Friday, January 29, 2010

TBL comes to BCTWC

The list grows longer for BCTWC (Belgium Comes to West Chester) at Iron Hill. No doubt many of you have seen the lineup of phenomenal beers planned for Iron Hill's 2010 Belgium Comes to West Chester event on Saturday February 6th. Chris LaPierre began this event, what is it, 4 years ago now? He's since moved on to the company's new Maple Shade, NJ location, but his old brewing pals Larry Horwitz and Jean Broillet are keeping the brewkettle fires burning and stellar events such as this going on Gay Street in West Chester. You are planning to attend, are you not? If you're still on the fence and live in Philly, you may wish to check out the Facebook "event" where you can get all the details about a bus ride from the city to West Chester. This is certainly one event that you want to make sure your transportation is taken care of ahead of time. This year they want The Brew Lounge open for business during the event. So I'm taking the show on the road. What does that mean? Exactly what, well that's still a bit of a top-secret under development ;-) But, what it does mean is that the brewhouse will be turned into the first incarnation of a real, living Brew Lounge. Still, you ask...what does that mean? Okay, the point is...the crowd gets a little thick out in the back bar...the dining room...the front bar. (Btw, they're hoping to have the entire establishment dedicated to this event for the first time.) You need a place to escape it all. You head to The Brew Lounge. Where is that you ask? Well the place is only so big so the options are limited. The cellar? The kitchen? The roof? Probably the brewhouse. A proper Brew Lounge should have comfy chairs, right? We'll see what we can do about that. Maybe some barrels with high leather backs, or.... Oh yeah. The beer. You know a proper Brew Lounge needs good beer right? Let's try these on for size. Given the nature of this event (i.e. there are no "normal" beers in the bunch, only to say that they are anything but conventional...which makes them perfectly normal, got it?!) Just the names for today. Next week, I'll tee you up with descriptions and some more insight into what you'll find at The Brew Lounge. Yours truly and some great beer away from the deafening crowds..what more could you ask for? Fine...maybe just the beers. Drum roll, please...
Au Ciel Biere de Mars DeArmond S/T
Your only clue is that they're all Iron Hill beers.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: January 28th-February 3rd

The beer events calendar around here is heating up like the weather of late. If you can't find something to your liking over the next week, you better check your pulse. Check out the entire February 2010 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. Just a Taste between your cheek and gum @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA--- Fri. 1/29 - Friday Night Tasting (5:00pm-7:00pm; free tasting samples of Tröegs) @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 2/3 - Sixpoint Brewing 5th Anniversary Party & Growler Release (7:00pm; PAYG for their Anniversary beer, Double Sweet Action, and 7 other Sixpoint beers. The first 75 people to buy a growler fill of a Sixpoint beer will get the Devil's Den/Sixpoint growler for free.) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA--- Fri. 1/29 - Cask Ale Night (5:00pm; PAYG for February's selections of Victory Pursuit Pale Ale & Oliver Dark Horse Mild) @Goshen Beverage, West Chester, PA--- Fri. 1/29 - Friday Night Sampling (5:00pm-7:00pm; free tasting samples of Yards) @Goshen Beverage, West Chester, PA--- Sat. 1/30 - Friday Night Sampling on Saturday (3:00pm-5:00pm; free various tasting samples like Magic Hat #9, Howl, Circus Boy and more...) @Hawthornes, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 1/29 - A Taste of Boulder (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for Mojo IPA, Flashback Brown Ale, Sweaty Betty Wheat, and oak-aged Obovoid Oatmeal Stout) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA--- Thu. 1/28 - Brewery Promo Night (7:00pm-9:00pm; free tasting samples from Brooklyn Brewery like Brown Ale, East India Pale Ale, and Manhattan Project on draft, and Brooklyn Local 1 and Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse in bottles) @Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 2/2 - Dark Horse Tuesday Nights (8:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG to meet & greet the brewers & beer reps & to taste the beers) @Pickering Creek Inn, Phoenixville, PA--- Thu. 1/28 - Craft Brew Night (6:00pm; PAYG for a night of Rogue Ales) @Swift Half Pub, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 1/28 - Meet the Brewer Night with Cask Conditioned Ale (7:00pm; PAYG for gold medal-winning Flying Fish Exit 4) @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA--- Sun. 1/31 - Sour? (PAYG for Russian River's Supplication, Temptation, and Consecration. Not to mention some other favorites of ours will be pouring as well.) @TJ's, Paoli, PA--- Tue. 2/2 - Spring House Chester County Release Event (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG for the special releases of Kerplunk Imperial Stout & Planet Bean Coffee Porter along with Smoked Porter, Two Front Teeth Saison, and Seven Gates Pale on draft...and Kerplunk, Planet Bean, and Beyond the Gates DIPA in bottles) @Triumph, Princeton, NJ--- Wed. 2/3 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (6:00pm; PAYG for February's selection still TBD) Some things are difficult to put into words @Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 2/2 - 2010 Groundhog Day Hawaiian Shirt Beer Breakfast & Lucky Cat Beer Prognostication and Diaper Drive (7:00am; PAYG) And other things are just plain ol' fun @Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 1/30 - The Trouble with Trippels (all day; PAYG to select from Sly Fox Incubus, Weyerbacher Merry Monks, Stoudt's Triple, Manayunk Triple (Monk from the 'Yunk), Iron Hill Triple, River Horse Triple, Flying Fish Exit 4, Legacy Euphoria, Victory Golden Monkey, Dock Street Prisoner of Hell) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville & Royersford, PA--- Wed. 2/3 - St. Patrick's Day Boot Camp (5:00pm; PAYG until you get to St. Patrick's Day.) @South Philadelphia Tap Room, Philadelphia, PA--- Sun. 1/31 - Beef and Beer (5:00pm-9:00pm; $50 for firkins of beer from Flying Fish Hop Fish, Tröegs Nugget Nectar, PBC Newbold, PBC Scotch Ale, Sly Fox Chester County Bitter, Sly Fox Gang Aft Agley, Weyerbacher Hops Infusion, & more. Food Menu will include: Slow roasted prime rib of beef, house-smoked brisket tacos, Classic beef tartar topped with black pepper sabayon & an assortment of vegetables.) Bet they won't be doing their Sunday Session the next day @Linden Street Brewery, Oakland, CA--- Sat. 1/30 - The Brewing Network's Winter Brews Festival (1:00pm-8:00pm; $25 at the door gets you 45 ounces of beer, additional tickets are 3 for $5 for beers from 40 breweries. Food supplied for an additional cost by the Homebrew Chef, Sean Paxton.) Last but not least, beer and food pairings @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 2/2 - Beer Dinner with Dogfish Head (7:00pm; $65) @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA--- Wed. 2/3 - Meet The Brewer Series Presents… (7:00pm; $40 for a night with the Weyerbachers) @Tap and Table, Emmaus, PA--- Tue. 2/2 - Italian Beer School & Dinner (7:00pm; $65 gets you 6 courses, 6 rare italian beers (draft and bottle), and knowledge) @Wegmans, all PA stores--- Sat. 1/30 - Beer and Food Pairing (11:00am-3:00pm; Free tasting samples of specially-paired beer and food)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hard to Believe it's been over 2 years

