Sunday, November 27, 2011

What did you drink for Thanksgiving?

I know, I know. The title has all the makings of an aimless BA thread.

Rather, I'm catching up on my delinquent link to an article I wrote pre-Thanksgiving about drinking beer with the holiday dinner.

So, here it is....let me know if you agree, disagree, or have personal favorites you feel like sharing with the group. Comment here, or comment there. If you comment "there", you get the big guy's attention in Washington that there's a few people that like to read and talk about beer :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Big money went to the rescue at All 4 Paws and big hoppy beers to the people at The Drafting Room

Preliminary returns show just over $3,000 being raised at The Drafting Room for the local All 4 Paws animal rescue.

Big congrats to Howard at TDR and Kristen Schlichtig at All 4 Paws (and her team of volunteers) who capped off a successful week of fundraising with a list of fresh hop/harvest/or otherwise hop-forward beers and an incredible list of raffle prizes from around the region.

Head over to my Twitter page for a few pictures from the event. Yup, probably still one more week without a non-mobile computer.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Trust me, this is where you want to be on November 26...tomorrow at The Drafting Room

Our 1-year-old puppy, Callie, came from South Carolina courtesy of All 4 Paws animal rescue. It's based out of northern Chester County and The Drafting Room has their back this weekend.

I can't quite figure how The Drafting Room pulled this one off, but damn impressive it is.

Tomorrow, Saturday November 26, The Drafting Room is throwing a big party.

All this week, raffle tickets have been on sale this week for $5 per ticket.

All day long, it's Hop-forward beers where 15% of draft sales go to this worthy and well-run animal rescue organization.

(Here's a tip: If you haven't already tried the Yards Cerebus, this is your heads-up alert.)

At 7 p.m. it's the drawing for the following prizes. Do yourself and the animals a favor and join in the fun and fundraiser. Here's a rundown of what you could go home with.

Chester County Restaurant Gift Card Package ($150 value)
$50 gift card to Tango, $50 gift card to 333 Belrose, and $50 gift card to Brickside Grille

Retail Bundle ($125 value)
$50 gift card to Giant Food store, $25 gift card to Old Navy, and $50 gift card to Bed, Bath, and Beyond

Beer Bar Tour ($150 value)
$50 gift card to Station Taproom, $50 gift card to Teresa’s Next Door, and $50 gift card to The Drafting Room Taproom & Grille

Beer Package ($125 value)
Five Liter Bell’s Oberon Mini Keg and $75 gift card to Sierra Nevada Brewery

Gourmet Beer Basket ($50 value)
Victory Dark Intrigue, Brooklyn Black Ops, Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale, and Unibroue 2005 Edition

Microbrewery Experience ($150 value)
$50 gift card to Victory, $50 gift card to >Earth, Bread, & Brewery, and $50 gift card to Iron Hill

Fitness Package ($160 value)
Three Month Gym Membership at Tennis Addiction Fitness Club plus 1 Hour Massage

Flyers Tickets ($150 value)
2 tickets to see the Flyers play at the Wells Fargo Center

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lew Bryson has big plans for 2012

Here's something I missed in the past week and I'm here to give it a proper bump and share with you.

Our local pal, Lew Bryson, whom we share with the world of beer and whiskey is getting his own show. On TV, the Internet, or wherever I'm not sure, but this sure has the makings of being something pretty cool -- particularly given Lew's pretty cool attitude and personality.

Instead of me going on any longer, go over and check out the back story on Lew's site (er, blog).

And, do consider pitching in some funds via Kickstarter to the production company looking to get this thing going.

Add this to the list of things, I'm sure, that Bryson is thankful for this time of year.

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: November 24 - November 30

We stand here at the official kickoff to the holiday season and we all have much to be thankful least in terms of great beer in the Philadelphia region. So get out there and celebrate at any of these worthy beer events in the next seven days.

Check out the entire November 2011 calendar over here.

If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know.

Y'gotta Play to Win
@City Tap House, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Wed. 11/30 - Philly Beer Week Raffle (7:00pm; $PAYG for a raffle that takes place at 8:30pm for two prizes: a trip to Belgium with a local brewer of choice to brew a collaboration beer at renowned Brasserie Dupont; and the Philly Beer-Stravaganza, a PBW gift package that includes a trip to Tröegs Brewing Company with top local brewers to create the local collaboration brew- Brotherly Suds 3. Raffle tickets cost $5 per ticket or 5 tickets for $20.)

A Special Grand Opening
@Lucky Lab Tavern, Royersford, Pa.--- Sat. 11/26 - Grand Opening (11:00am; $PAYG during a daylong kickoff party complete with local brewers, Berks County Humane Society fundraiser, and beer samplings in the former home of Sly Fox Brewing Co.)

Thanksgiving and Black Friday
@Capone's, Norristown, Pa.--- Fri. 11/25 - Black Friday Fest (8:00am; $PAYG for a geek-filled tap list with beers from Ballast Point, Bear Republic, Blue Point, Cigar City, Deschutes, Dogfish Head, Firestone Walker, Founders, Ithaca, Left Hand, Mikkeller, Prism, Russian River, Stone, Struise, and Thirsty Dog. Plus, vintage beers from Avery, Boaks, Dark Horse, De Dolle, Dieu Du Ciel, East End, Rodenbach, Weyerbacher.)

@Devil's Den, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 11/24 - Thanksgiving Specials (7:00pm; $PAYG to help shake off the turkey and family with special tappings of '09 and '10 Southern Tier Pumking)

@High Street Grill, Mount Holly, NJ--- Fri. 11/25 - Life & Limb Tapping (7:00pm; $PAYG for a special tasting)

@Iron Abbey, Horsham, Pa.--- Fri. 11/25 - Black Friday with Ommegang (5:00pm; $PAYG for a night of '10 & '11 vintage comparisons between Adoration, Three Philosophers, and Chocolate Indulgence. Also featuring Gnomegang & other Ommegang beers. Flights will be available.)

@Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 11/25 - Everything Went Black ($PAYG for a full brunch menu and a draft list that includes Avery Mephostopheles, Hercule Stout, Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, Allagash Fluxus [10], Duck Rabbit Schwarzbier, Fuller's London Porter (cask), Sly Fox O'Reilly's Stout, and more.)

Special Tastings, Brewery Promos, and Samplings
@Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 11/25 - Free Sampling (4:00pm-6:00pm; $Free tasting samples of Founders beers)

@Iron Hill Brewery, North Wales, Pa.--- Fri. 11/25 - Bottled Reserves Tasting (6:00pm-8:00pm; $Free samples of our hand-bottled reserve beers and all bottles are available for purchase)

@Khyber Pass Pub, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Tue. 11/29 - One-year anniversary (11:00am; $PAYG for $4 Ridgemont Reserve Manhattans the entire day starting at 11am. From 4pm to 6pm, it's Happy Hour pricing featuring $10 select pitchers, $1.50 domestic bottles, $4 Classic Frozen Mint Juleps, $2 off drafts, and $1 off everything else! Then from 6pm to 9pm, we're offering $2 Shine Shots, $2 Sly Fox, $2 Bluecoat drinks. Finally, from 9pm 'til 11pm, get your fill of $2 Drafts and $2 Buffalo Trace drinks. Specials on selected bar snacks alongside our drinks specials.)

@South Philadelphia Tap Room, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Wed. 11/30 - Allagash Tap Takeover (8:00pm; $PAYG for a full lineup of Allagash beers including White, Black, Little Big, Dubble, Grand Cru, Curieux, Triple, and Interlude)

@The Drafting Room, Exton, Pa.--- Sat. 11/26 - Hopfest featuring Harvest Ales (12:00pm; $PAYG for a full lineup of hop-forward beers including: Boulder Brewing Fresh Track, Brew Works Harvestfest IPA, Flying Dog Centennial Hop, Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor, Great Divide Fresh Hop, Hair of the Dog Blue Dot, Harpoon Docesna Czech Harvest Ale, Russian River Pliny the Elder, Sierra Nevada Estate Brewers Harvest, Stillwater Harvest Saison, Terrapin "So Fresh, So Green Green", Victory Harvest Pils, Victory Harvest Ale, Weyerbacher Harvest, and a firking of Yards Ceribus. 15% of all draft beer sales will be donated to All 4 Paws Rescue. Also, a massive raffle at 7:00pm.)

