Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Growing Hops: Collection of Posts

I'm gathering all the "growing hops" posts here. I'll put a link to this post over there on the right to make it easier to find. In the list of links below you will find pictures of hops plants as they grow in my backyard from rhizomes to full bines!. I also have notes on how I built a trellis and plan to grow, harvest, dry and finally brew beer with the hops cones. I have never done this before so let me know if you have any suggestions :-) 2007 Hop Season
  • Pictures after 5 Weeks
  • 3 Feet after 3 Weeks
  • Welcome back little fellows
  • 2006 Growing Hops
    If you're interested in where I grow these hops, we are in Southeastern, Pennsylvania.

    Beer Tasting: Smuttynose S'muttonator

    This is double bock style lager from Smuttynose in Portsmouth New Hampshire. This "big beer" (in more ways than one!) found its way to our tasting review via a variety case of bocks. Have you tasted this beer? Let us know what you think. As a suggestion, try to keep the review as brief as possible for each of the following: appearance; smell; taste; mouthfeel; and drinkability.

    Appearance Adam: deep cherry wood Bryan: substantial head; leaves some serious lacing Smell Adam: smells like a maibock with lager nose, along with sweetness Bryan: pleasant aroma of sweet malt; not significant though Taste Adam: not like all maibocks with bitterness and some alcohol Bryan: definitely a "big beer", alcohol presence for sure; bitterness noticeable in back of mouth Mouthfeel Adam: carbonated and coating Bryan: mild carbonation paired with big malt and medium hop profile gives you a mouthful of treats Drinkability Adam: hey it is good, I think it lives up to its name which is awesome by the way Bryan: yes, this is a good example of a bold American bock (hm, an "imperial", dare I say?!) Seconds? Adam: I didn't put that in my notes, but, I think it is safe to say I would drink Bryan's if he didn't want it Bryan: oh yeah!

    Book Notes: The World Guide to Beer by Michael Jackson

    The World Guide to Beer by Michael Jackson First Published in 1977 This copy published in 1987 Hard Cover John, a friend, found it at a garage sale. I've just thumbed through this so far and read a few pages. Ok, if you want a good beer book that provides an honest treatment of the subject you found it. Mr. Jackson's writing is superb. I love that his voice shows through so well. Not to mention his ability to convey a mountain worth of detail about every aspect of beer known to man. (can you tell I enjoy this book?) Then there's the illustrations and the images. I want to go to these places! This is a great coffee table book. I could spend hours just thumbing through it looking at the pictures. (picture me with beer and stupid look of awe while reading it) Seriously, check it out. Looks like you can get older prints for next to nothin'. I'll have to compare the new version to the old at some point. As a side note...If you haven't checked it out yet, you should jump over to his website, Beer Hunter. I've learned alot from it. Recently I read about bock beers there. He's also made some appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. His most recent one even caused a bit of a stir ;-) NOTE: I'm reading more and more of the book. I love this thing!

    Tuesday, May 30, 2006

    Beer Tasting: Legacy Hedonism

    This is a red ale from Legacy Brewing in Reading, PA. This beer was sampled on draft at Flanigan's Boathouse in Malvern, PA. Legacy has created quite a stir with this beer, especially in the packaging and marketing of it. We're sure you already know what we mean by saying that. Have you tasted this beer? Let us know what you think. As a suggestion, try to keep the review as brief as possible for each of the following: appearance; smell; taste; mouthfeel; and drinkability.

    Appearance Adam: dark amber orange with thin head of islands Bryan: solid copper; tinge of orange; lumpy remnants of the head stick around for a while Smell Adam: home brew, grassy, hops with whisky barrel nose present; Bryan: citrusy, fresh hops Taste Adam: whisky malt sweet Bryan: somewhat bitter (think between a pale ale and IPA) Mouthfeel Adam: coating Bryan: consistent; a bit carbonated, lively throughout Drinkability Adam: nothing to stop me Bryan: a good drinking beer; not complicated Seconds? Adam: yes Bryan: just one more would be enough; not interesting enough to drink all night

    Beer Calendar: What to do in June 2006

    Here's just a sampling of upcoming events over the next several weeks mostly in the Philadelphia area that look interesting to check out. Let us know if you think you might be heading to one of these events or have been to one of them in the past. Mon. 6/5 - One Brewful Night with Lew Bryson @Bricco, Harrisburg, PA (6pm-???; $49) Tue. 6/6 - 666: The Mark of the Beast vs. The Mark of the Beer @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (all day; pay as you go) Sat. 6/10 - Beer and Dessert Tasting @Morris Arboretum, Philadelphia, PA (1pm-2:30pm; $30/$35) Sat. 6/10 - 15th Annual Microfest @Stoudt's, Adamstown, PA (12pm-4pm; 7pm-11pm; $26) Tue. 6/13 - Belgian Beer Dinner @ Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (7pm-11pm; $60) Fri. 6/16 - Friday Night Tasting (Harpoon) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (free) Sat. 6/17 - Harrisburg Brewer's Fest 3 @Downtown Harrisburg, PA (12p & 5pm; $30/$35) Mon. 6/19 - Meet the Brewers (Yard's) @Bridgid's, Philadelphia, PA (5pm-???; pay as you go) Sat. 6/24 - 10th Annual Craft Brewer's Festival @USS New Jersey, Camden, NJ (1pm-5pm; $25) Thu. 6/29 - Beer & Grilled Foods Dinner @General Lafayette Brewery, Lafayette Hill, PA (7pm; $59.95) Fri. 6/30 - Friday Night Tasting (Troegs) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (free)

    Monday, May 29, 2006

    What Have We Been Up To?

    Here at The Brew Lounge, you may have noticed we've taken a couple of well-deserved days off from the work we get paid for as well as posting articles to this site. But do not fear, we have still been drinking good beer all in the name of research. Just last night, we made it through the remainder of Adam's mixed Bock case of beers with the Augustiner and Hofbrau interpretations. You've likely also been following the progress of the hop plants, which are coming along just nicely in the few days of warm weather that we've had here in the northeastern part of the U.S. And, check back over the next few weeks and you'll find reviews of brewpubs and beer bars from Bryan's trip to Boston. The stops included: Redbones BBQ; John Harvard's; Cambridge Brewing; Boston Beer Works; Linwood; Brasserie Jo; Willimantic Brewing; Harpoon; and visits with Andy Crouch and Todd Alstrom.

