Sunday, October 30, 2005

Grey Lodge Pub in Philadelphia, PA

So, a funny thing happened on the way to Nodding Head Friday night! Adam and I went to the Grey Lodge Pub in Northeast Philly (Mayfair) instead. The original goal was to taste the last of the gold-medal winning "George's Fault" brewed by Nodding Head Brewery and inspired by George Hummel of Home Sweet HomeBrew. But, it struck us that maybe we should call before we drive all the way into Center City to fight for a parking spot. As we get to the Manayunk exit on the Schuylkill Expressway, we learn that the sixtel of George's Fault has already expired (tapped at 3pm). So, plan B......head up to Grey Lodge instead.......great decision!! It was a great decision because, for both us, it was the first time paying a visit to this beer destination. Also, across the region, Grey Lodge is known as a place to find beers on tap that you likely won't find in many other establishments. They also have a moderately impressive selection of bottled beer as well. Perhaps the most striking thing about this location is the fact that it's in the most unlikely of places. This isn't Center City....this isn't Old City.....this isn't Manayunk.....this isn't really a neighborhood where you'll find any tourists and, let's be honest, even people from the Philly area would admit venturing into. People of Mayfair please don't take that the wrong way; afterall, I grew up visiting my aunt and uncle on St. Vincent and walking "the boulevard" (Frankford Ave.) with my uncle and appreciate the area for what it is. But, I digress.... After scoring a great parking spot out front, Adam and I walked in and immediately started with Southampton Double White Ale. Although not quite as fully-rounded, complex, and delicious as the bottled version that I had from Beer Yard, this was still a very good beer with a noticable, yet understated, apricot nose. Adam picked up on this more than I did; I attributed that in part to what I thought was a smoky environment. Our second choice of beers was the cask-conditioned Flying Fish Grand Cru. The beer poured even more flat that we expected it to. And the taste itself was fairly unmemorable. What I do remember, though, is that it had a strong malty flavor upfront that disappeared quickly into a nondescript finish. That should be a reminder to me why I should be using my new leather bound pocket notebook to record my thoughts immediately. Hm, sorry Patty...(it was a gift from my wife). I'll use it better next time! Our second beer would've been our last, if it hadn't been for the subpar experience with the Flying Fish. So, our last beer now became the Cricket Hill Col. Blide's Bitter. Good move on our part :) Neither of us had experience with any of Cricket Hill's beers. It was a tough choice amongst some strong competition on the draft list.....Rogue, Brooklyn, Sly Fox.....and a couple handful of great bottles. But, we wanted to try something that we haven't seen much of before. This is a very drinkable beer, with moderate hop content balanced between bitter and floral (my comment), and a biscuity finish (Adam's comment). A few comments about the place itself. Apart from the average environs at Grey Lodge, the restrooms must be seen for the wall art. You'll know what we mean when you see it. Ah, nevermind, here's a picture! And, the upstairs has a bit of more relaxed scene, with tables and more loungy feel, than downstairs. The downstairs has two dartboards, a jukebox, an area for live music, and a typical bar scene. Sorry for the length....hope through all the words I made it clear that we enjoyed ourselves quite a bit in the 2 hours that we were there and will be headed back as soon as possible, and would recommend that you do the same!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Making Beer: Altbier...revisited

Ok...so I don't know if you read Bryan's post, but, after that I just had to taste the Alt again. There's something I need to keep in mind. The first pull from the keg is right from the bottom. This means you get all that yeasty and hoppy stuff that falls out of suspension in your first glass. Whoa! That first glass was bitter! The second glass was soooo different. I mean the bitterness was nowhere near the same level. It was much more balanced than the first glass. Mmmmm...Black Alt.

