Thursday, May 31, 2007

Beer Tasting: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

two days in a row with another one that's getting a bit out-of-season, but it was taking up room in our dusty draftbin. whaddya gonna do? I could enjoy this any day of the year!


The Beer: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
Style: Imperial Stout
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
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Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. brown bottle; winter 06-07 bottling stamp

From where & how stored: Purchased at Total Wine in Dec. '06 and stored at 52F since then

Pricing: $8.99 per 6-pack

Availability: Winter seasonal

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 10.1% ABV; 1.096 OG; 24.0 Plato

Awards: World Beer Cup (2002 Silver; Imperial Stout)
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Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- thick, lumpy tan head that hangs around forever
- serious lacing
- enticingly dark brew

The Aroma:
- whiffs of rich chocolate mixed with some roasted coffee/mocha
- ripe fruit barely noticeable

The Taste:
- dark chocolate, roasted flavors
- a bit of overripe cherry too
- hints of hop bitterness too
- smooth, moderately thick mouthfeel
- just a kick of carbonation, but not too much
- bit of bitterness in the finish, but certainly not overwhelming

The Verdict: - Taste lives up almost exactly to the aroma....chocolate, cappuccino, very ripe even burnt fruit (figs?). Such a well-rounded happy drinking experience. A true "big stout". But, big enough that 2, no more than 3, are necessary. (Could it be a "big session" beer?!)

The Session #4 - Local Beers, Philly Style


Read all the posts for this installment of The Session
  1. The Session #4 - Local Beers, Philly Style : Why we did this. (You are here.)
  2. The Session #4 - Local Beers, Background Information on General Lafayette in Lafayette Hill, PA
  3. The Session #4 - Local Beers; General Lafayette : Our Visit
The Brew Lounge exists in cyberspace (aka everywhere?), but we (Adam and Bryan) live in southeastern Pennsylvania approximately 30 miles west of Philadelphia. Many of you have heard of and perhaps have access to Victory, Iron Hill, and Sly Fox, the three closest and largest breweries/brewpubs to us in the western suburbs. A bit further out from Philadelphia, you'll find Dogfish Head, Troegs, Appalachian, Triumph, Flying Fish, Legacy, Stoudt's, and Lancaster Brewing. In Philadelphia proper, Yards and Nodding Head dominate the city's brewing scene, amongst a very rich pub (esp. Belgian) scene.

If you're not familiar with the concept, every month in the beer writing, blogging, etc. world, the first Friday is reserved for conversation around a specific topic. The past three months have covered different styles of beer...Stout (March); Dubbel (April); and Mild (May). This month the host of The Session, Gastronomic Fight Club, has chosen 'Local Brews' as our topic for discussion. The guidelines have been set.

We here at The Brew Lounge have chosen a brewpub that we feel does not get as much attention as some of the other ones listed above, but is just as rich in brewing talent: General Lafayette (Inn &) Brewery. Chris Leonard, owner, pairs up with Russ Czajka in the brewhouse to create a wide spectrum of flavorful concoctions, including a very good raspberry mead.

On Friday, we will pay a visit to General Lafayette (15 miles, as the crow flies) to sample a few beers and discuss why visiting them should be on a well-made beer travellers list to the Philadelphia region. Why have we chosen to single out the General Lafayette? We already mentioned above that they tend to get overlooked amongst some of the names in the region that cast longer shadows.
Further, chances are that you will find at least a few of the many that were listed above in your hometown area. General Lafayette rarely bottles their beer and kegs are only available by special arrangement. Suffice to say, if you're not from the Philadelphia region, you probably haven't seen and may not have heard of them. You may not see them at GABF or WBC. And, when you go home, you won't find them there either. That's why we're heading there on Friday.

We've written some about General Lafayette in the past. Look below for several of our links. Check back tomorrow for a rundown of our time spent there and the beers that we sampled.
In the meantime, you may wish to check out the following links to various sources with more information about the General Lafayette brewery.

Other General Lafayette Links
Mug Club
Music
Special Events

TBL Reviews
TBL review of 2007's Winterfest
TBL review of the brewpub and 2006 Vertical Barleywine tasting
TBL tasting of Double Fest
TBL tasting of Holiday Cheer
TBL tasting of Chocolate Thunder
TBL visit during a recent 'Sixtel Saturday'

Industry Websites
Beer Advocate reviews
Rate Beer reviews

Tourism Websites
GoPhila
Visit PA

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Beer Tasting: Rogue Santa Private Reserve [2006]

yeah, this might be a bit out-of-season, but it was taking up room in our dusty draftbin. Come to think of it, still have one more left from 2005 and it might just taste good right around now.


The Beer: Rogue Santa's Private Reserve [2006]
Style: Red Ale (modified)
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Packaging & Date Stamping: 22 oz. brown bomber bottle; no date stamp

From where & how stored: Obtained via holiday beer exchanged and stored at 52F since then

Pricing: $x.xx

Availability: Winter seasonal

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 6% ABV, 44 IBU, 13 Plato
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- reddish mahogany; santa-colored?!
- decent creamy head full of tiny bubbles that fades quickly
- drapes itself all over the walls

The Aroma:
- malt dominates the aroma and flavor
- hops are there but not in your face

The Taste:
- smoother, more well-rounded flavors than expected
- past years had been hoppier

The Verdict: This is a very nicely done beer where the flavors are consistent with the aroma and the hops and malt play nice together.

