Thursday, August 31, 2006

Union Barrel Works in Reamstown, PA - Construction Update 8/30/06

A report in from our Lancaster County correspondent (not really, but he's a great beer-loving guy who happens to live in Reamstown), Dennis, describes the progress of the Union Barrel Works in Reamstown, PA. The idea is beer, food, and banquet/event facilities. Funny thing is, it's apparently the new home of brewer Tom Rupp and just a few miles from his early days at Stoudt's in Adamstown. Even funnier still is how Dennis has been bugging me about when I was gonna finally break this news at The Brew Lounge. Well, don't you know it, I check with Lew Bryson to confirm some details and, with our permission, he's got the story up at his site. Now there's the difference between a guy who's on his game and the rest of us :) Seriously, if you want to know a little (or a lot) about beer, even whiskey, you've gotta follow his site and his writings. The man knows his stuff. (Not like that's any secret if you follow anything that remotely resembles beer; check out his books, WHYY, etc.) Stay tuned for more details about Union Barrel Works. So far, November is the anticipated opening month. Dennis will keep us up-to-date and I promise to be more timely in sharing!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My favorite beers of the past 4 months

So, it's been four months since my last "favorite" list. What's been delighting my taste buds since then, you may ask? (Ok, you didn't, but here goes anyway :) Celis White Anchor Porter Avery The Reverend St. Bernardus Abt 12 (& 60th anniversary, too) Victory Tripilsner Dogfish Head Immort Ale Celis White Urthel Hop-it Great Divide Hercules IPA Terrapin Rye Celis White New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red Brouwerij Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne Brasserie Dupont Moinette Blond Anchor Bock Celis White (oops, did I mention that before?!) As you can see, the Celis White (being brewed by Michigan Brewing Co.) has left a big impression on me. Think Hoegaarden with even more citrusy and spicy flavors. More character and a bit more body, while still being a refreshing summertime beer. I may still go for another case before the summer is over, oh yeah!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Topic of the Week: Mainstream light beer...what would you choose?

It all started in a recent post when Mike said...
ok, here's a topic for you: what if you have to drink a mainstream light beer -- which would you choose? I typically will choose bud light -- It just goes down smoothest for me (as opposed to miller lite which seems to have a nasty aftertaste and give me a headache). Smoothness is paramount b/c when I am drinking this type of beer it typically means I am drinking all day long. I also had heineken light the other day and it was palatable. Went down quite easily
We've all heard it right? Blind taste tests, tastes great...less filling, all the taste without all the calories, a light beer that doesn't fill you up...etcetera etcetera. Well Mike brings up a good point. What would you choose? Me, what would I choose? I really doubt that I can tell the difference between many of the light beers. I remember Michelob Ultra as being about as close to dirty water as you can get. I would rank it at the bottom. I don't think I ever really had a favorite light beer. So, if I'm having a beer with family and friends, it's probably some type of party and I would just randomly pick something. I guess the alcohol is the main attraction in that case. If I'm out to dinner with my wife, I would probably just pass on the beer and find something else to drink. BTW I've heard that 12 oz. of Guinness has about 125 calories. Depending on your choice of light beer you may be consuming between 95 and 135 calories per 12 oz. serving. Check out this chart of calories, carbs and alcohol at RealBeer.com. Hmmm...is Guinness Draught really a light beer?! Are any beers "light"? Heck after all that I think I would choose Guinness. What would you choose if you were choosing a "light" beer?

Monday, August 28, 2006

'Topic of the Week': Week In Review; Local Beer

It seems that, generally speaking, people love their local beer and are loyal...to a point. Though, while the hunt in tracking down a hard-to-find beer from somewhere far from home can be fun, the responses to this 'Topic of the Week' generally concurred that drinking good beer indigenous to the region where you are located is usually the ideal. Bryan: Would like to see beer shelves and taps dominated more by regional beers, with the occasional appearance of harder-to-find brews "Local Consumer": Usually tries to contain his/her drinking to local only...following in the DFH battle cry. But, still hard to resist interesting sounding, never-heard-of beers from faraway places Adam: Can't forget the local guys who help to build and sustain a good local beer scene to start with Knut: Beer is usually fresher and better straight from the source. So, why not stick with your local brews? Enjoy "foreign" beers as a perk of travel. Eli: Three cheers (and a beer) for Adam!

