Friday, July 31, 2009

BCTC 2009: On the Road to Ommegang

The bags are packed, the list is by the phone... I said last year, didn't I?, that I would never go to Ommegang's BCTC summer festival again...on a Saturday. Rectified this year with VIP tickets that get more expensive each year, we took today off from work and shoved off from the western suburbs of Philadelphia just after 9am this morning. Entertainment for the road One of the last things to do before leaving included an update to iTunes playlists & podcasts for the road and for the campsite. Nothing like some good traveling music for a road trip and late night campfires. Pack the Car, drop off the dogs, last minute check, get breakfast sandwiches and coffee for the road Our plan was to be able to set up and settle in to our campsite at the brewery by early afternoon, allowing for an afternoon of whatever we pleased---napping, brewery tour/shopping, venturing into downtown, or lounging and noshing. Arrival time is 12pm, or whenever you get there While we drove ourselves to Cooperstown, Jeff Appletans and Lara Marek did as they did last year and cycled from Philadelphia north through the Catskills and into the foothills of the Adirondacks. They didn't get the rider turnout that they were hoping for but that didn't deter them from putting in the week's worth of pedal power to justify the payoff this weekend at Brewery Ommegang. Make sure you give them a couple of attaboys/girls when you see them this weekend. Others loaded up brewery vans and toted their wares to the brewery that sits on 136 bucolic acres of a former hop farm. And, still more legions came by car, camper, RV, and motorcycle. By tomorrow afternoon, we should all be here and ready to get into the full festival swing. But, really, anyone who's been to BCTC in the past knows that the weekend event is as much, if not more so, about what goes on during the rest of the weekend than strictly at the four hour tasting festival on Saturday afternoon. It's about the camping, the rare beers, the homebrew, the firepits, the music and entertainment, the late night debauchery, the meetups, and yes the after hours tent visitations (yes, Sean, that story will never die!) I'm not really sure how posting will go the remainder of this weekend. I'm not really much for fragmenting my attention between the people I'm talking with, beers I'm drinking of, the moment that I'm partaking in...and blogs, twitters, facebooks and the like. I am going to give Twitter a shot to see how useful it is with keeping in touch with people around the brewery grounds and what's going on at whose campsite or whose brewery table. This year should be interesting. A few less breweries represented, no brewers pouring beers from behind the table, feds on site to make sure the letter of the law is followed, tasting tickets. But, should that stop all of the fun that spills across the brewery grounds? I surely hope and think not. By the time you read this, we should be safely parked on brewery property and beginning our weekend detachment. More than likely, this will be the last official posting of the weekend. As in past years, I'll come back home to compile words and pictures into something useful (and maybe entertaining...depending upon the nature of the pictures) for you to check out by mid-week. Check back and see how we all fared at this year's BCTC at Ommegang.

Of Beer near and far

It's been a topic that's been on my mind of late as well. That is, the ability to find what might be seemingly obscure brands of beer from one Coast to the other to the Great Lakes to the Deep South. I travel a fair amount and when I do, I often like to search out indigenous "things." Whether those things are the local baseball team, a local running group/trail, local music, local food and beverage products, or a gift to bring home with me, these options seem to be disappearing in recent years gone by. Some might call it the Wal-martization of our country. Or the excessive commodization of goods and services. Whether it's ceviche in Denver or St. Somewhere beer in San Francisco, it's becoming more difficult to find unique things when I travel, particularly beer. Let's stick to beer here since that really is supposed to be my main focus on these pages, right? Don Russell (aka Joe Sixpack) eluded to this a couple of Fridays ago when he discussed leaving old mainstays by the wayside in search of the "next great thing" and it segued me over to another loosely related strain that Andy Crouch wrote about recently for Beer Advocate magazine. These pieces brought me back to a eventual theme being: "Is the thrill of the hunt being lost as beer, what used to be regional beer and even in some cases "limited production beer", becomes more widely available?" Obviously, you can tell already that I do believe some of the thrill is gone. Like recently when I was in the southeast (Florida and Georgia to be exact) and was happy to find fresh and local (relatively, I suppose) Terrapin beer. Granted, I realize that Terrapin is not the smallest brewery in the country, but yet they didn't (at that time) distribute to Pennsylvania and most of the northeast. I wasn't aware that almost exactly at that time, they were getting approval and distribution arrangements in place to do just that. And, now this month, southeastern Pennsylvania is getting regular shipments of Terrapin. Not that it's a bad thing from a selfishly personal perspective. But also, not that all brands will be flowing into PA, but some of that special allure will be gone during the next trip I make into the southeast. Now what I did bring home with me, though, were brands that we may not ultimately see in PA either regularly, or at all. Ones like the Side Project, Rye Squared, and Big Hoppy Monster. Forget about Terrapin for a minute, though, and take St. Somewhere. A little, tiny brewery also from the southeast, just north of Tampa Bay to be specific. Only have capacity for something like 256 barrels of beer production. Last year did just under 200 barrels. Yet they distribute to PA, CA, MA, and somewhere else I don't recall....and they have plans to go farther. Yes, the Saison Athene tasted delightful in Florida and there was certainly a intangible side to the experience, knowing that it was brewed just up the Gulf Coast. But, when I can buy it at home for a couple of dollars more per bottle, it didn't make the experience of drinking it there or the desire to cart any of it home with me any more than it might have been otherwise. What do you think? Consumers, Brewers, Distributors, Business Owners...weigh in.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Okay, twitter-dee...you might get to me after all

Watching "link traffic" to The Brew Lounge vacillate from longtime beer beacons like BeerAdvocate and generally increase from "social networking sites" like FaceBook and Twitter has me rethinking my position. I finally gave into FaceBook last year and increased my presence, all while saying it would be a cold day before I did the same with Twitter, what I nervously referred to as a culture and conversation killer. Seeing that 37 people have the gumption to follow me on Twitter, even without me having uttered so much as a burp on Twitter since the account was created over 2 years ago...I figured that this weekend at Ommegang might be the right time to experiment with Twitter. One thing I've noticed in the past at Ommegang's annual Belgium Comes to Cooperstown event (BCTC) is that there are so, so many parties that pop up across the brewery's acres and acres of property. Problem is, you could be at one campsite sipping on some delicious homebrew and clear across the property, some commercial brewer decides to break out some growlers or kegs of something very special that they brought along to share. You tend to only find out about the things you missed out on after its happened. There's both a beauty and a blasted curse to the whole thing. So here I go jumping into the Twitterverse. I don't know what good Twittequette is, what to expect from Twitter, what I will add to it, or what others will get from it. This could be ugly...or it could be fun. Or I might never find a AT&T 3G network or WiFi network in Cooperstown and I might be able to go back to my peaceful business as usual. Go ahead, follow me...maybe I'll follow you...we'll give this thing a try and see if it surpasses the low expectations that I've always had set for it. And all the while, I promise that I'll try to be more positive :) Here I am, all exposed over in Twitter, go find me,,,follow me....or whatever you do over there!