Boon Lambic at Monk's Cafe; The Good Life

Sometimes all is just a-ok in the world. Last evening was one of those times. An easy train ride into Philly and an easy one out. Nice weather for a walk through the city. Sandwiched in between was a couple of quality hours spent at Monk's Cafe enjoying some highly sought after Belgian lambic. Oh, and a bit of a hopblast from Nodding Head's IPA while awaiting my train ride home didn't hurt either. The folks at Vanberg & DeWulf are on a U.S. tour of sorts with two unblended lambics (cask #17 & cask #52) from the Boon Brewery in Belgium. I can't hide the fact that I'm a relative newcomer to the world of lambics, esp. single unblended. My experience over the past few years has been limited to Cantillon, Hansens, Oud Beersel (as of this past weekend), and some U.S. interpretations. A big help to my experience was finding the Belgian offerings at last year's Ommegang BCTC event. But, last night, Boon was new to me. The real treat, I suppose, was that I found something that I hadn't known to exist in lambics. That is, a soft, rounded, quite drinkable beer. Yes, you still need a taste for these "different" beers. After all, it's not an amber ale. But, seriously, the flavors I have grown accustomed to in, say, a Cantillon were there (or most lately, Iron Hill's Cassis). Both varieties presented last night, though, were quite muted in their sharp tartness. This left a beer that you could easily find the funkiness and the subtle fruit flavors, without the lingering mouth-puckering that can often be found in lambics....at least in my experience. The funny thing is that the tartness found in many lambics, gueuze, krieks, etc. is just exactly what I like in those beers. Just now, I've found another way to enjoy and appreciate lambics. Apparently, from the literature passed out to the attendees, this is exactly what Frank Boon is going for. Just a couple of quick excerpts reveal that "...it is a strange idea for me to see the name "lambic" being used for any beer with fruit or lactic acidity...to know first hand the real thing...Lovers of Lambic in Belgium describe it as a drink that tastes between a chardonnay wine and fine whisky...this is the product I want to share with you..." The beers were poured for each customer to drink individually. I'm thinking the serving size was around 5-7 ounces, but can't be certain. Perhaps someone else that was there could take a stab at that one. The combined price for both was $8.00. It was suggested to try each one on their own, then to experiment with some blending. It amazed me how soft and subtle the beers and their flavors were on their own. When mixed, though, the flavors and the barnyard funk made themselves much more noticeable. The meet-and-greet was setup in the back bar area. Monk's kitchen offered up some plump mussels, smoked salmon pastries, sausage bites, and cheese to accompany the beer. It was helpful that there were a few friendly faces there who had much more experience with lambics than do I. The back room was full, but not crowded. That means there may or may not still be some Boon to find at Monk's. If you're in Philly today, it wouldn't be a bad decision to go check it out!

Countdown to Ommegang BCTC: Picture of the Week - Eight

With roughly eight weeks to go until Belgium Comes to Cooperstown 2007 we thought you could use some reminders of how much fun it was last year. Every Wednesday leading up to the event we'll post one of our favorite pictures from BCTC 2006. The week eight picture is...


Ahh..the anticipation as we approached :-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Boon Lambic at Monk's Cafe

Oh, what do we have here? Looks like if I can get a train into Philly at the right time, I'll be checking this out tonight. Boon Lambic, c'mon now! 5-7pm tonight. Here's something I picked up off BA's site. ============================================== We have to limit the # of accounts getting the Single Cask Oude Lambic due to the extremely limited quantity. We are rolling them out in series so the accounts can present it to their clients in the most enjoyable way. SO...Right now we have the following bars scheduled to get the kegs: May Publick House - Brookline, MA (22nd may) Monk's - Philly, PA (29 may) Moan & Dove - Amherst, MA (participation to be confirmed) June Spuyten Duyvil - Brooklyn, NY (date to be confirmed) Collins Bar - NYC (date to be confirmed) Brick Store - Decatur, GA (date to be confirmed) July Hop Leaf - Chicago, IL (date to be confirmed) September Lucky Baldwins - Pasadena, CA (date to be confirmed) Brouwers - Seattle, WA (date to be confirmed) Hope this helps. I will keep you posted when precise dates are set for the accounts above and as new accounts are added. The number of accounts country wide will probably not exceed 15. Don ==============================================

Monday, May 28, 2007

Rogue & Oysters at Blind Tiger

Do you like these kind of e-mails telling you of a mid-week event in NYC that you probably won't be able to get to...unless you live or work there? Well, here's an excerpt from Alan at one of NYC's great beer bars. If you're passing through, check it out. Let us know how things go. At least it's fun to read about these sorts of things going on out there in our great, big, and wonderful craft beer world, eh?! (And, the two casks??? oh yeah, baby!) ================================================= Thus, I have decided to have yet another Pacific Northwest Rogue & Oyster Event at the Tiger. You love oysters and you love Rogue beers…it's a no brain-er. In fact, I was so inspired by the Hollywood mentality that I have decided to make this sequel bigger and badder… This Tues. May 29th & Wed. May 30th (we’ll start at 2:00PM), the Rogue Beer and Oyster Event returns to the Blind Tiger (281 Bleecker St)! This time it’s personnel! 1500 of the biggest, juiciest oysters paired with 20 of Rogue's finest brews… The List: Rogue Alt Beer Rogue Brutal Bitter Rogue Chocolate Stout Rogue Dad's Little Helper Rogue Dead Guy Ale Rogue Half-e-Weizen Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar Rogue Imperial IPA Rogue Imperial Pilsner Rogue Latona Ale Rogue Russian Imperial Stout Rogue Juniper Pale Ale Rogue Integrity IPA Rogue Mocha Porter Rogue Old Crustacean Saint Rogue Red dry-hopped Rogue Shakespeare Stout [nitro pour] Rogue Uber Pilser The Cask: Brutal Bitter (dry hopped with Amirillo) & Chocolate Stout Are you ready? Also, June 6 @ 4:00PM, we will be introducing Great Divide to NYC. And maybe, I’ll tap a cask of Ommegang Dry-hopped Rare Vos… Let’s see what happens… Alan =================================================

The Session Summer of Love at Ortino's; Saturday Highlights

I'm sure it was my stern admonishment last week that roused you all from your couches and over to Ortino's Northside in Zieglerville, PA for their 3-day Session Summer of Love event. It was great to see so many familiar faces during Saturday's blowout of close to 30 kegs and cask-conditioned summer beauts.

And, what an event it was. NO, there were no wine-barrel fermented concoctions. NO, there were no insanely-hopped IBU-busting ales. NO, there were no vertical aged tastings. NO, there were not whiskey- or wood-infused brews. That's not what this was all about. And, if that kept you away, then shame on you. Because, what was rolled out during these 3 days was a list of low alcohol, yet flavor-full, delights. What the crew at Ortino's managed to pull off was a support of Lew Bryson's crusade to bring attention to this as-of-late neglected end of the beer spectrum.

By the time all was said and done on Saturday, I'd done my share of sampling much of the list. From my perspective, the newest and most interesting beers included Oud Beersel's Framboise, East End's Fat Gary Nut Brown, Rock Bottom's Czech Mate Pils, and Nodding Head's Prudence Pale (cask). Not quite as new to me, but still just as much fun, were General Lafayette's Churchill Mild, Nodding Head's Berliner Weisse, and Church Brew's Pious Monk Dunkel.

Somewhere in the midst of all this great beer fun was a cookoff between Legacy's and Scott BaverOrtino's John Ortino. The natives who arrived early were getting a bit restless waiting for the release of all the smoked meats and accompaniments around 5pm. I think I noticed the drinking had even slowed down in anticipation of the meal...or maybe not. Well, apparently the preparation and smoking began the night before, with Scott only staying a few miles away for the night. And, the wait certainly paid off.