Has anyone seen this before? It has a handful of nice interviews done with just a few folks in the industry that have been affected by the life of Michael Jackson. I can't recall ever seeing someone link to it or talk about it. Best I can tell from my mediocre sleuthing skills, I can't discern who might be responsible for the site, other than someone named Jeff. Anyone out there might know? I Miss Michael

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Prepping for San Francisco (beer week, that is)

I suppose that I really haven't shared my plans to head to San Francisco for half of its Beer Week in just a couple of short weeks. Plans may be overstating it at this point, since I've got a calendar of events and a few must-dos/invites. Otherwise, my schedule is just starting to take shape as I talk with others about their intended doings and 2010's SFBW sounds just as promising as last year's. Speaking of Bay Area-related news, I came across this tidbit the other day at Jack Curtin's Liquid Diet. It wasn't so much the news of the Sierra Nevada 2010 Anniversary Collaboration, though that was actually a good reminder. It was a tidbit buried in the comments section from Jack McAuliffe's sister, who dropped an interesting nugget when she mentioned the possibility of a still-under-development brewpub wishing to do a special "Jack McAuliffe Brew". Of course, this all sounds very premature and whatnot, but still with McAuliffe potentially involved in a couple of different brews in 2010, have we surely come full circle, or what? Elsewhere on my radar for San Francisco will be beer dinners, festival, tastings, special beers, barleywine, a Tribute to Bill Brand, and plenty of other good stuff that I'll share with you all in due time in much more detail. Steve Shapiro over at Beer by Bart is in the process of putting together some nice promotional clips that are worth checking out. More, much more, obviously to come...

Beer Calendar: What To Do in February 2010

February. San Francisco Beer Week on the west coast and Extreme Beer Fest on the other. Around Philly, we're just gonna keep things going here, nice and toasty, with some great wintertime events in town, out, and all around. Enjoy! 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 Thu. 1/28 - Meet the Brewer Night with Cask Conditioned Ale (Flying Fish Exit 4) @Swift Half Pub, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 1/29 - A Taste of Boulder @Hawthornes, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Tue. 2/2 - 2010 Groundhog Day Hawaiian Shirt Beer Breakfast & Lucky Cat Beer Prognostication and Diaper Drive @Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA (7:00am; PAYG) Tue. 2/2, 2/9, 2/16, 2/23 - Dark Horse Tuesday Nights @Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, PA (8:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 2/3 - Sixpoint Brewing 5th Anniversary Party & Growler Release @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 2/4 - First Firkin Thursday (Coronado Red Devil) @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 2/4 - Meet the Brewer Night with Cask Conditioned Ale (Yards George Washington Porter) @Swift Half Pub, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 2/4 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (February's selection: TBD) @Triumph, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 2/4 - Meet the Brewer, Keep the Pint Glass (Philadelphia Brewing) @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 2/5 - Duvel Green Party @The Belgian Café, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Fri. 2/5 - Loaded Lunches (Sly Fox) @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA (11:25am-4:25pm; PAYG) Mon. 2/8 - Quizzo and Kenzinger @Doobie's, Philadelphia, PA (8:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 2/11 - Sexual Chocolate Release and Meet the Brewer @Dock Street Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; free) Fri. 2/12 (continuing through 2/28) - Winter Olympics at the Den @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 2/13 - President's Day Weekend White Sale @Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Sun. 2/14 - Hang with A Raging Bitch on Valentine's Day @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 2/17 - Smoke 'em if you got 'em! @The Belgian Café, Philadelphia, PA (all day; PAYG) Thu. 2/18 - Meet the Brewer Night with Cask Conditioned Ale (Southampton Publick House) @Swift Half Pub, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 2/18 - King of the Iron Hils (a beer from each Iron Hill) @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (4:30pm-12:00am; PAYG) Fri. 2/19 - Loaded Lunches (Tröegs) @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA (11:25am-4:25pm; PAYG) Sat. 2/20 - The Foodery Beer Class @Local 44, Philadelphia, PA (3:00pm; $15) Mon. 2/22 - Meet the Brewer Night (Tomme Arthur) @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 2/25 - Meet the Brewer Night with Cask Conditioned Ale (Tröegs Nugget Nectar) @Swift Half Pub, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 2/25 - Meet Guest Brewer Victor Novak & Eric Savage @Dock Street Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (more details to come) Thu. 2/25 - Meet the Brewer, Keep the Pint Glass (Dogfish Head) @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 2/26 - A Night with the Glimmer Twins @Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Sat. 2/27 - Philadelphia Brewery Tour Revisited @Philadelphia Brewing, Philadelphia, PA (2:00pm; free) Philadelphia's close suburbs Fri. 1/29 - Friday Night Sampling (Yards) @Goshen Beverage, West Chester, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; free) Sat. 1/30 - Beer and Food Pairing @Wegmans, all PA stores (11:00am-3:00pm; Free) Sat. 1/30 - Friday Night Sampling on Saturday (various) @Goshen Beverage, West Chester, PA (3:00pm-5:00pm; free) Tue. 2/2 - Spring House Chester County Release Event (Kerplunk & Planet Bean) @TJ's, Paoli, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) every Wed. through 3/10 - St. Patrick's Day Boot Camp @Sly Fox, Phoenixville & Royersford, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 2/5 - Firkin Fridays of February (Winter Warmer) @Iron Hill Brewery, Media, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 2/5 - Incubus Friday @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (all day; PAYG) Fri. 2/5 - West Coast Brewery Night @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 2/6 - Belgium Comes to West Chester @Iron Hill Brewery, West Chester, PA (2:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 2/10 - HopSlam Keg Tapping @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (11:30am; PAYG) Thu. 2/11 - Craft Brew Night (Ommegang) @Pickering Creek Inn, Phoenixville, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 2/12 - Friday Night Sampling (Victory) @Goshen Beverage, West Chester, PA (4:30pm-6:30pm; free) Fri. 2/12 - Firkin Fridays of February (Bourbon Chocolate Porter) @Iron Hill Brewery, Media, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 2/18 - Sly Fox Night @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 2/18 - Blues Brews 'n' BBQ @Ron's Original, Exton, PA (PAYG) Fri. 2/19 - Firkin Fridays of February (Hoppy versus Malty) @Iron Hill Brewery, Media, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 2/19 - Boaks' 2nd Anniversary Party @Capone's, Norristown, PA (6:30pm-9:30pm; PAYG) Sat. 2/20 - The Situation Release Party @Iron Hill Brewery, Maple Shade, NJ (1:00pm-5:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 2/20 - Friday Night Sampling on Saturday (Weyerbacher) @Goshen Beverage, West Chester, PA (1:00pm-4:00pm; free) Sun. 2/21 - New Holland Foodie Brunch @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (details TBD Sun. 2/21 - Chili Challenge @Victory Brewing Co., Downingtown, PA (12:00pm-3:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 2/25 - Craft Brew Night (Great Lakes) @Pickering Creek Inn, Phoenixville, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 2/26 - Firkin Fridays of February (Russilicious) @Iron Hill Brewery, Media, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Fri. 1/29 - Cask Ale Night (February selections: Victory Pursuit Pale Ale & Oliver Dark Horse Mild) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 2/3 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (February's selection: TBD) @Triumph, Princeton, NJ (6:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 2/5 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (February's selection: TBD) @Triumph, New Hope, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 2/6 - Strong Ale Fest @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA (11:00am; PAYG) Wed. 2/24 - Get Vertical with Stone @Craft Ale House, Limerick, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Elsewhere Fri. 2/5-Sun. 2/7 - 20th 'Cask Head' Cask Ale Festival @The Brazen Head, Brooklyn, NY (12:00pm 'til ???; PAYG) Events Over $20 Philadelphia Tue. 2/2 - Beer Dinner with Dogfish Head @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; $65) Sat. 2/6 & Sat. 2/20 - Craft Beer & Artisanal Cheese Tour @Old City, Philadelphia, PA (3:30pm-5:30pm; $45) Sun. 2/14 - Valentine's Dinner @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (all night; $69/couple) Sun. 2/14 - Valentine's Dinner @Hawthornes, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm; $TBD) Tue. 2/16 - Yards Beer Dinner @La Terrasse, Philadelphia, PA (details TBD) Sat. 2/20 - Pork Yards Pints @The Institute, Philadelphia, PA ($40) Tue. 2/23 - Lost Abbey/Port Brewing Beer Dinner @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm) Fri. 2/26 - Beer & Cheese & Meat: Fermentation Three-Way @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $55) Philadelphia's close suburbs Fri. 2/5-Sat. 2/6 - Taste Local @The Desmond Hotel, Malvern, PA (see website for details) Sun. 2/14 - Valentine's Day Beer Dinner @Victory Brewing Co., Downingtown, PA (5:30pm & 7:30pm seatings; $75/couple) Wed. 2/17 - Brooklyn Beer Dinner & Joe Sixpack @Iron Abbey, Horsham, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; $40) Tue. 2/23 - Victory Beer Dinner @Avalon, West Chester, PA (7:00pm; $50) Fri. 2/26 - Bavarian the Barbarian Beer Dinner @The Buck Hotel, Feasterville, PA (7:00pm; $55) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Tue. 2/2 - Italian Beer School & Dinner @Tap and Table, Emmaus, PA (7:00pm; $65) Wed. 2/3 - Meet The Brewer Series Presents… (Weyerbacher) @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA (7:00pm; $40) Sat. 2/27 - Winterfest @Stoudt's Brewing Co., Adamstown, PA (7:00pm-11:00pm; $35) Elsewhere Fri. 2/5-Sun. 2/14 - San Francisco Beer Week @all around San Francisco Bay Area, CA (see website for details) Fri. 2/19-Sat. 2/20 - Extreme Beer Fest @The Cyclorama @ The Boston Center For The Arts, Boston, MA (see website for details) Tue. 2/23 - Winter Strong Ale Tasting Extravaganzee @Brickskeller, Washington, D.C. (6:00pm; $35)