@World Café Live, Wilmington, Del.--- Tue. 11/29 - Don't Call Me Lager (5:00pm; $5 donation at the door plus $PAYG for a pre-screening reception featuring all of the Dogfish Head music-centered beers (Faithfull Ale, Bitches Brew, and Hellhound on my Ale) as well as many other Dogfish Head staples. Stick around for an after-screening concert featuring local bands paying tribute to one of the most influential bands of the 90's and beyond. A silent auction featuring various rare Dogfish Head beers and a Pearl Jam 20 basket of cheer will benefit the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. We'll also be raffling off all sorts of Dogfish Head and World Café Live loot throughout the night
to help the "Friends of the Estuary" preserve the estuary and its tributaries for future generations.)

Food and Beer events
@Iron Hill Brewery, Phoenixville, Pa.--- Sun. 11/27 - Pizza Pies and Pints (3:00pm-8:00pm; $15 for each pizza & pint pairing including Oktoberfest, Nut Brown Ale, Voodoo Lager, Saison, Ironbound, and Hefeweizen)

@McCrossen's, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Wed. 11/30 - Stoudt's Beer Dinner (6:30pm; $40 for a four-course meal paired with beer from Stoudt's)

@Union Transfer, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 11/26 - Winter Beer Fest (1:00pm & 6:00pm; $10/$33 for beers from nearly 50 breweries)

@Keystone Homebrew Supply, Montgomeryville, Pa.--- Sat. 11/26 - Introduction to Brewing Class (6:30pm; $40 for a class geared toward the first-time brewer. The class covers the basic equipment needed to homebrew and how it works. Participants will get hands-on experience brewing, bottling, and tasting homebrew.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Controlled and organized craziness at Victory on Dark Wednesday

I went to Victory for a growler fill up and a sandwich to go...and to witness the throngs of beer enthusiasts lined up for bottles of Dark Intrigue, the barrel-aged Storm King Stout. Bottles? More correctly -- cases, which was the per person limit again this year. Since it seemed that more is the new more and more is always better. So, yes, it was mostly cases going out the door one at a time.

Any thoughts of taking even a single bottle home with me were quickly dashed when I heard the line started at 6:30 a.m. (headed up by Rob, you may know him better as Amish Rob) and swelled to at least a couple hundred by the time the doors opened at 11:30 a.m.

Reportedly, the Storm King picked up a few percentage ticks in ABV from the barrel, nearing the 13% mark this year. If you like your Storm King and you like your Bourbon, I think you're gonna like this. A little heftier in body than last year, it's a smooth sipper with big Storm King and big bourbon flavor, but yet not overly boozy. All around, seems that the balance they were looking for was pretty decently struck.

Select retail shops are getting it soon and it'll be on tap at Victory's pub until it's finished. Cases $180, 750mL bottles $15, 5-ounce samples at the bar $7.50. (last number not a misprint, btw)

Downingtown Dish, appropriately, has a quick summary of the mid-day's doings and some quotes from Amish Rob. (uh, er, and it looks like I've snuck into one of their pictures playing the delivery guy. Actually, there's a sorta funny story associated with that handtruck.)

(If stretched out, the line likely would have reached Acorn Lane)

(Lovers of Victory beer, and more specifically barrel-aged Storm King Stout, lined up at the crack of dawn and braved the elements to secure the tasty beverage

(They queued up for the beer and filed out one by one)

(Matt Krueger and other Victory staff manned the flow of Dark Intrigue out the door beginning at 11:30 a.m.)

(Kate and Bob, Victory and barrel-aged beer enthusiasts, enjoy a taste of Dark Intrigue at the bar)

(Everything was priced to move, including the barrels used to age the Dark Intrigue)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The weather may be dark and dreary, but the beer will be dark and intriguing

From the sounds of the title, it almost sounds like I'm writing press copy for Victory Brewing. Knowing how many of you are really jazzed for the (final?) release of Dark Intrigue, I thought I'd give you a behind-the-scenes peek.

I'd planned to stop by in person and snap a picture or two of Dark Intrigue behind-the-scenes, but for living so close by, I should figure out how that never happened. Instead, the brewery sent along a couple of pictures that you may not have seen. It's cases and pallets of Dark Intrigue being readied for distribution and assurance that they're ready to go.

If you're planning to head to the brewery early tomorrow morning, keep in mind all the details that I shared with you last week and.....bring a poncho!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Link to Philly Guide of Beer along the Marathon route

[Link to Philadelphia Marathon Guide to Beer]

Let's see, if you "follow" me on Twitter, "like" me on Facebook, or actually "know" me in real life (!), you likely know that I volunteered yesterday at the Philadelphia Marathon.

But, I may not have mentioned it here.

Mrs. Brew Lounge, the young pup, and I served as walking information "booths" from 20th Street to the Art Museum along the Ben Franklin Parkway. For me, volunteering is always a great way to give back to the volunteering spirit that supports me throughout all the running that I do. Unsung? Maybe. Vital to the success of any race? Definitely.

My personal doings aside, I put up an article over at The Washington Times highlighting quite a few places along the marathon route corresponding the course's mile markers. For the Philly locals, you'll recognize most of them and, I'll bet, be more than ready to point out my omissions. I can already think of a few.

It moved up to the 9th most read article over night (curious, perhaps?), let's help bump it up a couple of more notches and show the folks at The Washington Times that people like to read about great beer. Please take the time to click through the link and share it with friends, if you are so-inclined.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A stop at Capone's for "scraps" of one more of this weekend's Greatest Hits

This weekend around the Philly beer scene (actually both lower case and Upper Case) saw a little bit of every kind of beer thing imaginable.

I did the whole Twitter thing, which, by now, I'm sure is getting to be a bit of a boring story line. Nonetheless...

I, as my human limitations demanded, stopped in at Iron Hill's 15th Anniversary Party in Newark, Del. and drank from a flight of firkins.

Good times.

Then, I dipped into some chowders, porter, stouts, chocolates, and the like at Rolling Barrel's 2nd Annual Stout and Chowder Festival at Penn's Landing.

Great venue. A "welcome beer" on the elevator to the top floor of the Seaport Museum.

AND, Manayunk Brewing under the direction of Doug Marchakitus (head brewer) and Jeff McCracken (brewer) continues to impress.

I won't say that I was the first, but after I proclaimed the Manayunk Porter the beer of the night, I heard a half dozen of so others also make the same reference. Not to say there weren't other very good beers (Flying Fish's annual release of Grand Cru Winter Reserve impressed as always as did Dock Street's Satellite Espresso Stout....just two for-examples), but Manayunk's beers since Doug arrived from Iron Hill continue to remind us all that it would be unwise to overlook this Manayunk mainstay.

But, on to tonight. Yesterday, a major beer geek tasting took place at Capone's outside of Norristown. I suppose it was a bit of a warmup of what has become the Black Friday event around Philly.

In any case, I needed to pick up some bottles that they've held for me for quite some time and I figured it be good for a Sunday night dinner and to check out what "scraps" remained from yesterday's event.

Figured you'd like to know as well.

Struise Pannepot
Struise Black Damnation
Struise Black Damnation #4 Coffee Club
Struise Saint Amatus
Struise Tsjeese Reserva ['09]
Mikkeller Black Hole Imperial Stout (Red Wine barrel-aged)
Mikkeller Black Hole Imperial Stout (White Wine barrel-aged)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stout. Chowder. Chocolate. Festival.

All these words strung together have the markings of a festival not to be missed. Follow along with me on Twitter where I'll be occasionally posting pictures from the Stout and Chowder Festival at the Independence Seaport Museum at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia.

[Link to The Brew Lounge on Twitter]

15 fun firkins for 15 frothy years at Iron Hill in Newark, Del.

I'm still doing the whole mobile (only) thing, so while I'm at Iron Hill's 15th Anniversary Party in Newark, Delaware this afternoon, follow along over on Twitter where I'll be occasionally posting pictures.

Tonight, I'll be doing likewise from the 2nd Annual Stout and Chowder Festival

Link to The Brew Lounge on Twitter

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Twitter Odyssey continues tomorrow at The Brew Lounge

With a dead desktop at home not yet replaced, The Brew Lounge is still a mobile-only venture.

With that spirit, I'll be stopping by two events tomorrow. If you're not there, you should follow along with me via Twitter. You're not following The Brew Lounge on Twitter? C'mon now, if I can get through (sort of) this Twitter odd-yssey, we all can ;-)

These promise to be swell beer events worthy of a perfect fall Saturday afternoon and evening in the Delaware Valley.

