Friday, October 17, 2014

Beer News You Can Use, 10/17/2014




Another summertime casualty of my crushing book research workload was the weekly news update that I put in front of you each week. They tended to be the second most popular item here at The Brew Lounge behind the unstoppable beer events calendar.

I don't claim to have the early scoop on all beer-related news, so as we head into the weekend I'm going to begin once again sharing with you some of the significant beer news stories of the past week. If it didn't occur during the past week, perhaps it came to me in my meanderings around the beer world in the past week. Considering that major beer news typically doesn't break after, say, lunch on Fridays, I'll test this weekly feature out beginning here at 1 p.m. on Fridays. That gives me a last-minute chance to add anything that may pop on Friday morning.

The news will generally focus on the Philadelphia area first and reaching out as news seems interesting to a broader audience.

Also, as a new feature, if a beer "spoke" to me during the past week, I'll include some snippets of what it said.

Beer "of the week"
Drinking beers from Breckenridge Brewery in Colorado reminds me of being introduced to them back in the 1992-1993 timeframe. They're still around and doing gangbusters representing the "craft" segment well.

They have "Autumn Ale" that you can still get your hands on at some stores in the next few weeks. Clocking in at 6.7% ABV, it certainly makes for a perfect after-rakin' beer, as they say, or a late night firepit beer. Speaking of fires, at the dinner table, the Autumn Ale will do well with a plate of grilled steak and cheddar potatoes.

It has a solid malt backbone with a touch of chocolate and caramel offset with just a slight spicy hop note. It has barely a medium body weight, making it an easy-to-drink and perfect fall beer.

Openings
Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing Company in the former of home of Flying Fish Brewing Company in Cherry Hill, NJ. Brigantessa with an interesting lineup of drafts, bottles, and cans in the Philly's hot-stays-hot Passyunk neighborhood. And, Parkway Corner Deli in my former Fairmount home. All now open and serving up our favorite beverage.

Coming Soon
2nd Story Brewing Company opens on Monday, October 21 in the former home of Triumph in Philadelphia's Old City neighborhood.

Closures
Mount Holly, NJ
    An early entrant on the NJ craft beer scene, ten-year-old High Street Grill announced its closure. [PhillyMag/Foobooz]

Moves
Philadelphia, Pa.
    Nodding Head announced a move of its fifteen-year-old original brewpub location on Sansom Street in Philadelphia. Destination TBA. [Jack Curtin/Liquid Diet Online]

Major Announcements
    Not long after announcing the intention to open a brewery operation in Berlin, Germany, Stone Brewing Company finally settled on Richmond, Va. for its East Coast operations in the United States. [Stone Brewing Company]

Significant Releases
Boulevard, Captain Lawrence, and Hardywood Park are all new to southeastern Pennsylvania in October; I wrote some bits about them at this link. The next big thing? How does the annual release of Tröegs Mad Elf sound?

Upcoming Events
Pottstown, Pa.
    Meeting of the Malts at Sly Fox's brewery has the makings of an excellent event to both learn and taste. [Sly Fox Brewing Company]



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: October 16 - October 22

Need a few dozen beer events in your life to choose from in the next seven days? Your bar and brewery friends around Philly aim to please. Enjoy!

When you plan for beer events, don't forget PhillyTapFinder.com. They continue to host an impressive listing of beer event draft lists to help better inform your beer event planning.

Click through here for a look at the full monthly calendar of beer events around the Philadelphia region.

Adamstown, Pa.
Sun. 10/19; 12 p.m. - Okotberfest @Stoudts Brewing Company ($8 admission + $PAYG for beer, live German music, dancing, and authentic German food.)

Conshohocken, Pa.
Thu. 10/16 - Conshohocken Brewery Tap Takeover @Southern Cross Kitchen ($PAYG for beer carefully selected and brewed by the Conshohocken Brewery.)
Sat. 10/18; 12 p.m.-5 p.m. - Conshohocken Beer Fest @A.A. Garthwaite Stadium ($10-$65 for an afternoon of special brews, food trucks, live music, backyard games, and more.)

Downingtown/Parkesburg, Pa.
Sat. 10/18 - Parkesburg Brewery Tour @Victory Brewing Company ($58 for a chartered bus trip, tour, and Victory beer experience with food, beer, and a behind the scenes look at the Parkesburg brewery.)

Easton, Pa.
Wed. 10/22; 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. - La Trappe '22' Tasting @Maxim's 22 ($PAYG for eleven La Trappe beers on tap.)

Hulmeville, Pa.
Thu. 10/16 - ALS Fundraiser @Hulmeville Inn ($PAYG to win a basket of rare beers. We will donate proceeds from a special half keg of beer.)

Lafayette Hill, Pa.
Thu. 10/16 through Sat. 10/18; 7 p.m. - Tasting Menu for the Rena Rowan Breast Center @Barren Hill Tavern & Brewery ($30 for a three-course tasting menu featuring Free Will collaboration Saison de Rose, Yards Pynk, and Weyerbacher Althea. Proceeds from each dinner sold will be donated to the Saison de Rose Fund at the Rena Rowen Breast Center at University of Penn.)

Lancaster, Pa.
Thu. 10/16; 5:30 p.m. - Dogfish Head Ancient Ales Dinner @Hunger N Thirst ($40 for four small plates of food paired with four of Dogfish Head's Ancient Ales.)

Malvern, Pa.
Tue. 10/21; 3 p.m. - Cezanne Release @McKenzie Brew House ($PAYG for the Cezanne barrel-aged sour release. Draft at 3 p.m. and $15 bottles released at 5 p.m. 300 bottles available.)