Monday, January 25, 2010

McKenzie Brew House Belgian Beer Reserve Dinner : 1/21/2010

(Sign of good things to come)
McKenzie Brew House tries to be many things to many people with varied tastes in eating, drinking, and entertainment. Sports, karaoke, poker, dancing, jazz, brewpub, wine, restaurant, and social gathering spot are just a few ways in which McKenzie aims to serve their clientele. Last Thursday evening at their original location in Chadds Ford, it was a full sit-down Belgian Beer Reserve Dinner <--click for the full menu. Owner Bill Mangan welcomed the crowd and in case there were any newcomers to good beer in attendance, he reminded all that beer is a wonderful compliment to food and that it has been too long since they last conducted a beer and food pairing dinner at the brewpub.
(Don Russell, aka Joe Sixpack; Ryan Michaels, head brewer; Gerard Olson, brewer)
This one was the first of what they expect to be more of the same...at both locations. Brewers Ryan Michaels and Gerard Olson worked with the kitchen to come up with a Belgian Farmhouse Beer Dinner menu. I described the food on the menu as good, solid (almost like comfort...though, certainly not boring) food that went well with the five different farmhouse ales. There wasn't anything too far "out there" that couldn't please the less adventurous palate. The beers, though, were anything but average and really rewarded everyone in the room looking for anything but your "typical" beer. In this way, this sort of beer dinner can be the perfect way to introduce newcomers to beer and its food pairing capabilities.
(Ryan Michaels describes the process of making his farmhouse ales)
Don Russell was an invited guest (as was I, I should add) and worked with Bill, Ryan, and Gerard to introduce the evening and each course. It was clear from the beginning that everyone was excited for this dinner. I was particularly excited as I was hoping that this dinner could be yet another vehicle to bring more light to the great work that is coming out of the brewhouses at McKenzie. For those uninitiated or those continued naysayers, you'll see that in addition to the standard brews that are available year-round there are some very interesting and well-done beers coming out with the turning of every season. And, in the case of this dinner, that was exactly what was available.
(I don't normally include pictures of myself, but it was Mary Bigham of WC Dish and Chester County Cuisine and Nightlife)
When we arrived into the recently remodeled and unveiled lower level (called Metro), the room had been outfitted with eight tables, almost wedding reception-like. I joked that I half expected Don, Ryan, and Gerard to be announced down the staircase and into the room! Each place setting had five glasses awaiting their share of beer. All that was left for the servers was to bring the beer and food.
(5 cheeses, 1 very good beer...the Saison Brune)
The dinner proceeded at a real nice pace, ending at a little over two hours. The first course was an ample serving of five different cheeses to go with the just-funky-enough Saison Brune, certainly funkier than the saison brune I'd had the night prior at Sly Fox...some of which could be attributed to the close to a year that it spent in a Chaddsford Winery oak barrel. I can't imagine many better pairings with beer, particularly a funky farmhouse ale, than with cheese...in this case, the blue cheese (cow's milk-Ireland) and the manchego (sheep's milk-Spain). The blue cheese was just so creamy and so pleasingly tart that I could have left after this course without complaint.
(Better than your average house greens...much better)
But, alas, more food and beer was brought. Beet and goat cheese salad is one of my (Patty's too) favorite salads, one that often goes well in a beer dinner. I believe the last memorable one that I had was the Monk's Cantillon/de la Senne dinner in Philly back early last year ('09). Ah yes, here's the link...no goat cheese, though, in that one. Crap, now I'm not going to be able that Cantillon dinner out of my head.
(Don Russell describing the history of grisettes, unbeknownst to him, he had an accompanying visual over his shoulder)
While the salad was very enjoyable, I'm afraid there were too many strong flavors on the plate to allow the Grisette to shine. The red onions, the cheese, the vinaigrette dressing was all too much for my palate to pick up the delicate flavors in the low alcohol Grisette. A light moment here for me occurred when I snapped the picture of Don explaining the meaning of the word grisette while a buxom blonde appeared over his shoulder on the television. That reminds me of a tip for establishments conducting beer dinners: try to reduce distractions...at least the obvious and direct distractions. I'd forgotten about this until just now, but all through the evening the presence of the numerous large-screen televisions that were turned on (though, silenced) and music from the speakers detracted from the guys as they were speaking to the room.
(See bass, eat bass, chase with gold medal-winning Saison Vautour, savor, repeat)
It's possible that the next course of sea bass and the award-winning (twice gold) Saison Vautour was my favorite of the evening. The fish was perfectly baked for me, meaning not overcooked and the beer was just as I hoped...nicely funked with the brettanomyces addition. The braised fennel on the side was a nice contrasting texture from the fish and was not as fennel-y as I might have imagined. The whole course made me seriously consider buying more Saison Vautour bottles to keep the one that I have at home company.
(roasted pork loin with Biere d'Hiver)
The next course was all about sweet and spice...and it was nice. It also reminded me that I still have a Biere d'Hiver from 2007 (maybe '08?) in the cooler at home. The other one that I had opened in the past was quite a gusher, so it will be interesting to see how this next one fares when I open it. It's filled with all sorts of wintry spice flavors that helped it play nice with the raisins and apricot glaze that accompanied the pork loin.
(ah, sweet dessert with an introduction to a wonderful new beer, the Cuvee McK)
Then, it was time for dessert. While the Cuvee McK was one of the most noteworthy beers of the evening and the cake was a nice and tasty layering of espresso and cream in a sponge cake, it unfortunately didn't work all that well together. I'm not sure if it was the espresso that was throwing me off, but I needed to scarf down and enjoy the cake by itself, rinse with water, then work on the beer by itself. The beer, a year-long barrel-aged version of the Biere d'Hiver, was amazing. It must have picked up complexities being aged for almost a year, because I found it to be the most interestingly complex beer of the evening. So complex that my palate only has a handful of words for it. Mike, though, was in attendance too and wrote a whole bunch more descriptive words over at BeerAdvocate that you might wish to check out. This is a beer that's available in the bottle from either location...I believe somewhere around $13-$15 was mentioned as the price...well, well worth it I would say.
(A round of applause from the roughly 45 in attendance)
At $39, the dinner was one of the best deals I'd seen in a while in terms of beer dinner pricing. The beer alone was certainly worth more than half of the cost. The only thing that would make a beer dinner at McKenzie beer dinner better would be if the next one is held at the Malvern location...says a selfish Bryan :)
(A beer dinner, seen through a glass...no, he wasn't there)