The end result? One word...wow! I thought that the Thursday night dinner was a treat...and it was. But, something in the competition must have brought out the best in both Scott's and John's cooking. I'm not too proud to say that I took care of two (filled) plates of food, that's how good it all was. All the major meat groups were represented. Chicken, beef, pork prepared in a variety of ways (ribs, brisket, pulled) with different accompanying sauces. Who won? Well, the voting never "officially" took place. Unofficial speculation claims that the 'away team' took home the fan favorite award, but who knows for sure. Honestly, it didn't really matter to all of us who turned out to be the realy winner on the receiving end of the great food, beer, friends, and atmosphere.

To make the day even more interesting, during Liquid Fringe's rocking set (sorry Sarah, you didn't rock on Saturday like these guys did. You'll just have to settle for beautiful and intelligent.....who was it that said those words....hmmm?) the thunderstorms rolled in and John and company sprung into action securing the patio. Now, if I only had the picture of Scott firing up and riding his bike off into the distance, literally right off the back patio, that would be a picture to have.

Well, I'm not feeling very literate today and need to get ready for the Monday Night Tasting Session of not-so-session beers. Plus, just read what Dan wrote over here or Jack over there if you need some other opinions of how great this 3-day event really was. Here are a few extra pictures.










Sarah tries to convince Dan that while tap handles may lie, bartenders never do.










John battens down the hatches with the thunderstorm clouds rolling through.










Jack made an appearance. Interesting, though, how his "blonde from the train" showed up later...but only after Lew had left.










Scott talks about his barbecue and how he stayed the night before at the local Tuck 'Em In motel.











The affable host, Mr. Ortino.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tap List at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA - 5/27/07

The Drafting Room in Exton, PA has a decent web presence and quite a huge reputation proceeding them. Their beer turns over quite quickly. So, in the spirit of service, whenever we get to The Drafting Room, we'll post the current tap list. What's on line as of 5/27/07? Funny you should ask. Thomas Hooker Munich Style Golder Lager Clipper City/Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning Caracole Saxo Cantillon Lou Pepe Brooklyn Antwerpen Ale Rogue Daddy's Little Helper (John's Locker Stock) Stone Old Guardian Legacy Reading Pils Anderson Valley Summer Solstice Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ortino's Last Night :-)

Just a quick note to say I had a great time at Ortino's last night. Dinner first and then onto the session beers in the cask. The weather was perfect on the deck and the company wasn't too bad either ;-) Get on over there today for the big blow out and have a great holiday weekend.

Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 5/25/07

On an attempted regular basis, we'll post the tap list here to the Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA. We have no affiliation with the establishment other than living within 2 miles of it and appreciating the usual quality tap and bottle list. If you like this idea, please drop us a note and let us know. On Draft as of 5/25/07 Victory Hop Wallop Weyerbacher Prophecy Anderson Valley Pale Ale Stoudt's Smooth Hoperator Brouwerij Huyghe Delirium Tremens Magic Hat #9 Felinfoel Double Dragon (cask-conditioned) Wolaver's Organic Oatmeal Stout Caracole Nostradamus Belgian Quad Allagash White

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Session Summer of Love at Ortino's; Are You Feelin' It?

The Session Summer Love Project is underway and 'Great' let it be decreed! Too bad you weren't there to experience it yourself. You say you like our beer calendar here at The Brew Lounge. You'll go to Monk's on a Tuesday night for dinner, Capone's on a Wednesday night for their events, and you'll take trains planes and automobiles to travel this planet in search of great beer. So, what happens when we tell you that there's a great beer event at Ortino's. Where were you? Sitting on your couch eating pop-tarts for dinner watching Crocheting With The Stars is no excuse. What? You don't believe me? Perhaps if you had read the New York Times on Sunday, that would have convinced you?

On one hand, I'd like to just tell you that you missed a great night. But, that would be too easy. Instead, I'll tell you how you missed a great social event with beer lovers who came out on a perfect night to drink and talk beer with Lew Bryson, Gordon Grubb, John Ortino, Dan Bengel, and others. How you missed a full (full, I said) 4-course barbecue dinner. And, the main course was not just a half-chicken, but also included ribs...all off Mr. Ortino's famed smoker. Oops, before that was a bowl of around a dozen or so clams in Legacy's Midnight Wit. Then, to top things off, how about berry tacos for dessert? Fresh cream, blueberries, and strawberries.

Let's back up and run through the beer selections. Getting things started was Stoudt's reliable Weizen. How's the foam for a perfectly poured beer, eh? (Sarah rocks!) Then, we moved on to the new kid on the block, Union Barrel Works, and their Kolsch which was served with the tortilla chips and variety of salsas. I sssttttiiiillll haven't made the trip out the turnpike to visit UBW, so I welcomed the chance to dip into Tom Rupp's new creations. (The trip is coming very soon, I predict.) Then, with the steamed clams came one of my perennial favorites, Allagash White. This pairing was a slam-dunk winner.

Somewhere between the clams and dessert, while I was slopping myself up with barbecue, came the Wheat Hop from East End (Pittsburgh's fast-rising darling) and Nodding Head's/Gordon's award-winning (Ich Bin Ein) Berliner Weisse. These two deserve special mention. The Berliner Weisse has been around for a while. Gordon mentioned he sold roughly 50 bbls of it last year and plans to brew it throughout the summer this year. He just returned from Brooklyn with 40 (cases, or bottles, my memory fails me) of the woodruff syrup which they offer up to their customers and with which the beer was served at Ortino's. Also, according to Gordon, he believes that Nodding Head is producing the most of this style outside of Germany. Not too shabby, I'd say.

Then, the wheat hop....yes, the wheat hop. What an interesting beer. Haven't we been conditioned to believe that with a mouth-puckering hop blast comes a high alcohol, high gravity beer? Of course, right? Wrrrrroonngggggg! Scott out at East End has brewed up a 4% ABV pale wheat beer. This is evident in the lightweight texture and appearance of the beer. So, it's a nice pleasant drinking beer. Yup, thinking good thirst-quenching summer beer. Then, pow, there's a blast of nice hop flavor but not too bitter, not too anything. Just a nicely-made great summer beer...better getchya some!

To wrap with the dessert was the Oud Beersel Framboise. As Lew described it, this is one of the last kegs in the U.S. as production of this beer has stopped. This turned out to be the big (non-session, you might say?) beer of the night. Weighing in, deceptively, at 6% ABV the raspberries jumped right out of the glass of this nicely made framboise. Just a bit of tartness to keep all things good and in balance with the sweet dessert plate. Great finishes are made of such things as these.

