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Drink

Thursday, December 05, 2019

City Brew Tours Expands to MetroWest Boston

With the surge in popularity in craft brew this past decade, it’s no surprise that City Brew Tours has also grown substantially, now offering tours in 11 cities, including Boston. Their guided 5-hour ($99 per person) Original Boston Brew Tour makes 4 stops at some of the finest breweries in town, like Slum Brew, Dorchester Brewing, and Down the Road. But I’m a huge fan of what’s happening out here in the Boston burbs, especially those dreamy IPAs created down the road at the Trillium brewery in Canton, and, of course, the much-hyped Tree House, 45 minutes away in Charlton. Lately, however, I’ve been happily consuming Exhibit “A” beers, especially their IPA, Cat’s Meow, and their delicious German Kölsch-style beer, Goody Two Shoes. Glad to see that Exhibit “A” and their brewery in the original Jack’s Abby home in Framingham is one of the 4 breweries folks visit on the new MetroWest Boston tour offered by City Brew. You’ll also get a chance to try another local favorite, Cloud Candy IPA, created by the Waltham brewery, Mighty Squirrel. It’s a great way to spend the day, including lunch, letting someone else drive while you sample the wares. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/05/19 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, November 06, 2019

The Perfect Friend’s Getaway, A Stay at the Ardberg Scotch Distillery

We’ve learned from past experience that if you make that effort to fly clients from Glasgow to the island of Islay, it will be the highlight of their visit to Scotland. The 45-minute flight leaves you in the Scotland of yore, with rolling hills, moors, small seaside villages, and the panoramic vistas of the northern Atlantic. It also happens to be home to the Ardbeg Distillery and their award-winning Ultimate Islay Single Malt, crafted since 1815 when the distillery was established on the rocky shores of South Islay. By all means, take a tour of the distillery and sample the wares. Then relax, knowing that you don’t have to drive that evening. You and 5 of your closest friends can sleep in 3 bedrooms at the Seaview Cottage, the former home of the Distillery Manager. While many of the original features have been retained, the cottage has been newly renovated and boasts a stylish interior with an eclectic mix of Ardbeg and Islay inspired furnishings. Please contact ActiveTravels and we’ll not only check availability, but we'll design a route around Scotland and create our patented Dream Day Itinerary that includes recommended lodging, activities, guides, scenic drives, and, of course, more single malt Scotch. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/06/19 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

My Latest Story for Virtuoso Traveler on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Already on a high from meeting 85-year-old Jimmy Russell, the master distiller at Wild Turkey the past 65 years, I took to the backcountry roads and was soon smitten by the scenery. My trusty Waze led me through fields of Kentucky bluegrass shimmering under the midday Autumn sun, graceful and strong thoroughbred horses roaming the hillside, and a maze of white picket fences that seem to meander haphazardly toward the horizon. I pull over under the shade of a maple and its last tinges of colorful foliage and take it all in, gulping deep breaths of serenity, before continuing on to my next distillery stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. 

To read more about my experience on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail this time last year, please see my cover story in the October issue of Virtuoso Traveler
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/29/19 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, June 03, 2019

Hotel Vermont’s New Summer Beer Exploration Package

If you like Heady Topper as much as I do, then you’re going to enjoy Hotel Vermont’s Summer Beer Exploration Package. Offered once a month from June through October, the two-day event starts with a five-course beer pairing dinner featuring Vermont’s most highly rated breweries (Hill Farmstead, The Alchemist, Foam Brewers, Lawson’s Finest Liquids) curated by Beer Concierge, Matt Canning. The next morning, you’ll have breakfast with the team at Foam Brewers while firing up the brew kettle and mashing in the grain to start the day’s brew. Then you’ll head 10 miles south to the new state-of-the-art Peterson Quality Malt facility at Nordic Farm. The defunct dairy barn now serves as Vermont’s only craft malt house producing the base ingredient for Vermont’s world-renowned breweries. Afterwards, enjoy lunch and a beer tasting in the fields of barley, with stunning views of both the Green and Adirondack Mountains. Cost of the Beer Exploration Package, including 2 nights at the Hotel Vermont, starts at $1130 for two guests. Interested? Let ActiveTravels know and we'll check availability. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/03/19 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Top 5 Dream Days of 2018, On the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