    Saturday, May 27, 2006

    Growing Hops: Watch them Grow

    See what happened next -> Day 26: 10 inches Thursday Evening ------- Saturday afternoon
    Well here's the cascade again. 1.5 inches in two days. Nice! I'm laying off the Miracle Grow as Chris suggested ;-)
    See what happened next -> Day 26: 10 inches

    Beer Tasting: Sly Fox Pikeland Pils (can)

    This is a pilsner style lager from Sly Fox in Phoenixville, PA. This 12 ounce can was one of two styles initially canned by Sly Fox. Our previous review of the Phoenix Pale Ale can be found here. Have you tasted this beer? Let us know what you think. As a suggestion, try to keep the review as brief as possible for each of the following: appearance; smell; taste; mouthfeel; and drinkability. Appearance Adam: straw in color, foamy but fades fast Bryan: very clear, pale, golden color; thin head fades quickly to just a very thin ring Smell Adam: stinky canned beer smell, let it breath and the hops come through...ahhh thats better Bryan: nothing remarkable; just a hint of noble hops Taste Adam: good hops profile, nothing like a macro would taste Bryan: something like a traditional lager but with a tad more flavor; though leaves just a slight harsh aftertaste; not offputting, but noticeable Mouthfeel Adam: clean, carbonated, crisp Bryan: very light, thin, easy on the mouth; not much carbonation Drinkability Adam: I agree with Bryan Bryan: it does appear to be a good hot weather, chugging beer Seconds? Adam: I could drink plenty of these Bryan: eh, maybe while playing softball or working around the yard; enjoyed the Phoenix Pale Ale in the can a bit more ADAM: I really need to say something here about the whole can thing. I mean it looks like a macro, initially smells like a macro in a can....but, it cleans up real nice to the nose and the palate. There is something psychological about the can thing. It isn't Green Light or Schaefer...heheh. I have a taste aversion to cans!!!! I can't help it. Ok...Ok...I'm feeling better now. Repeat after me, "Can not all bad. Sly Fox can beer good." I don't know its gonna take a while...I think.

    Friday, May 26, 2006

    Holiday: Happy Memorial Day!

    For me and probably most people where I grew up Memorial Day meant a picnic, opening the pool and a trip to the cemetery or some other memorial. It is an unofficial start to summer. Here's some info on Memorial Day here in the U.S. Um...isn't beer is usually served at picnics! See I had to tie it in somehow. This is a beer site after all. Well, I'm going on my daily walk down to the hops plants. I wonder how much they grew in one day. I think Bryan and I are going to try to taste the rest of those bocks I have in the fridge. Can't wait to hear what happened in Boston :-)

    Growing Hops: Three Days Growth

    See what happened next -> Day 22: Watch them Grow - 5 inches Sorry for the fuzzy picture. I need to get better with my camera on these close shots.
    Just about two inches of growth over three days, Monday evening to Thursday evening. There are three shoots coming up on this Cascade Hops plant. The others are doing ok as well. Overall I think half of them have broken the surface. Again I have been watering them with Miracle Grow almost daily.
    See what happened next -> Day 22: Watch them Grow - 5 inches

    Thursday, May 25, 2006

    Brewing Beer: Growing Hops Plan

    See what happened next -> Day 1: Cascade Rhizomes Planted Moon on the day the trellis was constructed. What?! Does that seem strange? Hey, I needed a picture ;-)

    Have you noticed that Bryan is away? Does it seem like there are less well written Brew Pub posts? Not to worry, Bryan will be back from Boston soon. I think he'll have lots to write about too.

    Ok, so the hops are in the ground and growing. Here are the other tasks I think I'll need to do during the growing season, 120 days or so.

    • Water them moderately with Miracle Grow every day. (Decided not to do that as per Chris. He said it didn't promote good root development)
    • Maybe put some short stakes in to start the plants on.
    • String the thin steel cable between the posts.
    • Drop the stringers from the cable for the hops to grow up.
    • Not sure how many I'll need. Probably will be more than one bine (yes, bine) per plant.
    • Perhaps prune some of the extra shoots. (wait and see how many grow)
    • Train the hops plants on the stringers as they grow.
    • Watch them grow. Explain what they are to everybody with such excitement that they wish they never asked ;-)
    • Decide on how to dry the hops. (in sun, near humidifier, make a hops drier)
    • Harvest when the cones are ready.
    • Dry the hops cones.
    • Store them (how?)
    • Brew!!!

    I'm sure there will be more to add. Hmmm...are you thinking what I'm thinking? This might be time consuming :-) I guess we'll see if the excitement will wear off after the first day...er year. By the way I'm trying to be realistic. There might not be much of a crop this year. Hopefully I'll get enough for a batch of beer. That would make me happy.

    See what happened next -> Day 1: Cascade Rhizomes Planted

    Wednesday, May 24, 2006

    Beer Tasting: St. Bernardus Abt 12

    This is a quadrupel style Belgian from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV in Watou, Belgium. The 22 ounce bottle was purchased from Beer Yard in Wayne, PA in December 2005. It had been stored at approximately 45F until 6 hours prior to consuming when the temperature was raised to approximately 54F. Have you tasted this beer? Let us know what you think. As a suggestion, try to keep the review as brief as possible for each of the following: appearance; smell; taste; mouthfeel; and drinkability. Appearance Adam: mossy medium brown with islands of bubbles in head (what does that mean? :-) Bryan: freshness date of 4/8/09; dark brown with deep ruby highlights; thick head, slowly dissipating to a lumpy, inconsistent head and some serious lacing Nate: caramel amber, cloudy, with a thick foamy pillow of off-white head. Nice lacing. Smell Adam: yeasty with tinge of spice Bryan: pleasing sour aroma; a whiff of orange, like grand marnier(?); a note of molasses; not much else but some alcohol tickling the nose Nate: sweet with cotton candy, caramel, and nice maltiness. There's a bit of hops coming through and a tang of wet canvas sourness. Taste Adam: savory, would be great with a meal, not sweet, like a meal in itself really Bryan: sour, alcohol, orange Nate: is sweet, but not sickly sweet like many hi ABVs can be. Caramel, candi sugar, ripe plums, and deep maltiness. Nice bitter in the finish, and you can taste the alcohol Mouthfeel Adam: softly carbonated, stands up well at room temperature Bryan: carbonation levels keeps this soft beer alive from start to finish Nate: medium-heavy watery body with smooth carbonation Drinkability Adam: slow and steady wins the race, again would work well with a meal, not as good on its own Bryan: yes it is; esp. as it warms from the 50F that we started at; this is a very soft, smooth beer that's deceivingly easy to drink, especially as it gets closer to room temperature Seconds? Adam: brother Bernardus, may I drinkith another? And please pass the roast beef. Bryan: Yes, but the earlier Avery (Reverend) and the follow-up Rochefort (10) trumped this beer. This is a very decent beer, but not the greatest, from my point-of-view....there, I said it! Nate's Overall: really nice quadrupel and one to savour.

    Growing Hops: Web Resources

    See what happened next -> Growing Hops Plan
    Here's a list of the links I used while I was contemplating growing my own hops. I'm sure you can find them with Google just like I did, but, here they are all ready to go for you. Not too shabby really. I also referred to the instructions from Northern Brewer which were very good. Zymurgy: In the Backyard: A gardner's guide to homegrown hops http://home.netcom.com/~dluzanp/backyard.htm Northern Brewer has a PDF of their instructions http://www.northernbrewer.com/documentation/Hi-Res/hop-rhizomes.pdf Freshhops http://www.freshops.com/ Their information page http://www.freshops.com/garden.html Oregon State University http://hop.oda.state.or.us/extcr104.html Seven Bridges Coop http://www.breworganic.com/tips/growing-hops.htm Rate Beer: Homebrewer's Guide To Growing Your Own Hops http://www.ratebeer.com/Story.asp?StoryID=186 Patrick's Hoppy Home Page http://home.netcom.com/~dluzanp/
    See what happened next -> Growing Hops Plan

    Iron Hill Brewery in Phoenixville, PA - Construction Update 5/16/06

    Hm, not much seems to have changed in this picture in the past 6 weeks. Though, well-placed sources indicate that the project is moving toward an end-of-July opening. We'll see...

