Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Green like Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp

I don't believe that jealousy is very productive or gets anyone very far in life. Sure, using others status or success as inspiration and motivation...I get that and it can be put to good use for improving your own lot in life. But jealousy to the point of depression that you don't have what someone else has? Don't waste your time on it. Now, it's not to say I don't get my own case of envy once in a while. Case in point. First, I listen to Howard Weintraub (The Drafting Room) talk excitedly about his August trip to Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp in Chico, CA. Figuring he's just a little too excited (kidding), his itinerary drifts to the back of my consciousness until yesterday when I read Tomme Arthur's (Lost Abbey/Port Brewing in southern CA) blog where he waxes on and on about what made his first experience at Beer Camp (and, coincidentally, at Sierra Nevada) so great a couple of months ago in April. Geez, thanks guys, I'm working to get over this bit of green envy feeling that I've got today.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Beer Trippin', The San Francisco Treat; Part 1

Next to Part 2 in a Series of 6


(Jay Hinman; Chris Cohen; Steve Shapiro; Jay Brooks; Brian Yaeger; Bryan Kolesar)


Lovers of better beer are often known by many adjectives: friendly; welcoming; respectful; camaraderie (oops, that's a noun, is it not?); passionate; caring; supportive. I see this week in and week out around my home region of the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast (coast).

I discovered this on the other side of the country in a roomful of similarly-minded beer lovers in San Francisco last week. Almost exactly 168 hours ago (that'd be 1 week in case your math is a little rusty...last Monday).

I was in touch with Brian Yaeger (you know, right? the guy who wrote Red, White, and Brew...documenting his beer travels around this country) prior to heading to San Francisco to ask if he'd be interested in some sort of a meetup while I was in town. I'd bring some beer along with me of the Pennsylvania flavor and we'd see what we could do about scaring up some local enthusiasts. Some were just getting over the buzz of the National Homebrewers Conference (NHC) which had wrapped up just a couple of days prior. Others were preparing for future events and unable to attend.

What we did have, in addition to Brian and myself, were 6 guys interested in seeing some Pennsylvania rarities...at least rare by California standards. To be fair, Brian's squeeze, Kimberly, was there as well.

I'd only met Brian once before in person, during San Francisco's Beer Week in February '09 at the 21st Amendment's Monk's Blood Dinner, courtesy of the 21A crew and "home brew chef" Sean Paxton. Brian, Kimberly, and I were sat at the head table, along with Sean Paxton's wife and daughter, Jesse Friedman (beerandnosh.com, food and photog phenom...seriously, you must check out his handiwork...here's a link again in case you've missed the first one) and Elianna, Chaz Lakcip, and Bill Brand.

After meeting Brian, I knew he'd be able to pull of this sort of Monday Night Meetup.

With my day's worth of work complete in the Financial District, and after a brief stop-off at Murphy's Pub with my co-worker (aka TBL Lancaster County Correspondent), I cleaned myself up back in my hotel room, grabbed the box of goodies, and hailed a cab. It was a quick trip across town toward the Golden Gate Park and Brian's and Kimberly's house.

(And what to our wondering eyes but a Brewers Art cork in the Sly Fox bottle...it all makes sense, given their bottling relationship)

Not long after I arrived, we were joined by Steve Sharpiro, provider of the incredibly useful Beer by Bart service.

Also in for the tasting was Jay Hinman, the traveling beer connoisseur who gets around the country quite smartly and documents it all at Hedonist Beer Jive.

Jay Brooks pulled a fast one on me and showed up after I figured the trials of the past week at his website, Brookston Beer Bulletin, would keep him out of service for yet another day. Alas, Jay was there and ready to relive the days of his Pennsylvania past (have you seen his profession of cheesesteak love? read on for the tie-in).

Chris Cohen rounded out the group. A friend of Brian's and Kimberly's, Chris is every bit as much a beer enthusiast/geek as the rest of us. Plus, two days later he calls out to me at City Beer Store. and we set right on down to enjoy a Black Orchard from The Bruery and times are just swell. Small world it is...even when I'm 3000 miles from home.

(Cheesesteaks and Beer, in San Francisco)

Welcoming. That's one word I used earlier to describe these guys. Case in point---Not only did they turn out on a Monday just after NHC and the weekend wraps up, but they treated me like a visiting head of state by cooking up a Philadelphia, uh, "delicacy", the Cheesesteak...complete with a beer-infused cheese whiz, onions, and peppers. Though Kimberly credited Brian with coming up with the idea, in fact it was she that implemented it...and stuck the landing. Very flattering, guys and gal, thank you.

Passionate. There's another one of them there adjectives. We didn't necessarily geek our way through the night. That's what I like about our Monday Night Tastings back at home here at Sly Fox---(okay, easy now before any of you call me out on not being there in, like, many months)---they're easy. We smell the beer, we taste it, we talk about it...but in a very comfortable, just slightly geeky but not especially snobby manner.

And, even though this wasn't a beer and food pairing type of event, Brian was right on the mark when he wrote that the Black Raspberry Reserve from Sly Fox went oh-so-beautifully with the dessert platter from a local bakery...chocolate, raspberries, and a fruit-forward raspberry beer...wow!

(Sly Fox's Black Raspberry Reserve with chocolate and fruit, a must)

Also along for the airplane ride was: Victory Baltic Thunder; Victory WildDevil; Sly Fox Saison Vos; Stoudt's Heifer in Wheat; Weyerbacher Double Simcoe; and a bottle of my homebrewed Saison, which has now been in the bottle a little over a year after spending a few months in the secondary fermenter. It's really, in my own opinion, taking on a different life every few months or so and is really enjoyable now.

A Tröegs Flying Mouflan Barleywine and Iron Hill Honey Do Wit also made the trip but wound up as gifts I left with others that I met along the way in San Francisco.

The other two beers which I really wanted to bring along but never got around to packing up for the trip were the Flying Fish Exit 4 ("American Trippel") and Philadelphia Brewing's Fleur de Lehigh (a "spicy pale ale-like" beer). Those (and other) omissions notwithstanding, Pennsylvania was well-represented and the impression made on this group of guys was a very favorable one.


(There's a story behind these beers, you'll need to wait a few days to hear it. For now, feast thy eyes and start thirsting)


Next to Part 2 in a Series of 6

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Beer Calendar: What To Do in July 2009

