Saturday, May 30, 2009

Varga is Open and People are Talking

Since receiving this note in amongst an e-mail from Casey Hughes (Flying Fish) last week, the 'Nets have been catching all sorts of chatter about a new watering hole named Varga in Center City Philadelphia. "Next time you're in center city go check out Varga on 10th and Spruce, 20 craft beers on draft and 2 hand pumps. 120 on draft and they sell growlers" Looks like yet another joint worth putting on my ever-growing list. Since last week we have some sightings from Gina the Femme, Collin at Phoodie.info, and a similar wrap-up from Arthur at Foobooz.

An Iron Hill rises in the East

He won't win any Brew Lounge schwag since he didn't send the pictures directly to me. However, Jeff at Beer Stained Letter (headquartered out of The Garden State) will get some mention here since he's captured some of the best photos of Iron Hill's brewhouse delivery last week in Maple Shade, NJ. Head Brewer Chris Lapierre and team have been busy, but not too busy to begin blogging about it. Chris has part 1 and part 2 up at the company blog to give us all an inside peek at what it takes to get the newest location of Iron Hill up and running. With the installation of Iron Hill's brewhouse underway and brewing promised to begin in the very near future, the expected summertime opening of the 8th Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant (and 1st in New Jersey) still looks to be on track. Chris and I exchanged a few short little blurbs about how things have been going. Here they are... The Brew Lounge: What is the brewhouse's legacy? Chris LaPierre: It's the former Independence Brewpub's brewhouse. TBL: Any tales from the installation and setup worth sharing? CL: Just that I've learned more in the past two weeks than I have in the past two years. It's been a tough but valuable experience so far. TBL: When is brewing expected to begin? CL: My calender says two weeks from tomorrow. (ed: that'd work out to be June 12th) TBL: Still have a July target opening date? CL: Yep, we're shooting for mid-July. TBL: What obstacles remain? CL: Lots of dirt, construction, modifications and repairs! TBL: Any other interesting tidbits about the brewhouse equipment or its history that you'd like to share with The Brew Lounge inhabitants? CL: I've already brewed on it! I brewed a batch for Tim (Roberts) at Independence while he was away on his honeymoon.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Support the Beer Yard and Hoppy Brewing TONIGHT

Copied from an afternoon Beer Yard e-mail, here's a good reason to take cover tonight inside of Beer Yard in Wayne, PA. With a severe thunderstorm warning, there's not much you can do outdoors anyway. Plus, Matt makes a great point about the brewer/rep showing up during tasting events. I'm sure there are some of you that will go to any and all free samplings no matter what's being poured or who is there. (I know that sounds like a swipe, but it's really not...I think.) To me, a large bit of the appeal of a sampling event is the opportunity to meet up with a representative (owner, brewer, sales rep) from the brewery that can share stories and information while sampling the beer. While I realize that with the increasing attention, popularity, and business around craft beer, everyone's time has become more valuable and brewery staff is becoming stretched more thinly. So it's with that said that it's nice to see at tonight's tasting of Sacramento, California's Hoppy Brewing at Beer Yard, the owner/brewer (Troy Paski) will be there to help promote his product. If I wasn't already previously committed, I'd be there. Please stand in for me.
Beer Yard Quickie 5/29/09 A lot of great events coming up in the next few weeks, so get out a enjoy a few beers. But first and foremost I will be asking a favor. Our sampling for today was cancelled earlier this week, but as luck would have it I got a call from one of my suppliers and it was filled. Well this is were you come in, I need you to stop by from 5-7 today. Oh I guess I should tell you whose coming, Troy the owner/brewer from Hoppy Brewing out of California. Don't know Hoppy brewing? Well neither do I really, so here is your chance to taste some beer and meet the man behind the beer. This is a rarity anymore folks, as we do samplings weekly, it is rare for a brewer to show up anymore. and a brewer from CA, is even something a little rarer. So stop in a give him a good ole PA welcome.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

TJs packs 'em in for Quizzo...and they have Great Beer too, did you know?

It's been a while since I've written a love letter for TJs. Tonight's tap list reminded me of why TJs scores among the highest marks for suburban Philadelphia beer bar, on this man's scoresheet. Well-rounded menu, friendly service, diverse crowd, and excellent beer selections...is there something missing? Didn't think so. Take a look at their real-time tap list online, or grab a picture of it below....as of 9:45pm tonight. It changes quickly...as did the Ommegang Rouge to a Saison Dupont. How can you argue with that? It struck me that from the Scotch Ale to the Double IPAs, from the Belgian Saisons to the Barrel-aged, to the local beers, the Wits, and the session beers...TJs tap list this weekend has got something to please every beer drinker in your group. Now, with the summertime in full effect, Quizzo Thursday's are becoming more popular than they already were prior to Memorial Day. If you want the Blind Pig from Russian River, you've got a few more days before it disappears. It's a half barrel, so you've got maybe a week to get in there to score some of the country's best IPA.

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: May 28-June 3

Summer has officially (sort of) begun and good beer takes no back seat to the beach. Here are 101 reasons, or close to it, over the next week to skip the beach and head to your local watering hole. The water's not warm enough yet anyway. For a complete look at June's Calendar, follow this link Wanna stick to some simple tastings/samplings, some free? >> @Alison Two, Fort Washington, PA--- Tue. 6/2 - Ommegang/Chouffe sampling (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) >> @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 5/28 - Steamworks Night (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) >> @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 6/3 - Ballast Point Night (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) >> @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 5/28 - "Keep the Pint" Night (Smuttynose) (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG) >> @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA--- Fri. 5/29 - Friday Night Tasting (Philadelphia Brewing) (4:00pm-6:00pm; free) >> @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 5/28 - Fullers ESB firkin tapping (5:00pm; PAYG) Here's a little festival >> @Historic Prison Yard & Museum, Mt. Holly, NJ--- Sat. 5/30 - Spring Craft Beer Festival (1:00pm-5:00pm; $35/$40, includes entry to museum) Here's a larger one...much larger...and a great reason to head north of the border >> @Windsor Station, Montreal, QC--- Wed. 6/3-Sun. 6/7 - Mondial de la Biere (PAYG; see website for details) Beer, with benefits >> @Blair County Ballpark, Altoona, PA--- Sat. 5/30 - Pints for Pets (12:00pm-3:00pm, 4:30pm-7:30pm; $30) >> @Philadelphia Brewing Company, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 5/30 - Annual Slow Food Philadelphia Pig Roast (1:00pm-4:00pm; $38) Beer, with food...good food, good beer...what else does mankind need? womankind, too >> @Dock Street, Philadelphia, PA--- Mon. 6/1 - Dessert Competition (6:00pm-8:00pm; free/PAYG) >> @General Lafayette Inn & Brewery, Lafayette Hill, PA--- Sat. 5/30 - "Brewer in Residence" Beer Dinner (details TBD) >> @National Building Museum, Washington, DC--- Sat. 5/30 - SAVOR (currently sold out, see website for details) >> @The Pour House, Westmont, NJ--- Thu. 5/28 - Victory Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $40) >> @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA--- Thu. 5/28 - Spring Beer Dinner (6:30pm; $60) Sometimes you just need a good ol' fashioned party >> @Appalachian Brewing, Harrisburg, PA--- Sat. 5/30 - 12th Anniversary Fest (4:00pm) For a complete look at June's Calendar, follow this link