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    Growing Hops: It LIVES!!!

    See what happened next -> Day 20: Three Days Growth - 3.5 inches
    Back on May 6th Bryan and I planted the Cascade rhizomes. Well the first one pushed through the surface yesterday. I'm so proud. Only seven more to go...heheh. This was Monday's picture. I'm going to post pics from today too. Now there are four sprouts from two rhizomes :-)
    See what happened next -> Day 20: Three Days Growth - 3.5 inches

    Beer Words: Beer Belly

    I was going to post a picture of my belly, but, well you know why I didn't...heheh. I just like to say it, "beer belly". Tonight I searched around the internet for "beer belly". I was shocked! It seems that there is no direct correlation between drinking beer and the beer belly. (it must be true if its on the web right!?) Of course there are some theories about indirect correlations. One is that you are more likely to eat high calorie and fatty foods when you drink a beer. I could see that. Nothing like some hot chips from Blairs with a Hop Devil. Another theory deals with the public perception or rather mis-perception. For instance how many times have you seen a big bellied guy with a beer in his hand on in the media? That type of image is what possibly helps us associate beer drinking and the proverbial beer gut. Nice image huh? This is all very interesting. I'm not a doctor and I don't have the answers, but, I think I'll have to chalk this one up to, "You learn something new everyday." Today I learned that it isn't so simple to link beer drinking and a beer belly. Anybody care to "weigh in"? ;-)

    Monday, May 22, 2006

    Beer Tasting: Stoudt's Blonde Double Mai Bock

    This is a maibock style lager from Stoudt's in Adamstown, PA. This 12 ounce bottle was generously donated by our friend Dennis, who fortunately lives just a couple of miles from the brewpub. The bottles were stamped with a freshness date of 7/16/06. Have you tasted this beer? Let us know what you think. As a suggestion, try to keep the review as brief as possible for each of the following: appearance; smell; taste; mouthfeel; and drinkability. Appearance Adam: orange straw Bryan: very clear, pale, golden color; large inconsistent head; fades slowly Smell Adam: typical ale yeast & some hops Bryan: faint lager aroma Taste Adam: sweet tang fading to a bitter Bryan: very clean; typical lager flavor; nothing special; just a touch of bitterness Mouthfeel Adam: well carbonated Bryan: mildly carbonated; just thick enough to take notice Drinkability Adam: something slowing me down...not sure what it is Bryan: served colder (in the mid-40s) is better; I'm not quite sure what "double "means in this brew Seconds? Adam: maybe Bryan: I could do one more, but that's it; unfortunately, it's not as memorable as the times I've had it on draft

    Sunday, May 21, 2006

    Beer Travels: Marzoni's and Stoudt's

    I did stop at both Marzoni's and Stoudt's. I hadn't been to either of them before. Of course again I was a bit skeptical of Marzoni's for the same reasons I was skeptical of JBC. Again I was proven wrong. :-) I'll write it up. Ummm...I should probably finish the Otto's post first though . Oh yeah, Stoudt's...I have had their beer many...many times and today's experience was outstanding. By the way Bryan was right. The Double Blonde Maibock is better on tap.
    So...we're bringing the American Craft Beer Week to a close. Thanks to my wife and family for supporting me and coming with me to some of the stops especially the ones we hit today :-)

    American Craft Beer Week: Sunday 5/21/06

    Haven't been in touch with Bryan. I'm eager to hear what today brings for him. As for me, I'm coming home today. I'll stop at Marzoni's and Stoudt's on the way home. I'll post updates later. BRYAN's EDIT: Just a quick note to mention that on Saturday I stopped by Redbones BBQ (highly recommended for food, beer, atmosphere, and fun times) in Somerville, MA and John Harvard's just off of Harvard Square (recommended for decent beer and fun atmosphere). Then, on Sunday, to wrap up ACBW Cambridge Brewing Co. (highly recommended for beer, food, and atmosphere....and cask Tuesday's perhaps?!) in Cambridge, MA and Boston Beer Works (recommended for a wide variety of their beers, but most especially their baseball atmosphere) across from Fenway Park were the next victims on The Brew Lounge traveling tour. Of course, like Adam said, more to come on all of these establishments later.

    Saturday, May 20, 2006

    American Craft Beer Week: Saturday 5/20/06

    Well, it looks as if The Brew Lounge is traveling in opposite directions on this, the sixth, day of ACBW. Adam is heading west and likely to stop off at Stoudt's in Adamstown, PA. While Bryan is heading north to Boston by car. So, that will open up many possibilities. Though, he may not get to a brewpub until he gets to the Boston area, where he may check out Watch City in Waltham or Cambridge Brewing near MIT. The week is almost complete. We hope you've had as much fun celebrating ACBW as we have ;-)

    Friday, May 19, 2006

    American Craft Beer Week: Friday 5/19/06

    Last night brought us on somewhat of a surprise visit to John Harvard's in Wayne. Thanks to Patty's colleague Wendall, we "rediscovered" John Harvard's. (He goes to the one in Media, PA quite a bit.) Both of us agreed that, in our minds (feeble as they are), John Harvard's has always just sort of "been there." I don't believe I've ever been JH's more than 5 times (in a few different locations). But, there's recently been a little buzz around this one here in Wayne. The buzz grew especially after John Rehm won a gold medal for his Alt beer at last year's GABF. So, after meeting John last night (and sharing in some of his bottled Bourbon Sue, ahem!) and other beer celebrities (you know who you are, don't you?!) and having a blast, Adam and I both agreed that we will be making more frequent visits to John Harvard's in the future (almost sounds like a separate review by itself, eh?) So, what's in store today? Good question..... Perhaps a Weyerbacher tasting at Beer Yard, Troegs tasting at Exton Beverage, a return trip to John Harvard's for the cask-conditioned Scottish ale, or a jaunt to Victory for a reprise of the Tripilsner. Hm, gotta pack for Boston too! What are you doing to celebrate?

    Beer Glassware: Growler Collection

    Growlers. How many people know what growlers are? 10 years ago? 5 years ago? My guess is that in the past couple of years, the phenomenal growth of craft beer and brewpubs has contributed to the public awareness of beer growlers. Or, at least they've seen one. So, what have we done here? If you look to the right-side of this page (you will probably have to scroll down a bit), you may have noticed that we added an area with some pictures and a link to Flickr.com where we have created a group of growler pictures. They are all linked together with "tags." As we collect more growlers over time, we will add them to the group of growler pictures at Flickr. We would like to ask you to do the same, if you are so inclined :) Take a picture of your growler(s) and upload them to Flickr. (This is very easy to do.) Then, make sure to add at least a couple of tags: "growler", "brewlounge" too. This way, anyone who ever clicks on the Flickr link at our site will see a group of growler pictures from us and all of our readers. Check to see how we've already done this with our pictures. Hope this all makes sense. Keep checking back for more good beer reading and fun beer pictures. And, most importantly, drop us a note with any questions or comments.

