Monday, January 30, 2012

A weekend that epitomizes Philadelphia beer and its landscape

If you weren't looking carefully enough, you may have thought that the big event on the Philly Beer Calendar in the month of January was already behind us at The Grey Lodge's Friday the Firkinteenth extravaganza a couple of weeks ago.

Or you might have been lulled into looking forward to February after the weekend of Tripels (Johnny Brenda's), Ommegang Brunch (Grey Lodge), Buggy Beers (Iron Hill, NJ), and even an event called Big Ass Beer Fest.

For the past several years or so, as many of you know, the last weekend of January is reserved for Iron Hill's Belgium Comes to West Chester madness. The last Saturday has also seen an annual meetup called Stone Soup of members. A few hearty souls from this meetup typically find their way in to West Chester late in the afternoon in search of leftovers from the Iron Hill event that draws nearly two dozen guest brewers and close to 30 incredibly funky, sour, tart, or some combination thereof, Belgian-influenced beers.

Complicating matters this year -- or adding to your gustatory delight, depending upon your appetite and tolerance -- was an event at TJ's in Paoli with an all-star line up of beers from Shelton Brothers Importers. Think Mikkeller, Cantillon, Struise, Jandrain, Dieu du Ciel, and To Øl to name just a few of the breweries represented amongst the standout, highly-sought-after beers.

And, may have caught wind of the annual mayhem that is the HopSlam release from Michigan's Bell Brewery. After just hitting the street over the past couple of weeks in Pennsylvania, bars have been putting their allotment on tap, some on short-notice (Twitter- and word of mouth-driven basis). This past Saturday, Teresa's Next Door had scheduled it to be poured along side Founder's Double Trouble and Russian River's Blind Pig and Pliny The Elder.

Virtually impossible to hit them all, particularly with any acceptable degree of personal social interaction while at these stops, my trip took me from Iron Hill for a full-on palate assault to TJ's for dinner. Along the way, I learned that The Drafting Room was doing a surprise tapping (well, a few hours notice, at least) of their own HopSlam. It was more or less along my straight line home to check in on the dogs first before TJ's -- or, at least, moreso than heading to Teresa's Next Door. So a HopSlam was in order as was -- wait for it -- a platter of Portuguese Sliders, my go-to "snack" at The Drafting Room, if you haven't caught on to that yet.

Back to West Chester. BCtWC was everything that it's always been. I've talked about it back in 2007, in 2008, in 2009, in 2010 (the epic year, for at least one reason), and again last year. Those are links to my reviews behind each of those years that I just listed, in case you're new around these parts :)

It's a bunch of interestingly creative beers, some with flavors that you may have rarely, if ever, encountered in beer before.

It's a process of serving over two dozen beers that the Iron Hill staff continues to get more efficient with every year.

It's a gathering of brewers from Virginia to New England and all of the Iron Hill locations that have contributed beers for the event.

It's a celebration of local brewers, regional brewers, and a nod to Belgian brewing roots that inspires creativity in the brewhouse.

It's a bit too social of event (at least for me) to really focus on critiquing the beers much past a basic "I like it" or "Not so much" or "Wow, that's an incredible flavor or aroma of XX or YY". Some folks hunker down at a table to do their ticking and note-taking. I may have eventually tasted around half, or so, of the 29 that were available on draft.

The most memorable to me were: Harpoon Rodney Solera; IH/West Chester Bourbon Vanilla Tripel; Peekskill Saison de Chief; IH/Lancaster Brett Dubbel; IH/Wilmington Blackberry Saison; IH/Media Brett Brown; and New Holland Blue Sunday (best in show? quite possibly). Would love to hear your favorites as well.

All pictures follow at the end.

Then a brief pitstop at The Drafting Room, where every bar and table seat appeared to have at least one glass of the hop juice from Michigan in front of them. Solid crowd, but not an overwhelming crush, which made it real nice. No doubt, due in part to the wide stretch that beer geeks were spread across on this fine weather Saturday.

As I said, I stopped in at home to get permission from the dogs (aka, let them outside to take care of nature's business) for few more hours and then took up refuge at TJ's for dinner and a few more tasties from the Shelton Brothers stable. I can never get enough of one of the finest coffee beers there is, Peche Mortel, from Dieu du Ciel in Montreal. Turns out HopSlam made a return appearance at TJ's as well, but I'd never say a trip to The Drafting Room was wasted.

More beers, more good times just as TJ's does without compare. And then something happened. Speaking of Michigan, that guy Dr. Joel (from New Holland) -- you know, the guy that had what seemed like countless "farewell" parties -- walked through the door. Then a guy named Hughes (Flying Fish), Woods (Allagash-Suzy and her Iron Hill beau, Lappy), Ohst (Sly Fox), and Hamel (Harpoon). Let's see, did I miss anyone? Kevin Brooks. He was repping Shelton Brothers.