Brewing Beer: Misc - Kolsch, Altbier mmm, New Site

Yea got those homebrewing blues again. Maybe tonight I'll get the Kolsch into the secondary {shrug}. On another note, I am enjoying the Altbier more with every glass. Can't wait until Bryan can give his opinion. Will he pan it? Will he say..."Um...uhh...it's ok." :-) We'll see. By the way I just found this site called The Brew Site. Seems to feature lots of examples of beer types including seasonals. Some mention of brewing too, but, I didn't see many articles about that. I added it to our links section on the right. Check it out if you like the low key authentic beer lover style websites. Removed the Google Site Search. It didn't search the site anyway! Kept the Google ads to see how it works and juggled some of the stuff on the right sidebar around so the links and archives are higher.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

New York City Pub Tour : Stop #5; Burp Castle

Now things are on the upswing to finish out this Pub Tour through Manhattan :) It didn't take long to realize that Burp Castle was next door, so I finished my beer at Standings and we walked out the door and made a quick right turn into Burp Castle. I wish I had taken a picture of the exterior, because it really is very easy to walk on by and miss the front door....and walk into Standings....hm, sounds like I'm speaking from experience! They don't appear to have a website and I couldn't seem to track down any pictures online; but, in any case I've put up some interior pictures for you here. (p.s. I believe there is some type of "relationship" between Standings and Burp Castle, I just didn't ask and wasn't able to determine for sure) Ah, now this is better! Just take a look at the picture of one of the murals that line the walls here. It gives you a bit of an idea of the ambience of Burp Castle. Then, look at the tap list. One of the neat things about this place is the ambience. The size of the bar area was really not much different than Standings, but between the lighting, the murals, the woodwork, and the friendly staff it all serves to make you feel relaxed and ready to put down a few quality brews. They also have a small, caged-in outdoor area to sit and enjoy the beer. But, we preferred to stay inside. We happened to be the only customers there at the time, so we had the full attention of the bartender. She was very pleasant and we traded stories about the gentrification of city neigborhoods, the search for good beer in NYC, and the nightlife at Burp Castle. The bar rotates through their kegs fairly often and always maintains a good mix of Belgians, Germans, and local microbrews. I had a Six Point Otis (of Brooklyn) and Patty had a Leffe Blonde. The Otis is an extremely tasty full-bodied stout with distinctive roasted coffee and nut flavors. Of course, I wanted to stay for more, but Hop Devil Grill was calling next. I would be very anxious to return to Burp Castle later in the evening to experience it with the late night crowd. You should obviously be able to tell that I highly recommend this be on anyone's short list of must-go-to beer bars in Manhattan. p.s. oh, and as I mentioned in previous posts, for those of you inclined to care about these kind of things, the restrooms were quite clean and adequate......a good place to stop for a beer and nature's duties as well ;-)

Lake Placid: Ubu Ale & 46’er I.P.A.

It was Monday night football time again and we continued with the Lake Placid selection and some Brooklyn variety that Bryan had left over. We also had a growler of the Altbier we made. Bryan's cold prevented him from giving me his true review, but, hey I liked it ;-) Maybe Bryan can help out with the Ubu Ale, but, I really liked the IPA. Clean crisp and a bold hoppy bite :-)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Site Changes: Brew Lounge

We recently decided to get our own domain name. So, we can still be found here...
http://beerbits.blogspot.com/
...but, you can also find us here...

http://www.brewlounge.com

Hopefully that will make it easier to remember us.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Philadelphia Eagles: We won! Yards, Victory, Flying Fish

E-A-G-L-E-S...Eagles! This was the first time I ever went to an Eagles game and wow what a play at the end. They blocked a Chargers field goal and ran it back for a touch down to win the game! Whoohoo! Ok, I did want to mention that the beer was good. Maybe Bryan can help me out here too 'cause I can't remember which Yards it was. Basically they had Yards, Victory and Flying fish in bottles that they pour into a cup for you. Which is part of the reason I don't remember what they were. Victory lager for sure. I'm not sure if all the areas of Lincoln Financial Center had these brews, but, ours did and it really topped off this fall football day :-)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Brew Pubs: City Steam Hartford, CT

Last week I was in Hartford, CT on business. Bryan mentioned that there was a place called City Steam that I should check out. So my coworker and I stopped for dinner. I'm running out of time to type so I'll get to the point. The beer wasn't very good. Probably a little below average. Food was great. The ambience was way cool. I wish we would have sat upstairs. There were so many little nooks to sit in and levels to walk to. If you like interesting architecture, check it out. Don't expect much from the beer though.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Brewing Beer: Keg the Black Altbier

