It’s a Great Lakes Christmas Ale

It’s that time of the year again…you know…the time of the year when He knows if you have been naughty or if you’ve been nice…I personally prefer the “naughty” type; you know black leather and stilettos naughty…

black leather

oh wait, that’s a tale for a different blog. This blog’s about beer; Christmas  ale or beer…

Let me start by saying, I’m not a fan of sugar and cinnamon rims on my beer glass but it seems this is the way that most bars, pubs and breweries insist on serving their Christmas ales…I find most often, that it’s the lovely ladies in the bar that are drinking Christmas Ale with a sugar and cinnamon rim on their glass, plus the occasional metro-sexual, of course, anytime that I have this wonderful Christmas Ale in the house, I have to pour it with a sugar and cinnamon rim for my beautiful wife.  I find the flavor from the cinnamon and sugar rim overpowers the flavors that are brewed into the beer…something that I don’t ever want to do.  I want to enjoy the nuances of the flavors actually brewed into the beer, not added afterward.

Julie's Christmas Ale with the sugar and cinnamon rim.
Julie’s Christmas Ale with the sugar and cinnamon rim.



I know, saying Christmas isn’t necessarily P.C. in this day and age but I refuse to go to “Holiday” instead of Christmas and fortunately, it looks as though one of the first craft breweries in Ohio is doing the same thing.  Their ale is not a “Holiday” ale, it’s Christmas Ale, plain and simple.

Back in the late 1980’s, brothers Patrick and Daniel Conway opened their operations in the Ohio City neighborhood.  The odds were not great that this would be a profitable endeavor but the brothers surrounded themselves with knowledgeable and passionate people who wanted to see the brothers produce a superb selection of craft beer available to the populace of Cleveland and the great state of Ohio.  What brewery was this???  Why Great Lakes Brewing Company, of course.


Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, Ohio is one of those breweries who is not caving in to political correctness…their Christmas Ale is just that…Christmas Ale!!  Let me say, GLBC does a fantastic job of producing a quality Christmas Ale year after year.  GLBC only produces their Christmas Ale for 8 weeks during the holiday season.  It’s the second highest selling beer that is brewed by Great Lakes.  Most of the Christmas Ale never makes it out of the Cleveland area.  I know people that will wait in line to purchase Christmas Ale on the first day of availability at the brewery as well as at the local supermarkets when it goes on the shelves.  The Christmas Ale is that good!!!  If you ever get the chance, you definitely need to visit the brewery and drink it fresh from the tap…if that isn’t an option run…don’t walk…to your nearest bar, supermarket, pub, local corner market, friend with a great beer selection, drive-thru…wherever you can get a taste of this delicious Christmas Ale.  I guarantee that you won’t regret it and you will be a convert…someone that makes sure to purchase at least a case of this delectable ale every Christmas.

Christmas at Rick and Julie's
Christmas at Rick and Julie’s

I know that the Christmas Holiday is now passed but with some perseverance you can still locate Christmas Ale.  You may have to put a few miles on your car, truck or bike but it will be worth it.  I recommend that you put a six-pack aside so that you can celebrate Christmas in July properly…by quaffing a few Christmas Ales.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  May 2016 be your best year yet.

Hilton Head and Savannah 2012 176


Make sure to follow Great Lakes Brewing Company Facebook and Twitter.

For other resources about beer, I have included a couple of links to twitter accounts for All About Beer and Beer Advocate:

Make sure to comment on my blog…I am always open to suggestions…this is certainly a work in progress…I’m sure that this blog will evolve as time passes.




Foggy Brews

Over the years I’ve made many trips to the West Coast…home of the California style IPA.  It is my opinion that the best beers in the country come from California.

All of those trips have been to the Northern California area (San Francisco Bay area and environs).  I haven’t been fortunate enough to make it to Nirvana for beer drinkers (San Diego) as of this posting.

My wife Julie and I have made numerous trips to Northern California…she goes for the wine and I go for the beer and the wine and the scenery and the beer.  Did I mention, I go for the beer???

Our first trip to the Bay Area lead us to Half Moon Bay home of the Mavericks and Half Moon Bay Microbrewery.  Half Moon Bay is a quaint little town about 30 miles to the south and west of San Francisco.

First off…what is a Maverick???  Mavericks are huge waves that people come to surf…It is an invitational event with only 24 pre-selected contestants…when notification goes out, the invitees have only 48 hours to get to Half Moon Bay to surf these huge waves, and by huge, I mean 50 to 60 foot waves.  I’ve posted a link to a YouTube video below that shows people surfing these monster waves.

As you can see from the video, this isn’t for the faint of heart…I’m not a surfer but have seen many people surfing off of Pillar Point and Half Moon Bay.

On to Half Moon Bay Microbrewery; in their words…a place where beer matters.  Half Moon Bay is located just up the road from the location where the Mavericks are surfed…they always have at least 10 of their beers on tap piped directly from the brewery to the bar.  The brewmaster is always creating new beers.  If you make it out, make sure you ask about the ever-changing seasonal list of brews.  I highly recommend the Full Swing IPA for all of you hopheads out there…if you tend to like the lighter side of beer then go for the Amber Ale.

