Celebrating 66 With 66 On 66!

To celebrate her 66th birthday, my wife thought of the
idea of renting a car and getting our “kicks” by driving
on old Route 66. We looked at the map and decided
that the section of the “Mother Road” between St. Louis
and Albuquerque would be perfect for the week we had
to spare. I embellished the idea by thinking I could add
66 new beers to my log while traversing 66.


Before we left I started looking up breweries at which to
stop and discovered such websites as “The Ten Best
Breweries in Springfield, Missouri” which generated
questions in my mind like “10 best?”, “How many are
there?” and “What about the ten worst”.

At any rate, with information like that at the ready, we
flew to St. Louis to begin our journey, and as an added
benefit, picked up brew #1, GOOSE ISLAND NEXT
COAST IPA, aboard the plane. This turned out to be the
least expensive beer of the trip because the credit card
machine was inoperative. Observing this, I slyly popped
the top on the can while the flight attendant was fooling
around with the card reader lest she ask for it back.
They don’t accept cash and she was benevolent: I got
the can on the house.

After arrival in St. Louis we went to pick up our reserved
SUV and discovered that the rental company had a
brand new (only 900 miles on it) Mustang convertible
available for a couple of hundred dollars more. I thought
“why not do 66 in style?” and agreed to the upgrade, a
wise choice since the weather for the next week looked
perfect and there’s no way to summon up pre-
interstate appreciation of America than by seeing it in an
open ragtop.

We checked into our hotel to freshen up before heading
to dinner at the Urban Chestnut brewpub, a German
beer hall type pub which ultimately became my favorite
of the trip. #’s 2, 3, and 4, ZWICKEL BAVARIAN
LAGER, BEARTHDAY BOCK, and OXNBRAU DOPPEL
-
BOCK perfectly complimented the bratwurst and kraut I
had for dinner. I picked up a 4 pack of #5: URBAN
CHESTNUT DORFBIER BAVARIAN DUNKEL to take back
to the hotel.

We arose early the next morning and , after breakfast,
made the mandatory stop at the St. Louis Gateway
Arch. I hadn’t been there since 1970 when I played a
few tunes under it with the Quantico Marine Band and
remembered nothing except that it was very big. It was
a warm day with some oppressive St. Louis humidity, so
I was elated when walking back to the car we found the
Morgan Street Brewpub, with it’s pleasant outdoor
tables, only fifty yards away. Their MAIBOCK, BLACK
BEAR LAGER, MARZEN, RIVER OTTER PALE ALE,
GOLDEN PILS, and HONEY WHEAT became #’s 6
through 11 of my 66 beer quest.

The Route 66 trip then started in earnest as we headed
southwest and passed the St. James Winery in St.
James, Missouri. I wasn’t the only person making the
trip so a stop was made to slake my wife’s thirst with
gratis tastings of six of their twenty or so available
wines. How convenient that directly next door, sharing
the same parking lot, was the Public House Brewing
Company. I wasn’t about to get that close without
popping in so #’s 12 through 17, ROB’S CREAM ALE,
BIRD and BABY MILD, HIDE and SEEK HEFEWEIZEN,
FRISCO 1501 AMBER LAGER, ELUSIVE IPA, and LEVEL
2 Fall Risk Imperial IPA went down the hatch.

Old Route 66 seemed to disappear , so we hopped onto
I-44 to Springfield, Missouri and dinner at the
Springfield Brewing Company. PAUL’S PALE ALE,
GREENE GHOST IPA, WALNUT STREET WHEAT, CLOVE
HITCH HEFEWEIZEN, BULL CREEL BROWN ALE, and
MEX-y-CALI COPPER ALE  became #’s 18 through 23. A
little better than a third of the way to 66 on day two!

After breakfast the next morning we did a mandatory
touristy stop for photo ops at the World’s Largest Fork.
I figured if Clark W. Griswold can entertain his family by
traveling a hundred miles out of his way to view the
World’s Largest Ball of Twine, the least I could do was
stop at the fork, which was right on the way to that
evening’s destination in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This was the
most interesting part of the ride, since so many relics of
old 66 still remain.