~ Iron Hill's 15th Anniversary Party in Newark, Del. (with 15 firkins to boot)

~ 2nd Annual Stout and Chowder Festival in Philadelphia (with big beers, soups, chocolates, and much more)

See/Tweet you tomorrow.

[Link to The Brew Lounge on Twitter]

Popping up for a quick test

Anything to see around here? Nope, just another test.

25 years in, Hummel and Rigberg continue to trailblaze with Home Sweet Home Brew in Philadelphia

I wouldn't ordinarily re-post an entire press release verbatim, but in this case, it was one of the most well-written that I've seen in some time. Or perhaps I say that more so because it's full of well-deserved praise for two leading characters (said with all due respect!) in Philadelphia's craft brewing industry (home and professional brewing alike).

Check it out and do give careful consideration for the gift-giving recommendation: George's recently published homebrewing book (a link here back to my short review of it) along with a brewing kit and a start-up batch of ingredients for $150. This is a gift for the holiday season that I guarantee, as much as I possibly am able to, will please the beer-loving man or woman in your life.

Big Cheers to George and Nancy!

Profile Public Relations

PHILADELPHIA, PA – This fall, George Hummel and Nancy Rigberg, owners of Home Sweet Home Brew (2008 Sansom Street; 215-569-9469), Philadelphia’s original homebrewing supplier that gave many top craft brewers their start, will celebrate 25 years of serving the region. The duo, dubbed the godparents of homebrewers by Governor Ed Rendell when he bestowed them the Governor’s Inspiration Award in 2008 for their contributions to the craft brew industry, have made the community what is today. Hummel, an award-winning homebrewer and beer columnist, recently wrote a veritable guidebook, "The Complete Homebrew Beer Book," making him one of the country’s leading authorities on the subject. For the holiday season, the pair has packaged the book with a brewing kit and start-up batch of ingredients for $150, creating the perfect gift for seasoned enthusiasts and beginners alike.

Since taking over the business in 1990, Hummel and Rigberg have helped to raise the art of homebrewing from obscurity to the mainstream from the humble setting of their compact, quaint space that is brimming with every beer-making necessity.

"When we started homebrewing, there were only a few people doing it, but now its popularity has grown beyond our wildest expectations," says Hummel. "At Home Sweet Home Brew there’s nothing we love more than connecting with people through the beer-making process. We’re proud to say many customers come back year after year to recount their successes and failures and even share some of their final products." Along with Rigberg, a pioneer of the female beer community and an award-winning homebrewer who is widely recognized for her hard ciders, Hummel hosts H.O.P.S., or Homebrewers of Philadelphia and Suburbs, monthly meetings at Home Sweet Home Brew at which members meet to watch demos, talk brew methods and, of course, taste their delicious homemade beers.

In addition to the countless homebrewers that have been a part of the club over the years, some of the region’s biggest names in brewing can be counted among those to be influenced by the pair, including: Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Tom Kehoe of Yards; Gene Muller of Flying Fish; Bill Covaleski of Victory; Tom Peters of Monk's Café; and Iron Hill Brewery’s Marc Edelson, Kevin Finn, Chris LaPierre and Paul Rutherford.

"The first ten batches of Dogfish Head were brewed from ingredients I bought from George and Nancy at Home Sweet Home Brew," says Calagione, a long-time friend and the founder of Dogfish Head, one of the nation’s fastest growing independent breweries. "Almost all of the commercial brewers in our area came into contact with them and their shop at some point during their development as brewers – and we are all better off for it."

Under the expertise of Hummel and Rigberg, the store has been transformed into the area’s most reliable source for any and every piece of equipment needed for the brewing process, from preparing the yeast to bottling the final product.

"Philadelphia wouldn’t be the beer town it is without Home Sweet Home Brew," says Kehoe, founder of Yards Brewing. "It has everything a homebrewer could want and need, and something you can’t get at any other shop: the support, encouragement and inspiration of George and Nancy."

At their one-stop-shop they also supply many instructional books, including Hummel’s "The Complete Hombrew Beer Book," which offers user-friendly advice and recipes, perfect for anyone interested in brewing their own. In his comprehensive book, Hummel, who has taught courses on brewing at Temple and Drexel Universities and is also a recognized judge of the Beer Judge Certification Program, features over 200 recipes for every variety, from lager to stout, from rauchbier to hefeweizen, as well as gluten-free beers. It demystifies the act of homebrewing by breaking it down into user-friendly steps and making it accessible to everyone. It is divided into three parts: Part One provides an overview of basic ingredients and brewing gear as well as general explanation of the brewing process; Part Two introduces recipes for more exciting varieties from across the globe; and Part Three, which highlights extreme, funky beers made with fruit, smoke, meads as well as gluten-free. The book along with a complete homebrewing kit is available for purchase at the store or online at for $150.

For more information on homebrewing, Hummel’s book, or to buy the homebrew holiday gift set, please call 215-569-9469 or visit online at Home Sweet Home Brew also supplies equipment for the home winemaker. Items can be shipped nationwide. The store is open Tuesday from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 4 p.m. It is closed on Monday. For extended holiday hours or to make an appointment outside of business hours, please call Home Sweet Home Brew.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: November 17 - November 23

Craft Beer Express and all of its wild and crazy events are behind us. But, fear not; this is Philadelphia and the great quality beer, bars, events carry on with business as usual. And, that should suit us all just fine. Read on for how you can participate.

Check out the entire November 2011 calendar over here.

If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know.

One highly anticipated release
@Victory Brewing, Downingtown, Pa.--- Wed. 11/23 - Dark Intrigue Release (11:30am; $PAYG, see all the "rules" at the website)

Special Tastings, Brewery Promos, and Samplings
@Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 11/18 - Free Sampling (4:00pm-6:00pm; $Free tasting samples of Tröegs beers with Joe Sixpack)

@Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 11/17 - Keep the Pint (4:30pm; $PAYG for a night with beers from Dark Horse brewery in Michigan)

@High Street Grill, Mount Holly, NJ--- Tue. 11/22 - Pre-Turkey Day Bash with Heavy Seas (7:00pm-11:00pm; $PAYG for their annual Thanksgiving party, filled with giveaways and great beer, including their Category 5 Winter Ale)

@Hop Angel, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 11/17 - Keep The Glass Night (6:00pm-8:00pm; $PAYG to buy a Radeberger -- a tasty, hoppy German Pilsener -- and keep the glass)

@Local 44, Memphis Taproom, and Resurrection Ale House, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Wed. 11/23 - Thanksgiving Holiday Kick the Keg Night (9:00pm; $PAYG to drink the damn beer
so it doesn't get stale)

@MidAtlantic Tap Room, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 11/17 - Pretty Things Happy Hour (5:00pm-7:00pm; $PAYG as the crew from Massachusetts shows off its Babayaga Stout, Baby Tree Quad, and Jack D'Or Saison at Happy Hour prices. These big beers will be paired with delicious snacks from the kitchen.)

@Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 11/17 - Weyerbacher Night (7:00pm-10:00pm; $PAYG for cheese provided by DiBruno Bros. and a draft list including Sierra Milk Stout, Winter Ale, Imperial Pumpkin, and Double Simcoe. Blithering Idiot in bottles.)

@Resurrection Ale House, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 11/17 - Victory Brewing Night (6:00pm-9:00pm; $PAYG as they'll be pouring Victory's Export Lager, Braumeister Pils, Helios, and cask-conditioned Storm King)

@The Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 11/18 - Third Friday - Jodi's Firkin (5:00pm-8:00pm; $PAYG for a Honey APA made with fresh, local Lancaster County honey)

@The Sidecar Bar & Grille, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Wed. 11/23 - Thanksgiving Eve High Gravity (3:00pm; $PAYG for a list TBD)

The Elf is Loose
@The Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 11/18 - Tröegs Mad Elf Night (6:00pm-9:00pm; $PAYG for seven Tröegs on tap, include 3 elves. Mad Elf '11, Mad Elf '10, Naked Elf, Dreamweaver, Scratch 45 IPA, Scratch 48 Fest Beer, Scratch 49 Wet Hop, Scratch 50 Belgian Brown. And, you can get some Xmas shopping done at the same time; jolly ol' St. Nick Johnson will have Mad Elf gear for sale.)