South Philadelphia Tap Room & Philadelphia Eagles

If Saturday was about music and beer, then Sunday was about football and beer. What an end to the weekend! Scott and I made a trip to the Philadelphia Eagles Carnival & Auction at Lincoln Financial Field. So, after an afternoon in South Philly, what to do for dinner and drink but head over to South Philadelphia Tap Room, of course! A burger and a wild boar burrito paired with Sly Fox O'Reilly Stout, Troegs Hopback Amber, and Rogue Brutal Bitter was just what we needed for nourishment before hitting the road back home. The joint was a bit dead on this particular Sunday evening. But, chalk it up to a late summer Sunday evening in the city. Because, after everyone returns from The Shore where they've no doubt read up on their Philadelphia Magazine Best of Philly issue, they'll be back in the fall to find SPTR nestled away in South Philly as the recipient of two 2006 Best of Philly awards...Best Beer Bar & Best Jukebox categories. My last visit to SPTR was earlier this year, and they continue to not disappoint. Be sure to check them out when you're in Philadelphia, especially if you are at a game or event at the stadium complex in South Philly.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Yards ESA & Popa Chubby

An "extra special" night with Yards and Popa Chubby at North by Northwest in Philadelphia, PA last night. While NxNW may not be known as a top shelf beer bar (though, it certainly holds its own quite well, thank you), it is one of Philadelphia's finer music venues. Located in one of the city's furthest northwest neighborhoods, it's an unpretentious music scene complimented by decent food and drink. A full review of the establishment will come sometime in the future. While NxNW presents a decent beer list, the music is even hotter. Last night saw Popa Chubby grace the stage. He (aka Ted Horowitz from Bronx, NY) wields a mean axe on stage and belts out the blues with the best of 'em. Unfortunately, this inept "reporter" forgot his camera, so you'll be without any pictures from the event. If you haven't heard of Popa Chubby before, it's hard to blame you. He reportedly is even more popular in France and Germany. So, perhaps our European and Scandanavian readers may be more familiar with him. As a matter of fact, he did a show Friday night in Germany and was back in Philly on Saturday to do this show that we attended. In any case, if you want see a smokin' blues set, check him out if you get a chance. Forty five minutes into his set, he broke out "Sweet Goddess of Love and Beer," a crowd favorite. Let's just say that the music was hot, and the beer list kept us cool with Hoegaarden, Victory Hop Devil, Chimay Red, Yards ESA, and Anchor Steam. The only regret that I have is in the past (aren't they all?!). Our friend, Lloyd, lived approximately 1/2 mile from NxNW for several years and we never met up with him there. Now, we drive 35 minutes to get there for a dinner, drinks, and a show. Sheesh!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Small Wonder, Big Beer

Seemed like our tasting beers have been a bit depleted as of late. So, I made a trip to the home of tax-free shopping. Total Wine carries a nice inventory of good beer and wine at decent prices. p.s. Small Wonder is Delaware's state motto. from left to right: Anchor Porter; Dogfish Head Midas Touch; Hopback Entire Stout; Rogue Shakespeare Stout; Shiner Kolsch; Cantillon Kriek; Dogfish Punkin; Avery Czar Russian Imperial Stout; St. Peter's English Ale; Mackeson's XXX Stout; Westmalle Tripel; Maredsous 8 CHEERS!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Choosing Beer: Trials and tribulations...

I was recently in Stone Harbor, NJ with my family visiting Scott and his family who were vacationing for the week. We decided to pickup some beer at Fred's Liquors. I was pleasantly surprised with their selection which included DFH, Flying Dog, Sam Smith's, Victory and plenty of others. Now I usually take my time when choosing beer, but, tonight I was extra slow in choosing. I know because Scott was prodding me about why it was taking so long :-) I wanted something which would probably be heavy and or hoppy like DFH 90 Minute IPA. Scott mentioned that he was getting um...a little tired of IPAs. What about our wives what would they like. They have been more adventerous with their beer tastes lately...especially since Ommegang BCTC, but, I wasn't sure if they would really be into DFH 90 min. So what to do...what to do. (Scott was getting impatient) Scott went with Corona Light as a good ol' standby summer choice after all we were in a beach town. And...I was ok with that, but, we knew I would want something more. Sooo....I stood there for about 10 minutes trying to decide. Finally it came to me...no IPAs...how about something malty with less hops. I saw Samuel Smith's Organically Produced English Ale. Well there you go. That just might be the ticket. I also picked up a sixpack of DFH Raison D'Etre. I hadn't tasted it in a while and I thought it might appeal to the crowd because of its relative sweetness and smaller hop profile. All in all it worked out. Scott enjoyed the Samuel Smith's. It has an incredible malty and almost fruity nose without the viscous/heavy mouthfeel you might expect...very drinkable. I think the great aroma is characteristic of the organic grains...but, I'm not too experienced with organic beers yet (just this one and Selin's Grove selections). The Raison was not something everybody else was impressed with, but, my wife seemed to like it when she tasted it. The Corona Light...well...what do you want me to say? Those who like drank it enjoyed it and that's what its all about...drink what you like. So, what's your strategy? How do you please everybody in the crowd? Is it barleywine for everyone or Coors Light or...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Heavyweight Brewing Co. - update 8/21/06