After two weeks in the secondary it was ready to be kegged. How do I know? Um...I wanted to taste it? ;-) Since I'm not bottling it I don't really have to worry about exploding bottles so i didn't worry about it too much. A good way to determine if it is ready would be to measure the specific gravity daily. When it is the same two days in a row then it is ready. To prepare the keg I just emptied the iodophor solution I store them with and wipe it down with one step on the top near the openings.. Early tasting notes are as follows: Appearance I would have to say....black. Seems to have good head retention. We will be able to tell later when it is fully carbonated. The Altbier is the one on the right. The left is a Saranac Octoberfest. Nose Malt...chocolate...malt...malt... Taste Malty upfront and a strong bitterness throughout. This is a clean tasting beer. Drinkability I think it will be drinkable for anybody who likes porters and stouts. Overall I would say it tastes like a bitter porter. Next...racking the Kolsch to the secondary fermenter.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Bethlehem Brew Works in Bethlehem, PA

I stopped in at Bethlehem Brew Works the other night on the way home from cousin Jerry's funeral. It's a good place for any occasion, especially to reflect upon and raise a toast to the dearly departed :( In any case, any trip in or around the Lehigh Valley should always include a stop in the heart of the Historic/Moravian District at the Bethlehem Brew Works. And for you homebrewers, there's a Keystone Homebrew store directly outside of BBW on the lower level. So, on this particular Monday evening, the bar and restaurant areas were jumping with customers. I figured this must be the leftovers from happy hour and what looked like one or two large parties. At this time, BBW had the following beers on tap: Valley Golden Ale; Fegley's ESB; Hammer Shop Wee Heavy; Steelworker Oatmeal Stout; Pumpkin Ale; Wing Nut Brown Ale; and Peche Lambic. (Also on tap was Hoegaarden, Mike's Hard Lemonade, and Woodchuck Amber Hard Cider......why did I mention the last two???) To my knowledge, the Golden Ale, the ESB, and the Stout are flagship beers that are always on tap. I can speak for the last two and say that they are both very respectable and drinkable beers. In fact, a growler of the Stout happened to make its way home with me ;-) While I was there, I first enjoyed the Wee Heavy followed by the Pumpkin Ale. The Wee Heavy was a happy beginning to my short stay visit. It was poured with a 3/4" head which disappeared quite quickly. It had a strong malt character which was offset equally by bitter hop notes. I also noticed a slight caramel flavor. This is one of my favorite styles and BBW does right by it! (They describe it on the menu as the "big version" of their Bagpiper Brew Scotch Ale.) Should have also brought a growler of this home too! I decided that the Pumpkin Ale also needed a tasting. This was served with a very thin head and a big pumpkin pie nose accompanied by a similar strong taste in the front of the mouth. However, this dissipated quickly in the back of the mouth and throat into a very quaffable medium-bodied, lighter-colored ale. I considered this very appealing as I would not want this type of beer to be lingering with the pumpkin spice all the way down my throat. Another winner! p.s. And if the upstairs bar and restaurant are not enough to satisfy your appetite and thirst, the downstairs hosts more dining space as well as the acclaimed Steelgaarden belgian beer bar. This downstairs bar gives a cozy and warm feel as well as a superbly stocked bar. Their house brews are also available downstairs. And, judging from a different visit, the Steelgaarden is also a popular Saturday night haunt for the "local scene." I dare you to compare. TIP: If you're not from the Lehigh Valley, the optimal way to experience BBW is to come to town for one of their many annual festivals/events, stay in a downtown hotel (like The Hotel Bethlehem), and visit BBW as many times as possible ;-) p.p.s. For once, I didn't take a picture when I was at BBW, so I lifted the picture above from the BBW website....hopefully, they won't mind :)

