It’s winter in Ohio…what does that mean…50 degrees and rain today (Saturday) with snow predicted for Monday…As the saying goes, If you don’t like the weather in Ohio, just wait a few minutes it’ll change.
The plan for the day? A trip to Wooly Pig Farm Brewery near Fresno, Ohio.
Wooly Pig Farm Brewery sits in the hills of Coshocton County. The brewery is located in a beautiful location. I mean seriously, it’s very pretty now and it’s the dead of winter…that means nothing but dead grass and trees with no leaves. I can’t wait to see what the place looks like once the weather breaks. The brewery has only been open about six weeks. As we drove up the gravel road we saw the brew-house and taproom on our left. It’s a quaint little location from the outside with quite a bit of parking. I am sure that the large parking area will be necessary once the weather breaks and the tourism season kicks in here in Ohio. Everyone knows that when you are touring Amish country, you need beer…and wine…but we are just enjoying beer today.
The story behind Wooly Pig is pretty cool. Kevin Ely is a former brewer at Uinta brewing in Salt Lake City, UT…their loss is our gain. I found Kevin to be very personable and willing to talk about the brewery and what has gone into getting this endeavor off of the ground.
His wife Jael, grew up less than a mile from the site of Wooly Pig Farm Brewery. She and her family have a been a part of the brewery since day one. Jael is the mother to Astrid and Soren who we met on our trip. Astrid was very informative regarding the wooly pigs…especially Fuggles…apparently, he doesn’t like to be petted as we were warned not to put our hands in his enclosure. She also introduced us to a bunch of young piglets that are not wooly…yet…this brewery is a true family affair. Jael Malenke, a biologist-turned-businesswoman and mother of Astrid and Soren.
Aaron Malenke, a farmer and fix-it-man, and his wife Lauren Malenke, a large animal veterinarian.
Todd Malenke, a blacksmith artist and carpenter, and Patti Malenke, museum curator and grandma extraordinaire.
Nate Malenke, a blacksmith knife-maker, and his wife Lucy Bryan Malenke, a writer and college professor.
It takes a great team to make great beer, and this team is united by love for each other, dedication to the land, and a shared quest for the next great brew. They are definitely working towards the next great brew.
I ordered a flight of four tasters…Schwarzbier, IPL Eins, Fruited Gose and their Baltic Porter. All of the beers were very good.
The Schwarzbier had hints of coffee and chocolate as well as an underlying smoke flavor. I rated this a 4 on untappd. The IPL Eins was very good, I tend to like IPA’s so I figured their India Pale Lager would be right up my alley. The flavors of the Galaxy, Citra and Azacca hops were subtle and tasty in this lager. This will be a great beer to drink on the patio this summer. It seems very tropical to me. I also gave this a 4 on untappd. The Fruited Gose is a typical sour beer. I like sour beers but they are not at the top of my list as far as drinking them on a regular basis. I only gave this a 3.75 but that is biased as it isn’t my favorite style of beer…the last beer that I tried was the Baltic Porter, another good beer.
I am sure that there are many more trips to Wooly Pig Farm Brewery in my future. They make solid good beer and it’s a fun place to go and visit. Once the weather breaks here in Ohio and things dry out a bit, it will be a great to pay Kevin and Jael a visit and try more of their beers. If you have a bit of time to kill and want to go for a “ride in the country”, I strongly suggest a trip to Wooly Pig Farm Brewery. You will not be disappointed.
Today was a day to sleep in…we were up by 0700 (which is sleeping in for me)…the fortunate news this morning is that there were no earthquakes…and the hostage situation has been resolved so it is safe to be outside.
We decided to have our breakfast at the “best” breakfast spot on Route 66. http://www.kixon66.com/
Kix on 66 is your typical diner on Route 66. Julie decided to try the Springfield Mexican Scramble; which is Chorizo, scrambled eggs and cheese, served with hash browns and a flour tortilla. I had the Vega Green Chile omelet which is an omelet with chopped green chili and house made sausage, topped with green sauce and melted cheddar cheese. The food is fantastic but very inexpensive. The atmosphere of the diner is kitschy just like you would expect on Route 66. There is also a gift shop that has all of your Route 66 souvenirs that you may need. We passed on the souvenirs as we figured we would be coming across many more gift shops on this trip.
We strolled back across Main Street/Route 66, and checked out of the Roadrunner Lodge. http://www.roadrunnerlodge.com/ Loaded up the car and headed west. Of course, that meant driving the length of Main Street in Tucumcari. This allowed us to see all of the art deco style hotels and signage in the town as well as a couple of famous landmarks and sculptures. Our first stop, Santa Fe, on the oldest alignment of Route 66, dating back to 1926. This was a 175 mile detour off of I40 to get up to Santa Fe. It was beautiful countryside with lots of mountains and very little traffic.