Media, Pa.
Sat. 10/18; 1 p.m.-5 p.m. - Brewhouse of Horrors @Iron Hill ($PAYG for a pumpkin multi-tap.)

Newtown, Pa.
Sat. 10/18 - Pumpkinfest @Isaac Newton's ($PAYG for no less than eight pumpkin ales while also tapping additional selections throughout the afternoon.)

Newark, Del.
Mon. 10/20; 6:30 p.m. - Beer Dinner @Two Stones Pub ($TBD for a pairing of great food and beers.)

Norristown, Pa.
Fri. 10/17 through Sun. 10/19 - 40th Anniversary Celebration Weekend @Capone's ($PAYG for the best draft line up of very limited drafts that we have ever had.)


Philadelphia, Pa.
Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays in October - Brewery of the Month @Old Eagle Tavern ($PAYG to enjoy month-long specials on beers from Free Will.)
Thu. 10/16; 4 p.m. - Anniversary Party @Barcade ($PAYG for a night of third anniversary party activities and beers. More details to come.)
Thu. 10/16; 5 p.m.-9 p.m. - Pop-Up Beer Garden at Mayfair Third Thursdays Night Market @Cottman and Frankford Avenues ($PAYG as Grey Lodge stocks the beer garden for the last monthly community gathering in Mayfair for 2014.)
Thu. 10/16; 7 p.m. - Harvest Beer Dinner @Manayunk Brewing Company ($55 for an intimate five-course Chef's tasting menu each paired with unique beers selected by our brewers.)
Fri. 10/17; 4 p.m.-6 p.m. - Friday Night Tasting @Bell Beverage ($Free tasting samples of beers from Firestone Walker.)
Fri. 10/17; 6 p.m.-9 p.m. - Ballantine IPA Night @Grey Lodge ($Free samples + $PAYG for the "retro" IPA.)
Fri. 10/17; 6 p.m.-12 a.m. - Sixpoint Showcase @Johnny Brenda's ($PAYG for loads of rad Sixpoint brews on tap including old favorites and limited brews. Sixpoint rep, Jersey Dan, and DJ Beckerlicious will be spinning records.)
Fri. 10/17; 5 p.m.-10 p.m. - Dumbledore's Dubbel Beer Release @Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant ($PAYG in conjunction with Chestnut Hill's Harry Potter weekend we will be releasing our mahogany ale brewed in honor of the fallen Albus Dumbledore. Take the magic home with Bottled Reserves of Dumbledore's Dubbel.)
Sat. 10/18; 12 p.m.-6 p.m. - Brew Fair @900 Block of North 27th Street ($14.99+ for dozens of beer from breweries. Food from seven of Philly's best food trucks, and music from Aaron & The Spell, The Philly Reggae Band, Everhart, Dirt Dirt, and more.)
Sat. 10/18; 12 p.m.-6 p.m. - Thirstoberfest @Memphis Taproom ($PAYG for more than 25 flagship and limited release beers from our favorite local and stateside craft breweries along with a few super rare international goodies.)
Sat. 10/18; 6 p.m.-10 p.m. - East Falls House Party @The East Fall House ($35-$40 for a special evening of food, drink, song, and history.)
Sun. 10/19; 12 p.m. - Breast Brunch Ever @Amis ($TBD for a brunch, featuring Pynk, benefiting The Tyanna Foundation for breast cancer awareness and research.)
Sun. 10/19 - Savage Sixtel Sunday Bye Week Edition @Kite & Key ($PAYG for some of our most prized barrels. List to be announced just prior to tap time.)
Mon. 10/20; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. - Bottle Shop Happy Hour @Local 44 Bottle Shop ($Free samples of beer from Victory Brewing.)
Wed. 10/22; 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. - Witch Craft Beer Crawl @bars around Passyunk Avenue ($6.66 + $PAYG as participating bars & restaurants include: Adobe Cafe, Birra, Brigantessa, Cantina los Caballitos, Garage, Lucky 13, Noir, Pub on Passyunk East, Ray's Happy Birthday Bar, South Philly Bar & Grill, Stateside, Stogie Joe's, and The Bottle Shop.)
Wed. 10/22; 7 p.m.-9 p.m. - Lew Bryson Tasting Whiskey Friends & Family Book Launch @Grey Lodge ($PAYG as Lew Bryson will have copies to sell and sign of his new book Tasting Whiskey. We will have flights of whiskey and a whiskey barrel-aged beer or two on tap.)

Phoenixville, Pa.
Fri. 10/17; 11:30 a.m. - Third Friday Firkin Fest @Sly Fox Brewing Company ($PAYG for a couple of Sly Fox firkins on the handpumps.)

Pottstown, Pa.
Tue. 10/21; 6 p.m. - Meeting of the Malts @Sly Fox Brewing Company ($60 as KYW news anchor, Paul Kurtz, moderates a panel of Brian O'Reilly, Bill Covaleski, Bill Moore, and fourth generation German-American Brewmaster Bill Moeller which will discuss the history of Pennsylvania lager. The audience will be treated to samples from breweries throughout the Commonwealth and various menu items.)

Reading, Pa.
Sun. 10/19 - PA Tap Takeover @Liberty Taproom ($PAYG for thirty beers from over twenty Pennsylvanian breweries.)

Wayne, Pa.
Tue. 10/21 - Firestone Walker Night @Teresa's Next Door ($PAYG for Pivo Pils, Pale 31, Union Jack, Double Jack, Stickee Monkee, and Agrestic.)

