Category Archives: Travel

Anthony Bourdain to bring Guts & Glory tour to Jacksonville tomorrow night

Guts&Glory_350x225_image_2In the world of culinary super heroes there is one man who, through his snarky remarks and laid back attitude, has risen to the pinnacle of his craft. That stellar, unabashedly frank titan is none other than Anthony Bourdain who will be appearing at the Jacksonville Times-Union Center April 25 as part of the Artist Series. Bourdain will storm into town with his Guts & Glory tour to regale attendees with stories of his adventures on the road that are sure to be heavily dosed with his trademark caustic humor.

Bourdain made a name for himself with his best-selling books such as Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw. In them he reveals the shocking details of what really goes on behind the kitchen doors in hilarious and often sneeringly blunt style. His success has lead him to star in the Emmy Award-winning Travel Channel programs No Reservations and The Layover as well as host of The Taste, a cooking competion series on CBS. His writing has appeared in such luminous publications as The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Times of London, as well as the Harvard Business Review.

But, lest you think food is Bourdain’s only love, you need only watch several episodes of his television programs. Beer is a staple on the tables Bourdain sits at and with the company he keeps. Episodes that highlight his love for all things malt and hops include No Reservations’ Prague episode and The Layover’s Dublin installment. Bourdain has even famously got into a little hot water when he commented on the pulling of Dogfish Head founder Sam Calgione’s Discovery Channel television show Brewmasters.

The popular and superb San Marco Dining District is proud to be the Official Restaurant Sponsor of Bourdain’s show and is providing a dazzling selection of appetizers for the sold-out VIP reception. In addition to the show, attendees can expect a slew of merchandise including copies of Bourdain’s books provided by The Bookmark, the show’s Official Bookstore Sponsor. The Omni Jacksonville serves as the show’s Official Hotel Sponsor.

Great seats are still available for the Guts& Glory tour ranging from $40.00-$75.00, at the Artist Series Box Office between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., at (904) 442-BWAY (2929) and online at

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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Beer, Food, Travel


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Local tour operator and media company collaborate to bring beer tours to Jax and more

A new tour operator based out of Ponte Vedra, Fla. has announced collaboration with Talentino Media. Play Harder Tours (PHT), headed by William Tabone, is offering exciting weekend packages that revolve around two of America’s favorite things: beer and sports. With new partner Talentino Media, founded by Joe and Susanne Talentino, PHT will provide exciting getaways throughout the Southeast and beyond.

“Craft beer is a craft,” Tabone said. And it is for that reason that he focuses his tours on local craft brewers.

Currently planned travel packages include:

  • NFL Road Trip to the Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Lions at Jacksonville, Nov. 2 – 5, 2012
  • NFL Road Trip to the Jacksonville Jaguars vs. NY Jets at Jacksonville, Dec. 7 – 10, 2012
  • New Orleans Mardi Gras, Jan. 25 – 28, 2013
  • Las Vegas Super Bowl Weekend, Jan. 31 – Feb 4, 2013
  • New Orleans French Quarter Festival Apr. 11 – 14, 2013

Other destinations that are still in the planning stages and will be announced soon include Savannah, Tampa, and Atlanta.

Itineraries for the Jacksonville NFL Road Trips include accommodations for three nights in Jacksonville Beach near numerous restaurants and nightlife opportunities. On Friday night guests will have an opportunity to meet other guests at a “Meet & Mingle” welcome dinner that takes place at Joe’s Crab Shack steps away from the Atlantic Ocean. Saturday guests take an interesting and fun guided bus tour to four Jacksonville craft beer breweries. Stops include a free pint of beer and tours of the facilities at Intuition Ale Works, Bold City Brewing Company, Green Room Brewing Company, and Engine 15 Brewing Company. On game day, guests will enjoy a catered tailgate party prior to the game at the Pepsi Tailgate Cabanas with beer included at no additional charge.

Future packages to other cities will include similar itineraries with the focus on fun, food, and beer. Next year Tabone has aspirations to put together tours to beer festivals throughout the nation with festival tickets, brewery dinners, and accommodations. He is even investigating putting together packages to London, Belgium, and Amsterdam next year when the Jaguars play in the U.K.