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Buckbean's Session beers

A few weeks back, I described how a beer that is given to me needs to be really impressive in one direction or the other for me to write about it. I won't do reviews of mediocre beer (at least mediocre as my palate dictates). And while the beers from Buckbean, hailing from Reno, NV, were not to-the-moon impressive, their delivery package is a can and that is certainly worth writing about. From Sly Fox here at home to Oskar Blues and 21st Amendment, better beer is becoming available in the best answer to skunked beer. And, the best answer for how to take beer on a camping trip, the golf course, a boating trip, or the softball game. Well, maybe a keg is still better for the softball game, but you get my point. So, here were two that were sent to me from the little brewery from the southwest of Nevada that I'd only first heard of at this past year's GABF competition. In fact, Buckbean took home a bronze for the Black Noddy that I was particularly satisfied with. The Orange Blossom made me, or at least paired with the post-grass cutting pollen...helped me, have a mild allergy attack. I guess those orange blossoms must have been for real. So it was fortunate that I had a second can to try this past weekend. I'm not quite sure what to make of the Orange Blossom. Since I've never had the Buffalo Bill's (or any other similar beer) to compare against, I'm left with the main impression that I got, and that was of a Sunkist-like orange soda. It's refreshing to be sure. But, not exactly my cup of tea so to speak. The Black Noddy, on the other hand? I had no difficulty whatsoever with this beer. A great, canned session beer that packs a moderate level of roasted grain flavor and medium body is how I would best describe it. I might ordinarily prefer just a touch more body, but for a warm summer day, this is just perfect. There are faint hints of chocolate in this easy-drinking schwarzbier. In some ways, it reminded me of another similar favorite...Sprecher's Black Bavarian, a year-round easy drinking light, dark-colored beer. All in all...another win for canned craft beer.

A Very Good Holiday Weekend in Philadelphia

I guess you could say the Memorial Day Weekend started for me on Thursday night at Victory. It was my first run-in with their German-themed night, Follow the Liter. The night was replete with a Strongman competition, a special menu, and an abundance of typically good beers. We rolled in too late to catch any of the competitive theatrics, but that didn't stop us from finding some friends to share a booth with and getting down to business. The food menu certainly accentuated the talents of the kitchen staff like I don't believe I've ever previously tasted. Save for the change in the preparation of dried leeks in the Thrice Fries (please say this was a one-time anomaly)...the Pine Nut & Goat Cheese-stuffed tomato, the "German" pretzel, and the Schweinshauxe made for an unforgettable night of grub and grog. Meeting up with friends made it even better. How's by beer? The beers made for this year's CBC in Boston made an appearance and several may still be on line. I dipped twice into the Saphir Pils, once with food once without. Either way, this is one mighty fine brew. So was the Abbey 6, consistently good as in the past, and it made its way home with us for some Friday night tippling by the firepit. (The Herkules and Hallertau were also sure-fires.) Friday night after work was all about the firepit. Abbey 6, then moved on to some of the unfiltered Double Simcoe from Weyerbacher that certain people wish me to bring along to a certain weekly meetup. Hm, let's see if there's any bottles remaining in my cardboard box. Saturday was a day long grind of house and yard work. These things, though, must be done to get just rewards at night time. Rewarded we were in an easy-breezy trip down the Schuylkill Expressway (how often do you hear those words uttered?). We obviously weren't winning the Powerball on Saturday night, because after making a trip from Malvern to 44th/Spruce streets in 34 minutes (those not familiar with the Philly region don't realize how near impossible that feat is in reality), we then scored a parking space 4 spots away from the front door of Local 44. Then inside, customers lined the bar, save for two seats...obviously with our name on them. Food bites came out in short order as did a few beers. The Reuben Fritters were stuffed with a bit too mushy of a filling for my liking. I would have preferred the reuben ingredients to be more identifiable in their taste and texture. What did hit the mark perfectly, though, was the shrimp tacos. Three shrimp each stuffed inside of three soft taco shells, spiced generously and lined with a bit of citrus lime flavor, made for the perfect starter for the night and accompaniment for the beer. The beers in question for me on this Locals Only weekend at Local 44 were Iron Hill's Eddy, Philadelphia Brewing's Fleur de Lehigh, and Victory's Bags Packed Porter on the handpump. These are not among your usual suspects on taps around town. That's why, for the 4th time in the past three weeks or so, I made it an urgency to get an Eddy to kick off the night. Solid, but not overwhelming Brett character, a good...very good....drinker...for those uninitiated. The Fleur de Lehigh is such a herbaceously wonderful and refreshing beer that I hope to see this on as much of a regular basis as their capacity and ingredients supply will allow. It paired up nicely with the shrimp tacos. The Bags Packed Porter. I wondered if this has ever made it out of Chester County up until this point? This brew is new(er) since the brewery's expansion and pub's renovations last year. Either way, this solid porter with obvious java influence (and so smooth from the cask) was a nice way to finish out the session at Local 44. Then, it was another quick jaunt down the Schuylkill Expressway to South Philly Tap Room. Again, something/one was smiling upon us as we scored another primo parking spot...walked in and planted ourselves at the "head table" in the front corner of the bar. Plenty of room, perfect for people watching...could the night get any better? We stopped in for the unveiling of Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout. If I understood correctly, this was the beer's debut in Pennsylvania, but we were not necessarily the first...understandably. But, SPTR is special in their relationship with Founders, and the availability of this brew in PA will be quite limited. I'd seek it out if I were you. It's their Breakfast Stout aged in a maple syrup barrel. As much as that may sound like a turnoff to some of you, listen up. It carries a light aroma of syrup-y sweetness, though it all but disappears in the taste, where the expected rich Breakfast Stout flavors come to the forefront. A nice experience indeed. (I trust anyone with more correct information than I've put forth will feel free to offer it up in the comments below.) The one for the road had to be the Russian River Damnation. Well, it didn't have to be, but it was...and it was good. And a 32 minute drive home from South Philly was awaiting us to end a very, very good night of keeping it local in Philly. Ah, the food? Maybe not the perfect pairing, but when at SPTR, the Wild Boar Tacos are not to be overlooked. Oh, and yes, SPTR's spinoff "Brew" down the street is open, sans beer for the time being. But, grab a coffee and some compost to go. It'd be the right thing to do and your tomato and pepper plants will thank you for it. Sunday was a bit quieter on the beer front as I had some serious painting to do in our under-construction sunroom. That was enough to knock me out until Monday, when I indulged in some Buckbean Brewing Company beers (from Reno, NV). More later on those beers. If I began the weekend a day early, perhaps I can say I ended it a day late. After a haircut last night not far from Teresa's Next Door, I figured it'd only be proper to stop in and relieve them of a Pliny the Elder...or two. Cuz that's the kind of guy that I am. Uh, er, okay...scratch that. A Longshot (Cranberry Wit) from Boston Beer Co. with dinner instead. But, that shouldn't stop you from stopping in at TND and having one of them there Plinies, cuz that's the kind of person you are. Hope your weekend was as enjoyable.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Beer Calendar: What To Do in June 2009