We stopped at an old Sinclair station at which the
pumps displayed the price of 23.9 cents per gallon,
probably the accurate price for the ’48 Ford sedan that
was parked at them. A ’46 Nash police car, a ’53
Packard, a Model A Ford, an old Studebaker truck, and
several other automotive examples of Americana were
parked around the property. Vintage Coca Cola
machines, Mail Pouch tobacco and Burma Shave signs
added to the decor. The proprietor took notice of my
Marine Corps veteran cap and turned out to be a former
Marine sergeant himself. When my wife asked the price
of a Route 66 pin she wanted to buy he said “No charge-
from one sarge to another…Semper Fi”.

A few miles up the road we came across a relic leftover
from the days after the repeal of prohibition. On a vine
covered cement block building you could just make out
the faded lettering “We have 5% beer”, apparently a
1930’s big beer after so many years of prohibition
followed by 3.2% suds.

Continuing on the old “Ghost” part of 66, we went
through Joplin, Missouri, then Mickey Mantle’s
hometown of Commerce, Oklahoma, which looked
exactly like I imagine it did in 1935. The next town we
passed through was Miami, Oklahoma which only a day
or so before had been completely under water. It was
depressing to smell the water logged air and mud and
see the streets full of people’s ruined possessions, but
spirits picked up when we found a roadside table to
refresh with a glass of wine and #24, BOULEVARD PALE
ALE.

We got a beautiful room in a Holiday Inn Express in
Tulsa, had a dip in the hot tub (GOTTA get one of those
things) and went to dinner at the Bricktown Brewery
where brews # 25 through 31 were added. OLD KING
KOLSCH, (love that name!), BLUEBERRY ALE, WILEY’S
ONE EYED WHEAT, MILLIE MAC FADDEN’S RED RYE
ALE, THREE GUARDSMEN IPA, SINGLE STRING STOUT
and a guest beer, SANTA FE HAPPY CAMPER IPA, served
in a can, made the list. The house beers were average
to even good, about what you’d expect from a chain,
which I later found out Bricktown is, with fourteen
locations throughout Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and
Texas.

The next morning we headed for Oklahoma City and a
very moving stop at the Murrah Building Memorial. The
main theme of the memorial is row upon row of iron
chairs, positioned where each of the 168 people who
died in the 1995 bombing were at the time of the blast.
When I questioned the park ranger about why some of
the chairs were smaller, he said they represented the 19
children who died in the day care center that was part of
the building.

After that sobering experience we stopped at the
Anthem Brewery for #’s 32, 33, 34 and 35. THE RED
KIND SAISON, RAD HOMBRE LAGER, OK PILS, and IPA
made up a flight I thought I might never get. There
were only two other patrons, two girls who couldn’t
make up their minds about which beers to order on
their flights. They kept saying “may I have a taste of the
coconut saison?”, which the bartender would dutifully
pour, and they’d sniff, swish around in their glasses and
their mouths before making a negative decision and
asking for another taste of something different. At one
point, the mango pale ale or some other such
concoction kicked, forcing the bartender to disappear
while he went in search of another keg. Remember,
these agonizing decisions  were only for a flight, not a
pint, and I was sitting there beerless for what seemed
like a half hour while all of this played out. Finally, their
eight beers were selected and poured, allowing the man
behind the bar to turn his attention to me. I said “just
give me the first four on the board”, downed them and
was out the door in less than two minutes, while the
girls were still sniffing and swishing.

We stopped at a table by a lake to have the leftovers
from the previous night’s brewpub and #36 ANTHEM
RYE’D or DIPA, a canned version of the brewery’s
double IPA. Arriving in Shamrock, Texas , we checked
into another Holiday Inn Express before heading into
the only venue in town for having dinner, Big Vern’s
Steakhouse. As the name would indicate, Big Vern’s
features mostly steaks, but the specialty of the house is
Texas Fried Calf Fries, a dish we did not opt for. Some
call them mountain oysters and some call them fried
balls, but whatever you call them they’re still testicles. I
had a gigantic glass of #38, Shiner Bock and a bottle of  
#39, Lone Star, which would have been a perfect beer
for pairing with Texas testicles had we ordered them.