Talentino Media is a Jacksonville based media and production company founded by Joe and Susanne Talentino, creators of CW17’s weekly television program “I Know Jax,” which features a weekly Happy Hour segment featuring The Beer Guy discussing craft beer. Talentino media also produces Coastal, a website for visitors and residents focusing on fun things to do on the coast of South Carolina, Georgia and Northeast Florida. Play Harder Tours is a Ponte Vedra Beach based travel provider with tours centered on craft beer and sporting events.  Together the Talentino/PHT collaboration will work to expand the scope of the tours to eventually include food and musical events.  Talentino Media will spearhead the online and television promotion of travel packages while Play Harder Tours will be responsible for all coordination, booking, and implementation with the goal of safe responsible travel for people that like to have fun

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Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Beer, Craft Beer Brewery, Travel


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Red Brick Brewing in Atlanta continues a Southern brewing tradition

Red Brick Brewery has quite a story. It began life in 1993 as Atlanta Brewing Company and is the oldest, continuously brewing beer company in the state of Georgia. It has endured copper thieves who stole the wiring out of a box that serviced the brewery’s chiller, nearly ruining a rather large amount of precious beer, and hard times that nearly closed its doors. But, the company, known as Red Brick Brewing since 2005 when current President Robert Budd took over the reins, flourishes regardless of what fate throws at it.

On a sunny and hot Atlanta Saturday afternoon we visited with Budd at the brewery tucked into a warehouse district near Atlanta’s Midtown. After just a few moments it was apparent that we were in for a treat and some very interesting stories. Our conversation ran the gamut of beer, from history to modern practices. And Budd had a story for it all. Budd, you see, is an excellent storyteller.

“We (Americans),” he began. “Were a beer-centric society since the first white man appeared here.” And, indeed that is true by most historical accounts. It has been documented that beer was the beverage of choice on the Mayflower due to unsafe drinking water. The South has a 330 year tradition of brewing beer, and Budd is not about to let that be forgotten. “We are proud of our traditions as a Southern brewer,” he says. But, beer is not always given its due as the social catalyst that it has been. As patrons began arriving for the Saturday afternoon brewery tour, filling the tap room and tables set up in a roped off area of the brewery, that fact was definitely not apparent.

Conversation turned to the subject of beer in Georgia. “Georgia is home to three of the four largest breweries in the South,” Budd said. And with over a third of the nation’s population one would think that Georgia would be leading the pack as far as beer production. But, because of antiquated laws, Budd says that is not the fact of the matter. And it is for that reason that he teamed up with Freddy Bensch of SweetWater and John Cochran of Terrapin to form the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild in 2010. Since forming the Guild, the three have mentored seven breweries in Georgia and look to work with many more.

The local craft brewing community in Atlanta is a tight-knit one Budd says. “We regularly pool our resources to get to the Great American Beer Festival. Usually with SweetWater marshaling the efforts.” This year Red Brick will be entering six beers in the competition; a double IPA, Wee Heavy, their anniversary ale called 17, Laughing Skull and amber ale, their Blond, and HopLanta. In the past Red Brick has been very successful and has procured numerous awards that are proudly displayed on the wall of the tap room.

After sitting and chatting in the tap room for a while, Budd offered a fresh beer and a tour of the facility. Further urging was not required.

The tap room is an airy space with a high ceiling, a glass  wall looking into the brewery at the far end, and a bar near the glass wall. The room was filled with laughing and chatter as eager patrons piled in to taste the brewery’s beers and await the tour later that afternoon. We stopped for refills at the bar and headed through the door into the brewery.

Red Brick looks very much like many other breweries, they have huge stainless steel tanks for fermenting and a few that are wood-clad. They also have a mash tun and brewhouse. But, it is what they do with these tools of the brewing arts that sets them apart and earns them the medals hanging in their tap room. Sipping on the beer provided by Budd, it was apparent that great care and effort has been put into getting things just right.

Over the past few years, red Brick has become known for their anniversary ales and barrel-aged beers. One of note right now is the brewery’s 17th anniversary brew simply known as 17. Before we moved into the brewery, Budd had slipped a couple of these gems into the refrigerator behind the bar and brought them out for us to taste. The brew is an Imperial Brown Ale aged in Jim Beam barrels for a boozy, Bourbon kick that is unmistakable and unbelievably delicious. Dubbed the Brick Mason series, Red Brick’s barrel-aged brews also include Vanilla Gorilla, Old Stock Ale, and their Double IPA.

As we sipped our 17, Budd related another story of the first anniversary ale the brewery produced. The story wound through the back roads of Kentucky, to the streets of New York City, and the freeways of Los Angeles. Along the way there were persnickety Bourbon distillers, Hollywood movie stars, and down home receptionists. Telling the story here just would not do it justice. Suffice to say, the barrels used to age Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon found a home with Red Brick.

After spending an hour and half with Budd, it was time to say goodbye, but not before one last story. Budd spun a story of what his father told him one day, “Son,” he began, “When you get ready to retire, make sure you live close to a brewery.” With a sly smile Budd added. “I did that one better.”

Indeed you did.