June 2009 begins the one-year countdown to Philly Beer Week 2010. If you haven't heard, the month of March is a thing of the past for PBW...at least in 2010. June 2010 is now on the calendar. How do we kickoff this countdown? Well, the list of events below for the upcoming month is indicative of the sorts of things that you can find during PBW2010, but that we also do year-round around these here parts. See, it's just how our way of life rolls. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. There's a lot to digest here, literally and figuratively...so I'll continue the weekly updates that I began last month...that is, as long as you wish me to do so. Enjoy! $20 and under, down to and including FREE...Pay As You Go (PAYG) also included here Philadelphia Thu. 5/28 - Fullers ESB firkin tapping @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 5/28 - "Keep the Pint" Night (Smuttynose) @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG) Thu. 5/28 - Steamworks Night @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Mon. 6/1 - Dessert Competition @Dock Street, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; free/PAYG) Wed. 6/3 - Ballast Point Night @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 6/4 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (June's selection: Hefeweizen) @Triumph, Philadelphia, PA (6pm; PAYG) Thu. 6/4 - The Artisan Ale Experience with Sierra Nevada @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 6/5 - Brawlin' at the Irish Pubs @Irish Pub (both locations), Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 6/5 - Forecast: Cloudy - Manayunk Keller Beer Night @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 6/6 - 6/6-Sixpoint-Sixpoint South Philly Bar Crawl @Devil's Den, 1601, P.O.P.E., Cantina & SPTR, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Sun. 6/7 - Bike Race Sundays @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Sun. 6/7 - Brews, Bikes, and Tunes @Dock Street Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (3:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Sun. 6/7 - Philadelphia Sessions Benefit Concert @Yards Brewing, Philadelphia, PA (1:00pm-9:00pm) Tue. 6/9 - Keep the Pint Night (Stoudt's) @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 6/10 - Sierra Nevada Promo Night @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 6/11 - "Keep the Pint" Night (Flying Fish) @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG) Thu. 6/11 - Allagash & Lobster Rolls @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 6/11 - Duvel Green Night @Bridgid's, Philadelphia, PA (8:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG) Sun. 6/14 - Bike Race Sundays @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Tue. 6/16 - An Evening with Ommegang @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA (details TBD) Thu. 6/18 - 2nd Annual Heavy Seas Crab Boil @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 6/19 - I'm a (Golden) Monkey Man! @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 6/19 - Firkin of Duck-Rabbit Double Hopped Brown @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA (12:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 6/20 - Saison Beer Brunch @Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA (11:30am-3:30pm; PAYG) Sat. 6/20 - One Year Anniversary Bash & Hops Fest @The Institute, Philadelphia, PA (1:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 6/20 - 20 Wheat Beers of Summer Festival @Blue Ox Bistro, Philadelphia, PA (1:00pm-12:00am; $4 drafts/$4 eats are PAYG) Sun. 6/21 - Bike Race Sundays @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 6/24 - Lunch with Left Hand @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA (11:30am; PAYG) Thu. 6/25 - "Keep the Pint" Night (Victory) @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG) Thu. 6/25 - PBC Shackamaximum Imperial Stout Pin @The Khyber, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 6/27 - Wheat Beer Fest @South Philadelphia Tap Room, Philadelphia, PA (all day, all night; PAYG) Sat. 6/27 - 2nd Annual Neighbors Yard Sale in the Side Lot @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA (10:00am-3:00pm; free/PAYG) Sun. 6/28 - Charity Benefit for FOP Survivors Fund and Public Grand Opening @Yards Brewing, Philadelphia, PA (1:00pm-5:00pm; $25/$15) Philadelphia's close suburbs Fri. 5/29 - Friday Night Tasting (Philadelphia Brewing) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; free) Fri. 5/29 - Friday Night Tasting (Sacramento Brewing) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; free) Tue. 6/2 - Ommegang/Chouffe sampling @Alison Two, Fort Washington, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 6/4 - Old Beer, New Beer (Lancaster Brewing) @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 6/5 - Incubus Friday @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (11:30am 'til it kicks; PAYG) Fri. 6/5 - West Coast Brewery Night @The Drafting Room, Spring House, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 6/5 - West Coast Brewery Night @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 6/5 - Friday Night Tasting (Tröegs) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; free) Thu. 6/11 - Beer Tasting with Sly Fox @Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA (7:30pm-9:30pm; $20/$10) Thu. 6/11 - Blues, BBQ, & BIG Brews featuring Jimmy's BBQ @Ron's Original, Exton, PA (PAYG) Fri. 6/12 - Friday Firkin Tapping (Clipper City Red Sky at Night) @The Drafting Room, Spring House, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 6/12 - Friday Night Tasting (Long Trail) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; free) Fri. 6/12 - Hops Project 2009 Varietal Release: Willamette (a firkin, then CO2) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (11:30am 'til it kicks; PAYG) Fri. 6/12 - Friday Night Tasting (Sand Brewing/Liljas) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; free) Sat. 6/13 - Bear Republic/Ballast Point Faceoff @TJs, Paoli, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 6/13 - Main Line Jazz and Food Festival @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (11:00am-10:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 6/13 - Kick off Summer--Beer and Food Pairing @Wegmans, Downingtown, PA and all PA Wegmans locations (11:00am-3:00pm; free) Wed. 6/17 - Pig Roast @Alison, Blue Bell, PA (5:00pm-9:00pm; $35) Thu. 6/18 - Victory Beer Dinner @Firecreek, Downingtown, PA (6:30pm) Fri. 6/19 - Third Friday Firkin (June firkin: TBA) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (11:30am 'til it kicks; PAYG) Fri. 6/19 - Friday Night Tasting (Stoudt's) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; free) Fri. 6/19 - Friday Night Tasting (Widmer) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; free) Wed. 6/24 - 15th Anniversary Ale from Tröegs @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (6pm; PAYG) Wed. 6/24 - 15th Anniversary Ale from Tröegs @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (6pm; PAYG) Fri. 6/26 - Friday Night Tasting (Harpoon) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; free) Fri. 6/26 - Friday Night Tasting (Sierra Nevada) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; free) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Fri. 5/29 - Cask Ale Night (Dogfish Head: 60min. IPA; 75min. IPA; 90min. IPA) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 6/3 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (June's selection: Chocolate Stout) @Triumph, Princeton, NJ (6pm; PAYG) Thu. 6/4 - Thursday Night Tasting (Victory) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free) Fri. 6/5 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (June's selection: Barrel Aged IPX) @Triumph, New Hope, PA (6pm; PAYG) Sat. 6/6 - Firkin Night (Flying Fish Farmhouse Summer Ale) @Hulmeville Inn, Hulmeville, PA (7pm-9pm; PAYG) Thu. 6/11 - Black 'n' White Night with Victory @Ortino's Northside, Zieglerville, PA (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG) Fri. 6/12 - Vintage Old Abominable Barleywine Vertical Tasting (2006-2008) @Stoudt's, Adamstown, PA (5:00pm; $7/flight) Thu. 6/18 - Organic Night with Peak Brewing and Wolavers @Ortino's Northside, Zieglerville, PA (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG) Thu. 6/25 - A Night with Stoudt's @Ortino's Northside, Zieglerville, PA (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG) Thu. 6/25 - Thursday Night Tasting (Long Trail) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free) Thu. 6/25 - Green Flash Fest @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA (4:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 6/26 - Cask Ale Night (Yards: Brawler; Philly Pale Ale; ESA) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Elsewhere Wed. 5/27 - Wednesday Night Promotion (Southampton) @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG) Thu. 5/28 - Harpoon Beer Night @Barcade (Brooklyn), New York, NY (tbd) Wed. 6/3-Sun. 6/7 - Mondial de la Biere @Windsor Station, Montreal, QC (PAYG; see website for details) Thu. 6/3 - Wednesday Night Promotion (Chimay) @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG) Wed. 6/10 - Wednesday Night Promotion (Lagunitas) @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG) Wed. 6/17 - Wednesday Night Promotion (Otter Creek) @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG) Thu. 6/18 - Vintage Beer Night @Barcade (Brooklyn), New York, NY (details TBA) Events Over $20 Philadelphia Sat. 5/30 - Annual Slow Food Philadelphia Pig Roast @Philadelphia Brewing Company, Philadelphia, PA (1:00pm-4:00pm; $38) Tue. 6/9 - 12% Imports Beer Dinner @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; $55) Wed. 6/10 - Beer 101: For the Love of Lager @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $40) Sat. 6/13 - Walking Tour with Joe Sixpack @First Person Arts, Philadelphia, PA (2:00pm-5:30pm; $65) Wed. 6/24 - The Heart of Dark Chocolate @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $55) Fri. 6/26 - Local Luxury @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $45) Philadelphia's close suburbs 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) Sat. 5/30 - "Brewer in Residence" Beer Dinner @General Lafayette Inn & Brewery, Lafayette Hill, PA (details TBD) Sun. 6/7 - JazzFest @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA (12:00pm-4:00pm; $50) Sat. 6/20 - 13th Annual Garden State Craftbrewers Fest @Battleship New Jersey, Camden, NJ (1:00pm-5:00pm; $40) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Sat. 5/30 - 12th Anniversary Fest @Appalachian Brewing, Harrisburg, PA (4:00pm) Sat. 5/30 - Spring Craft Beer Festival @Historic Prison Yard & Museum, Mt. Holly, NJ (1:00pm-5:00pm; $35/$40, includes entry to museum) Sat. 6/6-Sun. 6/7 - Breakfast with Hefe @Appalachian Brewing, Harrisburg, PA (9:00am-2:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 6/20 - Harrisburg Brewers Fest @downtown Harrisburg, PA (12:00pm-3:30pm, 5:00pm-8:30pm; $35/$95 VIP) Fri. 6/26 - York Annual Micro Brew Fest @Agricultural Industrial Museum, York, PA (7:00pm-10:00pm; $30/$35/$15) Elsewhere Fri. 5/29 - The Lupulin Reunulin @R.F.D., Washington, DC (7:00pm-11:00pm; $40) 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) Fri. 6/5-Sun. 6/6 - Magic City Brewfest @Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham, AL (see website for details) Sat. 6/6 - 15th Anniversary Party @Great Divide Brewery, Denver, CO (2:00pm-7:00pm; $20) Sat. 6/6 - Harpoon 5-miler @Harpoon Brewery, Boston, MA (10:00am; $35) Fri. 6/12-Sat. 6/13 - 12th Annual Real Ale Festival @Pizza Port, Carlsbad, CA (see website for details) Thu. 6/18-Sat. 6/20 - National Homebrewers Conference @Marriott City Center, Oakland, CA (see website for details) Fri. 6/19-Sun. 6/21 - American Craft Beer Fest @Seaport World Trade Center, Boston, MA (see website for details) Sat. 6/20 - Founders Fest @Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids, MI (3:00pm-11:00PM; details TBA) Sat. 6/27-Sun. 6/28 - 20th Annual Colorado Brewers' Festival @downtown Fort Collins, CO (11:00am-6:00pm; see website for details) Sun. 6/28 - St. Paul Summer Beer Fest @Midway Stadium Parking Lot, St. Paul, MN (12:00pm-5:00PM; $25)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Craft Ale House and The Brew Lounge will be Closed in Observance of Memorial Day