Lifted yesterday from Lew Bryson's site. Looked intriguing, so I thought I'd pass it along.
Heavyweight Brewing: 8/21/06 -- Heavyweight Brewing has closed -- and it's because they wanted to, not because they had to. Tom Baker will be opening a brewpub soon. Meantime, I'm leaving this up, because Tom told me recently "I'll have some news about The Hammer that's going to make you happy. You're gonna like it." I'm quivering in anticipation. No, really.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Beer Calendar: What to do in September 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. Thu. 8/24 - General Lafayette Beer & Local Foods Dinner @General Lafayette Brewery, Lafayette Hill, PA (7pm; TBD) Fri. 8/25 - Pliny The Both Night @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (6pm-9pm; pay as you go) Sat. 8/26 - Stoudt's 15th Annual Great Eastern Invitational Microbrewery Festival @Stoudt's Brewing Co, Adamstown, PA (12pm-4pm, 7pm-11pm; $26) Thu. 8/31 - Maritime Beer Dinner @Victory Brewing Co, Downingtown, PA (6pm; $50) Fri. 9/1 - Dogfish Head (Pre) Labor (Day) of Love: Zwaanend'ale and Punkin Ale Night @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (TBD) Sat. 9/9 - Sixtel Saturday @General Lafayette Brewery, Lafayette Hill, PA (12pm-4pm; $3/10 oz. pay as you go) Sun. 9/10 - Jenkintown Brewfest Jenkintown, PA (1pm-6pm; $20) Mon. 9/11 - Weyerbacher 11 Day (and Maybe Night) @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (11am 'til the sixtel kicks; pay as you go) Sat. 9/16 - Philadelphia Brewery Tour Revisited @Yards Brewing Co, Philadelphia, PA (2pm; free) Sat. 9/16 - 9th Annual Capital City Invitational Beer Festival @Appalachian Brewing Co, Harrisburg, PA (12pm-3pm; 4pm-7pm; 8pm-11pm; $22.50-$27.50) Sun. 9/17 - 12th Annual Sippin' by the River @Penns Landing, Philadelphia, PA (1pm-5pm; $25-$30) Tue. 9/19 - St. Bernardus Beer Dinner @Monks Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (7pm-11pm; $60) Fri. 9/22-Sat. 9/23 - Second Annual Dogfish Head Intergalactic Bocce Tournament @Dogfish Head, Milton, DE Sat. 9/23 - 8th Annual Oktoberfest @Ludwig's Garten, Philadelphia, PA (12pm-???; pay as you go) Thu. 9/28-Sat. 9/30 - 25th Annual Great American Beer Festival @Colorado Convention Center, Denver, CO (5:30pm-10:30pm; $35-$145) Fri. 9/29 - Friday Night Tasting (Victory) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; Free) Fri. 9/29-Sun. 10/1 - Oktoberfest "Big Weekend" 2006 @Stoudt's Brewing Co, Adamstown, PA (5pm-7pm; $8/$30) Sat. 9/30 - 3rd Annual Lehigh Valley Brewfest @Riverside Park, Easton, PA (1pm-5pm; $30/$35) Sat. 9/30 - Victory Fall Fest @Victory Brewing Co, Downingtown, PA (2pm-9pm; pay as you go)

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Brew Lounge 'Topic of the Week': Local Beer

Do we really want to have access at our local watering holes to all the great beers of this country and beyond? I'm not so sure that I do. Don't get me wrong, I'll get in for the next great beer that I've never had, but...... A couple of factors have given cause for covering this topic. Perhaps most recently has been all of the buzz here in the Delaware Valley surrounding the Russian River Pliny beers, the Elder and especially the Younger. Apparently eight 1/2 kegs of Pliny the Younger (the more elusive of the two) have made their way to the Keystone State. While this is certainly great news (and I look forward to tracking some of it down at either The Grey Lodge, The Drafting Room, or Flanigan's Boathouse), at the same time I feel a bit deflated. This means that over the course of the next week, I can find this much-sought after double/triple IPA in three different counties around Philadelphia. It takes a bit of thrill out of the chase, if you ask me. (kinda like when the pretty girl finally agreed to dance with you in high school...oops, sorry for the personal sidebar; did I say that out loud?! ;-) So, what point am I trying to get to, you may ask? I think my point is that I like the idea of having the hard-to-find local beers out there. It adds a little something extra to traveling. Whether you travel for pleasure, business, or any other reason you know that you have a chance of getting some beer that you do not have access to at home. And, by and large, that's the way it's been with Russian River. Now that Pliny the Younger will, at least for a short time, saturate our taste buds here in Pennsylvania, some of the mystique will be gone. With the "walmart-ization" of this country (oh, and I suppose the world too, eh?), so much regionalism has been lost. Trying to bring home a unique gift or souvenir from some faraway state or land is becoming more difficult. With beer, it's kind of nice to know that I can typically only get New Belgium Fat Tire west of the Mississippi. Or Shiner Bock in Texas and nearby. Or Port Brewing ales in southern California. Or little-known Belgians in Belgium. And, when you do get a beer from one of these breweries, you know that it's been brewed the way the brewer intended it...with local indigenous ingredients like water that can contribute to the beer's unique flavor. And, that it hasn't been shipped through various channels and touchpoints that could have affected their quality. Ok, Ok...I may be overblowing this topic here. I should stop and think of the various great local Philly beer (Sly Fox, Iron Hill, Dogfish Head, Victory, General Lafayette, Yards, etc etc) that beer lovers in other parts of the countries don't have the benefit of trying unless they come to our region. So, maybe things are all equal, yes? And, if you really want to have a great beer that isn't distributed to your area, it opens up the possibility for meeting new beer friends through trading! Or, maybe just maybe, this is starting to sound a bit like Jack Curtin's recent "rant", which has similar strains (see 10 August 2006). What can I say, but "I agree." What are your thoughts?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Videos: The Brew Lounge Channel