Philly Beer WeekEnd(s)

I've begun planning the 3rd annual Philly Beer Week Beer Run. Maybe I should work on first coming up with a better name? No matter. I've begun planning and so have many others. And, while there's nothing that is ready to be shared with the general public yet, I can promise you that this is gonna be one hell of a year. Some of things that I hear being planned are just downright creative...and fun...for the organizers, participants, and consumers alike. Even more so than in the past, if that's possible. On one hand, Patty and I were just discussing the other day how we're glad PBW is pushed back this year until June. We just don't feel "ready" for the onslaught of sleep deprivation that the 10 days of frothy frivolity will be sure to bring yet once again. Yet with what I'm hearing being planned, I'm already getting anxious! In The Meantime... Have you heard about spring training for Philly Beer Week? Or shall we call them Philly Beer WeekENDs? Are you bummed that Philly Beer Week moved to June? Then, here's a fix for you in March to sink your livers into. Saturday March 6, 2010 - Philly Craft Beer Festival, $10/$45/$60 , 12:30pm-4:00pm --- 6:00pm-9:30pm Sunday March 7, 2010 - This could be a great day for a Philly Beer Run. Anyone know who could organize one of these such things?! Saturday March 13, 2010 - Michael Jackson-A 20th Anniversary Celebration, hosted by Randy Mosher, $50/$60 , 1:00pm --- 3:30pm --- 6:00pm Sunday March 14, 2010 - The Brewers Plate, $55/$65/$115, 4:00pm-7:30pm --- 5:00pm-7:30pm

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Yards is Open....old news or new?

Yards has been making beer and distributing it from their newest location for getting close to two years now. New to the story, though, is the long-promised tasting room which has just opened within the past week. But, this sounds like more than just a tasting room...this one comes with a kitchen to feed some vittles to go with your brew. Don Russell/Joe Sixpack has a nice look back on where Yards came from and where they're now going.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

One good thing leads to something better?

Zot was a good place, albeit a place I'd only been to twice. Is it because of the neighborhood's identity crisis of late? Were there management missteps that brought Zot's operations to a close last year? Or was it the competitive Philadelphia market...in both the pub/restaurant industry as well as, more specifically, Belgian beers? I don't know the answers to most of these questions. At this point, though, it's time to move on. In the first half of March, Philadelphia Beer Week co-founder and president of Museum Catering, Bruce Nichols, and partner Madame Saito plan to open 'The Head House' in the former location of Zot (122 Lombard Street)...just off, you guessed, Headhouse Square just north of South Street...where all the hippies meet. According to Profile Public Relations, The Head House will be "a restaurant and beer bar with more than 20 craft taps and beer-friendly foods located on Philadelphia’s historic Head House Square. The Head House will also become a new location for Museum Catering with a private event space to accommodate up to 100 people on the restaurant's second floor. The Head House will serve dinner seven days a week and is slated to open in March. More details will be available as the opening nears." Provided the estimated opening date is pretty close to the actual, I'm betting there'll be at least an event or two worthy of stopping by during Philadelphia's Beer Week in June 2010.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Exit 4: The Journey Continues at Flying Fish

Remember the exciting news that I promised after the Chifa dinner with Flying Fish last week? Well, it's here. And if the news is here, it means that the bottles are not far behind. Twelve ounce bottles, that is, of Flying Fish's lauded Exit 4 ("American Trippel"). It was the first in the once-pseudo-controversial Exit Series and then went on to win a Gold Medal at 2009's Great American Beer Festival. Casey Hughes, award-winning brewer at Flying Fish, gave the okay this morning to release this information out to you. And, a pretty picture too! Here's the rest of the story, in their words:
Exit 4 - American Trippel Exit 4 For the first release, we chose Exit 4--right up the street from the Flying Fish brewery. Because we were one of the first craft brewers to embrace Belgian-style beers, we've chosen as our representative beer, a Belgian Trippel dry hopped twice with plenty of American hops. This inspired Belgian-style Trippel has a hazy golden hue and the aroma of citrus with hints of banana and clove. Predominant Belgian malt flavors give way to a subdued bitterness in the finish. Bottle conditioned, this beer will develop as it ages. Winner of the gold medal at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival and voted The Best Belgian Beer in America in Mens Journal Magazine. Malts: Malto Franco-Belge Pils malt, White Wheat, Acidulated Malt Hops: Columbus, Palisades, Amarillo, Simcoe Yeast: Belgian Abbey Yeast Original Gravity: 21.5 plato Alcohol by volume: 9.5% Formats: 12oz Bottles, 1/2 Kegs, Firkins Released: February 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: January 21st-January 27th