@The Side Car Bar & Grille, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 11/17 - 3 Years of Mad Elf ($PAYG for three separate barrels of Mad Elf from '09, '10, and '11. Plus all of your other Tröegs favorites)

Beer and Food events
@Allentown Brew Works, Allentown, Pa.--- Sat. 11/19 - Fall Chocolate Festival (5:00pm-8:00pm; $15/$20/$25 for chocolate-based goodies and shopping treats from numerous vendors, Stonekeep Meadery meade, healthy chocolate shakes, chocolate wine, and chocolate-themed beers from Fegley's, Rogue, Brooklyn, Young’s, Boston Brewing, and HammerSmith Ales)

@Chifa Restaurant, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 11/17 - Iron Chef/Craft Brewer's Dinner Series (7:00pm-9:30pm; $65 for a four-course meal paired with Ithaca's beers)

@Hulmeville Inn, Hulmeville, Pa.--- Sun. 11/20 - Russian River & Taco Bonanza (12:00pm; $PAYG for free lunchtime tacos and beers like Russian River Pliny The Elder, RR Damnation, RR Supplication, RR Temptation, RR Consecration, RR Exportation, Voodoo Cowbell, Bruery Autumn Maple, Brooklyn Companion, and more to come. Benefits the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network)

@Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 11/19 - Stout & Chowder Festival (5:00pm-8:00pm; $60 for unlimited samples of beer, soup, desserts and other tasty treats, a keepsake glass mug, and access to the official after-party at Triumph Brewing Company in Old City. Delectable soups and stews by Brulee Catering, a special dessert "savor session" by Betty’s Speakeasy, Franklin Fountain and Hank’s Gourmet Beverages, and cigars by John Hay Cigars. Beer from Boxcar, Dock Street, Flying Fish, Lancaster Brewing, Manayunk Brewery, Philadelphia Brewing, River Horse, Stoudt's, Triumph, Tröegs, Weyerbacher, Yards, and Yuengling. Proceeds benefit the museum.)

@LaScala's, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 11/17 - Italian Fall Beer Dinner (6:00pm-8:30pm; $45 for a four-course meal paired with beers from various regions of Italy.)

@World Café Live, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sun. 11/20 - Grilled Cheese & Craft Beer (4:00pm; $35 includes beers, grilled cheeses, dessert, tax, and gratuity)

Iron Hill, at 15 years, in its own category
@Iron Hill Brewery, Lancaster, Pa.--- Fri. 11/18 - Lightning in a Bottle (5:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG as they kick off the holiday season with sample tasters of their Bottle Reserve Series.)
@Iron Hill Brewery, Newark, Del.--- Fri. 11/18 - Oldies but Goodies (5:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG for retro features and a surprise beer release tapping at 6 p.m.)
@Iron Hill Brewery, Newark, Del.--- Sat. 11/19 - Fifteen Firkins for Fifteen Years (12:00pm-5:00pm; PAYG for a crazy-sick lineup of cask-conditioned beers from all IH locations, plus 5 guest breweries. Russian Imperial Stout, Vanilla Coffee Oatmeal Stout, and Union Jack IPA (Newark); Hopkowski (West Chester); Coffee Pumpkin Stout (Media); Brown Haired IPA (Wilmington); Grande Rojo Imperial Red IPA (North Wales); Hoppopotamus (Phoenixville); Belgian Harvest (Lancaster); Apocalypso (Maple Shade); Dogfish Head 75 minute IPA; Evolution Exile ESB; Flying Fish Hopfish IPA; Stewart's Imperial Red Ale; and Yards Cerebus IPA.)

Festivals and other Tasting Events of Significance
@AACA Museum, Hershey, Pa.--- Fri. 11/18 - Autos and Ales (6:00pm-10:00pm; $15/$35/$40 gets you the region's best microbreweries, two live bands plus a DJ in our rotunda, a free souvenir tasting glass, food vendors, beer-themed novelties, antique cars, trucks, motorcycles, & memorabilia, a 50/50 cash raffle, a door prize raffle to benefit the Juvenille Diabetes Research Foundation, and a lot of unexpected fun.)

@Capone's, Norristown, Pa.--- Sat. 11/19 - Struise and Mikkeller Draft Event (11:30am; $PAYG for Struise's Pannepot, Black Damnation, Black Damnation #4 Coffee Club, Saint Amatus, Tsjeese Reserva ['09] and Mikkeller's Black Hole Imperial Stout (two ways-both Red Wine & White Wine barrel-aged). A bunch of IPAs too.)

@Dock Street, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Tue. 11/22 - 2011 Limited Bottle Release Party ($PAYG for '09 Barleywine, '10 barrel-aged Prince Myshkin R.I.S., '11 Prisoner of Hell, and a sixtel of Flemish Red Sour Ale. All new logo glasses and live music from On The Water too.)

@Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sun. 11/20 - Sunday Football Brunch (10:30am; $PAYG as they welcome 10 Yards with Tom Kehoe during the Eagles game. They'll be debuting Yardbird Dubbel amongst a list of Yards greats like: Russian Imperial Stout, Abbey Dubbel, Entire Porter, Barrel Aged GW Porter, Love Stout, Philly Pale Ale, Thomas Jefferson, IPA, cask-conditioned ESA, and cask-conditioned Spruce)

@Local 44, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Tue. 11/22 - Allagash Night (6:00pm; $PAYG for Dubbel, Hugh Malone, Fluxus '11, Black, Triple, Blonde, Big Little, and Curieux)

@Manayunk Brewery & Restaurant, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 11/17 - Pints for North Light (7:00pm-10:00pm; $50/$60/$75/$80 gets you a beer tasting, great food, silent auction, live music, and a gift to take home)

@Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, Pa.--- Tue. 11/22 - Tasty Tuesday: Victory Harvest ($PAYG for Harvest Ale, Harvest Pils, some Dark Intrigue bottles, and several other of Victory's finest.)

@Keystone Homebrew Supply, Montgomeryville, Pa.--- Sat. 11/19 - Introduction to Brewing Class (6:30pm; $40 for a class geared toward the first-time brewer. The class covers the basic equipment needed to homebrew and how it works. Participants will get hands-on experience brewing, bottling, and tasting homebrew.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

9 days 'til Black Friday, but only 7 days 'til Dark Wednesday at Victory

Likely by now, you've caught wind of the return of the Dark Intrigue barrel-aged beer at Victory.

Next Wednesday, at this time, some of the eagerly awaiting beer geeks enthusiasts will be lining up prior to the brewery/restaurant's opening at 11:30 a.m.

Good thing is, compared to last year, it sounds like there'll be more product to go around and more organization to keep those looking for the beer happier.

Brewery staff will be on hand to keep the atmosphere fun in the hours leading up the official release. From 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., every person in line will receive raffle tickets for freebies that will be given away. And, One Village Coffee (the coffee collaborators in the awesome Victory Village beer project) will be serving up free coffee to those in line.

As for supply, they are expecting upwards of 250 cases available for sale at the brewpub with another "few hundred" getting distributed throughout their footprint from those wholesalers that placed orders.

But, as they've been very careful to say at the brewery, "Get it now before it goes away forever". Of course, I'm always skeptical that anything as extremely popular as something like this will ever go completely away forever. But, as Karen Noonan, communications manager at Victory, commented: "I'm sure we'll experiment with barrel-aging again some day. But right now, as we are approaching capacity for our brewing, there really isn't room to hold all of those barrels. They take up a lot of space."

Oh yes, and since this project is indefinitely disappearing, the barrels too must go. They are selling off the bourbon barrels that the beer was aged in. As of last week, 130 of the 159 have already been reserved for purchase. If you'd like to get in on one of those, you should -- as they say -- act quickly. (Update: The barrels have now all been reserved and the brewery is taking a waiting list of names.)

I may mosey over to Victory to check in on the festivities and grab a little lunch. Seems like a swell way to kick off the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Happy Dark Wednesday. Hope you all enjoy and get what you asked for in your stocking :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The next two nights at Blind Tiger

I haven't said much about NYC's Blind Tiger Ale House since my numerous visits back in August.

But, they've got a set of events this week that sure to get any beer geek's heart pumping a little faster. If you're around the city this week, you should probably like to check this out.

Tomorrow, beginning at sundown (y'know, 3 p.m.) is the (at least) annual VSK -- Very Special Keg. And they've got a whole bunch of special kegs, very special that is.