And, guess what? Any minimal buzz that I thought I was beginning to feel was certainly gone by the time I went to drive home. So, let's review. Three hours of quality beer time with beer writer, brewer, and all around good people. Quality, low-alcohol beer. Plenty of delectable food. I'm not sure what's wrong with this picture. Oh, right, you weren't there. But, don't think I was disappointed. Because with the smaller group came a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of eats and drinks for all.

Okay, perhaps I'm being a bit hard on you all here. After all, you may be planning to go to the second installment tonight at Ortino's. Tonight will feature four cask-conditioned beers (2 from Nodding Head, 1 from Legacy, and 1 from Iron Hill). It's pay as you go for all you cheapies out there.

Or, you may be planning to go on Saturday afternoon for the granddaddy of all Session Beer, uh, sessions. Over 20 of these full flavored, easy drinking thirst quenchers will be on tap for your pleasure. Also, pay as you go.

If you really are in the Philly area all weekend long and still don't make your way to Ortino's for at least one of these fine events...then, for your penance, you are hereby ordered to recite 5 Reinheitsgebots, grab a session beer, and try harder next time.

Check back later today when I might be in a nicer mood.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Beer Calendar: What to do in June 2007

More events to keep your scheduling agent busy! Here's just a sampling of upcoming events over the next several weeks that look interesting to check out. The list is usually geared toward the Philadelphia region, but this month there were just so many other great-looking events outside the region that deserved notice. Plus, with all of your summer vacations coming up, who knows, you just might be in the area of one of these parties! 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. 5/24- Sat. 5/26 - The Session Summer Of Love Fest @Ortino's Northside, Zieglersville, PA (check back for details) Fri. 5/25 - Friday Night Tasting (Red Hook) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free) Sat. 5/26 - Brew At The Zoo @The Maryland Zoo, Baltimore, MD (2pm-6pm; $18/$20/$25) Tue. 5/29 - Boon Lambic - Single Barrel Tasting @Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (5pm-7pm; pay as you go) Wed. 5/30- Sun. 6/3 - Mondial de la Biere @Windsor Station and Courtyard, Montreal, Canada (T,F,Sa-11:30am-10:30pm; W,Su-11:30am-9:00pm; free admission, $1 tasting coupons) Fri. 6/1 - Friday Night Tasting (Stoudt's) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free) Fri. 6/1 - Craft Beer Night (Troegs) @TJ's Everyday, Paoli, PA (6pm-8pm; free) Fri. 6/1-Sat. 6/2 - 10th Annual Real Ale Festival @Pizza Port, Carlsbad, CA (4pm-closing, 11am-closing; $25 first 8 tastings, $1 each thereafter) Sat. 6/2 - Pennsylvania Microbrewer’s Fest @Penn Brewery, Pittsburgh, PA (12pm-3pm; 3:30pm-6:30pm; 8pm-11pm; $34) Sat. 6/2 - Brewers’ Reserve Night - Big Bottles @Iron Hill, North Wales, PA (12pm-5pm; pay as you go) Sat. 6/2 - Pop The Cap Celebration (South Carolina) @CW's Taproom, Columbia, SC (4pm-???; pay as you go) Sun. 6/3 - Slow Food Pig Roast @Yards Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (2pm-5pm; $40) Mon. 6/4 - Sly Fox Beer Dinner @James, Philadelphia, PA (6pm-10pm) Wed. 6/6 - Meet & Greet with Alain DeLaet of Brouwerij Huyghe (Delirium) @Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (5pm-7pm; pay as you go) Thu. 6/7 - Dogfish Head Book Signing @Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-7:30pm; pay as you go) Fri. 6/8-Sun. 6/17 - 10th Anniversary Celebration @Falling Rock Tap House, Denver, CO (all day; pay as you go) Sat. 6/9 - Microfest @Stoudt's, Adamstown, PA (12pm-4pm, 7pm-11pm; $27) Sun. 6/10 - Brewfest @Bear Creek Mountain, Macungie, PA (1pm-5pm; $25) Tue. 6/12 - Stoudt's Anniversary Beer Dinner @Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (7pm-10pm; $65) Thu. 6/14 - Thursday Night Tasting (Legacy) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free) Fri. 6/15 - Friday Night Tasting (Grimbergen) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free) Fri. 6/15 - Night of the Lagers @Cyclorama, Boston, MA (6:00pm-9:30pm; $45) Sat. 6/16 - American Beer Fest @Cyclorama, Boston, MA (1:00pm-4:30pm, 6:00pm-9:30pm; $40) Sat. 6/16 - Bloomsday Brewery Bus Tour Leaves from McGillins, Philadelphia, PA ($40) Sat. 6/16 - Harrisburg Brewers Festival @Locust & Third streets, Harrisburg, PA (12:00pm-3:30pm, 5:00pm-8:30pm; $30) Tue. 6/19 - Happy Hour with Rob Tod of Allagash @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; pay as you go) Thu. 6/21 - 13th Anniversary Ale Release Party @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (6:30pm-???; pay as you go) Thu. 6/21 - Fermentation School (Tom Kehoe) @Tria, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $40) Thu. 6/21-Sat.6/23 - AHA National Homebrewers Conference @Four Points Sheraton, Denver, CO (see website for all details) Fri. 6/22 - Friday Night Tasting (Butternuts) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free) Sat. 6/23 - 10th Anniversary Party @Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, MI (3pm-close; $35) Sat. 6/23 - Garden State Craft Brewers Festival @Battleship USS New Jersey, Camden, NJ (1pm-5pm; $35) Sat. 6/23-Sun. 6/24 - Colorado Brewers Festival @Old Town Square, Fort Collins, CO (11pm-6pm; $10) Sat. 6/23 - Great European Beerfest @Sharp Edge Beer Emporium, Pittsburgh, PA (Saturday 3pm-6pm & 7pm-10pm, Sunday 2pm-5pm) Sat. 6/23 - Coast to Coast-Southampton/Bells/Stone @Zeno's, State College, PA (3pm-8pm; $25) Sat. 6/23 - Summer Clambake & Lobster Boil @General Lafayette, Lafayette Hill, PA (1:00pm-4:30pm; $40) Thu. 6/28 - Fermentation School (Scott Morrison) @Tria, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $40) Thu. 6/28 - Thursday Night Tasting (Grimbergen) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free)

Brewing Beer: First Pull from the Keg

I've been looking forward to this moment. The moment when I have a homebrew on tap again. The California Strong Ale is cloudy with yeast still in suspension and some pieces of hops leaves from the pellets floating around. (doesn't help that I've been shaking the keg to dissolve the CO2 faster) As time goes on the yeast and hops will settle out and the beer will get clearer.

