Thursday, April 30, 2009

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: April 30-May 6

I'm going to give something a try and see how it goes. The monthly calendar is great if I do say so myself. I get compliments from many of you who refer to, rely on, and link to it. A poll way, way back indicated that it was one of the top 3 things that you like about The Brew Lounge. As much as I enjoy the writing part, I'm glad to provide what basically turns out to be a free service for you in an easy-to-reference and read calendar of noteworthy events around the Philadelphia region, and sometimes beyond. I use it quite a bit myself (cuz I just can't memorize it all...did you really think?) Anyway, let's give this calendar a weekly spin and see if I can keep up on it and if you find it valuable. Anymore it seems that the calendar bursts at the seams every month and, unless it's a major event, you/we just aren't planning more than a week or two out in advance. While I publish the calendar at the end of each month for the upcoming month, you may not even realize that I continue to update the calendar as proprietors, public relations staff, and event organizers continue during the month to drop notes and advertisements to me for inclusion on the calendar. So let's say that every Thursday, I'll pull together the upcoming week's worth of interesting looking beer events around the Philadelphia region, and in special cases--beyond, to share with you. Let me know if this works for you and if you like it better than monthly updates alone. For a complete look at May's Calendar, follow this link Beginning tonight, 4/30, and on through 5/6 there are a whole slew of free and pay as you go (PAYG) events going on. First let's look at the tastings slash brewery promotions. >> @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA--- Fri. 5/1 - Friday Night Tasting (Fuller's) (5:00pm-7:00pm; free sample tastings) >> @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA--- Mon. 5/4 - Monday Night Tasting (Duck-Rabbit) (5:00pm-7:00pm; free sample tastings) >> @Capone's, Norristown, PA--- Sat. 5/2 - Bourbon Barrel Event (11:00am; PAYG for 6 different brands) >> @Capone's, Norristown, PA--- Tue. 5/5 - Duck-Rabbit Draft Promo (11:30am; PAYG for 9 different Duck-Rabbit drafts) >> @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 5/6 - Boulder Brewery Night (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) >> @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA--- Fri. 5/1 - Friday Night Tasting (Flying Dog) (4:00pm-6:00pm; free sample tastings) >> @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 5/6 - Duck Duck Bunny Rat Duck-Rabbit Night (5:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for 3 different Duck-Rabbit drafts) >> @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA--- Thu. 4/30 - Thursday Night Tasting (Weyerbacher) (7pm-9pm; free sample tastings) >> @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Mon. 5/4 - Philly Debut of Duck-Rabbit brewery (5:30pm-7:00pm; PAYG for 5 different Duck-Rabbit drafts) >> @Philadelphia Brewing, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 5/2 - The Breweries of Northern Liberties (2:00pm; free for lecture and PBC beer samples) >> @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA--- Mon. 5/4 - Duck-Rabbit Brewery Premiere (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG for 6 different Duck-Rabbit brands on tap) >> @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA--- Thu. 4/30 - Pint Night with Founders Brewing (6:00pm; PAYG for 6 Founders drafts) >> @TJs, Paoli, PA--- Tue. 5/5 - Tröegs Sunshine Pils Seasonal Debut (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG for taking a ride down the sunshine highway) >> @Triumph, New Hope, PA--- Fri. 5/1 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (May's selection: Jewish Rye Beer) (6pm; PAYG) >> @Triumph, Princeton, NJ--- Wed. 5/6 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (May's selection: Übermensch Pilsner) (6pm; PAYG) >> @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA--- Tue. 5/5 - Cinco de Dogfish (3:00pm; PAYG for 7 different DFH brands on tap) Now about some outright fun and games? >> @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA --- Sun. 5/3 - Bike Race Sundays (4pm; watch the Tour de Romandie and PAYG for any of their 20 rotating drafts or their one house bottle, Orval) >> @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA--- Sun. 5/3 - Bock Fest & Goat Race (11:00am-6:00pm; PAYG for a "must be seen to be understood and appreciated family-style event") >> @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA--- Tue. 5/5 - Cinco de Maio Fiesta (5:30pm; PAYG for beer, tequila, Mexican food, and Piñatas) Sit-down dinners, of course! >> @Alison two, Fort Washington, PA--- Wed. 5/6 - Sly Fox Beer Dinner (6:30pm; $56 for 5 courses of food and beer pairings) And, then there are the slightly bigger events (bigger in beer size and/or bigger in cost and/or bigger in perception) >> @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY--- Tue.5/5-Wed. 5/6 - Rogue's Annual Pacific Northwest Beer and Oyster Festival (12pm; PAYG for something like 31 different Rogue brands plus oysters) >> @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA--- Fri. 5/1 - Incubus Friday (2007 & 2008 Vintages) (12:00pm 'til they kick; PAYG for these tripels that are sure to go fast) >> @Stewart's Brewing Company, Bear, DE--- Sat. 5/2 - Delaware Barleywine Expo (12pm; PAYG for something crazy like 15 different barleywines from both Stewart's and guests for the day) >> @The Brazen Head, New York, NY--- Fri. 5/1-Sun. 5/3 - 'Cask Head' Cask Ale Festival (12pm; PAYG for 30 different cask conditioned beers; 12 tapped at any given time) For a complete look at May's Calendar, follow this link

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

PBW 2010: Change is Good?

My best reaction is to this news today is mixed. On one hand, the change in three months will give me more time to plan the next installment of Philly Beer Run. But, more often than not, runners and bikers prefer the temps in the 40s and 50s rather than 70s and 80s (we'll even be happy in the 30s). So how this plays into the type of running event that I put together remains to be seen. As far as bar hopping and city traversing in June of 2010? Eh, I suppose we can look at it as a better option than August, right?! Do the bar owners really enjoy the Erin-Expressers more than the Philly Beer Geekerie? Are they that much more profitable? Do you know, do you care? Or are you all ready already for PBW 2010 to begin? All I know is that there's sure to be a Nick Johnson-sponsored party during the Bike Race as it goes through Manayunk/Roxborough on June 6th, 2010 during Philly Beer Week. That is, as long as it doesn't get cancelled as is a possibility for this year's. This is one of the City's most important and captivating annual sporting events and, like the Penn Relays and Dad Vail Regatta, should be protected as a city treasure. Did I go off course here?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

26.2 miles to Good Beer in Pittsburgh, PA

This will be my last substantive posting until I return from the Pittsburgh Marathon next week. I'll have some filler material to keep you and your RSS feeder/reader occupied until then, so it won't be like I'm really MIA!

I had a lot of fun putting together my marathon of D.C. beer back in 2007 to coincide with my running of the Marine Corps Marathon. I laid out a map with some descriptions of beer-worthy landmarks along the way. The idea didn't dawn on me three years ago for my first in NYC and for some reason I skipped doing one back in the fall when I ran Philly.

Now, I'm heading to da 'Burgh this coming weekend for the return of the Pittsburgh Marathon...26.2 miles starting and ending downtown by the Convention Center. Along the way, my running will take me and almost 10,000 other runners through the North Shore, South Side, Oakland (PittU), Shadyside, and Lawrenceville.

Some of you already know of the places that I'll pass along the way. For those others, read along below to get a good representation of what makes up a pretty decent beer scene in the city of Pittsburgh. And, for those of you in and around the City on Sunday, 5/3...feel free to come out and witness the return (from hiatus) of the Pittsburgh Marathon. Believe it or not, the only significant hill (uphill that it is) is Forbes Avenue through Oakland. Find me, and I may even buy a beer for you afterwards. Oh, by the way, does anyone have a good recommendation for a place to "carb up" on Saturday night in the City?

Runners, beer drinkers take your mark... The route begins on Smallman Street just outside the Convention Center and heads off on a short loop through downtown of approximately 4 miles before heading to the North Side. There is (or at least used to be) a smattering of half-decent places to grab a good beer downtown, but not like in other neighborhoods, particularly South Side, which we'll get to in, oh, an hour or so.

