Friday, June 30, 2006
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Monday, June 26, 2006
- apricot glow
- delicate sweet scent of malt
- more of a lager taste with hops and slight malt finish
- this is not as big as the optimator and doesn't live up to the aroma
- kind of a skunky after taste
- I won't buy this one again
- Has a nice, pale and golden color
- Has a sweet aroma like figs and apricots
- The taste is a real letdown after such a happy aroma
- I, too, do not need to have any more of this beer
Friday, June 23, 2006
- deep cherry with traces of a head
- very sweet nose
- whoa that was very sweet
- overall it is just too heavy...treat it like a barleywine
- could use some carbonation
- hmmmm...I'd buy one more maybe
- Watch Scott's face on this one
- dark, brown cola-like
- Very nice rich strong flavors of malt and alcohol
- also, faint molasses and figs
- Not much hop presence
- just a bit of lagery yeast taste lingers around
- A nice solid, smooth-drinking beer
- Spaten Optimator
- New Castle Brown Ale
- Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse
- Beck's Dark
- and many more...
Thursday, June 22, 2006
- more amberish yellow
- nose is kinda like burnt sneakers
- average beer taste, bud with color?
- drink it while its cold
- I'd rather drink Coors Light
- how not to brew bock beer
- This one is for Scott ;-)
- very pale, bland look beer with little to no head
- smells like either charred wood or pungent cheese, either way it's not a compliment
- tastes like a mouthful of dirt, or like a vegetable just pulled from the ground
- very basic beer that could be fine for some, but not for your's truly
- Had a hard time getting through this one
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
- deep reddish brown
- thin head to islands
- big malty nose like molasses
- malty and bitter with yeastiness
- more bitter than optimator
- let it warm
- I'd buy 6 of these
- Just a sip for Scott
- Cola-colored with a reddish hue
- Very enticingly sweet and malty aroma
- Sweet like brown sugar with a touch of pleasant bitterness
- Just a bit sticky, but overall nice
- I'd settle for a six-pack of this very worthy brew
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Monday, June 19, 2006
- Bryan thought the bocks were all gone. Well they're bock (wince). Spaten Optimator Doppelbock was the next victim. Purchased at the Beer Yard in Wayne, PA. Are you tired of the Appearance, Smell, Taste....etc.? We were too. We'll be changing things up a bit to make our notes reflect the experience of the tasting a bit more.
- Brownish Red
- Sweet almost heavy smell of malt & yeast
- tastes of vegetable malt & yeast
- something about this style that really turns me on, something about a bock that reeks of spring
- I'd buy a case
- Not for Scott
- Looks cola-colored
- Has a sweet, malty nose with a bit of alcohol
- Taste of dry roasted flavors and some mild bitterness
- Deceivingly easy to drink for 7+% ABV
- I'd like to have at least a six-pack from Adam's case if he'd allow
Sunday, June 18, 2006
I certainly should not start with Miller High Life, Keystone, Molson, Moosehead, Busch, or Schmidt's in my later high school or college years. Or, maybe I should. It would demonstrate how far I've come (seriously, haven't we all come a long way?!)
But, later in my college years, round about 1991/1992 I discovered a wonderful brewpub in Center City Philadelphia named Dock Street. It is thanks to Dock Street and the better beer revolution that they were part of in Philadelphia that has led me to where I am today with my beer appreciation.
It was Adam's question the other day of "What is it about beer?" that got me to thinking about the 15 years and the many good (and sometimes not so good) beers that I have enjoyed. As I mentioned earlier this week, Boston Beer Works also contributed to my early years of dabbling in good beer. Some decent craft beer would wander into our off-campus housing, to the strange looks of my roommates. But, more often than not, they were willing participants!
The mid-1990s were consumed (literally!) by a lot of Guinness, John Courage, Bass, Harp, Dock Street, Red Bell, Samuel Adams, and Saranac. In other words, certainly better than average beers, but still sticking to the mostly formulaic ale and lager styles that the world was ready for at that time.