Each day I check the beer for carbonation. Today it seems very cask like. Not much carbonation. I jacked up the pressure to 25 lbs. Disconnected it. Shook it. Connected it. Disconnected it. Shook it. Kinda like rinse, lather, repeat ;-)

So tomorrow it should be carbonated just right. Here's to a new keg of homebrew.

Cheers!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Countdown to Ommegang BCTC: Picture of the Week

With roughly nine weeks to go until Belgium Comes to Cooperstown 2007 we thought you could use some reminders of how much fun it was last year. Every Wednesday leading up to the event we'll post one of our favorite pictures from BCTC 2006. The week nine picture is...

I'm not sure Garrett would approve of this breakfast pairing ;-)

Eats, Drinks, & Music at Grounds For Music in Wagontown, PA

Grounds For Music 2007 Came to learn of this fine-sounding event in Wagontown, PA at a party this past Saturday night. Seems like the deal is that you show up with as many people as you like in an automobile, pay $20, and either bring your own food and drink or buy it from them. Twin Brook Winery will be featured, as will a plethora of musicians from the region covering rock, blues, folk, and americana. It runs from 12pm-8pm on Sunday, June 10th. Check out the website for more information. It certainly sounds like a fun event to chill out with some good brew, food, and music. They make mention of being kid-friendly too. Rain or shine.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dogfish Head on Travel Channel tonight

Thanks to a certain anonymous reader who pointed this Dogfish item of interest out to me today. Too lazy to click on the link? Just watch Travel Channel tonight at 8pm eastern time.

Quick Review of Old Harbor Brewery in San Juan, PR

A few stray bits of information about Old Harbor Brewery came out of our most recent trip to Puerto Rico. As I'd mentioned last year after our first visit, there isn't much happening on the island as far as good beer goes. The only mass-produced beer that I come remotely close to caring for is Presidente from neighboring Dominican Republic.

But, in Old San Juan, the Old Harbor Brewery Steak & Lobster House continues to put out a handful of decent beers that are certainly worth searching out when touring around Old San Juan. Last year, we met up with Head Brewer Brad Mortensen, formerly of Legend Brewing in Richmond, Virginia. It was quite a treat discussing one of my favorite American Browns that he brewed while at Legend and getting his insights on brewing in the Caribbean. So, it goes without saying that I was looking forward to a return visit this year. It didn't take long to learn that Brad has moved on to a new brewing job in Louisiana, though our waitress, Natasha, did not know exactly where.

Life, and brewing, goes on and we dipped into the Pale Ale, Kofresi Stout, and Taina. The first two are part of their regular lineup, while the Taina is a seasonal that was nearing its end to make way for the upcoming wheat. While the Pale Ale and Stout lived up to expectations and were very well done, the Taina impressed even more as a solid brown ale that delivered a wonderful malty drinking experience.

According to Natasha, the brewpub continues to do good business and are gaining popularity on the island amongst both natives and tourists alike. She further went on to tell the back story of the Taina and the role of the Taino people in Puerto Rican history. I decided against showing you all a picture of Natasha, quite the Puerto Rican beauty. Not only did she very ably describe the differences in the variety of beers but could also describe the grain mill, the mash tun, and the lauter tun. If you find yourself in Old San Juan, head on over to Old Harbor. You'll get great service and beer.

Brewing Beer: Two Batches Fermented

:-)
The Strong California Style Cascade Amber Ale is now in a soda keg and the Strong German Style Ale is undergoing its second fermentation in another carboy. The brewing of these batches was mentioned here, here and here. There was mention of a brewing schedule, but, that is pretty much out the window. I'm in need of brewing ingredients again and some ball lock connector thing-a-ma-bobbers for the new (to me ) kegs I purchased. batch00000001 Strong California Style Cascade Amber Ale 6.5% batch00000010 Strong German Style Ale 7.4% I am surprised they taste so good. After all I didn't use any steeping grains. It's amazing how much character a liquid yeast can add to the taste. If you ever get the chance, make two yeast starters with two different yeasts using the same DME. Then when you're pitching one or both, taste them side by side. The California Ale yeast tasted so much different than the German Ale yeast in my experiment. How do batches 00000001 and 00000010 taste? Clean with sweet maltiness and pronounced hops, but, not overly bitter. Batch 00000001 is fruitier than the German ale. Both batches were hopped every ten minutes or so throughout the process. I just mixed all the hops together and split into six piles. Every ten minutes I added 1 sixth of the total hops. I'm not exactly sure what this does, but, my hunch is that it gives a full hops profile to the beer. Not too bitter and not too floral. Hey what do I know? I guess I could try and split a batch one of these days to discern the difference between hops timing methods. Or I could just drink it and do some more last minute brewing! We'll see. BTW you can thank Eli for the freakin' long binary names! ;-)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Off The News Wire At Magnolia in San Francisco, CA

Some bits and bytes from Dave McLean's newsletter at Magnolia last week. =========================================================== Though it sometimes feels like a Proving Ground factory here, we do have a few fun new beers in the pipeline. Our Ashbury Alt has gone through a minor reformulation and, though lighter in color, has a new and delicious malt character. And we’re slowly working our 1000th brew through the system! It’s a strong (over 9%), Belgian job that may get some wood barrel treatment in the near future, along with some other fun experimentation. We’ll keep you posted on its progress. And, with Haight Street Fair just around the corner, we’re about to brew this year’s Jubilee Pale Ale, another fun seasonal tradition here at Magnolia. ===========================================================

Save The Environment, Enjoy A Low-Stress Holiday Weekend, and Drink Great Beer With Lew Bryson