We arrived in Santa Fe around lunchtime. Little did we know…it was a weekend that the “square” was closed and there was a festival going on. The festival was packed…and by packed, I mean you can’t move packed. We parked in one of the public parking lots and started meandering the streets of Santa Fe. By streets, I mean roadways as narrow as an alley in most towns.
The first order of business was to find someplace to get a cold drink…in other words…a cold beer. 🙂 We strolled through the streets looking for a “place” that looked like it might have good food and cold beer. After a trek through town we happened upon Atrisco Café and Bar. This seemed like the place to be, the place was packed….we were seated at the back of the bar overlooking a balcony over the street. It was nice to sit in the open air after all of the time in the car. We ordered a couple of beers; a La Cumbre Elevated IPA for me and a Santa Fe Pale Ale for Julie. The La Cumbre Elevated IPA really brought it. Talk about hops…this beer has it. I love hops, always have and hopefully always will. This was a mix of flavors, grapefruit, resiny, grassy…in other words delicious. The Santa Fe Pale Ale was also very good. Julie isn’t a hophead like I am but I am slowly converting her. It’s a process. When I started dating her about 19 years ago, she thought that Amstel light was good beer. Thank God she got over that pretty quickly or this relationship would’ve never made it. I can put up with a lot of things, but “liking” bad beer isn’t one of those things.
Lunch consisted of chicken enchiladas for me and pork burrito for Julie. The food was delicious and fairly priced. Portions were not too large. We enjoyed lunch and the sights and sounds around us then moved on.
We strolled through all of the booths at the market looking at the local wares that were being sold including a huge; I mean HUGE pink flamingo made from scrap metal. This thing was about 7 feet tall and painted bright pink. If money was not problem, I would’ve purchased this thing on the spot and had it delivered to my Dad. He hates pink flamingos!!! I have enjoyed many years of messing with him in regards to his aversion of pink flamingos. One time I purchased several pink flamingo lawn sprinklers that had flapping wings when the water was turned on…stuck them in the yard and turned the sprinkler on so that they would see them when they turned the corner after an 8 hour drive home from Chicago. Another time, I purchases as much pink flamingo “stuff” as I could find and placed it all over the house. This turned into a competition between me and my parents…every year for many years I received a pink flamingo Christmas ornament. That has faded for now but someday I hope to revive it with something like the giant flamingo that I saw in Santa Fe.
A couple of hours later we decided to move on to Flagstaff where we would be spending the next couple of days…on the way to Flagstaff we were going by a couple of places that I really wanted to stop at but with the daylight waning, I felt that it was best to backtrack and go to these places the following day…the trip to Flagstaff was fairly uneventful…other than driving into the blinding sunset on the freeway headed directly west…now that was a fun time…I honestly thought that my retinas were fried by the time we got to the hotel in Flagstaff…another motel that we didn’t have a reservation for…an old 1960’s Howard Johnson…for about $69 per night…and the best part…there was a restaurant attached to the motel that ranks in the top 10 restaurants in Flagstaff on Trip Advisor. Time for dinner and then turn in for another night…
Almost a year ago, I made mention to my wonderful wife Julie, that I wanted to make a “trip” across the country. We’ve talked about this type of adventure in the past but always said it would be a good trip to take when we are “old”. Mind you, I’m on the downhill slide to 55 and Julie is 52 years old. I don’t feel that either of us acts as though we’re in the midst of middle age.
What is middle age???? To me, middle age is nothing more than a chronology of your life. Most people view it as a mile marker that you reach during your lifetime…I personally view it as a bunch of bunk. I have a lot of living left to do and really don’t care what my chronological age is.
Back to my wonderful wife. Why is she a wonderful wife??? Because she humors me in my endeavors; whether it be purchasing a “drone” so that I can take aerial photos (did that),
building a bar from scratch with no written plans…all of the details of the bar residing in my head (did that) or planning a trip somewhere in the United States of America.
After some discussion we decided to start the planning process for this trip. First off, we needed a destination…funny thing here; our destination was Dover, Ohio…you know, Home!!! The question was which way were we going to go? North, South, East or West? We decided upon Southwest…driving across Route 66 to California. We also decided that we were not going to be the “purist” Route 66 travelers. We were going to pick up the “Mother Road” in St. Louis, not in Chicago, where the Route starts. We have been on portions of the Route in Chicago and didn’t want to add a minimum of 8 hours to the trip driving to Chicago from Dover. We also aren’t staying strictly to Route 66 since much of it is impassable with a car and some of it is no longer in existence.
Ok, so now we have a plan…when do we want to go? We needed decent weather. We didn’t want to encounter snow on this journey and we didn’t want it as hot as Hades in the Mojave. September 2016 sounded good. This left us about 10 months to plan for the trip.