Westmont, NJ
Tue. 10/21; 6 p.m. - Southern Tier Pumking Event @The Pour House ($PAYG; Southern Tier Pumking from 2012, 2013, 2014, Warlock from 2013, 2014, Mokah 2014, and Choklat 2013.)



Friday, October 10, 2014

The rich get richer (there's a lot here to digest, but trust me it's Friday and you're thirsty for what follows)

The Philadelphia region has always been blessed to receive distribution of great beers from around the world that often don't find many other homes away from home. The list is long but has been known to include the likes of some of the most sought-after with limited distribution including Russian River and Cantillon to name just two.

This past week has seen a trifecta of great beer hitting the southeastern Pennsylvania market. Boulevard, Captain Lawrence, and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery.

Boulevard, hailing from Kansas City, has been all around the greater Philadelphia region for the past week showcasing its twenty-five-year history and numerous award-winning beers. I previewed them prior to the week's kickoff and then gave the event at Liberty Taproom in Berks County a little "social love" with a Facebook picture that you can see over here.

A couple of nice looking events in Philly remain from a free tasting (plus a Text-to-Win raffle) this afternoon from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Bell Beverage distributors and a showcase at a relatively new spot in South Philly on Moyamensing Avenue. The Bell Beverage event features free tastings. The South Philly event is cleverly called Boulevard on the Avenue and will feature an afternoon of Boulevard beer at Moonshine during the Crafts & Drafts Festival along with food, music, games, and prizes.

In the suburbs, the Pour House in Exton is hosting an Oysters & Brews event where Boulevard will be featured and Iron Abbey in Horsham puts on a Boulevard on Horsham event from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Today also sees Boulevard lining up plenty more free tastings across the region at Wegmans Marketplaces in Collegeville, Downingtown, King of Prussia, Malvern, Montgomeryville, and Warrington.

Also landing this week in the Philadelphia market is Hardywood Park from Richmond, Va. This is a brewery I shared with you a couple of years ago after discovering them on a trip to their turf.

I described them as: "...the top of the list when anyone asks me about Richmond...".

These guys seemed to be ready for big league action right out of the gate. The people and the location demonstrated it and, most importantly, the beer quality did as well.

Seems everyone raves about the award-winning Gingerbread Stout and justly so. I could spend all night, however, with the Belgian Singel, a wonderful Belgian Blonde. Every visit of mine to the DMV (that'd be DC, MD, and Virginia) area finds me in search of their bottles to return home with.

They've got a long laundry list of beers that you just can't go wrong with and I strongly encourage you to seek them out. For those of you that love your beer barrel-aged, they've got you covered in this regard as well. Richmond has had a solid beer scene for quite some time. Hardywood Park is helping to take the region to yet another level.

I'll use another day and space to go into detail of how Richmond just scored another significant notch in its lederhosen with the announcement that Stone Brewing Co. from California will be opening an East Coast operation along the beautifully scenic James River in downtown Richmond (across from Legend).

The last big announcement involves a small (or mid-ish?) size powerhouse from Westchester County New York (Elmsford, not far from White Plains and the Tappan Zee Bridge, to be exact): Captain Lawrence Brewing Company.

After years of personally tracking down their beers in NYC and northern New Jersey, the spectacular brewery will finally be coming to Pennsylvania in a wave release of their beers throughout the next couple of quarters. For those of you that track the players in the game, rep Dan Conway has come over from Left Hand to work for Captain Lawrence spreading the liquid joy around the Philly region.

First up is the hallmark beer of theirs, Imperial IPA. But it was their Rosso e Marrone that first put owner Scott Vaccaro and his brewing crew on my map back in 2008. At the annual Belgium Comes To Cooperstown event at Brewery Ommegang, I declared it to be "...one of the more complex and very interesting with flavors of wood, wine, and Brett...A WOW! beer to be sure..."

Quickly thereafter, I came to learn more about the brewing talents at Captain Lawrence with Cuvee de Castleton, Golden Delicious, and Nor'easter. Those are just a few palate pleasers that we can look forward to seeing in some supply in the future. I'm looking forward to seeing more of their year-rounds as well, including Liquid Gold, Brown Bird, and Smoked Porter.

The rollout begins with Imperial IPA in October, the Smoked Porter in November, and the IPA in December. According to the press release "More styles, including rare and exclusive barrel-aged bottles, will enter the market in early 2015".

Hold on tightly my thirsty friends. If you've not experienced any of these beers, you're in for a treat. And, if 2015 is anything like 2014, we're in for a wild ride around the Philly parts.

Cheers!


Thursday, October 09, 2014

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: October 9 - October 15

By the end of October, the pumpkins and Oktoberfests will be a distant memory as "Christmas"/winter beers begin filling the retail shelves and tap handles. Until then, here's what you can expect over the next seven days to hold your interest during this lovely fall season.

When you plan for beer events, don't forget PhillyTapFinder.com. They continue to host an impressive listing of beer event draft lists to help better inform your beer event planning.

Click through here for a look at the full monthly calendar of beer events around the Philadelphia region.

Adamstown, Pa.
Sun. 10/12; 12 p.m. - Okotberfest @Stoudts Brewing Company ($8 admission + $PAYG for beer, live German music, dancing, and authentic German food.)

Bethlehem, Pa.
Fri. 10/10 through Sun. 10/12 - Oktoberfest @SteelStacks ($Free admission + $PAYG for a variety of activities and pricing options. See website for all the details.)

Cherry Hill, NJ
Sat. 10/11; 12 p.m. - Grand Opening @Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing Company ($PAYG for eight drafts on tap, retail beer to go, food trucks, and brewery tours.)