Big Festivals rule the July calendar with enough smaller events to keep us all interested and hydrated during the kickoff to the dogdays of summer. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. $20 and under, down to and including FREE...Pay As You Go (PAYG) also included here Philadelphia Wed. 6/30 - WildDevil and Whirlwind Wit Sampling @The Druid's Keep, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 7/2 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (June's selection: Sticke Altbier) @Triumph, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 7/4 - Forefathers, Fireworks, and Phillies @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA (12:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 7/4 - Kick Off of Tour de France @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Thu. 7/9 - Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse Promo @The Khyber, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 7/9 - Meet the Ommegang Brewer @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 7/10 - Xmas in July @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Tue. 7/14 - Allagash Beer Night @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA (6pm; PAYG) Tue. 7/14 - New Holland's Beer and Cheese Night @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 7/15 - Flying Fish's Exit 11 Release Party @Swift Half, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 7/15 - Flying Dog Night @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 7/16 - The Return of Arcadia @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG; **This event has been rescheduled, date TBD**) Fri. 7/17 - Barbecue and Bell's @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA (sometime in the afternoon 'til sometime later after dark; PAYG) Tue. 7/21 - Belgium Independence Day @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (all day, all night; PAYG) Tue. 7/21 - Doc's Cider Flight Night @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm; some free, some PAYG) Fri. 7/24 - Great Divide Double Wit Tapping @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (5pm; PAYG) Sat. 7/25 - Handmade Market @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA (10:00am-3:00pm; free/PAYG) Mon. 7/27 - HopScotch! @The Khyber, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 7/29 - Clipper City Night @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Philadelphia's close suburbs Thu. 7/2 - Blues, BBQ, & BIG Brews featuring Jimmy's BBQ @Ron's Original, Exton, PA (PAYG) Fri. 7/3 - Incubus Friday @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (11:30am 'til it kicks; PAYG) Fri. 7/3 - Friday Night Tasting (Flying Dog) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-8:00pm; free) Tue. 7/7 - Tap Beer Promo+All-You-Can-Eat Mussels (Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout) @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ ($10) Fri. 7/10 - Hops Project 2009 Varietal Release: WGV Pale Ale (a firkin, then CO2) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (11:30am 'til it kicks; PAYG) Fri. 7/10 - Friday Night Tasting (Victory) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; free) Tue. 7/14 - Tap Beer Promo+All-You-Can-Eat Mussels (Lagunitas Lucky 13) @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ ($10) Wed. 7/15 - Sly Fox @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (6:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 7/16 - Follow the Liter @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 7/17 - Third Friday Firkin (June firkin: ESB) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (11:30am 'til it kicks; PAYG) Fri. 7/17 - Friday Night Tasting (Bear Republic) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; free) Sat. 7/18 - Beers of Michigan Faceoff @TJs, Paoli, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Tue. 7/21 - Tap Beer Promo+All-You-Can-Eat Mussels (Clipper City Heavy Seas Hang Ten) @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ ($10) Fri. 7/24 - Friday Night Tasting (Victory) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; free) Fri. 7/24 - Friday Night Tasting (Yards) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; free) Mon. 7/27 - Christmas in July @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Tue. 7/28 - Tap Beer Promo+All-You-Can-Eat Mussels (Sly Fox Hops Project) @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ ($10) Fri. 7/31 - Friday Night Tasting (Spaten) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; free) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Wed. 7/1 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (June's selection: Grand Cru) @Triumph, Princeton, NJ (6pm; PAYG) Fri. 7/3 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (June's selection: Barrel Aged IPX) @Triumph, New Hope, PA (6pm; PAYG) Thu. 7/9 - Thursday Night Tasting (Smuttynose) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free) Thu. 7/9 - Firkin of Tröegs @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 7/16 - Christmas in July with Tröegs Brewing @Ortino's Northside, Zieglerville, PA (PAYG) Thu. 7/16 - Left Hand Brewing Tasting @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 7/18 - The Bell Ringer: An Old-Time Ale Festival and a Colonial Brewing Demonstration with Rich Wagner @Spring House Brewing Company, Conestoga, PA (12:00-6:00pm; $15) Thu. 7/23 - Founders Fest @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 7/30 - Thursday Night Tasting (Harpoon) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free) Fri. 7/31 - Cask Ale Night (July selections: TBA) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Elsewhere Wed. 7/1 - Wednesday Night Promotion (Victory) @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG) Wed. 7/8 - Wednesday Night Promotion (Flying Dog) @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG) Thu. 7/9 - Ithaca Beer Night @Barcade (Brooklyn), New York, NY (tbd) Wed. 7/22 - Wednesday Night Promotion (Christmas in July) @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG) Thu. 7/23 - Allagash Beer & BBQ Night @Barcade (Brooklyn), New York, NY (tbd) Events Over $20 Philadelphia Wed. 7/8 - Social Happy Hour (Yards & Voodoo) @Jones, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; $50) Wed. 7/8 - Extröeginary Beers @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:30pm; $35) Sat. 7/11 - Royal Stumble @Nodding Head, Philadelphia, PA (1:00pm; $45) Tue. 7/14 - Tom's Favorite Local Beer/Local Food Dinner @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; $55) Wed. 7/15 - Beer & Wine Thowdown with Ommegang @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $42) Tue. 7/21 - Spotlight on Homebrewers @Mémé Restaurant, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:30pm; $25) Wed. 7/22 - Hot Blondes @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $30) Sat. 7/25 - Summer Ale Festival @The Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-10:00pm; $50 general/$75 VIP) Wed. 7/29 - A Pint and a Pound @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $45) Philadelphia's close suburbs Thu. 7/2 - Victory Beer Dinner @PJ Whelihan's Pub, Medford, NJ (7:00pm-9:00pm; $40) Sat. 7/11 - Pints for Pups Beer Tasting @Reading Stadium, Reading, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; $30 general/$50 VIP) Wed. 7/22 - Victory Beer Dinner @High Street Caffe, West Chester, PA (7:00pm; $45) Tue. 7/28 - Farm Fresh Beer Dinner @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA (6:00pm; $50) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Sat. 7/18 - Hops, Vines, and Wines Festival @downtown Selinsgrove, PA (2:00pm-6:00pm; $40) Sat. 7/25 - Battle of the Brewery Bands @Stoudt's Brewery, Adamstown, PA (6:00pm-10:00pm; $30) Tue. 7/28 - Down Under Beer Dinner @Union Barrel Works, Reamstown, PA (6:30pm; $40) Elsewhere Wed. 7/1 - Five-Course Dinner & Beer Pairing @Monk's Kettle, San Francisco, CA (5:30pm; $80) Fri. 7/10 - Empire State Brewing and Music Festival @Clinton Square, Syracuse, NY (5:00pm-10:00pm; $40) Sat. 7/18-Sun. 7/19 - Vermont Brewers Festival @Burlington Waterfront Park, Burlington, VT (see website for details) Sat. 7/18 - Craft Beer Expo @Mahaffey Center, St. Petersburg, FL ($30/$50/$60; see website for details) Sun. 7/19 - Stone Sour Fest @Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Escondido, CA (all day; $30) Thu. 7/23-Sun. 7/26 - Oregon Brewers Festival @Waterfront Park, Portland, OR (see website for details) Fri. 7/31-Sun. 8/2 - Belgium Comes to Cooperstown @Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY (see website for details)

The Brew Lounge really brings 'em out

Wow, many thanks to all of you who showed up on short notice to The Drafting Room last night on such short notice. I was running a bit late around 10pm when I finally showed up and, boy, was I surprised to see the parking lot so full of cars. Inside it was standing room only of, oh I don't know---is 50 an exaggeration? And the red-headed slut shot that I was handed? Much appreciated, of course. Though, I was surprised a bit by all of the Coors Light, Budweiser, and assorted mixed drinks. Then it hit me. Somewhere between the Juvenile, Britney Spears, and Guns 'n' Roses soundtrack and the talk of days gone by...I realized you weren't there for me, it was the Downingtown High School reunion of nineteen-ninety-and-something-or-another. No worries. More hoppy 15th Anniversary Ale for me. And a 13th Anniversary ("imperial lager") that has held up fairly well. And a nice time spent chatting with Howard and Alex, Heather, and Greg. I can say with almost 100% certainty that I've never closed The Drafting Room. Even though I wasn't the last to leave, the bar was closed and the final hookups were being arranged on the patio before they were being chased off. But, not before Howard and I shared the last official glass of 14th Anniversary Ale, which also has held its own over the past year. I know many other aggressively hopped beers that go off to that great big hopfield in the sky long before this beer. In between all of this, I had a Watermelon Wheat from 21st Amendment for the 4th time in the last week. I enjoy this beer so much that I'll be dedicating a posting all alone to this summertime quencher. Brace yourself. There's a lot of catch-up to do around here over the next week or two. Cheers!