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: July 30-August 5

Stoudt's/McGillin's and Ommegang really hog the spotlight on the first weekend of August around these parts. Well, the Ommegang part is really mentioned because of the sheer number of Philly locals that are heading up to Cooperstown. For those that stay behind, don't fret; there are still plenty of other good things to keep you reminded why the Philly region continues to thrive as one of the country's top beer regions. Check out the entire August 2009 calendar over here. Try something new at a free or PAYG tasting @Capone's Restaurant, Norristown, PA--- Thu. 7/30 - It's Summer & It's Time for Saison Draft Promo (all day & night; PAYG for at least a dozen saisons and other goodies) @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA--- Sun. 8/2 - Meet the Brewer, Steal the Pint Glass (PAYG for a take-home pint glass and 5 East End Beers, including the last beer Tom and Scott collaborated on, the Sourdough Kvass) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA--- Fri. 7/31 - Friday Night Tasting (Spaten) (4:00pm-6:00pm; free sample tastings) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA--- Fri. 7/31 - Cask Ale Night (July selections: Clipper City Gold Ale; Pale Ale; Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale) (5:00pm; PAYG for cask delights, particularly the Hop3) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA--- Thu. 7/30 - Thursday Night Tasting (Harpoon) (7pm-9pm; free tasting samples of Leviathan Quad And Leviathan Big Bohemian Pilsner On Draft And Leviathan Imperial IPA In 12oz. Bottles) @Triumph, Princeton, NJ--- Wed. 8/5 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (August's selection: TBA) (6pm; PAYG) Talkin' about Food and Beer @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ--- Mon. 8/3 - Homebrew Supper Club (Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout) (6:30pm; $20 for 3 Course dinner and BYOHomebrew) @Monk's Kettle, San Francisco, CA--- Wed. 8/5 - Five-course Dinner & Beer Pairing (with The Bruery) (5:30pm; $85 for a choice of regular or vegetarian 5-courses of food and beer) Big Bad August bring the baddest of the festivals @Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY--- Fri. 7/31-Sun. 8/2 - Belgium Comes to Cooperstown (see website for details) @Mammoth Lakes, CA--- Fri. 7/31-Sun. 8/2 - Mammoth Festival of Beers & Bluesapalooza (see website for details) Other Special Events @McGillin's Olde Ale House, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 8/1 - McGillin's 1860 IPA Debut Bus Trip (10:00am; $20 for a breakfast, bus ride, beer, and partying) @McGillin's Olde Ale House, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 8/4 - Party-of-a-Century-And-A-Half (and Book Signing with Joe Sixpack) (6:00pm; PAYG) @Yards Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA--- Sun. 8/2 - A Taste of Fest Fundraiser for Philadelphia Folk Festival (1:00pm-5:00pm; $10/$12) @Avery Brewing, Boulder, CO--- Sun. 8/2 - 16th Anniversary Party (12:00pm-6:00pm; $20/$30) Check out the entire August 2009 calendar over here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

BCTC 2009: The List

Well..the list, sort of. Ommegang is holding off on the actual brew list, further building the suspense, and forcing you to calm your inner beer geek until Friday. The full booklet will be available at the gate and not until then I'm told. Until then, here's a one-page PDF that will give you a list of participating breweries this year. Some notable absences, but that's more of a government and licensing thing, not so much Ommegang thing (if you haven't heard details, I'm sure you can find in an online forum or will hear about it by the end of the weekend at the brewery). Still, I think we'll all be able to have our fun and our fill nonetheless. A Link to the Ommegang BCTC 2009 Brewery List

McGillin's Turns 150!

If I were around this weekend, I'd love to hop on the McGillin's bus and join them in kicking off their 150th Anniversary celebration...which, well, actually occurs next year. They figure there's no time like t minus 150 days to get the party started. Sometimes it feels like McGillin's has been around forever, that 150 seems, well, kind of young! So many memories...such good memories of years gone by at McGillin's. Here is the cliff notes version of some of the highlights leading up to 150 years on Drury Lane. - August 1st: for $20, have breakfast, take a bus ride from center city Philadelphia to Adamstown to pick up some of the Stoudt's-brewed anniversary beer, McGillin's 1860 IPA. Bring it back on said bus, and continue the partying at McGillin's. Stoudt's already brews McGillin’s Real Ale and McGillin’s Genuine Lager for the house. - August 4th: Party-of-a-Century-And-A-Half includes a Don Russell book reading and signing and a ceremonial keg tapping by Abraham Lincoln (this should be a welcome deviation from the usual Ben Franklin keg tappings and sightings!) There'll be countdown clocks and prizes to keep the party going late into the night. - August 11th: Lew Bryson shows up to do a book signing and meet 'n' greet (though, with his baritone, he should do a reading too, right?) - August 25th: American crime novelist Duane Swierczynski will show up with books and discussions about his book that features a bar inspired by McGillin's. - September 1st: New York Times bestselling author William Lashner will read from Blood & Bones - September 8th: Dr. Lewis Losoncy, motivational psychologist and the Dr. of Encouragement, will read from Early Poppers: The Secrets of Self-Starters. Dr. Lew cites long-time McGillin's employee, John Doyle, as an example of a superstar of customer service.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No Beer for You? Customer Service...what should we expect?

I recently did a personal ranking of local Philly bars for someone who is putting together some composite rankings. It brought me back to my thoughts on where service should rank in determining the overall greatness of a bar. It also reminded me of my own thoughts that I shared with you last month about Toronado in San Francisco; I touched lightly on my thoughts of their consistently, uh, gruff service. Recently, Jay over at Hedonist Beer Jive, world traveler but based in San Francisco, broached the topic and gave his own take---a local's take on the venerable beer bar by the bay. It's interesting to compare thoughts between a local (like Jay) and a visitor (like myself) when it comes to opinions of establishments with reputations bigger than themselves. Go give it a read. It's to the point and thought-provoking........done? Now that you're back, what do you think? Can a beer bar survive with a customer service approach that borderlines on non-existent? Does it matter to you? Is this sort of thing like a game to see who can push each other farther in the short-term relationship...the customer or the service provider? Should establishments pride themselves on a locals/insiders-only type approach to dealing with customers? Do the customer service models of The Soup Nazi on TV or Pat's Steaks in real life South Philly or Toronado in San Francisco (and numerous other places of the ilk) add to the allure of an establishment? Does some part of psyche enjoy being battered by indifference and borderline rudeness? Do I/we ask too much? When you get back more than you get taken from, is that enough to compensate for substandard customer service? Or maybe we should start by defining exactly what is customer service?

Going Down Under for a Beer Dinner tonight at Union Barrel Works in Reamstown, PA

If I wasn't already committed tonight (charitably, I might add, thank you!), I'd find myself back at Union Barrel Works for a beer dinner...of which I haven't been to at UBW for quite some time. This seems like the kind of interesting menu (and at what seems to be a very reasonable price) that could've/should've landed me there again. Plus, they've added a new entry to the regular lineup of beers...an I.P.A....yes, an I.P.A. at Union Barrel Works, go figure ;-) So, what say you fill in for me? As of this morning, there are less than 10 reservations remaining open. If you need some motivation, here's the menu: Appetizer Dinkum Chili (traditional Australian chili) prepared with bacon and kangaroo ~Paired with Pilsner~ Interim Grilled Mussels topped with chorizo, onions and peppers and served in a beer broth ~Paired with Uncle Fester~ Soup Prawn & Corn Soup ~Paired with Blonde Bock~ Pre Entrée Barramundi Michel grilled and topped with an orange, cashew and kiwi sauce ~Paired with Wobbly Bob~ Entrée Spice Rubbed Lamb served with a potato feta mash ~Paired with I.P.A~ Pre Dessert Nectarine Hefeweizen Sorbet ~Paired with Hefeweizen~ Dessert Pavlova (traditional "Down Under" dessert consisting of a meringue shell topped with fresh fruits) ~Paired with Mai Bock~ Price per person ~ $40.00 + tax and gratuity Reservation required - 717-335-7837 Seating at 6:30pm Note: 3 glasses of wine may be substituted for Beer; Please indicate when making reservation.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The General would have (and did) approve