Conshohocken, Pa.
Mon. 10/13 through Fri. Oct. 17 - Pumpkin and Seasonal Tap Takeover with Pumpkin Tapas Menu @Gypsy Saloon ($PAYG for many specially-featured beers fitting the theme rotating each day including Terrapin Pumpkin Pie Porter, Southern Tier Pumking '13, Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin, Dogfish Punkin', Conshohocken Brewery Chocolate Crush Imperial Porter, and more.)
Tue. 10/14 - Beer and Ice Cream Pairings @Southern Cross Kitchen ($PAYG for Victory ice creams with Golden Monkey, Storm King, and HopDevil.)
Wed. 10/15 - Goose Island Beer Dinner and A La Carte Menu @Southern Cross Kitchen ($PAYG for Rambler IPA, Matilda, Ogden Belgian Tripel, Oktoberfest, and Muddy Imperial Stout paired with special plates of food.)
Wed. 10/15; 12 p.m. - Victory Tappening @Fingers Wings and Other Things ($PAYG for a full lineup of beers from Victory Brewing.)

Ewing, NJ
Fri. 10/10; 7 p.m.-10 p.m. - Oktoberfest @River Horse Brewing Company ($17 + $PAYG for a German-themed night with awesome beer, food and entertainment.)

Horsham, Pa.
Thu. 10/9; 5 p.m.-8 p.m. - Round Guys Tap Takeover @Anthony's Coal-fired Pizza ($PAYG for a handful of drafts of well crafted, Round Guys Beer.)
Fri. 10/10; 7 p.m. - Oak-aged Abbatia Bottle Release @Iron Abbey ($PAYG for an exclusive limited release.)
Wed. 10/15; 7 p.m.-9 p.m. - Firestone Walker Beer Dinner @Iron Abbey ($60 for a five-course meal served with Oaktoberfest, Pivo Hoppy Pils, Double Jack IPA, Velvet Merkin, and Agrestic Ale.)

Hulmeville, Pa.
Thu. 10/9; 7 p.m. - Weyerbacher Tap Takeover @Hulmeville Inn ($PAYG for Jesters Tree, Black & Orange, Double Simcoe, a cask of Imperial Pumpkin, and others.)

Kennett Square, Pa.
Sat. 10/11; 12 p.m.-6 p.m. - Kennett Brewfest ($15-$70 for an opportunity to sample some of the best regional and national craft beers accompanied by great food, great music, and great people.)

Kennett Square, Pa., Newark, Del., and Wilmington, Del.
Sun. 10/12; 12 p.m.  - Breast Brunch Ever @all Two Stones Pubs ($TBD for a brunch, featuring Pynk, benefiting The Tyanna Foundation for breast cancer awareness and research.)

Media, Pa.
Thu. 10/9; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. - Hardywood Debut @Pinocchio's ($PAYG for a lineup of bottles and a draft from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, Va.)

Paoli, Pa.
Thu. 10/9; 4 p.m.-8 p.m. - Beer and Barbecue @TJ's, ($PAYG for an extended happy hour with Boulevard beers 80 Acre, Single Wide, Pop Up, and Tank 7 and special barbecue dishes from TJ's kitchen.)

