Or… Why I will no longer be going to San Diego 3 times a year. In 2004, living in Amherst and running The Moan and Dove, it was a long drive from Brattleboro VT to Burlington. I’d make my usual stop at McNeill’s, down a few pints, and then make the trek to see Paul at Flatbread and maybe head over to 3 Needs. For my palate, there was not much for me to drink on the way. Similarly, the drive to Portland meant a stop at Portsmouth, with a lot of time dedicated at Allagash, hoping to find a decent pint in old port. Boston? Well, it was CBC, Publick House, or busto. Worcester? Fuhgettaboutit. Thankfully, much has changed. Now when I drive to VT I don’t even make it to Burlington. Starting at Whetstone, I can have a word class beer every hour as I head north. Worthy Burger. 3 Penny. Black Back. Pro Pig. Alchemist (sometimes). Hill Farmstead. Lawson’s (sometimes). Parker Pie. On my way to Portland from Cambridge I now stop at the new Smuttynose, I offer words of encouragement to Tod Mott in Kittery, and I roll on to Maine Beer Co before landing in the Industrial park that house’s Allagash, Bissel Bro’s, Foundation, before finishing my evening at Infiniti and Novare. I haven’t made it to Blind Pig or Black Back’s new joint yet, but I hear great things. In Boston, when I’m not at my own joint Lord Hobo, I see great Craft Beer popping up all over town. Stallwart’s like Deep Ellum. Newbie’s like Trillium, Mystic, Nightshift, Aeronaught et all. I see craft beer being poured at serious foodie joints like West Bridge and Row 34. And Worcester? Well, now we’ve got Armsby, and the Dive. A little further out we’ve got Treehouse… and if you make it to the 5 college area we have The Dirty Truth, High Horse, and now Seymour in Greenfield. With apologies to all the places I’ve left out, the last decade has seen a stunning shift. We have World Class Beer all around us. And there is a strong differentiation from the previously dominant West Coast brands. Unlike the predominant malt forward IPA’s of California, a lot of the New England brewers are producing wonderful and refreshing hoppy beers that are delicate, subtle, floral, yellow, hazy, and gorgeous. For the first time in a decade I am forgoing my daily drinkers like Racer 5, Stone IPA, Wipeout, and instead picking up Trillium, Jacks Abbey, Treehouse, Bissel, Farmstead, Topper, Double Sunshine, Enlightenment, and many others. I don’t even know who I am anymore. I’ve never been a “drink local” guy. To me, the only thing “Local” about beer is Water. I’ve had fresher beers from California than I did beers brewed 25 miles away. But no more. Our New England Beer Scene is rapidly changing, growing, expanding, and we are the happy recipients. The beer is better. The Brewer’s are better. The Quality is higher. Beer is fresher. There are more tasting rooms. People wait hours in line for 3 growlers. There are more bottle shares and tasting events. More festivals and beer releases. And of course, there are more and more Brewery’s popping up seemingly everyday. And fortunately for us, most of these new Brewer’s have better palate’s than they used to… which thankfully, leads to better beer. I used to walk into Green Flash with a jealous smirk. Look at these 200 people standing around drinking fresh beer in the corner of an operational brewery, eating taco’s from food trucks, having tours and laughs. Buying fresh six packs and T-Shirts. Well, call me jealous no more. In New England, these are heady times indeed. Cheers!