Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Independence Brew Pub in Philadelphia, PA

Now that Adam has spurred me to writing (well, first drinking, now writing), it looks like I'm back on the posting trail. Don't ask where I've been. The answer is probably somewhere between Nip/Tuck episodes, Lew Bryson's website, reading magazine back issues that have piled up, and the holidays. Of course, you can always blame the holidays.

Whatever....I'm back in the saddle and here to tell you a little bit about Independence Brew Pub in the heart of Center City Philadelphia. I've been to Independence many times, and have never before written on the subject. Why? Oh, who knows, maybe it reflects my general feeling about the place and its beers. My feelings have ranged from love to hate, from respect to ambivalence, from anxious curiosity to deflated pessimism. Sorry for the drama, it's just that I still don't know if I can nail down my feelings for Independence.

My last time at Independence was in November. You may remember me posting about The Foodery. Well, the day started with me taking the train to the Market East station and coming to street level to have lunch at the Reading Terminal Market and a beer at Independence.....then on to The Foodery....then on to Ludwig's (future post), eventually winding up at the Monday Night Football debacle that the Eagles participated in :( So, what if I instead list some pros and cons that I've come up with over my many visits to Independence. I'd be interested to hear other's reactions since I can't seem to commit to one point-of-view :-/

   - Located above the Market East train station; no need to walk outdoors after disembarking train
   - Large space for comfortable dining and drinking
   - Upstairs with pool tables and additional space for drinking, etc.
   - Relative to other breweries (is that unfair?), these are non-imaginative, unaggressive brews; i.e. easy drinking, inoffensive and can please anyone in your group
   - Food is acceptable and suitable to a group outing

   - Respectable beers, but not wildly impressive beers
   - Service staff not very outgoing, friendly, knowledgeable, or helpful (I suppose sometimes you do want to be left alone)
   - Relative to other breweries (is that unfair?), these are unimaginative, unaggressive brews; i.e. easy drinking, inoffensive ....no, this isn't a typo!
   - The size of the place, as well as two entrances on either side of the building, adds to some of the impersonal feel....and the lack of coziness.

On one hand, it's nice that the pub is in the middle of everything and easily accessible in Center City, but that can also be a detriment. So, where do we go from here? Trust me, I'll go back again....and again. It's especially convenient because we'll occasionally do shopping at the Reading Terminal Market and the brew pub is right across the street. Plus, it's not as if the beer is bad or offensive.

It's just that if I have time on my hands, I'm making my way to Monk's, Standard Tap, Bridgid's, Eulogy, TenStone, Tavern on Green, North Third, Druid's Keep, Triumph (coming soon to Old City), Ludwig's, Grey Lodge, etc. etc. etc. Just, when you go, keep your expectations within reason.

Beer Tasting: Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout

Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout Ummmm...I don't remember, but, it was good ;-) I'll post more next time I have some. Two more bottles in the fridge. Have you tasted this beer? Let us know what you think. As a suggestion, try to keep it to five words or less for each of the following; appearance, smell, taste, mouthfeel and drinkability. Appearance Adam: Bryan: Dark as night, with a medium-copper head Matt: Smell Adam: Bryan: cocoa Matt: Taste Adam: Bryan: slightly bitter, dark chocolate Matt: Mouthfeel Adam: Bryan: smooth, silky Matt: Drinkability Adam: Bryan: like a good dessert, you don't want to share! Matt:

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Holidays

Where ever you are out there and what ever holiday you are celebrating, I wish you the best! Thanks for visiting our site this year. :-) -Adam (beer tree in on the bank of the Rhine)

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Site Changes: Categories Added

We have almost 100 posts in brewlounge! We have written about so many things, but, they can be really hard to find. I'm in the process of categorizing all our posts. This should make it a bit easier to find that review of Burp Castle that Bryan wrote ;-) I'm done! Look for "Categories" on the right side of the page.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Beer Sighting: Seasonals & Warmers