(a welcoming sign at The General Lafayette)
The weather might have been better if it actually had rained...it was definitely on the hotter side of warm, and the 60% humidity didn't exactly help either. Nonetheless, 7 stalwart runners and bikers came out for a 4 mile run or 6 mile bike ride to/from The General Lafayette yesterday. Same amount came and met up with us afterwards (with our "earthy" aroma, these cleaner individuals were perhaps even braver and more stalwart! come to think of it, we might have even been able to ferment a beer with our "earthiness"!)
(front patio at The General Lafayette)
Anyway, it may not have been the largest group I've ever gathered, but it was definitely for one of the most selfless causes. Unless you count for being selfish wanting to see The General Lafayette still here next year serving up good beer, food, and atmosphere. Nick and Russ commented that it was the busiest Sunday afternoon bar crowds that they've had in a while.
(ready to ride)
Chris Leonard, proprietor, thanks everyone who has thusfar shown support in both verbal and more tangible ways. He had commented that other groups like ours that showed up yesterday are coming up with innovative ways of helping to support their local brewpub. There have been discussions, too, about having a homebrew club write a recipe and subsidize the brewing of a beer that would be named and served in their honor at the pub. After conversations yesterday, I've got another idea that's stewing that could be a fun fall activity involving The General. Stay tuned...
(house with 5 rooms for double occupancy lodging out back of the restaurant)
Nutshell version: Good things are still happening at The General Lafayette Inn & Brewery. With support from customers that care about places like this, they stand a chance of continuing to do what they do. There's a new chef in the kitchen exuding a new passion for food. The Mirage is still one of the tastiest low-alcohol (2.8%) light beers I've ever tasted. They're waiting on an order of fresh honey to make a new batch of Raspberry Mead. The Chocolate Thunder Porter is still as wonderful as ever, both on draft and in the bottle. The Marquis de Lafayette is fresh, very drinkable, and has some wonderful fruit and malt flavors coming through this mid-range Belgian. And Sly Fox is taking up "residency" for the latest brewing partnership.
(Russ Czajka; Jean Broillet; Mr. Lafayette (Marquis de to you); Bryan Kolesar; and if you look really closely in the far, far distance on Forbidden Drive with a flat tire is Suzy Woods)
(taps, people, growlers, and tabs...a good sign for a Sunday afternoon)
(eggs benedict holds a special place in my heart and stomach for a weekend brunch)

So you think your online tap list is slick, eh?

Dear bar and brewery owners: While some of you struggle with the concept of an updated and useful website, let alone the mere existence of one (though, fortunately, those are few and far between), a new bar in Manhattan has gone where I'm not sure any other bar has gone before...and it's about time. Rattle 'n' Hum in midtown Manhattan has been making waves for several months now as they grow their reputation with a large number of high quality drafts, four cask engines, growlers to go, and regularly occurring special events. The naming of the bar is no coincidence; It's not unusual to hear U2 playing across the band-inspired speaker system at this Irish-American pub. Sure they've got a website, an updated blog, and a weekly newsletter. Now, Rattle 'n' Hum is making it even easier to know what's going on at their bar. How many people do you know with "smart phones," iPhones and the like? I'm getting close to a year with my iPhone and have found it to be one of the most useful and invaluable tech tools I've ever owned, especially when travelling around whether near home or the other side of the country. The bar has an iPhone app that gives you everything you need to know about what's going on...draft list...bottle list...cask-conditioned beers...events...and contact information with handy-dandy links to easily map and phone the bar. The only thing that seems to be missing is a 'last updated' tag on the lists. With mobile computing and internet access only getting more prevalent, before you go and try to get a website started up, you might want to see what it'll cost you to get a mobile phone app up and running first. For people on the go and for people simply wondering where to go, this is the perfect combination of the web and mobile devices.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Beer Calendar: What To Do in August 2009

No real themes throughout the month of August here in the Philadelphia region. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. Just enough to keep you going through the dog days of summer as you try to beat the heat and humidity. The calendar looks a bit top-heavy, though, in the beginning of the month so consider this a call out to all party planners for some events later in the month as well. 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 Mon. 7/27 - Great Lakes Welcoming Party @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Mon. 7/27 - HopScotch! @The Khyber, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Tue. 7/28 - Victory 3-for-3 Day @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA (all day & night; PAYG) Wed. 7/29 - Clipper City Night @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 8/1 - McGillin's 1860 IPA Debut Bus Trip @McGillin's Olde Ale House, Philadelphia, PA (10:00am; $20) Sun. 8/2 - Meet the Brewer, Steal the Pint Glass (East End Brewing) @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Sun. 8/2 - A Taste of Fest Fundraiser for Philadelphia Folk Festival @Yards Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA (1:00pm-5:00pm; $10/$12) Tue. 8/4 - Party-of-a-Century-And-A-Half (and Book Signing with Joe Sixpack) @McGillin's Olde Ale House, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 8/6 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (August's selection: Rattlesnake) @Triumph, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Tue. 8/11 - Book Signing with Lew Bryson @McGillin's Olde Ale House, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 8/15 - Pucker Up!! Sour Fest @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (all day & night; PAYG) Sat. 8/15 - 13 Events in 13 Hours for the 13th Anniversary @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (11:00am-12:00am; PAYG) Thu. 8/20 - Brew & Chew with Sierra Nevada @Cavanaugh's Rittenhouse Sports Bar, Philadelphia, PA (8:00pm-10:00pm; $20) Thu. 8/27 - End of Summer Party with Franziskaner @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; PAYG) Philadelphia's close suburbs 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) Tue. 7/28 - Tasty Tuesday Welcomew Great Lakes Brewing @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (PAYG) Tue. 7/28 - ALEiens Homebrew Club meetup with Yards Brewing @Hulmeville Inn, Hulmeville, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 7/30 - It's Summer & It's Time for Saison Draft Promo @Capone's Restaurant, Norristown, PA (all day & night; PAYG) Fri. 7/31 - Friday Night Tasting (Spaten) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; free) Mon. 8/3 - Homebrew Supper Club (Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout) @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ (6:30pm; $20) Fri. 8/7 - Incubus Friday @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (11:30am 'til it kicks; PAYG) Sat. 8/8 - AHA Rally @Sly Fox, Royersford, PA (2:00pm-5:00pm; free/PAYG) Sat. 8/8 - Victory Brew B Que at Twin Brook Winery @Twin Brook Winery, Gap, PA (12:00pm-4:00pm; free/PAYG) Fri. 8/14 - Hops Project 2009 Varietal Release: TBD (a firkin, then CO2) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (11:30am 'til it kicks; PAYG) Thu. 8/20 - Saison-a-thon @Iron Hill Brewery, West Chester, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 8/20 - Blues, BBQ, & BIG Brews featuring Jimmy's BBQ @Ron's Original, Exton, PA (PAYG) Fri. 8/21 - Third Friday Firkin (August firkin: TBD) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (11:30am 'til it kicks; PAYG) Sat. 8/29 - Dark Horse Chesco Release Party @TJs, Paoli, PA (all day; PAYG) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Thu. 7/30 - Thursday Night Tasting (Harpoon) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free) Fri. 7/31 - Cask Ale Night (July selections: Clipper City Gold Ale; Pale Ale; Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 8/5 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (August's selection: Honeymoon Braggot) @Triumph, Princeton, NJ (6pm; PAYG) Thu. 8/6 - Keep the Pint Night (Appalachian Brewing) @Ortino's Northside, Zieglerville, PA (PAYG) Fri. 8/7 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (August's selection: Apfelweizen) @Triumph, New Hope, PA (6pm; PAYG) Thu. 8/13 - Thursday Night Tasting (Magic Hat) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free) Thu. 8/13 - Bear Republic vs. The East @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 8/20 - Sierra Nevada Fest @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 8/26 - A Tröegstacular Night @Craft Ale House, Royersford, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 8/28 - Cask Ale Night (August selections: Pratt Street Ale House Summer Ale hopped with Bramling Cross; Pale Ale; Porter with Vanilla; and Golden Wheat with Root Ginger) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 8/28-Sun. 8/30 - Saisons, Saisons, and more Saisons @Tap and Table, Emmaus, PA (all weekend; PAYG) Elsewhere Sun. 8/2 - 16th Anniversary Party @Avery Brewing, Boulder, CO (12:00pm-6:00pm; $20/$30) Sat. 8/8 - 12th Annual IPA Festival @The Bistro, Hayward, CA (11:00am-7:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 8/15 - 22nd Anniversary Party @Toronado, San Francisco, CA (all day & night; PAYG) Wed. 8/26 - Brewery Night with Sierra Nevada @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York (4:00pm; PAYG) Events Over $20 Philadelphia Wed. 7/29 - A Pint and a Pound @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $45) Fri. 8/7 - Get Your Goat (Cheese) @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $50) Tue. 8/11 - An Homage to Fromage paired with Foamage (beer) @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 8/15 - Philadelphia International Great Beer Expo @Philadelphia Navy Yard/Cruise Terminal, Philadelphia, PA (12:30pm-4:00pm, 5:30pm-9:00pm; $45/$10) Thu. 8/20 - Beer & Cheese: A Victorious Summer @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $50) Philadelphia's close suburbs Tue. 7/28 - Farm Fresh Beer Dinner @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA (6:00pm; $50) Fri. 8/14 - Brewery Night @Mercer Museum, Doylestown, PA (6:30pm; $27/$23) Fri. 8/14-Sun. 8/16 - Philadelphia Folk Festival (Yards as a Lead Sponsor) @Old Pool Farm, Schwenksville, PA (see website for details) Thu. 8/20 - Craft Beer Dinner with Philadelphia Brewing @The Buck Hotel, Feasterville, PA (7:00pm; $45) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Tue. 7/28 - Down Under Beer Dinner @Union Barrel Works, Reamstown, PA (6:30pm; $40) Sat. 8/22 - 18th Annual Microfest @Stoudt's Brewery, Adamstown, PA (12:00pm-4:00pm, 7:00pm-11:00pm; $30) Elsewhere Fri. 7/31-Sun. 8/2 - Belgium Comes to Cooperstown @Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY (see website for details) Fri. 7/31-Sun. 8/2 - Mammoth Festival of Beers & Bluesapalooza @Mammoth Lakes, CA (see website for details) Wed. 8/5 - Five-course Dinner & Beer Pairing (with The Bruery) @Monk's Kettle, San Francisco, CA (5:30pm; $85) Sat. 8/8 - Great Taste of the Midwest @Olin-Turville Park, Madison, WI (1:00pm-6:00pm; $35, currently sold out...head to the grey market if you're interested) Sat. 8/15 - Session Ale Festival @Pizza Port, San Clemente, CA (12:00pm-10:00pm; $25) Sat. 8/22 - 13th Anniversary Party @Cal State University, San Marcos, CA (11:00am-2:00pm, 3:00pm-6:00pm; $35/$40) Thu. 8/20-Sat. 8/29 - 5th Annual Belgian Beer Festival @Ebenezer's Pub, Lovell, ME (see website for details)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Get in, get a keg, get out...easy as 1-2-done at Exton Beverage