The Tiger roars Victory again

Blind Tiger brings back yet again another Victory Extravaganza. Take a look at this coming Wednesday's lineup and tell me if it doesn't make you want to start your holiday weekend a few days early. From Alan's e-mail update...
This Wednesday July 1st at 4:00PM, Blind Tiger will be hosting an event that will not just prepare you to celebrate our nation's independence but rather relive the joy our forefathers felt on that historic day of Victory (I might be exaggerating a tiny bit). Come join us at the Tiger as we proudly serve some of the best and rarest beers from our dear friends at Victory Brewing Company. Victory Baltic Thunder Victory Throwback Lager Victory Wild Devil Victory Saphir Weisen (Craft Brewers Conference beer, single hopped) Victory Tradition Pilsner (Craft Brewers Conference beer, single hopped) Victory Schwartz Pils Victory Hallertau Mittelfreu Pilsner (Craft Brewers Conference beer, single hopped) Victory Hop Devil Victory Prima Pils Victory Golden Monkey Victory Storm King Victory Braumeister Pils (Spalt select) Victory Whirlwind Wit Victory Sunrise Weiss Victory Harvest Ale Victory Bags Packed Porter Victory ESB Victory Rauch Porter Victory St. Boisterous Victory Abbey 6 Victory Abbey 8 Victory Donnybrook Stout Victory St. Victorious Victory Lager Victory Hop Wallop Victory Festbier Victory Mad King Weiss (I might even throw in one more special treat)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Back where I belong?

I've missed a few things here in the Delaware Valley (as it's sometimes called) over the past week while I was in San Francisco. One was the 15th Anniversary of The Drafting Room and the accompanying ale from Tröegs. So, I do believe it's time I come around and clear this one of my to-do list before it gets any longer....like maybe tonight, say 9pm-ish. Word on the street is that it's pretty darn tasty. Anyone for an impromptu meetup? (if I was the tweetering type, it might go there...but, alas, it is here that I ask for a meetup)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: June 25-June 30

June goes out strong with a bunch of great-looking events to keep you busy, beginning with a bunch of special tastings and samplings tonight all around the Philly region. For a complete look at June's Calendar, follow this link Here a taste, there a taste...new beers and old friends @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA--- Fri. 6/26 - Friday Night Tasting (Sierra Nevada) (5:00pm-7:00pm; free tasting samples) @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 6/25 - "Keep the Pint" Night (Victory) (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG for beer and a souvenir) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA--- Fri. 6/26 - Friday Night Tasting (Harpoon) (4:00pm-6:00pm; free tasting samples) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA--- Fri. 6/26 - Cask Ale Night (Yards: Brawler; Philly Pale Ale; ESA) (5:00pm; PAYG for some of the best cask beer around) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA--- Thu. 6/25 - Thursday Night Tasting (Long Trail) (7pm-9pm; free tasting samples) @Ortino's Northside, Zieglerville, PA--- Thu. 6/25 - A Night with Stoudt's (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG for a night with Stoudt's...uh) @The Khyber, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 6/25 - PBC Shackamaximum Imperial Stout Pin (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG for this big beaut from PBC) @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA--- Thu. 6/25 - Green Flash Fest (4:00pm; PAYG for 6 brands from this southern Cali gem) Festivals are Fun, especially in South Philly sidestreets with wheat beer @Agricultural Industrial Museum, York, PA--- Fri. 6/26 - York Annual Micro Brew Fest (7:00pm-10:00pm; sold out again this year) @South Philadelphia Tap Room, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 6/27 - Wheat Beer Fest (all day, all night; $3 pints/PAYG for around 30 season-appropriate beers) Fun, Philanthropy, and Frivolity @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 6/27 - 2nd Annual Neighbors Yard Sale in the Side Lot (10:00am-3:00pm; free for the shopping in the adjacent lot, PAYG for the great beer indoors) @Yards Brewing, Philadelphia, PA--- Sun. 6/28 - Charity Benefit for FOP Survivors Fund and Public Grand Opening (1:00pm-5:00pm; $25/$15 for this family-friendly event) Local Cheese, Local Chocolate, Local Beer @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 6/26 - Local Luxury (6:30pm-8:00pm; $45, currently sold out, but call just in case) Has everyone had their share of Ballast Point? No excuses this week @Craft Ale House, Limerick, PA--- Mon. 6/29 - Six-Month Celebration (PAYG for live music, 5 B.P. drafts, and plenty of other great beer on a great patio) @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA--- Sun. 6/28 - Ballast Point Brunch (11:00am; PAYG for food and 10 B.P. drafts!) For a complete look at June's Calendar, follow this link

Brewing with Synthetic Yeast

Those best-laid plans, eh? To occupy you loyal readers while in San Francisco, my plan was to have the queue stocked with a bunch of odds 'n' ends that spill out from my notebook and never make it (yet) into an official piece of writing. Instead, they're in the land of misfit postings. I didn't get the finishing touches on any of them before I left, so here's a quick one that I'll throw out to you commercial and home brewers: Would you brew with synthetic yeast (presuming you haven't already)? Or is this topic of synthetic yeast messing a bit too much with the Life of a Beer? The link below will take you to the NPR podcast (not too long at just under 20 minutes) from a few months back where the discussion was held about the possibilities of brewing with synthetic yeast. 'Til we meet again...Weigh in... Better Brewing through Synthetic Biology?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Revisiting the Bay Area and Bill Brand

Heading out to San Francisco again had me thinking about unfinished postings from the past. This one in particular reminds me of my last trip to San Francisco during their Beer Week in February and the dinner that I and others shared with Bill Brand at 21st Amendment on that fateful Sunday. Months prior, Bill had asked a question that I began to answer...first in a comment to his post...then in a posting that I intended to post at The Brew Lounge. Neither saw the light of day, but I'm gonna try to fix that here today before I head out to the Bay Area. The context of Bill's question was: "Why do most Americans drink bland lager?" Most of what is written below was originally written over a year ago and I haven't (or wouldn't) change much of anything of it. I've added a few extra words and sentences to round it out here or there, but basically it's the same as what I began last year. To begin with, I recently saw (I apologize that I don't recall at whose site it was referenced) the following quote from artist, Robert Henri. "We are not here to do what has already been done." ...and from, yet, somewhere else..."Men go down the path less-traveled and never traveled." Take a meander through it...I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the subject as well.
I've always believed that, as with many things in life, we acquire habits and tendencies from those who raised us. This can apply to anything from tastes in culinary delights to political leanings and religious beliefs. As we grow into adulthood, some are able to easily forge their own identities by exploring and adopting tastes that fit their unique individual. Though, I believe that many...so many...do not. Whether it's a function of laziness (path of least resistance or change) or simply hearing the same message over and over and over again through the years, when it comes time to pick a political party, a religion, or a beer at the bar it often is what was passed down to us from those who raised us. The sad (my opinion) is that many never change. Some see it as a badge of pride that they never change throughout life. Okay, I'll try to limit my commentary here to just beer and in my circle of family and friends ;-) Most have come to accept, often quite warily, that what I drink is some sort of beer. But, when it comes time to pick up a case of beer or order one at the bar, they go for the old reliable (aka something that looks, smells, and tastes like a Budweiser). Sadly, when challenged as to whether they truly enjoy what they are drinking, the grunting reply that I most often receive is something along the lines of "this is a real beer," "I'm getting a normal beer," or "I don't like dark/fruity/bitter/warm/etc. beer." When I press further and ask if they really enjoy the TASTE of their beer, roughly half of the time I get an answer that doesn't go far enough to articulate whether or why they like what they drink. The answers usually translate to something that simply suggests: "This is beer...not a sissy/foofoo beer." As if no thought really goes into it. They just seem programmed to drink it. That's where the power of upbringing comes into play. But, also the power of marketing. So, hats off to the parents, grandparents, and marketing companies who have brainwashed tens of millions into believing the bland, tasteless, and uninteresting mass-produced lightish lager is what we should be enjoying when it comes to a glass of beer. That it is what beer really is...what it should be. How do, as like-minded individuals, go about changing this? More on this in a future posting. Obviously, my two cents for what they're worth. Great topic, Bill. It's one that I attempt to explore with friends and family whenever possible and one for which we may never have a real solid answer.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Barrel Full of Beer Memes, #1

