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  • Dennis O'Hagan

The Halftime Report: New England & NY In the Rearview Mirror

Updated: Dec 28, 2018

This is an archived copy of what was originally posted on Facebook.


BETWEEN THE SHOWS: The first two weeks of my Great Brewery Tour's Fall leg are passed, and I have a short break before heading back out next week, so I thought I'd reflect on the trip so far: It was a long 14 hour drive to the kickoff show in New Hampshire, so I stuck with the turnpikes, so nothing much to report. The first show at Stoneface Brewing Co. was right on the coast, where Maine, New Hampshire, and the Atlantic meet. That night I camped on Hampton Beach, which was a little nippy, but between the sound of the crashing waves and the cool Autumn air it made for some great sleeping.


Friday morning I hung out on the beach for a while, and then drove over to the boardwalk area, but most places were closed for the season... but I did find a little locals joint on my way out of town, and had a fantastic bowl of chowder AND a lobster roll. The chowder ended up having like a pound of fish, lobster, and clams in it, so then the lobster roll was just way too much... but it's not like I'm going to be in coastal New England and not eat lobster and other fresh local seafood... so I managed to finish it all, and luckily the night's gig was still a good 7 hours off...


I arrived in Boston early afternoon, and just bummed around for a while. That night's show was at Down The Road Beer Co., which was a fantastic, beautiful big room, and a lot of fun to play. They had a couple of big cozy arm chairs on the stage, and I was temped to kick off my shoes and play my sets in them, as if I was playing at home, but I was still pretty beat and was actually afraid I might doze off if I was too comfortable! So I stuck to a stool, got my 2nd wind, and it ended up being a late night....


Saturday I was off, was exhausted, and spent the day and night in a sketchy little motel in Skeekonk, Rhode Island. There seemed to be a lot of in-and-out kinda traffic, if you know what I mean, so I Googled it, and sure enough the year before they had been involved in some human trafficking related problems. Luckily the rest of my hotel accommodations were really nice, so it wasn't that bad, and I got a lot of writing done, which was nice.


Sunday I played afternoon sets at Revival Brewing Company in Cranston, RI, which was a fun little room, with really nice folks, and again the post-show hang was just as much fun as any of the rest of it. The Red Sox were in the playoffs, so it was fun to be in Sox country for a few days of that (even though their performance in Game 1 created a bit of a funk). I had a nice suite that night, sat up writing and downing some great beers the Revival folks sent me off with, and slept great. Monday I slept in, then had a great breakfast at a little mom and pop restaurant that was all homemade, and cash-only.


I had a couple of days off, and decided to hit Cape Cod, and target more good seafood eating. The drive out to Hyannis was WAY longer than it looks on a map, but it was cool. Of course as soon as I set foot on the beach it started raining, so it was a short visit. I thought about taking a ferry to Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard, but decided against it due to the rain. I had another great broiled lobster dinner on my way out of town, and decided to start heading west towards the Finger Lakes of NY, where my next gigs were.


New England was a great few days, and I got to visit some places that I'd never been. My timing was perfect with the Fall Foliage, and the leaves were all popping with color. Traveling throughout the region was a breeze, and the people were all awesome. So many great people on this trip. The food was amazing. I think I had four bowls of chowder (each very different from each other, yet all incredible), and two lobsters, so I got what I came for.


When I headed west I knew I was going to pass through the Catskills, then into the Finger Lakes, so I avoided the highways and took scenic routes. I slept that night about 20 min from Woodstock, which I didn't realize until later the next day, when I pondered going there only to realize I had been really close that morning, but had since driving a couple of hours away. So next time. I took Rt 20 most of the way across New York over the next two days, which was spectacular. Through the mountains and into the rolling hills, Cherry Valley (which ironically is full of apple orchards), and through so many cool and gorgeous little towns and villages. Beyond the yellow, orange, and red foliage, another big plus on this route is that I didn't encounter ANY malls, national chains, etc. like you do on the highways (where every exit looks the same). These towns were full of mom and pop sandwich shops, pizzarias, pie shops, etc... and a total lack of fast food chains, etc. I did not realize places like this still exist in the U.S., but I'm happy to report much of upstate NY is still this way, and bless them for it!


Tuesday I had a great visit with relatives just outside of Syracuse (Manlius), and Wednesday I had another gorgeous drive with several cool stops on my way to Geneva, NY for that night's stop at the cool little Lake Drum Brewing. That night I stayed in a really cool old-school motel that had just been redone like 1950s Miami, my room was decorated with b&w photos of 50s film stars, etc.


Thursday was another very scenic day, with a show nearby in Phelps, NY at Crafty Ales and Lagers. Crafty's was a smaller room that packed a LOT of fun into it, and was one of my favorite stops. Friday I continued my scenic route all the way to Buffalo... another place I'd never been. I had a few hours to kill before the show, so I also hit Niagara Falls for the first time, which was cool, but for about 15 minutes (neat, a big waterfall..... ok, let's go). Buffalo's show at Flying Bison Brewing Company was fun in another big room, and I had a great suite at the Marriott (I love their beds), but I had to get up early for a 5 hour haul to Columbus, where my show at Platform Beer Co - Columbus had been moved from evening to afternoon due to the OSU game being pushed back, which turned out fine as it was a big crowd anyway, and this way I got to drive home after the gig rather than the next morning.


When I got home Django (my 2.5 yearold old, 110 lb boxer) went completely apeshit with excitement to see me for like a half hour. This was the longest we'd ever been separated, and he evidently missed me as much as I missed him. So now I'm here for about 10 days, and then the tour starts back up next Friday back in Columbus at Zaftig Brewing Co.. After a couple of days of rest I'm already itchy to go again... so I'm planning to get back to writing, and working on the new GreatBreweryTour.com website (coming soon!).




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