Thursday, December 17, 2015

2015 Travel and Booze Review and 2016 Preview

As the year winds down (holy hell I can't believe 2015 is done) and the winter ales flow through taps around the world, I feel like this is as good of a time as any to reflect on another great year and take a look ahead to 2016. Unlike many travelers - my esteemed partner being one example- my travel schedule gets very lite towards the end of the year. Most of that is due to a hectic end of the year schedule with kids and the money to play Santa as well. Never a big deal though, it has been a fun year of finding new drinks in new spots while following some new trends in the travel and alcohol industries.

The first - and best - part of 2015 was that the Passports and Cocktails crew were able to find time for a few drinks together again. As we live half way across the country from each other -and have day jobs, kids or other obligations - a meet up isn't as easy as meeting at the bar. For me that is one of the toughest parts about our little site here. Not because we don't have the ability to communicate, but because Katherine and Rome are such fantastic people and above all I consider them friends. This years get together was in Denver - a place dear to my heart - and though it was short, the times that were had were fabulous (as were the drinks). I am crossing fingers that 2016 is a year of multiple good times in each others company.

"Wipe the tears away Steve, come on man!"

2015 was another year of fabulous beer finds on the road, but also a year of uncertainty in the American beer industry. More kings of the craft beer world joined forces with some of the worlds largest brewing companies in 2015. That still didn't hold back small brewers from opening their doors this year, or hold back their fighting spirit.

Many states, including Florida, fought outdated laws and corrupt politicians in a bid to make the playing field more fair. And in most cases, small breweries won. This year - even more than previous - the drink local crowd has visibly grown. What I mean is that both at home and on the road, the impact of local breweries is very apparent. So much so that many states are using breweries to their advantage within their tourism strategy. So no matter how many of the "big boys" of craft brewing sell out, the little guys have continued to gain momentum and the plateau of craft beer seems to be far off.

"What was your favorite new beer this year?"

My tastes didn't fully change this year - I still love a nice stout or porter - but I really enjoyed Lakefront Brewery's (Milwaukee, WI) Red IPA. The extra malt compared to other IPAs is a real treat. Plus, it's in Milwaukee (who doesn't love the Brew City). Plus the brewery tour is about as fun as it gets.

"What was your favorite new wine this year?"

2015 was a (I have no idea) year for wine. Seriously 2016 has to be a wine year for me. I should be embarrassed with how little wine I brought to everyone this year, but I didn't really drink any -except some good mead in Denver - so I'll continue to write about beer until someone throws me into a vat of grapes (which should be a contest on our site, "winner gets to toss Steve into grapes".

"What was your favorite.....?"

Don't even ask about cocktails, I drank Brandy Old Fashioneds when I didn't have a beer in my hand, but I did find the best one I've ever had so YAY 2015. I should actually make my resolution for 2016 -now that I'm reading what I'm writing - "I will try new drinks this year, and I will be having them with Katherine, Rome and my wife". That was easy and more fun than losing weight (which I broke for next year already).

"What is on tap for 2016?"

First, 2016 will be our 3rd year together as a fermented travel team, WHOA!!! What started as a fun idea has turned into a lot of drinks and a lot more new knowledge.

As every year begins on my end, the outline is rough. More tropical drinks in Florida are on tap (RUM), new brews in the Colorado high country will be imbibed (I'm coming for you Tommyknocker Brewery) and so far at least one trip across the pond is planned (I'll be in France and there's my wine chance). Beyond that I assume places - Canada, Canada, Canada - will fall into place. Has your favorite spot not been toured yet? Let me know and we'll put it on the list.

With that I'd like to wish everyone a happy holiday season, I'll be back on amateur day (New Years). Stay safe and drink local.