In the latter half of the 1990s, I started discovering the real craft beer scene. Victory Brewing opened in the Philadelphia suburbs and it did not take long to fall in love with their Hop Devil. By 1998, 1999, 2000 I was completely hooked on anything different than the mainstream. To me, the mainstream began to include anything widely available like Guinness, Harp, and Bass (just as a few examples). The harder it was to find and the more different/interesting the taste, the more I wanted it. I became, of sorts, a beer hunter....at least in the Philly area.
Helping to fuel this obsession was our friend Mark, a homebrewer. His nut brown ale, schwarzbier, and grand cru are excellent brews that go down all too easily and demonstrate wonderful flavors and aromas that you look for in craft beer. After he moved away to Madison, another new friend, Adam, came onto the scene when we moved into the house behind his. He is also, as you know, a homebrewer and helps me to appreciate even more greatly the wonder behind what goes into making beer. He may even make a homebrewer out of me soon!
Now, the next phase appears to be taking a hold of me. As you have read in previous posts from us, we are evermore fascinated with sour/tart beers, especially those originating from the Flanders region of Belgium. American breweries are also now starting to dabble in them. A perfect experience of our newfound fascination was the Monk's dinner that we attended in January of 2006, featuring Russian River and Port Brewing (aka Lost Abbey).
Today, I suppose you could call me a bit of a beer traveler. In other words, just as I've planned trips around family, relaxation, or baseball, I now include breweries, beer bars, and brewpubs in my travel itineraries. Each region and location has beer styles and personalities that can be considered unique to their respective areas. This can certainly add a very nice layer to traveling, don't you think? After all, we do have to eat and drink, yes?!
So, as any of you who have followed a similar path as mine know very well, the world of craft beer is long and interesting and everchanging (mostly for the better). You can't expect to comprehend and appreciate it all at once. Beer is 4 main ingredients, but beer is also more than just 4 main ingredients. What do I mean by this? Check back again later to The Brew Lounge for more of my thoughts.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Continued from yesterday....Click here for a look back at my first trip to (Boston) Beer Works
Now, fast forward 15 years. Many, many beer establishments have come and gone. Much has progressed in the world of craft brewing. And, whatever you call it now, Beer Works is still around. When Patty and I went into BW on this particular Sunday afternoon, I was in much better condition than 15 years ago and these memories are much more clear, mature, and responsible! The imagery, though, was slightly, in a hazy way, familiar. This is a large location. Oh, I should mention, that this location by Fenway Park is just one of three locations. The other two are in downtown Boston and Salem, MA. It is quite apparent that BW is a hoppin' place when there is a game at Fenway. The bar area is large and TVs aplenty to provide a very conducive sports atmosphere. Though, I happy that we were able to visit on a slow Sunday afternoon to get a vibe for their attention to the beer details.
You definitely get a beer and baseball theme from the second you walk inside BW. There is all sorts of baseball memorabilia on the walls interspersed with beer clothing, glassware, and posters. There is a smaller bar, which can be partitioned off for private parties, to the left of the front door. Walking farther in, the larger, main bar is set back to the right with the fermentation and serving tanks situated around and behind it. The dining room fills the remainder of the large room. All tables and barstools are within easy view of a TV to provide all the latest sports action.
This was the last stop on my Great American Beer Tour during Craft Brewing Week. So, my first interaction with the staff was at the bar to get the last entry filled on my passport. The bartender was friendly, gracious, and patient as I felt inclined to share the story that I described in the first part of this review. Then, Patty and I began our beer and food sampling. In addition to keeping approximately 15 tap lines going, BW also has quite a varied and interesting food menu. We decided to start with one of the house specialties, the french fries. They come with a variety of seasoning/toppings. For dinner, I had an amazing pork tenderloin, stuffed with spinach, chorizo sausage, and topped with a spicy chili and corn sauce.
So, what did we have to drink with all of this excellent food, you may ask?! Our server, Kelly, was our perfect host who was more than willing to get (me especially) as many samples as I asked for. The Back Bay IPA was a good representation of the style without being too aggressively hopped. While I do like the overly hopped beers, with dinner the Back Bay IPA was perfect. The Victory Red, the Beantown Nut Brown Ale, and the Buckeye Oatmeal Stout were all also very solid beers that well showcased the malt and hop balance. These were all very drinkable beers, and I am saying that in a good way.