Next time you're at Exton Beverage, you'll notice that selecting and buying a keg just got a bit easier. Greg Ramirez has hooked up a screen above the doorway that is tied into the cash register and inventory system. Now, in a glance you can see all 1/2 and 1/6 kegs that are currently available in the cooler and their individual prices. No fuss, no needless conversations with the employees :=p Ah, technology. What's next? Real-time tap lists for bars?

Friday, July 24, 2009

See you Sunday at The General?

Last minute checklist Where: General Lafayette Inn & Brewery, (google map) Date: Sunday July 26 Time: 12pm for runners/walkers/bikers; 1pm for meetup at pub Route: The route that I have planned is part road, part dirt/loose gravel. Check out the route map over here. Why: If you don't know The General's current predicament click here. If you are familiar with the story, then you know that we're gathering to drink some beer, eat some food, socialize, and support The General Lafayette. What to bring: Clothing appropriate for exercise, heheh. Otherwise, a wallet and a growler for take home beer. Remember! Chris Leonard, proprietor, said that they will fill any standard-size growler. They are currently out-of-stock of their own branded ones; so if you need a growler, I'd be happy to donate one for your use. Why else you should show up: Other than the excellent General Lafayette beer on tap and in bottles, brewers Larry Horwitz and Jean Broillet over at Iron Hill (West Chester) have donated a "Belgian Single" that they named General Abbeyesque in honor of you know who. The rub here? You'll likely never taste this beer anywhere again, at least not exactly this beer...it's a 1/2 barrel (yes, barrel....yes, 1/2) experimental batch that they typically do for R&D, special occasions, and/or gifts/donations. They've donated it for our enjoyment on Sunday. RSVPs are great since it helps the management plan better for our arrival. But, if you can't RSVP, feel free to just show up. So, I've heard weddings and being down the Shore. Any other excuses why you won't show up? p.s. This is an all-weather event!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: July 23-July 29

Philly's bringing it strong once again to close out the month of July, just in time to head off for BCTC 2009 in Cooperstown, NY. Check out the entire July 2009 calendar over here. Try something new at a free or PAYG tasting @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA--- Fri. 7/24 - Friday Night Tasting (Yards) (5:00pm-7:00pm; free tasting samples of classic ESA, reformulated Saison, and the new Brawler) @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 7/29 - Clipper City Night (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for a draft list still TBD) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA--- Fri. 7/24 - Friday Night Tasting (Victory) (4:00pm-6:00pm; free tasting samples) @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/24 - Great Divide Double Wit Tapping (5pm; PAYG for a taste from one of only a few kegs east of the Mississippi) @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA--- Tue. 7/28 - Great Lakes Welcome Party (6:00pm; PAYG for five of their fresh beers: Burning River Pale Ale, Commodore Perry IPA, Dortmunder Gold Lager, Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, & Eliot Ness Amber Lager) @The Khyber, Philadelphia, PA--- Mon. 7/27 - HopScotch! (5:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for a contest pitting hopped up IPAs/APAs/DIPAs against the malty deliciousness of Scotch Ales/Wee Heavies) Big fun, Big beer @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA--- Thu. 7/23 - Founders Fest (5:00pm; PAYG for any of the seven following beauts: Centennial IPA; Reds Rye; Cerise Cherry; Barrel Aged Maple Mountain Brown; Double Trouble; Breakfast Stout; Fest Wheat) Other fun and frivolity @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/25 - Handmade Market (10:00am-3:00pm; free for shopping in the outdoor backyard, PAYG for food and fine beer inside) @Stoudt's Brewery, Adamstown, PA--- Sat. 7/25 - Battle of the Brewery Bands (6:00pm-10:00pm; $30 for food, beer, and music from Tröegs, Stoudts, Union Barrel Works, Victory, and The Home Brewer's Club of Lancaster. Must be over 21.) @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA--- Mon. 7/27 - Christmas in July (6:00pm; PAYG for Vintage kegs (2004, 2006, 2007) of Old Horizontal...growler fills available, one day only!) Talkin' about Food and Beer @Barcade (Brooklyn), New York, NY--- Thu. 7/23 - Allagash Beer & BBQ Night (tbd) @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ--- Tue. 7/28 - Tap Beer Promo+All-You-Can-Eat Mussels (Sly Fox Hops Project) ($10 gets you Live Irish Music & All you Can eat Mussels in Beer Broth) @Union Barrel Works, Reamstown, PA--- Tue. 7/28 - Down Under Beer Dinner (6:30pm; $40 for 5 courses of Australian-inspired food and beer pairings) @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA--- Tue. 7/28 - Farm Fresh Beer Dinner (6:00pm; $50 for 6 beers and 5 courses of food) Festival delights for midsummer nights @Waterfront Park, Portland, OR--- Thu. 7/23-Sun. 7/26 - Oregon Brewers Festival (see website for details) @The Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/25 - Summer Ale Festival (6:30pm-10:00pm; $50 general/$75 VIP for an advertised 13 breweries and 12 restaurants promoting local beer and food) Check out the entire July 2009 calendar over here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Run/Walk/Ride...or Just Show Up at The General Lafayette this Sunday 7/26