Time passed…Christmas 2016 rolled around and surprise of surprises, Julie purchased me books and maps for the trip that would help us with the planning process. Books that described things to see on Route 66, places to eat along Route 66 and places to stay on Route 66.
Time to throw that first monkey wrench into the plan. I explained to Julie that we wouldn’t be making reservations anywhere along the Route. We would drive until we feel we have seen enough or until the hypnotism of the road takes its toll and its time to stop instead of pushing too hard and causing an accident. The look of horror on her face told me what she thought of this plan. Let me say this about Julie, she is spontaneous but she likes to plan…I know…that doesn’t make sense, but if you know my wife you would understand…her idea of spontaneity tends to be of the type where she wakes up, says lets go to Columbus for the night…gets on the PC and makes reservations for the weekend. Not having reservations and a set destination is pretty much a foreign concept to her.
Of course, there’s also the “scourge” of bedbugs in hotels across the country and the last thing that we wanted to do was suffer from the bites of these little bastards or bring them home to our house in Ohio…(I need to say, this is more my concern than Julies) so I checked into a website called bedbugregistry.com. That way we could check to see if there are any reports of bedbugs at the hotel that we decide to stop at…if there are reports of bedbugs, then we move on to the next hotel.
Months go by, we periodically “plan” on things that we want to see along the route…we change those plans…we decide on other things to see…we figure out very quickly that we will not be able to do all that we want to do in a two week time frame…time to start paring down the list of “must-see” items… 🙁 Unfortunately, two weeks off is the most that either of us can swing as we work as managers in our respected fields…Nursing for Julie and Safety for me…
The departure date finally arrives…it’s 5AM on September 2nd, 2016 and we’re in the driveway, the car is loaded with our luggage, the drone, (you just never know if you will need it) and a couple of sleeping bags in the event that we can’t find a hotel to sleep in…(that made for an interesting discussion with Julie). We also have a cooler with lunch meat…as a cost savings measure we decided that we wouldn’t purchase lunch on the road but would instead stop and eat in rest areas, picnic areas, etc…
We pose for the obligatory selfie with my newly purchased “selfie stick” so that we can post our time of departure on our respective Social Media platforms…FB, Twitter, etc…(if you purchase a selfie stick, make sure that you purchase one with a Bluetooth connection and a button that is not attached to the stick), and we are off!
I won’t bore you with the details of the drive across Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Let’s just say that driving across farm country for 9 hours can be a bit boring. Unless of course you have some strange fetish for corn and soybeans…then this drive would be like heaven.
Our first change on the trip was arriving quickly. We were going to stop at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. While perusing the internet on her smartphone we discovered that the park surrounding the Arch is under reconstruction, if you were planning on going up in the Arch you needed to purchase tickets ahead of time instead of arriving and walking to the ticket booth in the park. There were limited numbers available…OK, scratch the Gateway Arch…we will take pictures as we drive by…oh and scratch going to any breweries in St. Louis. We decided to drive to Joplin, Missouri since we wouldn’t be making a stop in St. Louis.
Prior to Joplin we are planning a stop at the Route 66 Park and Museum https://mostateparks.com/park/route-66-state-park just outside St. Louis in Eureka, Missouri. That’s exactly what we did. It’s a cool place to get some history regarding the Mother Road. The Museum has some really cool neon that, at one time or another, was along the Route. They also have the obligatory gift shop (the first of many that we stopped at in 14 days).
OK, so the trip just got real!!! We’re officially at/on Route 66. Needless to say, our energy and adrenaline is high. I reassure Julie that we can make it to Joplin with little trouble…after all, I used to live there back in 1984. I know my way around.
We continue on our way with stops here and there along the route. When we get to Springfield we get off of Interstate 44 to take a large section of the remaining Route 66 into Joplin. The sun is beginning to set but I again reassure my wife that everything is OK…I used to live in the area…I know my way around. We see some really cool stuff including an old gas station,
the old Route 66 Drive-In located in Carthage,
and the giant Praying Hands in Webb City, Missouri.
We’re now moving on to Joplin. Webb City, is just outside of Joplin. We’ve been on the road for hours and hours…approximately 15 hours so far but we are just minutes away from town. Julie gets on her phone, finds an inexpensive hotel on 32nd Street, does the online reservation and we are on our way. I know exactly where I’m going (hahaha now that’s a joke). I haven’t been to this town in 31 years…things may’ve changed a bit but that’s ok. I know that I can make it to the hotel. All I have to do is get to Rangeline Road which is just beyond the airport make a left and go south until I reach 32nd street. What I didn’t take into account was that several years ago there was a devastating tornado that rolled through Joplin. This tornado changed the entire look of the city…I had no idea where I was…time to call on trusty On-Star to send directions to the vehicle. (I recommend a good GPS or a service like On-Star when making this kind of trip.)