There once was a time, some of you may recall, that holidays were exactly that. (Sundays were a day of rest as well, but that's another story.) Virtually all retail shops had closed the night before, filling stations were only maybe/possibly open if it was on the turnpike or some other major thoroughfare (and full service meant just that, but once again another story), and people's mall-walking exercise ended for the weekend on Saturday night. So, why "nowadays" do so many holidays feel like just another day in the week/year? Why do so many businesses feel more inclined to be open rather than shutting down and giving their employees a break? Are the margins and opportunity for profit so great that it's worth being open? Does it help to further the "competitive advantage?" I don't believe so, but that's just the proverbial me. Anyway it was nice to see the notice from Craft Ale House saying that they be closed and honoring the holiday...giving the employees the day off. That means if you might have relied on CAH for take-out Memorial Day beer sales, you'd need to have shopped before Memorial Day...and filled up your car with gas, bought the propane, gone to the butcher...oh wait. This posting has been brought to you in honor of military personnel who have served our country and especially those who have lost their lives. Especially for my father, a World War II veteran, who I'm sure is where I get my dismay over the commercialization of holidays and the robbing of our once-less-hectic Sundays. Back tomorrow with a wrap-up and pictures from in and around Philadelphia this holiday weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Support the Local Economy, Drink Local

Who needs the aggrevation of the Turnpike or the Parkway, the Bridges or the Tolls when you can stay local and drink local in Philly this weekend. The edge of the University City neighborhood to be exact...at Local 44. You know 'em, You love 'em...it's Brendan, Leigh, and a cast of thousands of beers and their fanatics. Stop in, stay for an hour or stay for the day. If the weather cooperates, the windows will be open and you'll have a hard time leaving. Doesn't matter, you can rinse and repeat and do it all again on Sunday and Monday. I've been assured that you don't have to be a local from the neighborhood to be welcome at this Locals Only Event. Stay up-to-date with the evolving tap list at their website. Cheers... Here's what their website is currently showing. Appalachian ~ Broad Street Barleywine Dogfish Head ~ 60 Minute Pale Ale ~ Festina Peche ~ Shelter Pale Ale Flying Fish ~ Abbey Double ~ Farmhouse Ale ~ ESB ~ Extra Pale Ale General Lafayette ~ Economizer ~ Pacific Pale Ale Iron Hill ~ Heywood Eddy Lancaster ~ Milk Stout Legacy ~ Euphoria ~ Hedonism ~ Hoptimus Prime Manayunk ~ Whistle Whetting Wheat Roy Pitz ~ Watermelon Summer Lager Sly Fox ~ Abbey Dubbel ~ Ichor ~ Maibock ~ Panacea Barleywine ~ Prometheus ~ Seamus ~ SlackerBock Stegmaier ~ Summer White Stoudt's ~ Kölsch ~ Fat Dog Stout ~ Double IPA ~ Belgian Triple Tröegs ~ Mad Elf ~ Trogenator ~ Sunshine Pils Victory ~ 10 Year Alt ~ Mad King Weisse ~ Rauch Porter ~ St. Boisterous ~ Sunrise Weisse Weyerbacher ~ Blanche ~ Muse ~ Double Simcoe IPA Yards ~ Smoked Polish Wheat Cask-Conditioned Beer Sly Fox ~ Placebo Victory ~ Uncle Teddy's Bitter ~ Bags Packed Porter Yards ~ General Washington Tavern Porter