Casey attempted to take the party to the next level, but the gents behind the bar were having none of that. They stopped doing shots a long time ago.

So, the next time someone asks: "What to do when I'm in Philly?" or "Where to drink when I'm in Philly?" Tell them, anything...anywhere...anytime. You've got to be trying real hard to go wrong around these here parts.

That's all.

(Whitney Thompson from Victory, left, and the ever-patient Mrs. Nick Johnson...Meg)

(He who puts the Wanderin' in Joe to whom Jack Curtin often refers)

(The tap list has grown over the years at BCtWC and looms large over attendees)

(Just a few of the Shelton Brothers goodies on tap during TJ's/Shelton tap takeover event on 1/28/12)

(Every once in a while, you'll catch a picture of me in these pages. Here's one with Flying Fish's Casey Hughes, left)

(An early late-night shot of a group of good Philly beeps, from left: Kevin Brooks, Shelton Brothers; Casey Hughes, Flying Fish; Tim Ohst, Sly Fox; Sean Hamel, Harpoon; Suzanne Woods, Allagash; Joel Armato, New Holland; and Chris LaPierre, Iron Hill-Maple Shade )

(Tim Ohst, Sly Fox and Casey Hughes, Flying Fish)

(Joel Armato, New Holland and Samantha Massey)

Has it really been this long since I've last featured Sam here in these pages? Can't be, but this is the first image that came to mind.

Weekly Brew Bits Update: 1/30/12

Again, quite a bit to share with you, so let's get right to it.

~ I took the easy way out with my most recent article at The Washington Times. Eight brewery and importer reps that you're used to hearing from at the bars weighed in with their thoughts of the 2012 beer season. Definitely worth the read, once again, if no other reason than to let 'em know at TWT that you like reading about good beer. Thanks, as usual, for the support.

~ Dock Street has a seasonal collaboration with and on display at The Four Seasons hotel off Logan Circle. Many of you may not recall that 18th Street was the original home of the brewpub way back in the late 80s and have come together with their old neighbors to showcase a very delicious (read my thoughts via this link) Truffled Old Ale.

~ Special of the Week, just gonna quote verbatim: "Come to Manayunk First Friday (6-9pm) and enjoy deals all down Main Street, anywhere you see the red flag! Here at Manayunk Brewery enjoy a free pizza buffet, and 1/2 off two of our favorite Sushi Rolls: Manayunk Roll and Main Street Roll.

~ Here's an interesting idea about bar closing times and city revenue in Philly. I wouldn't exactly say the streets are "clean" at 2 a.m. Plus, I'd love to see someone try to measure the marginal drunkenness. I need to hear more, but can't believe the going from a 2 a.m. close time to 3 a.m. will wreak that much more havoc in the bars and on the streets. And, don't tell me the after hours clubs are open. They're all private (right?) plus not usually the "scene" that most are comfortable in.

~ File along with a grain of salt, for sure. Thanks to Jack Curtin for slogging through the lists at to discover which the raters deem worthwhile around our great beer-drinking region. Check it out, discuss, try not to argue about it.

~ If you follow @TroegsBeer on Twitter, you'll see that Nugget Nectar is wrapping up production in Hershey and getting ready to hit the streets. Nicely spaced from the Bell's HopSlam release this year, beer geeks should have just recovered from their excessive slobbering in time for the February release of this hoppy treat.

~ Our own world-renowned, Lew Bryson, has reinvigorated his blogging ways. He obviously has sensed a void since I slowed things down around here. Either that, or he figured if he's making a show chronicling the American Beer Blogger, that he should do as he says. :-D That, for us all, will be a very good thing. He's out in Pittsburgh for a couple of days, but this posting here about Victory's Dark Lager is a good reason you should be reading along over at his blog. Here's another link for his notes on the new Delaware spot, Ernest and Scott, and a bit from London Grill.

~ Speaking of Delaware, our old friend, Ben Potts played the role of Silent Bob in this video (I kid, you know) where Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione discusses the highly-anticipated Noble Rot. Look for it on shelves soon. Thanks, as usual, to for the link and the perpetual flow of, uh, beer news.

~ There have been some new happenings at General Sutter Inn. Did you know that the Sutter has a bit of a very cool new look in Lititz, Pa.? Now, when you've partied like a rock star at a cask festival or at the Bulls Head Public House next door, you can sleep it off like a rock star.

~ The inimitable, inevitable, and unavoidable Richard Ruch has struck again. This time with a fun and informative video (approx. 10 minutes) that he passed along. It shows the trip he took with Victory (Bill, Ron, and others) back in '07 to Germany and the Czech Republic. Has me looking even more forward to this week's Tettnang dinner at the pub.