Philadelphia, Pa.
Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays in October - Brewery of the Month @Old Eagle Tavern ($PAYG to enjoy month-long specials on beers from Free Will.)
Thu. 10/9; 4:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. - Anniversary Party @Earth Bread + Brewery ($PAYG for 9+ house beers on tap including Perkuno's Hammer and Sycon. Plus, a special Weavers Way flatbread.)
Thu. 10/9; 5 p.m.-7 p.m. - Boulevard at The Franklin @DiBruno Bros. ($PAYG to pair DiBruno's famous cheese and charcuterie plates with beer samples from Boulevard.)
Thu. 10/9; 6 p.m. - Hardywood Brewing Tap Invasion @The Bishop's Collar ($PAYG for Hardywood Park Craft Brewery's Single, Gingerbread Stout, Bohemian Pils, Great Return, Farmhouse Pumpkin Saison, Virginia Blackberry Wit, and Bourbon Double IPA.)
Thu. 10/9; 7 p.m.-9 p.m. - Beer & BBQ @Fette Sau ($PAYG for boxes of house-made caramel popcorn, seasoned with house rub, and tins of smoked almonds — complimentary with the purchase of your first Boulevard beer.)
Fri. 10/10; 4 p.m.-6 p.m. - Friday Night Tasting @Bell Beverage ($Free tasting samples of beers from Boulevard Brewing Company. Be sure to enter the Text-to-Win raffle.)
Fri. 10/10; 4 p.m. - Hardywood @City Tap House ($PAYG for a Friday happy hour with a bunch of awesome beers, Hardywood's owner and brewmaster in the house, and some honky Tonkin music from Cask & Co.)
Fri. 10/10; 5 p.m.-7 p.m. - Beer Sampling @Bottles Packs and Growlers ($Free tasting samples of beers from Traveler.)
Fri. 10/10; 6 p.m.-9 p.m. - Penn Brewery Fall Trifecta @Grey Lodge ($PAYG for Penn Brewery's Harvest Rye Pale Ale, Oktoberfest, and Pumpkin Roll. Some Oktoberfest specials from the kitchen as well.)
Fri. 10/10; 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. - Beer and Cheese Pairing @Philly Beer School ($47.98 for the ultimate class on beer and cheese pairings.)
Fri. 10/10 through Mon. 10/13; 7 p.m. - Dinner, Beer, and A Movie @Old Eagle Tavern ($PAYG for Game of Thrones on the TV, Ommegang's show-inspired Game of Thrones beers in the glass, dinner fare inspired by the show, and Game of Thrones/Ommegang giveaways all weekend long.)
Sat. 10/11; 12 p.m.-4 p.m. - Packin’' Pumpkin @Iron Hill ($PAYG for eight pumpkin beers and a special menu of fall flavors.)
Sat. 10/11; 1 p.m.-5 p.m. - Boulevard on the Avenue @Moonshine Bar ($PAYG as Boulevard beers will be flowing during the Crafts & Drafts Festival. Little Baby s Ice Cream, Elixr Coffee and Smak Parlour Fashion Truck, will be on hand to showcase and sell their wares and New Sound Brass Band will be delivering the tunes. Prizes and raffles galore, too.)
Sun. 10/12; 12 p.m. - Second Release of Walker @Dock Street Brewing Company ($PAYG for brunch, beer, Walker bottle sales, and the day culminating with a screening of the Season 5 premiere on the brewery s 120 projector.)
Sun. 10/12; 1 p.m. - Pumpkin Smash @City Tap House ($PAYG for over 35 pumpkin brews on tap. Your first beer is complimentary with the purchase of our $10 keepsake tasting glass. Live music by MJ Trio.)
Mon. 10/13; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. - Bottle Shop Happy Hour @Local 44 Bottle Shop ($Free samples of beer from Port Brewing/Lost Abbey.)
Tue. 10/14; 7 p.m. - Ancient Brewer Dinner @Monk’s Café ($TBD for a meal served with beers co-brewed with legendary owner of Home Sweet Homebrew, George Hummel. Dock Street Trappiste Blonde, Dogfish Head Giotto's Blues, Iron Hill Tripel w/toasted coconut, Nodding Head George's Fault, Stewart's White IPA, and Yards' Brown Ale.)
Wed. 10/15; 5 p.m. - Hop Harvest Party @Strangelove's ($PAYG for a mega list of fresh wet-hopped beers from both coasts (and between) — rounded out with our favorite seasonal specialties.)
Wed. 10/15; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. - Local Brewery Feature Night @Renaissance Hotel-Airport ($PAYG for Flying Fish beer feature night.)
Wed. 10/15; 7 p.m.-9 p.m. - U Buy The Glass Event @The Abbaye ($PAYG for an Oktoberfest-themed glass giveaway night.)
Wed. 10/15; 7 p.m. - Pumpkin Fest @Bainbridge Street Barrel House ($PAYG for the Great Pumpkin Tap Takeover.)

Swarthmore, Pa.
Tue. 10/14; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. - Barrel-aged Series @320 Market Cafe ($PAYG to meet River Horse brewery owner Chris Walsh and enjoy Hipp-O-Lantern Imperial Pumpkin Ale and our brand new IPA.)

Voorhees, NJ
Sat. 10/11; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. - Out of the Gourdinary @Iron Hill ($PAYG for a multi-tap devoted to your favorite gourd.)

Wayne, Pa.
Tue. 10/14; 7 p.m.-9 p.m. - Tröegs Beer Dinner @Black Powder Tavern ($50 for a four-course meal served with LaGrave, Scratch #157 Oktoberfest, Dreamweaver Wheat, Troeganator, and Java Head Stout.)

West Chester, Pa.
Fri. 10/10; 4 p.m.-7 p.m. - Friday Night Beer Tasting @Goshen Beverage ($Free tasting samples of beers from Long Trail.)

Westmont, NJ
Thu. 10/9; 6 p.m. - Firkin Launch Party @Pour House ($PAYG for a firkin, a randall, and a draft tower lineup of Dogfish Head beers.)



Tuesday, October 07, 2014

More fun stuff from GABF 2014

Another Great American Beer Festival (GABF) has wrapped and the judging results are officially in the books.

You may have seen me with live updates throughout the ceremony this past Saturday bringing you the winners from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania as they were called to the stage. For the record, here's a link to the final list of those winners.

It was a fast and frantic pace trying to keep up for almost three hours, plus some quick social media commentary that I added along the way. Below are some other quick scribble notes that I made along the way during the awards ceremony on Saturday that I found interesting.

In no particular order...

- Leading up to GABF, Peggy Zwerver from Earth Bread + Brewery mentioned to me that it was the first ever GABF entry for husband/brewer/business partner Tom Baker -- including his days at Heavyweight Brewing Company in Ocean, NJ. He took gold for the storied and excellent Perkuno's Hammer in the Baltic-style Porter category of 42 entries. The beer dates back to his days at the lauded Heavyweight.

- In my preview posting for GABF last week, I noted (not all that boldly, admittedly) that there'd be someone from the "...new brewers...continue to fill in the landscape..." to go home with a medal. In Pennsylvania, Four Seasons surely fit that description as they held off 54 other entries and grabbed a silver medal for its Darkside of the Pint in the Oatmeal Stout category. I covered it in my forthcoming book and described it with "...A well-made oatmeal stout is not a common enough occurrence. This one makes the cut..."

- Also, I mentioned that it would be a complete shock if a perennial winner like "...Iron Hill's Russian Imperial Stout or ones from Tröegs such as Sunshine Pils or Troegenator..." didn't make the grade. The Troegenator saved me as it snagged yet another gold in the bock category to add to its impressive resume.