Here's a list of all the video snippets we have posted to date. I'm using a YouTube channel to collect and organize.

Adam's Note: I realized I didnt add the link to the channel.The Brew Lounge Channel on YouTube!

Brew Pub: Selin's Grove Brewing - Selinsgrove, PA

A few weeks ago I was visiting family and decided to make a beer detour to Selinsgrove, PA where Selin's Grove Brewing can be found. Here is the Selin's Grove picture gallery documenting the visit to the brewpub and the drive. My first stop was State College to pickup Jeff. Then it was off to Selinsgrove! I enjoyed the drive down 322 and up 522. As we meandered our way towards the Susquehanna river I took in the images of farmland, forest and various small towns along the way. Ok I can't hold back any longer! This is my favorite brewpub of all time! It's a small brewpub run out of the bottom floor of a 200 year old governor's mansion in Selinsgrove. I was told their brewing operation was recently upgraded and moved to a three car garage just across the parking lot in the back (see gallery). How cool is that! The food was great. The service was excellent. The surroundings are very comfortable. Jeff and I ordered a sampler and some dinner. Whoa! Have you ever been to a brewpub that has 10 beers on tap and found that they were all awesome? Until Selin's Grove that was just a dream. Each one was delicious and perfectly inline with its style. I've been raving about this place to people ever since. Thanks to Bryan for telling me about Selin's Grove :-) He mentioned that Lew Bryson and some others have praised Selin's Grove. BTW you can see a list of the beers in the gallery. It was getting late so we decided to head back to our familys. Fortunately I had a cooler in the back of the car. So I purchased one of their fancy growlers full of the organic IPA and a t-shirt and I was on my way home. I stopped to get some ice and followed the Susquehanna river towards Harrisburg.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Beer Event: Bocce and Beer at Iron Hill in Wilmington, DE

It was just another Thursday night in Wilmington, until the crew from Dogfish Head showed up and issued a bocce challenge to the Iron Hill Wilmington crew. The DFH team came in costume (wigs included) and lived up to their usually off-centered, good natured selves. The team brought along their truck and made an entrance by parking it on the lawn behind the building. Unfortunately, the Chateau Jiahu did not make it along for the ride as anticipated and the 120 minute had to pinch hit. Who knew that when Kathleen and I arrived one hour into the gig that the only DFH brew remaining would be the Punkin Ale? That's fine, because we were looking forward to the Punkin, but also as much so as the Jiahu and the Red & White. Oh well, so it was off to the Punkin and then on to the Berlinerweisse from Iron Hill (both with and without the woodruff). But, equally unfortunate, was the early exit of The Cannibal which I had earlier this year at the West Chester location but was looking forward to trying again. Sheesh, guess that will teach us to be prompt when these things begin! Well, in any case, the beer was still tasty (we also had Pig Iron Porter and Finndeman's Framboise, both from Iron Hill) and the entertainment was top notch. Picture Sam, Matt, Mike, and the rest of the crew from DFH dressed in their costumes (did someone say off-centered again?!) engaged in a riveting match of bocce. The Iron Hill team was no match for the visiting DFH team. I didn't get a chance to snap a picture of the final score, but it was something close to a landslide win for DFH. Here's a shot of the message posted later. Another pleasant note to the evening was conversing with Mark Haynie and Gary Monterosso, both stellar beer writers from New Jersey. Great weather, beer, people, and games along the waterfront. Another fun event from two great breweries. What more could we ask for?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Brew Lounge's One Year Anniversary

Now, the last thing we want to do here is go acting all self-centered like a one-year anniversary is really all that big of deal. I would rather look at it as a chance to reminisce back over our first year of The Brew Lounge site. It certainly has been a blast and I look forward to learning and sharing even more in the coming years. Who knew when we first started this thing in August of 2005 that we would immerse ourselves to this degree? We continue to enjoy revisiting old topics and uncovering previously undiscovered points of interest in this wonderful world of beer. Of course, the homebrew, brewpub visits, beer tastings, and festivals/events have been nice little (required) bonuses too. All in the name of research and bringing our readers the most and the best. (Whoa now, what did I say about getting self-centered?!) Anyway, let's see if I can point out my personal highlights of the last year's worth of beer experiences. The only order I'll commit to is reverse-chronological :) 1) Ommegang's BCTC festival 2) Visit to Mark & Susan in Madison; a great homebrewer living in a great beer city/state 3) Fireside tastings, growing hops, and homebrewing experiences with Adam 4) Brewpub/beer bar visits in San Francisco & Boston 5) Any Monk's dinner...pick one...how about Pizza Port/Russian River from January?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