~ Thanks to Ken who dropped a note to remind of the under-the-radar development up in Doylestown. The other end of the R-5 train line gets so much attention. Here in Doylestown, they're readying operations at Doylestown Brewing Company and even have an appropriately-named R-5 Lager. An IPA and a Light are also in the works for a February opening. Check 'em out and congratulations to the northern 'burbs on an ever-improving beer scene.

~ After meeting "Chipper Dave" a few years back at GABF (and touring around Colorado), I've had his well-maintained Fermentedly Challenged on my blog reading list to stay abreast of beer news around his home state. Here, in this Bull & Bush article, I found the tableside dry-hopping unique enough to share with you.

~ I don't know why I seemingly continue to find this stuff interesting. Sure, binge drinking can be a problem. But, the wild definitions and the excessive hand-wringing, I'm not so sure. Anyway, here's a rebuttal to some material that I've linked to the in the past. If you're not up-to-date, don't worry. Main message: binge drinking is very, very bad and based on the definition, most of us do it…and, more frequently than you might imagine.

~ And, then. Oh yes, and then. Perhaps the biggest beer news story of the week centered around the craft segment pioneer, Sierra Nevada. The Chico, Calif.-based giant (and I mean that in the most craft-loving way) announced that they settled on North Carolina for its future eastern operations. So much has been written about this that I'll merely link to Sierra Nevada's press release posted on its website. And here is one video from Fox Carolina that nicely wraps up the announcement.

The next question on many's minds is: What of New Belgium's and Stone's plans to do something similar? Lew Bryson has also written of potential plans for New Belgium in Philly. In my own pea brain, the jury is still out on the hows and whys of this being a smart move.

In the meantime, have I mentioned that I've already got Sierra Nevada's Ruthless Rye IPA in my Top 10 beers of 2012?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Beer Calendar: What To Do in February 2012

January. Now that wasn't so difficult was it? Well, I suppose a couple of those weekends were jammed up with some mighty fine beer events that you had difficulty deciding between.

But, now comes February. It's a Leap Year, so the bar and brewery owners get an extra day this year to get you out with your party hats. Plus, that annual day of lovey-dovey-ness, you know what that means.

And, San Francisco Beer Week on the other coast. And, you know what that means. If you or someone you know happens to be out there, encourage them to check the Beer Run that I'm co-sponsoring/organizing.