The only place downtown where I've dabbled in good beer has been the small-ish Penn Taproom inside the William Penn Hotel where you'll find a couple of beers from Penn on permanent taps. Unfortunately, Market Street Ale House has recently closed and left Market Square (just a few blocks from the Convention Center start of the Marathon) a bit more empty. I'll leave it up to some of you to chime with any worthy downtown beer joints that should be checked out.

I suppose the homebrewing scene must be across the rivers, because all I could find on Beer Advocate for homebrewing in the City was in the Strip District a half mile from the starting line in the form of Triangle Homebrewing Supply. Though, if the user reviews are accurate, it may not be the place that many of us would want to buy supplies from. But, as always check it out for yourself and decide. Or, if you homebrew in Allegheny County, I ask you: Where do you buy homebrew supplies?

Here a bridge, there a bridge Of the most vital components in Pittsburgh's aesthetically-pleasing landscape, none perhaps is more identifiable than the bridges. Somewhere in the past, I'd recalled hearing that Pittsburgh has more bridges within the city boundaries than any other city outside of Venice. I'll have to look around to see if that can be confirmed.

In any case, this marathon will go across three bridges. The first leaves downtown around mile 4 and crosses the Allegheny river at 16th Street. Although, the route veers west, just a handful of blocks to the east after crossing the bridge is the home (past home, and soon to be home again) of Penn Brewery. Penn is the wonderful Pittsburgh landmark on Vinial Street. They'd just recently celebrated their 20th anniversary and got a very large rent increase bill in the mail. After some backing-and-forthing, Penn is heading back to the brew kettles. Though, if I understood the chain of events correctly, the equipment had been sold. So, what this all means, I'll need to look into...but not during the run!

A bit of tooling around the North Side, then to the West End Bridge, where at roughly mile 8.5 we'll cross over into the neighborhood where the joint is always jumpin': South Side. As we make our way down Carson Street, Mt. Washington will be up the hill above us (home to some of the most breathtaking views of the city)...take one of the Inclines/Funiculars, either Duquesne or Monongahela, for a quick peek.

Where do all the Hippies Meet? The mood of Carson Street will change a few times over as we go from one end almost the other. But, one thing that won't is the energy level. We'll be on there from mile 8.5 to almost mile 12. Along the way, the scenery will include tattoo parlors and tea houses, ethnic eateries and esoteric bookstores, bohemians and babes, and yes, of course, Fat Head's. Let's work our way from west to east along Carson.

First up will be Fat Head's on the left (north) side of the street. Fat Head's is equal parts restaurant, bar, takeout bottle shop, sports bar, and party scene that is on the short list of many a beer traveler when in Pittsburgh. During one of our annual guys trip to Pittsburgh, we went in for lunch, watched some games, drank some great beer, and stayed long enough to be hungry for dinner. On Carson Street, Fat Head's is usually in the middle of most parties and celebrations that take place in the South Side neighborhood. That they are one of the best beer bars in the city and region of Pittsburgh doesn't hurt either.

Within spittin' distance on the other side of the street is Piper's Pub. If I could count the number of times that I've been told to visit Piper's, I'd also then be able to tell you the number of times that I didn't go. Based on their reputation, I'd say the punchline to the joke of "Why didn't Bryan cross the road from Fat Head's to Piper's?" would be "Because he's an idiot." Perhaps you, too, can tell me what a great place Piper's is?

Back to the north side of the street at 20th is where you'll find Smokin' Joe's. Smokin' Joe's used to truly be smoking. I've only been once to this bar and, man, smoke-filled just about describes what it used to be like before the state-wide smoking ban was enacted. With that out of the way now, the pool, darts, food, and beer have never been better.

I'll be making a left across the Birmingham Bridge from Carson Street at 23rd Street. This left comes just a few blocks before South Side Works, home of the recently unveiled Hofbräuhaus Pittsburgh. Schnitzel, steins, and sausage prevail (as do dirndls, dudes, and dunkels...and...beer, babes, and bratwurst...someone, please stop me) at this new German-style Beer Hall overlooking the Monongahela River. Since I was last there, the outside deck and biergarten may be well on their way to completion.

Back to School After weaving our way around the interstate tangle, we runners will head up Forbes Avenue toward the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to the venerable institution of coleslaw and fries on the sandwich (that'd be, of course, Primanti Bros.), the Oakland section of the city around the university campus also is home to a location of the Mad Mex family and Fuel and Fuddle, a couple of the better beer bars near campus.

In addition to a decent beer lineup, Mad Mex will also help sate your thirst with their Big Azz Margaritas. Specialties at Fuel and Fuddle include Tröegs-brewed Fire Brick Brown Ale and Pumphouse Pale Ale, pizzas done a dozen different ways, and foods that are flavored ten ways 'til next Tuesday.

The trip up Forbes Avenue contains an incline approximately two miles in length at an average incline of 2-3%. This represents the most significant hill of the course. It seems counter-intuitive in a city known for hills almost as much as bridges. After cresting Oakland at almost mile 14, the tony neighborhood of Shadyside will provide tree-lined streets, exclusive residential addresses, and high-end shopping. Unfortunately, not much in the way of notable beer bars or breweries.

Heading east on Penn Avenue to then make a left on Braddock, where a right on Braddock would instead take you south to Regent Square and D's Six Pax and Dogz where those with a little hunger and thirst will leave with neither. Home to one of the area's best take out beer caves, D's completed a renovation a couple of years ago that now allows them to stock close to 1000 brands of beer. The menu of frankfurters and sausages is like icing on the cake, or head on the beer.

As the neighborhoods become a bit quieter and bleaker, two more first-class beer joints will pop up and try to lure me in for some liquid refreshment...only if they were open at the time on a Sunday. Point Brugge and Sharp Edge Beer Emporium have both been around for a while and are establishing themselves and their beer lineups as among the city's best. This is Sharp Edge's original location of a 4-location local quad of great beer bars. The only location of theirs that I've been to is the Creekhouse just on the city's westerly limit. Based on reputation and word-of-mouth, these are the kind of places that most beer geeks would be happy to find themselves stranded at.

It won't take long to leave behind the civilized tone of Shadyside for the more rough-and-tumble, other side of the tracks neighborhoods of Point Breeze and Homewood. Actually, it is the other side of the tracks where East End Brewing resides. I'm still trying to coax owner/brewer, Scott Smith out of bed early on Marathon Sunday to set up a beer refreshment stand for me and the runners to get us through the neighborhood at miles 19 and 20...let's see how that goes. Y'know just a little dixie cup of Gose or Kvass...it's the mythical "wall" you know? I don't want to hit it!

It's all Downhill from Here With just one significant hill (albeit 2 mile hill), the course does not seem to overly intimidate me from afar. But, no matter, when it comes to the last almost 4 miles, I'm thinking they might be a just reward for putting in a few hours of running on this lovely upcoming Sunday morning!

Around mile 23, I'll be already into a mild downhill that will take me directly in front of and by Church Brew Works. CBW is another one of those Pittsburgh institutions that is on the very short list of many a beer traveler to Pittsburgh. Housed in a desanctified church, CBW is celebrating 13 years in business in 2009. The ambiance alone is enough reason to visit, not to mention the food and beer menus as well. In the nice weather, they have a patio that might just be open by the time I arrive for the marathon, we shall see.

Across Liberty Ave. from Church Brew Works is the larger-than-life Pittsburgh Brewing Company. I guess you might have to be from Pittsburgh to have some sentimental feelings about I.C. Light. I once had an Iron City can of beer with the 1970s Steelers team on it. That's probably the closest I'll ever come to have a can of I.C. Light in my paws.