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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Beer, Craft Beer Brewery, Travel


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Need GABF tickets? VISIT DENVER is giving them away

As many any beer aficionado already knows, the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is held in Denver, Colo. each October to great fanfare. This year’s version will be hosting over 560 breweries who will be serving over 2,700 beers. It also sold out nearly 50,000 tickets in less than 45 minutes smashing all previous sales records and once again proving the prestige associated with the festival.

Yesterday, Sept. 5, the folks at VISIT DENVER announced that, even though the GABF is sold out, you can still achieve “suds Nirvana,” through entering and winning the Ultimate Beer-cation Giveaway they are sponsoring. The giveaway will bring one winner and a friend to The Mile High City for a weekend of beer, fun, and friends. The prize includes two round trip plane tickets on Frontier Airlines, two GABF tickets, and two nights’ accommodations at Springhill Suites Denver Downtown.

The contest began yesterday, Sept. 5 and will run until midnight (MST) on Sunday September 16. The winner will be determined on Monday, Sept. 17.

To enter go to the Denver’s Ultimate Beer-cation Giveaway page on Facebook, “Like” VISIT DENVER, fill out and submit the entry form. But, your chances do not end there. Share the page and every person who enters through your share will add five entries for you into the contest.

VISIT DENVER is a non-profit agency that has been promoting The Mile High City for 100 years. Tourism is the second largest industry in Denver generating more than $3.3 billion in annual spending in 2011, while supporting 50,000 jobs.

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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Beer, Beer Festival, Travel


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The Porter in Atlanta much more than just a beer bar

Nestled in a funky, somewhat grungy corner of Little Five Points in Atlanta, Ga., The Porter Beer Bar appears rather low brow form the exterior. When you step through the door the impression does not change much with its dark wood cabinets, grey concrete bar, and Mason jar light fixtures. But, you would be wrong in setting your expectations low for this pearl of the burgeoning Atlanta beer scene.

Upon entering, a tattooed and bearded man asked if we would like a table or to sit at the bar. Because I like to be able to see how the bar runs and chat with the bartenders, we opted to sit at the bar. The bar stools seemed mismatched and held together with copious amounts of duct tape, but perhaps that is part of the atmosphere and charm.

We were greeted cheerfully by the bar manager, Justin Wickline who handed us two clipboards; one with the beer list and the other the menu. The Porter boasts around 40 taps of brews that, in the crowded Atlanta beer market, may not sound like a lot when you consider the typical Taco Mac trumps that number with over 100. But, at The Porter, it is not the quantity but rather the quality of their tap choices that draw drinkers to the bar.

On tap the morning we visited was the likes of: Duck Rabbit Duck-Rabbator, Evil Twin Freudian Slip, Green Flash Le Freak, and Lost Abbey 10 Commandments. Along with the taps, imbibers have the option of two brews on beer engines. On our visit there was only one choice, but it was the excellent Allagash Curieux. In addition the bar has an extensive bottle collection ranging from obscure Belgian brews like Pico Alvine Gaspar to excellent American brews like Founders Red Rye Ale.

Wickline was a font of information and definitely knew his beer. As we sat and chatted he presented several beers for us to taste and gave a little information on each. We worked quickly and adeptly to fill orders, take orders, and discuss the finer points of Belgian IPAs. A better bartender would be difficult to find.

Beer, though, is not the only story at the Porter. The food at this quirky little slice of heaven is phenomenal, too. The menu contained such delights as Poutine – rosemary fries covered in parmesan cheese gravy, and cheese curds, Pork & Foie Gras Terrine served with drunken raisins, whole grain mustard, pecans, bacon jam, and bacon powder, and Brasstown Pork Belly served with arugula, cherry tomatoes, bacon vinaigrette, and roasted hatch pepper.

I chose the brunch special Hangover Hash, which was a potent combination of corned beef, potatoes, red peppers, and onions topped with Buffalo sauce and three fried eggs. My companion opted for the Porter’s Half-Pound Cheeseburger of house-made fresh Angus beef patty, bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, homemade pickled red onions, and homemade pickles. The hash was delightfully spicy, but not so much so that the flavor of the corned beef and potatoes were masked. My companion’s cheeseburger was perfectly cooked and heaped with toppings; she could only manage to eat half of the monster.

All-in-all, The Porter, which was recommended to me by a brewer friend, was an excellent choice for a Saturday morning lunch before an afternoon of visiting breweries. The excellent beer choices primed us for later consumption and the food kept us nourished as well as very happy. On our next road trip to Atlanta, The Porter will definitely be on our must-visit list. It should be on yours, too.

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Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Beer, Restaurant, Travel


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