Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day 3 of the Trip

So our original plan was to drive from Little Rock to Greenville, SC. We figured we could check out Barley’s Taproom and the Total Wine store. I knew it was going to be a fairly long drive, around 700 miles, but we were ready for it.
Or so we thought. We didn’t get too late of a start on the drive that day, but each stop for gas and what not seemed to drag on. It didn’t help that I saw a Goodwill store in Jackson, TN and had to see what they had. I am glad we stopped, because an exhibit of old beer and soda cans had been donated to them by a museum in Memphis, and I picked up some cool ones.
It also didn’t help that there were cops on the prowl everywhere from the Tennessee border till near Nashville. I saw more in the first hour in Tennessee than I did in New Mexico, Texas, and Arkansas combined.
We started discussing the possibility of staying the night in Knoxville. I had stayed there once years ago and liked the atmosphere around the University of Tennessee. There is also a Barley’s Taproom in Knoxville. That combined with the fact that we were tired of driving brought us to Knoxville for the night. We tried to find a good hotel price near the bar via the laptop using Priceline and the other travel sites, but we couldn’t find anything that cheap. We ended up staying at a Rodeway Inn about two miles from the bar. This Rodeway Inn was not in the cool university area. Or the cool old town area. No, this was in the less scenic area near the Interstate. This was the kind of place where people lived. Where prostitutes rented rooms for business.
We called a cab company that quoted us a twenty minute pickup, but actually took around 45 minutes. We got down to the old town area, which looks like it is in the midst of a revitalization. There are not a whole lot of places there yet, but what is there is independent restaurants and shops with almost New Orleans-like architecture.

Barley’s is located in a large space at the end of the district. The bottom floor is the restaurant area, which also houses the main bar. They also have a large gaming area upstairs, with pool tables, video games, and a dart room. But my game is beer, so we stayed downstairs.

There were 30 beers on tap, with some interesting choices. I started with the Firewater IPA while my girlfriend chose the Rocky Mountain IPA. We get some of Rocky Mountain Brewing’s beers in Albuquerque. You may have seen the chocolate stout, Kidd Lager, Retro Red and pomegranate wheat in local stores. But for some reason we don’t get the IPA. Go across the country to Tennessee and you can get it.

We took our beers to the outside patio, which was pleasant and less busy than the bar area. Ordered some food and had a second beer. This time we each had Rogue’s 2008 Anniversary Brewer. This is a 9% American Strong Ale that is selling for 21 dollars in Albuquerque stores. I guess this would be a good time to mention that it was two dollar pint night at the bar. Yup, paid two dollars for a pint of that beer. I’d say it was well worth the price.

Barley’s is a nice beer destination, especially for a chain restaurant. And it certainly doesn’t feel like a chain. I recommend you visit one if you are traveling.

We got back to the motel thanks to a cab who was trolling for fares. The company we called with the “20 Minute Guarantee!” never showed up.
We locked up well and made it safely through the night. I’m not sure about the rest of the guests

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