Brewing Beer: Quick update

The Kolsch is still in the primary fermenter. I'll need to get to that soon. It's time to rack it into the secondary. The Altbier is in the fridge at about 45 degrees. It's been there for about a week. This will be the first beer I have ever brewed and lagered (or chilled in the fermenter). I hear it helps remove the harsh flavors. {shrug} I'll probably keg this soon so I can use the carboy for the secondary fermentation of the Kolsch. Might bottle some too. Just so it is easy to share with my Dad. And....the Barleywine is doing well I guess. I still have it in the secondary fermenter. I really need to take a specific gravity reading two days in a row to see if it is done fermenting. If it is...I don't know what to do. Taste it I guess :-)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Dogfish Head on the Cape May Ferry

Hey, good job on the supporting the local guy with some nice advertising at the Cape May Ferry, but why no Dogfish Head available at the bar. At least that's what the bartender said. He didn't know why, but assumed that perhaps it's just a once-and-a-while beer that they serve.

Let us know...

What would you like us to post about? Let us know. Beer Words Beer Tours Making Beer Pub Reviews Growler Time Tasting Random Thoughts Do you want to hear about the time that Bryan dressed up as an Elf for Halloween? Just kidding.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Tasting: Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

Well I had a chance to taste some of the 120 min. What can I say? This is something you just have to try. It almost doesn't taste like beer. Jeremy and I shared a bottle last night. Wow! I wish I would have taken notes, but, I'll do my best to describe the experience. Appearance Golden, legs, large bubbles in the head that disappated after a few minutes. Almost looked like a white wine. Nose Sweet, malty....can't remember much more. Taste Subltle sweet, honey, just a bit of alchohol, but, nothing to fret about. Drinkability Very! Be careful you could be three sheets to the wind with this 21% abv beern in no time. Seriously, this reminded me of a sweet Riesling style wine. Now I wouldn't say that you notice the hops much. I can't even remember any hops flavor, but, maybe I was just enjoying the whole experience so much I forgot to take note. If you have a chance and you like triples, belgians and the high abv. beer, then you can't pass this one up!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Making Beer: Barley Wine, Altbier & Kolsch Brewing

I did it! Whoohoo! I racked the barley wine. Took the specific gravity reading, 1.031. Pitched the champagne yeast to bring it down another 0.03 over the next couple weeks. At the same time I started brewing a new batch of Kolsch. Well if it wasn't so dark it would look more like Kolsch. The cool thing was that I used the yeast from the Alt to save some money. Never did this before so it will be interesting. Not bad for a nights work :-)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Personal: Homebrewer's Blues

I have been wanting to get on with the brewing, but, life is getting in the way. Some nights I just don't feel like running down to the basement. Other nights I just can't make the time. This is where I am right now. I should probably rack the barleywine to the secondary fermenter. Maybe tonight? What gets me through? Man, I can't wait to taste it! Also, anybody have an opinion on whether I should use champange yeast to finish the barleywine fermentation? I was reading something about it making the barleywine too dry.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