Thanks again Bryan for inviting me to the holiday beer exchange. This year I was able to participate in the big bottle and the twelve ounce exchanges. Most of the following beer is from that exchange. Twelve Ouncers (left to right) North Coast Brewing Old Stock Ale Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale Bell's Winter White Ale High Point Ramstein Winter Wheat (Weizenbock) Thirsty Dog Siberian Night Russian Imperial Stout River Horse Belgian Frostbite Winter Ale Victory Hop Wallop Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout Not appearing in this picture... Harpoon Winter Warmer Big Bottles (left to right) Young & Co's Brewery PLC Winter Warmer Middle Ages Brewing Co. Wailing Wench Rogue Ales Brewery / Brewer's on the Bay Santa's Private Reserve Ale Rogue Ales Brewery / Brewer's on the BayFestiveAle Left Hand & Tabernash Brewing Company XXXmas Ale Brouwerij De Smedt / Brouwerij Affligem - Affligem Paters Vat Christmas Bryan & Adam's Holiday Ale ;-)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Tasting: Harpoon Winter Warmer

Harpoon Winter Warmer Appearance: brassy, head disapates quickly Smell: gingerbread Taste: tangy hops, light gingerbread, white grape sweet? Mouthfeel: not thin, carbonated Drinkability: holiday beer with spice, surprisingly drinkable Have you tasted this beer? Let us know what you think. As a suggestion, try to keep it to five words or less for each of the following; appearance, smell, taste, mouthfeel and drinkability.

Good Beer Blogs: Links Added

Here are a few blogs that you might like, if you like our blog. They have been added to the links section.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Brewing Progress: Barleywine, Wee Heavy, Imperial Stout

The Barleywine is bottled. Just one problem though. I forgot the priming sugar. I'm hoping that there's enough sugars left in there to feed the extra yeast I pitched. I did check a bottle a couple days ago and it seamed to make a little pffssst when I uncapped it. I still can't believe I did this with the barleywine. It could prove to be a quite the expensive mistake. All that malt....sheesh. Both the Wee Heavy and Imperial Stout (aka Stoutenporter ;-) are still fermenting in my basement. It has been consistently cold here providing a nice cool environment for fermentation. Ahhh...waiting...it can be the hardest part of brewing. That and making stupid mistakes like forgetting the priming sugar. Above Image from this Wikimedia Commons entry. "foam on the bunghole from a barrel...on april 4th 2005 in brewery Timmermans" user Henna

Monday, December 19, 2005

Site News

Beer Blogging is hard work!
Let us know... Site Changes: Brew Lounge
Adam, where are you?
Site Changes: What's new?


Monk's Beer Dinner 1/24/06 : Pizza Port & Russian River
Monk's Beer Dinner 9/13/05 : St. Feuillien
Dave Alexander's Regional Food and Drink (aka D.A.'s RFD) in Washington, D.C.


Thirsty? What's in the fridge?
Beer Bottle: Grolsch
Birthday Weekend in Review
Video: History Channel - Modern Marvels - Brewing


Jockey Box Chiller
ProMash: Home Brewing Software


Some Good Growler Time
Belgian Beer
Personal: Homebrewer's Blues


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Beer Words

Beer Words: Bottle Conditioned
Beer Words: Fermentation
Beer Words: Hops
Beer Words: Real Ale
Beer Words: Reinheitsgebot
Beer Words: Small Beer
Beer Words: Wort

Beer Sightings

Beer Sighting: Seasonals & Warmers
Dogfish Head on the Cape May Ferry
Philadelphia Eagles: We won! Yards, Victory, Flying Fish

Beer Reviews

    -New Glarus Yokel
    -River Horse Lager
    -Firestone Lager
    -St. Nikolaus Bock Bier
    -General Lafayette Double Fest
    -Samuel Adams Boston Lager
    -Capital Blonde Dopppelbock
    -Harpoon Kellerbier
    -Rogue Dead Guy Ale
    -Smuttynose S'muttonator
    -Stoudt's Blonde Double Maibock
    -Summit Maibock
    -Anchor Bock
    -Bethlehem Brew Works Maibock
    -Ybor Amber Lager
    -Samuel Adams Winter Lager