An early start the next morning brought us to our next
destination, Amarillo, which, when arriving from old 66,
makes Route 1 in Elizabeth look like a tropical paradise.
Although we paid a few hundred extra for a convertible,
we seriously thought about putting up the roof and
locking the doors. This was definitely not a nice looking
part of town. However, we eventually made it to
downtown and a light lunch at the Six Car Brewery, so
named for the #6 streetcar line that once ran in front of
the building in which the brewery is located. The lunch
was accompanied by #’s 40 through 44, MAKE CHOICES
IPA, SUD PUDDLES KOLSCH, THUNDER BOCK, STONED
WHEAT HEFEWEIZEN, and LOCAL AMERICAN LAGER.  

On the road to our final destination we stopped in Santa
Rosa, New Mexico. The desk clerk at the Hampton Inn
informed us that “Joseph’s” was really the only place in
town to get dinner and drinks so it was off to Joseph’s,
which offered #’s 45, 46 and 47, RED DOOR VANILLA
CREAM ALE (terrible), LaCUMBRE ELEVATED IPA, and a
bottle of ABBEY BIG MONK’S ALE. Abbey beer comes
from a monastery in Albuquerque, which sadly, no
longer admits the public to tour and sample its excellent
brews because the crowds distracted the brothers from
their monastic life. Another dip in the hotel’s hot tub
reminded me again that I’ve gotta get one of those
things!

The next day we noticed signs for “pre 1937 old 66”,
which led us to Santa Fe even though it was out of the
way to Albuquerque. I’ve previously written about our
beer experiences in Santa Fe so I’ll not say too much
more except that a stop at the Noisy Waters wine bar
enabled me to have #48, LaCUMBRE SLICE of HEFFEN
HEFEWEIZEN while my wife sampled and left her
undrinkable sweet berry wine. We had lunch at the Blue
Corn Cafe, downtown outlet for the Blue Corn Brewery,
located on the outskirts of the city and which we had
visited some years ago. The Southwestern taco lunch
was accompanied by #’s 49 through 54, ATOMIC
BLONDE LAGER, 40K HONEY WHEAT, ROADRUNNER
IPA, END OF THE TRAIL BROWN ALE, GOLD MEDAL
OATMEAL STOUT, and GATEKEEPER IPA, all good but
not particularly noteworthy beers, except for the stout,
which, as the name implies, won two gold medals at the
GABF.

The drive to our final destination took us through
Bernalillo, New Mexico, home of the Bosque Brewpub
which brought my quest for 66 on 66 up to sixty. The
BOSQUE LAGER, SCOTIA SCOTCH ALE, IPA, BREWER’S
BOOT AMBER LAGER, SUMMER IN HALLERTAU PALE
ALE, and PISTOL PETE’S 1888th ALE were all excellent
and true to style.

We arrived in Albuquerque with me six shy of my 66 on
66, and dinner at my second favorite brewery of the
trip, the Quarter Celtic Brewpub, afforded only a four
beer flight. #61, an IPA was excellent, #62, a HELLES
was even better, #63 a MARZEN was also excellent as
was #64 COAXIUM IPA. I explained to the waiter about
my quest for 66 on 66 , told him I was up to 64, with
no days to go, and he brought me two flight sized
pours of #65, DORTMUNDER and #66, CRIMSON LASS
RED ALE (outstanding).

Success was achieved: #66 0n Route 66 only 6 hours
before our scheduled flight back to Newark. (The
standby flight to Denver and standby connection to
Newark went off without a hitch, enabling me to make
my regular Thursday night stop at the Gaslight for a
couple of new additions to the log. But that’s another
story.)


                          Cheers!









              Dan
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