Sunday, August 24, 2014

3 Breweries in 3 Days(Part I)

Father John's MicroBrewery Laura and I decided to get away for a few days - our time and budget were limited - so we turned to the trusty Ohio Brewery Map for planning purposes. We settled on Father John's Microbrewery in Bryan, OH - a brewery/restaurant inside a renovated church. Drink and food covered for the evening we turned to a place to crash - we found Harrison Lake State Park about 20 minutes away. There was a yurt for rent for only 60 bucks - and with the iffy weather forecast we figured it would be a safer bet than tent camping. We hit the road late Thursday morning and took the scenic route towards Western Ohio....

In the Yurt II "Inside the Yurt"
The yurt was cool - a ceiling fan, electrical outlets, and a small fridge. Obviously more beds than we needed but it was nice to be able to spread out, change and get organized hotel-style. Yurt Yard "From the Door"
We also had a gas grill and covered picnic area - it didn't end up raining but this would have been great if it had. There is nothing worse than huddling in a tent on a camping trip. Harrison Lake Nature Preserve After we settled in we went for a walk down to the swimming beach and around the park a bit. The park wasn't anything too spectacular but it was nice. With the surrounding area being seemingly endless flat fields of soybean and corn I can see how this would be a pleasant weekend escape for many of the local outdoorsy people. Shoes Off "Dipping Our Toes" On the Beach "Life's a Beach"
When we arrived at the brewery there were really no signs on where to go - we wandered in to the beautiful main sanctuary - which is available for rent and I believe they plan to have concerts in eventually. We found our way downstairs and walked through an unmarked door - this is where we were supposed to be. We were seated in the main dining room. The place was amazing - before having a drink or tasting the food we already knew this was a place worth visiting for the atmosphere alone - easily the neatest brewery we've ever been to. Father John's Our table was the one in the right corner of this photo(through the door) - there were also tables in little rooms along the wall that would have been cool to have if we had a larger party. Unfortunately, they decided to seat another couple right next to us even though the restaurant was not very crowded(it was early). It made more sense later because by the time we left the place was packed - but it was still slightly annoying.
We ordered an appetizer of three tacos - ceviche, mexican, and buffalo - the first two were amazing, the buffalo one was good but the meat was a little tough. We also started with a couple of beers - I had a wheat and Laura a lager - both were fine but nothing mind-blowing. For the main meal I had a buffalo burger and Laura had the wings. Buffalo dishes are the specialty - the owner has a buffalo range in Indiana. My burger was awesome and Laura's wings were some of the best we have ever had. The food isn't cheap but you are definitely getting what you pay for. We worked our way through a few more beers during dinner - again - you could tell you were drinking hand crafted, small batch beers - but they just didn't overwhelm us - a little light on flavor for our tastes.  ...but how often do you go somewhere where the bathroom doors are so cool you have a conversation about them?Laura The brewery had one of the best patios I've seen and we figured we'd grab a beer from the bar and move out there after dinner.  I almost never turn down patio seating - but we wanted to experience the inside of the  place first.  By the time we were done, though, the patio was full - so instead we grabbed a seat at the bar.Father John's Brewing Company This long-exposure from the bar gives you an idea of how awesome the interior of the restaurant is. Long Exposure "Please no talking or texting on cellphones in this kingdom"
As I was taking my photos someone was watching - the owner soon approached us and mentioned that he was told he had to explain the no cellphone policy - but he quickly realized that I was photographing - not texting. I told him I was just a nerdy-blogger. He was super friendly and we ended up having  great conversation.  He explained the layout of the bar(a cross) and explained some of the other symbolism throughout the room - he was an awesome, friendly guy. We had mentioned that we were from Akron - and a few minutes later the GM came over to talk to us - who was also from the Akron area(in fact he used to work at Crave). We ended having another great talk - we were able to ask all about the business, the area, and we were offered a tour - it really made the night.
We ordered a growler of the Blasphemer's Brew to take back to the park - which turned out to be their best beer - they called it a double IPA but it tasted more like a Belgian IPA to me(which is fine because that is my favorite style). In the Yurt Getting ready for the fire back at the yurt. Campfire "Campfire" No Pets "No Pets"
Laura and Giant Oak
The next day we went for a hike at nearby Goll Woods Nature Preserve. The preserve is old growth forest that is typical of what early settlers would have encountered when arriving in the "Great Black Swamp". The trees are some of the largest in the state - above is Laura in front of one of the giant oaks.  You end up walking around staring in amazement - but its hard to stop for long - even doused in bug spray the mosquitoes are incessant.  We tried to imagine how people originally cleared, drained and settled this part of the state.   After our hike we continued on our journey....

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