I'm going to go ahead and throw this out here in the public domain, because I feel like being optimistic and letting the world (or at least the 3 of you that have made it this far) know my finishing time goal for Sunday. After running almost 600 miles during this training plan and feeling like I just may be in the best running shape of my life, I believe I'm ready to go for the magical 4 hour finish on Sunday. For many "average" runners such as myself, 4 hours is a threshold that becomes a mission to achieve.

After that, qualifying for Boston Marathon would be the next. But, first let's get to 4 hours. With a previous best of 4:21:31, this may be a stretch, but I'm feeling good enough to state it and go for it!

Remember: "You either Do or you Do Not, There is No Try"

Other Brew Lounge Links to Pittburgh's Beer Scene
The Steelers in 2006 Super Bowl
A review of Church Brew Works
A review of Fat Head's
A review of North Country Brewing
A 2006 trip through Pittsburgh
A quick 2008 trip to Pittsburgh
Bottling Gratitude at East End Brewing in 2008
2009 Flyers/Penguins hockey trip

Triangle Homebrewing Supply 2100 Smallman Street Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Penn Brewing Co. 800 Vinial Street Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15212
Fat Head's 1805 East Carson Street Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15203
Piper's Pub 1828 East Carson Street Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15203
Smokin' Joe's 2001 East Carson Street Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15203
Hofbräuhaus Pittsburgh 2705 South Water Street SouthSide Works Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15203
Mad Mex Oakland 370 Atwood Street Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213
Fuel And Fuddle 212 Oakland Avenue Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213
D's Six Pax & Dogz 1118 South Braddock Avenue Swissvale, Pennsylvania 15218
Point Brugge Cafe 401 Hastings Street Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15206
Sharp Edge Beer Emporium 302 South Saint Clair Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15206
East End Brewing Co. 6923 Susquehanna Street Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15208
Church Brew Works 3525 Liberty Avenue Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15201
Pittsburgh Brewing Co. 3340 Liberty Avenue Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15201

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Blind Tiger, Rogue, and Oysters

File under, "this probably won't suck."
On both Tuesday May 5th and Wednesday May 6th beginning at Noon both days, The Blind Tiger is very proud to be hosting Rogue's Annual Pacific Northwest Beer and Oyster Festival! If you know it, you love it - and if you have never experienced it, you must come to it! Just so you know the score, there will be 31 Rogue beers and 1600 Yakima Bay Oysters on-hand for the two day extravaganza (details TBA). The List: Rogue Charlie Rogue Sesquicentenial Rogue Mogul Rogue Glen Rogue Deadliest Ale Rogue Vintage Crusty Rogue Menage a Frog Rogue Chipotle Ale Rogue Soba Ale Rogue Brutal Bitter Rogue Dry Hopped Red Rogue Mocha Porter Rogue Nitro Shakespeare Rogue Nitro Chocolate Stout Rogue Smoke Ale Rogue YSB Rogue Mom’s Rogue Kells Rogue Juniper Pale Rogue Imperial Pilsner Rogue Imperial Red Rogue Imperial Stout Rogue Imprial Porter Rogue Imperial YSB Rogue I2PA Rogue Collaboration Rogue American Amber Rogue Double Dead Guy Plus 2 Casks and 1 Gravity Keg (TBA)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Drafting Room presents Founders

If I wasn't on alcohol slowdown next week, I'd be partaking in the following goodies at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA. Better for you, there'll be more to enjoy. Have fun... Thursday, April 30, 2009; Tap Time: 6:00 Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Double Trouble, Dirty Bastard, Red Rye, Centennial IPA, Cerise Cherry Ale