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: May 21-May 27

Holiday Weekends present the opportunity to drop a lot of money of activities, travel, and entertainment. Here are some options that involve your favorite beverage that won't necessarily break the budget. For a complete look at May's Calendar, follow this link Here are some free tastings to help save money for the holiday weekend. >> @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA--- Fri. 5/22 - Friday Night Tasting (Flying Fish) (4:30pm-7:00pm; free tasting samples) >> @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA--- Sat. 5/23 - Saturday Afternoon Tasting (Tröegs) (1:00pm-3:00pm; free tasting samples) >> @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA--- Thu. 5/21 - Thursday Night Tasting (Flying Dog) (7pm-9pm; free tasting samples) Then there are a few PAYGs that put you in charge of how much you spend by the end of the weekend. >> @Capone's, Norristown, PA--- Sat. 5/23 - Ballast Point Promotion (all day; PAYG for 6 BP drafts) >> @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 5/23-Mon. 5/25 - Name Stoudt's Beer (all day, every day; PAYG for a chance at some very cool prizes) >> @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 5/22 - Warsaw in Wissinoning 2: Yards Grodziski Night (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG for Polish Power) >> @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 5/23-Mon. 5/25 - Locals Only Beer Weekend (all day, every day...PAYG...stay local, drink often, go home, come back, rinse, repeat, enjoy) >> @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA--- Thu. 5/21 - Follow the Liter (6:00pm; PAYG for German attire, food, and Festbier and Wiesen) A great looking deal tonight at Yards that has a charity benefit angle to make everyone happy. >> @Yards Brewing, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 5/21 - Summer Kickoff Party (6:00pm-10:00pm; $15/$20 for BBQ, Music, Beer, and a Party) Not too many things to do around this holiday that will take much of your dough at the door...here's one for $40...but considering it's Jolly Pumpkin, I'd give twice that! >> @The Farmhouse, Emmaus, PA--- Thu. 5/21 - For the Love of Jolly Pumpkin Tasting (6:30pm; $40) For a complete look at May's Calendar, follow this link

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hoffman

In the hub-bub of beer and pictures, I snapped the likenesses of a few lovebirds at Iron Hill's festival this past weekend but somehow missed Ric Hoffman (of Stewart's Brewing in Bear, DE...y'know right?) and his better half, Natalie. Odd, seeing as how we all chatted for quite a few minutes...with Sage's permission of course. So, I thought I'd make up for it, hardy har, by surfacing a link that I don't believe I've ever shared with you...it's from the T.U.D. at Fergie's on the last night of PBW2009 and since the song involves a wedding, it all seemed to make sense....at least to me. With only, like, 60 views it seems that many or all of you may not have seen this yet. Make the jump to YouTube and Enjoy...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Brandywine Valley Craft Brewers' Festival in Media, PA: 5/16/09

Skies threatened, but the crowd wouldn't have noticed even if it had rained. The temperature was a bit on the warm side, but the crowd knew how to deal with hydration as well. Iron Hill-Media hosted the 9th annual Brandywine Valley Craft Brewers Festival this past Saturday. It's the one of the very few annual festivals in the Philadelphia region that I know of that routinely attracts most of the region's breweries. And, it appears that participating breweries sense that not only are beer drinkers in the Philadelphia region among the savviest around, but that this festival draws some of the best. They respond by bringing not just, or not even at all, their usual suspects. If you count Iron Hill as seven breweries, which I'd argue you should do, there were 27 local breweries from the Philadelphia region pouring their delights. Ranging from Flying Fish in New Jersey to Tröegs in Harrisburg and Dogfish Head in Delaware to Bethlehem Brew Works in the Lehigh Valley the regions best lagers, ales, and indescribables were pouring. Indescribable? How about a Quintuple from Triumph? Never got around to trying it but it was there. Apparently, it had a lot of alcohol ;-) So was a porter from Iron Hill that was put in a framboise barrel with little buggies. What happened to the porter? Dunno, but it didn't stop me from trying to find it in three different glassfuls of it. Buried beneath the funk and the tart fruit was a porter...somewhere...claimed Mark Edelson. Call it what you like, it was a delicious delight that I won't forget for quite some time. (Speaking of Iron Hill, make that almost eight. If you're in the Maple Shade, NJ area today---that's 5/19/09---between 10am-2pm give or take, you'll get to see brewing history, or at least the beginning of it as the brewhouse arrives and is installed at IH's first NJ outpost. The address is 124 E. Kings Highway. A photo op if I've ever heard of one. Come to think of it, I won't be able to attend, so the first reader to send me a post-able photo of the big day will be rewarded in kind...something kind-a good, I'm sure!) How about the Bill Payer from Nodding Head? Not all too unusual, but one I don't see nearly enough of and one that I really enjoy when I do. Apparently it's currently on tap at the pub, but will likely disappear quickly as it always seems to do. What else? Well, to the tell the truth, I paced myself with a dozen or samples. Enough to enjoy myself without getting crazy (okay, the jockey box diving---see below, way below---was a bit crazy you might say), but not too much so to sap myself before the Sierra Nevada event at TJs rolled around later in the evening. So, I'll apologize for lack of words (y'think?) and get on with the pictures......
(With 1200 tickets pre-sold, the gate was closed to day-of ticket sales)
(Triumph's Patrick Jones pouring his Le Cinq, a "13.5% Belgian Quint")
(Was it the beers or Mike Fava's Mojo that tapped out Nodding Head's supply before anyone else?)
(Mary Lu and Mark Haynie from Somers Point, NJ)
(Drew Carey endorses Tröegs)
(The crowds were particularly thick, as they always are, around the host brewery...Iron Hill....their hourly R.I.S. pourings didn't hurt)
(Bob Barrar holds court for the 4pm R.I.S. jerobaum pouring)
(The heat of the afternoon sun was no deterrent for this gaggle of R.I.S. lovers)
(The band, name?, played on and rocked the alley)
(Jackie and Jeremy demonstrate the perfect Iron Hill Mug Club member behavior)
(Mark Edelson, Iron Hill partner, pitches in to help Chris Lampe push out the remainder of Weyerbacher in the closing minutes of the festival)
(The newliest weds in brewing---Larry Horwitz, Iron Hill/West Chester and Whitney Thompson, Victory)
(More brewfest love, this from Nick Johnson of Tröegs and his wife, Meg)
(Casey Hughes, Flying Fish, and Nick Johnson, Tröegs, getting competitive...Sumo wrestling costumes were not available)
(How many captions are there for this?)
("Not to be outdone by the brewers, the writers get their chance at glory?")
("Look how much cooler we are than Casey and Nick?")
("Stupid Is as Stupid Does?")
("Collin and Bryan were at it for so long, onlookers began walking away?")
("These guys are so smart, they used their writing hands for the contest?")
("The winner gets what?")

