Tuesday, August 31, 2010

St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival

Earlier this summer, Ryan and I attended the St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival.  This festival was started to not only honor the history of brewing in St. Louis but to also showcase the talent of the area’s brewers.  The festival is held in Forest Park.  This year’s festival featured three different sessions and attracted 20,000 people.  

The history of brewing in St. Louis is nearly as old as the city itself.  The festival celebrates the rich brewing tradition of our city and our era by inviting and featuring over 60 different styles/varieties of beer...all produced by our very own local St. Louis brewers.  We were able to taste beer from 14 local breweries and a number of area homebrewers.

All attendees receive a commemorative tasting glass, unlimited samples of beer, free live music, educational information from local brewmasters and free parking.  Food is available for purchase from St. Louis Originals restaurants like Companion, Harvest, Sqwire's, Vin de Set and LoRusso's. 
Booths were set up out front that provided general information on the beer and the history of brewing in our area.
Giant tents were set up to shelter people from the elements and provide some much needed World Cup action on TV.  The overhead banners represented every brewer at the festival.
It was a steaming hot day, but the kegs of beer were kept ice cold.
My first beer was a little heavier than I expected, but it was delicious...kind of chocolaty.
Ryan loves the dark beers.  He was in heaven.
We crossed that one off our list.
One down, 59+ more to go! 
We made our way over to the home brew section.
Smokin' Blonde?
Hell yeah, give me two of those!
And what could be better than an ice cold beer on a hot day?
An ice cold beer and a Companion pretzel!
Is that not the prettiest pretzel you've ever seen?
Would you believe me if I told you it tastes even better than it looks?
Would it help if I stuffed my face with pretzel?
I thought so.
Companion's portable pretzel wagon was a huge hit.
But we had to make it over to the stand to say hi to Price...hi Price!
After a few hours, clouds covered the sky and a cool breeze blew in.
We headed outside to check out the info.
Finally, we made our way over to a table to finish our last beer and digest all that pretzel.
I think we tried about 20 beers each.

I was so full by the end of the day that I couldn't even eat dinner. 

Beer is filling.

I should be sufficiently deflated just in time for next year's Heritage Festival.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Anniversary Trip - Vail Mountain

On our last day in Vail, we woke up to lots of sunshine and crisp cool air.  The weather was gorgeous and we did not want to leave.

Unfortunately we couldn't stay in Vail forever (who could afford to?), so we eventually had to pack our bags and load the car and leave our beautiful little suite with the fireplace.  So so sad. :( 

We purposely booked a late flight out of Denver that Sunday so we'd have some time to spend on the mountain on our last day. 
We wanted to ride the gondola to the top of Vail Mountain and hike around and have lunch at 11,570 feet!
We got our lift tickets (which included an all-day pass on the mountain for hiking and biking and a dining certificate) and jumped on a gondola.
I was trying to picture what everything would look like covered in snow...I must go back to Vail to ski sometime soon.  (Mental note: gondola 19 has access to dining and greens! Done and done!)
We had to take a picture of these signs (below) because Ryan's father was constantly reminding us how mountain weather can roll in at any moment...you just never know...you must always be prepared.  Ryan may have developed a slight complex from such ominous warnings (i.e. we did have sunscreen, extra layers and our rain gear with us...just in case). 
Even though I love to make fun of Ryan for his preparedness and gear obsession, I know he's just looking out for us.  Best husband ever.  There's not another person in the world I'd rather be trapped on a mountain in inclement weather with (except maybe Bear Grylls...he is SO hot).
The mountain wasn't very crowded, so we had our own private gondola on the way up.
During the ride we discussed what we would do if the gondola broke down or if there was a sudden avalanche or a bear jumped up into the gondola with us...you just never know...we had to be prepared.
(P.S. The Cardinals were in Denver playing the Rockies this weekend, which is why we're wearing Cardinals red in nearly every picture all weekend long.  Unfortunately they lost every game.  Good job Cardinals.)
Vail Mountain in the summer was gorgeous!  All the ski trails were open for hiking and biking, there were horseback rides, an adventure park for kids, two restaurants, frisbee golf and all kinds of things going on up there.  I hate to admit that I did not do my research on the mountain before we left so I didn't know any of this!  Dammit.  I wish I would have known so we could have planned a horseback ride or a long hike.  Oh well, next time.

We did have time to do a couple small hikes right around the summit.  I had no idea Vail Mountain was so big and had so many runs on the backside of the mountain.  Ryan and I were both itching to put on skis and head down!
After hiking a while we grabbed a beer and a quick bite to eat at Bistro Fourteen.
And then it was time to go (boo). 
One more warning sign before we headed down...Ryan's dad would have loved this place and all their warnings.
We shared our gondola down with this little cutie pie.  She was just too adorable not to take a picture of.  I couldn't help myself...I blame my ovaries.
Time to hit the road. 
We drove back to Denver where we had dinner with Ryan's college buddy Chris, his wife and 8 month old baby Eli.  This was one cute baby!  I did not want to put baby Eli down.  Again, I blame my ovaries.

A few hours later we caught our flight back to St. Louis.  I couldn't believe the weekend was already over.  The whole trip went by in the blink of an eye.  We had an amazing time and I loved Vail.  But next year...we're going to Jackson.