Guinness Building a Brewery in Maryland; Won’t Actually Brew Guinness

Travelling to Ireland must be such a pain these days. You have to buy tickets, leave your house, pack your crap and get on a plane. Meh.

Luckily, you can get the Guinness experience without leaving the U.S. of A. It turns out that the fine Irish lads of Guinness are building a production facility in Relay, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore. The plan is to replicate the experience of visiting St. James Gate in Dublin complete with a tour, museum experience, tap room and epic merch store.

Before you get your pitchforks and torches, the catch is that the famous Guinness stout won’t be made there. It will continue to be produced at the main Dublin factory. The beers in the Maryland facility will be exclusively made for the U.S. market similar to the Guinness Blonde. Taking a page from the craft beer movement, the beers will include experimental test batches.

With all this said, don’t go visiting the new storehouse thinking it will replace going to Ireland. It’s just a way for Guinness introducing new beers by extended the iconic name. It’s all about branding and marketing.

Go to Ireland. The Storehouse is the best beer destination I’ve visited. It’s extensive, educational, modern but honers tradition. Plus, it has the best view of Dublin in the city at the top bar when you finally get to drink.

American Airports Have Become a Meeting Place for Protests, Just Don’t Take An Uber There

By the time I finish typing this post, there will probably be another development in the ongoing saga of Muslims entering the country from banned countries. It’s a complex story that’s playing out in airports across America with protests, court orders, tales of families being separated, turned away and now, people are deleting Uber.

The Guardian does a great job for quick, condensed live update while delving deeper in the who’s and why’s. It’s been a chaotic weekend for airports and airlines sorting out this mess that the new administration put into effect without much research and little regard for the consequences.

Locally near the Why Am I No There? HQ, hundreds of protesters voiced their outrage at Newark Airport for a second day while a few thousands headed over to JFK.


I’ve been a little out of it with a busy weekend, but just tonight I’m reading up on the Uber controversy. Long story short: they sort of crossed protest lines in picking people up from JFK after NYC taxis cab drivers (who have a large Muslim contingent) staged a protest by not going to JFK. My first thought was, “I guess we’re all Lyft people from now on.” Sure enough, I got an e-mail from Lyft saying that they are pledging $1 million to the ACLU. Suck it, Uber. I didn’t delete it, though. I don’t use in the U.S., so they don’t get my money.

To tie everything together, this was inevitable after the November victory (I refuse to type the man’s name). I pointed out back in June that the tourist industry would loose billions if this ban took place, and now we’re seeing it.

Beer Voyage — Mikkeller Bar, Vesterbro, Copenhagen

In beer circles, Mikkeller is either wildly popular or not even known. It separates beer geeks from those jumping on the craft beer bandwagon. When I visited their first bar in 2012, they were just in the infancy of gaining a cult status.

Just to give you an overview of Mikkeller, you need to start with the man and his story. Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is the mastermind behind the brand. He started as a high school teacher in Denmark who stumbled onto brewing. As it turns out, his mind is fertile for creating unique, experimental beers. He writes down the recipe, gives it to somebody else to make and then waits for the resulst. The irony is that he doesn’t like brewing — it’s boring to him.

That’s not the most interesting part of the story. His twin brother is Jeppe Borg Bjergsø, the founder of Evil Twin Brewing and owner of the great Brooklyn beer bar Tørst. As detailed in a New York Times profile, the two don’t get along and don’t speak to each other.

Mikkel, and his partner Kristian Keller, built their first Mikkeller Bar in the trendy Vesterbro neighborhood. The design is Scandinavian minimalism at it’s finest with white walls, steel stools and wood table tops. At night, most of the light is provided by votive candles and dimly lit Edison light bulbs.

This was my introduction to the classy beer bar where the beer glasses look more like wine glasses. It took a few more years for that style to carry over into America. Case in point, Tørst. Where do you think he got the idea?

Beer wise you have a few titles that have become staples in the Mikkeller catalog like Beer Geek Breakfast, Single Hops and It’s Alive. I remember having the super powerful Black Hole, a 19.1% stout that was aged in Tequila barrels. It was served in a champagne flute. The other than I can’t remember the name was brewed for the Copenhagen Half Marathon to benefit Breast Cancer because that’s what you want after running 13 miles.

Since the opening on their first bar, they’ve opened up bars in Barcelona, Iceland, Thailand, Japan, San Francisco, Oakland, South Korea and their first production facility in San Diego.

Peter Neffenger Resigned As Head of TSA, Which Is Now Leaderless

If United Airlines’ complete shutdown on Sunday doesn’t give you pause, the TSA, the government agency that gives your crotch a good once over and makes sure you don’t bring shampoo on a flight, is without a leader. Peter Neffenger, who is credited with turning the agency around after gross mismanagement, stepped down on Friday after 18 months on the job.

The Daily Beast reported that Neffenger was asked by the new administration to stay, but pretty much said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” It will be up to John Kelly, the new Secretary of Homeland Security, to find a replacement.