Some of you have already replied and I'm expecting more. Need to know more of what I speak? Check back here. (Need the whole story on The General Lafayette's status? Check here.) Now breweries are getting involved. Okay, just one so far...here's the scoop. I'm going to keep the local Philly-area brewery and the beer a bit of a secret...kind of like a little extra carrot to get some more of you to come out on Sunday. The brewery is hoping to send a few employees out for the run/walk/ride on Sunday and has graciously offered an extra little something in support of The General and what we're doing on Sunday. They're sending over a quarter keg of something you stand very little chance of ever seeing again. !! This, my friends, is one of so many things that makes the beer community, our beer community, so great !! The camaraderie amongst the brewers that brings them together at times like this to help support each other into the future is remarkable and not very common in most industries. So, will you do it too? Heck, I don't care if you show up at The General at 1pm to join us only for lunch. That's all this is really about. Sure, the run/walk/ride would be more fun with more people. But, if only 30, or 20, or 10 do it. That's fine. But, for lunch, let's get 50 people out on Sunday afternoon. Let's fill up at least that many growlers and buy some cases of beer to take home with us. Let's do our part to help keep The General in charge for the next 300 years. What Would the Marquis Do? Cheers!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Let's go for a Run/Walk/Bike Ride in Support of the General Lafayette Inn & Brewery

** 7/22/09: There's been an update with word of a very special keg appearing at this event...click over here for more details. ** Those of you who come around here enough know of my constant striving for balance between fitness and food/beer appreciation. Back during Philly Beer Week, around 50 of you came out to do a run with me to Dock Street. Over the last couple of years, there have also been other similar runs during the year that you've run with The Brew Lounge. Now... Let's collectively get off our keisters this coming Sunday for a run/walk/bike and then have some beer and bites at The General Lafayette Inn & Brewery. Here's the deal. We'll meet up at The General Lafayette (map) at 12pm on Sunday the 26th and leave on a route of just a tick over 4 miles. The route will touch on Forbidden Drive along the Wissahickon Creek, in my opinion one of the city's best outdoor treasures. (Does Saturday work better for you? Let me know and we'll see where the majority falls.) We'll wind up back at The General Lafayette for a lunch. The idea this time isn't for any special deals. ("sponsoring establishments" for these runs in the past typically have made nice offers for us to stick around for beer and food.) We don't want that this time. What we want is The General Lafayette to continue operating well into the future. Let's do our part. We'll have some grub, drink some beer. AND, be sure to bring along a growler to fill with beer to take home with you. If you noticed, Chris Leonard piped in on with a comment the other day to say that he'll fill any 64 oz. growler with beer for you to take home with you. They should have some packaged beer to go as well. And, listen...if you don't have a growler, let me know....I'll bring an empty one for you to have filled. Remember, these days are all about doing your/our part to Save the General. Let's get physically fit and help The General back to better financial fitness. The weather looks fine as of now. But, we'll do this rain or shine...unless there are severe thunderstorm warnings in effect. Drop a private e-mail to me if you'd like to be on the list or need additional information. Cheers to you, fitness, and The General Lafayette Inn & Brewery!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Trisket, A..wait I mean Happy Anniversary to Grey Lodge

(mash sparging)
(hops adding)
(Scoats wandering)
Here I thought I had some exclusive material sent along to me from Mr. Scoats of Grey Lodge Pub in Philadelphia. Then, the ever-intrepid Mr. Curtin hit 'post' and I realized I was just another name in the 'to' field. Ah, but wait. Then the originally-inconspicuous benefits of having an intern become clear to me when Scoats' sidekick/intern, Phil, dropped a couple of extra pictures in my inbox to share with you all. I'm not sure that I can really put adequate words around what Scoats and his crew are doing on Frankford Avenue. It's quite the (typical) show of good times, good music, and good food and beverage that they've got planned for August 15th....raised to the power of 13. Thirteen years deserves a little something special, so instead of me spilling it on my pages here, go over to Grey Lodge's website and check it out for yourself. 13 events in 13 hours is what they're saying...pie oh my. 11pm sounds like the capper to a crazy day. yes, pie oh my.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wednesday the 15th of July was a very busy and beery night around Philadelphia

Wednesday the 15th was a very busy night for local brewers and their fans this week. In the 'burbs, Sly Fox was hosted over at The Drafting Room in Exton, where Tim Ohst, Brian O'Reilly, and Suzy Woods (were there others too?) showed up along with a half dozen or so of their Single Hop Project goodies from Phoenixville, including the last month's release, Willamette Pale Ale. The cask of Rt. 113 IPA on the bar made it difficult to resist staying close to home on this evening. However, the city was calling. And some nights are just made for walking and carousing the city. This was one of them. Casey, Gene, Chuck and the Flying Fish crew were unleashed on multiple Philly locations (Swift Half and Varga) to debut the latest release from the Exit Series...Exit 11, which has its tie-in to....oops, said I wasn't going to discuss for fear of implication in...... While Wednesday night treated me very well, it wasn't quite the night I'd originally envisioned. Though, I'm not complaining. It was another great night to be gallivanting through the city.
(wow! Standard Tap even painted the Flying Fish logo on its wall for the event! ;-)
When I caught a later train than expected, it meant that the meet 'n' greet with the folks of Ommegang at Tria Cafe was out the window. So, too, was 3/4 of the special/preview/tasting event for the Flying Fish Exit 11 at Standard Tap. Patty and I walked in for the last 20 minutes or so at Standard Tap to find some of the glitterati still milling around the upstairs bar. Carolyn Smagalski (Bella Online), Lew Bryson (various this's and that's), Arthur Etchells (FooBooz), Casey Hughes (Flying Fish), Steve Mashington (Yards), and Jennie Hatton (superstar PR to the superstars) were just a handful of those that came out to see what the Most Controversial Beer Series in the country had most recently cooked up.
(Lew and Casey looking, um, rather dignified?)
After a quick one at Standard, we meandered the few blocks up the street to the new Piazza at Schmidts project that has cropped up at the former residence of baseball player, Mike Schmidt...or was that the brewery named Schmidts? I'll need to check ;-) Without discussing the other recent headline-grabbing event that occurred there recently, the Piazza appears to be a well-done and ambitious project that seems to think-outside-the-box by Philadelphia standards. With free movies, music, and sporting events on an outdoor large-screen TV in a public commons area, the Swift Half Pub is one of several retail/restaurants laced amongst residential units. Swift Half can be entered both from 2nd street as well as from the interior courtyard area. In one of the pictures below, the courtyard through the large windows is slightly visible in the background. I don't have too many notes or observations about the place since this was my first visit and was definitely taking part more in the social aspect of the evening rather than the detailed note-taking. Basically, though, this looks to be a very inviting pub, simplistic in the decor, smart in the food and drink offerings, and comfortable in both the indoor but particularly the outdoor seating. The service was attentive but not overly nosy. More details to come after my next visit.
(the crowd tunes in to Fox News spotlight on Flying Fish)
So, the beer...what about the beer, right? While I don't believe that Exit 11 is supplanting my favor for the flavor and depth of the Exit 4, getting off Exit 11 to head down the Shore is a perfect way to go this summer. This is a lighter bodied beer, weighing in just a tick over 6% ABV, with a nice dose of hop aroma (thanks double dry hopping!) with some fruit in the middle leading to a fairly clean and dry finish....which all leads to the next sip and the next....perfect for summer, right?
(Bright Lights all around Gene Muller these last couple of weeks)
Better get some soon. With all of the (now) nationwide hoopla surrounding the Exit Series, this installment is almost guaranteed to be gone before you know it. In fact, while we were there we all got to watch the Flying Fish/Turnpike story told on Fox News on the TV above the bar. They turned off the music and piped in the TV audio so we could all listen along. Then the local CBS affiliate popped in to do a short interview with owner Gene Muller and the circus was well underway. We laughed, we drank, we joked that Brian O'Reilly's Route 113 IPA never caused this much commotion.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: July 16-July 22