- I also covered Kane Brewing Company from Ocean, NJ in my book and featured A Night To End All Dawns. I referred to it as "...rich aromas and flavors of bourbon, chocolate, raisins, vanilla, and coffee. An experience worth sharing with others." and the judges seemed to agree, bestowing a gold medal upon it in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout category with 109 total entries.

- Each year, particularly since they began canning it for distribution, I've sung the praises of Sly Fox's Grisette. I couldn't be more happy for them, and a bit validated as well, as they scored a gold medal for it in the Belgian- and French-Style Ale category.

- I've drunk Devils Backbone for quite a few years now and their continued strong showing insists that I pay them a visit in 2015.

- I appreciate how "old reliables" can continue to fare well in competitions. In 2014, see Boulevard Zon, Heavy Seas Gold, Left Hand Milk Stout, Ommegang Witte, Shiner Bock, and Victory Golden Monkey as a handful of examples.

- Two of the most polarizing beers, and two that I truly really enjoy — DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus! (bronze-Chocolate Beer, 44 entries) and High Water Campfire Stout (gold-Specialty Beer, 47 entries) — took home justified medals as deftly-balanced beers showcasing "unusual" flavors.

- Speaking of old reliables, Alaskan Smoked Porter continues its world dominance with another bronze added to its medal wall.

- A favorite of mine from coast-to-coast, the under-recognized Telegraph Reserve Wheat may not be so under-recognized for much longer. It was awarded a well-deserved gold medal in German-style Sour Ales, a rapidly growing category this year with 80 entries. Picked up a case from The Beer Yard last month. Drinks well now; ages quite nicely too. Send more, please.

- Bronze and Silver may have played out as expected in the Imperial IPA category with Russian River Pliny The Elder and Port Brewing Hop 15, respectively, wearing those medals. However, catching many by surprise was the Columbus Brewing Company's Creeper which, well, crept up and took a gold medal back to Columbus, Ohio over those two beers and 132 others.

- Not content to be a surprise in the Imperial IPA category, Columbus also took a bronze for American-style IPA behind Half Acre's Heyoka in Illinois, and Breakside IPA from Oregon.

- Of the 21 states with at least one medal winner in a German/Eastern European-based style, only five states were in the northeast, long thought to be the province of solidly-made beers in these categories.

- Exemplifying this condition, take the German-style Pilsener category. This year, Tröegs Sunshine Pils (2013 bronze, 2012 and 2011 silver, 2009 bronze) took a back seat to defending gold medal winner Pivo Pils from Firestone Walker, silver medal winner Russian River STS Pils, and bronze medal winner from Wiseacre Tiny Bomb from Memphis, Tennessee. Mention FW and RR and my hunch is hop bombs and barrel-aging will be mentioned long before Pilsners.

- Likewise, the Vienna-style Lager category, typically listing east-coast states such as Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Virginia amongst the best, this year showed Figueroa Mountain from California and Platt Park from Colorado atop of the judging results of 48 entries.

- And no one below, say North Carolina, really gets into making big stouts, really good big stouts, right? Well, in 2014 a Denton, Texas brewery (Armadillo Ale Works, just north of Dallas) took gold in Imperial Stout for its Quakertown beer and Pinthouse Pizza Craft Brewpub took bronze in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout category for its Jaguar Shark all the way down in Austin, Texas. Now that's weird!

- On one last note, how about some of the favorite beer names in the competition? Dogfish Head Choc Lobster or Columbus Creeper or Old Town I'd Like to Buy the World a Kolsch or Lion Bridge Workman's Compensation (in English-style Mild category) or MobCraft Batshit Crazy (in Coffee Stout category) or Bottle Logic Lagerithm for the mathematician in some of us.

I'm sure I could dig up some more interesting relationships/observations of interest, but I'll leave it to the Brewers Association, which continues each year to impress with its own level of analytics. Check out their page for more statistical breakdown.

Until next year, get out there and enjoy an ever widening world of great beer. Cheers!


Saturday, October 04, 2014

List of 2014 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) winners in DE / MD / NJ / PA

Depending upon when you read this, the title might be a bit of a gotchya. If you're reading this before dinnertime on Saturday, Oct. 4, the list may not be complete. (Though, it may also depend upon when you consider dinnertime.)

Nonetheless, as the annual awards are doled out at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver today, I will keep as real-time as possible updated list of winners from what my upcoming book (pre-order plug) will cover: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware.

The festival and concurrent judging is bigger than ever. And, with an industry sporting more brewers with more beers than ever, the competition has never been greater. During the three-day festival, the organizers at Brewers Association estimate roughly 49,000 attendees will cross the convention center floor to visit nearly 800 breweries and their 3,500+ beers. 5,507 beers from every state are being judged by around 222 judges who are tasked to award medals in 90 categories. Good luck to all and enjoy the post parties.

Delaware
   Silver
       Indigenous/Regional Beer — Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, Choc Lobster, Rehoboth Beach
       Pumpkin Beer — Dominion Brewing Company, Spiced Harvest, Dover


Maryland
   Gold
       Smoke Beer — Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, Rauchbier, Annapolis

   Silver
       American-Belgo-Style Ale — Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, Belgian IPA, Rockville
       German-style Sour Ale — Union Craft Brewing Company, Old Pro Gose, Baltimore

   Bronze
       Chocolate Beer — DuClaw Brewing Company, Sweet Baby Jesus!, Rosedale
       Golden or Blonde Ale — Heavy Seas Beer, Gold, Halethorpe


New Jersey
   Gold
       Classic English-Style Pale Ale — Flying Fish Brewing Company, HopFish, Somerdale
       Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout — Kane Brewing Company, A Night To End All Dawns, Ocean