Friday, April 24, 2009

Beer Wars: one week later, the conversation continues

After returning home from Florida and a busy weekend (and wrestling with some computer issues), I've finally found some time to put all of my thoughts together in semi-coherent form to share with you. Not having read most of what's been already shared across the tubes, I may turn out to be redundant with other's opinions. I started with something like 60 or so perspectives, all of which I may never get around to checking in on, along with their dozens of comments. I'm slightly fascinated, and equal parts curious-ed, by the number of people who are weighing in on the topic. Even more perplexing to me is the level of curmudgeonry that this movie appears to have teased out of people. Proclaiming curmudgeonality seems to be quite the hip thing to do these past few weeks or so. Hopefully, my insights here will provides some sort of additional, uh, insight...sans the curmudgeonliness. The closest movie theater to where I was in Florida at the time appeared to be north of downtown Tampa where Beer Wars was showing....even though there was no movie poster in the window nor mention of it on the theater's marquee. More on this later. (Though, the Total Wine that I stopped at prior to the movie had copies of an 8.5x11 flyer plastered throughout the beer aisles.) Let's take this from the top. My gut told me that I wouldn't have to worry about waiting to buy a ticket at the box office. I'm still suspicious that any theater anywhere sold out, but I'll take those at their word if they say that some did. Just before the lights dimmed, I counted approximately 50 people in the seats at this Tampa theater. Some gentleman stood up, sounded as if he was there to thank everyone for coming out, and informed the crowd that World of Beer was doing something (I don't recall if it was a free or a discounted beer) for customers who presented a ticket stub after the movie. After the lights went down, perhaps another 20 or so got into their seats. It appeared to be a very tight and friendly crowd of people that knew each other and came in groups. Needless to say, I stuck out. ...To Start a Conversation... For those of you reading that don't frequent The Brew Lounge or other beer-related websites, blogs, and the like, this following comment is not so much for you as it is the, how shall we say, harder-core beer geek. (I make this distinction because roughly half of the daily visits here are comprised of regular readers versus those who stumble across here by hop-penstance.) To the regulars of you here and about the beer webs, I'd be shocked if you went to this movie thinking that it was made for you. I'd be further shocked if the movie's producers and marketers really thought that they should be pushing this movie primarily in your/our direction. When the director, Anat Baron, announced that a driving goal of this movie was to start a conversation, I can't imagine that she was suggesting that it would be we that should start a conversation. After all, people "like us" have been having this conversation for years, haven't we? Don Russell, Bob Townsend, Bill Brand, and several others have been discussing better beer amongst us as well as with the general population through syndicated print media for years. They've bandied the big guys, shone lights on the little guys, and pondered the three tier system, for better or for worse. When we, particularly Pennsylvania residents, stand at a beer distributor for a free tasting we marvel at the number of cases of "macros" that go out the door while we sip on our better delights and are dumbfounded by the indifference of many who can't fathom a better tasting beer than their old reliable. So, this conversation wasn't really about us, was it? Well, perhaps just a little bit. At least in the sense that we all could do more to spread the conversation (i.e. be the ones to start it with the uneducated...the nonbelievers?) Sorry, I know this sounds a bit evangelistic and that's not honestly my cup of tea, but I'm not exactly suggesting that we go door-to-door. Just as with my running habit where I don't go out hoping to make runners of all friends and family, I don't believe that everyone wants to, nor needs to, drink the beer I do and know as much about the industry as I do. I just hope that I can influence them to try something different (and, in our opinions, better) than old habits will have them drink. Should these people I describe care where there beer comes from, who makes it, and whether there's a level playing field and point of entry for all? Why not? People seem to care if their clothing is made under questionable labor conditions. Some have preconceived notions about buying U.S. versus foreign-made goods. The past decade or so has seen more people appearing to be interested in the sourcing and processing of their food products. So, why not beer? (Why can't us!?...sorry, inside joke here in Philly.) Proper Marketing approach for something like this is crucial All that being said, the conversation, I would argue, has been going on for years within the tighter of the concentric circles of beer drinkers. Moving to the next ring of circles to include more in the conversation should certainly be the goal. I'm pretty sure that this one-night only event did not accomplish this objective. Judging from the audience in Tampa (and from some reports from across the country), I gather it was primarily the inner circle that showed up for the event. Afterall, for the folks that we'd like to be more educated about beer and the encompassing industry, many of them barely care enough to ask where their beer is made or who makes it or what is in it. So why do we think they'd care to show up for a one-night only event? Or buy the DVD down the road? Presumably (?) it will be available for rental or download...I'd hope. Personally, I did like the concept of an opening night premiere for "us insiders." It gave the feeling of an event that we needed to see. I was okay with the $15 ticket since it was one night and then done...I'm not sure how they'd make money if the tickets for a one-night only event were $5-$10. If the movie ran in theaters for another few weeks after the opening night festivities, I'm guessing prices could have been dropped to the $10 range and there would have been a better shot of attracting that next ring of beer drinkers to the theater. But really, how was the movie advertised? I'd seen nothing of the movie advertised save for beer insider websites and blogs where I'm guessing it's at least an 80% inner circle crowd of readers/followers. In the beer stores, bars, breweries that I've been to this year, I'd seen nothing in the way of advertisements for the movie...commercials...webpage ads..."mainstream" media. Maybe I wasn't looking in the right places or paying close enough attention. It wasn't until at a Total Wine store in Tampa one hour before the movie that I finally spotted a plastering of ads. I guess that I put perception and professionalism into the marketing category as well, so I'll cover that here too. The impression that the live portion prior to and after the movie gave was one of an unprepared session. It shocked me that a director who has been a seasoned consultant, an executive, among other things needed to rely so heavily, almost exclusively on cue cards...even simply for whom to thank. For a team that has been chained to this movie for over three years, it surprised me how shoddy the production of the live portion of the night came across. Recently, I filmed a demo video related to beer, complete with a production crew. While I didn't have a script, I certainly didn't have cue cards and I went through a mental checklist over and over and over again in the days leading up to the filming the things and order in which I wanted to discuss. My goal was to make it sound like some preparation had gone into giving a professional delivery. I think that came across in my delivery; it certainly did not in the movie's live segments. I was particularly surprised given that I'd later read that there was some sort of mid-afternoon "rehearsal." I can only imagine how that went. Another example of this was Ben Stein's role. His disjointedness and sometimes downright confusion made him appear that he had just stepped off the plane and was handed a sheet that maybe was or maybe was not consistent with the final production notes. Paired with the not-so-smooth transition to pre-recorded video, my point in all of this is to say that part of the marketing is delivering a smooth and professional look and feel to the final product. The movie did just fine, the live portion really did not. Who exactly was under that bus? Beer Wars. That's quite a sensational title. Grabs your attention, right? Is there a war going on? I suppose in some ways there are...battle for tap handles, shelf space, marketing and distribution dollars. Afterall, it is at the end of the day, business, and business in every sense of the capitalist word with a capital C. But, I'm wondering if part of the live discussion afterwards was meant to be sensational as well. I mean, seriously, was it necessary to show Todd Alstrom's comments? In my opinion, only if they were trying to start an on-stage "war". If there's context to the comments that I'm not privvy to which has skewed my opinion unfairly here, I'll apologize ahead of time. Were they trying to throw Todd under the bus? Could be. Was Todd throwing Rhonda under the bus? Yeah, it certainly came across that way. Maybe they have some back story that I'm not familiar with. No matter, Alstom's comments came across as unprofessional and classless. Anyone in the public eye with a camera in their face should know better. How many times do we have to see interviews go so far off course to embarrass themselves? Could he have said, should he have said, something like: "Moonshot? Eh. Not really my cup of tea. Personally I don't think it will work, but we'll wait and see how the market accepts it." In a group of friends at the bar, fine. Say what you want, joke about it, be profane...I'm fine with that. Come to think of it, I've been involved in same such conversations since the movie. But, on camera...please. That would have been easy...truthful. Done. Fritz Maytag had a crazy idea. So did Jack McAuliffe, Charlie Papazian, Jim Koch, and Sam Calagione. Come to think of it, was Beer Advocate initially a hair-brained idea? Or more recently their print magazine? Thing is, some ideas work and some don't. That's the beauty of how our system works. Anyone can have an idea and have a fair shot and making it fly. If investors and consumers want to put their money behind a product, they will and the business model for the product may succeed. If not, it will wither. The fact that capital has been so difficult to come by for Kallman might just be a sign that this is not really a viable idea. But, still, it's her idea to see through until the end. The polite and appropriate tact for Alstrom to take was to have let it be so. To Twitter or Not To Twitter I feel like this one's a no-brainer, but hey it's my brain. What in the world are you doing with you phone out of your pocket in a movie theater? Not gonna spend any more time on this one. What have we learned? Quite possibly, most beer geeks who saw the movie (perhaps 98% of those who saw the movie?) did not learn much of anything new about the beer industry. From the light chattering that I heard during the movie, Floridians are as familiar with the Dogfish story as Northeasterners. I'm guessing that more was learned about Kallman's New Century initiatives than anything else. But, once again, this movie was not...or should not have been...for us. So let's take a look at the movie. As an outsider, what would have I learned about the beer industry? ~~ There are small guys (some of whom are still trying, some of whom have "made it"), big guys, and much way bigger guys...here are a few examples ~~ There are politics (in one significant way, that big companies have more power to leverage and use to their advantage) common to almost any industry...here's an example ~~ It can be a struggle for a small guy with a different idea...here's an example ~~ Some little guys eventually make it...here's an example ~~ The beer industry has a 3-tier system, which although very quickly defined, at least gave me an idea that it can be useful, but also prohibitive because of the politics discussed in the movie ~~ There are some extremely passionate people who have made the business of better beer their life-consuming passion...a few examples sat on stage and demonstrated this Is there anything wrong with these messages? I don't believe so. In less than 2 hours, what more do we want? They couldn't cover even 1% of the 1500 breweries, wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers, etc. Did you want recipes or a look at how beer is made? Probably not as germane to the objective of the movie. Only focus on the high profile beer geek type of brewers/breweries? Don't think that would do a good job of covering the diverse picture that makes up the brewing industry. Were there any outright lies or deception in the theme or sub-stories in the movie? Don't believe so. Do you want to pick at every nit and nat and argue the accuracy from your or my point-of-view? I suppose that's part of the ongoing conversation? But, really, for the newcomer to the topic, I don't believe that the finer points are as important at this point in the discussion with them. (For example, don't we typically start a "newbie" out with: There are two types of beer, Lager and Ale?...and get into the exceptions later down the road?) There we go, my review is now part of the ongoing conversation. Like I said, I'm not sure that I've added anything that hasn't already been said. It was a fine movie, but poorly marketed, in my opinion. For an introductory primer on the subject of the beer industry, I have no problem recommending this movie to a newcomer on the topic. p.s. Afterward I drove to Mr. Dunderbak's where they ironically had Dogfish Head Chicory Stout on tap. It's been quite a while since I've had this on tap, so it was an easy choice and a great bridge from the movie. You may see more from me about my visit to Mr. Dunderbak's when I get around to it.

I Heart Craft Beer

Tell me this doesn't resonate with the craft beer lover in all of us. I would love to see this made into a Super Bowl commercial to reach, oh say, a billion people give or take a few million. How many millions of dollars do we need to raise between now and next January? When the fundraising campaign begins, The Brew Lounge will be one of the first donors!