A little late for events occurring tonight, but here's what you can find for the 6 days following night around the town and suburbs of Philadelphia. Check out the entire July 2009 calendar over here. Try something new at a free or PAYG tasting @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA--- Fri. 7/17 - Friday Night Tasting (Bear Republic) (5:00pm-7:00pm; free sample tastings of Racer 5, Hop Rod Rye, and Red Rocket) @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY--- Wed. 7/22 - Wednesday Night Promotion (Christmas in July) (4pm; PAYG for 25 of Santa's goodies, you don't even have to be nice in July to get them) @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 7/16 - The Return of Arcadia (6:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG; **This has been rescheduled, date TBD**) @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 7/21 - Doc's Cider Flight Night (5:00pm; some free, some PAYG) @Ortino's Northside, Zieglerville, PA--- Thu. 7/16 - Christmas in July with Tröegs Brewing (PAYG for '06,'07,'08 Mad Elf) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA--- Fri. 7/17 - Third Friday Firkin (July firkin: ESB) (11:30am 'til it kicks; PAYG) @TJs, Paoli, PA--- Sat. 7/18 - Beers of Michigan Faceoff (6:00pm; PAYG for beers from New Holland (Mad Hatter, Imperial Hatter, Brother Jacob, Existential, Night Tripper), Founders (Double Trouble, Imperial Stout, Curmudgeon, Centennial IPA), and Bells (Two Hearted, Oberon, Double Cream Stout, Best Brown Ale) @Tria, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 7/22 - Hot Blondes (6:30pm-8:00pm; $30, currently sold out but call just to be sure) @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA--- Thu. 7/16 - Left Hand Brewing Tasting (5:00pm; PAYG for 7 Left Hand drafts) Good Beer, with a little something extra on the side @Capone's, Norristown, PA--- Thu. 7/16 - Flying Fish Exit 11 Promotion (all day, all night; PAYG for food, beer, and raffles) @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 7/21 - Belgium Independence Day (all day, all night; PAYG for Rodenbach and others) @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA--- Thu. 7/16 - Follow the Liter (6:00pm; PAYG for fun and games and a German-themed menu) A couple of bigger events @downtown Selinsgrove, PA--- Sat. 7/18 - Hops, Vines, and Wines Festival (2:00pm-6:00pm; $40) @Spring House Brewing Company, Conestoga, PA--- Sat. 7/18 - The Bell Ringer: An Old-Time Ale Festival and a Colonial Brewing Demonstration with Rich Wagner (12:00-6:00pm; $15) And, of course, beer and food...perfect together like High Street and New Jersey @High Street Caffe, West Chester, PA--- Wed. 7/22 - Victory Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $45 for a 5 course/6 beer dinner) @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ--- Tue. 7/21 - Tap Beer Promo+All-You-Can-Eat Mussels (Clipper City Heavy Seas Hang Ten) ($10) @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/17 - Barbecue and Bell's (sometime in the afternoon 'til sometime later after dark; PAYG) @Mémé Restaurant, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 7/21 - Spotlight on Homebrewers (6:30pm-8:30pm; $25 for homebrew and hors d'oeuvres sampling) Check out the entire July 2009 calendar over here.

Iron Hill ready to cross the river to the Jersey Side

Does news of Iron Hill's opening this coming Monday, July 20th mean that they are pretty much on schedule? Way to go guys, can't wait to see Chris LaPierre and the team working the Iron Hill magic in Maple Shade, NJ. #8 and counting......

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Fish by any other Name

Tonight seems like just the right kind of night to knock a few things off a list. A list that includes: - see a new place---check! Swift Half in Northern Liberties - drink a new beer---check! Exit 11 from Flying Fish - meet up with friends---check! a gaggle of beer glitterati are due to be at Standard Tap, Varga, Tria, Swift Half and countless other beer joint for this that and the other on this fine hump day - promise not to discuss the lunacy of the Turnpike Commission's brew-ha-ha over the Flying Fish Exit Series---don't know if I'll be able to check this one or not. But, to be safe, I'm still taking the train in case there are picketers watching the front door. See you there too?

Out of the Mouths of Others, part 5: How long does that Growler Last?

Maybe I shouldn't complain; afterall, it drives a bit of search traffic to my site. But, really? Why is it so important to know how long a growler stays fresh? Okay, fine, I suppose if you're wondering how long can you leave it unopened before it goes "bad," then that might be a fair question. Y'know, maybe you're transporting it on vacation or to a friend as a gift...fine. And in fairness, the topic was covered in these parts back in the wee early days around The Brew Lounge, when Adam used to be part of the show. But, really...seriously? We're not talking about a full 15.5 gallon keg here. We're talking 62-68 ounces here people. But yet, I sometimes get dozens of visits a day to The Brew Lounge from people asking questions of Mr. Google or Mrs. Bing about the growler...its history, the size, and the longevity of an open growler. Maybe it's the sight of me and countless others toting glass jugs around more than ever that have people curious. Here's a tip for you: Drink it...now. And if you can't drink it in the first night after it's filled for you at the bar, it better be gone within 48 hours. It's that simple. And, if you can't drink a whole 4 pints by yourself over the course of two nights and if you have no one to share it with, either cook with the remainder or don't buy the growler in the first place. Next thing I know, you'll be asking how many people a 750ml bottle of beer is meant to be shared with! (Unless it's over 8% ABV, I think you know the answer!) What about you? Do you often waste a growler because you can't finish it before it "turns?" Do you only buy growlers when you know it will be drunk that night or the next or have a few people to share it with?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Airplane On-Board Beer, yes please?

Just got an e-mail from US Airways. They are running a survey to find out what kind of beverages their customers prefer while flying. Even when I chose water, the survey then went on for a couple of more questions regarding beer and my preferences. Needless to say, I filled in the "other" blank. Hopefully it will also be needless to say that there may soon be better options on board US Airways flights. Not sure if the link will work from here, but if so...knock yourself out and make your voice heard too. Vote for Change!

Let US know what quenches your thirst onboard

We'd like to find out what you like to drink on US Airways flights. We'll use your feedback to help improve our drinks onboard. This survey will only take a couple minutes. Thanks for your help. Take our survey

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Brew Lounge Request for a Friend in Need

I don't ask for much from you around here. I've never asked for donations and never will. That said, it's time that I ask you to spend your money in one particular place. If you are a lover of good, well-crafted beer then I believe that you will agree that the future should have the General Lafayette Inn & Brewery in it. If you appreciate history and landmarks, then I believe that you will want to support The General. If you believe that good people who do good things should not be cast aside by unfortunate incidents and accidents, then you should want to help support the Leonard Family of the General Lafayette. I've pasted the contents of an e-mail that has made its way into numerous other websites/blogs that you may have already caught wind from. You can read the details below. Chris has always been straight forward, almost to a fault, in person or in his blog, that I wish he keeps posting to. Whether you decide an investment of $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000 is appropriate for your situation, I have a simpler request of you. Consider it a back-to-school project. In other words, beginning today and before the end of summer, you must make it a high priority to: - go to The General more often---if you currently go once a month, go twice. If you've never been, go once in July and once again in August. Go for dinner, take the family or go with a group of friends. Have a full dinner and a couple of brews. - when you go for a meal, make sure you take home a growler of fresh beer with you. We all know that there's nothing better than beer fresh from the brewery. - buy packaged General Lafayette beer for take home or to give to friends. Their beers can be found at distributors and at the pub. Buy the Abbey Brune or the Abbey Blonde. Or better yet, buy the recently bottled Chocolate Thunder, one of the first beers to make me appreciate The General for what it is. So, let's sum up the homework. Once in July and once in August (or more, if you can)---Keep The General in business by going for a meal. Buy a growler to take home. Buy packaged product to drink at home and share with friends. Convince others that they should go and support The General as well. You don't want to sitting here in October saying "ah, it's a shame..." now do you? We can all do our part...and should.
The General Lafayette Inn and its Guest House are in jeopardy of closing. Stiff competition, limited resources, and the failing economy have contributed to a steady decline in revenues over the past 16 months. While beer sales have remained relatively stable, our food, wine and liquor sales have decreased to the point that we are finding it almost impossible to maintain operations. Past due mortgages, property taxes, payroll taxes, and accounts payable to vendors have pushed the General to the precipice. Unless we raise significant funds in the next two months - to get current with our debtors, improve facilities, increase wholesale beer production, and increase our marketing efforts – closure is imminent. While we have solicited sale of the General, no offers have come – understandable in this economic climate. Any offer we do receive will likely come from a party uninterested in the history of the General. It could become the next Wawa or CVS. Even more likely is that we will face foreclosure, allowing a developer to more easily acquire the properties and demolish the 5th oldest tavern in the country. The General Lafayette Inn consists of two properties and three buildings. It’s most recent appraisal (2007) valued it at just under $2.2 million. We are a family owned operation. I, Brewmaster Christopher Leonard, am the majority owner. We desperately seek to avoid losing the General Lafayette Inn and the fate that would befall it if we do. So, we are soliciting equity investors to become silent (or not-so-silent) partners in this unique local treasure. Generally speaking, we are offering stock in the General Lafayette Inn for approximately 1% per $10,000. We will consider partners for as little as $5000. You would gain a small piece of history, pride in preserving the past, and a heck of a lot of delicious beer in return. We are also starting a special “Friends of the General Lafayette Inn Society”. We are looking for up to 150 passionate local beer and/or history lovers with $1000 to invest in our past and good beer future. In return you will receive an annual $275 house account each of the next 5 years. This can be used for any goods or services. We will host an annual members-only event and dedicate the oldest portion of the building to the Society, displaying each member’s name. In the meantime, know that operations at the General Lafayette Inn will continue as normal. We continue to produce new, innovative beers (look for a kriek soon). We have a new chef, Oliver Munguia. He has made some interesting changes including hand cut fries, house made pickles and has shown an attention to freshness, quality, and consistency that the General has lacked for some time. Please contact me at chris.leonard@generallafayetteinn.com, or stop in to speak with me, for more details/information. We understand how untraditional and risky this approach is. However, we are steadfast in our belief that the General Lafayette Inn is worth it and willing to do just about anything to protect its future. Very Truly Yours, Christopher W. Leonard, Brewmaster/Proprietor General Lafayette Inn & Brewery