When it comes to the food…everything, and I mean everything is top notch!!!  A few of my favorite items from the menu include grilled artichokes, the Seafood Duo which is Yucatán Ceviche and Ahi tuna poke. Served with housemade tropical salsa, fried wontons and tortilla chips.  Sandwiches include a Kobe Brew Burger, Pesto and Chevre Chicken Sandwich, and for those that prefer a vegan sandwich, I would recommend the Gardein; a Vegan blend of soy, pea proteins, and ancient grains with sautéed mushrooms and onions on a whole wheat bun.  As far as entrees I always go for the Prawns and Chips or the Baja Tacos.

There is also an extensive wine list and a full bar for those that choose not to partake in the local brews.

If the weather permits, I recommend sitting outside on their patio.  There are fire pits and heaters spread throughout if it’s a bit chilly.  What could be better than sitting on a patio listening to the waves crash, checking out the view of the marina and Pillar Point and drinking a good beer???  Unless of course there’s live entertainment on the patio…that’s always a good time too!  I highly recommend that you make the trip to the Bay area…this is just one brewery in the area, my favorite since it was the first brewery that I visited in Northern California.  HMB Brewing will always be near and dear to my heart.

Enjoy the views!!!

california 2008 3 010 california 2008 3 020

Julie and I at Half Moon Bay Marina.

Make sure to follow Half Moon Bay Brewing company on Facebook and Twitter!





Goose Island-Chicago

Any real beer connoisseur knows that drinking craft beer is not a solitary activity.  Don’t get me wrong, drinking a great beer can be very enjoyable while sitting on the patio but it becomes a party when you add additional craft beer imbibers.  That’s why I always recommend that you do a tour and tasting when you have the chance when visiting a brewery.  Everyone that does the tour is there to have a good time and enjoy some local brews.

goose island logo

Several years ago, my wife and I as well as our friends John and Angie made a trip to Chicago for sightseeing and of course some beer drinking…one of the stops for beer drinking was Goose Island near Clybourn Station.  The address for the Goose Island Brewpub is 1800 N. Clybourn Avenue, Chicago, IL  60614.

Goose Island Chalkboard

Of course, we had to do the obligatory tour of the brewing facilities located at this brewpub.  Our tour guide was very knowledgeable regarding his job…the only problem with him was that he was from Michigan and was a Michigan Fan…so much so that he had the big blue block M tattooed on his forearm.  I felt sorry for the poor guy.  The four of us are all big Buckeye fans so we had to give him as much grief as possible.  He was a good sport about it though…although we did make sure to keep an eye on him in case he was just a good actor…the last thing we wanted was to see him spitting in our beer samples.

brewing facilities goose islandBrewing Facilities

Honestly, he was a great tour guide and we had a lot of fun with him.  The samples at the brewpub are very generous.  Pitchers of each beer were placed on the tables after the tour and passed down.  Glasses that were provided were approximately 6 ounces each and there was never an empty pitcher.  gooseisland tour guideOur Tour Guide

One interesting fact that he provided was that hops and cannabis are closely related…Angie blurted that answer right out when he asked if anyone knew what hops were related to…hmmm, makes me wonder what other interesting facts Angie may know about hops and cannabis.

john and angie hanging at Goose IslandJohn and Angie


Julie and I at Goose Island

Julie and I after the tour and samples.

john having fun at my expense at Goose Island

As you can see by the glass in my hand, the sample glasses were very generous.  You might notice that John was also having a great time while they were taking the pic, and yes I know that I look like Uncle Fester…I know that all of you who are reading this were thinking it…it’s ok, I know!!!!


If you are ever in Chicago make sure you stop in to Goose Island.  I know that they are now owned by big corporate beer but I am sure that you will have a great time.

goose island beers


I have provided the link to the website and the twitter feed below.  Make sure that you follow Goose Island on Twitter and Facebook.


My “first” attempt at beer traveling. (I was 14 and riding a bicycle)

I know, I know…I was underage and shouldn’t have anything to do with beer or ale…calm down. I was a beer can collector way back in 1975…I wasn’t actually drinking beer, just collecting the empty cans; as most young men in my area were doing at the time…remember, it was the 1970’s…long before the internet, video games, hell even before the Walkman existed.  It was always a good day to get on the old Huffy and scour the roadsides for empty beer cans. (Picture a scrawny, short, pimple faced kid carrying a newspaper bag over his shoulder…the newspaper bag was for all of the cans I was sure to find along the roadside…)  I was HOT…girls were beating down the door looking for me.  HAHAHAHAHA

huffy ten speed


This blog is about beer, ale and travel…sometimes all in one trip.

Please bear with me.  This my first foray into the blogosphere…I am sure that the blog will improve over time.


rick and beer

No longer scrawny or pimple faced…still short…hahahaha

P.S. the beer can collecting hobby ended up being approximately 4000 cans…most of which are still in my garage.