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    American Craft Beer Week: Thursday 5/18/06

    So, here at The Brew Lounge, we've decided to celebrate ACBW even if the brewpubs we go to don't know what it is ;-) Last night included the excellent Hopalicious at Iron Hill in West Chester and Sierra Nevada's new Ruthless Hefeweizen and Torpedo Ale at the Drafting Room in Exton. Tonight, I'm thinking about a quick stop by McKenzie Brew House, maybe to check out their new IPA on tap. Then, it sounds as if our friend Matt may stop by with a few bottles of Immort Ale from Dogfish Head. What are you doing to celebrate?

    Beer Tasting: Avery The Reverend

    This is a Belgian-style quadrupel from Avery in Boulder, Colorado. The 22 ounce bottle was purchased from 3 Sons Dogs & Suds in Wexford, PA in March 2006. It was stored at approximately 45F until 6 hours prior to consuming when it was brought up to approximately 54F. Have you tasted this beer? Let us know what you think. As a suggestion, try to keep the review as brief as possible for each of the following: appearance; smell; taste; mouthfeel; and drinkability. Appearance Adam: no head, thin ring, not unusual for the style Bryan: pours a very smooth burnt orangish-brown brew; very little head leaving just a thin ring Smell Adam: HOLY BEER! malty candied fruit Bryan: peachy sweet, bit of spicy pepper Taste Adam: HOLY BEER! even lives up to the nose with a slight peppery finish Bryan: for me, the optimal taste comes out when it's just a bit on the cooler side; overall just a very nice balance of malt, hops, and soft fruit and alcohol flavors Mouthfeel Adam: Man I think I'm warming up after the first sip, smooth, slight carbonation Bryan: very smooth and a bit sticky upfront, just a small kick of carbonation in the middle, and some bitterness in the end Drinkability Adam: as you wish Reverend Bryan: so very barcalounger-drinkable, the alcohol is just present enough without blowing you away Seconds? Adam: oh yeah, but Bryan said it was all gone...hmmm Bryan: I would drink this until I was physically unable to drink anymore ;-)

    Wednesday, May 17, 2006

    American Craft Beer Week: Wednesday 5/17/06

    Last night was a fun trip through Phoenixville,PA to see the construction progress at the future Iron Hill, to pay respects to the now-deceased Destiny Brewing Co., and to stop at Sly Fox for their Warrior IPA, Maibock, and some to-go beer (bottle-conditioned Saison and canned Pikeland Pils). If anyone reading this runs a member establishment of the Brewer's Association, please tell your staffs about American Craft Beer Week. Two days and three breweries into the week and, man, are we getting some quizzical looks when we bring up the subject of ACBW! While we at The Brew Lounge certainly do not need a special designated week to get excited about this great industry, we thought that this might be a fun week to help promote great beer. Or, are we just being a bit naive, and everyone who is already "in the know" finds this to be a bit blase and pedestrian of a promotion? In any case, we are heading over to the Drafting Room in Exton tonight for a visit from Sierra Nevada and their new Torpedo Ale. An amped-up Celebration? We will see (and taste!) They are also bringing along a Hefeweizen, Summer Lager, Pale Bock, and Bigfoot Barleywine. Nice selection, eh? This is all in addition to the Drafting Room's normally great selection of tap lines. And, if there's time, perhaps a quick swing over to the Iron Hill in West Chester. What are you doing on this third day of ACBW?

    Brew Pub Review: Johnstown Brewing Company

    It was a rainy Friday evening when I visited Johnstown Brewing Company, JBC. We were there for dinner and to see how this brew pub stacked up. I snapped a few pictures and quickly ducked inside to get out of the rain. The building has been around for over one hundred years under various ownerships Cambria County Country Club, Ye Olde Country Club, Bethlehem Management Country Club and a few other restaurants before becoming the Johnstown Brewing Company (not to be confused with a now defunct brewery under the same name). As you walk in you notice there are steps leading down to the Pub appropriately referred to as The Lower Works. The dining areas that we are interested in tonight are on the this floor however along with a second bar presumably for those waiting for a table. At the hostess station I noticed a glass case with lots of JBC merchandise including pint glasses, growlers, various shirts and even a model train car with the JBC logo on it. Our hostess, Susan Lovette, introduced herself as one of the co-owners and quickly made us feel at home. I asked about a tour. She promised to bring her husband and co-owner around when we were done eating. As we worked our way to the table and sat down I couldn't help but notice all the steel mill memorabilia. It was bursting from the walls and ceiling. There were hard hats from almost every conceivable mill worker position. Wow all that just in the first five minutes...whew! We were seated promptly and I eagerly looked over their beer selections. Since this was a rare visit for me I decided to taste all the offerings and order a sampler which included nine different beers and one house rootbeer. We tried them all from light to dark. Here's the full list with my favorites first:
    Incline Plane Ale - Wow, what an IPA. Maybe a double IPA. This was one of their seasonals and by far the best beer of the night. In fact I brought home a growler of it :-) Steel Worker Stout - An American Stout with an awesome roasted grain profile that isn't too thick and is quite drinkable. South Fork Dam Beer - The more daring of the two lighter looking beers here. Do you like bitter, nutty and dry lagers? This one is for you. (I hope I didn't confuse it with Flood Light in my notes.) Those three stole the show, but, the rest were respectable as well:
    Flood Light White Hat Pale Ale Lovett Brothers Irish Red 1889 Amber Stone Bridge Brown Ale Hefly Springs Raspberry Wheat
    I was very impressed by the variety, quality and sheer number of beers on tap. I honestly didn't go there expecting anything great. Remember I grew up about twenty-five minutes away and most of my family and friends drank a popular macro beer like I.C. Light. Just for the record, I do drink I.C. Light with my Dad when visiting. Looking back, I guess Rolling Rock or Straub was as close to different as you could get. So, imagine me with a huge smile on my face when the nine samples appeared before my eyes spanning from light yellow to amber to almost black. :-) Our meals were very good if not a little pricey. Our server was pleasant and attentive. Soon Ralph Lovette appeared and introduced himself. He told us of the building's history and of how they decided to get into the brew pub business after visiting the Weeping Radish in North Carolina. We walked through the upstairs to the pub downstairs. Wow! What a great little nook to hang out in. Again steel mill memorabilia surrounded you from the wooden patterns used in making steel molds to accident report blackboards to mill safety signs. There's a sizeable bar here with a huge wall of mug club mugs as a backdrop. Next time I visit I'm hanging out downstairs. We meandered our way around to the brewing room. It was definitely small, but, organized well with the fermenters on a scaffold above the brewing equipment. Adjacent to that room was the cooler where all the kegs were kept. Here's a picture of Ralph and I standing in the brewing room. You know I really enjoyed talking to Ralph. He seemed to have a good perspective on the history of the area and seems to know what he wants to do with this brew pub. Ok time for a wrap up. After the tour I purchased one of their growlers filled with Incline Plane Ale. In the process I met Sharon & Ralph's daughter who happened to be sitting at the upstairs bar. All in all JBC and the Lovette's made an great impression on me. I only wish I lived a little closer. Good food, good beer and a wonderful steel town theme make it a required stop for any beer lover! I'll be stopping every chance I get.