   Silver
       Extra Special Bitter — Flying Fish Brewing Company, RedFish, Somerdale
       Belgian-style Tripel — Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Bedotter, Maple Shade


Pennsylvania
   Gold
       Baltic-style Porter — Earth Bread + Brewery, Perkuno's Hammer, Philadelphia
       Old Ale or Strong Ale — Fegley's Brew Works, Artic Alchemy, Allentown
       Belgian- and French-style Ale — Sly Fox Brewing Company, Grisette, Pottstown
       Bock — Tröegs Brewing Company, Troegenator, Hershey
       Belgian-style Tripel — Victory Brewing Company, Golden Monkey, Downingtown

   Silver
       Oatmeal Stout — Four Seasons Brewing Company, Dark Side Of The Pint, Latrobe
       Rye Beer — Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Rye Of The Tiger, Media

   Bronze
       Belgian- and French-style Ale — Barren Hill Tavern & Brewery, Barren Hill Biere de Extra, Lafayette Hill
       German-style Sour Ale — Fegley's Brew Works, Berliner Weiss, Allentown
       English-Style India Pale Ale — Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Burton IPA, Media
       Bock — Triumph Brewing Company, Winterbock, New Hope
       Historical Beer — Yards Brewing Company, Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce, Philadelphia



Friday, October 03, 2014

The Boulevard of Happy Dreams



Check another brewery off my travel list. Over the years, countless breweries from outside the northeast accompanied me aboard planes (even growlers back in those glorious days gone by of carrying clinking bottles and growlers on to a plane) or, in recent years, tucked somewhat lovingly — not to mention, carefully — into checked luggage.

Breweries not distributed in the northeast like Cigar City, Deschutes, and New Belgium, just to name a very few, have wound up in my home cooler for later enjoyment with family or friends. Captain Lawrence soon will be another. I wouldn't be surprised if someday I'll be able to add Jester King to the list.

Boulevard Brewing Company is likewise now checked off the list of breweries that I can't find on store shelves in the northeast as this coming week marks a big push by the midwestern brewery out of Kansas City and its local Philadelphia distributor, Muller Inc.

Helping to fuel the growth and distribution of Boulevard is the sale to Duvel Moortgat in 2013, bringing the brewery under the family umbrella with another U.S. brewing powerhouse, Brewery Ommegang in New York, also distributed by Muller around the Philadelphia region.

And this is a very good thing.

For years, when traveling in the south and midwest, particularly Texas, I'd keep an eye open for any beers from Boulevard. I knew that I could always count on the refreshing Unfiltered Wheat Beer (4.4% ABV) and ZŌN Witbier (also 4.4% ABV). The former is a straight-ahead, easy-drinking wheat beer described as the "best-selling craft beer in the midwest" and the latter is a lightly fruity and spicy (orange and coriander) limited summer beer that goes great with salads and shellfish. ZŌN fares well at the annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF) — which coincidentally unveils the 2014 winners tomorrow — winning two gold and two bronze medals in the last five years.

The Smokestack Series is an impressive lineup of both regular and limited beers that pay homage to interestingly diverse ingredients and flavors as well as the smokestack that looms over the brewery.

The Sixth Glass is a 10.5% Quadrupel that goes equally great with barbecue or rich chocolate desserts. Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale (8.5% Saison/Farmhouse with a citrus hop, pepper spice, and dry finish) and Saison-Brett (an 8.5% dry-hopped version of Tank 7 finished in the bottle with Brettanomyces for three months) are the two that have come home the most with me from road trips that I could not be more thrilled to see around Philly hopefully on a regular basis. I should also thank the powers-that-be for the special delivery package that allowed me to confirm that these beers are still as good as I've recalled them.

One day, I'm sure I'll make it to Kansas City and have an opportunity to visit the hundred-year-old building that founder John McDonald built his "vintage Bavarian brewhouse" inside in 1989, growing it to a 100-employee operation distributing beer in some portion of nearly thirty states and the District of Columbia. It's still a brewery with a tasting room; no pub operation, just turning out great beer to an ever widening and appreciative audience.

Here are some places around the greater Philly area where you can find Boulevard (and McDonald) and Muller showcasing the beers during the next week.

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Event descriptions from the press release:

Boulevard & BBQ in Berks
Liberty Taproom in nearby Reading, PA officially kicks off On the Boulevard with a nod to the Midwestern brewery’s roots. Kansas City-style BBQ dishes will come fast and hot out of the kitchen and Boulevard beers will take over the taps.

When: Monday, October 6, 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Where: Liberty Taproom, 237 Prospect Street, Exeter, PA 19606
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Industry Night with Lo Spiedo
Marc Vetri’s highly-anticipated new venture at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Lo Spiedo, will take over Amis for one magical night. The bar will serve Boulevard draft beers and Chef Scott Calhoun will prepare a special menu for the occasion.

When: Monday, October 6, 10 p.m. until 2 a.m.

Where: Amis Trattoria, 412 South 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
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Midwestern Hospitality with Boulevard & MTR Food Truck
The fine folks at Memphis Taproom are transforming their festive backyard into a Kansas City-style beer garden featuring BBQ Platters from Chef Jesse Kimball, served from Taproom’s famous food truck -- and tastings of Boulevard beers.

When: Tuesday, October 7, 6 p.m. until 10 p.m.
Rain date is Wednesday, October 8

Where: Memphis Taproom, 2331 East Cumberland Street, Philadelphia, PA 19125
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Boulevard on the Back Porch
The back patio at the Spinnerstown Hotel will become the hottest spot in the suburbs, pairing a special “sweet, spicy and sticky” barbecue menu with Boulevard beers for a tap takeover. This is a pay-as-you-go event.