I Am A Craft Brewer from I Am A Craft Brewer on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Beer Calendar: What To Do in May 2009

The month of April and Beer Wars is behind us; I'm thinking that's probably a good thing for all of the commotion it caused, particularly in the inner beer circles. So, on with May. Here in the Philadelphia region, Sly Fox celebrates its annual rite of bock-dom with goat races, excellent beer, and followers from near and far. In Boston (okay, more correctly, Cambridge), Cambridge Brewing celebrates their 20th anniversary with a killer party that looks worth checking out. Other than that? Ha, on almost any given day there's something going on, and even when not, if you can't find a good beer, let me know. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. Enjoy! $20 and under, down to and including FREE...Pay As You Go (PAYG) also included here Philadelphia Sat. 5/2 - The Breweries of Northern Liberties @Philadelphia Brewing, Philadelphia, PA (2:00pm; free) Sun. 5/3 - Bike Race Sundays @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA (4pm; PAYG) Mon. 5/4 - Philly Debut of Duck-Rabbit brewery @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (5:30pm-7:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 5/6 - Duck Duck Bunny Rat Duck-Rabbit Night @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 5/6 - Boulder Brewery Night @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 5/7 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (May's selection: Imperius Pilsner) @Triumph, Philadelphia, PA (6pm; PAYG) Sat. 5/9 - Funk Fest @Triumph, Philadelphia, PA (1pm; PAYG) Fri. 5/15 - Munich in Mayfair?: Dunkel-Dig It! @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (6pm-8pm; PAYG) Sat. 5/16 - Voodoo Brewing Draft Promo @Capone's, Norristown, PA (11:30am; PAYG) Wed. 5/20 - Six Point Brewing Night @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 5/21 - Summer Kickoff Party @Yards Brewing, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-10:00pm; $15/$20) Fri. 5/22 - Warsaw in Wissinoning 2: Yards Grodziski Night @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Sat. 5/23-Mon. 5/25 - Locals Only Beer Weekend @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA (all day, every day...PAYG) Sat. 5/23-Mon. 5/25 - Name Stoudt's Beer @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (all day, every day; PAYG) Thu. 5/28 - Steamworks Promotion @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Philadelphia's close suburbs Thu. 4/30 - Pint Night with Founders Brewing @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 5/1 - Incubus Friday (2007 & 2008 Vintages) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (12:00pm 'til they kick; PAYG) Fri. 5/1 - Friday Night Tasting (Flying Dog) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; free) Fri. 5/1 - Friday Night Tasting (Fuller's) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; free) Sat. 5/2 - Bourbon Barrel Event @Capone's, Norristown, PA (11:00am; PAYG) Sun. 5/3 - http://www.slyfoxbeer.com/index.php/front/calendar_details/1147 @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (11:00am-6:00pm; PAYG) Mon. 5/4 - Monday Night Tasting (Duck-Rabbit) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; free) Mon. 5/4 - Duck-Rabbit Brewery Premiere @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Tue. 5/5 - Cinco de Maio Fiesta @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (5:30pm; PAYG) Tue. 5/5 - Tröegs Sunshine Pils Seasonal Debut @TJs, Paoli, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Tue. 5/5 - Duck-Rabbit Draft Promo @Capone's, Norristown, PA (11:30am; PAYG) Thu. 5/7 - Hops Project 2009 Varietal Release: Marynka (a firkin, then CO2) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (11:30am 'til it kicks; PAYG) Fri. 5/8 - Friday Night Tasting (Tröegs) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; free) Sat. 5/9-Sun. 5/10 - Colonial Brewing Demonstration @Mercer Museum Folk Fest, Doylestown, PA (10:00am-5:00pm; $9) Tue. 5/12 - The Beers and Breweries of Colonial Philadelphia @Worcester Community Hall, Wayne, PA (7:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 5/14 - Magic Hat Brewery Promo @TJs, Paoli, PA (8:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 5/15 - Third Friday Firkin Fest (May firkin: Chester County Brown) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (12:00am 'til it kicks; PAYG) Fri. 5/15 - Friday Night Tasting (Lancaster Brewing) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; free) Fri. 5/15 - Friday Night Tasting (Yards) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; free) Sat. 5/16 - Sierra Nevada Artisinal Ale Experience @TJs, Paoli, PA (6:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG) Sun. 5/17 - Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Brunch @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (11:00am; PAYG) Thu. 5/21 - Follow the Liter @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 5/22 - Friday Night Tasting (Flying Fish) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:30pm-7:00pm; free) Sat. 5/23 - Saturday Afternoon Tasting (Tröegs) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (1:00pm-3:00pm; free) Sat. 5/23 - Ballast Point Promotion @Capone's, Norristown, PA (all day; PAYG) Mon. 6/1 - Meet the Brewer (The Bruery) @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (PAYG) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Thu. 4/30 - Thursday Night Tasting (Weyerbacher) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free) Fri. 5/1 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (May's selection: Jewish Rye Beer) @Triumph, New Hope, PA (6pm; PAYG) Tue. 5/5 - Cinco de Dogfish @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA (3:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 5/6 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (May's selection: Übermensch Pilsner) @Triumph, Princeton, NJ (6pm; PAYG) Fri. 5/8-Fri. 5/15 - 3rd Annual Homebrew Contest @Appalachian Brewing, Camp Hill, PA (see website for details) Wed. 5/13 - Special Tapping (Ommegang Obamagang) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (4pm; PAYG) Thu. 5/14 - Thursday Night Tasting (Left Hand) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free) Fri. 5/15 - Special Event @Weyerbacher Brewery, Easton, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; free samples) Thu. 5/21 - Thursday Night Tasting (Flying Dog) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free) Sat. 5/30 - Spring Craft Beer Festival @Historic Prison Yard & Museum, Mt. Holly, NJ (1:00pm-5:00pm; $35/$40, includes entry to museum) Elsewhere Fri. 5/1-Sun. 5/3 - 'Cask Head' Cask Ale Festival @The Brazen Head, New York, NY (12pm; PAYG) Sat. 5/2 - Delaware Barleywine Expo @Stewart's Brewing Company, Bear, DE (12pm; PAYG) Tue.5/5-Wed. 5/6 - Rogue's Annual Pacific Northwest Beer and Oyster Festival @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (12pm; PAYG) Fri. 5/8-Sat. 5/9 - 20th Anniversary Party @Cambridge Brewing, Cambridge, MA (5:00pm both days; PAYG) Fri. 5/8 - Victory Sampling @Whole Foods (Bowery), New York, NY (5:00pm-9:00pm) Thu. 5/14 - Sly Fox versus Southampton @Barcade (Brooklyn), New York, NY (6pm; PAYG) Fri. 5/15 - Pedal Pale Ale Keg Ride @East End Brewing, Pittsburgh, PA (6pm; PAYG) Sat. 5/16 - 3rd Anniversary Party @Captain Lawrence Brewing, Pleasantville, NY (12:00pm-6:00pm; $25 tickets available only at the gate, children admitted free of charge) Thu. 5/28 - Harpoon Beer Night @Barcade (Brooklyn), New York, NY (tbd) Events Over $20 Philadelphia Fri. 5/15 - Smokin'! @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $60) Philadelphia's close suburbs Wed. 5/6 - Sly Fox Beer Dinner @Alison two, Fort Washington, PA (6:30pm; $56) Tue. 5/12 - Brewmaster's Spring Beer Dinner @Iron Hill Brewery, North Wales, PA (7:00pm; $50) Sat. 5/16 - Brandywine Valley Craft Brewers' Festival 2009 @Iron Hill Brewery, Media, PA (1:00pm-5:00pm; $35/$40) Thu. 5/28 - Victory Beer Dinner @The Pour House, Westmont, NJ (7:00pm; $40) Thu. 5/28 - Spring Beer Dinner @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA (6:30pm; $60) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Thu. 5/21 - For the Love of Jolly Pumpkin Tasting @The Farmhouse, Emmaus, PA (6:30pm; $40) Sat. 5/30 - 12th Anniversary Fest @Appalachian Brewing, Harrisburg, PA (details TBD) Elsewhere Sat. 5/30 - SAVOR @National Building Museum, Washington, DC (currently sold out, see website for details) Sat. 5/30 - Pints for Pets @Blair County Ballpark, Altoona, PA (12:00pm-3:00pm, 4:30pm-7:30pm; $30)

Monk's Beer Dinner 4/21/09: Cantillon and Brasserie de la Senne

I'm behind on so many things, including my writing around here. Plus I have 10 days to finish focusing on my preparation for the Pittsburgh Marathon on 5/3. So, this will be short with just a few pictures to color things up a bit.

