Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Driving to Boston Takes Its Toll

Five days in Philadelphia, yet it seems like we only just got there, and didn't see everything I wanted to. We did get to hang out with Rocky Balboa, though the poor guy has been moved from the top of the art museum steps to the Spectrum (old arena of the Flyers and 76ers) and finally back to the art museum, but stuck in a corner off to the side of the museum like a kid punished for misbehaving.

Boston is only a little over 300 miles from Philadelphia; a straight shot up I-95, which also happens to be the most traveled interstate in the country. This fact did not work out well in our favor! It was fine at first, as the dreaded New Jersey Turnpike traffic was non-existent. The coffee from the Starbucks at the even more dreaded NJ Turnpike rest stop was even good. I didn't take a chance on Roy Rogers, which is a burger chain that I have only seen on that turnpike and in NYC. Their open air "free fixins bar", holding pickles and onions that were probably breathed on by half the US and most of Puerto Rico dissuaded me from anything besides coffee.

That strategy was working well as we hit the first stretch of major gridlock just east of the George Washington Bridge, and I spotted the cost of the upcoming toll. Eight dollars just to cross a bridge! And the stress before you get to the toll booth...I was convinced my lane must be closing, as people kept leaving it to get into the next jammed lane. It turned out they were just impatient and any driving to them, whether forward or sideways, was satisfying.

The remainder of the drive was just so congested that it was nerve-wracking, and this is coming from a person who enjoys road trips. I think I have been in New Mexico too long and am used to being able to take a highway for stretches without another car in sight. After hours and hours of white-knuckle driving, we arrived at our Holiday Inn Express in Cambridge, and I was happy to see our knack for getting hotels across the street from liquor stores was alive and well.

Jenn's parents were also in Boston at the time, and they graciously picked us up from our hotel for the short ride to the Sunset Grill. Google Maps put the distance at 4 miles between the two, but somehow Jenn's dad managed to make it take just a little longer than the most crooked cab driver would take to drive an unsuspecting Asian tourist. Talk about having a knack for something! I actually enjoyed the ride, as I got to see the Public Gardens and Boston Common and neighborhoods that I wouldn't otherwise have seen. The only problem was that I was nauseous from an allergic reaction to Jenn's perfume that she doused half of Cambridge with. The only thing that kept me from throwing up was the promise of good beer to come.

And what good beer it was. Sunset Grill boasts an amazing 112 beers on tap, with hundreds more in bottles. Taps were everywhere I looked. The beer menu read like a magazine. The dilemma of how to try all the beers we wanted without drinking ourselves sick was solved by our server Eddie, who said we could get 5 oz. samples of the beers we wanted, rather than having to buy a full pint of each. This allowed us to try a total of 24 different beers, and I can actually remember most of it! I think my favorite beer of the night was the Great Divide Hercules Double IPA, which is funny because I don't care that much for it from the bottle. I think the reason is I have always gotten the beer at Kelly Liquors on Wyoming, where beers may sit for longer than they possibly should, especially in the case of an IPA. In fact, while Great Divide changed the labels on their beers 4 months ago, you can still find the old-labeled Great Divide line at that Kelly's location, so buyer beware.

If you find yourself in Boston, please visit Sunset Grill- it is a true beer destination. Here is a rundown of the beers sampled that night:

Victory Hop Wallop DIPA(cask-conditioned)
Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
Weyerbacher Charlie (smoked ale)
Ipswich Blueberry
Corsendonk Apple
Founder's Backwoods Bastard Scotch Ale
Berkshire Coffee Porter
Southern Tier Unearthly DIPA
Great Divide Hercules DIPA
Sixpoint Bengali Tiger IPA
Speakeasy Double Daddy DIPA
Allagash White Ale
Arcadia Big Dick's Old Ale
Lagunitas Brown Shugga
Southern Tier Choklat
Green Flash West Coast IPA
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
Stone Ruination DIPA
Southern Tier Imperial Cherry Saison
Arcadian Cereal Killer Barleywine
Oak Aged Arrogant Bastard
Berkshire Holidale
Brooklyn Monster Barleywine

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