'Topic of the Week': Week In Review; Beer Neutrality

There was not a lot of buzz generated around this most recent Topic of the Week. Must be obviously because everyone's in agreement that we all want to have access to great beer and reasonable prices driven by quality and demand, right?! :) Well, not much really here to summarize except for Lew's comments that he added regarding the beauty, and wonder, of capitalistic market forces at work. I think it's fair to say that he feels confident in the ability of good beer to survive, but wishes that brewers did not have to get chased into better paying jobs out of necessity. Be back next week with a new topic......

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Blind Tiger in New York, NY : Neighborhood Issues July 2006

A disturbing turn of events in NYC regarding the reopening of The Blind Tiger. Seriously? These kind of issues are being raised on Bleeker Street in NYC??!! Will be worth watching to see how this plays out. http://eater.curbed.com/archives/2006/07/instaminutes_cb.php#more

Beer Event: Iron Hill & Dogfish Head Bocce and Beer

This Thursday's wacky bocce and beers event is shaping up to be an event not worth missing. Check out the announced reserve beers to be served. The festivities get underway around 6pm and will likely last for a while into the evening. Following are descriptions lifted from the Iron Hill newsletter. Iron Hill Reserve Beers: The Cannibal: A light bodied Belgian Golden Strong Ale with hints of tropical fruit. Winner of a Gold Medal at the 2005 GABF and a Silver Medal at the 2006 World Beer Cup Berlinerweisse: German style wheat beer, with a refreshing tart, acidic, and lemony citric fruit characteristic. The addition of woodruff or raspberry syrup can balance out the sourness. Dogfish Head Reserve Beers: Chateau Jiahu: re-creation of an ancient beer made with rice, Wildflower honey, Muscat grapes, barley malt, hawthorn fruit, and Chrysanthemum flowers Punkin Ale: full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar Red & White: A 12% abv Belgian-style Wit beer. It was brewed with the rinds of over 60 tangelos and freshly ground coriander. The beer is be aged in Pinot Noir barrels (not available in bottles).

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Beer Event: Sixtel Saturday at General Lafayette Brewery

No pictures and really not much of a crowd to speak of when we finally arrived around 5:30pm. This was the first of this event, due to occur the second Saturday of each month at General Lafayette. The plans are to have two special sixtels at noon on these days. Today's apparently was not overly well-attended, but then again it was an absolutely beautiful day in the Philadelphia area. Today's selections included the La Tete Fontaine Dubbel and the Old Curmudgeon Strong Ale (1/06). Sampled the O.C. and the recently debuted Framboises (raspberry). Both very nice, especially the Framboises....RASPBERRIES, whoohoo! For the concert on Sunday night at Miller Park in Exton (Blackthorn, oh yeah!), I brought home a growler full of the Malted Oat Stout. Tasted a sample and it seems like a very easy-to-drink stout with nice, rich coffee and maybe actually more like a nice porter. Ooohh, Chocolate Thunder porter. Hope to see it again soon at General Lafayette. Sorry for the ramble all over the place here. But, it's been a good weekend so far.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Friday, August 11, 2006

Fireside Blog: Friday Night Beer Blogging

Ok...I'm the last one at the fire. Bryan and Scott just left. I'm a Friday night kinda guy so I'll be up for a bit more. I thought a little recap of the night might be in order. "Why?", you may ask. "Beer is about people getting together." That is just what we did tonight. Just opened one of my barleywine homebrews from last year. So let me tell you about tonight... Home from work on a Friday, a beautiful Friday at that. Took a short nap in the sunroom. Woke up and walked ouside to get the fire going for dinner. My son and oldest daughter helped me with the kindling Wow, I can't believe the air is so cool on an August night. It's gonna be a great night. Lisa brought out the hotdogs, ribs, kielbasa and salad. I grabbed my last Alpha King and poured it. The fire was started in short order and we were on our way sharing our dinner with Bryan and Patty. Before I knew it Bryan brought up some St. Bernardus Abt 12 (60th Anniversary "Special Edition") to taste. This was our first taste and I was anxious to see if our buy was worth it. Pass the ribs...give me some kielbasa...I think I'll grab my last Rochefort 10. Well these two beers really complimented our meal. The wood fire really added to the meats and the malty beer brought everything home. Not too spicey...not too overpowering...just savory-sweet-salty. The ribs probably stood out as the better food to pair either of these belgians with. :-) One thing led to another and the belgians were gone :-(, but, I was buoyant and ready for the Friday night before us. After a while I disappeared and reappeared from the cellar with the next to last bottle of North Coast Old Stock Ale from 2004. Mmmm...one of our favorites. Not quite as refined as the Belgians, but delicious in its own rite with some more bitterness and a huge malt backbone. Soon Scott was making his way over to the fire from a few houses over. By the way I really need to set something straight here. Ummm...how do I put this. Scott has been getting diss'd a bit on the site lately. I just don't know how that could happen. Do you? You know...saying that I would serve beer from a stale growler to him. Well I'm hear to say that Scott is no longer the macro swilling guy next door. He has officially embraced the "other" beers in the world. Amazing what an Ommegang festival can do for you...eh? ;-) We perservered through the night by tasting Wisconson's Capitol Brewery Blonde Doppelbock and Incubus from the Sly Fox in Phoenixville, PA. Lots of laughter to go around on this freakishly cool night in August. I can't wait for Autumn! Now the embers are fading with the barleywine and the music too. The crickets, tree frogs, and the buzz of the highway are starting to drown out the music. I think it's time for me to pack up the laptop and hit the sack. Goodnight :-)