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    American Craft Beer Week: Tuesday 5/16/06

    What are you doing to celebrate? Here at The Brew Lounge, we chose to recognize the second day of ACBW by: - hm, making a trip over to McKenzie to try the IPA that Adam had yesterday (or the English Ale) - or maybe a driving a few more miles to Sly Fox in Phoenixville to pick up a 6-pack Pikeland Pils in cans Adam, have any plans to suggest for tonight? ADAM : Maybe I'll see you up at the Sly Fox. :-)

    The Brew Lounge is going to Boston, MA

    The Brew Lounge is on the road again. This time the Boston beer market is on the agenda. I've been to Boston many times before and still have not been to a game at Fenway Park. That may finally change. My (better) beer drinking escapades in Boston began in 1992 at Boston Beer Works near Fenway Park. So, I may be able to kill a couple of birds with one stone this time. (The Yankees are in town to play the Red Sox at Fenway....oh yeah!) There have also been several other beer joints that I've been to in the past and will try to get to again. Then, there are some new ones that I will attempt to hit this time as well. Patty and I will head up there on Saturday May 20th and I will be staying through Thursday for work. So, that's something like 5 nights total, including a couple of weekend days. My questions to all of you are: Take a look at my list below, would you highly recommend or not recommend any that I have listed?; Are there any quality spots that I have missed?; Do any of you live in the Boston area and want to meet up for a barley and hops beverage? (alphabetical listing) Definites Beer Works/Fenway Brasserie Jo Cambridge Brewing Co. Red Bones The Linwood Grill The Publick House The Good Beer Guide to New England book launch at Harpoon Brewery

    Outside Chance Harpoon Tour Mike's Restaurant Penguin Pizza Rudy's Cafe Sam Adams Tour Watch City Brewing Co.

    Monday, May 15, 2006

    American Craft Beer Week: Monday 5/15/06

    What are you doing to celebrate? Here at The Brew Lounge, we chose to recognize the first day of ACBW by: - stopping by Victory Brewing in Downingtown, PA - purchasing a case of their Ten Years Alt - bringing home a growler of, hm let's see, maybe Tripilsner or Whirlwind Wit (the outcome will be revealed at a later time!) UPDATE: As per Ray Daniels, Director, Craft Beer Marketing, Brewers Association you have to visit the actual breweries so the Festival at Iron Hill, Media, PA is out of the question for some quick points. EDIT: OK Bryan, how many points do you have in the Great American Brew Tour? I have one point so far. Stopped over at McKenzie Brew House for an IPA. I wanted to try the English Ale, but, I was pressed for time. BRYAN EDIT: 2 points for Bryan. Victory's Tripilsner in the house and tasting like a lager with backbone! Might have to do a review on this one :)

    Beer Sites: Basic Brewing Radio

    I'm sure this will not be news to many of you. However, in the spirit of spreading the good word and reciprocating James' support, it's worth a quick note here about the great work that Basic Brewing Radio is doing in the realm of homebrewing. James does a weekly podcast focusing on various aspects of the brew at home hobby. Occasionally, he will bring in a guest for an interview. Particularly interesting and outstanding was his recent episode of 4/27/06 in which he interviewed Stan Hieronymus.....excellent insight into the world of Belgian beers as only Stan can do. Also, Adam and I gleaned some good information about growing hops (which if you follow us closely, you know was a project that we recently embarked upon) from the 4/6/06 episode. Plus, completely from a self-centered point-of-view, he mentioned Brew Lounge on his most recent 5/4/06 episode and we've been getting some decent referral traffic from that.....nice bump! Thanks James and keep up the great work! p.s. Remember!! You do not need an iPod to listen to podcasts. If you don't have a portable music device, just simply go to the website and simply listen to the mp3 file through something like Windows Media Player, Quicktime, or something like it on your PC.

    Sunday, May 14, 2006

    Glassware: More from Bryan's Cabinet

    Lest ye think I only have those specialty-type glasses, here's a peek at some of the more interesting "other" glassware (mostly typical pint glasses) from which I enjoy the fine brew that I drink. Here's a listing from left-to-right, roughly speaking, with any interesting notes along the way. Stay tuned in the near future for information of how we are getting this set up in Flickr so that you can also add your own pictures of glassware and growlers. - Smuttynose - Southampton Secret Ale - Carolina Brewery - Grizzly Peak - Lowenbrau (from a corner tavern in Heidelberg, Germany almost 20 years ago) - Victory Lager - Victory Hop Devil (one of my favorite logos) - The Drafting Room - Heartland Brewery - Church Brew Works - "All American Sports Fan" (my Dad's beer glass; 25 years ago; "here's to you Dad!") - Dock Street - City Steam - Fat Head's - Lancaster Brewing - Top of the Hill - Stone 10th Anniversary commemorative (beautiful glass, thanks Matt!) - Bass - Old Harbor Brewery

    Saturday, May 13, 2006

    Beer Tasting: Brouwerij Huyghe Delirium Nocturnum

    This is a Belgium Strong Dark Ale from Brouwerij Huyghe of Melle Belguim. This time Jeremy and Jackie brought it with them one night when they visited. Thanks! BTW, how did you know I like beer ;-) Have you tasted this beer? Let us know what you think. As a suggestion, try to keep the review as brief as possible for each of the following: appearance; smell; taste; mouthfeel; and drinkability. Appearance Adam: reddish brown hue, clear, somewhat persistent head Jeremy: deep reddish mahogany, thin even & long lasting head Smell Adam: complex Belgian, figs, vanilla Jeremy: very unique complex nose, floral/fruity scent Taste Adam: sour sweet, yeasty, no alcohol, but doesn't live up to the nose Jeremy: smooth for 8.5 abv, a bit bitter, very little hops Mouthfeel Adam: dry disappears to nothing Jeremy: lots of bubbles Drinkability Adam: yeah, nothing to stop you Jeremy: very drinkable, goes down quickly Seconds? Adam: probably, but, not much more than that Jeremy: eh...not bad, but...not great, worth trying, but, probably wouldn't purchase again Jackie (via Adam): Jackie liked it alot.

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    Beer Tasting: Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue)

    This is a Belgian Strong Dark style ale from Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont in Belgium. This beer was tried along side of the other two styles of ale from Chimay. Jump over here for our tasting notes for the "red" and over here for our tasting notes for the "white." These 12 ounce bottles were purchased together in a gift box (with accompanying glassware). My box was bought in December '05 and stored at 54F since that time and Adam's was purchased and consumed within a day. Could the length of time from purchase have influenced our reviews? Hm...... Have you tasted this beer? Let us know what you think. As a suggestion, try to keep the review as brief as possible for each of the following: appearance; smell; taste; mouthfeel; and drinkability.