Quite a diverse bunch of events over the next here around these parts of Philly Metro. The weather's broken just a bit over recently, so getting out for one of these events should not be too difficult. Check out the entire January 2010 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. Just a Taste @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 1/27 - Weyerbacher Wednesday (7:00pm; PAYG for draft and flight specials of Winter Ale, Fireside Ale, & Hotel Brewer's Reserve) @Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 1/26 - Left Hand Tuesday Nights (8:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG to meet & greet the brewers & beer reps & to taste the beers) Trouble with a capital Tee @Capone's, Norristown, PA--- Thu. 1/21-Sat. 1/23 - Barleywines and Barrel-Aged Beers (PAYG, more details to come) @Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 1/30 - The Trouble with Trippels (all day; PAYG for Sly Fox Incubus, Weyerbacher Merry Monks, Stoudt's Triple, Manayunk Triple (Monk from the 'Yunk), Iron Hill Triple, River Horse Triple, Flying Fish Exit 4 (American Trippel), Legacy Euphoria, Victory Golden Monkey, and Dock Street Prisoner of Hell with special food menu items as well) Happy Birthday Ol' Laddie @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA--- Fri. 1/22 - Robbie Burns Birthday Bash (5:00pm; PAYG gets you bagpipers and kilts, customers reciting the great Scottish poet's verses, and the traditional piping in of the Haggis, as well as the release of Sly Fox Gang Aft Agley Scotch Ale 2010.) Take a Hike, Drink a Beer @Philadelphia's Fairmount Neighborhood--- Sat. 1/23 - The Philadelphia Beer Experience, a Walking Tour (11:00am-5:00pm; $32.50 to join us on our inaugural walk as we taste our way through Rolling Barrel’s top four places to grab a beer in Fairmount. Passes include beer samples at all four locations, plus a guided tour and other surprises along the way. Warm clothes and comfortable shoes are highly encouraged.) Eat, Drink, Bread, Beer @McKenzie Brewhouse, Glen Mills, PA--- Thu. 1/21 - Beer Pairing Dinner (7:00pm; $39 for a 5-course meal paired with Saison Brune Reserve, Grisette, Saison Vautour, Biere d'Hiver, and Cuvee McK) @Ron's Original, Exton, PA--- Thu. 1/21 - Blues Brews 'n' BBQ (PAYG for big beers and big BBQ from Jimmy's BBQ in Frazer) @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 1/22 - Belgium's Winter Wonderland (6:30pm-8:00pm; $45 for brand new winter beers from just-discovered breweries in Belgium (and a few from the Netherlands) served with cheese and light snacks.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Don Ho, it's off to Hawaii we go....in search of Good Beer---Part 1


Hawaii. It's awesome; It's beautiful. Everyone should have the chance to see something so naturally beautiful more than once in their lives. The food is fantastic, the drinks are refreshing, and good beer can be found here and there but not everywhere.

(We just might have found the best Mai Tai at Halekulani)

See, if I could exercise just a bit of brevity, you might have read a long time ago of my first trip ever to Hawaii. My trip...as in my trip all the way back in October. My trip that touched on the busyness of business, the relaxation of resorts and spas, the thrill of an adventure, and the spiritual emotion that nature's awesome beauty and wonderment can awaken.

The trip began as a business trip that would take up all five days of the first week of October. It was spent on the island of Oahu in downtown Honolulu...Waikiki Beach area to be exact. Patty joined me and we turned it into a vacation with another week on Maui after Oahu.

Oh, and my Lancaster County Correspondent (remember him? he hasn't checked in for a while around here) was along too. Have you followed closely over time to realize that he's a co-worker and a friend as well? So, this worked out to be a real nice trip. Business, friend, wife, tropical locale...now just need to find a good beer or two.

Most people know of Kona Brewing and Maui Brewing companies. Kona actually brews very little, if any, beer on the islands anymore except for draft-only local consumption. Apparently, most or all has been contracted out to Redhook (or shall I say Craft Brewers Alliance?). If I had more gumption, I'd track down the truth in that statement.

In my beer preparations for this trip, I gathered that Maui had much more beer geek cred than Kona. Maui Brewing and its owner Garrett Marrero have been around just 5 years, but have gathered a lot of interest in their beer, particularly CoCoNut Porter and Father Damien, for which they have won WBC Gold (2006) and GABF Bronze (2009), respectively.

(the entrance to Kona Brewpub in Koko Marina, outside Honolulu)

But, Kona has a brewpub just a few miles from our Waikiki hotel, so that seemed like a no-brainer. Though, while I'm throwing out awards here, I should mention that Kona's Pipeline Porter gets kudos from the beer geeks...from the judges as well (GABF Bronze, 2007).

Before I get out-of-control here, let's rewind and take things from the top. I've got to make sure that I don't short-change you out of any of the high-quality beer travel information that you're accustomed to finding around here!

Actually, it's quite simple. As I've already described, this trip comes in two parts. The first part goes with the first week. A lot of me doing my day job thing with really no beer excursions at night to speak of. There was, however, a Thursday night dinner at Roy's (the original one) to celebrate my birthday (my 38th, since you asked, thank you).

This isn't a food blog and since there was only one beer involved (and nothing much to speak of, at that) I will only make one more comment about Roy's. I'd never been to Roy's anywhere before and was at first hesitant to take in what I figured might amount to a "chain experience" at Roy's. Boy, was I ever wrong! From the front door to the table seating, service, and ambiance to the food, drink, and presentation, this was a top 10, likely even a top 5 dining experience of all-time for me. Everything about Roy's impressed me and has me anxious for my next visit to a Roy's restaurant...even if I'm already preparing myself for a great letdown.

So what the first week really boiled down to was the Saturday and Sunday preceding the workweek. Not wanting to let a wasted day go by, we took the first flight out on Saturday morning and arrived in time to grab a late lunch/early dinner. Of course, the three of us were a bit punch drunk from the long flight.

No, I didn't say drunk...punch drunk, I said. I mention this because, yes we did indulge at around 10am at O'Hare airport in Chicago at the Goose Island Pub. Apparently, and maybe this is true at all airports?, the liquor license covers the entire airport. Because.....when asked if we wanted a Matilda "to go," we appeared quite a bit dumbfounded. Yes, the bartender says, "I can fill a plastic cup for you to walk through the airport with." Well, giddyup!!

Back (once again) to Hawaii. The best we could do for gathering ourselves and coming to a decision by committee (a bad thing to do when all on the committee are jetlagged) was to stagger down the street a block or so to find what appeared to be a decent restaurant. Decent, it was.

We had dinner and a few beers at LuLu's Waikiki Surf Club. It's a second floor, open-air restaurant at the end of Waikiki Beach near the City Zoo and Diamond Head. With a decent food menu ranging from casual pub grub to steaks and seafood, both Kona and Maui brews to choose from, along with a few other larger crafts, we knew this would work out just fine. Well, in fact, it worked out well enough that we wandered back in again at the end of the week. While it's not necessarily a beer geek destination and the service hits the midrange acceptable mark, it will do the trick and give you something tasty to drink if you're at that end of the strip.

(Turtle Bay: A more scenic place to drink a beer? I think not likely)

Now with all of that miscellany out of the way, I can focus us all on our Sunday tour around the island. We started downtown and made our way out to Pearl Harbor, for the requisite, moving tour of the base. We then moved on up the island through the pineapple fields to the North Shore where we grabbed a shrimp plate from a food bus prior to landing at Turtle Bay for a couple of drinks. This is where I ran into my first of many Kona Longboard Lagers during this two-week trip to Hawaii.

(Kona Brewpub at night)

We carried on around the Windward side of the island during the sunset hours and finally made it to the Kona Brewpub, which is just a short bit to the east of downtown Honolulu in Koko Marina. It didn't take long for me to rank this brewery right up there amongst the most scenic...right there with Anderson Valley and the like. This is their second of two locations, the first being on the Big Island.

The service could not have been more accommodating at Kona. From the friendly 'aloha' at the front desk to our server who handled a full load of tables, but was not too busy to answer our questions about Kona's history, the food, and the beer, the staff and waterside dining set the stage for a completely enjoyable evening. If we weren't tired out from our island-circling driving tour as well as being jet-lagged, on top of needing to get to work the following day, we certainly would have stayed for at least 1 or 4 more!