If you live in the Philadelphia area, why travel for Memorial Day weekend when you can stay close to home, drink good beer, and be in the company of some swell people?! Gas is too expensive (and not environment-friendly) and you wind up needing a vacation from your vacation most times anyway, right? So, here's the plan. Head over to Ortino's Northside. You've always been looking for an excuse to make your first trip to Ortino's, right? Take your pick. Thursday, Friday, and/or Saturday. There's a different event each day. Between the predicted nice weather, the opening of their new outdoor beer garden, Dan Bengel, Lew Bryson, and the management and staff of Ortino's, I'll betchya have a great time, spend less money, and be more relaxed then if you went away for the weekend! Here's the tap list, according to Dan. Check their website (or Lew's) for updates. Session Summer Of Love Fest-Beer List As Of 5/16/07 Allagash White Appalachian Peregrine Pilsner Barley Creek Antler Brown Brooklyn Lager Dogfish Head Shelter Pale Ale East End Brewing Fat Gary Ale East End Brewing Wheat Hop Flying Fish Farmhouse Summer Ale General Lafayette Pacific Pale Ale Iron Hill Belgium Pale Ale Lancaster Summer Rye Legacy Reading Pilsner Manayunk Brewing Belgian Farmhouse Ale Nodding Head Berliner Weisse Penn Pilsner Rock Bottom Sly Fox British Pale Ale Southampton Secret Ale Stoudt's Weizen Troegs Union Barrel Works Kolsch Victory Whirlwind Wit Weyerbacher Yards

Friday, May 18, 2007

Of Weyerbacher Oak Barrels, Chain Saws, and Flower Pots




Yes, I gone and done it. What do you get when you cut open a Weyerbacher oak barrel? Sweet overpowering aromas of whiskey drifting across the lawn. The charred innards of the barrel were obviously still holding on to quite a bit of the whiskey profile. Fun times! (And, yes, I cut it in half to make the ubiquitous whiskey barrel flower/herb planters! Hey, it's more cost effective than buying at Home Depot :)

Brewing Beer: A blast from the past.

I was catching up on some beer news via my iGoogle startpage yesterday when much to my surprise I came across a headline about Loretto, PA. Could it be THAT Loretto? Loretto is a small town in Western, PA. I spent a lot of time on my grandfather's farm near Loretto during my childhood. I've since settled down in Southeastern, PA in the Delaware Valley. I don't often hear about "the other" part of the state unles I'm speaking with relatives or visiting. I was a bit surprised to see this news item show up in Google News from the Altoona Mirror. It really brought back some great memories from when I started brewing.

I'm not sure if you were around back in the early days of The Brew Lounge when I wrote about how got started in home brewing. We purchased the equipment we used for that first homebrew from a small shop between Loretto and Chest Springs called Brew It Your-self. My dad knew of it, because, this is where he purchased his wine making supplies. Brew It Your-self is owned and operated by Ed Krug. The shop itself sits on a farm along a beautiful country road in rural Western PA. I haven't seen Ed in over ten years, but, I remember him as being knowledgeable and kind. What more could you ask for in a home brew shop owner?

I think I'll stop in next time I'm in town.

The Website: http://brewityourself.net
The article in the Altoona Mirror.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Found Along The Way At Monk's; That Mysterious Little Urthel Guy

Well, no watermelons were to be found at 11pm after the Lucy Saunders Grilling/Canned Beer dinner, but I did have a happy run-in with a beer previously unknown to me...the Urthel Vlaemse Bock, a described Flemish Bock. According to Mr. Peters, it's the only keg on the East Coast. This was on draft in the front bar and deserves some attention. Head retention throughout, check. It was sweet, then bitter. Smooth but crisp. Not too full-bodied, and lingers dry and just long enough to remind that you want another sip. A very pleasant way in which to welcome me back to the States, if I do say so...and I do. If you don't take my word for it, check out what Beer Advocate readers and Rate Beer readers have to say about it. And, to make matters better, I found a take-home bottle of it at Ron's Schoolhouse Grill today.

Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 5/16/07

On an attempted regular basis, we'll post the tap list here to the Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA. We have no affiliation with the establishment other than living within 2 miles of it and appreciating the usual quality tap and bottle list. If you like this idea, please drop us a note and let us know. On Draft as of 5/16/07 Avery/Russian River Collaboration Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter Felinfoel Double Dragon (cask-conditioned) Victory Hop Wallop Dogfish Head Aprihop Weyerbacher Prophecy Anderson Valley Pale Ale Victory Braumeister Pils Maredsous 10 New Holland Red Tulip

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thank You Mr. Curtin...

...for providing us with this awesome piece of information. It's one of those gems that adds to the experience of a Monk's dinner. As you've heard me tout this beer in the past, we can tick off yet another winner coming to the Philadelphia market. My luggage just got lighter!

================================================
Sean also brought along cans of his very good 21st Amendment IPA for all of us to sample at dinner's end and told me that he's planning to bring both into the Philadelphia market by year's end.
================================================

Canned Beer Dinner with Lucy Saunders at Monk's Cafe

While neither of us was able to attend last night's dinner at Monk's, you know how much we love our food and beer pairings around here. Plus, with summer lurking just around the corner and an all-star lineup of canned beer and grilled foods at Monk's, I felt it my duty to stop by Monk's on the way home from the airport last night to see how the dinner was. From waitresses, to bartenders, to Tom Peters (sshhh, he doesn't want you to know ;-) the Watermelon Wheat was a big hit. I, personally, was so glad to see it making an appearance on the East Coast and giving more people a chance to experience its unique approach to the wheat style. Lucy Saunders, of Grilling With Beer fame, was in attendance with her book. Also in the house were Butternuts, 21st Amendment, Oskar Blues, Sly Fox, and Brooklyn all with their canned creations. Now, just what do you think was in the "Adult S'mores"? 1st Course 21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat & Butternuts Heinnieweisse ~ Skewered Apricot Chicken & Malt Monster Shrimp 2nd Course Brooklyn Lager ~ Asparagus Salad 3rd Course Oskar Blues Dales Pale Ale ~ Porter/Ginger Salmon 4th Course Sly Fox Royal Weisse & Sly Fox Pale Ale ~ Apple Ale Ribs 5th Course Oskar Blues Old Chub ~ Adult S'mores This has been quite a 10th Anniversary of beer events at Monk's. And, to think, there's still more than a half year's worth remaining!

Countdown to Ommegang BCTC: Picture of the Week

With roughly ten weeks to go until Belguim Comes to Cooperstown 2007 we thought you could use some reminders of how much fun it was last year. Every Wednesday leading up to the event we'll post one of our favorite pictures from BCTC 2006. The week ten picture is...

The beer tasting tent stretched to the hills ;-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Poll: Do you listen to beer related podcasts?"