Neffenger, a lifelong military man from the Coast Guard, made the TSA more efficient by implementing better training, rescheduling shifts to accommodate peak travel times, rebranded them as anti-terrorism officers and, most importantly,secured more funding for state-of-the-equipment and more officers. As you remember when he came into the job in the summer of 2015, the TSA failed horribly at detecting exploding devices during a test, 67 out of 70.

“The hallmark of his tenure has been a vision to increase security while optimizing the travel experience, a strong level of collaboration and an unprecedented attitude of positive problem-solving with stakeholders,” said Nicholas Calio, CEO of Airlines for America, to USA Today.

As a result, the TSA cut down wait times to 30 minutes or less 98% of the time. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the new administration has yet to make any stance on what to do with the TSA. They have plenty to say about crowd sizes though.

Have a safe flight!

There’s A Guy Who Wrote 1,934 TripAdvisor Reviews in Two Years

logoIn an achievement that makes those dumb-ass elite reviews on Yelp look like Foursquare reviews, Stephen Kelly of Liverpool, UK has the dubious achievement of writing 1,934 reviews since February 2015. That’s about 2 or 3 a day.

My first thought is that his inbox must be hella jammed with TripAdvisor e-mails. I looked up hotels in Buenos Aires a few weeks ago and I still get two e-mails day with subjects along the lines of “You still thinking about Buenos Aires?” They might set up an e-mail server just for him.

The Independent profiled the gentleman and here are the takeaways:

  • TripAdvisor named him “UK Review Contributor of the Year”. I would hope so!
  • He works as a hospital porter (or orderly)
  • He’s gained 577 helpful votes.
  • He travels once a month.
  • Most of his reviews are positive.
  • He’s taken 15,426 photos.

I don’t think I can come up with 1,900 places I’ve visited. I would have to start reviewing individual toilets in airports around the world. “The 2nd to left stall in Terminal 3 by the Cinnabon had plenty of toilet paper and was sanitary. *****”

By comparison, I have 22 reviews with 16 helpful votes. Level 8 Hotel reviews. Y’all jealous?

Something Is Making American Airlines Flight Attendants Sick — And It’s Not Your B.O.

Somebody needs to call Dr. Gregory House because one in 10 of American Airlines flight attendants are getting rashes, sore throats, wheezing, fatigue and vertigo. That’s the same reactions I get from watching Suicide Squad on their on-board entertainment.

The obvious culprit are their new uniforms which were distributed to their 70,000 employees back in September. By October, 450 complaints were filed to their call center.

The makers of the uniforms also made them for Alaska Airlines, and what do you know?, the employees were complaining as well, according to the Chicago Tribune.  It might time to rethink your manufacturing. My favorite quote for the article — “A hospital gown seems to be the most popular flight-attendant accessory this season. That or an inhaler,” said flight attendant Heather Poole

Here’s the thing, AA spent $1 million on toxicology tests and they found nothing. My guess resembles the plot of 1989 Batman — mix the clothes with perfume/cologne, make-up and deodorant and the results could be toxic.

While the battle continues among the airline, the union that represents the stewards and stewardesses and the uniform supplier, those who are getting a reaction will get cotton uniforms instead of polyester. I don’t know about you, I would like the in-flight staff not scratching themselves while saving us during the unlikely event of a water landing.

Buffalo’s Anchor Bar Lives Up To Its Reputation

It’s one of those things you have to do when you visit a major U.S. city — have their iconic local food. The list is endless — Philly cheese streak, New York cheesecake, Maine lobster roll, Nashville hot chicken, New Orleans muffaletta, Memphis barbecue, Denver omelette.

Obviously, for chicken wings, it’s Buffalo, New York. The epicenter is the Anchor Bar on Main Street. While many have claimed to have been inventor, their story sticks out the most.

“Fortunately, the actual moment that Buffalo chicken wings were invented has been described by Frank Bellissimo and his son, Dom, with the sort of rich detail that any historian would value; unfortunately, they use different details,” wrote Calvin Trillin for the New Yorker in 1980.

The original bar (it’s been franchised out to include locations in California) might be ground zero of the ultimate football watching food, but it also might be the origin of chains restaurants putting any old crap on the wall (ex. TGIFriday, Appleby’s). It’s old-timey bicycle wheels, license plates, coasters and Little League trophies — let’s glue it to the wall!

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Since they go through thousands of wings a day (or maybe an hour), you wonder why they even bother with a full-menu. I opted for a starter salad and 1o wings while others nearby me at the bar were pounding through 30 in a sitting. Buffalo isn’t know for being particularly health conscious.

I cannot claim to be a connoisseur of the Buffalo chicken wing. I much prefer the Korean fried chicken wing for it’s wonderful crunch, not too spicy bite and ease of disposal. I’m a bit of priss when it comes to messy food. When you need a shower after eating 10 wings, I’d rather deal without the hassle.

With that said, these were the best Buffalo wings I’ve ever had, even though I can’t pinpoint the previous winner. After 6th or 7th wing, your lips begin to tingle from the vinegar and cayenne in the hot sauce. By the end, you have a pile of bones and a four or five discarded paper towels around you. I recommend an IPA or a pinot to pair with your wings.

While there are other must-eat wing spots in the city, you best just to head to the headquarters and soak in the brick-a-brack nature of the joint.