On April 19th, 2009 I was on my way back from a little concert run south of the border and looking for something along the way to fill the afternoon. I’m a big fan of pulling off the highway at the slightest provocation and I’ve been known to happily drive miles out of my way in search of the flimsiest of attractions.
A quick internet search in the hotel room turned up exactly that: the flimsiest of attractions. The only thing within spitting distance of the I-89 between Worcester, Massachusetts and the Canadian border that remotely interested me (and that I hadn’t already stopped at) was the Budweiser Brewery Experience in Merrimack, New Hampshire. I would normally rank a brewery tour as a pretty good diversion but I was near the beginning of a fairly long drive back to Ottawa so pulling on free beer taps was out of the question.
That turned out being not a problem at all. I arrived just a few minutes after a tour of the brewery started out and would have to wait an hour or more for the next one. A dry tour of a touristy Budweiser brewery wasn’t going to slow me down like that so I ditched the tour plans and hit the stables for a self-guided look at the horses, which I’m sure would have been the highlight of the tour anyway.
The Budweiser Clydesdale team has been famous since long before they were the stars of countless million dollar Superbowl commercials. I remember seeing the mighty team of furry equines several times as a kid; at the CNE in Toronto and few livestock shows at the Moncton Coliseum. These are majestic animals and so very America-invoking; they are the bald eagles of the horse family. When you doll these beasts up right and hook them up to an antique red and white beer trailer they just scream “USA”.
The barn isn’t anything like a zoo, it’s more like a hay-lined hotel for elite athletes. I sauntered along, gawking at the stars of the stable for twenty minutes or so. The Clydesdales are perfectly groomed sculptures of toned muscle and they look to be pretty spoiled. I bet they eat right, get plenty of exercise, and read all the right books.
On my way out I hit the gift shop and picked up a xmas ornament for 75% off – I hang it on my little tree every December – and I was back on the highway headed north with a fresh coffee in hand before the next brewery tour had even started.