Meme...no not the restaurant in Philadelphia..but, it would be a nice segue to remind you of the homebrewing event that they have coming up in July, now would it not? No, a meme...like a cultural touchpoint...that manifests itself in a thing, a period, an occurrence, a phenomenon. Something that replicates and spreads itself through the collective consciousness. (Or at least that's how I think of it...try dictionary.com, if you'd prefer.) With Better Beer permeating many heretofore never seen from nor heard from cracks of society, The Best (and Worst) of the Beer World is on display through the first Beer Meme that I'll highlight here (lowlight?) No doubt, if you follow state legislation around the country (yes, Pennsylvania...there are worse states for the making, buying, and selling of beer), you've probably heard about Alabama's struggles and, finally, recent triumph over close-minded officials who just don't "get it." (A quick link to Free the Hops will catch you up-to-date.) The "Gourmet Beer" law in Alabama is one case in point. I present to you the first in a series of Beer Memes that I'll put before you occasionally over time. First up: "yeah, What's Wrong with the Beer We Got? I mean the beer we got drank pretty good, don't it?" Courtesy of Representative Alvin Holmes (at 5:30 if you want to jump ahead):

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: June 18-June 24

Just in time for Father's Day, a bevy of beer dates line the calendar over the next week. Plus, don't forget that Iron Hill, following on last year's Ring of Fire porter Father's Day Special, has released Honey Do Wit and is available for the father in your life---or any guy, okay lady too, for that matter---and can be picked up at any of the seven local Iron Hill locations. For a complete look at June's Calendar, follow this link Tastings. Beer Unveilings. @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA--- Fri. 6/19 - Friday Night Tasting (Widmer) (5:00pm-7:00pm; free sample tastings) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA--- Fri. 6/19 - Friday Night Tasting (Stoudt's) (4:00pm-6:00pm; free sample tastings) @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 6/19 - Firkin of Duck-Rabbit Double Hopped Brown (12:00pm; PAYG for some lunchtime love, rabbit-style) @Ortino's Northside, Zieglerville, PA--- Thu. 6/18 - Organic Night with Peak Brewing and Wolavers (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG to get back with nature in Zieglerville) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA--- Fri. 6/19 - Third Friday Firkin (June firkin: TBA) (11:30am; PAYG 'til it kicks) @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA--- Wed. 6/24 - 15th Anniversary Ale from Tröegs (6pm; PAYG for a treasure trove of Tröegs) @The Drafting Room, Spring House, PA--- Wed. 6/24 - 15th Anniversary Ale from Tröegs (6pm; PAYG for more of the same from Tröegs) Food and Beer Pairings. @Firecreek, Downingtown, PA--- Thu. 6/18 - Victory Beer Dinner (6:30pm; Price not disclosed for the restaurant's first beer dinner) @Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 6/20 - Saison Beer Brunch (11:30am-3:30pm; PAYG) @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 6/18 - 2nd Annual Heavy Seas Crab Boil (5:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG) @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 6/24 - Lunch with Left Hand (11:30am; PAYG) @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 6/24 - The Heart of Dark Chocolate (6:30pm-8:00pm; $55, calll for standby tickets) Festivals. @Battleship New Jersey, Camden, NJ--- Sat. 6/20 - 13th Annual Garden State Craftbrewers Fest (1:00pm-5:00pm; $40 to drink and not drown) @Blue Ox Bistro, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 6/20 - 20 Wheat Beers of Summer Festival (1:00pm-12:00am; $4 drafts/$4 eats are PAYG) @downtown Harrisburg, PA--- Sat. 6/20 - Harrisburg Brewers Fest (12:00pm-3:30pm, 5:00pm-8:30pm; $35/$95 VIP to drink with the power set) @Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids, MI--- Sat. 6/20 - Founders Fest (3:00pm-11:00PM; details TBA) @Marriott City Center, Oakland, CA--- Thu. 6/18-Sat. 6/20 - National Homebrewers Conference (see website for details) @Seaport World Trade Center, Boston, MA--- Fri. 6/19-Sun. 6/21 - American Craft Beer Fest (see website for details) Fun 'n' Games. @Barcade (Brooklyn), New York, NY--- Thu. 6/18 - Vintage Beer Night (details TBA) @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 6/19 - I'm a (Golden) Monkey Man! (6:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for beer, masks, and Tracy..say whah?) @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA--- Sun. 6/21 - Bike Race Sundays (5:00pm; PAYG for wheels and weizens) @The Institute, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 6/20 - One Year Anniversary Bash & Hops Fest (1:00pm; PAYG) For a complete look at June's Calendar, follow this link

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What it takes to be a winner at TJs, California-style

Ballast Point. Bear Republic. That's how they list alphabetically. According to the first 50 ballots submitted at TJs in Paoli, PA this past Saturday night, it's the reverse of how these breweries are ranked, though by a slim enough margin to almost call it a draw. After tasting 4 samples of each brewery, guests were asked to rank them from 1-10. (There were 11 beers in total combined from both breweries.) Here you'll see one anonymous ballot. Southeastern Pennsylvania has been under a torrent of what almost seems like daily thunderstorms (the really, really bad kind) of late. Figures as I jumped into the car to check out this event at TJs, the skies unleashed their fury. It may have deterred some, as I was surprised the bar area wasn't packed in every square inch. Either the weather, or they heard that the Pittsburgh contingent of Woody Chandler and Brian Parker was taking up residence at the bar showing off their Penguins team colors. Congrats are in order, I suppose...though, that Crosby kid...grrr. And, yet another angle from which Mr. Chandler to rail against Philadelphia...boy, am I glad he doesn't write the Philadelphia column in the brewspapers. Still, there was barely an empty seat and it was a comfortable night for the IPAs that seemed to win over the crowd the most. I had the Navigator Dopplebock just a few days earlier and was surprised to see how lowly rated it was compared to the others. Maybe that's where I had the advantage of drinking it alone with a braised short ribs sandwich the day it was tapped. If you missed out, as of this posting there was still some Ballast Point (Calico Amber, Navigator Dopplebock, Wahoo Wheat, and Big Eye IPA) and Bear Republic (Heritage, Hop Rod Rye, NorCal Pale, Racer 5 Cask, and Racer X) to be found at TJs. Get thee to TJs and polish off those suckers. The cask, I understand, is very close to the end. Quizzo tomorrow would be a great excuse to stop in to make some new discoveries and acquaintances. Oh, and in case you're wondering, that truly was not my rating card pictured above. I didn't stick around long enough to taste them all on Saturday. I did, though, go back last night to finish off my tasting (would a "credible blogger" do otherwise?!). Here would be my complete ranking: Racer 5 cask (9); Big Eye (8); Sculpin (8); NorCal(8); Dorado (7); Hop Rod (7); Racer X (7); Heritage (6); Wahoo (6); Calico (6); Navigator (???)...all of which means that it appears that I give a whisker of an edge to Bear Republic as well. Biggest Surprise? Probably the NorCal. As far as my memory goes, I've not had the NorCal before and thought this came across as a real nice, pretty well-balanced, almost session-like, beer in its moderate hopping, English malts (can someone confirm?), and medium mouthfeel. Not necessarily a lawnmower beer, but definitely one I could have all night long hanging out at the pub. The Heritage, too, was a nice smoked Scottish malt delight that I'll be keeping my eye open for during my next trip to the Bay Area. (This follow-up added after original draft.) Okay, this deserves a WTF. As in...WTF happened to the Navigator? The day it was tapped it was a real nice and solid dopplebock. Not the kind that explodes with richness and malty flavors. In that case, maybe a bock-and-a-half, instead of double. It paired extremely well with the Braised Short Rib Sandwich. But, last night at my follow-up visit? It lacked virtually any carbonation, had a distinctive smoke aroma and flavor to it. Now, it wasn't necessarily undrinkable, but man did it change and wasn't nearly as good of an experience as I had just 5 days earlier with it. I liked the approach to this night and the format. Already looking forward to the similarly-structured Battle for Michigan on July 18th, but disappointed that Jolly Pumpkin won't be included in the mix...though, some might argue that would be a tad unfair, eh? From a posting at Beer Advocate by Jeff Miller, proprietor of TJs. Sculpin 236; Racer X 224; Dorado 218.5; Racer 5 Cask 206.5; Hop Rod Rye 205.50; Big Eye 181.50; Heritage 173; Navigator 157 Winner: Best Brewery of the Night--- Bear Republic with 809 points Winner: Best Beer of the Night--- Sculpin with 236 points Ballast Point's main deficit was the Navigator... most scores were 3-5 points out of 10 for this one.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

