2019 at this time, I was prepping for an epic trip back to Boston. I had a full itinerary, highlighted by seeing the Bruins, which would continue my tour of the Original 6 hockey cities to see a game. I added walking around Fenway Park, a random Knicks/Celtics game and the Sam Adams Brewery. Ever bit one of my legendary “Beer and Sports trips.”
And then Celtics game was cancelled, and the Bruins game was cancelled, and the brewery was closed. “I’ll still go, I can still walk around and explore Boston” because, believe this or not, I can be rather stubborn. Two days before my flight, my hotel called to say they were closed. I decided to take the hint, and stayed home, but it was totally my choice.
I did have a couple smaller warm-up trips in the state of Michigan. Lansing to wander around, see the Michigan capital, hit a distillery/brewery or few, and see the Lansing Lugnuts (affiliate of the Oakland A’s). Jackson Field, great. Kalamazoo to visit Bell’s Brewery, which is arguably one of the best in the country, and see a team’s mystery ice, which turned into rainbow ice, which was pretty cool… odd but cool for a great cause. But nothing where I got a plane and went….
I was ready for this trip and my cousin and I have been talking about having me come down for a game,
So, without further ado.. Let’s Go.
Main Event: Carolina Hurricanes v Philadelphia Flyers.
Saturday, March 12th.
Barn: PNC Arena
Colors flown: Michigan Wolverines (Maize Script)
Disclaimer: The fact that I didn’t walk out of that arena spending a few hundred dollars in Hartford Whalers throwback gear is a miracle. Hats, sweaters, pucks, anything. Love that they still use that jersey, one of my favorites.
You hear everyone say it, “we have the loudest barn in the league.” Rolling of the eyes but PNC Arena, I could see it.. or rather hear it. Loud. The crowd was into it from puck drop. Every goal, epic save, hit, somehow the energy just kept building. Not bad for freezing temperatures and snow… which I came down south to get away from, just saying.
Game itself was great. Derek Stepan got his 500th career point in his 800th career game, pretty sure that’s good, on a great turn-around pass behind the net, finding Steven Lorentz staring at the open cage. A lot of action, for a two goal game with less than 5 minutes left in regulation. Hurricanes took the lead, late in the third on a tip by Jordan Martinook. Sebastian Aho got the empty net goal to seal it and the pops in the arena were electric.
Ok, one thing. The Storm Surge… Bunch of Jerks.. I’ve seen videos of epic, choreographed skits. Bringing footballs on the ice, and lining up in formations. I’ve seen boxing with Evander Holyfield, they played “duck, duck, goose.” So, I was standing by to stand by. They did the viking skol clap, and that was it. Kind of disappointed. But the atmosphere was great, would definitely go back.
But being a Wings’ fan, not used to $5 beers at LCA, especially one that’s pretty decent, with the Storm Brew from R&D Brewing. I’m all for drinking locals beers when making a trip. All day.
This is first time I’ve done one of these trips where I didn’t really know much about where I was going.
So, I did what anyone would, I googled.
Breweries around, nice, there are a lot. I visited 2 breweries this time.
Crank Arm Brewing Company. Definitely felt the college town vibe here with a …variety of characters. Fun place to sit down and people watch; everything from frat bros to .. I think there was a dude in tights with Maleficent horns… people just relaxing and being themselves, good vibe. Bicycle themed brewery. Had some mixtures where you read some of the descriptions, and move from “yeah, I don’t know about that” to “yuuuuup” with a sip. I stayed rather safer with Salty Rims (Lagar w/NC sea salt and lime) and the Whitewall Wheat (am-belgo wheat w/ citra hops.)
Clouds Brewery. A bit bigger brewery, with locations in Raleigh and Durham. (yes, they are two different cities) Had a couple there as well; Accumlation (amber lager, which turned into my go-to beer type this trip) and the Clouds 9 (Belgian Strong Golden Ale). Had my welcome moment when the bartender agreed that fried pickles should always be medallions, these actually were thin so they crisped up.. .. what? I was really excited about it, guess you had to be there.
I was told that I need to hit the Pit for BBQ and being in Carolina. I had to partake. Carolina BBQ is always good and one of those things that can light up… somewhat.. spirited conversation anywhere. Vinegar or tomato base?
Right up there with Duke/North Carolina, or who is your basketball school? According to the uber driver on the way to the air port, native Carolinians are UNC fans, while traitors and outlanders are Duke fans… interesting. (don’t shoot, he said it.)
When did Food Halls become a thing? It was awesome. Visited Morgan Street Food Hall. Was like a food court.. but for adults. All types of food you can imagine. I walked around looking for a solid brunch and found a pretty decent crepe. (yes, the really thin pancakes.)
And finally to close. Everywhere I went, everyone was recommending going to the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium. (Not the name it was recommended under but I have to use the full name after I learned it..) Pretty awesome, dive, multitap with “hundreds of craft beers.” I walked in and sure enough, golden plates were all over the ceiling with people’s names. If I had gone day one, I would have visited every day I was in town… and then stumbled out.
Great time in Raleigh.. but hey, the Wings are on.
…Bunch of Jerks.