    Appearance Adam: persistent carpet of foam, red garnet & amber in color Bryan: dark with deep red hues; slowly fading dense head Smell Adam: delicate sweet belgian malt & yeast Bryan: a bit of roasted malt Taste Adam: delicate, malt, yeast, fruit Bryan: rich, well-rounded Mouthfeel Adam: well carbonated Bryan: bordering on thick; but even throughout with just enough carbonation to enliven the palate Drinkability Adam: extremely, better as it gets warmer...to a point Bryan: it is, but slowly enjoy it Seconds? Adam: yes, no question Bryan: yes, but a few of these at 9% will end your night quicker than you might have expected

    Growing Hops: Chinook, Willamette, Hallertau & Cascade Planted

    See what happened next -> It LIVES!!! - 1.5 inches
    After much deliberation, figuring, refiguring and a beer or two I decided where to put the other six hops plants. I really wanted to put them someplace where they could grow 20 feet or so, but, that just wasn't practical. I decided to settle for 7 feet vertical and 4 feet or so horizontal. The next thing was to decide where the plants would go. I chose a corner of the yard to put up the supports for the trellis. These were 12' long pressure treated 4x4s. I sunk them about 2' into the ground using a manual post hole digger. They will stand about 7' on the high side and 8 on the low side. I used a line level and some contractors line to determine where to cut them so the tops would be level with each other. The supports/posts are setup in a triangle. I'll plant three plants on each of the two short sides. The hops will grow up the twine to cables at the top and then over the top to a line on the third side of the triangle. I'm hoping it will provide a nice shady place to sit in the heat of the summer. Trenches were dug about a foot deep where the hops rhizomes were to be planted. I kept the topsoil in one pile and the clay in another. Then I purchased some top soil and mixed that with the top soil I dug out and some sand. I saved the clay for another project. Next I planted the rhizomes about 3" to 4" deep and 2' apart for like varieties and a little more between the different varieties. Hopefully this will keep them separated enough for harvesting. I don't want to get the varieties mixed up during harvesting. I watered them well and then covered the trenches with about 2" of peat moss. It is supposed to rain over the next couple days if not more so that's good. We really need it here in Southeastern, PA. I'll probably use miracle grow to water them daily. I'm hopping for the best! ;-) NOTE: It did rain alot last night! Whooohoo!
    See what happened next -> It LIVES!!! - 1.5 inches

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    Beer Tasting: Chimay Cinq Cents (White)

    This is a tripel style ale from Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont in Belgium. This beer was tried along side of the other two styles of ale from Chimay. Jump over here for our tasting notes for the "red" and over here for our tasting notes for the "blue." These 12 ounce bottles were purchased together in a gift box (with accompanying glassware). My box was bought in December '05 and stored at 54F since that time and Adam's was purchased and consumed within a day. Could the length of time from purchase have influenced our reviews? Hm...... Have you tasted this beer? Let us know what you think. As a suggestion, try to keep the review as brief as possible for each of the following: appearance; smell; taste; mouthfeel; and drinkability.

    Appearance Adam: apricot, large head with large bubbles Bryan: brass-like color with looser head dissipating quickly to a thin layer Smell Adam: yeasty apricot Bryan: fruitiness similar to a German hefeweizen Taste Adam: incredible, fruity & spicy Bryan: my allergies are killing me; I get some bitterness and alcohol; not much identifiable flavor (but I think that I'm a bit handicapped by my allergies at the moment) Mouthfeel Adam: very bubbly Bryan: medium-bodied; smooth; low carbonation Drinkability Adam: less than the red & blue, slight sour aftertaste Bryan: it is Seconds? Adam: probably Bryan: yes

    South Philadelphia Tap Room in Philadelphia, PA

    I need to come clean. I have experienced 'beer writer envy'. See, for close to the past year, I have been getting real tired of hearing practically everyone and their mother writing and raving about South Philadelphia Taproom. And, yet, with all of this hype I somehow continued to dismiss it until just this past weekend. In all honesty, I was a bit prejudiced by the neighborhood. Now, I am a city guy through and through. It's just that I found it very difficult to believe that a good (check that, very good) beer bar could survive, let alone open, in this area of South Philly. For anyone familiar with the area, you need to go past South Street, past the Italian Market, past the cheesesteak restaurants, and through some dicey neighborhoods to get to 15th and Mifflin Streets. Don't get me wrong, it's not the hardcore ghetto here but, at the same time, it's far from a bustling neighborhood. I think it will be quite a while before any of the trendy scene from other parts of the city find there way to this neighborhood. But, for the time being, better beer lovers from far and wide are trekking their way to SPTR. (Oh, and if you want to take the train...jump off of the Broad Street subway line at the Snyder avenue stop and walk approximately 3 blocks). How did this little visit come about, you may ask? Well, I was sitting in my humble home office on a beautiful Saturday morning catching up on some reading and some podcasts. Ironically, I was reading Jack Curtin's Atlantic Ale Trail column in the April/May edition of Celebrator. In there, Jack wrote about his own pleasure with SPTR. So, it was perfectly timed when Patty stuck her head in and asked if I wanted to ride with her into Philadelphia because she was getting her cut and styled. Depending on the circumstances and my level of selfishness at the current time, I may or may not accept. But, I instantly saw the opportunity to have close to two hours for exploring a new beer bar. "Can you wait 10 minutes?" I asked. She was happy for the company. And, selfishly, I was finally going to see SPTR! After dropping Patty off at her appointment, I wound my way through the city to SPTR. An easy parking spot along the street within steps of the front door allowed me to quickly slip into a bar seat. Predictably, the place was practically empty on this particular Saturday afternoon. It gave me a perfect opportunity to chat it up with Candice, who was working the bar at the time. She gave me the three year history of the bar, as it came to age as a destination beer bar, and their plans to break through the wall to the neighboring building to double the size of their space. She told me of wild tales from crazy weekend nights. She described how on some nights the wait for a dinner table can be close to one hour. She talked of how the neighborhood is ever-so-slowly changing, with average real estate prices breaking through the 6-figure range....Unbelievable for many long-timers in the neighborhood. To describe SPTR in a nutshell would be to call it your favorite neighborhood hangout and a high-quality beer joint wrapped together. With a couple of TVs, a seriously interesting menu, a down-to-earth urban tavern environment, and great beers from both the local and the world scenes, you can start to understand why SPTR is getting such rave reviews. Are you wondering yet what I had to drink? Funny you should ask. The special offer on Saturday and Sunday afternoons is $3 IPAs from Yards. Very good beer, nice price......sold. Great way to start the afternoon. How about some food? Definitely; you check out the menu here and you will see that it is hard to refuse. My choice was the Wild Boar Burrito. And what an excellent choice it was! Not only was it extremely delectable with cheddar jack cheese and some chipotle ranch sauce to spread over the top. But, for the nice price of $8, I also got a large size salad as an accompaniment. Then, for seconds I moved on to the Dogfish Head Aprihop (which I last had two years ago). My third and last beer was Ommegang's Hennepin ale. Of course, all this did was quench my thirst and remind of their Belgian festival in July! Generally speaking, there are 13 taps which include a fair representation of fresh local beer like Stoudt's, Sly Fox, Yards, Victory, and Troegs. And, then there is a decent selection of well over 50 bottled (maybe close to 100) beers spanning this country and the world from Canada to England to Germany to Belgium and to Japan (Hitochino). See, who says you can't get good beer deep in the heart of South Philly? I can only imagine which frontier is next!

    Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    Beer Tasting: Chimay Première (Red)

    This is a dubbel style ale from Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont in Belgium. This beer was tried along side of the other two styles of ale from Chimay. Jump over here for our tasting notes for the "white" and over here for our tasting notes for the "blue." These 12 ounce bottles were purchased together in a gift box (with accompanying glassware). My box was bought in December '05 and stored at 54F since that time and Adam's was purchased and consumed within a day. Could the length of time from purchase have influenced our reviews? Hm...... Have you tasted this beer? Let us know what you think. As a suggestion, try to keep the review as brief as possible for each of the following: appearance; smell; taste; mouthfeel; and drinkability. Appearance Adam: huge head dissipates to thin carpet, smoky ruby in color Bryan: cherry mahogany red; substantial dense head; very slow to fade Smell Adam: spicy date with alcohol and malt, big nose Bryan: lightly sweet, pleasing aroma; not overwhelming Taste Adam: wonderful, big and still not overpowering, the taste of Belgian beers are hard for me to describe Bryan: nothing extremely notable; a bit of malt a bit of hops, but not that full; a bit of peppery flavor in the remaining pour (yeast) Mouthfeel Adam: well carbonated Bryan: smooth, lightly carbonated Drinkability Adam: be careful this is a big beer that is easy to drink Bryan: very, but it carries its most character when cooler Seconds? Adam: definitely would like a second, the question is can I handle it ;-) Bryan: if it's the only Chimay variety in the house then fine, but it's not that great

    Brew Pub Visit: Nodding Head

    Dropped by Nodding Head after attending the Broad Street Run with my wife. GO LISA! Yes, she ran while the kids and I enjoyed some kids activities at the finish line. (I didn't have to tell you that it wasn't me running did I?) Anyway, back to the brew pub...I've only been to Nodding Head once before and I only got a chance to sample a so so rendition of George's Fault. I was eager to set things right! You'll be happy to know they were. I tasted the Bill Payer Ale, a.k.a. BPA, a hoppy, bitter and malty pale ale. Mmmm...a good start. Definitely something I'll order again. (picture on the left) During my meal it was time for the Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse. As described on the menu, "Berlin style wheat beer...served with just a touch of Woodruff Syrup." Whoah! Our server did a good job of warning me about this one. I would have to say it's probably one of the most unusual beers I have ever tasted. The taste was more of a light sour cider. I'm still trying to come to grips with that one. (picture below on the right) Oh yeah, it was a tinge green. Man...and I thought the brettanomyces flavor was expanding my horizons.
    Time for one more before I caught the train, the Spring Ale. Well, now there's some hops in that there beer. I guess I'm used to a certain type of hops nose hitting me, probably cascade. This seemed to be something a bit different. I wish I could discern one from another. At any rate it was crisp, light and flavorful! (not pictured here)

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    Glassware: Bryan's Collection

    While it is not by far the most impressive glassware collection, it's a start, eh? I only recently got started collecting beer glassware other than the usual pint glasses. Here's the brief rundown of how they came into my possession. The Duvel came compliments of an Ommegang tasting. The St. Feuillien was a parting gift from a Monk's beer dinner. The Stone was a thank-you gift. The Chimay and St. Bernardus came in beer/glassware gift packs. And, the Moinette was a nice giveaway. As we all know, the shape of glassware can sometimes have a dramatic impact on how a beer's aroma presents itself. So, my collectibles have grown first from coasters and matchbooks, then beer labels, to growlers, and finally now glassware. I'm looking forward to growing this area of my collection!

    Beer & Cheese Pairing: Chimay

    What started out as a beer and cheese pairing, turned out in the end to be just a beer tasting. Bryan was all excited to have all 3 Chimay beers and a wedge of the Chimay with Beer style cheese from...you guessed it....Chimay. The brewery's namesake also puts out 4 different types of cheeses and this one was available from our local Wegman's grocery store. But, Bryan, (alright now, enough of the third person) neglected for two weeks the cheese as it sat in my cheese drawer. Though it was still in its original wrapping, the damage had been done. I tasted this soft cheese, and the aroma and taste was just too putrid to allow Adam to try it. So, we simply moved on to the Red, White, and Blue tasting of Chimay's beers. Watch the next three days as we discuss our thoughts on these beers. p.s. The cheese and beer make a nice picture, eh :(

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    Beer Tasting: Summit Maibock

    This is a Maibock style lager from Summit brewery of St. Paul, Minnesota. This 12 ounce bottle was included in a bock variety case from Beer Yard in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Have you tasted this beer? Let us know what you think. As a suggestion, try to keep the review as brief as possible for each of the following: appearance; smell; taste; mouthfeel; and drinkability. Appearance Adam: golden amber, quickly disappating head Bryan: pale golden color; thin small bubbled head Smell Adam: sweet malty lager, earthy Bryan: pleasantly sweet lager-like malt aroma Taste Adam: fruity lager, slightly bitter, almost lives up to the nose Bryan: good solid base malts coming through; nothing special, though Mouthfeel Adam: carbonated well, coats mouth Bryan: medium body with medium carbonation; it builds in body and flavor as it moves through the mouth Drinkability Adam: a little heavy and otherwise average maibock Bryan: good for while doing some light work around the house; 7% ABV....really? Seconds? Adam: maybe a second...not sure Bryan: sure, why not?

    Magnolia Pub in San Francisco, CA

    On my next trip to San Francisco, CA my first stop for beer will be at the Magnolia brewpub in the Haight-Ashbury district, just off of Golden Gate Park. Unless I can't get there without stopping at Toronado first. So, edit the opening line, my first stop at a brewpub in San Francisco will be Magnolia. Sure, 21st Amendment is very good (and near the ballpark), Thirsty Bear is worth another look, and Anchor will of course get a return visit from me. But, standing at the top of the heap in my mind for the complete brewpub experience in San Francisco is Magnolia. Dave McLean and his crew are head and shoulders above many others in the industry. You may have noticed that over the past six weeks or so I have been sharing with you the beer experiences that I had while in San Francisco in March. I saved Magnolia for the last review because I wanted to make sure that I got it just right. So, I wrote some, reviewed it, let some time go by, reviewed it again, and finally figured that it is time to "pull the trigger" and share this great information with you all. If you followed closely enough, you may remember that I trekked out on foot from my hotel at Union Square to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood one beautiful evening. I knew that it would be a decent hike, but close to 3 miles later, I finally arrived at Toronado. You can see the full Toronado review here. But, then I met Paul Hayward and, soon after, we ventured up to Magnolia approximately 1/2 mile closer to the park. I was hungry (for food and beer) when I walked in, and I was starving by the time I finally got my burger delivered to me. This was because the joint was jumping. Not jumping in a raucous way, mind you, but more of just a happy, friendly neighborhood buzz kind of way. While the space is not large enough to comfortably hold all of its fans, Magnolia's staff and patrons and their attitudes (at least on this particular evening) somehow make the close quarters just a bit friendlier. With Paul's acquaintance Kelly working the bar, we fortunately got a little quicker attention. I started off with the Proving Ground IPA (CO2) and by the end of the evening (and thanks to a little friendly coercion from Kelly) I also sampled the Proving Ground IPA (Cask), Pearly Baker's Bitter (both ways), Saison de Lily, Cole Porter, and Stout of Circumstance. Should I be disappointed that I did not try each of the beers on the full list?! It was so difficult to attempt a ranking of these beers that I tried. They all scored at least an 'above average' up to an 'excellent' reaction from me (maybe I need a scoring system?). But, if you pushed me hard enough, I would have to put the Proving Ground IPA (esp. the cask version) and the Saison at the top of the list. They would be followed closely by the Cole Porter, the Pearly Baker, and the Stout of Circumstance last but certainly not in a bad way. The food, ah the food! I knew I was off to a good start after reading the menu and seeing that these guys are into supporting locally grown, sustainable, and organic food however possible. You can certainly tell that there's a chemistry that they work at here at Magnolia. I had a Niman Ranch burger with blue cheese and a 1/2 pound later I was full of some real good cooking from the kitchen. What a perfect accompaniment for the beer, especially the porter. It is always fun to find these kind of places, especially given that you'll be hard-pressed to find their beer anywhere else...draft, bottle, or otherwise. Another significant allure is the special attention that they give to cask-conditioned ales. They have gone the extra mile to install the capability to serve a handful of cask conditioned brews at any given time. By the way, if you are interested in the rich and unique history of Magnolia Pub and the Haight-Ashbury in addition to their cask conditioning system, their website contains a lot of very interesting detail. Well, I could certainly go on and on here about Magnolia. And, for those of you regular readers, you may be surprised that I am not going to ;-) All I really want to say in summary is that if you are in San Francisco and looking for excellent beers, with great food, served by incredible people then make sure that you check out Magnolia Pub. p.s. If anyone knows how to nominate a 'bartender of the year', please let me know. Kelly deserves 1000 votes (or more). Her friendliness, great attitude, and knowledge of the beer made the experience at Magnolia even better.