CBC Keynote Address

I get the feeling that this might be reaching Beer Wars-level saturation in Beer Nets....but here goes anyways. I found it enjoyable and interesting...figured you might as well. For those of you into this sort of thing, the full keynote address given by Greg Koch (Stone Brewing, California) at this year's Craft Brewers Conference in Boston, MA is now online for your review. It gives great color around the 4 minute promotional video for craft beer that has been circulating the Webs and Nets. Take the 45-ish minutes to watch it; I think you'll find it was worth your time.

2009 Craft Brewers Conference Keynote from I Am A Craft Brewer on Vimeo.

Beer, Run, Beer, Repeat

HIGHLIGHTS from last Friday in West Chester. Jean Broillet, Iron Hill brewer, was still hanging around after work on Friday prior to the 4-mile run to bend my ear a bit about current and upcoming brews that he and Larry are working on at Iron Hill. But, I couldn't get passed the Mahalo Apollo, Jean's latest inspiring creation popping with lemongrass and grains of paradise. It's got me thinking about a potential Hawaiian trip later this year. Let's just say that this was a nice pre-run taster and an ever better post-race thirst quencher. My two cents say that it would do well to make good company in the trip west to Denver, CO in the early fall...if you get my gist. From the home offices in Delaware, Danielle Friel was on hand to participate in the run as too were a couple of other Brew Loungers. This was the inaugural 4-mile race in West Chester. It benefited a local charity and has the potential to become a local favorite, albeit a bit challenging with some hills. p.s. Thanks to the supporter near the university with the Pliny the Elder t-shirt.
Last Beer and Running post, at least for this week. In one of the Philadelphia area's best 5 mile races (in my opinion), Media, PA hosts the Media 5-miler this coming Friday, June 19th during Happy Hour. The town of Media is so supportive of this race that runs through their residential community and winds up on State Street just a few doors down from Iron Hill and Quotations. Once again, a great excuse to support your local neighborhood through great running and great beer!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Wegmans was serving some food and pouring some beer; a few people showed up

What do you get when you offer up 12 ounces of beer, half a sausage sandwich, a half dozen littleneck clams, 2 pieces of sushi roll, 3 pieces of roasted pork, a hunk of cheddar cheese, and sorbet? Oh, wait...I should mention it occurred during the lunch hour on a Saturday afternoon....and....that it was free? Well, you get around 600 people lined up over the span of 4 hours to sample decent food from Wegmans kitchen and beer from Allagash and Lindemans, and locals Sly Fox, Victory, Stoudt's, and Yuengling. Let's see what I have for pictures here. Ah, here's one of....er, no..I was asked not to use that one. Let's see, um, no not that one either. Or this one....or...c'mon Suze, work with me here. Guess I need to work on my Francis Ford. Okay, here I've got one that's Beer Lass-approved. Gotta give it to her, though. She was doing her typical bust-ass routine. Serving up the beer while chatting up the crowd sharing bits of information about the brewery and giving tips about the food and beer pairing. Pete Danford was doing the same on the other side of the aisle for Victory...maybe next time Suzanne's not stealing the spotlight, I'll snap a picture of him. Impressive, too, was that when we cruised by her table in the fourth and final hour, Suzanne said that we were only the second set of familiar faces. And, only saw one beer t-shirt...though, a high quality Cantillon one at that. Makes me wonder where the likes of the usual suspects were. Maybe it was the lunch hour timing of the event or the free factor...or maybe this beer and food pairing thing is really taking off, j'think?! For the record (or, if anyone cares), there wasn't a dud in the bunch of carefully planned pairings. If you pressed me, I'd give the nod first to the Feta/Spinach/Chicken Sausage with Sly Fox Route 113 IPA, followed closely by the Spicy Tuna Roll and Allgash Dubbel, and finally the Victory V-12 paired with the Roast Pork and Black Beans. I'm hard pressed to wonder how the format could have been more organized and controlled. From the orderly line, to the ID checking (yes, everyone!), to the sequentially numbered bracelets and ballots, to the punching of the ballots, to the carefully measured beer pourings, the only drag was how slow the line moved at times. But, remember....free! The ballots were meant to give the attendees a place to rank the beers and the food and to comment on the event. Children were welcome to participate as well...of course, sans bracelet. Everyone was encouraged to fill out the ballots which would then be entered into a raffle for Wegmans gift cards, which could naturally be spent on...more beer. Top it off with Lindemans Kriek poured over lemon sorbet and....ah, a very good Saturday lunch indeed in Downingtown. The grocery family plans more beer events in the near future...stay tuned.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Others, part 3: Wegmans, Beer, and Food

Yes, there is a beer event tomorrow at Wegmans in Downingtown, PA! I'd known about it for a few weeks now. Seems like, though, no one else did. At least, not at Wegmans...Not even a "manager." Let's see, how many ways did I try before giving up? A few weeks back, I saw a large prominent sandwich board sign outside the cafe entrance. This was followed over the next couple of weeks by ones at the main entrance as well as inside. When the first sign appeared, I inquired at the cashier stand and got something to the tune of the following reply: "Uh, excuse me?" "There's a sign outside? Really?" "Hm, I'm not sure; maybe you'll want to check at customer service." (guess they come in the back entrance?...or just don't pay attention) Then, a few days later while order a burrito for lunch, this reply from the server/preparer: "Oh, I'm really not sure what they're planning to do." "But, I'm sure you'll be able to sample some beers." "Don't ask anyone over there, though, they're very busy...you're probably better off asking at customer service." (don't ask anyone over there?! heheh...that's a good one) Not to be deterred, I asked someone stocking the shelves the following week and got this answer: "Er, I don't believe they've settled on a format yet." (I think this was just a blow-off) I thought I'd actually wander through customer service, but found the line to be too long. I'd call from home, I figured. Of course, this presented its own humourous, perhaps the most humourous thusfar, response: "Ah, yes, we now sell over 400 brands of beer." (not really an answer to my question) "You can buy by the six-pack, up to 192 ounces." (great, but still not the answer to my question) "Uh, er, um....let me ask my manager...he's right here." (to the question of whether there would be a cover charge or reservations required) "You can taste delicious beers made by Wegmans........" (I stopped listening after this statement, because I was pretty sure that Unibruoue was not contracted to make a house brew for them...perhaps I should have continued recording in my head, because there were probably a couple of other goodies in there too.) Finally, a circular came in the mail to our house and appeared to clear things up. Then, Jack Curtin linked to it and Suzy Woods posted her involvement in it. So, now it finally sounds promising. Some decent beer to sample along some well-made food from Wegmans kitchen. If you haven't eaten from Wegmans prepared foods before, now would probably be a great time to check it out. And, just in case you're not from the immediate area...Victory is less than 5 minutes away, Ron's Original and The Drafting Room are just barely 10 minutes, TJs, Iron Hill/West Chester, and The Flying Pig around 15 minutes, and Sly Fox in Phoenixville is close to 25 minutes. (And, if you want a case of something to go, remember Wegmans can't (really) help you with that...so head on over to Exton Beverage for a more extensive selection by the case.) There...now I believe I've plugged just about everyone within a 1/2 hour radius. Oops, The Whip Tavern? From the circular: ~ Yuengling Lager with Lager-steamed Clams and fresh-baked Sourdough Bread ~ Allagash Dubbel with Spicy Tuna Roll and California Roll ~ Stoudt's American Pale Ale with Grafton 2-year old Cheddar on a Baguette ~ Victory V-Twelve with Black Beans and Mojo Pork topped with Salsa Verde ~ Sly Fox Route 113 IPA with Chicken, Spinach, and Feta Sausage topped with Tomato Bruschetta on a Wheat Roll ~ Lindemans Kriek Lambic and Lemon Sorbet Summer Sprinter Oh, and one last thing. PLEASE do not forget to bring your 21+ Proof of Age Identification. They absolutely will ask you for it; no questions asked. I know which one already looks like my pre-game favorite. How about you?