New York City Pub Tour : Stop #4; Standings

After a little stroll over to Grand Central Station and a nice walk through the grand building, we hopped on the 6-train down to Astor Place (and, yes, we again skipped the Oyster Bar at GCS....but, once again, for no good reason! We WILL stop there....someday) So, we find ourselves next at Standings Bar. It's directly next to Burp Castle and down the street from McSorley's. This is on 7th street on the edge of Greenwich Village and East Village. It was at this point that we hit a bit of a lull. Hear me out on this before you call us lightweights! Up early in the morning, drop the dogs off at the kennel, pack the car, drive 2 1/2 hours to NY, check into the hotel, take the LIRR into NYC, hit 3 bars in the first 2 hours, walk, and take a subway to our 4th bar. And, it's only just coming up on 5pm. (Sorry, just a bit of sympathy, please??? :) All of this was to say that Patty took a pass on beer here at Standings, I ordered an Avery, and neglected to take any notes or pictures. We were, as you can see, in a bit of a funk here. I'm not even sure of the style of Avery that I ordered. Although, I may have also been slightly thrown off by the bartender, who poured me a glass of water from a half-full bottle of spring water. Was this is personal bottle of water? Did he find it in the back room and didn't want to dump it out (for conservation reasons, or course)? Or was this the special "house water"? In any case, I didn't ask, didn't want to know, and therefore didn't drink it! Ok, back to the topic at hand. Standings is the kind of place that you probably don't make a destination. But, when strolling through the area, you'll probably want to stop off and catch some sports action on one of the several TVs, a quality brew, and some easy-going and pretention-free atmosphere. Contributing to the name is the mostly standing-room only theme. There are just a couple of tables in this smaller-than-average bar. The rest of the area is a combination of high-top tables and the one bar with 10-15 seats around it. There are several TVs with sporting events usually on them and a lot of sports-themed decor (pennants, etc.) The bathroom, once again for those who care about these kind of things, is about as basic as you can get. Barely a hole in the wall, with a door, and not much else. I can definitely see this as a place that later in the night becomes a big hangout to watch some games on TV with your buddies and drink good beer. I'm guessing it's not a huge pickup scene with the ladies....but, I could be wrong. I promise the last two places on our tour are impressive and worth the wait. And, fortunately for us, we moved from Standings to next door at Burp Castle.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Birthday Weekend in Review

Ok, for a quick summary of a great food and beer weekend, see below. You'll be hearing more details about them in the coming days. Friday - weather sucked......went to Sly Fox in Royersford, PA. Major improvement on the overall feel (ambience?) compared to their Phoenixville location. Got a "private VIP tour" of the facilities, including brewery operations. Stopped up and enjoyed the Rauchbier that Adam wrote about earlier. Saturday - weather sucked some more....had a couple Oktoberfests at home to help the afternoon go by. Went to Majolica in Phoenixville for dinner, then Destiny brewpub afterwards. Jury's still out on Destiny. Will require one more follow-up visit with Adam. Sunday - weather tried to rebound but still sucked and the Eagles lost (convincingly) to add insult to injury. Went to The Black Door pub in South Street area of Philly for dinner and brews before going to see The Cat Empire at the TLA on South Street. All around (food, beer, music), this was the highlight of the weekend and well worth the lost sleep for Monday morning. Will have much more to say about The Black Door later. p.s. Oh, and by the way, Adam stopped by with a free sample (woo-hoo!) of the 120 minute IPA from Dogfish Head that he described in an earlier post. Thanks my friend! :-)

Big Beer: Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

Whoohoo! Has anybody tasted this? 21% ABV is nothing to sneeze at. Can you say four beers in one? Just picked up some on Saturday. The first time I tasted this was during a tasting at the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, PA. I had to stop tasting for about an hour just to let the alcohol run its course. Now if you want alcohol you have lots of choices, but, if you want it in your beer and you want it to please your discerning beer snob palate, then this is your beer (can you even call it beer?). This is the best tasting big beer I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. (10/10 edited for grammar...heheh)

Brew Pubs: The Sly Fox - Rauchbier

Friday night I was watching TV and surfing the web when I the phone rang. Bryan called. He was at The Sly Fox in Royersford, PA. After a quick recap of his experience he got to the point ;-) Would you like me to bring you home a growler to add to your collection? (Filled with beer of course.) I thought about it for a minute...ok it was a little less than that ;-). "Sure, I'll take a growler." I hit their beer list on their site. The Rauchbier sounded interesting...although I didn't know that it was smoked beer. How I missed that I'll never know. I'll let Bryan post about his experience at The Sly Fox in Royersford. I think he would tell it better. I would like to comment on the Rauchbier though. I'd have to say that it was just a bit too smokey. I'm not sure how to drink something like this. Maybe it's one of those beers that's better in small quantities or perhaps it should be enjoyed with some smoked meat. I do know that by itself it left me a little overwhelmed. Now, with that being said, I did finish the growler by Sunday night. Sooo...it is drinkable. Think Altbier & smoke flavor. If it were a little less smokey I would have enojoyed it more. Thanks Bryan :-) Yet another beer style sampled.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Making Beer: Altbier to the Secondary Fermenter