Iron Hill Brewery in Phoenixville, PA - Construction Update 8/11/06

Any of you who subscribe to Iron Hill's newsletter should have received this today regarding the opening of their new location in Phoenixville, PA. We'll have some new pictures posted soon. Until then, here's the text lifted from the e-mail. ------------------------------------------------------------ Iron Hill's Brewery Tanks Arrive in Phoenixville! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ On Wednesday, August 9, we received our brewhouse and fermenter tanks at our newest location in Phoenixville. Tim Stumpf, the Head Brewer, can't wait to get everything hooked up to start the brewing process. Tim has been anticipating this event for a while. “The giant tanks and enormous fermenters have to be moved and installed very carefully. It takes a steady hand, to say the least,” he said. In what can be described only as a sight to behold, the tanks and fermenters, which range in sizes from 120 gallons to 320 gallons and weighing in at 350 to 1,600 pounds, were unloaded from trucks by forklift and set into place inside the restaurant’s brewing facility. “This is always an exciting day for Iron Hill's brewery staff, and especially for Tim,” says Mark Edelson, an Iron Hill founder and Head of Brewing Operations. "I'm sure he can't wait to start brewing." Construction Continues ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Construction continues at the site. The projected opening date for the restaurant is September 25th. That date is just a target at this time, and may change slightly due to changes in the construction schedule. The Brewing Process ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The brewing process starts at the brewhouse, which is made of three copper tanks. Grain is added to the first tank, the mash tun, along with hot water from the hot liquor tank and allowed to sit for a few hours. The grain is rinsed or lautered. The result is a sugary liquid called wort, or unfermented beer. It is than transferred to the third copper tank, the kettle, where it is boiled and hops are added. The wort is transferred to one of the stainless steel fermenters, where yeast is added. The yeast eats the sugars in the wort and the byproduct is alcohol and carbon dioxide. After a few weeks, the beer may be filtered and transferred into our serving tanks. From the serving tanks the beer travels only about 50 feet to the taps. Talk about fresh beer! We should have it available in Phoenixville in less than seven weeks. Cheers!

Beer Tips: The Growler Run

How to hit the brew pub/beer bar skillfully ;-) Want to drink responsibly? Don't have time to spend at the pub? Need to get back to the family? Just passing through? Want to enjoy a hard to find beer from the tap in the comfort of your own home? Take your growler! Sample a couple brews while you're there. Pick your favorite and get that growler filled! Bryan did just this last night at The Grey Lodge. He tasted the Flying Byson and brought back the Flying Fish. Thanks Bryan! I'm considering keeping a growler in a cooler in the trunk of all my cars.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Air Travel with Beer

After this morning's unfortunate turn of events in today's world of terrorism, it appears that bringing beer on to an airplane will be practically impossible. Like nail clippers, this may last for a little while. The two alternatives, as of this morning, are to A) safely wrap and check into stowed baggage....and pray(!) ; or B) send home through a private courier. Will have to keep my eye on further developments as my next San Francisco trip is less than two weeks away and I have several ideas of what to bring home with me. Should be interesting......