Run for Iron Hill Beer tonight in West Chester, PA

More running? More beer? Tonight in West Chester brings another chance for me to help prove the widely-held belief that beer is a better rehydrating agent than is water. The streets of downtown West Chester, PA will be packed with hundreds of runners on the county seat's inaugural DubC 4-miler. I'll be lacing 'em up as well, with the full expectation of saddling up to the Iron Hill bar afterward. Or, maybe a curbside table for some dinner and beers will be more appropriate. Larry and Jean, you're on notice. I want to see my support team out there. Will any of my fellow Brew Loungers be toeing the line as well?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: June 11-June 17

The beat goes on in this 3rd week of June (or, 2nd-and-a-half week?) As usual, I challenge you to not find a good beer or beer party out there. For a complete look at June's Calendar, follow this link Tastings (some free!) >> @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA--- Fri. 6/12 - Friday Night Tasting (Sand Brewing/Liljas) (5:00pm-7:00pm; free tasting samples) >> @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY--- Wed. 6/17 - Wednesday Night Promotion (Otter Creek) (4pm; PAYG for a bevy of beavers, er otters) >> @Bridgid's, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 6/11 - Duvel Green Night (8:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG for this Duvel, Jr.) >> @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 6/11 - "Keep the Pint" Night (Flying Fish) (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG for the beer, get a free pint glass) >> @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA--- Fri. 6/12 - Friday Night Tasting (Long Trail) (4:00pm-6:00pm; free tasting samples) >> @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 6/16 - An Evening with Ommegang (details TBD) >> @Ortino's Northside, Zieglerville, PA--- Thu. 6/11 - Black 'n' White Night with Victory (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG at one of the best outdoor beer venues in the region) >> @Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 6/11 - Beer Tasting with Sly Fox (7:30pm-9:30pm; $20 for non-members/$10 for members...because beer is art) >> @TJs, Paoli, PA--- Sat. 6/13 - Bear Republic/Ballast Point Faceoff (6:00pm; PAYG for this battle royale of West Coast biggies) >> @The Drafting Room, Spring House, PA--- Fri. 6/12 - Friday Firkin Tapping (Clipper City Red Sky at Night) (5:00pm; PAYG for this saison sipper and others) Food and Beer, Beer and Food...chicken or the egg? >> @Alison, Blue Bell, PA--- Wed. 6/17 - Pig Roast (5:00pm-9:00pm; $35 for food, beverage additional cost) >> @Ron's Original, Exton, PA--- Thu. 6/11 - Blues, BBQ, & BIG Brews featuring Jimmy's BBQ (PAYG for great bbq, music, and big beers..get a driver) >> @Wegmans, Downingtown, PA and all PA Wegmans locations--- Sat. 6/13 - Kick off Summer--Beer and Food Pairing (11:00am-3:00pm; free for what looks to be a thoughtful matchup of bites and brews) Festivals for the Rest of Us >> @Pizza Port, Carlsbad, CA--- Fri. 6/12-Sat. 6/13 - 12th Annual Real Ale Festival (see website for details about this largest collection, over 45 casks, of real ale on the West Coast) A little something special >> @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA--- Fri. 6/12 - Hops Project 2009 Varietal Release: Willamette (a firkin, then CO2) (11:30am 'til it kicks; PAYG) >> @Stoudt's, Adamstown, PA--- Fri. 6/12 - Vintage Old Abominable Barleywine Vertical Tasting (2006-2008) (5:00pm; $7/flight seems to be a good price for going vertical) Perhaps something exercise-oriented? >> @First Person Arts, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 6/13 - Walking Tour with Joe Sixpack (2:00pm-5:30pm; $65 covers it all from walking, to talking, to consuming...at least it better cover it all! Well, that is $65 for Arts members, $75 for non-members, and $140 for a "couple") >> @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA--- Sun. 6/14 - Bike Race Sundays (5:00pm; PAYG...are you riding your bike to get there?) Get your groove on with Beer and Music Pairings >> @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA--- Sat. 6/13 - Main Line Jazz and Food Festival (11:00am-10:00pm; PAYG for this outdoor gig...weather looks great!) For a complete look at June's Calendar, follow this link

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I double-A CB lovefest continues

Rightfully so...

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

A quick stop-in at Hulmeville Inn

No pictures. No menus. This is not even really much of a review either, come to think of it. Just a quick note about the Hulmeville Inn and what is coming up on more and more Bucks County beer traveling lists (how long are those lists anyway?!). Philly Beer Week this year appears to have really put this place on the map. Need proof? Check out their current taplist or their 2009 inventory of kicked kegs. Sure, you'll need to get over the fact that they continue to be a smoke-ing bar. But, if you gave me the choice of a less-than-average beer at a smoke-free joint in Bucks County and a tap list like the one at the Hulmeville Inn, the regulars of you around here probably have a good idea of where you could find me. The nice thing is that Hulmeville Inn is spacious enough with a porch and small outdoor area where you can catch some fresh air, if needed. Plus, a pool/dart room and few other side rooms inside as well. I was a few miles away at a graduation party and figured I'd cut away for an hour to check out a new place on my list and the Flying Fish firkin on the bar. Good thing I didn't make the trip all the way from home just for this "event". Though the night certainly did not hinge meeting up with anyone from the brewery, the Facebook invitation announcing the firkin did give me the impression that someone might be representing the brewery. No matter, their Farmhouse Summer Ale from the firkin and my first run-in with the slightly fruity and refreshing Zotten (with a nice and clean enough finish) from Weyerbacher kept me more than interested while I watched the Phillies give away yet another late inning game. Even though I don't claim to know Bucks County as well as some of you may, like I said earlier, if you're in the southern Bucks County area, there's not much to hold your beer interest before you start working your way farther south deeper into Philly (or to the north or the west)...so until I make it back to Hulmeville Inn for a longer visit, or any of you debunk my short visit impressions, the historic tavern comes recommended.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