I had the privilege of dining with a bunch of great people at Monk's Cafe in Philly on Tuesday night. Monk's was hosting the beers and people of Cantillon and Brasserie de la Senne and the kitchen services of Brian Morin from Beerbistro in Toronto.

This was obviously just another average Tuesday night dinner, right? Heheh. Only if you're accustomed to 9, count 'em nine, courses of food with 9 beers, 2 chefs, 2 breweries, 1 importer, 1 kick-ass beer bar...and if you look hard enough the partridge in the pear tree is probably lurking somewhere around 16th Street as well. Tom, Fergie, and the crew at Monk's Cafe in Philly sat the entire restaurant (both table and bar seats; was 83 the number that I heard?) with all of the sour lovers that could luckily secure a dinner reservation for what may turn out to be the standout beer dinner of the year at Monk's.

According to Tom, there was a waiting list of around 50 people after the original seating filled up in less than 10 minutes. No wonder. For the sake of saving time (and maybe making it easier to read?), I'm going to run down in bullet form a list of impressions, followed by the menu, then finally with the pictures at the end.

> how all of those chefs fit in one cozy Monk's kitchen is beyond me.

> though, with all of the potential chaos, the dinner was run to near flawlessness in terms of timing and quality.

> from Cantillon's family-run brewery, it was Jean Van Roy's first visit to the States...where better to begin than in Philly and at Monk's? He was duly impressed with finding Cantillon around town at various watering holes that he visited.

> Adam Glickman's kitchen at Monk's typically puts on an excellent accompanying food show at each beer dinner; imagine adding a chef like Brian Morin...simply, it worked...and well...let's look at some examples

> the Scallop Ceviche was a nice and refreshing start to the dinner

> I love smoked salmon and with vinaigrette-soaked spinach tucked inside and crab and egg perched atop, this was a very nice dish

> the Beerbistro Salad (ah, the truffle oil) is alone almost worth making a trip to Toronto; luckily for those who purchased the cookbook, they can now make it at home.

> for once, the dessert was not necessarily the show-stealer for me > now, let's layer in the beer...

> the moderate sourness from the Gueuze and fresh, citrus flavors in the ceviche dish played real nicely against each other

> the Taras Boulba from Brasserie de la Senne by itself was not necessarily a favorite of mine, but when paired with the frog legs was...wow! nice combination

> the Equinox, had a detectable smoke flavor lurking underneath...but after sitting for over an hour, we're talking close to smoke porter territory (okay, that might be a tad exaggerated)

> Kriek and beets in the salad went very nicely together

> the Saison from De La Senne was my favorite beer of the evening. Snappingly tart just like I'd want and expect it to be.

Cantillon Gueuze ~~ w/ Scallop Ceviche (celery root salad, gueuze creme fraiche, and fruit salsa)

Cantillon Monk's Cafe Cuvee Gueuze (draft) ~~ w/ Smoked Salmon & Crab Scrambled Eggs (baby spinach & Monk's Cuvee vinaigrette)

De La Senne Taras Boulba (draft) ~~ w/ Buffalo Legs (frog legs, hot sauce, celery, bleu cheese, & leek dip

De La Senne Equinox (draft) ~~ w/ Steak Tartare (quail egg, toast, crisp onions, and horseradish)

Cantillon Kriek (draft) ~~ w/ Beerbistro Salad (mixed greens, cucumber, beets, fine beans, & tomatoes and kriek lemon truffle vinaigrette

De La Senne Saison ~~ w/ Soup and Sandwich (mussel bisque & Cantillon sour dough croque monsieur)

Cantillon Vigneronne (draft) ~~ w/ Herbed Stuffed Cornish Hen (asparagus, oven roasted tomatoes, parmesan polenta

Cantillon St. Lamvinous (draft) ~~ w/ Quebec's Rose Blanche Cheese (St. Lamvinous walnut brioche and smoked honeycomb)

Cantillon Fou Foune ~~ w/ Apple White Chocolate Crisp (brulee, almond, and cream)

 
(Cantillon's Jean Van Roy describes how he's enjoying his first visit to the U.S.)
(Dan Shelton flanked by the gents from Brasserie de la Senne)
(A wide variety of beers centered around sour, or some variation of thereof, quickly filled the table)
(back row: Bernard Leboucq from de la Senne, Nassim from Moeder Lambic, Yvan de Baets from de la Senne, Brian Morin from Toronto's Beerbistro, host Tom Peters of Monk's Café...and a "Where's Chuck Cook?" spotting in the background front row: Jean Van Roy from Cantillon, Jean from Moeder Lambic)
(Beerbistro's executive chef, Brian Morin, signs cookbooks for customers while Dell appears ready for a sneak attack)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lunch time just got a bit more Happy Time at Wegman's in Downingtown, PA

More quality beer takeout comes tomorrow, 4/23, to Philly's western suburbs. A Quick stop into Wegmans in Downingtown, PA today for lunch showed live beer wars taking place before my very eyes. Distributors and retailers duking it out for shelf space. Okay, not quite that dramatic but there was a frenzied activity around the cafe where beer sales of singles and sixers are due to begin tomorrow, April 23rd. Bottles and boxes were strewn around as order was being brought to beer's new home. Interesting thing is location, just inside in the cafe entry and to the left customers will be immediately greeted by beer. But, for customers already in the store, they need to pass the checkout area to find the beer only to return to the checkout counter. Seems, at first, to be a bit awkward but I'm sure it won't take long to get accustomed to...unless they eventually change the checkout design and layout. According to the manager, roughly 500 brands will be represented tomorrow on day 1 and judging from the carts full of beer cases, most locals and many familiar brands from around the country and world will be available to go or to eat in with your burrito, sandwich, sushi, pizza, or salad bar fixins. One sample of a single bottle price point was the Chimay Grande Réserve 750ml at $11.49. Tell the boss you'll be taking the afternoon off. Lunches just got a little longer.

More from the mouths of others

I surely can't make this stuff up. I'm not that creative; you know this much is true. This one's so good, I'd forgotten about it for almost a year, but I have total recall on this one...that's how memorable it was. The scene was in Fairmount Park, the Mann Music Center to be exact. (The Mann, in my opinion, is still the best local Philly venue for outdoor music.) James Taylor was on stage and we were on the lawn. Not much good beer to be found around the venue's concessions, save for a couple of beers from the pride of Downingtown, Victory. A Lager here, a HopDevil there, and reportedly (though not confirmed by I) a Prima Pils somewhere else. The HopDevil had just kicked at the concession behind the lawn seating, so I did my best to put back a Victory Lager...though, admittedly, in a stellar roster from Victory, this one has always ridden the bench for me. At intermission, I went down to main concourse only to be told the HopDevil was kicked but the guy was bringing another one back. But, I could still have a Lager if I preferred (with the suggestion that it's all the same), or shall I say...Ladger? And this is where the fun began. Of course, the promise of a HopDevil with James Taylor (well, he'd still be on stage, so not really with Taylor smartypants), I figured I could stick out the wait for the beer guy. Conversation with the two beer pourers (it took two to (wo)man the two beer taps at this mobile stand) ensued... ...a little something like this... w1: "Wut-choo want?" w2: "He sez he's gunna wait fer the Victry." w1: "We gots the Victry right here." (pointing to the Lager tap) w2: "He wants da udder one." w1: "But the Ladger right here, it sez Victry...it's the same thing." (I think Heath Ledger had just passed away, so maybe they were mixing the two?) w2: "Nah, they different. See this one is Ladger and this one is just Victry....right? I think he knows that." (points to me...I shudder with anticipation of what to say in reply) Bryan: "Yea, you're right, they're different beers, but they're really very different." w2: "But, the one is Victry and the one is Ladger right?" Bryan: "Well, actually the company name is Victory, they're the ones that make the beer...they make it in Downingtown, y'know kind of near West Chester?" Bryan: "And, the names...Lager...HopDevil...those are just brand names to tell you that they are different types of beer." (the different types of beer comment I figured would really throw them off. And, styles? I figured I probably shouldn't touch that topic quite yet.) w1: "But, the Ladger is different right?" (funny how just a couple of minutes ago, she thought they were the same...my training must be effective!) Bryan: "Yup, they are very very different...and you have to be very careful when someone asks you for a Victory that you know which one they want because a lot of people who drink beer from Victory will know the difference right away and give it back if you give them the wrong one." w2: "The hops is what makes the beer bitter, right?" (whoa, showing a sign of some beer knowledge here....a complete 180....I need to reset my approach) Bryan: "Remember how I said Victory makes the beer and they make a whole bunch of different kinds? Well, Victory makes over 20 different kinds of beer, but they all start the same. They boil water and put grains in it...kind of like a hot cereal." w2: "Okay." (this one was clearly the more engaged one, though the other one, not to be confused with The Other One, constantly had a wrinkled bewildered look like she was trying really hard to understand) Bryan: "Then, other ingredients are added, like the hops...to give more flavor to the beer, depending which type of and how much hops are used one beer can be more bitter than others...just like the HopDevil is more bitter than the Lager." w2: "Wooowwww, okay. That's really interesting. I never knew beer was so complicated." (finally beer guy brings keg of HopDevil, with a cap that says Lager, but labelled HopDevil on the side) Bryan: "Alright! the HopDevil's here." Beerguy: "No, it's Victory." (conversation begins again. Patty wonders why it took so long and I missed the first two songs of the second set) I might have a future in concessionaire training. I wonder who is responsible for the training on this account? ;-)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Out of the mouths of others