In November, I visited the Kentucky Bourbon Trail with my friend, Dan, a great admirer and collector of bourbon. We toured 5 distilleries during our time in Kentucky Bourbon Country. We really enjoyed the tasting at Heaven Hill (where we purchased coveted Old Fitzgerald 14-year-old bottles to bring home) and doing the hard hat tour at the 1930s industrial complex still in use at Buffalo Trace. Yet, it was hard to top our visit to Wild Turkey in serene bluegrass country outside Lawrenceburg. One look at those rickhouses blackened on the outside from evaporation and you can sense the history. In fact, a distillery has been operating at this same site since 1869. We had a wonderful guide, Edwina, who showed us the whole process of making bourbon, from seeing the mash bills and fermentation tanks to walking inside one of those old rickhouses and eyeing all those barrels stacked to the ceiling. Outside, the rolling hills led to a bridge over the Kentucky River and the countryside was aflame in late fall foliage. 

 
Then we were back at the newly revamped Visitors Center tasting the wares and meeting the Buddha of Bourbon, 84-year-old Master Distiller Jimmy Russell, who's been working at Wild Turkey the past 64 years. "When I started here, bourbon was a southern gentlemen's drink. Now just as many women are buying a bottle as men," says Jimmy. He also notes that Wild Turkey is the top selling bourbon in Japan and Australia. We talked for another 15 minutes before getting Jimmy to sign a bottle of Russell's Reserve 10 year. Definitely a highlight of our trip. 
 
After meeting Jimmy, we drove on backcountry roads past the rolling hills of bluegrass and horse farms of rural Kentucky to reach The Stave, a new stylish roadhouse restaurant and bar recommended to me by a friend in nearby Lexington. The owner, Rebecca, has designed many restaurants in the region. One step inside the cozy interior and it's hard not be charmed by both the look and the folks working here. The Stave made its debut in September just down the road from the Woodford Reserve distillery, a National Historic Landmark, and the impressive circa-1887 Castle & Key distillery that just reopened this year making vodka, gin, and eventually bourbon. Start with warm black-eyed pea fritters with tangy sweet onion relish and cucumber salad, or the deviled eggs dusted with paprika and served on pickled greens. Then get ready for their version of the Louisville Hot Brown, this time served on corn bread instead of the typical white bread. Delicious!
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/10/19 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Meeting the Buddha of Bourbon at Wild Turkey Distillery

We toured 5 distilleries during our time in Kentucky Bourbon Country. We really enjoyed our visit to Bardstown Bourbon Company, the tasting at Heaven Hill (where we purchased coveted Old Fitzgerald 14-year-old bottles to bring home) and doing the hard hat tour at the 1930s industrial complex still in use at Buffalo Trace. Yet, it was hard to top our visit to Wild Turkey in the serene bluegrass country outside Lawrenceburg. One look at those rickhouses blackened on the outside from evaporation and you can sense the history. In fact, a distillery has been operating at this same site since 1869. We had a wonderful guide, Edwina, who showed us the whole process of making bourbon, from seeing the mash bills and fermentation tanks to walking inside one of those old rickhouses and eyeing all those barrels stacked to the ceiling. Wild Turkey currently has 7 to 8 million barrels aging, forming the largest distillery on one site in Kentucky. Outside, the rolling hills led to a bridge over the Kentucky River and the countryside was aflame in late fall foliage. 

Then we were back at the newly revamped Visitors Center tasting the wares and meeting the Buddha of Bourbon, 84-year-old Master Distiller Jimmy Russell, who's been working at Wild Turkey the past 64 years. "When I started here, bourbon was a southern gentlemen's drink. Now just as many women are buying a bottle as men," says Jimmy. He also notes that Wild Turkey is the top selling bourbon in Japan and Australia, helping to create the current surge in popularity. We talked for another 15 minutes before getting Jimmy to sign a bottle of Russell's Reserve 10 year. Definitely a highlight of our trip. If you want to try and catch Jimmy, head to the Visitors Center on Sunday afternoons after he and his wife go to church. He just might be sitting at that table at the entrance. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/27/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, November 26, 2018