But, given all of that, the sampler platters of beer were more along the lines of suitable for us. Then, pick a favorite, get a pint of it and call it a night we did. Between the three of us, we only duplicated a couple of the beers and were able to sample just about the full lineup of beers.

(Kona Brewpub sampler, a bit expensive at $9 for 20 total ounces, but hey it's Hawaii)

If I have my facts correct, the packaged beers (bottles and cans) that you can get from Kona are produced on the mainland under their agreement in the Craft Brewers Alliance. I believe that goes for kegs of the same brands too...but that's a fact that I need to check. The specialties, though, are produced on site and on the Big Island of Hawaii but do not get packaged in any form, including (unfortunately) growlers, to go. The consensus at our table enjoyed the Black Sand Porter, the Lavaman Red, and the Hefeweizen. Their version of a coconut porter, though, was not up to the standard, we all agreed, set by Maui Brewing.

We caught a little of the live music that had begun while we were polishing off nachos, fish tacos, and salads. As I'd mentioned earlier, the location, the live music, decent beer and food, and attentive staff all combine to make this one of the most well-rounded brewpub experiences I think could be enjoyed. Everyone brings a little something different to the table. At Kona, they've got a little bit of everything which, in the end, contributes to a greater whole.

(Kona Brewpub on the water at night)

(the Yard House in amongst the downtown Honolulu shopping scene)

I was gonna break for part 2 right about now, then I realized I missed telling you about my first visit ever to a Yard House. There are enough of them around the country and you'd figure for the amount of travel that I do, that I would have run (or walked!) into one of these by now. Eh, nah, I'll put the pictures here and save the words for part 2. See you on the flip side where I'll finish up with Oahu and move on to Maui.

(how to move a lot of beer at Yard House)

(our table at Yard House ensured that we could keep an eye on the coldbox!)

This seems to qualify as the most interesting humpday news that I've heard today

Jump to Joe Sixpack for the details

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Get to Know McKenzie Brew House Again

There's been a bit more buzz of late around the McKenzie Brew House. A couple of medals here, a few positive comments from others in the industry there, and Jack Curtin mentioning the brewer and a few specific beers over three separate praising postings at his Liquid Diet. And in a few days, Don Russell (aka Joe Sixpack) is collaborating on the brewpub's first ever beer dinner. Rewinding a few years, McKenzie Brew House was a one brewhouse outlet in Glen Mills, don't call me Chadds Ford, or Concordville, or even Delaware. On the spot where the Frazer, don't call me Malvern, location now operates was the owner's former restaurant concept, La Grande. Here in this paragraph was where once was written more details about the happenings at the end of 2006. Then, I deleted it figuring those who know, know. Those who remember, remember. And, then there's a bunch, I'm guessing, who just don't give a rip. So, if you care and want to know more, click back here or over to this link. But, otherwise, I'm moving on and getting on with the positive and that's what I'm hoping many more will do as well. You owe it to your inner beer geek. Because.....Because, if you haven't been back since December 2006, you've been missing out on some fine brew coming out of Ryan Michaels' brewhouse. Since taking the helm at McKenzie, Ryan Michaels has continued to make the standard house brews, which---yes, the emphasis is 'standard'---is just fine, but like clockwork continues to crank out way more hits than misses with his seasonal/specialty/one-off batches. The beer judging world has taken notice as well...awarding a Gold for the Saison Vautour in both 2007 & 2009 and a Bronze in 2007 for the Wee Heavy. With a wingman of his own now (Gerard Olson to name names), the duo continues to put out beer all across the style map at both locations as well as at local festivals. Not long after 2009's GABF, I stopped in and chatted with Michaels and he sent me home, as with Jack, with one of those brett-laced Saison Vautours---One of those that won the Gold this past year---One that's still in my cooler. Jack says it was pretty good. Sounds like I need to be opening it pretty soon. And you? If you haven't been to McKenzie's lately because of some old grudge, well that's just silly...and I'm just sayin'. So you can make up for it this Thursday (that's less than two days from now on 1/21) for a sum total of $39. With that $39, you'll get five courses of food, plus beers like Saison Brune Reserve, Grisette, Saison Vautour, Biere d'Hiver, and Cuvee McK. Nothing standard about that, eh? Give 'em a try. If you're still not convinced....well, I'd buy your dinner, but I don't think that'd fly so well with Mrs. Brew Lounge.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A new year, a new brew, a new view

My odds of brewing again soon... ...just got better with a visit to Artisan Homebrew in Downingtown. The once-fresh picked, since frozen are awaiting a secondary fermenter full of beer. It's gonna be a chocolate cherry imperial stout..and it's gonna be big. Hoping to work on it this coming weekend with expectation to be drinking it in late February, early March. Mike's a great guy running the show at Artisan. But, if I have any questions I want to consult with an online service, it might be at the newly-created BrewAdvice.com. I've plugged around a bit and it looks promising as a useful homebrewing tool to add to your resources. Just got back from a weekend in D.C., but you're not going to hear about it... ...at least until I get some other writing and planning out of the way first. There'll be three things to share with you. First, a marathon (not the running kind!) visit to Brasserie Beck, the relatively new and supercool Belgian Bar/Restaurant at 11th & K streets in downtown Washington, D.C. Then, a visit to the latest in the "chain" of Dogfish Head Alehouses...this one in Fairfax, VA. I've been to the one in Gaithersburg, MD so it would be a test of how consistent the theme is...shouldn't be too difficult, eh? Nearby I made a trip to Total Wine as well as World Market and discovered a few beers not available in Pennsylvania. Felt sorry for them and brought many home with me! As far as other new things going on around here... ...this week you'll hear/read me talk/write about 1) Hawaii (finally); 2) the McKenzie Beer Dinner on Thursday (you should go too, really); 3) and a couple of other new and interesting things that some of you will find to varying degrees both...new...and...interesting (maybe). Sorry, must stay secretive for the time being. In the spirit of the holiday... ...I'll leave you with some fine quotes that I've seen floating around as Facebook status updates today: ~ "A special haiku: Remember today: / Martin Luther King, Jr. / Love and sacrifice" ~ "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." ~ "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom." ~ "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." ~ "THE King"