How's this for a conversation-starter? In a client meeting last week, the topic came up of the crap found in sodas and some "juices". To which a gentleman added (as verbatim as I can best recall), "I don't drink beer and really find no good reason to drink alcohol, period, but isn't beer more natural than just about anything in most vending machines? I mean, it's grain, right? and hops? That sounds a lot better to me than chemicals and artificial ingredients." I just smiled and said how he couldn't be more correct. More to come later this week on my trip to Florida and follow-up thoughts to my screening of Beer Wars....because I'm beginning to feel like the only one that hasn't opined in some form! (And, opine, I shall....consider yourself forewarned)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Beer Wars in Florida

Original plans to see Beer Wars, The Movie near home with local beer buddies fell through when business travel to Florida came up. So, unless I decide that seeing the World Series runners-up play in their lopsided home, I'll be seeking out a theater in Tampa Bay to catch this flick that brings what appears to be some good attention to this industry that we all love so much. Catching up at the official site where Director Anat Baron keeps some blog-like postings, I copied and pasted a recent listing that she did of the top 5 reasons to see the movie. My entry to this list would be: Because when on business travel in Florida and presented with the option to celebrate baseball's second place team in 2008 or beer at the movies, the answer would be what?! Oh, and she also made a point in another posting to respond to some of the criticisms and concerns about the nature of this movie. You can find the responses after making the jump over here. So what are you doing Thursday evening? Relax, watch a movie, have a beer. If I encounter anything interesting before, during, or after the movie and possibly have some enlightening opinions (peanut gallery, shhh) of the movie, I'll share with you later. Top 5 reasons to go see BEER WARS LIVE on April 16th 5. It’s the day after tax day. You made it through another year. 4. You actually care about the subject matter. The continued success of craft beer and craft brewers. 3. It’ll make you CRAVE a great beer. As if you need an excuse… 2. By supporting an independent film you’re ensuring that more films will be made by filmmakers seeking the truth vs. the homogenization of studio films. 1. By attending this event you are showing your support for the craft beer movement. This is as mainstream as it gets. Beer Wars Live is being shown in 440 theaters by the same people who bring the Metropolitan Opera and This American Life into movie theaters. If you don’t show up, it speaks volumes. Everyone is watching…

Try this Pairing: Tiramisu and I.P.A.

Am I crazy or was this one of the best accidental pairings I've ever had or what? Check that, it probably was. Soaked in espresso (and also with some hints of a liqueur, but don't know for sure) and dusted with cocoa, the fluffy ladyfingers and creamy egg, cheese, and sugar mixture hit me alternatingly with sweet and bitter. But, you know they talk about the scrubbing action of carbonation and hop bitterness to help cleanse the palate? Well, that's exactly what my homebrewed I.P.A. did. Just as the creaminess from the cheese mixture began to coat my mouth and lay around, the beer chaser came through with its own bitterness and scrubbing bubbles to wash the dessert clean away. The cocoa dusting on top of the tiramisu had a similar effect to counterplay with the sweetness. Funny how, if you asked me ahead of time which beer might go best with this tiramisu dessert, I might have hearkened back to General Lafayette's Chocolate Thunder (porter) or maybe Sly Fox's Oatmeal Stout. Maybe even a Dieu Du Ciel Péché Mortel, complete with its accompanying coffee notes. Maybe even a lighter bodied barleywine, an American one with a bit of a hop kick to it...perhaps like an Anchor Old Foghorn. But, the way this particular night played out, I had my I.P.A. in front of me and it just worked perfectly. IPA and carrot cake for dessert I've had before...they work well together too. Dare you to try the same here and let me know how it works for you. An I.P.A. for dessert, go figure right?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Getting ready for Ommegang BCTC 2009

Now that most of the frenzy has died down from the 200 seconds that VIP tickets were available for sale earlier this month, the annual Belgium Comes To Cooperstown event at Ommegang is generating plan-making as well as secondary market frenzy. Whether you're heading to Ommegang in July, wish you were going, or just flat out enjoy Ommegang's and other Belgian and Belgian-inspired beer, you may find this video or this other video entertaining over at YouTube.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Beer Dinners continue at Union Barrel Works in April 2009

It's been quite a few months since I've dropped in on Union Barrel Works. That'll need to change soon, but unfortunately not in time for this month's beer dinner...which is looking like a fine, though not for the non-carnivore in you, meal for sure. Here's the current menu lineup for next Tuesday's (the 21st) beer dinner.
~Appetizer~ Grilled Quail with a raspberry dressing >Paired with Pale Ale ~Soup~ Ostrich Chili >Paired with Uncle Fester ~Interim~ Duck Salad >Paired with Lager ~Pre Entrée~ Spiced Rubbed Turkey glazed with an orange BBQ sauce and served with a fruit stuffing >Paired with Wobbly Bob ~Entrée~ Pan Roasted Game Hen with spring vegetables >Paired with I.P.A. ~Pre-Dessert~ Peach Pilsner Sorbet >Paired with Pilsner ~Dessert~ Lemon Tart with blueberry ice cream >Paired with Stout $40.00/pp + tax and gratuity Reservation required by calling 717-335-7837 Seating at 6:30 Note: 3 glasses of wine may be substituted for Beer; Please indicate when making reservation

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Duck, Duck Rabbit

For those who didn't know that they were coming soon to a beer rack near you, Monk's Cafe will be rolling out the red carpet for Duck-Rabbit, pride of eastern NC, on May 4th. This new entry will continue to serve a reminder that those who argue that beer could be easier to obtain in Pennsylvania, there are not many states that have better access to a better cross-section of better beer from across this country and rest of the world. Stockertown Beverage is the conduit (as Joe Sixpack reported last week) and we should be seeing more of Duck-Rabbit across the region in the weeks and months to come.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Making a good Friday great