Pale Ale/ESB/IPA
    -Morland's Old Speckled Hen
    -Moylan's Hopsickle
    -Founders Devil Dancer
    -Founders Pale Ale
    -Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Organic Amber Ale
    -Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale
    -River Horse Hop Hazard
    -Clipper City Heavy Seas Winter Storm "Category 5" Ale
    -Sly Fox Odyssey Imperial IPA
    -Left Hand Warrior IPA
    -Sand Creek English Style Special Ale
    -Left Hand XXXmas Ale (2005)
    -Victory Hop Wallop
    -Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (2006)
    -Rock Art IPA
    -Rock Art Whitetail Golden Ale
    -Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
    -Three Floyds Alpha King
    -Otto's Double D
    -Dogfish Head Burton Baton
    -St. Peter's English Ale
    -Sly Fox Cascade IPA
    -Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale
    -Sly Fox Phoenix Pale Ale (can)
    -Sly Fox E.S.B.
    -Black Sheep English Pale Ale
    -Russian River Pliny the Elder
    -Stegmaier Anniversary IPA (by Lion Brewing)
    -Middle Ages Wailing Wench Ale
    -Barley Creek Super Hop IPA
    -Rogue - Brutal Bitter
    -Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
    -Lake Placid Ubu Ale & 46’er I.P.A.

Brown Ale/Red Ale
    -Bison Reunion Imperial Brown Ale
    -Rogue Santa Private Reserve (2006)
    -New Glarus Fat Squirrel
    -Rock Art American Red Ale
    -Legacy Hedonism
    -He'Brew Messiah Bold
    -Sly Fox Seamus Irish Red

    -Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
    -Hopback Entire Stout
    -Deschutes Black Butte Porter
    -Iron Hill Pig Iron Porter
    -Iron Hill Bourbon Barrel-Aged Baltic Porter
    -McKenzie Brew House Empress of the C Imperial Stout
    -Iron Hill Russian Imperial Stout
    -Anchor Porter
    -St. Peter's Old-Style Porter
    -Great Divide Oak-Aged Yeti Imperial Stout
    -Erie Drake's Crude Oatmeal Stout
    -Victory Storm King Stout
    -Stegmaier Porter (by Lion Brewing)
    -Weyerbacher Old Heathen Imperial Stout
    -O'hara's Celtic Stout

    -Middle Ages 11th Anniversary Double Wheat
    -Victory Moonglow Weizen Bock
    -21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat
    -Sly Fox Black Raspberry Reserve
    -Ramstein Winter Wheat
    -Stoudts Weizen

Assorted other styles/Variety cases/Misc.
    -East End Ugly American
    -Stoudts Smooth Hoperator
    -Appalachian Grinnin' Grizzly
    -Erie Red Ryder
    -Yards Poor Richard's Spruce Ale
    -21st Amendment Holiday Spiced Ale
    -Anderson Valley Winter Solstice
    -Brooklyn Winter Ale [2006]
    -Founders Dirty Bastard
    -New Glarus Engima
    -General Lafayette Holiday Cheer
    -Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale
    -Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
    -McKenzie Brew House Purple Haze Blackberry Biere de Garde
    -Founders Red Rye
    -Heavyweight Biere d'Art
    -Shiner Kolsch
    -Dogfish Head Immort Ale
    -Victory Tripilsner
    -Sly Fox Pikeland Pils (can)
    -Victory Ten Year Alt
    -Wexford Irish Cream Ale
    -Budweiser B-to-the-E
    -Sly Fox Rauchbier
    -Stoudt's Double IPA, Stoudt's Fat Dog Stout, & Victory V-12
    -Summit & Southampton
    -Yards Mixed Case & Victory Moonglow Weizenbock
    -Southampton Publick House tasting at Beer Yard
    -Southern Tier Mixed Case
    -Flying Fish Mixed Case
    -Dogfish Head Boom Box Mixed Case

    -Brooklyn Local 1
    -Southampton Publick House Saison
    -Harpoon Saison
    -Sly Fox Saison
    -Rogue FestiveAle

    -Anderson Valley Brother David's Triple
    -Anderson Valley Brother David's Double
    -River Horse Belgian Frostbite Winter Ale
    -River Horse Tripel Horse
    -'t Smisje Calva Reserva
    -Maredsous 10
    -St. Bernardus Abt 12 (special edition-60th Anniversary)
    -New Glarus Belgian Red
    -St. Bernardus Abt 12
    -Avery The Reverend
    -Chimay Grande Réserve
    -Chimay Cinq Cents
    -Chimay Première
    -Brouwerij Huyghe Delirium Nocturnum
    -Rogue FestiveAle
    -Iron Hill The Cannibal
    -Sly Fox Ichor
    -Affligem Dubbel
    -Sly Fox Incubus (2002)

Barleywine/Strong Ale/Winter Warmer
    -Speakeasy Old Godfather [2006]
    -Great Divide Hibernation Ale [2005]
    -Weyerbacher Winter Ale
    -Middle Ages Kilt Tilter Scotch Style Ale
    -Left Hand Snowbound Ale
    -Rock Art Ridge Runner Barleywine
    -Left Hand Double Sawtooth Chainsaw Ale
    -Lagunitas Brown Shugga'
    -General Lafayette Olde Curmudgeon
    -Young's Winter Warmer
    -Harpoon Winter Warmer
    -North Coast Old Stock Ale

Thoughts on Tastings
    -Don't forget the food!

