After a summer of heat and humidity that made riding more of a steam bath than anything else, we set out this mid-September day with max temps not even to reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit. A very welcome change.
Keeping to our theme for the second year now, we headed off to the Hewn distillery in Pipersville, PA. This required us to travel our well liked route 611, a mostly tranquil 109 mile highway with views of the scenic Delaware River and the old Delaware Canal. We passed the old Deer Head Inn, the oldest running Jazz club in the country, a place I had the privilege to perform several times some years back. The Delaware Canal, inspired by the success of the New York state’s Erie Canal, was built by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as part of a 1,200-mile system of canals to connect Philadelphia, Pittsburg, and Lake Erie. The 60 mile long canal was part of this work and was completed in 1832 for the purpose of transporting barges of coal. Today it is known as the Delaware Canal State Park and someday we’ll have to park the bike and explore its trails.
Sean Tracy, the founder and head distiller of the Hewn distillery, spent 25 years restoring and converting old American barns into unique homes and is host of the TV show “Barn Hunters”. After taking up the craft of distilling, he decided to combine his passion for old wood and distilling by experimenting with the aging process of his spirits with old, rare, and even extinct woods. This is the first distillery I’ve heard of that employs this method. We had a flight of samples and immediately realized that this distillery is among the best of all those we’ve ventured to these past two summers. Not only does his use of rare woods make this special, the time and effort in his distilling shines through thoroughly which is particularly evident in his vodka. Neutral spirits such as vodka cannot hide distilling flaws or shortcuts given its not aged or flavored to mask any imperfections. No worries for this distillery. The vodka was magnificent and the quality is present in all of their spirits.
As a bonus, within the same building, was the Bucks County Brewery which we had not anticipated. Tasting samples of Hewn’s spirts was enough alcohol for being on a motorcycle so we just took a chance by bringing home a Growler of their Chuicy Chowie Wowie IPA. This was a very fruit forward citrusy flavor with lingering hops. Thumbs up to this brewery, a job well done. Perhaps someday we’ll return to sample more.
The Hewn distillery also has a store located within Peddler’s Village in New Hope, Pennsylvania and so we thought we’d find out what this Peddler’s Village was all about. Just eight miles would have us pulling into the area, a 42 acre shopping mall development put together by the late Earl Jamison. Mr. Jamison traveled regularly to Carmel, California in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. He became inspired to recreate a specialty shopping village back in his own county and in 1962, Peddler’s Village opened with 14 shops. Today, with over 60 shops, the village still exudes its Carmel, California influence with its very convincing old world style. It was convincing enough to make us believe it was a renovated town from the 19th century until we learned it only dated back to 1962. An unfortunate discovery since it meant we were older than the village ourselves! Wines, spirits, clothing, pubs and more populated every row and corner with brick pathways leading you through the lush green lawns and gardens. The most intriguing place for me was the “What’s In A Name” shop which housed dozens upon dozens of authentic antique maps from the 19th century, along with globes and other artifacts. Their specialty service is helping people discover their family’s history.
After some lunch, it was time to head back north as the days now are growing shorter. We also had the need to get that Growler of beer in the fridge soon as well. We’re not done yet with 2018, but the weather will soon work against us and our list of distilleries and wineries within a day’s trip reach grow smaller with each trip. Soon it’s going to be time to let the battery tender spend all the time with the bike while we watch the snow fall. During those days it’ll be my desire to come up with a new riding theme for 2019 with hopes to use our motorcycle camper to extend our trips and stories.