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Countdown to Ommegang's BCTC 2009: some new goods from the host

If all goes according to last year's plan, I'll again be sharing the BCTC menu with you before the event. If not, I do have some insight to new beers that Ommegang themselves will be sharing with us at this year's festival. Like last year's debut of Rouge, a Triple IPA and Holiday Strong Ale ("Adoration") will be debuted, most likely at Friday Night's VIP session...then again at the main festival on Saturday. Also word of a Belgian Scotch Ale...or is that Belgo-Scotch? This news comes from brewer Brian Enrici, who made an appearance with Megan Maguire (Duvel/Ommegang sales) at Jose Pistola's this past Thursday night in Philadelphia. Quite commendable that Brian made the trip down from his hometown of Cooperstown, NY just for this event. The notes above were the Brew Lounge-permitted comments. Ones I'm obliged not to discuss, for now, promise continued excitement coming out of Cooperstown's flagship brewery. And...one possible disappointing piece of news. Brian was quite adept at making the social table rounds for those that were there for the special Ommegang event (Rare Vos, Witte, Abbey, Hennepin, and Rouge were all on tap...very nice, Casey). This looked good as I can just never understand the brewer/sales rep who participates in events like this, while hanging at the bar waiting for customers to approach them. Well done, Brian. While we're talking Ommegang in Philly, they've got an interesting looking event coming up this Wednesday at Tria, home to all events including beer, wine, and cheese. This one pits the Duvel family of beers against wine in a cheese-pairing showdown. These events are popping up everywhere, it seems, since Sam and Marnie took their Mars and Venus show on the road a couple of years ago. Looks like it's sold out, but if you're interested, it never hurts to give a call and find out for sure. Also discussed was how if O'Reilly's Stout can bump aside Guinness from tap towers, then why can't Witte do the same to Hoegaarden? Afterall, which would you rather partake in?

Friday, July 10, 2009

As American as Independence Day and Stoudt's Pale Ale

I sit down at my Brew Lounge desk (er, actually, my other desk) yesterday morning and my faithful Lancaster County Correspondent presents me with the front page of the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal...y'know, one of those so-called newspaper thing-ys, printed words with pictures on a tree-based product. Ha, anyway. This is one of the best correspondents a guy could ask for. He brings beers and tales from Lancaster County and is even up for some further research abroad, like in Pittsburgh or San Francisco. He puts the man in wingman. So, the paper...to the paper...gotta get the papers, get the papers. Whole point is, if you haven't already caught wind of this, that the Stoudt Family's beer was served at the White House Holiday Picnic last weekend with President Obama, his family, colleagues, and friends. Looks from the article that this American Pale Ale from Stoudt's (the "patriotic one", of course!) has quite a history in our Nation's Capital.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: July 9-July 15

All month long at Devil's Den in Philly, they're offering up Duval Ommegang specials during each day when there's a race stage. They'll also be giving away Duvel Ommegang prizes including cycling jerseys as well. Otherwise, here are some highlights of events upcoming over the next week. Or, if you prefer, Check out the entire July 2009 calendar over here. @Barcade (Brooklyn), New York, NY--- Thu. 7/9 - Ithaca Beer Night (6pm; PAYG for a lot of upstate goodness) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA--- Fri. 7/10 - Friday Night Tasting (Victory) (5:00pm-7:00pm; free tasting samples) @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 7/15 - Flying Dog Night (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG to let the dogs out, draft list TBD) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA--- Thu. 7/9 - Thursday Night Tasting (Smuttynose) (7pm-9pm; free tasting samples) @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 7/9 - Meet the Ommegang Brewer (6:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG for Hennepin, Rare Vos, Abbey Ale, Witte, and Rouge and a chance at prizes) @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 7/14 - Allagash Beer Night (6pm; PAYG for their Hugh Malone, Confluence, Victor Ale, and Four Ale all on draft) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA--- Fri. 7/10 - Hops Project 2009 Varietal Release: TBA (a firkin, then CO2) (11:30am 'til it kicks; PAYG) @Swift Half, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 7/15 - Flying Fish's Exit 11 Release Party (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for the next exit, a Hoppy American Wheat beer, which has absolutely nothing, we repeat nothing, to do with the NJ Turnpike...nothing! got it?) @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA--- Wed. 7/15 - Sly Fox (6:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG for single hop beers from Hop Project 2008 and 2009 on tap: Amarillo IPA, Cluster IPA, Mt. Rainier IPA, Aurora IPA, Willamette Pale Ale & Marynka Pale Ale. Plus a firkin of Rt. 113 IPA and drum roll...Burns Scottish Ale) @The Khyber, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 7/9 - Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse Promo (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG for discounted hefe and schwag giveaway) @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA--- Thu. 7/9 - Firkin of Tröegs (5:00pm; PAYG for Pale Ale hopped with Cascades in the Firkin; plus, 2008 Mad Elf, Troegenator, Dreamweaver Wheat, Sunshine Pils) Fun 'n' Games, oh yeah @Nodding Head, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/11 - Royal Stumble (1:00pm; $45, currently sold out...head to the grey market if you still wanna go really, really badly) @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 7/15 - Beer & Wine Thowdown with Ommegang (6:30pm-8:00pm; $42 for the showdown to end all throwdowns) Take me out to the Beer Festival @Reading Stadium, Reading, PA--- Sat. 7/11 - Pints for Pups Beer Tasting (6:00pm-9:00pm; $30 general/$50 VIP) @Clinton Square, Syracuse, NY--- Fri. 7/10 - Empire State Brewing and Music Festival (5:00pm-10:00pm; $40) Doesn't everyone celebrate Christmas twice a year? @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/10 - Xmas in July (6:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for Tröegs Mad Elf, Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve, Corsendonk Xmas Ale, Harpoon Winter, Sly Fox Xmas, Weyerbacher Winter, and Manayunk Festivus. Also Xmas treats from Hesh's Bakery) Food and Beer, perfect together like New Jersey and you (er, um) @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ--- Tue. 7/14 - Tap Beer Promo+All-You-Can-Eat Mussels (Lagunitas Lucky 13) ($10) @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 7/14 - Tom's Favorite Local Beer/Local Food Dinner (7:00pm; $55 for 5 courses of food plus ) @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 7/14 - New Holland's Beer and Cheese Night (5:00pm; PAYG for beer, cheese, and appetizer pairings) Check out the entire July 2009 calendar over here