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Beers from Weyerbacher

(Dan Hitchcock, Weyerbacher cellarman, shows off the finished product that his recipe inspired)
We made a happy hour trip to Easton, PA on Friday night to visit Weyerbacher, taste some new release goodies, and stop in for dinner at Pearly Baker's. Weyerbacher was doing a special Friday tasting night, prior to their usual Saturday morning Tasting and Sales. Double Simcoe was being released in the 750ml bottle format, this one being done as a bottle conditioned, unfiltered version...of which a half case made its way home with me and is being consumed in between keystrokes. At $5/bottle (AND, more importantly, being fresh from the brewery), it seemed quite the deal. Also, a new special release named Foxtrot was being unveiled. They stuck a name/category on it...dark Biere de Garde. This beer was so roasty, nutty, and dry, that it was difficult to forget that they stuck a style name to it. Not to say it was a bad beer, but expecting a Biere de Garde would be a mistake. But, judge for yourself. Approximately, 100 cases and 60 kegs are hitting the market as we speak. Pearly Baker's? They've been around for about 15 years. It was finally my first time. Unfortunately, Which Brew has closed (TBL review) and made the Pearly Baker's decision much easier. Great burger and Oaked Arrogant Bastard on tap made for a great dinner before we hit the turnpike back home. Full review coming after a longer, follow-up visit.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

TJs hosts Sierra Nevada Artisan Ale Experience: 5/16/09

(Taking over Scott's bar was Jeff Miller, Owner-TJs; Patrick Mullin, Eastern PA/NJ Sales-Sierra Nevada; Tommy Gannon, Director of Eastern U.S. Sales-Sierra Nevada)
(the Southern Hemisphere joined the 'Experience' lineup for a night of not-so-typical Sierra Nevadas at TJs in Paoli, PA)
According to TJs online tap list, we did not do a good enough job last night to kick the special kegs that were brought in for the current stop in Paoli, PA of the Sierra Nevada 2009 Artisan Ale Experience Tour. Kellerweis will be out in bottles, but not on tap, in a couple of weeks. This was the only keg (or one of two?...) in PA for this pre-release tasting. Stop in and get some while you still can. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Me, personally? I enjoyed it more than the Brown Saison, which has been getting some nice buzz of its own lately. I wouldn't have minded a Torpedo, but I was living well enough without. Of course, there was a T.U.D. of sorts as Mr. Mullin was leaving in the wee hours...a Chico IPA thank you very much. Hm, yes...thank you I think.

There are at least 42,800 Beer Stories to tell

Who likes organized lists more than me? Not many, except perhaps for a guy named Jay Brooks. You all know him from his Brookston Beer Bulletin and now the guy who's carrying on Bill Brand's legacy writing at Bottom's Up. He compiles lists of all kinds and recently shared his take on the Top 10 Influential Beer People of the modern era. It's an impressive list and difficult to argue with. Difficult especially when he throws in an honorable mention list which covers a few more handfuls that include some more that you might like for the Top 10. I wouldn't mind seeing more publicans and importers that are largely responsible for influencing the movement, promotion, and ultimate selling of the beer, so I'll just add that to my list of stories to tell.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Please, May I have a Beer List and a Water? Is that too much to ask?

Have I sounded cranky of late? Dunno, maybe not, but sometimes it does feel so. Perhaps its the busyness of the winter turning quickly into spring/summer and all of the activity that goes on around it. Maybe I've never really caught up from the rapid onslaught of San Francisco Beer Week, Philly Beer Week, and the Pittsburgh Marathon over the past few months. The Flyers quick collapse in the playoffs? The Phillies split personality start to the season? Eh, I should relax and HEY maybe make some homebrew?! Okay, back to topic. Events, even small ones, like last night have a way of tweaking me the wrong way. Turns out this is a general pet peeve...wait, check that, I have two pet peeves to kill off today and share with you. The first one's easy. I---like a lot of, uh, seasoned beer drinkers---will often respond to the server's question of what we'd like to drink with the name of a beer and...a glass of water---please. I usually save the glass of water request for last because it supposedly would be the last thing that the server hears...I'm hoping that the request stands a better chance of being delivered upon. I realize it doesn't add one penny to the bill, but I did ask for it. And, the response to it will ultimately affect the amount of pennies that I put below the subtotal line. I can't tell you how bad it's become of late. I'm a numbers guy; I'm on the verge of keeping stats, that's how bad. Lately it feels like it's less than half the time that a water shows up the first time I ask for it. There've even been two incidents where I've had to ask three times, and once where even after three requests still never got a glass of water. Maybe I should start asking for a pitcher of water instead. Because, often times, getting the glass refilled can be a more difficult request to fulfill...that is, if the glass hasn't already been outright removed. I think I've made my point...moving on... Last night, we checked out a new place that's only been open around a month or so in northern Chester County. I'm not ready to name names yet since I don't yet have a fully-formed opinion. But, it does look promising from the beer cooler perspective, albeit a tad pricey on both the food and drink side of the menu, with the potential for beer events on the horizon. Here's the rub: with a handful of taps and several dozen bottles (many to satisfy beer drinkers of every stripe), there was no printed menu...online or in-person at the restaurant. Plus, according to the server, no apparent intention to do so in the immediate future. Furthermore, the comment (to paraphrase slightly) of "...in the rush of getting open..." was thrown out there as an explanation as well. Huh? I don't get it. For a beer list that obviously has some thought behind it, how can it get left in the dust of opening day? The website prominently features the lunch menu, dinner menu, and wine menu. Ditto for the printed menus at the restaurant. So, not only are prices not advertised for the few dozen beers that are being served, the customer doesn't even know what they are. You're left with the hope that the server has some beer knowledge that can help you through...as we fortunately did. But, what if we were not so fortunate? I could imagine the conversation going something like this: Me: Do you have a list of beers? Server: No, but we've got lots or...No, but we've got just about everything Me: Well, how about something hoppy? I'm in the mood for a hoppy beer. Server: Hm, let me see (as they look at a handwritten note of beers...I'm imagining they're looking for the word Hop in the name...like Hop Rod Rye or Hops Infusion) Server: Uh, hm, er... Me: Do you have Sly Fox Route 113? Server: Let's see...no, but we do have Sly Fox O'Reilly's Stout...do you want that? Me: No, that's really not what I was looking for... And, on and on and on...I think we've all been there before right? Or how about a dozen other questions that I might have? I can think of questions that I ask when I travel, like...What local beers do you have? What are some of the more popular beers? No, except for "those beers." Could you imagine this happening on the wine side of the drinks menu? No, of course not. A restaurant with more than a house red, white, and rose has a list...and, almost always with prices...by the glass and by the bottle. There's none of this..."What are you in the mood for?", "Do you like red or white?", "How much are you looking to spend per bottle?". No, well sometimes there is, but the point being that the list is there in front of you for your careful perusal and selection. Why not for beer? Guess that's all I have to say on the topic for today. What about you? Have any similar frustrations or pet peeves about the presentation and serving of beer?

It's Time for the Annual REUNION

Alan Shapiro and Pete Slosberg are back on REUNION Tour again. This year, they're putting out a Double White style beer that unfortunately will not be bottled and will only be found on draft in California and Georgia beginning July 24, 2009. Bison and Terrapin are the brewing partners this year, so be sure to be on the lookout in the coming months if you live in or are visiting either of these states. Better yet, be on the lookout for the beer, and make a donation. It's a worthy cause; if you're unfamiliar with the back story, check it out over here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: May 14-May 20

