It’s almost back to school time. Did you do anything fun for your summer vacation?
Not me. Not sure exactly why, but so far this summer I haven’t managed to get any farther than the poker room at the dog track. Occasionally lucrative, yes, but not exactly a vacation.
As a roller coaster junkie, my usual jaunt involves seven or so hours driving down to either Orlando or Tampa. I have absolutely no problems riding Sheikra, Space Mountain, Dragon Challenge or The Hulk over and over and over again.
Getting into Central Florida, one might notice a sharp uptick in the proliferation of billboards and tourist traps once you’re on I-75. I’ll save you the trouble; that’s not a real 40-foot stuffed alligator, there aren’t free passes to Disney or Universal, you can find the same junk food at better prices in practically any convenience store and that one truck stop – you know which one – you… really don’t want to know.
The one thing I puzzle over the most are the multiple billboards advertising for vasectomies along the way. “Say, honey? Before we ride ‘It’s A Small World’ you mind if I make a pit stop?” I don’t get it.
What’s never a tourist trap is going on a brewery tour. You get to see how it’s made, hear the brewers talk about their vision and passion, smell the malt and hops perfuming the air and, when it’s all done, enjoy some fine libations. Luckily, Florida has no shortage of great breweries and one can, and should, think about adding stops at one or three to their travel itinerary.
As I was saying before, I haven’t found much free time in which to travel this summer. Makes it even more of a bummer that M.I.A. Beer Company is even farther than my usual stomping grounds. Located way down in Doral a little bit west of Miami, I don’t see a visit to their sleek establishment any time soon.
Their tasting room looks like an ultra lounge collided with a hipster’s industrial neighborhood renovation. Plush leather couches lead you to mechanic’s garage doors under purple and blue neon with exposed beams overhead and polished concrete underfoot. Too bad I can’t go just yet. If I were there, I’d sit at one of the hardwood tables and order something that suits my sense of humor like their Czarface, M.I.A. Sharona, Glade Runner or Chango.
Luckily, I can bring at least a little of the M.I.A. experience to me instead with their Tourist Trappe Belgian Tripel. This dark orange elixir’s head rises tall, eggshell white and fluffy before quickly settling into a ring for the rest of the ride. Right away spicy yeast esters greet the nose with white pepper, banana, honey and dates. Sharp, prickly carbonation is balanced by rich, complex flavors of papaya, banana nut bread, slightly-underripe green grapes and clove. And at 10% AbV, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.
This one is no rip-off and is definitely worth the stop along the way. Just keep driving past that truck stop ‘café’ and thank me later.