Finally after 15 1/2 hours and 861 miles we roll into the parking lot. I need to mention, we still haven’t eaten dinner…and Julie tends to get a bit “hangry”. As luck would have it, there was an Applebee’s right across the street. I was hungry and thirsty…it was a long but exciting day and it was just day one of 14.
As a part of the trip, we decided that we would do two things whenever possible…eat at local restaurants and drink local brews. We were too tired to find a local restaurant and Applebee’s was convenient. We ordered our drinks…beers from Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City (as close to local as you will get in Joplin). I had a Tank #7 Farmhouse Ale, beginning with a big surge of fruity aromatics and grapefruit-hoppy notes, the flavor of this complex, straw-colored ale tapers off to a peppery, dry finish. Julie had a Unfiltered Wheat beer. Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer is a lively, refreshing ale with a natural citrusy flavor and distinctive cloudy appearance. It is one of Boulevard Brewery’s best selling beers. We drank our beers and ate our meals in utter exhaustion then shuffled to the car for the long drive across the street to the hotel.
Ohhh yea, Rangeline Road that I couldn’t find was just a block from my hotel…I should’ve just continued driving around…I would’ve located it eventually. Honestly though, Joplin has come a long way since I lived in the area. I am happy that they have recovered from the devastating tornado.
We sat in the hotel room and discussed plans for the next day…essentially, heading southwest towards New Mexico then went to bed…anyone that says spending the day driving is not tiring is full of crap…Just Sayin!!!!
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Please use the comment section for any questions that you may have regarding this part of our journey. Please add any comments that you have about our trip. I am always anxious to hear from my readers!
Zach Salapack started in the business by running a food truck in the Columbus, Ohio area but he decided to return home to Bolivar…that’s what I consider a win for all of us here in Tuscarawas and surrounding counties.
Beside the great BBQ food available, Zach also has one of the best selections of craft beers and microbrews available in Tuscarawas County. There are usually 5 beers on tap and a large assortment of bottles available for consumption on the premises, or to go. Growler fills are also available. I recommend that you purchase one of Zach’s Sublime Smoke growlers…it’s a stainless steel growler with an attached lid which keeps the beer cold for quite awhile.
Zach loves to talk…he loves to talk beer, he loves to talk food…he loves to talk to all of the customers that come into the building. He will answer any and all questions that you have regarding his food, the beer and the building that he’s located in; as well as any questions that you may have about the area. He is customer service personified.
On to the food…I highly recommend the Texas style beef brisket sandwich with the spicy smoked pepper trio barbeque sauce. Another favorite is the “burrito”. This isn’t your normal burrito, it’s much better…picture a warm tortilla filled with your choice of meat (chicken, pork, beef) then add rice, beans, cheese, hominy and a slow simmered tomato salsa…now that’s a burrito…Julie’s favorite is the burrito with pork…oh and did I mention the size?? These are huge! Don’t think about Taco Bell burritos when you get one of these because there is absolutely no comparison!!! Another favorite is the Tri-tip Sandwich with a side of fries. I don’t believe that this is available all of the time but when it is, definitely get it!!!
You also have to try the “Pork Sundae”. This masterpiece is a meal in a bowl. It starts out with a scoop of homemade corn spoon bread on the bottom, then layer on collard greens and coleslaw, top it all off will pulled pork and your choice of sauce. This culinary masterpiece is guaranteed to make you feel like you’re in the deep south, not sitting in Bolivar, Ohio. Another choice in a bowl is the Mac Daddy…it’s a bowl filled with homemade, southern style, baked mac and cheese and top it with pulled pork and your choice of sauce. I personally prefer the spicy smoked pepper trio sauce.
There is always a nice crowd present and you will find out very quickly that everyone likes to talk “craft beer”. Currently, there is only seating for 12 inside the building. There are several picnic tables located outside for seating when the weather is permitting. Come July, there will be additional seating as Zach expands into the adjoining space.
Make sure that you follow Sublime Smoke on Facebook.
When you are in the area, make sure that you stop in and enjoy a cold beer and a bite to eat. Tell Zach that you learned about his restaurant on my blog…I know that I would appreciate it if you spread the word about my blog and Zach will appreciate it if you spread the word about his business.
Update: Zach has purchased the building that he has his business in. In July, he opened the other side and now has seating for about fifty as well as a more extensive tap list…and unfortunately, he has added some “mindless corporate swill” for those that don’t enjoy craft beer. Seriously, it doesn’t matter what you drink…come thirsty and with an appetite. You will not be disappointed.