On the Road
Sports, beer and the South
It would seem there are many roads in the sports world. For instance, we have the current Road to Omaha in college baseball. There is a road to the Final Four and a road to the Super Bowl. Fans of teams will tell you that the road to the championship goes through their favorite team’s town and props to the Tour De France since that employs actual roads to win the championship.
I just got back from being on the road. It was a road trip that took us around the southeast out to Savannah, Georgia and back again. It was truly a wonderful vacation, one that was largely without sport but, being that it is 2018, its not like I didn’t check in on what was going on. Let’s take a trip.
I was excited but actually a little worried about our trip. Excited because we had never been to these cities before and worried because, well, we were leaving New Orleans and all of its spice for parts unknown.
Thankfully our route took us to Birmingham, Alabama, a town brimming with energy and youth that immediately impressed. Birmingham is the rookie sensation that grabs your attention and makes you think of all of the possibilities. Think Week Four Alvin Kamara when he gobbled up 10 catches for 71 yards in a game that spelled an end to the Adrian Peterson experiment.
We only had one day in Birmingham, so naturally we hit three breweries. Of note, was the chilled out nature of Avondale Brewing and its Battlefield IPA. We ended our day at TrimTab Brewing Co., which was hands down the best time I’ve ever had in a brewery. TrimTab had two DJs playing, a pack of Disco Cowboys and, thankfully, the Belmont Stakes playing on the big screen. Melanie enjoyed her favorite beer of the trip, the “Pillar to Post” Rye Brown, as I thought no one was going to notice the horse race. But, when the thoroughbreds shot out of the gate the place went silent and then got noisy as we cheered Justify on to the Triple Crown. After the race, the bartender put Prince’s movie “Under the Cherry Moon” on the big screen, which made this purple lover’s heart sing. Thankfully the movie was on silent as the film could be described as awkward at best. After that, we were off to the Pride Parade that finished right before the skies opened up and sent us running through the Alabama night.
As with all sports and road trips, sometimes you just don’t see it coming. Augusta, Georgia was like when a player — not the star, but a contributor nonetheless — goes down with an injury. Which is a long way of saying don’t go to Augusta on a Sunday night.
We did find the Savannah River Brewing Co., open on the outskirts of town but downtown was essentially closed. There are plenty of businesses on Augusta’s main drag but only three or four were open. Luckily for us, we stumbled into the Bee’s Knees, a great tapas restaurant with a cool vibe. In the background, I saw that Mississippi State knocked off Vanderbilt to advance to the College World Series. The Bulldogs, after starting the season 0-3 and starting the SEC conference season 2-7 are alive and playing very well.
If a municipality could be called elegant it would have to be downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Honestly, it’s stunning. Not unlike the first time you gazed upon World Cup contender Portugal’s Cristiano Rinaldo and thought — my god, he’s beautiful.
With some buildings dating back to the 1700s and a lot of cool alleys to explore it was easy to feel like you had travelled back through time. It also made me miss New Orleans a little as we walked the town from side to side. We didn’t walk but Lyfted (is that a word?) out to Revelry Brewing Co., a three-story brewery with a rooftop bar. We ate sushi from a food truck and looked out over the town. It was a great couple of days that also included us dancing in the cobble-stoned street as an unseen pianist practiced in their home. Some things you will never forget.
On the road to Savannah, Georgia it crossed my mind that Savannah might not be as great as everyone made it out to be. We proceeded directly to downtown and I immediately realized that thought was ridiculous as we walked from square to beautiful square, drinking in the local architecture and being impressed at how many SCAD — Savannah College of Art and Design — buildings dot the town. Absolutely everything was top notch in Savannah, even their super-touristy river walk had some flavor.
We ran the gamut from fancy dinners at The Pink House to killer rock-n-roll pizza at Vinnie Van Go-Go’s. Savannah turned out to be “the franchise” of the trip, the Drew Brees, the LeBron James. It was unstoppable in its good times.
Savannah had so much to offer that it would seem to be a waste to hit the same place twice but, if you think that, then you haven’t been to the Original Pinkie Masters, a small yet mighty dive bar where Jimmy Carter reportedly stood on the bar and announced his candidacy for President back in the day.
This town is just a puzzle to me. Montgomery, Alabama has all of the buildings in all the right spots but where are the people? I honestly felt like I was walking through one of those towns in “The Walking Dead.” This town is rough with a whole lotta nothin’ going on. Montgomery is the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Chicago Cubs when they were hapless and the 2008 Detroit Lions all wrapped up in one. Unfortunately for Montgomery, there doesn’t seem to be any Andrew Luck’s in its future. However, Montgomery does have the Common Bond Brewers, which makes some fine beers. So maybe, that’s their Andrew Luck that they can build around. Maybe.
We washed off Montgomery with a stop in Mobile, Alabama to lunch with friends at the Serda Brewing. It was a good time but my mind was on getting back to New Orleans. It was a quick two-hour trip and we were once again travelling the bella St. Charles Avenue — a masterpiece in its own right — and it was awesome to get back to that Crescent City flavor. As I pulled into our driveway in Uptown we saw what I assume was a misbegotten sandwich board behind our building advertising Barre classes, three for 25 bucks. Location? Who knows?
It’s great to be home.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Common Bond Brewers’ “Ramber” Rye Amber Ale
Playlist Recommendation: Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Travellin’ Band”