The samplers that I received of the ESB, the Bambino Ale, the pale ale, and the porter all continued the theme of decent beer being produced here at Beer Works. Then, to demonstrate their creative flair, I received a sample of the Berliner Weisse. This is a style that I am not all too familiar with outside of its reputation. Nodding Head, here in Philadelphia, has won numerous awards for its interpretation. I was warned by Kelly that the Berliner Weisse is an "acquired taste" and very tart. Contrary to her warnings, I did not find it to be overpowering. It seemed to be a more tepid style than some of the more "in your face" sour/tart style beers.
Overall, as you can tell from this long-winded, two-part diatribe, I recommend Beer Works. While I did not visit the other two locations, my bet is that you will get decent beer and food at any of the locations. At the Fenway location, you will also get a baseball atmosphere and if you are there on gameday, perhaps a bit of mayhem also. But, if you are looking for the chance to appreciate what they are doing with beer and food, make sure there is no game scheduled during the time of your visit.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
I love to reminisce. I like thinking back in time to observe events (usually personal) and determine the impact they have had on my life. Or, conversely, if I thought they were a bigger deal at the time than they really were. Well, in the case of Boston Beer Works, circa 1992, I had no clue the role that they would play in the beginning of my, let's call it, "better beer enlightenment." I had already been exposed to Dock Street in Philadelphia and now I was on the consummate road trip to Boston with college friends. This is a fun story to tell, because as college stories go (or at least the ones that I can put in print ;-) this is a good one.
Hopefully, you will indulge me for a few sentences here. My college men's basketball team was in the Division II postseason in Springfield, Massachusetts. If I'm not mistaken, it was during our spring break week in March and Dave hit the road with me on a Wednesday. Unfortunately, the team got bounced from the single-elimination tournament on Thursday. Fortunately, Dave and I had already devised our backup plan in case something like this happened. We were headed east to Boston. And, to fulfill the "more the merrier" cliche, our friend Jen, a cheerleader, signed a waiver of liability (for the school and cheerleader squad) and joined us on our expedition.
So, as college roadtrips go, we had minimal clothes, plans, or money. But, we had high hopes!! We found a hotel on Boston College's campus, split the bill 3 ways, and headed off to find Boston's best watering holes. Now, keeping in mind that Dave was 21, but I was 20, and Jen was 19 we had no idea how well this plan would work. Well, we found a lovely little bar that for some reason found fit to serve us large goldfish bowls full of grain alcohol and some juices for balance. After getting thoroughly snockered, we then had the bright idea to get some food. (Isn't it supposed to work the other way around?! Remember, this is a college story!)
Somehow, we find our way to Boston Beer Works. The name has changed and is now known as simply Beer Works. The funny thing is, my memory 15 years later recalls good food, great beer, a fun crowd (near BC and BU), and some vague images of the bar area. But, who knows, I could have fabricated that all in my memory for the sake of "saving face." Because, the kicker here is.....I did not even realize that, at BBW, I was just across from one of the holy grails of baseball, Fenway Park where the Boston Red Sox play. I learned about my proximity to this sacred ground after returning back home. So, this should give you some idea of the state of affairs on this, my first, trip to BBW. Continued tomorrow.....Click here for a look at my most recent trip to Beer Works.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Appearance Bryan: pours a very appealing copper-colored brew with no lacing or remnants of the initial head to speak of Smell Bryan: a bit of malt aroma, but nothing too powerful to notice; an alcoholic hint that it could have been bourbon barrel aged Taste Bryan: some nice bitter hops flavor upfront gives way quickly to sweet flavors like brown sugar, vanilla, and bubble gum (all in a good way) Mouthfeel Bryan: Some nice soft carbonation helps keep the beer alive throughout; this is a smooth drinking beer Drinkability Bryan: yes, this is an interesting beer that makes me want to keep trying more to discover other flavors (glad I have the entire bottle to myself) Seconds? Bryan: yes, (see last comment!), though at 11% ABV I better make sure that I'm not driving anywhere!