Friday, January 15, 2010

Flying Fish Beer Dinner at Chifa: 1/14/2010

How does the savvy beer traveler begin his trip through the Paoli Train Station? Why, of course, by first checking out the tap list at TJs across the street. And, then adjusting the departure time accordingly. In the case of the Chifa/Flying Fish dinner last night in the City, the last reasonable train to arrive in Philly allowed us to make a pit stop at TJs for a glass of Russian River's Pliny the Elder and a glass of Bell's HopSlam. Now, this posting is really not about either of these two beers. So, for the time being, I'll just leave it at this: Very few other places in the country (and only a handful of establishments around the Philadelphia Metro region) are fortunate enough to ever get their lips on Russian River beer...let alone another beer geek cult favorite, HopSlam...and both, fresh, at the same time. Granted, there are way too many very good beers out there to be pursued. This is just one example (two?) of Philadelphia's fortunate access to very good beer.
(Casey Hughes, Jose Garces, Gene Muller)
Moving on...sorry Jose, Gene, and Casey for letting these other guys steal some of your thunder. Because thunder it did on Chestnut Street last night. The dinner was moved to the upstairs dining room which was used to accommodate roughly 75 exuberant diners who came out to eat of the Iron Chef's food and drink of the {let's play Mad Libs here and fill in an adjective} beer from New Jersey.
(the upstairs dining room awaits the Beer Dinner)
With a mutual friend and PR agent in Jen Hatton, it may be of little surprise that Casey Hughes, brewer, from Flying Fish came together with the recently-crowned Iron Chef Jose Garces for a beer dinner that looked great on paper. The key would be the execution. Casey said that only a couple of back-n-forths took place in the planning stages before settling on the final menu. I'd say it worked out pretty well. More on that in a moment. Judging by the Beer Calendar of Events (check out The Brew Lounge's, for example!) January is full of post-holiday beer dinners around the Philly metro area. Question is: Will people come out for these dinners? This was one on my list. Next week, I'll be a guest at McKenzie's first beer dinner (ever, if my sources are correct) in Glen Mills/Chadds Ford/almost Delaware.
(Jose Garces welcomes his guests)
So did they show up? In a word, yup. Did I already say 75? While there was certainly a lot of fan support for the Flying Fish beer from friends and industry folk, I'm betting that there was a certain portion of the dining crowd that was there in anticipation of the cooking of Jose Garces, the Food Network's most recent inductee into Iron Chef brotherhood. In that crowd also was what appeared to be an Iron Hill team meeting. Either that, or it was an unsanctioned meeting of Philadelphia-based IH employees planning to open their own city-based restaurant/brewery if the mother company doesn't do it sooner!
(A table full of Iron Hill, including Paul Rutherford and Chris LaPierre)
(Casey Hughes introduces his beer)
The dinner got off to a slow start with the first course being dropped close to 30 minutes behind schedule. I'm guessing the presence of Mr. Iron Chef in the kitchen may have had something to do with that. No matter, once the dinner got rolling, the courses were nicely paced with full glasses of beer being brought to the tables a few minutes before the food portion of the course. Each beer was a generous portion with some top-offs being offered as well.
(Oh, tender pig cheeks)
I'm going to keep my course-by-course critique to a minimum here since I've got but limited time to get this out to you before I'm moving on to other things that you'll hear about soon enough I'm sure. (And, I should probably apologize yet once again for subpar pictures. No one will ever accuse me of spreading beerfoodporn. Though, the lighting really did have something to do with it...honestly.)
(The 5-course Flying Fish/Chifa Beer Dinner Menu)
In that spirit, I'm going to skip directly to my favorite course and pairing, the Smoked Tuna and the Abbey Dubbel. The combination of the smoked tuna flavor and texture went real nicely with the maltiness of the mildly alcoholic dubbel. I wasn't sure if the beer's malt profile was giving off the slight smokiness that I perceived under the more recognizable fruit flavors or if the tuna preparation was playing tricks on me. Either way, it was a delight.
(Smoked Tuna and Abbey Dubbel)
In a very close second was the ever-so-perfect Exit 4, paired with the lamb chop. The hops, the alcohol, the sweetness of the beer plus the tender cumin-spiced lamb was a melt-in-your-mouth winner. Weighing in at less than 5% ABV, a souvenir glass full of the Belgian Mild was a pleasant interlude between these last two high alcohol beers that I just mentioned. Next to the tender and tasty pig cheek, it was a very nice middle course in the dinner.
(Exit 4 and Lamb Chop)
(Exit 1 and Chocolate Buns for dessert)
This may be the first time that not only did the dessert course not rank as my favorite of the evening, it wasn't even near the top. You might have thought that a stout and a chocolate-based dessert would have done it for me. Not in this case. Sure, they stood well on their own as well as provided for a fine pairing. There just wasn't anything particularly wow-ing about the combination.
(HopFish and Hamachi)
Were there any disappointments? Well, sure...The portion sizes. I rarely, if ever, have left a beer dinner still hungry for more. And, while I wasn't necessarily falling over starving after the dinner, I and Mrs. Brew Lounge certainly had room for something more. This was probably no where more evident than on the plate of the first course, the way-way-wafer thin Hamachi Ceviche, carpachio-like in fact. A very nicely done dish to be sure, especially when paired with the HopFish. But, the slices were so thin, I wondered they'd even qualify has 'melt in your mouth', since there was hardly anything to melt! Perhaps it was meant to show off cutlery skills in the kitchen and presentation than anything else. Listen, we're not greedy or anything. This, in fact, probably was enough food...it was just striking that we both left the dinner saying that we were still hungry. That being said, this was still a wonderful way to spend a Thursday evening. Too often, decadent beer dinners consumed in the earlier part of the week, say Tuesdays most typically, leave me feeling weighed down and dragging to the end of the week after the gastronomical overload that some of these dinners can exact on me. At Chifa last night (a Thursday), even though it wasn't an overwhelmingly filling or drunken meal, the effects of the dinner and the late night only had to be endured for one more business day before the weekend set in.
(Casey Hughes and Gene Muller looking relaxed near the end of the dinner)
Oh, and if you've lasted this long through my recount of last evening, then you've hung around long enough for me to tease you that I stumbled across an exciting piece of news that should have many of you all a-twitter. Now, I just need to determine when and how I may share this with you.
(Exit 4 and Exit 1 battle for favorite turnpike beer)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: January 14th-January 20th

