went back to warm up.
Fenway is an exciting place. In spite of the weather there was a good crowd in attendance, but that may have been due to the fact they were celebrating the 10th anniversary of their 2004 World Series win. Members of the 2004 team were brought back to make an appearance, and the mood was pretty festive. My parents were in (warm) Oklahoma watching the game on television, and watching for us. By the time our section made national television, we were out of there. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything though. It was a fun night (even if I slept in the hoodie because I couldn’t get warm).
What’s the coldest event you’ve ever attended? Also, anybody out there brew your own beer? How’d it turn out? Is it worth a try?
‘Til next time,