Bell Time Beer Review – Best of Travel Craft Beers

Stunt Granny LTD/ Kevin DiFrango

Jackie O’s BreweryAthens OHMatriarch11.0% ABV 130 IBU

The Wife took me to Athens OH for my birthday in March because they have a nice set of breweries that we hadn’t gone to previously. I had consumed a fair share of beer from Jackie O’s prior to this trip though. Some beer either don’t get bottled or I don’t buy them at the store. Matriarch, a Triple IPA, is one of those beers and my favorite of the trip. Though most would argue that you can’t taste over 100 IBU, I still enjoyed this beer immensely. The floral & fruity hops were overflowing so even if you only taste to 100 IBU, it was barely bitter. The malt had a nice sweet tang to it to help balance things out too. If you find yourself wondering around Southeast Ohio, you’re doing yourself a disservice not stopping at Jackie O’s.

Brewery 33 Hocking HillsJackson OHMargarita Gose5.8% ABV 8 IBU

We didn’t expect to stop in Jackson but we saw this place on the way down to Athens and figured on stopping in since one of our favorite barbecue places is nearby. This beer is easy to remember because it tasted exactly like a margarita. The original variety, not some other fruity version thereof. There’s not much more I can do to describe this beer because if you haven’t had a margarita before now, I don’t want to know you.

Stunt Granny LTD/ Kevin DiFrango

Brieux Carre BrewingNew Orleans LAMom Jeans – 10.7% ABV 38 IBU

We had gone to New Orleans four years ago in 2014 for the same reason, Wrestlemania. When we went that time, the craft beer pickings were slim. Choices were much better in 2018 highlighted by Mom Jeans, another Triple IPA. This one went in a much different direction though with the hops going with a low, low 38. Much like Matriarch though, it had a nice blend of hops that came through in the taste despite that number. This one had a much cleaner malt to help the flavor come through. It hit the spot perfectly on a sunny afternoon on NOLA.

Stunt Granny LTD/ Kevin DiFrango

Pollyanna Brewing Co.Chicago ILRaspberry Fun Size – 6.1% ABV 25 IBU

Chicago was another destination for wrestling this year. Chicago might be a little strong of a word considering that Schaumburg was 30 minutes from downtown. There were still plenty of breweries to choose from. I didn’t get to all of them but I did get to also get to Wolfden Brewing and Lucky Monk. Pollyanna was the best of the trio visited. As soon as I drank Raspberry Fun Size, a Milk Stout, I knew The Wife would love it so I bought a bottle. She did indeed love it too. Great chocolate flavor, more than a hint of raspberry and enough of the milk sweetness to cut through the roasted malts and sour tang that comes with raspberry. It has a great creamy mouth feel too. Pollyanna does have two locations within the greater Chicago area so if you’re in that neighborhood, I suggest checking it out.

Stunt Granny LTD/ Kevin DiFrango

Three Floyds BrewingMunster INCheer from the otherTeam – 7.2% ABV 63 IBU

On my way home from Chicago, I had to stop in at one of the best breweries in the country. I could argue one of the best in the world. I really should have done a separate column on this brewery because of all of the tasty treats I had there.

Stunt Granny LTD/ Kevin DiFrango

After typing those words, I decided I would expand. Their brewpub opened at 11 AM and a solid dozen people beat me there even though I pulled in at 11:05. It is not large so it’s a good idea to get there early. If you didn’t like beer, their food is as good as I’ve had anywhere. They offered Pork Belly Burnt Ends, which they are not offering currently. Sucks for anyone because they were awesome. The fattiness was cut well with provide fresh pickles. I had some delicious deep dish pizza at Giordano’s and hot dog at Portilla’s. I’ll take 3 Floyds food any day of the week.

Stunt Granny LTD/ Kevin DiFrango

One of my favorite beers when I was there (because at least one other will appear on another list) was CheerTeam, a Pub exclusive. It’s a just a regular old IPA that has the deliciousness of the the others that’s still hitting at a hefty 7.2% ABV. It’s another great mix of hops. They all had different flavors to make them distinct. The malt is important even in hoppy beers and this one was made distinct from the other two beer because it’s sweetness was higher than Mom Jeans but lower than Matriarch which makes sense compared to the levels of IBU in each of the beers. Swinging into Munster IN is worth it for Three Floyds alone, whether you’re a foodie or a craft beer aficionado.

– Kevin DiFrango

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