As They Go, SOGO I

When the saying goes something like, "...you've got to get up early to keep up with...", the ubiquitous 'they' may have been referring to the restless brew dudes from our local breweries. Like, getting up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning to get the party started. The incriminating photos shall stay incarcerated. You're just gonna get the safe ones...for now. Cute puppy dogs, upright beer folk, and the like. That's the way things go when you start drinking at 8am on a warm Sunday morning with the good folks from Tröegs (that's Mr. Nick Johnson to you), Flying Fish (the ambassador of Cherry Hill to Philly, Mr. Casey Hughes), and Yards (er, did Herr Mashington get lost on The Wall?). Sunshine Pils, Troeganator, Philly Pale, Saison...and what the heck was pouring from FF, I do not recall. Nonetheless, plenty of beer to go around. Well, not that I began drinking at 8am in the morning. Those silly sorts of things only happen in Cooperstown...and for other select special occasions. We met up with these gents and a couple hundred or so of their closest friends as well as people who wanted to be their friends or just people who wanted a beer, a jello shot, a vodka slide, or a game of beer pong. Did this really make for two days in a row that I wound up at parties with beer pong and vodka slides? (And one party with a moon bounce, too!) Turns out, with the SOGO party house (you know what SOGO stands for, right?) about 6 blocks away from the top of the famed Wall in Manayunk/Roxborough, we never did catch any of the cycling action. There was plenty of action (read: 10 kegs of great beer and enough liquor to melt an ice block) at the party to get us in trouble. We bowed out, though, before we could cause too much of our own. An easy trip out the Schuylkill Expressway (is that twice in the past few weeks that I've made that reference?!), and we found ourselves with some light food and a couple of West Coast treats at The Drafting Room. I've already advised you to get thyself to a TDR barseat and help to drain those kegs. Then it was on to Wegmans for a grocery trip...before a lawn mowing session ended in a date with my hammock, a schwarzbier, and a nap. Not a bad way at all to finish off an almost-perfect weekend in Philly. Oh, did I mention how the weekend began on Friday night with me setting a 5-K PR (that's personal record, in runner parlance) in Springfield at the Victory Brewing-sponsored Run The Monk 5-K? I had a rough day on Friday, so I was running with a bit of chip on my shoulder which probably only helped me best my 5-K all-time by 26 seconds. A fortuitous meetup with Patrick Mullin there, with his running wife Tracy, made for a nice after-race party with a couple of Pils and HopDevils to rehyrdrate and to wash down the BBQ from Victory. Speaking of...did you read the article where Granada University researchers (in Spain) have spoken up on the benefits of beer over water for post-exercise rehydration? Speaking of....have I meandered enough here for one posting? Okay,,,,hard stop. p.s. and one last word...if you didn't know. Sun's Out, Guns Out....now....hard stop. (honestly)

You didn't forget about Ron's Original, did you?

With a calendar chock-ful of events, Ron's Original in {is it Exton, Uwchlan, or Lionville} rarely does more than stock a consistently stellar draft list and bottle shop. They bring in a lot of great live music, have a BBQ night with a local smoker, and have assorted other entertainment. And, since their remodeling last year, they now have some of the most comfortable barstools around. But, specific beer events are not typically their thing. This coming Thursday warrants a little bit more notice. Of course, you might yawn at names like Pliny, 120, Pozharnik, Samaels, Curieux, Ichor, and Bernardus. Or you might just show up by 6pm to get in on the blues...the barbecue (from Jimmy's BBQ in Malvern)...and more good beer than you can shake a mash paddle at.
Blues, BBQ, and Big Beers Thursday June 11th 6pm Tapping of 10 Big Beers Russian River Pliny the Elder Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA Avery Samaels Pennichuck Pozharnik Southern Tier Cuvee #2 Left Hand St. Vrain Tripel Weyerbacher Heresy Sly Fox Ichor St. Bernardus Abt. 12 Allagash Curieux Get Here Early! http://ronsoriginal.com for more information Ron's Original Bar & Grille 74 East Uwchlan Avenue Exton, PA 19341 610-594-9900

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Drafting Room has your Beer Waiting

Did I expect to drop in on The Drafting Room Sunday afternoon after the Bike Race to still find beers with names like Racer X, Pliny the Elder, Hopsickle, and Chico? No, I did not; but, they were. Have we become accustomed to finding what used to be hard-to-find beer geek rarities? Or was everyone out of town this weekend? Now that the workaday week has returned, you'll have a chance to stop in there today for a liquid lunch or a happy hour after work to help polish these off. It looks like Pliny and Hopsickle kicked last night, but otherwise you've got your pick from Friday's West Coast promotion. They'll appreciate the help since room must soon be made for The Drafting Room's coming Tröegs-sponsored Anniversary Party (15 years).

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Thanks for Stopping By, Now Get Out of Here

Thanks to summer activities and national weather that has been cooperative for most of you this weekend, daily website traffic around here was at its lowest point of the year yesterday. I hope and expect to see more of the same again today. It makes me proud. Also, it looked as if writers were bitten by the summertime bug as well. From the time I logged off Friday night to when I checked my RSS reader on Saturday morning, there had been around 93 new postings. From that point yesterday 'til last night, there were somewhere around 16 new postings. This morning, I woke up to 23. So, therein lies your directive for the day. Hopefully, you won't be reading this until at least Sunday night or even Monday morning. I trust you did something outdoors, got some exercise, listened to some great music, or saw professional cyclists navigate Philly streets. That's what we'll be doing in about an hour. First up coffee, then the search for men and women of ill repute in the hills of Manayunk/Roxborough. Should be a great day.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Special Events at Teresa's Next Door and Special Beer from Lancaster Brewing

The Session this month deals with distance travelled to drink good beer. This is not an entry on that subject...I may or may not get around to actually contributing on this topic this month, but that will be keeping with my past trend. I'll have to see how the rest of the day goes. In the meantime, the subject has reminded me just how good my local beer scene is here in Southeastern Pennsylvania, whether for homegrown beer or for worldly beer selection. Teresa's Next Door, for example, is not usually more than 20 minutes from my home. But, in less time, I can be to Sly Fox, Victory, Iron Hill, TJs, The Drafting Room, the Flying Pig, or a dozen other quality beer bars/takeout. So, I get to Teresa's Next Door much less frequently than I would like. (I know, things are tough in Bryan's world!) Last night, Patty and I popped in on TND for their promotional night with Lancaster Brewing Company from---wait for it---Lancaster, PA. Brewer Christian Heim made the trip in to discuss the Hefeweizen, Triple, and Milk Stout that they were pouring from sixtels. The last time I saw Christian, he was onboard an Amtrak train with Woody Chandler heading westward after a PBW night in Philly. Christian made it out of Lancaster this time without Woody, very clever (and wise?) of him...something about a moving project. Even more intriguing, though, was a fresh firkin of Hop Hog IPA sitting atop the far end of the bar and a 10-year-old sixtel of Old Sourpuss, something that has whiled its time away aging (or whatever you call it after 10 years!) at Lancaster Brewing. The rising and falling temperatures in the attic have not been too unkind to this beer, though I'd be interested to know what it tasted like 7-10 years ago. Whatever remains of it apparently makes random appearances when the occasion calls for it. I found the Old Sourpuss to be a slightly tart, not too difficult to drink, lambic-oriented beer. The smell was more striking than the taste, with apple- and vinegar-like aromas in a not off-putting display. The flavor, though, was much more subdued than the aroma would have suggested, but to me that made it only more drinkable in that regard. Here comes the special part of the evening: The food. I've been to TND enough times to say that I'm not a stranger. It's these sorts of events, though, that I haven't typically taken in. Come to think of it, the last "event" at TND that I attended might well have been the Breakfast with KBS...in 2008. I make a habit of popping in for a quick beer or two from their always stellar draft and bottle list whenever I'm in the area. And, even though I've eaten enough off of the menu as well, I wasn't aware that Andy and company put so much thought into food and beer pairings during these special events, too (see the list pictured above). Take, for example, the picture below. Ordering the Milk Cheeks, I sure got my barley fill for the evening...but, wow!...this was one of the most memorable dishes I've had since...ah, it's not worth trying to compare. The substantial dish of barley, wild mushrooms (have I mentioned my love of these earthy delights?), broth, tender and meaty pork made for a dish that paired well with the Milk Stout as they suggested. But, it also played nicely with the IPA. I didn't consider pairing it with the Old Sourpuss and that's probably okay, ha.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: June 4-June 10