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Brew Lounge 'Topic of the Week': Beer Neutrality

**BUMP** (This probably got lost in our flurry of Heavyweight updates earlier in the week) I already hear you asking: "What is Beer Neutrality?" You may have heard recently of the 'Net Neutrality' subject debate. It was somewhere between reading people's opinions on Net Neutrality and buying the special edition 60th Anniversary St. Bernardus Abt 12 last week that got me to writing about Beer Neutrality. Ok, scratch that...because anyone who knows me or has had the ill-fortune of listening to me over the past year or so talk about my desire for good, even great, beer to remain accessible to the masses know that I have been pondering this for quite some time. Maybe I'm not the first. Actually, there are thoughts from others much more advanced than me in the world of beer who have trod on this subject before. But, it's been so heavy on my mind recently that you are now going to have to deal with it here in this edition of 'Topic of the Week'! :) Seriously, though, this should not take too long to explain my point-of-view. At the risk of oversimplifying, the proponents for Net Neutrality argue that the playing field in the Web's network should remain level...in terms of access to publish on the Web, freedom to publish content, freedom of and equality of transport for information, etc. In other words, the amount of money that you pay should not dictate what you are allowed to publish and how it is distributed and made available to the marketplace. Conversely, money should not dictate how information is filtered for public consumption. Along these same lines, barrier-free access to information should not be determined by financial power. This subject is a little beyond me, and I probably even got a few of the particulars stated incorrectly here. So, let's move on... My real argument, though, is for beer. And, better beer accessible to all. When I purchased the case of St. Bernardus Abt 12 (special edition) last week, from my perspective I felt that I was getting what is generally considered beer from one of the top X breweries in the world (you fill in the 'X'). On a per ounce basis, this was costing me roughly 44 cents per ounce. So, the way I look at it, I have access to a premiere Belgian brewery's special edition beer at what turns out to be around $5/12 oz bottle or $11/25oz bottle at retail prices. While the BMC crowd may scoff at these prices, I like to show this number off to the wine world and ask if they can get some of the best wine in the world for these prices. (Or maybe I don't...let's keep it our secret ;-) Now granted, we're still not talking the elite of the elite in the beer world here. We're not talking Westvleteren, whose passionate followers may be willing to pay just about anything for it. I have not tasted it before, so it is hard for me to say. Though, back to the real point, it is affordable and can, within limits, be accessed by people with the desire. Can you say that in the wine world? Is great wine accessible? Not really...especially when you consider that a 25 ounce bottle of what may be considered "the best" will set you back hundreds, in some cases even thousands, of dollars. I'm not going to get too crazy here on this subject, because I realize that when I start throwing around the words greatest and best, the debate can take on a whole new angle. Let me also throw out a disclaimer. I am not arguing for price controls or cheaper prices. I wholeheartedly wish for brewers and their staffs to do as financially well as possible and make for themselves the best, most profitable livelihoods. What I don't want to see is speculators, futures traders, investment bankers and the like invading the world of craft/better beer and artificially driving prices beyond what the quality of the beer should command. I love beer and all of its interesting characteristics and its versatility in food pairing. I especially love that no beer, regardless of quality or reputation, is ever really out of reach for a majority of the people that share the same passion. Let's keep it that way. Let's keep beer, great beer, neutral! What do you think?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Beer Tips: How long does beer stay fresh in a growler?

So, you have a growler and you don't think you can finish it tonight. How long will it stay fresh? Well that's a matter of how much you drank, where you are keeping it and well, whether you like flat beer or not ;-) You'll get the best results if you;
  • don't drink any of it when you bring it home
  • keep it in a cold place
  • make sure it was filled as close to the top as possible ruducing air exposure and surface area for the CO2 to escape from
Keep in mind I haven't tested this theory past two days. I mean...it's pretty hard not to touch a full growler for two days ;-) Of course if you do open it, the clock starts ticking. The carbonation will start to fade and the oxygen (I think that's right) will start to change the taste of the beer. I've kept growlers around for up to five days after they were opened and it just gets flatter and the taste changes a little. So, it's your call. Keep it as long as you like. I wouldn't serve beer from a half a growler to guests if it were there for more than a day. Unless it was Scott ;-)