In the week leading up to Memorial Day Weekend 2009, there's still no shortage of things to do. A lot of good, PAYG & free type of tasting and promotional events taking place. Plus, if you'd like to drop a few more coins on a sit-down dinner, festival, or otherwise...you can do that too. Have fun, be safe. For a complete look at May's Calendar, follow this link First loosen up without loosing too much the wallet >> @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA--- Fri. 5/15 - Friday Night Tasting (Yards) (5:00pm-7:00pm; free tasting samples of at least 7 Yards brands) >> @Capone's, Norristown, PA--- Sat. 5/16 - Voodoo Brewing Draft Promo (11:30am; PAYG for 7 draft beers from Voodoo) >> @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 5/20 - Six Point Brewing Night (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for SP beer including a firkin of Bengali IPA) >> @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA--- Fri. 5/15 - Friday Night Tasting (Lancaster Brewing) (4:00pm-6:00pm; free tasting samples) >> @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 5/15 - Munich in Mayfair?: Dunkel-Dig It! (6pm-8pm; PAYG for Spaten Dunkel, among others) >> @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA--- Thu. 5/14 - Thursday Night Tasting (Left Hand) (7pm-9pm; free for samples of up to 7 LH beers) >> @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA--- Fri. 5/15 - Third Friday Firkin Fest (May firkin: Chester County Brown) (12:00am 'til it kicks; PAYG for firkin fun) >> @TJs, Paoli, PA--- Thu. 5/14 - Magic Hat Brewery Promo (8:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG for a couple of MH specialties) >> @TJs, Paoli, PA--- Sat. 5/16 - Sierra Nevada Artisinal Ale Experience (6:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG for 6 SN beers including Kellerweis and Brown Saison) >> @Weyerbacher Brewery, Easton, PA--- Fri. 5/15 - Special Event (5:00pm-7:00pm; free tasting samples, bottled beer available for sale to go) Fun and games and contests, too >> @Appalachian Brewing, Camp Hill, PA--- Fri. 5/8-Fri. 5/15 - 3rd Annual Homebrew Contest (see website for details) >> @Barcade (Brooklyn), New York, NY--- Thu. 5/14 - Sly Fox versus Southampton (6pm; PAYG for a 20-beer showdown) >> @East End Brewing, Pittsburgh, PA--- Fri. 5/15 - Pedal Pale Ale Keg Ride (6pm; 1st beer on East End Brewing's Scott Smith, rest is BYOBike and PAYG) Man, and woman, cannot live by beer alone...or is it the other way around? >> @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA--- Sun. 5/17 - Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Brunch (11:00am; PAYG for almost 10 draft beers from Founders including Kentucky Breakfast Stout) >> @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 5/15 - Smokin'! (6:30pm-8:00pm; $60 for beer, cheese, and Chris Munsey from Murray's Cheese in NYC) And a couple of festivals for good measure, Iron Hill's annual in Media and a 3rd Anniversary in New York >> @Iron Hill Brewery, Media, PA--- Sat. 5/16 - Brandywine Valley Craft Brewers' Festival 2009 (1:00pm-5:00pm; $35/$40....SOLD OUT as of 5/12/09, hit the forums, chatrooms, and street for extra tickets) >> @Captain Lawrence Brewing, Pleasantville, NY--- Sat. 5/16 - 3rd Anniversary Party (12:00pm-6:00pm; $25 tickets available only at the gate, music, beer, fun...and children are admitted free of charge) For a complete look at May's Calendar, follow this link

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Twitter-glee or Twitter-dum?

After a couple of years of a dormant Facebook account, I've been making an effort (some might say a weak effort) to incorporate Facebook into my daily way of life. I've become convinced that between the networks/groups, photo albums, status updates, and numerous other bells and whistles it's a pretty darn good tool for keeping in touch and abreast of happenings between friends, family, and business associates. Mixing the three, though, I presume could become a bit problematic depending upon how mutually exclusive you'd like the three to be. And, I'm still trying to figure out the "friendship" that apparently exists by way of Facebook with people but that never really existed in the past. Yet, as a tool to rekindle a friendship, it's a start I suppose. I can't say that I've reached that point with Twitter. Perhaps it's my age, maybe it's my personality (does this qualify me for the curmudgeonlihood?!), or could be that I don't see a viable use for an individual such as myself to communicate past what I'm already doing with e-mail, The Brew Lounge website, and Facebook. I do see, however, viable uses for those who have businesses or livelihoods tied to communicating of-the-moment type of information. You might say, 'well Bryan isn't The Brew Lounge a business of sorts'? Eh, maybe 'of sorts', maybe not. What I have to say and how I like to say it is sufficiently happy to go about its telling as it always has at The Brew Lounge. Plus, stream-of-consciousness is not really my thing and it seems like the opportunity for getting caught with foot-in-mouth disease or in an awkward moment is more likely with this type of an online tool. If I do want to share with you what I'm doing just at this very moment, I'll update my status at Facebook. After all, isn't that the same thing as twittering/tweeting? Then, I can share pictures, with captions and tags, tied in with groups, etc etc for a more complete picture of me and what I'm trying to communicate about me. For more detailed writing and capsules, I'll post something to The Brew Lounge (uh, er, that's here....talking in the third person about a website, eh?) Perhaps I need to be enlightened about deeper more enhanced forms of Twitter usage if they exist. If not, I'd argue this as a primary reason that a tool such as Facebook will outlast something like Twitter...or at least I can only hope, for the sake of communication amongst humankind. How's that for apocalyptic? (UPDATE: Jack Curtin has recently posted his thoughts; Andy Crouch has as well, and later followed up with confirmation of his feelings...if you're inclined to see their viewpoints on this same topic.) Don't misconstrue this as being apologetic. I actually do have an account at Twitter and it looks like every once in a while someone decides to "follow me." I'm not sure exactly what they're hoping to find when they follow, since I've never provided any such tweets. Which gives me just one more reason to stay out of the twitterati. p.s. If you'd like to invite me to a party, just pick up the phone and call; I'll be here. If not, leave a message.

Don't Shut Up about the U.S.

Ron Pattison writes a blog called Shut Up about Barclay Perkins from the other side of the pond that often gets very technical in brewing processes, oft times decades- and centuries-old brewing processes. Some are very fascinating and some go, quite honestly, over my head. Still, especially for those who are inclined to study and master these brewing processes, the distillation (pun intended, kind of?) of the material that Ron undertakes makes the reading quite palatable. He's been doing the beer writing thing at his blog for a couple of years now and this link will take you to one of the earliest postings, which also helps to describe where the name for the blog came from. He also knows quite a bit about drinking through the continent, particularly Amsterdam, and as such conducts beer tours. It was for some of his other material, though, that I'm linking to here today. Outside of the beer regions that I frequent the most, Philadelphia and San Francisco Bay Area, my next two favorite and frequently visited are Madison, WI and New York City. Ron visited both of these on a recent trip to the states. Linking to his material here is for more than just getting his take on some of my favorite places in the U.S. to drink better beer. I find that it's extremely useful to get an "outsider's" take on this country's bars, people, and beer drinking habits. Each entry in his U.S. Holiday Journal is informative, but his last entry does a nice job of summarizing his impressions. See below, and tell Ron that I sent you. ~ Wisconsin ~ NYC, part 1 ~ NYC, part 2 ~ NYC, part 3 ~ NYC, part 4 ~ NYC, part 5 ~ NYC, part 6 ~ Summary

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dunedin Brewery in Dunedin, FL