Haven't spent your year-end bonus yet? Oh wait, didn't get one? How about the $50 from Grandmom? This upcoming week is chock full of great events around the "Delaware Valley," including more beer dinners than you can shake a rubber chicken at. Check out the entire January 2010 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. Have a Taste or Two @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA--- Fri. 1/15 - Friday Night Tasting (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free tasting samples of Weyerbacher) @Dawson Street Pub, Philadelphia, PA--- Mon. 1/18 - Keep the Pint Night (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for treats from Victory) @Iron Hill Brewery, Phoenixville, PA--- Sat. 1/16 - Brewers' Reserve featuring British Invasion (12:00pm-5:00pm; PAYG for English Style Beers plus some surprise guest beers on tap and also featuring Traditional English Fare) @Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 1/19 - Left Hand Tuesday Nights (8:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG to meet & greet the brewers & beer reps & to taste the beers) @Stone Beverage, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 1/15 - Friday Night Beer Tasting (4:30pm-6:30pm; Free tasting samples of Flying Fish) @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA--- Tue. 1/19 - Tasty Tuesday with Weyerbacher (PAYG to meet the brewer and more... some gems hidden for years in our cellar might surprise you, 11-12-13-14...get it?) Dinner Time, call your brother and sister in @Chifa, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 1/14 - Flying Fish Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $65 for a 5-course meal paired with HopFish IPA, Abbey Dubbel, Belgian Mild, Exit 4 American Trippel, and Exit 1 Bayshore Oyster Stout) @Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, Rehoboth Beach, DE--- Sun. 1/17 - Bollywood (Dogfish style!) - A Night of Indian Cuisine (6:30pm; $57 for a 5-course meal paired with Namaste, Dogfish Head Mango Ginger Martini, Pale India Ale, 90 Minute IPA, and 2008 Immort Ale) @Iron Abbey, Horsham, PA--- Wed. 1/20 - Flying Fish Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $40 for a 5-course meal paired with Extra Pale Ale, Belgian Mild, HopFish IPA, Abbey Dubbel, and Exit 1 Bayshore Oyster Stout) @McKenzie Brewhouse, Glen Mills, PA--- Thu. 1/21 - Beer Pairing Dinner (7:00pm; $49 for a 5-course meal co-hosted with Joe Sixpack and paired with Saison Brune Reserve, Grisette, Saison Vautour, Biere d’Hiver, and Cuvee McK) @The Belgian Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 1/20 - Weyerbacher Anniversary Beer(s) Dinner (7:00pm; $55 for some cellared Weyerbacher Anniversary ales (numbers 11, 12, 13, and 14) and a 4-course dinner built around them! Also be pairing a course with their Winter Fireside ale.) @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 1/14 - Beer & Cheese: Victorious Winter Pairings (6:30pm-8:00pm; $50 for a beer and cheese pairing featuring brews from Victory such as Baltic Thunder, V-Twelve, Old Horizontal barleywine, and the brand new Yakima Twilight paired with a variety of cheeses.) @Union Barrel Works, Reamstown, PA--- Wed. 1/20 - Wild Game & Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $40 for a 5-course meal paired with Kölsch, Brugga Bastard, Mai Bock, Uncle Fester, Hop Knockers IPA, Wobbly Bob Doppelbock, and a Chocolate Stout Float) Event so crazy they should lock up whomever's responsible @Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 1/20 - 120 on 1/20 (10:00am; PAYG because it's now an annual tradition. We tap a sixtel of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA on 01/20. We'll tap it at 10am. Weighing in at 21% ABV, we expect this sixtel to last all day, but not two whole days.) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville & Royersford, PA--- beginning Wed. 1/6 - St. Patrick's Day Boot Camp (5:00pm; PAYG, see website for all of the details) File Under: In case you find yourself in Alaska, or anywhere near Wasilla @William A. Egan Civic & Convention Center, Anchorage, AK--- Fri. 1/15-Sat. 1/16 - Great Alaska Beer & Barleywine Festival (see website for details)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Donate blood, Drink beer

Just one more link to pass along to you and then, I promise, to stop for a little while. This one is timely for me since I just finished up with my monthly platelet donation. Iron Hill is just down the street in West Chester, but I don't need the beer as incentive to donate...but it does help with the replenishment! Here's a story of beer for blood in Washington. And, yes, if this looks familiar to you...I found this via, gulp, those forums at a popular beer website.

Monday, January 11, 2010

For fans of Drie Fonteinen, lambics, and things blended

While I'm on a short string of passing on links to you, this one's a good read from the "Thirsty Pilgrim." He (Joe) shares what began as a disheartening story close to a year ago at Drie Fonteinen and now continues in the next chapter with a business model that has adapted to the current situation. Sounds like most parties involved, consumers included, may come out winners.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Good Reason to take that Boat, or maybe plane, to China

I did something recently that I rarely do, I thumbed through (figuratively, of course) the forums over at BeerAdvocate. And, I found something that seemed worth sharing. We talk about the U.S. a whole bunch around here. Belgium and Germany, too. Even the U.K. occasionally. We don't venture too much farther to the East, though...or West depending upon your orientation on this globe. I figure I'd like to visit China some day. Something good to drink while in Shanghai would be yet another good reason to visit. Check out this interesting article about the beer scene in China, particularly Shanghai.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Soldiers 'fall in' as Boot Camp kicks off again at Sly Fox

A massive meatloaf platter for dinner, preceded by a 2009 Odyssey, and accompanied by a Dunkel Lager...and the 2010 Boot Camp at Sly Fox in Phoenixville was off and running. We last participated in this fun 10-week event back in 2006. Though, we didn't win anything from the raffles, we came away with t-shirts and good times. (we're not greedy!) Food, beer, live music every Wednesday and Thursday at Sly Fox...plus accumulating chances to win a trip to Ireland...all great reasons to stop in. Drawing held during the raucous St. Patrick's Day culmination of Boot Camp on March 17th. All the details at SlyFoxBeer.com

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Words escape me

We don't see this in Pennsylvania, so...If I could, I surely would....(go to NYC next Tuesday) A reason to visit Rattle 'n' Hum on Tuesday, 1/12

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: January 7th-January 13th

Never too cold to wander out to a good beer event. Here comes week 2 of year 2010. Check out the entire January 2010 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. Have a Taste or Two @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA--- Fri. 1/8 - Friday Night Tasting (5:00pm-7:00pm; free tasting samples of Double Trouble from Founders) @Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 1/12 - Left Hand Tuesday Nights (8:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG to meet & greet the brewers & beer reps & to taste the beers) @Pickering Creek Inn, Phoenixville, PA--- Thu. 1/7 - Craft Brew Night (6:00pm; PAYG for a bunch of featured brews from Southampton Publick House) @Triumph, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 1/7 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (6:00pm; PAYG for January's featured selection of Belgian Golden Ale) @Triumph, New Hope, PA--- Fri. 1/8 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (6pm; PAYG for January's featured selection of Zitronenweizen) Food meets Beer @Iron Hill Brewery, Maple Shade, NJ--- Wed. 1/13 - Brewmaster’s Winter Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $65 for a Five Course Meal paired with Caprice, Abbey Dubbel, Pig Iron Porter, Vienna Lager, Cherry Vanilla Porter) @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA--- Wed. 1/13 - Meet The Brewer Series Presents… (7:00pm; $40 for four beers from Bell's, great food pairings, and fresh cask-conditioned HopSlam) Fun & Games! @Doobie's, Philadelphia, PA--- Mon. 1/11 - Quizzo and Kenzinger (9:30pm; PAYG to drink and show off your smarts) @North Bowl, Philadelphia, PA--- Mon. 1/11 - HopSlam Release (9:00pm; $20 for bowling, shoe rental, and one Bell's beer) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville & Royersford, PA--- Wed. 1/13-Thus. 1/14 - St. Patrick's Day Boot Camp (5:00pm; PAYG...see website for all of the details) More firkins, More Yards...ho hum @Bridgid's, Philadelphia, PA--- Mon. 1/11 - Olde Bartholomew Barleywine Firkin (7:00pm; PAYG and help bring new meaning to T.U.D.) @Kite and Key, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 1/7 - Olde Bartholomew Barleywine Firkin (7:00pm; PAYG for some Olde Bart, no word of steel cage wrestling matches) @London Grill, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 1/8 - Olde Bartholomew Barleywine Firkin (8:00pm; PAYG for a little baby pin of Olde Bart) @Pub and Kitchen, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 1/8 - Olde Bartholomew Barleywine Firkin (5:00pm; PAYG keeps 'em coming) @the P.O.P.E., Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 1/9 - Olde Bartholomew Barleywine Firkin (5:00pm; PAYG for the last of the 10 Days of Olde Bart..firkins, that is) Only one cask event on the calendar this week? @d.b.a., Brooklyn, NY--- Fri. 1/8-Sun. 1/10 - Williamsburg Cask Ale Festival (1pm daily; PAYG for at least 12 rare and delicious cask-conditioned beers tapped simultaneously) Big Fun on the Big Mountain with Big Brews...the theme is BIG @Vail Cascade Resort & Spa, Vail, CO--- Thu. 1/7-Sat. 1/9 - Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival (see website for all of the details)