Just in case you didn't see this post yesterday. We're interested in trying something new here at The Brew Lounge. We thought we would ask some questions to help us get a feel for your preferences. Our first poll question is over there ---> "Do you listen to beer related podcasts?" Please cast your vote! If you are having trouble seeing it. Try this instead... http://www.polldaddy.com/p.asp?p=39632

American Craft Beer Week

The Brewers Association celebrates American Craft Beer Week this week. If you needed a reason to check out your local brew pub(s), this is it. I said "if". Ok, how's this. If you need a reason to take one of the uninitiated to a brewpub, this is it. There that's better. Heck I would suggest even buying them a beer. Maybe it should be called...
Buy Somebody a Craft Beer Week
OR
Buy a Yokel a Local
OR
(ok..ok..I'll stop)
NOTE: If you print out the passport for the Great American Beer Tour, be prepared for some blank stares when you ask the server to endorse it. Seems that the patrons are more in the know especially if they are not members of the Brewers Association. After a while it's kinda fun to see how they react. NOTE: You might not want to tell them I called them a "Yokel". I'll have to research that one. I want to be prepared for the hate mail. Feel free to share your stories here. Cheers!

Beer Tasting: Moylan's Hopsickle IPA


The Beer: Moylan's Hopsickle Triple Hoppy Imperial Ale
Style: Double IPA
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Packaging & Date Stamping: 22 oz. brown bottle; no date stamp

From where & how stored: Purchased at Jackson Wine & Spirits in Concord, CA, transported home by plane, stored at 45F since then

Pricing: $4.49 per bottle

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 9.2% ABV
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- golden, caramel brown
- medium head, coats the walls, but otherwise fades soon to a thin ring
- slight cloudiness

The Aroma:
- cascade, centennial, tomahawk provide a wonderful sensory overload
- smell the hops 18 inches away from the bottle

The Taste:
- grapefruit, pine quickly blow away any upfront malt sweetness that might be perceived
- pleasant lingering (and lingering...) bitterness in way back of mouth and throat
- medium-bodied and smooth as it slides easily across the palate

The Verdict: In my opinion, hands down, one of the best "big" IPAs made in the U.S. Hopheads rejoice!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Poll: Do you listen to beer related podcasts?

We're interested in trying something new here at The Brew Lounge. We thought we would ask some questions to help us get a feel for your preferences. Our first question is over there ---> Please cast your vote! If you are having trouble seeing it. Try this instead... http://www.polldaddy.com/p.asp?p=39632

Getting Started in Homebrewing - Buying the Equipment



In the last episode of my maiden homebrew voyage, I discussed my decision to go with the malt extract approach and a nut brown ale recipe. While I was at Home Sweet Homebrew getting the recipe ingredients, it would make sense to get the equipment too, now would it not?

George and Nancy turn over quite of few of these startup kits as they've helped countless first-time brewers get started over the 20 years they've been in business. In no time, George gathered up the various pieces of equipment that I would need to brew my first batch. For $49.95, the kit includes: a 7 gallon fermenting bucket; a racking tube and siphon hose; an airlock and stopper; a hydrometer; a capper; bottle caps; a bottle filler; recipes and brewing instructions. For an additional $10, I purchased a 5 gallon glass carboy. A boil kettle, spoon, and thermometer were not included.

As far as additional equipment goes, I think I'd like to have a dedicated oversized brewpot (I'm not really big on cleanup!), a wort chiller (to help speed along the cooldown process post-boil), and whatever other must-haves any of you might think to recommend.

I don't think it will be long before I make two advances. One is to go to an all-grain process. Not because I'm convinced that it's a better process, but more because I like to get more in touch with all the raw components of brewing. The second is to keg my finished product. Not that having portable bottles of homebrew isn't nice; this is primarily because there's nothing like having a keg of homebrew in the refrigerator at the ready to tap of a fresh glass of beer.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Quick Review of Cosimo in Malvern, PA

Finally made it over to Cosimo in Frazer, PA (or is it Malvern?) to check out what sounded to be a promising setup. Plenty of great wine from around the world available in 3 different serving sizes and with manageable prices. But, the surprise here is that while fans of the grape will certainly flock here, we lovers of the grain can also get a good drink to go with the decent food menu that these folks are putting together. Anthony Mastroianni (owner & GM), Jason Whiteside (wine director), and the staff provided us with a great time when we visited. Jason, especially, went to great lengths to make us feel welcome, explain the high-tech wine preservation system, and give us the back story on how Cosimo came to be. Even a bit of history about a former Cosimo, the namesake for the restaurant...that is a 16th century Duke of Tuscany. The wine preservation system that they use allows them to keep over 40 wines on tap and, further, allows them to dispense 1.5 ounce serving sizes of hard-to-find, expensive wines. Oh, wait, this is about beer, right? Well, indeed as I mentioned above, beer fans can hang here too. Our draft choices on this particular evening were Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, Allagash White, Delirium Tremens, and Victory Storm King Stout. Also spied were bottles of Fuller's London Porter and Paulaner Hefeweizen. The Delirium went perfect with my half-chicken dinner and the Storm King went perfectly with the chocolate dessert. I wasn't in note-taking mode so more comprehensive notes will have to wait until the next visit. You'll find a capable staff serving solid food in a ample but comfy atmosphere and nice bar area conducive to hanging out. Suffice to say it's worth checking it out for yourself.

Growing Hops: Pictures from a Sunny Weekend


























Cascade Hops

Growing Hops: The drama continues...sheesh!

I think the pictures explain it all :-( Hops accident #2.

My son only damaged two bines from one plant. That plant will survive. Not sure about Bryan's hedges though ;-) He took the bark right off that one!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Brewing Beer: Bottom of the Keg

The green hopped California style IPA is nearing its end. I poured the last pint a week ago. Or so I thought. That was three pints ago. Pour by pour I savor the last drops. It just keeps coming. Anybody ever experience that feeling when you go back to the tap of one of your favorite beers waiting for the sputter of the keg emptying? How about the feeling when you get a full glass just one more time? Somehow it tastes just that much better.

Lucy Saunders (& more) Beer Dinner at Monk's Cafe

Folks, there rarely comes a time that the fine brew from the 21A (21st Amendment) is available on the East Coast. It wasn't until I read the 21A e-mail (see below) this morning that I realized Shaun O'Sullivan will be a part of the upcoming Monk's dinner on Tuesday, May 15th. Having been to the 21A several times and sampling many of their creations, I highly recommend getting out to Monk's on Tuesday for what is shaping up to be a great night of food and beer. Uh, after re-reading that, when haven't we used the words great-beer-food-Monk's all together in one sentence?! I'll be just coming in from the airport late that evening, so I may pop by for an after-dinner visit to see if the Watermelon Wheat is still available. Canned offerings from Sly Fox, Butternuts, Capital and others will be incorporated into the night's event. ================================================== Tuesday, May 15th Shaun will be doing a beer dinner at the famous beer restaurant, Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia with Beer Cook, Lucy Saunders and Monk's Chef Adam Glickman. The recipes will be inspired by Lucy's latest book, "Grilling with Beer." The theme is All-American Cookout and all of the beers will be Canned Craft Brews. Shaun will be speaking about his Watermelon Wheat and IPA, both of which will be available at the dinner and Canned Craft Beer. These dinners always sell out, so call Monk's today at 215-545-7005 and make a reservation. Hope to see you in Philly. ==================================================

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Getting Started in Homebrewing - Choosing the First Recipe



It's been a while since I last visited my maiden homebrewing project here. My next steps I said would be to decide on a recipe and a process. In other words, would I go for the extract or the all-grain approach to brewing right out of the gate? Then, which recipe would I choose as my first?