Check out the list: Aventinus Eisbock ['06]; Brooklyn Intensified Coffee Stout; Bruery Orchard White; Cantillon Lou Pepe; Cigar City Marshall Zhukov; Dieu Du Ciel Pinot Noir ['09]; Founders Harvest; Great Divide 17th Anniversary; Hill Farmstead Everett ['10]; Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada; Kuhnhenn Equibock; Nebraska Little Betty; Ommegang BID; Rogue Creamery 75th Anniversary Collaboration; Sierra Nevada Jack and Ken’s 30th Anniversary; Smuttynose Iced Barleywine; Stillwater Artisanal/Mikkeller 2 Gypsies; Weyerbacher Decadence ['05]; and "something delicious from Stone".

Did you catch that '05 Decadence snuck in there at the end?

Then, on Thursday, west coasters Shaun O'Sullivan (21st Amendment) and Jamie Floyd (Ninkasi) are in town to showcase their recently-released collaboration beer called Allies Win The War! along with a bunch of other great beer, no doubt. Should be a great night of beer and debauchery.

Life's circumstances will keep me from trekking in to check this out, but if you can, you should.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Celebrating great beer with Vanberg & Dewulf

Tomorrow is King's Day in Belgium. Somewhat coincidentally, it's also the 30th anniversary celebration of Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield's beer importing business of mostly Belgian beer called Vanberg & Dewulf. They also have a hand in opening Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY back in 1997.

Hundreds of establishments across the country are lining up to help celebrate with an event called Coast to Coast Toast.

Take a moment to check out their website to see how you can participate, at a bar or at home. In the Philadelphia area, Monk's Café, The Belgian Café, Eulogy, Tria, and Teresa's Next Door will all be participating to some degree. Check out their respective websites, or call, for specific details.

While you're at Vanberg & Dewulf's website, be sure to catch Lew Bryson's fine background story painting the 30 year history of the business.

I, most likely, will be indulging at home with a suggested recipe for Tartine au Fromage Frais with Radish, Scallion & Chervil from their website and a bottle or two of Saison Dupont from '07.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Brew Lounge on Twitter- yes, no, or don't care?

Buried in yesterday's wrap-up of the Craft Beer Express in Philly was my question about me making more use of The Twitter via my iPhone when out at certain events that lend themselves to it.

I posted up at least a dozen Tweets with accompanying pictures during the course of 8 hours in Philly for the Craft Beer Express. But, other than replies and retweets, it's sort of difficult to determine the impact of Twitter.

I'm asking to hear from you to help me gauge to what extent I may do this in the future. Please take a minute or two to provide feedback in the Comments Section below.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Craft Beer Express, Twitter, and the catchall whatnot

Do you follow me on The Twitter? I wouldn't blame you if you don't. After all, if I didn't do what I do, I probably would not either. I'm not helping my case here, am I?

But, when circumstances present them as they did today, Twitter does (gulp) seem to be an acceptable way of communicating. It's been interesting in the almost 4 years that I've been on Twitter to see The Brew Lounge's list of "followers" grow. And, as it's grown I've seen the list, from what I can tell, grow into a largely different group than reads the traditional website and Facebook.

So, as my computer at home has nearly exited this earthly life and I was setting off to try and enjoy Craft Beer Express rather than primarily "working" it, I opted to leave the big-boy-camera and other baggage to weigh me down at home.

What the first part of the last paragraph suggests is that until I replace the home computer, I won't be able to upload pictures and do any real, honest-to-goodness writing.

Enter The Twitter.

Craft Beer Express, Nov '11
I set off on the train armed with nothing but internet access and photography via my iPhone. I love my smartphone as many of you do as well. But, this would be cutting some new ground for The Brew Lounge.

This would be the first time I attempted to cover anything only over Twitter...and while on-the-go. I had Twitter usernames for linking and hashtags stowed away in my noggin.

Don't get me wrong; I'm still not a Twittering fool. But, I did post a dozen or so Tweets with accompanying pictures.

The iPhone takes a decent photo and the new OS does come with capabilities to do more picture editing on the fly within the photo software.

And for someone that tends to go on and on with these word things, a little bit of 140-character control could be a fine thing, I suppose.

Johnny Brenda's
I hit up Johnny Brenda's first for a brunch that no one who is serious about beer and food should ever miss. On this day it was the Wet Hop Rodeo which meant all sorts for fresh/wet hop/harvest beers, accompanied by some fine food out of the kitchen, and some country/western on the turntable. Yup, that's right. Banjo-picking music on a turntable, with a DJ, in Philly. That doesn't happen often, I'm sure.

Oh, the food...oh my, yes, the food. Big ups to co-owner William Reed for steering me into the Smoked Pork Hash. A wonderful pile of potatoes and pork, covered by two over-easy eggs. The Yards Cerebus went nicely with this dish and made it on to my best-of list for the day.

I could've sat there and listened to banjos and plaintive wailing and drank from the stellar beer list all day.

Jose Pistola's
From there, it was the El back across town to meet up at Jose Pistola's with a group of friends that were attempting to do the whole bus route thing.

Organizers reported over 1,000 bus passes being sold. Attendees that I spoke with reported the buses being more efficiently run than ever in the past. I'd like to see this type of bus arrangement organized for Philly Beer Week 2012. I know it was something discussed back in '08, but never seemed to come to successful fruition.

After a quick trip around City Hall to see what all this Occupy mess is about (much cleaner and organized than many would have you believe, but this isn't a political forum; just sayin' what I'm seein'), I headed down 15th Street to find owners Joe and Casey holding court along with a funk trio and a bevy of great beer.

I could have stayed here all day as well; go figure.

I was pretty well filled up from the brunch at Johnny Brenda's that it didn't make much sense to get into the funky cheeses at Pistola's. But, the funky beers? That was a different story.

Ah, remember the quaint old days when Russian River beers would disappear in the half-blink of an eye? I get there 4 hours after opening and they were still pouring Supplication (one of my absolute faves from this northern California giant) and Consecration (not too shabby either, y'think?).

Temptation was kicked, but all that meant was a second glass of Supplication. Passed it around the table since no one else was dabbling in it and all I saw was a bunch of smiles and generally favorable reactions. Even from my stalwart Miller Lite drinking buddy, Kelley ;-)

Brauhaus Schmitz
Then I embarked on a much-needed mile-long walk (that pork hash was still hanging around!) with good beer peeps David and Sarah where we got into the subject no one can yet stop talking about: Penn State football. It's great when we can all agree (in this case, it was agreement that the whole story stinks from every angle and that Joe-Pa may be legendary in the sense of winning a lot of football games but after being a part of a (alleged) 15 year cover-up of some of the most heinous crimes imaginable (folks, that's a whole third of his revered coaching career), he can no longer be seen as a legendary role model, even in spite of all the other good work he has done; but, this isn't a socio-political column, just sayin' what I'm feelin').

We arrived at Brauhaus Schmitz in between buses, so it wasn't too difficult to get our first beer lined up and a seat on the bench.

After a couple of Tweets, owner Doug Hager found me and we ended up chatting for a quite a while. He mentioned in a follow-up Tweet of his own yesterday, that Saturday was the best business day of his restaurant's life.

Here's a guy with a lot going on. Baby on the way. Expansion plans (which sound very cool, btw. Let me see if I can dig up some more electronic details that I can share with you. Think of it has a back room beer garden with some extra special taps). Christmas Village (moved to Love Park this year, no connection to Occupy Philly, btw). Springtime Germany trip. And, one more thing that I can't talk about publicly yet, but think of it as very good exposure for his business.

Oh, and a beer from Brauhaus Schmitz also made the best-of list for the day: Duck Rabbit Doppelbock. So smooth, so rich, so delicious. They don't call themselves the "dark beer specialists" for nothing.

Guess what? I could have stayed here all night as well. I almost tried, as it was my longest stay of the day.

Race Street Café
From there it was on to Race Street Café, from where Joel Armato from New Holland (he's not a doctor, but he plays one in the beer world) had already taken off for the wilds of East Passyunk Avenue.

That didn't stop me, however, from adding Race Street Café to the list of first-time stops for me on this particular Saturday. Sad to say, though, it was a list of only one.

Another best beer of the day award went here to New Holland's funky Golden Cap Saison.
Cozy place that I could envision myself at quite a bit if I lived in the neighborhood.