Beer Trippin', The San Francisco Treat; Part 6

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That, in a nutshell, was San Francisco during the last week of June 2009. I missed NHC, but gained some new knowledge of the city while partaking in some of the mainstay treats that I've come to appreciate over the years. Next visit, I'd like to stop in at La Trappe, then get out of the city for another northward bound visit from Marin to North Coast and many places in between. Sierra Nevada isn't far from my radar either. So, let's see...what does that leave for me to share with you...um, yeah, oh right, the country's best airport beer bar. Now, of course, I haven't been to them all. A good number of the largest ones and a few smaller ones as well. I hear Portland, OR has some good beer at the airport. I know that Madison, WI, for its size, has some very good representation. I was keeping my fingers crossed that when I landed for my connection in Denver from SFO to PHL that I would be in the C-terminal area and have enough time to pop in for a sandwich and a beer or two. Good fortune smiled upon me and within 10 minutes of landing, I was off to find myself some lunch. Allow me to show you the tap and bottle list at "Timberline Steakhouse" in the Denver, CO airport. It's in the main shopping area of Concourse C and I first visited it after GABF 2008. It's just a short walk from the gates (moving sidewalks sure help) and once inside it becomes very easy to become distracted to the point of missing the gate closure. Between the decent food menu, the runway views, and the local beers I'm not sure it gets much better than this. What do you think? Do you have a favorite airport beer bar? How does this rank? Draft: Left Hand Sawtooth, Timberline Pilsner (by Left Hand), Stone Arrogant Bastard, Stone IPA, Avery Karma, Avery Ellie's Brown Ale, Coors Light, Bud Light, Miller Lite Bottles: Avery Hog Heaven Barleywine, Avery White Rascal, Avery 14er ESB, Avery Salvation, New Belgium Fat Tire, Great Divide DPA, Fuller's London Pride, Bristol Laughing Lab, Odell 90 Shilling, Stone Arrogant Bastard, Stone Porter, Stone IPA, Stone Imperial Russian Stout, Left Hand Imperial Stout, Left Hand Polestar Pilsner
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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Beer Dates in History: July Anniversaries

20 years Rogue 15 years Casco Bay Brewing Flagstaff Brewing Red Hook (Woodinville, WA) Smuttynose 10 years Golden Avalanche

Beer Trippin', The San Francisco Treat; Part 5

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Now that we were less than 24 hours from getting out of Dodge, it was time to put a finale on this trip to San Francisco. My traveling cohort, Dennis, and I headed east to Lafayette for our last dinner. He had never been to Bo's, a BBQ joint that many of you know me for going on and on about after each trip to the Bay Area. We met up for an early dinner with my sister-in-law's family. In addition to a mostly glowing review, finally, though, the time has come for me to get in a dig in on Bo's. The prices. No, not the food prices...the beer prices. Though, some also jump on the food prices as well, claiming the meat not worth the moolah. I'd disagree. While it isn't fast food BBQ prices, it's not what I'd call expensive...particularly given the affluent suburbs in which it's located. Generally speaking, the entrees are priced in the mid teens and include a serving size of meat(s) appropriate for most average, or beyond, appetites plus a couple of small sides. So, while the food was its typical meaty delish-ish-nish, it's time something be said about the beer prices. I keep a spreadsheet (ha, go figure, right?!) of all retail beer that I purchase, including date, size, brand, location, and cost. It's an interesting study over the years to see the beers that I purchase consistently and the prices that are charged for them. Unfortunately, I don't keep track of prices at restaurants or bars...just to-go beer. And, I definitely don't have concrete evidence of what I've paid in the past at Bo's for the good, bottled beer that they carry. At one visit, there was even a few Westvletern's in the cooler...tsk tsk! But something in my gut (or my memory banks, which are typically pretty good) tells me that beer prices have taken a jump. I recall this feeling back in February earlier this year, but no where near as shocking as this past visit. Picture this: I walk up to the counter to place my food order with two large bottles in hand. One is a Piraat and the other is a Maredsous Tripel. I don't recall which beer the counter lady said cost which price, but hold on to your seat as I tell you what the two prices were. She procees to ask me, "Do you know that one costs $24.50 and the other costs $20.75?" Say whhhhaaaaa?! is something along the lines of what my expression said. I may be off by a quarter or two, but the point is both 750ml bottles each cost more than $20. Yes, I agree that these are pretty decent beers in large bottles, but again....say whhhaaaaa?! Even the Ballast Point Pale Ale was somewhere around $12.50 for a large bottle. Again...really?! This one's even stayed in its home state. Sigh... So, who's wrong here? The proprietor or I? Is my "price programming" stuck back 5 or 10 years ago? I begrudgingly put one back (the Piraat) and in its stead picked up a Rochefort 10. I mean, c'mon, Rochefort 10 with BBQ? It might not get any better than this, regardless the price. Well, it still clocked in (the 330ml bottle, that is) at $10.50, which practically seemed like a bargain for one of the best beers in the world...especially when compared to the first two that I picked up...and you know I don't say that too often. Once again, I may be off by a few quarters, but I believe that was the ballpark price. Ha, ballpark prices! These beers might actually be cheaper at the ballpark, wink wink nudge nudge. Too bad the BYOB concept isn't a part of the Californian lifestyle the way it is in Pennsylvania. What this all meant, fortunately or unfortunately depending upon your perspective, is that the four adults shared smaller quantities of beer than we might originally have expected. Nonetheless, the real winner here was as predicted: the Rochefort 10 with ribs, brisket, and fixins. Absolutely stellar. We grabbed a little ice cream from a new shop down the street, said our goodbyes for this short visit, and then hopped the train back downtown. I made one more last call before throwing in the towel on this trip, this one at The Monk's Kettle in the Mission District. Another first for me. The Bay Area has three prominent Belgian bars. Funny how just a couple of years ago, there were none. Now, with one across the bay in Oakland (The Trappist) and one in North Beach neighborhood (La Trappe), Monk's Kettle rounds out three spots around town where you can find some right good Belgian beer. Remaining now on my list from these three is La Trappe, whose building I'm told has a nice beer cave in which to drink. Next time, I suppose. Afterall, it's only but a few blocks from Rogue. But back to the Mission and Monk's Kettle. It's a cozy establishment that, with its close quarters, promotes a friendly vibe. The bar in some ways reminds me of Bridgid's in Philly a bit. It's not a complete horseshoe, but it does have a bit of a wrap around that allows bar customers see each other and also be within easy earshot of the bartender. And friendliness, like at Bridgid's, abounds. After being stuffed with BBQ within the last couple of hours, I was in no mood for food. From what I'm told and what I saw next to me at the bar, the kitchen cranks out some nice food (from a nicely smart and tight menu that promotes the whole local and sustainable thing wherever possible) to pair with the extensive beer list. For starters, the blue cheese platter and its accompaniments looked very enticing and will probably be the first thing I order the next time I set foot in the Mission. The beer? Yes, there's a healthy serving of high quality Belgian and Belgian-styled beers available. But, the locals are well represented as well. From Speakeasy to Russian River to Lagunitas to Moonlight to North Coast, they've got the Bay Area covered and the rest of the state as well. It was a brief visit, but a high quality one that puts it high on my recommendation list for others visiting San Francisco. That took me to the almost-official end to this 5-nighter to San Francisco. I'll be back tomorrow to wrap things up AND to finally share with you what I may have found to be the country's best airport beer bar. Hint: it's not in Philly (for sure) nor in San Francisco.
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