Beer Event: Heavyweight Down for the Count - A Toast

A toast to Tom & Peggy :-) At the Drafting Room in Exton, PA
Down for the count? No way! Tom, Peggy, and Heavyweight's beers have never looked stronger. On one hand, it's disappointing to see them taking a break in the game as they change direction a bit. But, on the other hand, it will be fun to see where their odyssey through the wonderful world of beer takes them next. Saturday at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA came with a lot of hype and anticipation and certainly delivered upon that hope. The doors opened at 11:30am to as many as a couple dozen "fans." The beers began flowing shortly thereafter and there was no looking back. Within an hour, the bar area was filling up with countless 5 ounce glasses of Heavyweight brew floating around. Ten and sixteen ounce glasses were available too, but you could certainly tell that this was an event full of experienced beer drinkers...I don't think I spotted anyone with 16 ounce glassware in the first few hours. Plus, everyone wanted to have a chance to taste all of the 15 available drafts. Further complicating matters for those with plans to taste all of the styles was that six of them were only in sixtels, while the remainder were in full half-kegs. The game was on. Glasses of beer and good times were all around the bar. Beer fans, writers, brewers, BAs, retailers, dignitaries (heheh), and afficianados from far and wide travelled to Exton for this event. It was a veritable who's who in terms of faces we saw come through the door. Patrick and company at TDR sure did a nice job of securing and promoting this event. Then, they did an even better job of hosting and conducting it. The staff was able to control the crowd and keep everyone happy with attentive and prompt service. We commented a few times on just how easy it was to get beers and keep 'em coming. So, what else happened? Well, not much I suppose. The afternoon was comprised mostly of great friendship and conversation. Storytelling abounded. There were not any sort of scheduled events occurring throughout the afternoon. Though, as you can see from the video and still pictures that we've included, there was a timeout for everyone to raise their glasses in a toast to Tom and Peggy. Then, it was back to the frivolity. Tom and Peggy stepped out for dinner at Victory and arrived back at TDR around 8:30pm. Apparently, others did the same to take advantage of being in the area. With Victory, Sly Fox, John Harvard's, and Iron Hill not far away it's sure makes for a great beer day for out-of-town visitors. I haven't seen any stories online yet about any late night activities back at TDR. I, on the other hand, stepped out to mow the lawn and take care of a few chores at home (the lines in the lawn are straight!) My wife and I returned around 8pm to TDR for dinner and a few last rounds. By that point, the crowd had thinned considerably and there were only a few hardy souls leftover from the afternoon. Patrick was still going strong, obviously still on a high from the day's events. While my original and all-time favorites from Heavyweight include Lunacy and Perkuno's Hammer, I have got to give a quick mention below to the all-stars of the day from my perspective. With the rich flavors of the Old Salty barleywine delivering the most impressive strike, I think the biggest surprise to me was the Doug's, which I don't recall previously enjoying so much. Also, the Jakeldricka was complexly and interestingly amazing. I sadly only have one bottle at home, and am anxiously looking forward to getting into it! 1-Old Salty (whiskey barrel-aged) 2t-Doug's Colonial 2t-Jakeldricka (Viking Beer) 4-St've 5-Baltus Heavyweight, we hardly knew ye. (Well, actually we did know you, it's just fun to use that phrase :) Thanks for the seven short years and we already look forward to seeing you again soon!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Good Beer & Good Reading from the Beer Yard

Another Thursday night, another case of St. Bernardus Abt 12 (60th Anniversary) from Beer Yard in Wayne, PA. And, also found for my reading pleasure the latest installments of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, Ale Street News, and Celebrator. Between this good beer, the new reading materials, and a trip to The Drafting Room for Heavyweight's last showing (and 15 taps), it will be a very, very beery weekend! (May not hear from me until later on Sunday ;-)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

This, That, & (maybe) The Other

You probably have noticed that the "dog days of summer" have gotten to us here on the East Coast. It seems like a common situation throughout most of the country during this summer. It's affected our postings, as you've probably noticed. Not the quality, mind you! Just the quantity ;-) So, what have we been up to since visiting Ommegang's BCTC festival? Hm, let's see. A fortuitous visit from Saint Bernardus, celebrating 60 years. Anxious anticipation for The Drafting Room's final curtain call for Heavyweight Brewing Company. A couple of brewpub visits. Some dabbling in homebrew perhaps? But, overall, not a whole lot. The number of tastings have been down. It's been a bit too hot, even in the evening, for our usual firepit conversations and suds. (Though, maybe all of this is a bit more of my fault, as I continue my so-called training for the NYC Marathon in November.) Here's hoping for some pleasant weather this weekend at The Drafting Room. Will any of you be there?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Fun: Jimmy Buffet Panoramic

We attended the Jimmy Buffet concert in Camden yesterday. Man it was HOT! Met a some people who were at Ommegang and some Appalachian brewery friends. Not really a beer event, but, it was fun and we did drink some Celis White, Triple IPA from Founders and Appalachian Lager :-) NOTE: This is a very wide 360 view. If you have a hard time viewing it, in the browser try some of these tips;
  • first, click on it to see the full image
  • zoom in by clicking on it in Firefox
  • in Internet Explorer put your mouse somewhere on the picture and look for the zoom sqare, then click on it
  • zoom in on it and use the horizontal scroll bar to move from left to right through the picture
  • right click on it and save it to a file. Then try opening up with a graphics program.

Homebrewing: Gabe's first batch!

Gabe and Jeremy are pictured here brewing Gabe's first batch of hombrew. Great to see some new hombrewers out there :-) As you can see Gabe is very exited ;-) Thanks for the Weyerbacher ESB and dinner. Hey Jackie are you brewing a batch too? Gabe & Jeremy, Can you give us the run down on this little experiment/competition you have going. -Adam Gabe's response... Where to start... well, since I have a horrible tendency to draw out an explanation, I'll make this short and to the point! Five of us (well, six if you include Bryan who is helping Adam), are going to be making a homebrew of our own. Some of us are following recipes we've found while others are being a bit more original and trying something new. The original idea was we'd all try to make an Oktoberfest style, but people have branched out just a bit since then. Sometime in September we'll all get together to taste the fruits of our labor with the group and critique each other's brew. If this goes well and we maintain an interest as a group, we'd like to do a brew every quarter and get together four times a year to taste and share recipes/stories.