Tonight I transferred the Altbier to the fermenter. It looks very dark and tastes great. Malty and bitter...mmmmm. I measured the specific gravity and it seems like it has a bit more to go which is expected. I also tried to save the yeast from the sediment on the bottom of the primary fermenter for next time. This is the first time I've done this so we'll see how it goes. I decided to siphon as much of the sediment into a sterilized growler and put an airlock on it until I figured out the rest and let it finish eating up the nutrients. As I understand it, storing it in a closed container like a capped bottle could cause it to explode if it isn't finished fermenting. Whoohoo! Just a couple weeks until it gets kegged or bottled. :-)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Making Beer: Das Altbier & Barleywine

Yes, everything is going well. The Barleywine fermentation is still going strong. The altbier is slowing down and is probably ready to rack into the secondary fermenter. In the mean time check out what wikipedia has to say about altbier and barleywine.

Jeder Mensch der liebt nunmal stolz sein Heimatland Darum lieben wir, ganz klar, unseren Rhein´schen Strand Wo der Alte Schloßturm steht da sind wir zu Haus´ Weil es ohne Bier nicht geht rufen wir ganz schnell heraus:

[Chorus] Ja, sind wir im Wald hier? Wo bleibt unser Altbier? Wir haben in Düsseldorf die längste Theke der Welt, jajajaja Ja, sind wir im Wald hier? Wo bleibt unser Altbier? Wo ist denn der Held der mit seinem Geld die Runde bestellt?

Machen wir ´ne Herrentour an die schöne Ahr Trinken wir Burgunder nur, das ist sonnenklar Spätestens um Mitternacht ist die Sehnsucht groß Nach dem Glas vom Altbierfaß und der ganze Verein singt dann los:

[Chorus]

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Making Beer: The Fermentation

I thought everybody might be interested in an update on the beer. Well, lets just say things are moving along. How do I know? Well the airlock blew off the barleywine for starters ;-) Once we pitched the yeast and moved the fermenters to a place where it was cool, it was time to wait. If you use a starter for the yeast, then the fermentation should be active in less than 24 hours. Well I always forget to start the yeast a day or two early and well...lets just say it takes a little longer, 52 hours for the Alt and 69 hours for the barleywine. So, who cares? Well, the longer it takes the yeast to take hold as the dominant microrganism the more chance that some other little pest will decide to feast on the wort. This is why I have been obsessing over this for a few days now. I tried a bunch of things to get that yeast to really start working. I'm not sure that any of them were the right thing, but, hey I was scared! :-)
  • Placed them in warmer places in the house so that the wort temp would rise to just over 70 degress F. Warmer temperatures help get it started. Had to cool it down later once it started.
  • Shook up the fermenters about 3 times each to make sure that the wort was aerated enough.
  • Stared at the air lock a lot.
Well they finally started. I think it was because of the staring myself ;-) Well the Alt was the first to start and it chugged along for a couple days. I think it just about finished as of 10pm Tues. Then there was the barleywine. I'm pretty sure I stared at this batch a little too long. As I mentioned before the air lock blew off twice. The second time it actually put a somewhat large spot on my ceiling. Now that's active fermentation! Spouses just love that kinda thing. After cleaning up the mess in the basement I decided it was time to remedy the problem. All I needed was a blow off tube fed into a bucket of water. Kind of like a big airlock. Stopped at the hardware store to pickup a hose coupler and some more tubing. It worked like a charm. Here's a short video of the blow off tube bubbling in the bucket of water. (warning it's kinda dark) Next I'll need to rack the Altbier into a glass carboy. This will separate the beer from the sediment so it doesn't take on undesireable flavors from the dying yeast. During this process I'm also going to try and save the yeast for reuse next time. That should save me about eight dollars a batch :-)

Making Beer: Barleywine...popped off again!

Ok, so the air lock popped off again. I really need to get a handle on this. Now I have a big messy plastic bucket fermenter on my hands when I get home. Oh yeah and my wife is loving the "stinky beer smell" in the house.