When: Wednesday, October 8, 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Where: Spinnerstown Hotel, 2195 Spinnerstown Road, Spinnerstown, PA 18968
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Boulevard Backyard BBQ at Barren Hill
Head brewer Scott Morrison turns over selected taps to his new friends from Missouri in a collaborative night filled with craft brews and barbecue at Barren Hill. You can pay-as-you-go or purchase a $25 ticket ahead of the event. Featured pairings include: 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat with Baby Back Ribs; Tank 7 with Pepper Glazed Wings; Single-Wide IPA with Pulled Pork Sandwich; Pop-Up Session IPA with Slow-Cooked Smoked Brisket.

When: Wednesday, October 8, 7 p.m.

Where: Barren Hill Tavern & Brewery, 646 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, PA 19444
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Boulevard at The Franklin
The Culinary Pioneers over at DiBruno Brothers plan to welcome Boulevard to Philadelphia in the most delicious – and brotherly-loved -- way possible by pairing their famous Cheese & Charcuterie plates with beer samples. DiBruno’s expert cheesemongers will be on hand to help guide guests through pairing principles.

When: Thursday, October 9, 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Where: The Franklin, 834 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19139
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Beer & BBQ at Fette Sau
Kansas City has been called the Paris of the Midwest, thanks to sweeping boulevards, pristine fountains and a carefree attitude. Embrace the spirit of Kansas City at Fette Sau! Fishtown’s best barbecue joint will be offering boxes of house-made caramel popcorn, seasoned with house rub, and tins of smoked almonds -- complimentary with the purchase of your first Boulevard beer.

When: Thursday, October 9, 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Where: Fette Sau, 1208 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19125
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Grilling & Chilling with Boulevard: Text-to-Win Raffle
Enter our Text-to-Win Raffle at Bell Beverage on Friday, October 10 – or enter the contest at any one of 10 participating bottle shops throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs on Tuesday, October 7. You must be present to enter the Text-to-Win Raffle. You don’t need to be present to win, but the winner can expect an extra special prize if he or she is present at Bell. Drawing is scheduled promptly for 6 p.m. The Grand Prize features a deluxe Weber Grill, $100 DiBruno’s gift certificate, “House of Cheese” by Tenaya Darlington, DiBruno’s apron, Boulevard brews and some other cool swag from the brewery. Boulevard beer samples will accompany delectable Cheese & Charcuterie plates from DiBruno Brothers. See complete events listings below for more information on participating bottle shops.

When: Friday, October 10, 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.

Where: Bell Beverage, 2809 South Front Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148
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Boulevard on the Avenue
Don’t miss the marquee event of the week! Boulevard, a company that prides itself on supporting neighborhood businesses, will shut down Sigel Street, outside Moonshine Bar, for a Crafts & Drafts Festival. In keeping with the spirit of Midwestern hospitality, some of Philadelphia’s favorite artisans, like Little Baby’s Ice Cream, Elixr Coffee and Smak Parlour Fashion Truck, will be on hand to showcase and sell their wares. Boulevard beers will be flowing all day, and guests will be dancing in the streets, jiving to the lively tunes from the New Sound Brass Band, with prizes and raffles galore.

When: Saturday, October 11, 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Where: Moonshine Bar, 1825 East Moyamensing Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19148

Don’t Miss These Other Exciting Events:

Monday, October 6
Boulevard on Rittenhouse Square, 5-7 p.m. at Tria Taproom (Philadelphia)
Beers & BBQ in Kennett Square, 6-8 p.m. at Two Stones Pub (Chester County)
Boulevard on University City, 6-8 p.m. at Local 44 (Philadelphia)

Tuesday, October 7
Boulevard Samplings, featuring DiBruno Bros. Charcuterie & Cheese
Enter Text-to-Win Raffle at these 10 selected bottle shops:
In Philadelphia … Bottle Bar East, 5-7 p.m.; Brew, 5-7 p.m.; Craft Beer Outlet, 5-7 p.m.; Food & Friends, 5-7 p.m. — no food, beer only; Parkway Corner Deli, 5-7 p.m.
In Montgomery County … Ardmore Beer Shoppe, 5-7 p.m.; Capone’s, 5-7 p.m.
In Delaware County … Pinocchio’s, 5-7 p.m.
In Bucks County … Southampton Beer Store, 5-7 p.m.
In Berks County … Mari’s 6 Pac, 5-7 p.m.

Thursday, October 9
Boulevard on Paoli Plaza, 4-6 p.m. at TJ’s Restaurant & Drinkery (Chester County)
Boulevard on West Chester Pike, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Whole Foods Glen Mills (Delaware County)
Boulevard on Germantown Pike, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Whole Foods Plymouth Meeting (Montgomery)

Friday, October 10
Boulevard in Chester County:
Beer Sampling, Wegmans Downingtown, 3-5 p.m.
Beer Sampling, Wegmans Malvern, 3-5 p.m.
Oysters & Brews, Pour House Exton, 5-7 p.m.

Boulevard in Montgomery County:
Beer Sampling, Wegmans Collegeville, 3-5 p.m.
Beer Sampling, Wegmans King of Prussia, 3-5 p.m.
Beer Sampling, Wegmans Montgomeryville, 3-5 p.m.
Boulevard on Horsham, Iron Abbey, 7-9 p.m.

Boulevard in Bucks County:
Beer Sampling, Wegmans Warrington, 3-5 p.m.