One more beer
Before catching the train, a Yards IPA at The Irish Pub at 20th Street made it on to my Craft Beer Express roster, though the Pub is from the CBX. It's been quite a few years since I've last stepped in here, and in for a brief 20 or so minutes, it felt like those "old days" again.

Oops, did I say last beer? Well, back to one of my first Tweets of the day: " When #CBXPhilly starts/ends with train at 30th Street Station, Bridgewater's is there for you--Fade To Black #FTW "

Yes, I had 12 minutes until my train and already had ticket in hand. So, finally I was able to put Left Hand Dan Conway's opinion to the test. Fade to Black, a Pepper Porter. Yes, as awesome as he described when I bumped into him at Exton Beverage while he was making suburban rounds last month. You should find this beer, if you already have not. I'd like to find this in bottles, if that's possible.

There you have it. Craft Beer Express by iPhone and Twitter (with a wrap-up here and a few more words, for those of you that like that sort of thing).

What say you? Do you like The Twitter? Or perhaps better asked: Do you use The Twitter? And, would you like to see me doing more of the abbreviated event coverage using Twitter? I'm not going anti-social with my head down tapping away at my phone and acting like I'm paying attention to you while I'm on Twitter, Untappd, FourSquare, Facebook, email (what's that?!), BA, RB, etc know who you are, unless you're in denial. But, I will attempt to do more social media stuff while out-n-about if that's the kind of thing you guys dig.

Or, please also feel free to tell me to go stick my head up Twitter if you absolutely loathe this sort of idea. I'd like all the feedback, not just the positive.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sierra Nevada at The Drafting Room, 11/10/11 -- A beer dinner that should not have been missed.

Don't say I didn't tell you so. Last night's dinner at The Drafting Room in Exton was shaping up to be, and turned out to quite possible be, one of the best dinners they've ever hosted...or so I'm told.

I showed up as the dinner checks were being distributed. That's what happens when I'm in Providence for most of the week and then return in the middle of a storm front that delayed me nearly two hours.

But the Drafting Room staff was kind enough to box up everything except the beer for me to take home for later enjoyment. As I talked with one guest after another, I'm not sure that there was a particular clear-cut favorite amongst the four dinner courses -- chiefly because there were no clunkers in the meal, not by a long shot. It's likely, though, that I may have heard the most raves for the Short Ribs paired with Life & Limb 2, which was also accompanied by a porter-glazed gingerbread. The Suckling Pig paired with the Ovila Saison also drew plenty of drools as well.

Exton Dish was spotted in the house amongst the 80 or so seats of beer (and food, natch) loving folks. If they post some pictures, I'll come back to supply a link to them.

In another week, Patrick Mullin will officially be moving on from Sierra Nevada. If this was his last hurrah with the team, it was at least three cheers worth or more.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: November 10 - November 16

Hope you're hungry sometime in these next seven days. Come to think of it, whether dinners, tastings, or otherwise, there's some type of beer event every night of the next week in and around Philly. Enjoy!

Check out the entire November 2011 calendar over here.

If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know.

Craft Beer Express comes to Philly
@12 participating bars in Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 11/12 - Craft Beer Express (11:00am-9:00pm; $10 to ride the bus, $PAYG at participating bars, see website for all the details from each bar)

Grand Opening
@Mad Mex, Willow Grove, Pa.--- Fri. 11/11 - Grand Opening ($PAYG for an extensive selection of innovative and seasonal margaritas with quality tequila and fresh-squeezed lime juice and 24 beers on tap including, on opening night, Avery Maharaja IPA, Blue Moon Belgian White Ale, Boulder Obovoid Oatmeal Stout, Brooklyn Brown Ale, Dogfish Head 60 Min IPA, Dos Equis Amber Lager, Firestone Walker Double Jack IPA, Founders Breakfast Stout, Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, Green Flash West Coast IPA, Hoegaarden Belgian White, Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela, Lagunitas Cappucino Stout, Miller Lite, Pilsner Urquell, Magic Hat #9 Not Quite Pale Ale, Port Brewing Mongo IPA, Southern Tier Pumking, Russian River Pliny The Elder Double IPA, Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale, Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, Stone Double Bastard, Yuengling Lager, Tröegs Java Stout, and Victory Headwaters Pale Ale)

Coast-to-Coast Toast on November 15
A day-long celebration of 30 years of importing great beer at Vanberg & Dewulf. At hundreds of locations around the country including, locally, Monk's, Eulogy, Tria, and Teresa's Next Door. See individual establishments' websites for more details about specific celebration plans.

Special Tastings, Brewery Promos, and Samplings
@Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 11/11 - Free Sampling (4:00pm-6:00pm; $Free tasting sample of beers from the south and a visit from Joe Sixpack)

@Dock Street, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Tue. 11/15 - Movie Night (9:00pm; $PAYG for discounted pizzas and beer during the showing of Attack of La Niña)

@Pinocchio's, Media, Pa.--- Thu. 11/10 - Flying Fish Tasting (7:00pm-9:00pm; $Free tastings of Flying Fish beer)
@Pinocchio's, Media, Pa.--- Fri. 11/11 - Special Pin Tapping (4:30pm; $PAYG for Manayunk's Manayunk Dreamin' DIPA)

@The Drafting Room, Exton, Pa.--- Wed. 11/16 - An Evening of Unique Beers from Artisanal Imports (6:00pm-10:00pm; $PAYG to meet Larry Hoff, importer, as he brings along some less familiar European beers like: Sünner Kölsch, Urthel Saisonnière, Tripel Karmeliet, Bosteels Pauwel Kwak, La Trappe Quadruple, and St. Feuillien Brune. Plus, enjoy free samples of Deus Brut des Flanders during the tasting.)

@The Khyber Pass Pub, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Wed. 11/16 - Cigar City Night (6:00pm; $PAYG for a lineup of Tampa's finest including Jai Alai IPA, Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale, Hotter Than Helles, Marshal Zhukov's Imperial Stout, and a cask of exclusive Peach Jai Alai IPA)

Extra special events of significance
@City Tap House, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 11/11 - Sixpoint Lounge (8:00pm; $PAYG for another outrageous lineup of Brooklyn-based beer including: Sixpoint's Autumnation, Bark's Ale, Belgian IPA, Brownstoner, Mad Scientist #6, Signal IPA, Spice of Life, 90211 Porter, Sweet Action, Triple Sweet Action, and Bengali Tiger)

@Iron Hill Brewery, Newark, Del.--- Mon. 11/14 - 15th Anniversary Party (6:00pm-9:00pm; $PAYG for the release of Fe15, an American Imperial Tripel. Both in 750 mL bottles and on draft. Raffle for one Fe15 bottle and T-shirt at 8:00 p.m.)

@Offices of Flaster/Greenberg at 4 Penn Center, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 11/10 - Continuing Lager Education: Legal Refreshment for Attorneys (5:00pm-8:00pm; $225/$265 for media-related CLE courses approved by the Board on Continuing Legal Education of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania PLUS fun, refreshing, tutored beer tastings led by renowned beer authority Joe Sixpack.)

@Side Bar & Restaurant, West Chester, Pa.--- Fri. 11/11-Sun. 11/13 - 2nd Anniversary Weekend (5:00pm-7:00pm; $PAYG for a weekend of celebratory tappings including the likes of: Dogfish Head's 60 Minute, 75 Minute, 90 Minute, and 120 Minute, Allagash's Black, Hugh Malone, and Big Little Beer, Stillwater's Existent, Harvest Saison, and Rauchstar, Ommegang's Three Philosophers, Stone's 15h Anniversary, and Lost Abbey's Angel Share)

Dinners and Festivals
@Bethlehem Brew Works, Bethlehem, Pa.--- Thu. 11/10 - Red Hot Beer Dinner (7:00pm-10:00pm; $60 for a pepper-themed dinner paired with Fegley’s Brew Works Pumpkin Ale, Schlenkerla Helles, Fegley’s Brew Works Oktoberfest, Schnieder Weisse, Fegley’s Brew Works Rude Elf’s Reserve, Saison D’erpe Mere, Fegley’s Brew Works Bagpiper’s Scotch Ale, Ichtegems Grand Cru, Fegley’s Brew Works Weizenbock, and Verdi Imperial Stout)

@Canal Street Pub, Reading, Pa.--- Sat. 11/12 - Brewphoria 9 (6:00pm-10:00pm; $40 for Berks County's premiere beer tasting and exhibition. Includes our famous Brewphoria Buffet, available throughout the evening, and music by The Youngers.)