This week's calendar has me flummoxed and bewildered. I'm mean, how can all of these establishments support all of these events for a limited number of beer drinkers?! Oh wait, that's right. This the Philadelphia Market. Stay cool, party on, enjoy! For a complete look at June's Calendar, follow this link Get yer Beer Tastings Here...There...just about Anywhere (some are even free!) >> @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA--- Fri. 6/5 - Friday Night Tasting (Tröegs) (5:00pm-7:00pm; free tasting samples and some BBQ from Tröegs' Nick Johnson as well...Johnsonville Brats? already been done) >> @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY--- Wed. 6/3 - Wednesday Night Promotion (Chimay) (4pm; PAYG for Chimay beers, Chimay cheese on the house) >> @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY--- Wed. 6/10 - Wednesday Night Promotion (Lagunitas) (4pm; PAYG for more Lagunitas than the Feds could handle) >> @The Drafting Room, Spring House, PA--- Fri. 6/5 - West Coast Brewery Night (5:00pm; PAYG for a lineup of 9 West Coast treats plus one firkin of Sierra Nevada Stout) >> @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA--- Fri. 6/5 - West Coast Brewery Night (6:00pm; PAYG for a similar list as the Spring House location) >> @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 6/5 - Forecast: Cloudy - Manayunk Keller Beer Night (6:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for Manayunk comes to Wissonoming) >> @Hulmeville Inn, Hulmeville, PA--- Sat. 6/6 - Firkin Night (Flying Fish Farmhouse Summer Ale) (7pm-9pm; PAYG for Farmhouse from the Firkin, Chuck from the Brewery) >> @Irish Pub (both locations), Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 6/5 - Brawlin' at the Irish Pubs (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG for what can only be imagined as a hell of a time with the boyz from Yards...at the Irish Pub? yee haw) >> @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA--- Thu. 6/4 - Thursday Night Tasting (Victory) (7pm-9pm; free tasting samples) >> @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 6/10 - Sierra Nevada Promo Night (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG for Southern Hemisphere, Brown Saison, Summer Fest and a bar-top firkin of Stout) >> @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA--- Thu. 6/4 - Old Beer, New Beer (Lancaster Brewing) (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG for fresh Hop Hog, Old Sourpuss Gueuze, and I'm betting another surprise or two) >> @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA--- Fri. 6/5 - Incubus Friday (11:30am 'til it kicks; PAYG for just another Friday night in P'ville) Head out to the annual Bike Race in Philly on 6/7 or have fun at some of these other festive events around the region >> @Devil's Den, 1601, P.O.P.E., Cantina & SPTR, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 6/6 - 6/6-Sixpoint-Sixpoint South Philly Bar Crawl (kicks off at 1pm at Devil's Den; PAYG with Bengali Tiger firkin at SPTR finish line) >> @Dock Street Brewery, Philadelphia, PA--- Sun. 6/7 - Brews, Bikes, and Tunes (3:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG for an afternoon of beer, brats, sauerkraut, pizza, music, and coffee) >> @Harpoon Brewery, Boston, MA--- Sat. 6/6 - Harpoon 5-miler (10:00am; $35...currently sold out, cuz this is one of the country's best beer and running events) >> @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA--- Sun. 6/7 - Bike Race Sundays (5pm; PAYG for wheels and weisse) >> @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA--- Sun. 6/7 - JazzFest (12:00pm-4:00pm; $50 for an afternoon of music, brews, and barbecue for a great cause) >> @Yards Brewing, Philadelphia, PA--- Sun. 6/7 - Philadelphia Sessions Benefit Concert (1:00pm-9:00pm; $25 gets you food, music, and beer...all for a great cause as well) Kick it into high gear with some Festivals >> @Great Divide Brewery, Denver, CO--- Sat. 6/6 - 15th Anniversary Party (2:00pm-7:00pm; $20 for 15 years of great beer) >> @Windsor Station, Montreal, QC--- Wed. 6/3-Sun. 6/7 - Mondial de la Biere (PAYG; see website for details of one of North America's most anticipated annual festivals) >> @Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham, AL--- Fri. 6/5-Sun. 6/6 - Magic City Brewfest (see website for details of beer that keeps getting bigger in Alabama of all places) Food and Beer Pairings...Who knew?! >> @Appalachian Brewing, Harrisburg, PA--- Sat. 6/6-Sun. 6/7 - Breakfast with Hefe (9:00am-2:00pm; PAYG for Hefe....that's Hefe, not Hefner, nor bunnies) >> @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 6/9 - 12% Imports Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $55 for what promises to be an incredible night of rare, little-known Belgian beer and great Philly food) Get back to the Classroom for some Education with Professor Lew >> @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 6/10 - Beer 101: For the Love of Lager (6:30pm-8:00pm; $40 gets you Lew, Lagers, and a little learnin') For a complete look at June's Calendar, follow this link

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Going Fashionably against Style

There are some good things to be said for style and staying within guidelines. And, there's yet other good things to be said for drinking anti-stylistically. That's what I did, in a manner of speaking, a few days back. There are always a few bottles lurking around the beer cooler that are missing labels. There were two in particular that I've been very curious about. One had a Lost Abbey cap under a wire cage while the other one was completely brandless and labelless. This suggested it could have been homebrewed. So, even though these beers may have, in fact, been brewed with particular styles in mind, my mind and my palate had in no way pre-judged these beers (well, except that I knew one of them came from Lost Abbey). And there is what I would call the big difference. When judging (actual judging, as in a competition), it's very important that beers be brewed to particular style guidelines so that they may be judged against each other based on a common baseline understanding of the style (I realize this is a live grenade; please withhold comments on this point!). But, when sitting down to enjoy a beer at home...where, of course, there's "judging" taking place, I all too often begin to make up my mind about, first, which beer to choose out of the cooler to, second, how it tastes compared to how I expected it to taste. That happened most recently a few weeks back when I tried a new beer, FoxTrot, from Weyerbacher. On their website it mentioned (fairly certain without checking my notes) something about it being a dark bière de garde. While it did use a saison yeast, it was much roastier than I would have expected a biere de garde to offer. Not that it was necessarily a bad thing. Just different from what I had been expecting. Which left me scratching my head with a "well, did I really like it?...well, yeah...but..." kind of reaction. If they hadn't stuck a style name on it, I most likely would have been just fine with it and moved on. Let's see now, what exactly was it that I cleared out of my refrigerator last week? The Lost Abbey...I'm betting it was their Avant Garde (speaking of Bière de Gardes). It was a bit smoother than a saison would be and was definitely of the French/Belgian influence, as opposed to American...giving off those estery yeast flavors. The other bottle? I'm guessing that it was homebrew...a very good one at that. I'm thinking it was something along the lines of a Belgian Quadrupel. If that sounds like something you made and put into a large bottle, then thank you and congratulations on making a very good beer. A very potent beer, but a very tasty one. Would I have been able to pass these same judgements if I had a label telling me that they were supposed to be, oh I dunno, a Belgian IPA and a Milk Stout, respectively? Maybe, maybe not. No matter, with this approach, I was able to put aside biases and focus strictly on what I tasted, derived, and interpreted from each beer. I highly suggest blind tasting every once in a while for anyone looking to hone their tasting skills. Blind in the way that you should have no way of even beginning to narrow down what you are about to taste. Blind in a way that you don't have someone choosing something from your refrigerator...where you already have an beginning idea of what's in inventory. Blind in a way that you're not asking someone to get you any one of the beers off the tap list of 10 or 20 or 30 beers...that you've already perused. Totally blind to style and expectations. Try it sometime and let me know how it goes.