Clearwater, Florida has some nice beaches but not a lot of better beer to be found. Drive just a bit farther north and you'll stumble into Dunedin...home to Caladesi Island, the Toronto Blue Jays during baseball's spring training season, and year-round to Dunedin Brewery. I can't imagine how crazy crowded the small 100+ year Scottish town must feel during winter months and when baseball comes to town. But, during this particular week in April while I was in the area, things could not have been more pleasant. Easy to drive around, easy to poke around the marina, and easy to grab a seat at the brewery for a bit of grub and beer. After a quick leg-stretcher around the Dunedin Marina/Edgewater Park and through some local shops, I dropped into the Dunedin Brewery on Douglas Ave. It's a street that made me feel like I should be able to walk into the sand on the beach in no more than 42 steps. But, it's actually a few blocks from the water's edge, and quite a distance from the nearest beach. No matter, once inside there are plenty of visual distractions...from the brewhouse on just the other side of the bar to the wall decor. People watching also works well with a smattering of people from (apparently) various careers and walks of life that I saw during my 90 minute visit. During these 90 minutes, the brew crew was putting a wrap on the day's events and informing me that the Rye IPA hiding in a fermentation tank should be flowing soon and still available at the time of my next visit, tentatively scheduled to occur by the end of July. The local beekeeper, who also provides honey for brewing, was there to assist with a bit of a bee problem of different kind. Apparently, some bees set up shop out back, maybe planning to deliver the honey a bit fresher to the brewery. There was also something of an after-hours business meeting taking place, an apparent date between a local and a friend from New Zealand, a couple of buddies having some early evening beers, and a small family eating early dinner on the deck. Tiding me over until my dinner was the $1 taco special. Nothing special, just beef, cabbage, cheese, and salsa...for a buck a piece. Accompanied by a sampler of beers for $10, it was the perfect way to end my day of work. The sampler contained 6 beers, plus another couple cuz I'm such a nice guy. At around four ounces each, this seemed like the perfect way to get to know Dunedin's products without the time or investment typically required. But, it was all I needed to know that I'll be back again in the future. Okay, so back to what was on my platter. How's this for variety in Florida? Red, Brown, Scottish-style Stout, Wee Heavy, Barleywine, a Double IPA, and a Dry Irish Stout. Living in a Scottish town, the brewery makes this evident in the decor and a few of their peat-smoked beers. But, being in the south and near water makes it even more important to have the lighter, softer beers. That led me, of course, to one of their several wheat beers...the apricot I found to be the most palatable and sessionable. Not that the brews blew me away with anything out-of-this-world-ly crazy. But, it was all good...and, that is the most important starting point. Plus it was the beginning of a visit to Florida that would show me just how far craftbrewing and the availability of good beer in Florida has come. Mind you, not that you would argue that it competes with some of the best beer regions in the country. But, compared to 20...10...even 5 years ago, better beer is more available than ever before and that's a very good thing. Dunedin is just one example.

Monday, May 11, 2009

FunkFest at Triumph Brewing: 5/9/09

It'll be interesting to see how long my stomach decides that it doesn't mind the sour beers. Until then, I'll thank my biological stars and enjoy them for all they're worth. It makes sense that the FunkFest was held at Triumph on Mother's Day weekend, because some of the beers featured were quite the mothers of brewing invention. Isn't this what we love about brewing? Other than fitting to a style of "sour", pigeonholing these beers into a style is virtually pointless.
(Saturday was a perfect day for some sidewalk sittin')
After my morning 5-k run, not the easiest after a late concert night in Camden/Philly but still a very good run, I cleaned up and caught the train into Philly. The weather on Saturday was nearly perfect, though just warm enough to make me happy to step in off the street (Chestnut, that is, in Old City Philadelphia) for some freaky beers and funky music.
(Up first in the day were ten goodies from around the Philadelphia region)
(Waiting in the wings for beers in round 1 to kick)
Patrick Jones, head brewer at the Philadelphia location of Triumph (and aka The Cheese Monger at Ale Street News), was holding court with nearly 20 beers of varying degrees of funk. Only a few of them could go on the regular tap lines. Others, as you could imagine, were tapped directly at the bar to avoid line contamination.
(Sherrie and Steve look strong as they make their way through the draft lineup)
We sat together for a few minutes to chit chat about a little of everything. But, I was particularly impressed with his Tarte d'Or, so he spent considerable time talking about how it began as a Honey Wheat, made its way into a neutral barrel where it was introduced to a couple of Brett strains, and then has sat for almost now two years. The result? Brettanomyces deliciousness...one of my favorites of the day.
(BFFs, April and Casey)
One of my other favorites of the day was the Eddy from Iron Hill. To have this beer twice in three days is to be very fortunate. A nice clean beer from a wine barrel, with a very noticeable Brett character, made for a very nice, dare I say, sessionable funked-up Brett beer (maybe not at 7.3%, but everyone has different thresholds).
(Steve never saw a picture he couldn't ruin..I mean, here's a picture of friends showing off food, funk, and friendship at Triumph)
Also making my highlights of the day reel was the Bière des Fraises from General Lafayette (don't recall where I've had this before, but the mild strawberry flavor makes for a real nice summer fruit sipper), the FunkFish from Flying Fish (where the brandy barrel character is noticeable but doesn't ride roughshod), and the Sour Raspberry Wit from Triumph in Princeton. Of course the standard sour bearer (the kind that would make a great Mother's Day gift) Berliner Weisse from Nodding Head was there and pouring perfectly as well. In the let's-see-how-this-changes category was the Permanent Midnight from Iron Hill's Lancaster location. I enjoyed the beer and its multi-layered fruit, funk, and barley. Paul insisted that it should have been more carbonated and promised it to show up in Cooperstown for Ommegang's Belgium Comes to Cooperstown event later this summer.
(The Band played on, even to a crowd-requested encore)
On the topic of offbeat and unusual, someone has to mention the experiment with Good Seasons salad dressing...er, I mean the Scottish Red Vinaigrette (yes, you read that correctly) from the New Hope location of Triumph. Now I don't personally know the Triumph guys up the river (Brendan Anderson, right?), but I have always thought that there must be a little something in the water farther north up the Delaware that makes New Hope just a little bit different, ha! This beer was tapped after we'd already left, but I needed to return to pick up a growler that brought with me but never had filled (cuz the Historical District doesn't approve of such crimes against proper society) and Patrick said something like, "here, try this." So, what's a good beer writer to do? Let's just say it certainly was interesting and delivered on the vinaigrette aspect of its name. I believe 'mouth-clenching' was a descriptor used. But, more than an ounce or two would have been too much for my liking.
(How's this for a mantle masterpiece? from left: Patrick Jones, Triumph; Paul Rutherford, Iron Hill-Lancaster; Casey Hughes, Flying Fish; Mike Fava, Nodding Head)
You all should be happy (and impressed I'm sure) that my camera was working again come Saturday morning. We had our little talk and it agreed to be more agreeable in the future. With all the party people in the house, brewers and hoi polloi alike, it was an event that screamed out for people pictures, something I've always vowed to do a better job at. Oh, and the music...I didn't get the name of the band, but they provided the appropriate music for FunkFest. After a couple good hours of getting funked up at Triumph, we made our way across town to catch up with Mike Fava at Nodding Head. You'll be able to catch him behind the bar on Sunday nights to, not only talk about, but pour beers as well. It was nice to see that he's joined the ranks on the wall with his own likeness, very appropriately on a bike, with a keg, during Philly Beer Week.
(The Fava Express hangs in Nodding Head's dining room)
And, to the brewer whose beer made it into my growler for a firepit session last night after mowing the lawn and doing garden work, it was tres excellent! Otherwise, I don't believe I should say whose or which...except, Thank You. All in all, one of the best ways I can figure to spend a warm spring afternoon in the city.