The first decision was the more difficult one and one that I still wrestle with. I chose to start with extract brewing just to get started and as a way of cutting my brewing teeth. Not that it's all that big of a deal, because to move to all-grain after a few batches will simply require additional equipment and more time.

The reason I say that I wrestled with the decision is that, in the kitchen, I'm the kind of person who wants to take as few shortcuts as possible. I like making food from the most raw ingredients possible. If a meal takes several hours, even prepping the day before, to make then that is fine with me. To include some homegrown ingredients is even better. So, it might make sense that I would enjoy crushing and mashing my own grains (okay, okay not really my own grains...I'll leave the growing of the grains up to someone else).

So, I've chosen to begin my brewing journey with the extract process. Next is to determine my first beer style. While it sure is tempting to go after something like a Belgian Strong, English Pale, or American IPA, I chose the Nut Brown Ale recipe for two reasons. First, it's one of the advertised prepackaged kits at Home Sweet Homebrew. So much for not taking shortcuts, eh?! Second, one of my friend Mark's good ol' standby recipes that he has down to perfection is the nut brown recipe. While he said this was an all-grain recipe that he crafted himself, I still thought I should give this tried and true style a shot.

The ingredients package includes: malt extract; priming sugar; bittering hops; aroma hops; and yeast. Water was not included, oh well!

I'm anxious to get brewing, so for less than $100 I bought the start-up equipment and the ingredients that I need for extract brewing. Next posting, I'll discuss more about the equipment that I purchased.

The Drafting Room - What's Still On Tap



Well, it seems like our good graces and everyone else's backyard chores last Saturday has allowed these fine brews to still be on draft as of last night. Look tasty? Go getchya some at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Poll: Wrap up!

The votes are in and we're proud to say there were no dangling chads! An overwhelming percentage of you appear to prefer our reviews of establishments, breweries, and events (62%). A good portion of you also enjoy our content related to homebrewing and hops growing (20%). Least interesting, based on tallied votes, are our beer tasting notes (8%). Coincidentally, these results mirror our own preferences. We enjoy getting out and doing things. Whether it's going to bars, breweries, or events and telling you about it or sharing experiences about growing hops and making homebrew, these are the types of things we find easiest and most enjoyable to write about. The tastings? Well, of course we love to taste beer. And, taking notes is not all that difficult. But, communicating the results? We both agree that tasting beer is such a personal experience that reading notes and reviews from other people can really only give you so much usable information. In the end, you need to taste the beer yourself and not worry whether we think it's citrus hoppy or grassy hoppy....caramelly, or biscuity. So, what will we do with this information? Seems like the best course of action at this point is to continue the status quo. Thanks for your input and continued support.

Countdown to Ommegang BCTC: Picture of the Week

With roughly eleven weeks to go until Belguim Comes to Cooperstown 2007 we thought you could use some reminders of how much fun it was last year. Every Wednesday for the next eleven weeks we'll post one of our favorite pictures from BCTC 2006. The week eleven picture is...
How could we forget the T-Shirts!?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Annual Sly Fox Bock Festival or Germany Comes To Phoenixville


Spring has sprung, the grass has ris, and....we all know where the goats is. Boy, that was really lame. No matter, the surefire way of marking the arrival of spring came yesterday at Sly Fox in Phoenixville, PA. On a picture-perfect day filled with sunshine and just a few drifting clouds, beer lovers (many there with their families), and goat (bock, auf Deutsch) enthusiasts came out for this annual rite of spring. The unofficial turnout estimates the crowd in excess of 2,000 revelers, which included a couple of chartered busloads of people from Philadelphia and New York. This event is getting so big (how big is it?) that it makes you wonder how much longer they'll be able to host it in their parking lot.

Sly Fox opened around 11 AM with goat registration getting underway around noontime. We arrived late, just prior to the first race heat scheduled for 2pm. (I had run my own race, the Broad Street Run, earlier in the morning...but this isn't about me ;-) The parking lots around the brewpub were, of course, packed to capacity. We immediately opted for the strip mall parking lot across the street. It was obvious that grocery shoppers were unaware of the events across the street as we contended with them for limited parking spots. (Oh, by the way, I should explain that "we" means me and my wife, Patty, not my TBL partner Adam. He did, in fact, come with his son, make quick rounds through the festival, then was obligated to head on to another event.)

After slipping our German car (gotta keep with the theme of the day) into its spot and making our way across route 113, we took our first option of getting a can of Dunkel Lager. The dark, malty brew failed to disappoint. Then, it was on to a twenty minute wait for some food and our next beer. The food options included knockwurst, bockwurst, weissewurst, pretzels, and other delectable German pairings. With our sandwich and pretzel, we moved on to the fashionably seasonal Royal Weisse and Slacker Bock. Once again, spot on clean drinking beauties!

After the goat races concluded I indulged the newly crowned Sundae Maibock (named after the 9-week old winning goat) and concluded the day with a Rauchbier. I hadn't had the Rauch since last year and enjoyed revisiting this hickory smoky delight. What I did not get around to were the Eis versions of the Slacker and Helles Bocks. Would have been nice to try, but probably not prudent given their strength. I'll need to check to see if they will continue to be serving these up this week.

All around, this was a fabulous day for beer, food, and camaraderie. This was my first time attending, since every past year has either found me out of state for work or otherwise preoccupied. The first sure did not disappoint. Yes, there were times that it was difficult to get a beer when I really wanted one. But, I really can't complain. There were so many great people around to talk with and happenings to partake in (German music & dancing, goat races) that I barely noticed.

By the way, how is it that I managed to take, like, 32 pictures of the German dancers, but none of the esteemed emcee O'Reilly? For a more comprehensive photo journal of the day, check out Tom's site with plenty of great pictures of goats, beer, and O'Reilly!

Click here for a wrap-up in the Phoenixville News.