A Visit to Bardstown, the Heart of Kentucky Bourbon Country

Drive south of Louisville and within 45 minutes, you'll pass the Jim Beam distillery, a signal that you made it to Kentucky Bourbon Country. More than 1 million visitors stopped at Kentucky bourbon distilleries in 2017, a number that has risen exponentially in the past 2 to 3 years thanks to the surging popularity of bourbon around the world. And perhaps no place is more emblematic of the current love of bourbon than my first stop, the Bardstown Bourbon Company. Friends in Louisville had recommended the recently opened restaurant, Bottle & Bond Kitchen and Bar, and they were right, the sweet potato gnocchi, shrimp and grits, and brisket sandwich were all mouth-watering delicious. But one lunch with David Mandell, CEO of Bardstown Bourbon Company, and I realized this facility is a whole lot more than a restaurant. Mandell had made his money in vodka before having a vision in 2013 to create one of the largest bourbon distilleries in the state. Opened in September 2016, he now collaborates with 22 renowned brands to craft custom bourbon and whiskey in his production facility, already filled to capacity over the next 5 years. Mandell didn't stop there. He created a Culinary Institute of America-like environment where student from around the world can return home and become ambassadors of bourbon. Then he debuted Bottle & Bond Kitchen, the first restaurant at a distillery on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, featuring more than 400 vintage American whiskeys at their Whiskey Library (curated by acclaimed whiskey writer Fred Minnick). Mandell's still not finished. He's hoping to build a first-class hotel, a luxury property needed to attract international visitors to this sleepy town. It's wonderful to witness a dream come to fruition on such a mega-scale. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/26/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, May 21, 2018

Book Rooms Now For Next Summer’s Fête des Vignerons in Vevey, Switzerland

I had the pleasure of having lunch last week with PR Maven, Gayle Conran, and Cindy Maghenzani, head of communications for Switzerland's Lake Geneva Region. They reminded me that next summer, from July 26 to August 11, 2019, the Fête des Vignerons or Winegrower's Festival returns to the glorious lakeside town of Vevey, located between Lausanne and Montreux. Why is this significant? Because the event only occurs once every 20 years! Join singers, dancers, wine experts, and loads of other performers for the extravaganza. It would be wise to book rooms now to ensure you have a place to stay. Grand Hotel du Lac, the property Lisa and I stayed on our last visit is a great choice, especially since it's celebrating its 150th birthday, as Everett Potter reports in his latest column for Forbes. While in Vevey, visit the relatively new Chaplin's World, where Charlie Chaplin spent his last years, and the majestic Chillon Castle, always a must-see sight when I'm in the area. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/21/18 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, May 07, 2018

Trillium Beer Garden on Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway Returns Later this Month

My favorite craft brewery in Massachusetts, Trillium, returns the Rose Kennedy Greenway in late May. The beer garden is perfectly situated in front of the Rowes Wharf Arch at the Boston Harbor Hotel. Expect Fort Point Pale Ale, dry double-hopped Melcher Street, and six other beers on tap. Castle Island will also debut their beer garden this summer beneath the Southeast Expressway in a new 8-acre site dubbed Underground at Ink Block. 20 Castle Island beers like the double IPA, Keeper, will be on tap as you check out the street art every Thursday through Sunday. Then there's Wachusett Brewery, which will be bringing their perfect summertime brew, the Blueberry Ale, to City Hall Plaza daily, serving out of their Airstream trailer. So if you get parched this summer walking the streets of Boston, you'll have your choice of stellar brew to savor outdoors. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/07/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Westport Rivers Vineyard Announces Their Sunset Music Series

An hour south of Boston, you reach the southern shores of Massachusetts and the seaside town of Westport. It's one of my favorite places to bike, where the farmland meets the Atlantic Ocean. It's also home to Horseneck Beach and the popular restaurant, Back Eddy, where we held the closing night party for the film my brother, Jim and I wrote, Passionada. Another highlight is Westport Rivers Vineyards, rated one of the best wines in New England. On Friday nights in summer, bring your blanket, chairs, and bug spray and listen to live music from 6 to 8 pm at their Sunset Music Series. Enjoy dining from the Rhode Rage food truck and Cuttyhunk Shellfish Farms while sipping one of Westport's award-winning sparkling wines. Local craft brews are also served. It's a great way to end your day at the beach, but make sure to reserve tickets in advance. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/10/18 at 06:00 AM
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photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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