@Cavanaugh's Rittenhouse, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Wed. 11/16 - Bell's Brew and Chew (7:00pm-9:00pm; $20 for a four beer and food pairings with Bell's Brewery)

@City Tap House, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 11/12 - Turkey Roast (8:00pm; $35/$40 for a Thanksgiving feast City Tap House style and 5 drink tickets for Yards brews, including a special seasonal saison that will go just right with all the trimmings.)

@Iron Abbey, Horsham, Pa.--- Wed. 11/16 - Allagash Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $60 for a five-course meal paired with Fluxus, Big Little Beer, Vrienden, Hugh Malone, and Victor Frankenstein....and Rob Tod on The Skype.)

@Iron Hill Brewery, Media, Pa.--- Thu. 11/10 - 4-course Beer and Cheese Pairing (6:00pm-10:00pm; $30 for four cheeses paired with Rauchbier, Cannibal,, and Russian Imperial Stout)
@Iron Hill Brewery, North Wales, Pa.--- Tue. 11/15 & Wed. 11/16 - Brewmaster's Winter Beer Dinner (6:00pm-9:00pm; $65 for a five-course meal paired with Pumpkin Ale, Vienna Lager, Porter, Schwarzbier, and Oktoberfest)
@Iron Hill Brewery, Wilmington, Del.--- Wed. 11/16 - Taps and Tapas Brewmaster's Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $65 for a six-course meal paired with Ocktoberfest,, Samurai Saison, English Barleywine, Wee Heavy, Mr. Miyagi Pils, and Fe10)

@Kaya's Cuisine, Havertown, Pa.--- Tue. 11/15 - Homebrew Celebration Dinner (7:00pm-9:00pm; $40 for three courses paired with three homebrews)

@Sabatini's, Exeter, Pa.--- Wed. 11/16 - Explore the World of Italian Beer (7:00pm; $49.95 gets you five pizzas paired with five featured beers including: Nuova Mattina, Cassissona, Quarta Runa, Duchessic, and Baladin Super)

@The Drafting Room, Exton, Pa.--- Thu. 11/10 - Sierra Nevada Beer Dinner (6:30pm; $65 for a five-course meal paired with Estate Homegrown, Ovila Saison, Life and Limb 2, Ovila Quad, Northern Hemisphere Harvest, and Ovila Abbey Dubbel)

@The Farmers' Cabinet, Philadelphia, Pa. (and Beer Table in NYC)--- Tue. 11/15 & Wed. 11/16 - Beer Table Take Over Dinners (7:00pm; $50 for a four-course meal paired with four exceptional beers)

@Keystone Homebrew Supply, Montgomeryville, Pa.--- Fri. 11/11 - Introduction to Brewing Class (6:30pm; $40 for a class geared toward the first-time brewer. The class covers the basic equipment needed to homebrew and how it works. Participants will get hands-on experience brewing, bottling, and tasting homebrew.)
@Keystone Homebrew Supply, Montgomeryville, Pa.--- Sat. 11/12 - Next Step Brewing Class (6:30pm; $40 for a class geared toward the new brewer who has brewed some beer kits and is ready to learn the next step in homebrewing. In this class we will concentrate on beer ingredients and how they influence the final flavors. We'll brew up a Keystone beer kit, which is extract based with specialty grains, fresh hops, and liquid yeast. We will taste and discuss your homebrews and ours, so be sure to bring some.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Iron Hill — 5 years in Phoenixville and 15 years in Newark

File under: my how time flies.

First up, we have Iron Hill's Phoenixville location celebrating its five-year anniversary a few weeks back. Somehow, I showed up for the party and yet dropped the ball on posting this short wrap-up. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows it full (fool?) well could've been the three glasses of Chardonnay barrel-aged (local bee) honey saison that I could not get enough of. Or maybe the growler that accompanied us home!

The night was full of special beers and some throwback food items on the menu. The room continued to fill from 5 p.m. on 'til the drawing for beer-y giveaways.
Second up, after the following five pictures, is a snapshot from the brewing in Newark of Iron Hill's commemorative anniversary beer, FE15 to be released in another week and a half.

(Phoenixville's original Day 1 front-of-the-house ladies Maggie Bryant, Laura Smart, and Monika King flank assistant brewer Matt Gundrum and head brewer Tim Stumpf. King has been with the company since 1998.)

(a lovely beer box gift set for the first winner of the evening)

(the bar room was packed from happy hour on until the grand prize announcement)

(And we have a grand prize winner, fortunately she stayed for the drawing)

(Grand prize winner with her basket of big beer winnings)

Meanwhile, and upcoming, in Delaware...
Justin Sproul and his team are getting ready to celebrate 15 years in their (recently refreshed and remodeled) brewhouse on the edge of University of Delaware.

The picture comes courtesy of Danya Henninger at, who snapped the picture on the brew day for the special anniversary beer, FE15. You can catch this beer during Iron Hill's 15th anniversary celebration in Newark, Del. on Monday, November 15.

(from bottom to top: Bobby Douglas, assistant brewer, followed by co-owners Mark Edelson, Kevin Davies, head brewer Justin Sproul, and co-owner Kevin Finn)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Glassblowing, Victory Beer, and fundraising for PAWS

(A handblown beer glass, quite near perfect)

Hudson Beach Glass has been in the Gilvey family for many years and based out of the Hudson River Valley town of Beacon, approximately 90 minutes north of NYC.

Three years ago, Sean Gilvey and his wife Emily opened a Philadelphia location in Old City. Bonus points for anyone who knows that Strawberry Street also runs parallel between 2nd and 3rd Streets along with Bank Street. Tucked away (behind Amada, to get your bearings) would be a fine way to describe the handblown glass studio's location.

This past Friday evening, the Gilvey's hosted an open house of sorts to showcase their wares, serve some beer and cheese, and raise critical contributions for Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

Let this be a gentle reminder to get your deductible charitable contributions in before tax year-end.

The cheese was from DiBruno Bros. and the beer from Victory. The brewery's Regional Sales Manger, Pete Danford, and his wife stopped by on their date night out and an estimated 35 people stopped in to kick off the crisp fall evening in the city.

A beer glass can be perfect for different reasons to different people. With all apologies to Boston Beer Company and its "perfect" beer glass, this take-home gift (see above) from the studio might quickly become a new favorite of mine. It fits quite well in the hand and it is imprinted with a dog paw on the side.

(from left: Victory's Pete Danford and Hudson Beach's Emily Kimelman-Gilvey and Sean Gilvey)

(Sean Gilvey demonstrating at the furnace)

(Volunteers from PAWS poured samples of Victory's Headwaters Pale Ale, Prima Pils, and HopDevil)

("Hand-crafted" cheese near by handcrafted glass)

(A room full of people soon crowded Hudson Beach Glass)

Monday, November 07, 2011

All aboard the Craft Beer Express, Nov. 12, 2011

The wildly popular — just looking at the lineup of fun events will tell you why and all you need to know — Craft Beer Express returns this coming Saturday, November 12 in Philadelphia.

There's no set order, just 10 hours of fun-filled beer events at a dozen of the city's best beer joints. You can show up at 1, 2, or all 12 bars and partake in the fun.

The more you do and the longer you stay, the more sense it will make to take advantage of the bus that will link all the venues together.

An unlimited number of rides throughout the day will set you back an easy $10 and can be purchased online or in-person at any of the participating bars. The bus will run approximately every 25 minutes.

If you can only swoop in for a couple of hours and want to park only once, consider visiting any of the following neighborhoods and watch the buses come to you:

Fishtown/Northern Liberties
- consider parking in the area of The Piazza at 2nd and Germantown or taking SEPTA's El (blue line) to either the Spring Garden or Girard stop

Kraftwork, 541 East Girard Avenue
Event Name: "Nitro"
~ Got gas? Kraftwork has gone all "nitro"! We have asked some of our favorite breweries to turn up the gas and send some of their brews in "nitro" form.

Johnny Brenda's, 1201 Frankford Avenue
Event Name: 3rd Annual Wet Hop Rodeo and Rancheros Brunch
~ Join us for our 3rd Annual Wet Hop Rodeo, a round-up of local and national wet hopped beers. Come celebrate the awesome-ness that is fresh-hopped beer! We will be kicking the day off with Ranchero Brunch from 11am-3:30pm featuring huevos rancheros, cowboy steak & eggs, and chilaquiles among other brunchly delights. The charming and handsome, Ben Dickey of Blood Feathers, will be spinning records to make you hop-along!