It was better than a typical Friday, even better than good. After a morning's worth of work, I meandered down the road to talk beer with Greg Ramirez at Exton Beverage. A little of this 'n' that, talk of his good fortune with Ommegang VIP tix, some of my help to clear his shelves of a case of Anderson Valley (there are some other wintertime goodies that you may wish to stop in and grab as well, while you can), and we got on the topic of my next stop, Wegmans....the impact that changing laws and grocery store sales will have on businesses such as his. Remember, there's good and bad in most everything that happens in life. Off to Wegmans just a couple of miles down the road to grab some more of this 'n' that and observe the "border" that's being installed to properly keep the evil alcohol sales area separate from the rest of the more wholesome side of the store (hopefully, the snark came through perfectly clear). By the way, the beer is due to cross the check-out line at the Downingtown Wegmans on April 23rd. Hopped across route 30 for a few supplies from Home Depot, and then figured that while in the neighborhood, a visit to Victory would be quite the prudent thing to do. Of course, the swarms of familiar faces could waylay me for the remainder of the afternoon, never to see daylight again until Saturday. Surprisingly, not a familiar face was to be found during my short stay. Though, I did find two things that continue to confound me at Victory: the overly cold serving temperature of beers like the Abbey 8 (good, but I prefer the Abbey 6, if you must know), and the idea that it would be appropriate to sell a bottle of, not room but, high-hat temperature beer. The V-series bottles advertised as room temperature that are just a bit more than room, due to their positioning under said high hat lighting. I figured they must be for display purposes only, right?...I'd advise for the coldbox-kept beer to go instead. So, after a near-miss with Richard and Rob in the parking lot, a V-12 accompanied me up route 113 to Sly Fox for the next leg of the journey. How I resisted the call of Ron's Original...well a guy's gotta exercise some restraint. Into Sly Fox I crept, figuring if Richard had already passed through here and done his damage, whom else could I run in to? Ha, silly question. The man in the tie to my left surprised me as none other than Mr. Cask Ale who was quickly flanked by Mr. Dan and his lovely wingwoman. I'd have to agree and disagree with what Kindly Mr. Curtin said; agree regarding the use of words such as "beer of choice" and "rich" to describe the Prometheus, but disagree on the "subtle" part of his description. This smoked porter fell, to me, at just the right point on the smoked beer curve...to the left of the truly subtle ones like Stone's, but certainly to the right of ones like Alaskan's. This is one that many may very well enjoy, try it yourself and weigh in with your own opinion. Well done to Brian's and Tim's crew, well done indeed. Against the advice of several others, I skipped the cask Liberty (latest in the Hops Project) and stuck to my plan of only one beer per stop. Hopefully, it'll be around a bit longer and can see what all the cool kids are talking about. And, alas, I left Sly Fox without one of the main intentions of my visit, to bring home some Saison Vos bottles for the weekend. All out, I was told, so it was only a growler of the Abbey Dubbel to go. Let's see, that means that by the end of spring, a very doable (given the appropriate transport services of a willing friend) beer run could start or end in Downingtown with Wegmans (lunch and a beer) and Victory (a cask and a slow pour Pils) continue up to Ron's for a comfy barseat or just beer to go. Ron's is roughly 5 miles from Victory, straight shot up route 113. While at Ron's, The Drafting Room is just a stone's throw south on route 100...be a mistake if the "crawl" didn't include a stop at TDR. Continue up 113 for a stop-in at Sly Fox, and probably time for another small bite of food. If you did this on a Friday, it could include a Hops/Pale Ale Project release (second Friday), a firkin (third Friday), or an Incubus (first Friday). Cross route 23 on 113 and into the Borough of Phoenixville you'd find yourself on the doorstep of a half dozen decent watering holes, none more so than Iron Hill at the far end of Bridge Street, where a dinner could make sense. It might be crazy talk to suggest that you could keep heading north into and passed Collegeville where within a few minutes in several directions you could find Capone's, Ortino's Northside, and Brother Paul's just to name a few. But, then, since when was the word crazy not on the table? Before you know it, I'll be throwing Craft Ale House and Union Jack's on the table, right next to crazy. I'm not the first to propose such a venture, but it sure is fun to write and talk about. Who's ready?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Beer & Food, Perfect Together.

To some this is a "duh!" topic. Many of the regular visitors around here might tune this out and move on to the next topic of the day. But, scores of you stop by this Lounge by way of an Internet search looking for sites containing material about food and beer pairings. As I run into great pairings and the menus from establishments hosting beer pairing dinners, I try to share them with you (virtually). So, in case you're new to this world of better beer and are still stuck with the old mentality of wine and [fill in the blank] pairings, listen up: Beer goes better with almost every course of any meal at any time of the day. Period. If you haven't experienced this, give it a try and see if you're not eventually singing from the same hymn book. Why do I bring this up? As I've been trying to figure out what the month of April 2009 will mean for me personally in this great wide world of beer, it looks like it will have something to do with beer and food pairings. Well, most months do, but this one seems a bit more special. Start with tonight. Our favorite fine dining establishment (I almost hate to put the term 'fine' in front of dining when describing Birchrunville because I realize it conjures up certain expectations, but...) of the Philadelphia region, Birchrunville Store Cafe, is back in 2009 with their monthly tasting nights. Of the countless times we've been to Birchrunville, we've never experienced their tasting menus, typically reserved for a off-night. Last month, they again began the monthly schedule where the chef makes whatever strikes his fancy and the patrons, as usual, bring their own liquid fancy. I've had some great pairings with beer that I've brought to dinner at Birchrunville in the past, and tonight I expect it will be no different. Later this month, if I can be more excited about a dinner than this evening's, it will be the return of the (almost) monthly Monk's Cafe beer dinner. This time, it's Cantillon. Need I say more? Well, I certainly will when the dinner has concluded. Okay, I will say one more thing...according to Mr. Peters, it will be our Cantillon guest's first visit to the States....and Brasserie De la Senne will also be joining Cantillon on the guest of honor list. Methinks this shall turn into a quite special and splendid evening! Then, to give us something to look forward to at the end of August, there's a little place in Maine called Ebenezer's...you may have heard of it?! ;-) Well, we've decided to do it... Sean Paxton (aka The Home Brew Chef), of whom I've spoke volumes (or at least chapter...or very long verses), in the past will be in the great state of Maine to cook up this year's version of the Beer Dinner that kicks off Ebenezer's Belgian Beer Festival. I've eaten and drank of Sean's creations before and they are the type of thing that must be experienced. Plus he's just a darn nice guy. Throw in some camping behind Ebenezer's and some trippin' through New England and we've got the making of a great late August getaway from the mid-Atlantic dog days. Perhaps this was just the topic that I needed to break my dearth of post-Philly Beer Week writings. Now I'm hungry (and thirsty)...how about you?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Lazy Posting of the Week

Yep. Still distracted in a dozen different ways. Plus, according to activity around here, many of you still appear to be clinging to Philly Beer Week and clicking on a lot of that material and pictures. So, continue to enjoy while I get organized up in here. In the meantime, for more fun from Philadelphia regionites who put fingers to keypad you could check in with ...... ...Adam Beck, for homebrewing trials and triumphs ...Dan Bengel, for some pub hoppin' and incriminating pictures ...Lew Bryson, for the latest in his ongoing love letter to the PLCB (the latest conference call is A-prime material); oh and he also covers Session Beer, and whiskey and other such frivolities ...Jack Curtin, for all the breaking news ...Kevin Rowe, for daily updates on all of the region's best cask-conditioned beer offerings ...Don Russell, you know him as Joe Sixpack, for a good dosing of spring fever, Phillies baseball, and beer. ...Carolyn Smagalski, for Philly Beer Geek, Beer Week, and other sundry beer topics to delight ...Gina Talley, for all the great food and beverage that you can handle (plus highlights that remind me of my last trip to Chicago) ...Suzanne Woods, for a young lady's adventures through Philadelphia on both business and pleasure (mac & cheese and beer, an underrated match made in heaven?) HEY, speaking of beer and writing, the fine, craft-loving folks at Origlio have written their own piece on the topic...where you'll also find me and a few of the fine folks listed above. (pg. 10, "Eat...Drink...Write" (these are in alphabetical order, so don't try and pick up on any favoritism!)