    Sunday, May 07, 2006

    Book Review: Beer in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

    I purchased this book a few weeks ago after seeing it on A Good Beer Blog. Alan really enticed me into purchasing it with his post. Thanks Alan! Beer in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance by Richard W. Unger What do I think about it? I like it so far. I'm the kind of person who is interested in fully exploring the things I love. This is one of those books that probably isn't for the general population. I think I can sum it up. This is the kind of book you study. And let me tell you, I can't think of a better subject :-)

    Saturday, May 06, 2006

    Growing Hops: Cascade Rhizomes Planted

    See what happened next -> Day 7: Chinook, Willamette & Hallertau Planted
    Well, it took long enough, but, two Cascade Rhizomes are planted. All the prep work was done so all we really did was put 'em in the ground and water them well. So if you live near me you'll see me out there everyday with my head close to the ground looking for the first sprout.
    See what happened next -> Day 7: Chinook, Willamette & Hallertau Planted

    Friday, May 05, 2006

    Cinco de Mayo Special: Rocketboom does Mexican beer tasting

    Well, I'm not sure that Amanda Congdon will be giving the Craft Beer Radio guys any competition. But, in the spirit of today's Mexican holiday, check out today's episode of Rocketboom to see Amanda do tastings and comments of 5 Mexican beers. Plus, the intro cartoon on procrastination is kind of funny. Enjoy your margaritas, beers, enchiladas, or whatever you do to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

    Beer Words: Maibock

    It might be apparent to some of you with better language skill than me, but, I just found out that Maibock means bock style beer brewed in the month of May. I recently tasted a Bethlehem Brew Works Maibock and realized I didn't know much about Maibock. Funny how each season brings a new understanding of beer. Here are some bock styles from Wikipedia. Maibock (brewed for the month of May) Eisbock (ice bock) Weizenbock (wheat bock) Doppelbock (double bock). ... And as I was searching around I found this article from Michael Jackson with some more background. It talks about goats, so be sure not to miss it...heheh. Speaking of goats there is at least one other reference to goats on our site. I won't make you search for it, since you are so into goats. I mean you must be you're still reading.
    Anybody else want to chime in on the bock style? Hopefully we'll get to post something about the collection of bock style beer we recently purchased. I've tasted about 6 of the 10 or so and they are very interesting. Hint: About the goat, follow the Fox ;-)

    Thursday, May 04, 2006

    Thirsty Bear Brewing Co. in San Francisco, CA

    Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my! Well in this case there were only bears....thirsty bears that is. Thirsty Bear Brewing Co. was not on my original list of San Francisco beer destinations. But, while at 21st Amendment, I was advised that on my walk back to the hotel, I should check out Thirsty Bear. It was at 21st Amendment that I received my San Francisco Brewers Guild map, on which Thirsty Bear was listed. So I figured 'what the heck', it was now on the list. According to the World Beer Cup, they also had a couple of award-winning brews in the past. On approach to TB, you definitely do not get a cozy neighborhood feel. As I walked down Howard Street, a quite wide thoroughfare, I came upon the brewpub, which from the outside is in a nondescript building just a block from the Moscone Convention Center. Once inside, I was awed a bit by the size and design. I am not sure that I've ever been in a brewpub quite like this one. The front of the space has a nice and comfortable lounge area with heavy drapes hanging from the high ceilings to the floor. You certainly get a trendy feeling of plushness as you walk through the different areas of the restaurant and bar. The long bar opens up in front of you as walk farther back, with the brewing operations set up behind the bar. The patrons can walk behind the bar to see some of the brewing action. Though, during this particular visit, there was practically no action of which to speak. On one hand, this is nice because I can focus strictly on the beer and checking things out around the brewpub. However, it can also present some other challenges in doing a comprehensive review. For starters, it's difficult to get a real sense of the type of crowd, the popularity of the beer, and the overall excitement for the place. Plus, the staff tends to fall down a bit in their service level during off-peak hours. But, putting aside the nonexistent service, I was able to focus on the beers and the food. In this visit of firsts, it was also the first Spanish-based brewpub for me. Their website claims to be the first U.S. brewpub "to serve an authentic Spanish menu." In any case, I did not sample any food, but a quick scan of the food menu left me with a favorable impression of their creativity. On the beer side of things, I was mildly impressed but not overwhelmed. I sampled the Belgian-style Valencia Wheat (one of their usual suspects, among several) and the Scottish Ale (a specialty one-time brew). The Wheat was very nicely balanced with modest, but not overly full, flavors of refreshing citrus. I tried the Scottish Ale primarily because I was intrigued to find what should have been a mouthful of rich malt in this great State of double and triple IPAs. I was a bit disappointed in a lighter style Scottish Ale than I might have expected. Also, interesting to note is that, like 21st Amendment, Thirsty Bear has a weekly cask night when they roll out a specialty cask and tap it until it is gone. It's nice to see this trend catching on at more and more bars/brewpubs. I started by mentioning the sheer size of this place. When you make your way to the restrooms, you get the chance to see the remainder of the bar and restaurant. The restrooms are upstairs where you will find even more bar and dining areas, a private party room, darts, and a pool table. Judging from the trendy design, the creative menu, and the size of the location, I get a feeling that TB probably gets quite crowded and rocking on certain nights. In my mind, it was difficult to fully assess and will require a return trip. p.s. Mark, did I get your attention with the opening sentence? You know it will be a review worth reading when I start with a Wizard of Oz reference, eh?!