Standard Tap , 901 North 2nd Street
Event Name: Drink Like an Egyptian
~ A special event featuring selections from Dogfish Head Brewery's Ancient Ale Series. Available in flights so you can enjoy them all!

Fairmount/Spring Garden
- consider parking in the area of CCP at 18th and Spring Garden or taking SEPTA's Broad Street Line to either the Race/Vine, Spring Garden, or Fairmount stop

The Institute, 549 North 12th Street
Event Name: 2nd Annual Stout & Porter Event
~ Featuring all stouts and porters from Shangy's - The Beer Authority.

Bishop's Collar, 2349 Fairmount Avenue
Event Name: Bell's Brewing
~ 12 beers from Bell's Brewing, including a firkin!

Kite & Key, 1836 Callowhill Street
Event Name: Cooperstown Invades the Kite & Key!
~ Ommegang will line the taps for the November edition of the CBX. Join us for the finest Belgian Style Brewing this side of the Atlantic.

Center City
- consider parking in the area south of Rittenhouse Square (admittedly, this is a healthy walk between these two places) or taking SEPTA's Broad Street Line to the Lombard/South stop

Jose Pistola's, 263 South 15th Street
Event Name: Funky Ass Shit!
~ Funky cheeses. Sour beers from Russian River, Boon, and more. Live funk bands featuring The Blue Crunk. Brass Monkey cocktails.

The Sidecar, 2201 Christian Street
Event Name: Founders Brewing
~ A day with Founders Brewing from Grand Rapids, Michigan. All the year round favorites will be flowing along with some super duper rarities!

East Passyunk/Bella Vista/South Street
- consider parking in the Italian Market area at 9th and Washington or taking SEPTA's Broad Street Line to either the Lombard/South, Ellsworth/Federal, or Tasker/Morris stop

Pub on Passyunk East, 1501 East Passyunk Avenue
Event Name: Splashing Pumpkins
~ Dear Pilgrims, The P.O.P.E. will be celebrating our favorite season with a wide array of fall seasonal beers including Pumpkins, Ciders and Octoberfests on draft.

Devil's Den, 1148 South 11th Street
Event Name: Bella Vista Beer Bash
~ Fall edition. ALL 16 taps, plus the handpump will be taken over with quality fall beers, directly from Bella Vista.

Brauhaus Schmitz, 718 South Street
Event Name: The Bock-It List
~ 10 doppelbock beers to drink before you die.

Old City
- consider parking in the area of the National Constitution Center or taking SEPTA's El (blue line) to 2nd and Market

Race St. Cafe, 208 Race Street
Event Name: Midwest Brewery Battle
~ Great Lakes Brewing Company will be squaring off against New Holland Brewing. Mark Weinmann, from Great Lakes, will pit a rare offering from their brew pub and other limited release beers against Joel Armato from New Holland brewing featuring an indulgent list of one-offs.

If you like to follow along with updated tap lists online, be sure to check out

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Thursday, Nov. 10, Sierra Nevada Beer Dinner at The Drafting Room

Some might call this Patrick Mullin's farewell dinner at The Drafting Room. It would not be entirely inaccurate. Though, to be fair, better beer fans will still continue to see Patrick around town after the transition to his new role at Sly Fox.

The Drafting Room in Exton hosts many events during the course of the year, but only a few set price, timed, sit-down dinners. One of the dinners is reserved for Sierra Nevada and Patrick Mullin — being of the TDR alumni family does have its benefits.

The TDR menu throughout the year showcases a little bit of everything for the family to enjoy and Sunday/holiday brunches are widely acclaimed and often sold out.

But, for the beer dinners, Chef Theo Charitos takes it another notch or two and rolls out the best.

Don't take it from me; well, actually, yes do take it from me and my review of the first installment back in '08 and the follow-up one in '09. Searching my archives, I either missed last year's or they did not present one, my memory fails at this point.

For yet further proof, check out the beer list below for this coming Thursday's dinner and hop over to TDR's website for the full menu.

Sierra Nevada's Estate Homegrown with a bunch of appetizers, Ovila Saison with suckling pig, Life and Limb 2 with short ribs, Ovila Quad with a berry crostada, and Northern Hemisphere Harvest and Ovila Abbey Dubbel with a cheese plate.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Couch Tomato Café and Bistro in Philadelphia, Pa.

When I first got started here at The Brew Lounge way back in the year 2005, I set out to write as many reviews (full reviews, not the Tweet types that seem to have gained popularity these days) of high quality beer joints around the country, focusing, of course, first on the Philadelphia region.

That was a tall order back then, but one that I didn't consider completely out of my reach. Of course, I knew I could never hit 'em all, but I enjoyed discovering and sharing as much as I could.

But times certainly have changed. A restaurant without at least a few decent beers in a bottle or on tap is leaving money on the sidewalk. Here in Philadelphia, the rich have only got richer.

So it turns out that the Couch Tomato Café has been around since 2003, says its website. I'd recalled hearing of it a few years back when either Philadelphia Magazine or a local beer writer mentioned it.

Trouble is, we don't get to Manayunk that much anymore. I'd lived there for approximately 16 months or so back in my early 20s. Even then, going out on Main Street was not always on the top of list.

So when Patty and I took the day off from work on Friday and drove in to the city, we pulled off at the Manayunk exit and began to make the long way in to the city figuring we'd have lunch at the first place that grabbed our attention. We didn't want to make it one of the "usuals".

Driving down Main Street is when it dawned on me that Couch Tomato might make sense. And, boy, did it make sense.

They've apparently continued to grow in popularity through the years, so much so that they've added the Couch Tomato Bistro on the second and third floors.

The solid beer list allowed us to have a couple of Allagash Whites and Heavy Seas Loose Cannon to go with our lunch. The draft beer was served up fresh-tasting and by a knowledgeable server.

The menu concept here is basically small sharing plates, salads, and pizzas.

After being greeted with a small sample of pumpkin bisque while we perused the menu, we opted for Crispy Artichokes, Pulled Pork Sliders, Crab Crepe, and Strozzapretti Pasta.

I'm thinking that this experience may kick start some establishment reviews here at The Brew Lounge with a focus on the highest quality ones also over at The Washington Times Communities column.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Sierra Nevada loses one, Sly Fox gains one, the Philly region retains Patrick Mullin

Had to keep this one to myself until the news made its way through the mid-Atlantic breaking news clearinghouse.

Patrick Mullin, as regional sales manager for Sierra Nevada, has racked up some frequent flyer miles over the past few years to the West Coast and the Sierra Nevada headquarters in Chico. But, his lifetime platinum status will have to wait until he helps grow Sly Fox beyond the mid-Atlantic states.

Mullin will be seen around the Philly region transitioning his Sierra Nevada relationships over the next two weeks before he prepares in his new role which will begin in January.

Congrats to Sly Fox for bolstering its sales team as it prepares to grow in 2012.

Get the full scoop over at Jack Curtin's site and be sure to also do the requisite jump to Beer Yard.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

To make beer or to market it? Chicken and Egg dilemma?

Wow, now here's a question that I'm having a difficult time wrapping my head around to arrive at a position.

Read this, then come back and weigh in.

[Link to]

Unfortunately, and I expect to be beaten up a bit over this, but I think marketing trumps. Here's why.

Much as we'd like to dismiss marketing — and, really, isn't a fair amount of that reaction due to what we've seen "The Bigs" do with the marketing of lifeless beer — you can make the most interesting and tasty beer in the world, but if it can't get to market, there's little chance that a significant enough portion of the beer-drinking market is going to find you to keep your brewing business going.

On the other hand, make some mediocre, passable beer and have someone create the right packaging, find the shelf space, generate the events and associated buzz and you've got a leg up and more of a fighting chance than the great brewer with no marketing.

Cynical as it may sound, I believe that there are enough untrained palates and undiscerning tastes that if you make approachable beer at, importantly, the right price point with an intelligent marketing plan, you're likely to come out ahead.

Of course, the ideal position to be in is one that balances the proper mix of both. But, the question posed was much more of an either/or.

Like I said, that may be cynical Bryan's thinking alone, but how else do you explain that more than 90% of beer drank in the States is of the cheaper, less interesting beer (I know, I know...subjective...what are y'gonna do?) with massive marketing budgets?

Weigh in....