Making Beer: Altbier & Barleywine Update

Things are going well. The Alt and the Barleywine fermentations have been very active. In fact the airlock even blew off the barleywine fermenter! I'll post more later.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

New York City Pub Tour : Stop #3; Ginger Man

As I promised, we moved on from our first two average stops at Stout and Heartland to Ginger Man. We only had to walk a couple of blocks to 36th street between 5th and Madison. This is one of those bars that could be the one and only destination in many pub tours! They usually carry close to 75 beers on tap and cover the world from local microbrews to high quality beers from Germany, Belgium, England, and other countries. Also at the bar, the number of bottled beers run well over 100 and several reputable scotch and whiskey selections are also available. So how can I boil this all down to a review that you can use? I think that all I need to say is that this place is a winner that hardly comes up short in anything they do. There are 4 locations in the country; this is the only one outside of Texas. In Texas, there's a Ginger Man in Dallas, Houston, and Austin. I've been to the Dallas and Austin locations, but ran out of time on my way to the airport in Houston. While the ambience varies a bit from city to city, the overall theme is protected....the theme being a large selection of interesting, high quality beer. In NYC, the location is in block which feels a bit secluded from other life in the city. While it's not in Times Square, it's not in a neighborhood either. It's kind of an "in-between" place, where the street scene is not all that interesting. But, of course, we go there to be inside with the beer, right?! As you can see in this one picture, recent additions to the tap list include Geary Autumn Ale, Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale, Victory Prima Pils, Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale, and cask conditioned Victory Hop Devil. Patty had the Prima Pils and I had the Bear Republic. By this time, we started to work up a bit of an appetite and need to get a base going for the next several hours :) The food menu basically is a sufficient list of appetizers and bar-style sandwiches. Each time I've been to Ginger Man before, I always fall for the soft pretzel. Hard to say why, but with a limited food menu, the pretzels seem to be any easy choice. And, for a couple bucks you get a decent sized pretzel, with lots of salt and a honey mustard dipping sauce. A little more on the place and the staff. The interior is fairly large and airy with a mixture of bar seating, low tables with comfortable seating, and separate lounge-type room in the back. The staff is knowledgable and willing to lend themselves for opinions on beer, or to provide as many samples as you need to make a good choice, or to just to make small talk while business is slow. I've found these observations to be consistent at each of the locations that I've visited. Earlier in the summer when I was at the Ginger Man, a few interesting brews that they had on tap included: Boulder Sweaty Betty; Six Point Diesel Stout; Schneider Edel Weisse; Einbecker Mai Bock; Redhook Sunrye; Cooper's Extra Stout; and Blue Point Hoptical Illusion. The picture above is a little dark and hard to make out the tap handles; however, I hope that from my descriptions you can see that the Ginger Man should also be included in any beer drinking plans when in Dallas, Houston, Austin, or New York City. Oh, how badly I wanted to stay for another one, or 10, beers! But, next, we're taking the subway to the East Village/Greenwich Village.

Making Beer: Altbier & Barleywine

Here we go again! I decided to put my most recent batch behind me. I keep tasting it every now and then hoping that it really isn't that bad and....well, it is that bad. Time to pitch it. You know what they say, "On to bigger, bitter and better beer." Okay, so I made that one up...heheh :-) On Thursday night John, Tim, Jeremy and Bryan came over and we brewed the Black Alt. I don't know what a Black Altbier is, but, that's what I'll call it for now. Things went so well Thursday night that we decided to brew a batch that I had been sitting on for a long time, the Barleywine. Bryan, Matt, Jeremy and Jackie were there to take part in the process. I can always blame them if the beer sucks...heheh ;-) Will it be strong? You bet, we used almost 14 pounds of malt extract! Is it hoppy? Yeah I'd say so. Bryan calculated the IBUs at almost 92! So, is there a downside to this barleywine? The only thing that is a bit disappointing is that it will require some patience. Barleywine is supposed to be bottle conditioned from 6 to 12 months as I understand it. Good thing I can look forward to the Black Alt in a few weeks. Both nights were perfect. We were outside in the cool autumn weather taking it all in :-)