The Brewer's Art in Baltimore, MD

Although this visit to The Brewer's Art was made all the back in the first week of August, it made such a favorable impression on me that I feel compelled to write about it even now. And, of course, the more I dwell on it the more I want to schedule a follow-up visit a.s.a.p.!

My visit came before we got this site up and running, so I don't have any pictures to post except for the ones that I lifted off of their site. I was in Baltimore on a day trip for business and I didn't complete my business day until around 4 p.m.

So, what to do? Of course, I could get on the road and try to get a jump on rush hour traffic. Eh, boring. Or I could reward myself for a good presentation with a trip to The Brewer's Art to sample their beers which I've only flirted with from afar in Philly.

I believe until that point, I only had their beers at the Bishop's Collar bar in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia. Plus, the reputation of the Ozzy beer and the Resurrection are well documented. The only thing I'm left curious about is the name of the brewery and their website name.......Brewer's Art and belgianbeer.com. Hm, I just can't get comfortable with the use of those names, but I digress. I can get way comfy with their beers, so here goes :)

I was their first customer of the day as they opened their doors at 4 p.m. They are a bit off the beaten path, north of the downtown area of Baltimore and on the way to the Johns Hopkins University. I was a little skeptical of the area, not in a scared kind of way, but there's really nothing else in the area to draw you there except for the bar.....so, I park the car and inside I go. It was a sweltering hot day, so the frigid air conditioning was a relief.

The "front of the house" (actually, it is a converted rowhouse) is a comfy bar/lounge area, perfect for grabbing some after work brews and light food. Natural light (no, not the beer) pours in through large windows facing Charles Street. The middle room provides some more comfortable seating while the back room serves as the dining room. Downstairs is a dark and cozy bar area which reportedly gets quite popular later in the evening. As you probably tell from this paragraph, my overall impression of the ambience is....comfortable!

Well now on to the beers. I got quite a bit of attention in my first hour as the only customer at the bar. As the bartender was prepping the bar for the evening, he was pleasant to chat with me about the brewing operations, the beers, the food, and the Baltimore beer scene (which I believe is greatly improving as of late).

I started with the Ozzy because I have such fond memories of it. It most certainly is a good start as a full-flavored Belgian ale. (Think how quickly this beer disappeared since I had been speaking all day long!) I then moved on to a couple of unknowns, the Wit Trash (witbier) and Sluggo (APA). Both lacked in flavor and body and were otherwise forgettable.

I then moved to another that I had only heard of previously....the Proletary Ale. While I remember it being a dark and heavy beer, I don't recall much else about it. However, it was still a major improvement over the previous two. Then, I figured if I was going out, then I was going out with a bang.....with the Resurrection and the Ozzy (again, ha!) I've had the Resurrection (dubbel) in Philly and was so happy to again have this mouthful of barley malt bursting with flavor. It's a tough call between this ale and the Ozzy for my favorite beer from The Brewer's Art.

Oh, and in the middle of all this beer, I did manage to have some food! Dinner hadn't yet started but I tried some bar food. Actually, a bit better than typical bar food, I had an overflowing, seemingly bottomless, bowl of plump mussels in a delicious broth. Also, an order of fries (regular and sweet) and leeks with a tasty side of aioli dipping sauce. Unlike my experience at Dogfish Head Alehouse in Montgomery County, MD, I was able to take growlers of beer home with me. Fortunately, I had called ahead on this topic and learned that they'll fill your growler for you.....but they don't supply any of their own. So, phew, I brought two growlers with me for some more Ozzy and Resurrection at home, woohoo!

Soooo, the moral of the story here is when in Baltimore, leave the Inner Harbor and head north to The Brewer's Art. This is definitely beer that I wish we had better access to in Philly. I suppose, though, that it makes it all the better when I do finally get the chance to have some of their brews. And from what I understand, the relatively new chef is making high marks by turning out decent dinners from the kitchen. You should not be disappointed.