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

Wed. 2/1 - Monthly Beer School (February theme: TBA) @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, Pa. (12:00pm; $Free)
Wed. 2/1 - Movin' On Up @TIME, Philadelphia, Pa. (6:00pm-9:00pm; $PAYG)
Wed. 2/1 - Philadelphia Debut of Old Forge Brewing @Standard Tap, Philadelphia, Pa. (7:00pm-10:00pm; $PAYG)
Thu. 2/2 - Keep the Pint Night (Full Pint) @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, Pa. (4:30pm; $PAYG)
Thu. 2/2 - Groundhog Day Hawaiian Shirt Beer Breakfast @The Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, Pa. (7:00am-1:00pm; $PAYG)
Fri. 2/3 - Friday Night Tasting (Breckenridge with Joe Sixpack) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, Pa. (4:00pm-6:00pm; $Free)
Fri. 2/3 - Beer Sampling (Flying Fish) @Craft Beer Outlet, Philadelphia, Pa. (5:00pm-7:00pm; $Free)
Sun. 2/5 - Savage Super Bowl Sixtel Sunday @Kite & Key, Philadelphia, Pa. (7:00pm; $PAYG)
Sun. 2/5 - Charles Dickens' Birthday @Local 44, Philadelphia, Pa. (all day beer, and 9:00pm Dickens-themed Quizzo; $PAYG)
Sun. 2/5 - Super Bowl Pig Roast and Firkin @Franklin's, Philadelphia, Pa. (5:00pm-8:00pm; $PAYG)
Sun. 2/5 - Superbowl Firkin of Victory @Misconduct Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa. (5:30pm; $PAYG)
Mon. 2/6 - Philadelphia Debut of Clown Shoes @Tapestry, Philadelphia, Pa. (7:00pm; $PAYG)
Tue. 2/7 - Philadelphia Debut of Clown Shoes @Varga Bar, Philadelphia, Pa. (7:00pm-10:00pm; $PAYG)
Wed. 2/8 - Philadelphia Debut of Clown Shoes @Kraftwork, Philadelphia, Pa. (5:30pm; $PAYG)
Wed. 2/8 - Allagash & Whole Foods Market Beer and Cheese Happy Hour @Kite & Key, Philadelphia, Pa. (6:00pm; $PAYG)
Wed. 2/8 - Flying Fish Tap Takeover @The Bards, Philadelphia, Pa. (6:00pm; $PAYG)
Thu. 2/9 - Beer Law Forum @Yards Brewing Company, Philadelphia, Pa. (7:00pm-9:00pm; $PAYG)
Thu. 2/9 - Manayunk Night @City Tap House, Philadelphia, Pa. (6:00pm; $PAYG)
Fri. 2/10 - Beer Sampling (Voodoo) @Craft Beer Outlet, Philadelphia, Pa. (5:00pm-7:00pm; $Free)
Fri. 2/10 - Philadelphia Debut of Clown Shoes @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, Pa. (12:00pm; $PAYG)
Fri. 2/10 - Oompa Loompa Release Party @Iron Hill, Chestnut Hill, Pa. (5:00pm-8:00pm; $PAYG)
Fri. 2/10 - Czech Your Beer - Staropramen Night @The Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, Pa. (7:00pm-9:00pm; $PAYG)
Fri. 2/10 - Friday Night Tasting (Stoudt's) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, Pa. (4:00pm-6:00pm; $Free)
Tue. 2/14 - Rewards Program kickoff on Valentine's, with Love @Local 44, Philadelphia, Pa. (7:00pm; $PAYG)
Thu. 2/16 - Keep the Pint Night (McKenzie Brew House) @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, Pa. (4:30pm; $PAYG)
Fri. 2/17 - Friday Night Tasting (Lancaster Brewing with Joe Sixpack) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, Pa. (4:00pm-6:00pm; $Free)
Fri. 2/17 - Beer Sampling (Lancaster Brewing) @Craft Beer Outlet, Philadelphia, Pa. (5:00pm-7:00pm; $Free)
Wed. 2/22 - Flying Dog Night @Barcade, Philadelphia, Pa. (4:00pm; $PAYG)
Thu. 2/23 - Nugget Nectar Release Party @Kite & Key, Philadelphia, Pa. (6:00pm; $PAYG)
Fri. 2/24 - Friday Night Tasting (Flying Fish) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, Pa. (4:00pm-6:00pm; $Free)
Fri. 2/24 - Beer Sampling (Weyerbacher) @Craft Beer Outlet, Philadelphia, Pa. (5:00pm-7:00pm; $Free)
Sat. 2/25 - Pinups & Porter Art Show with Voodoo Brewing @The Institute, Philadelphia, Pa. (6:00pm-12:00am; $PAYG)
Sat. 2/25-Sun. 2/26 - Dogfish Head Weekend @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, Pa. ($PAYG)

Philadelphia's close suburbs (within 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
throughout Feb. '11 - Beer Making, Cheese Making, and Wine Making classes (throughout the month) @Keystone Homebrew, Bethlehem & Montgomeryville, Pa. (See website for all the class details)
Wed. 2/1 - Full Pint Brewery Promo @Capone's, Norristown, Pa. (6:00pm-9:30pm; $PAYG)
Wed. 2/1 - Manayunk Brewery Tap Takeover @Iron Abbey, Horsham, Pa. (4:00pm-10:00pm; $PAYG)
Thu. 2/2 - Beer Sampling (Flying Fish) @Whole Foods, Plymouth Meeting, Pa. (6:00pm-8:00pm; $Free)
Sat. 2/4 - Superbowl Saturday @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, Pa. ($PAYG)
Sat. 2/4 - Winter Hop Fest @The Railroad Street Bar & Grill, Linfield, Pa. (2:30pm; $PAYG)
Thu. 2/9 - Shangy’s Tap Take-over @Pinocchio's, Media, Pa. (7:00pm-9:00pm; $PAYG)
Thu. 2/9 - Beer Sampling (Flying Fish) @Whole Foods, Devon, Pa. (5:30pm-7:30pm; $Free)
Wed. 2/15 - Dogfish Head Limited Release Party @Jamison Pour House, Jamison, Pa. (7:00pm-10:00pm; $PAYG)
Thu. 2/16 - Great Lakes Tap Takeover @Hulmeville Inn, Hulmeville, Pa. (6:00pm; $PAYG)
Thu. 2/23 - Flying Dog Tap Takeover @Hulmeville Inn, Hulmeville, Pa. (6:00pm; $PAYG)

Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania / Other (beyond 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
every Wed. from 1/11 through 3/17 - St. Patrick's Day Boot Camp @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, Pa. ($PAYG)
Thu. 2/2 - Charity Cask Night (February cask: Blood Orange Ale) @Bethlehem Brew Works, Bethlehem, Pa. (5:00pm-10:00pm; $PAYG)
Fri. 2/3 - Yards Brawler in the House @Iron Hill, Lancaster, Pa. (5:00pm-7:00pm; $PAYG)
Fri. 2/3 - Friday Night Tasting (Yards Brewing Co.) @Goshen Beverage Center, West Chester, Pa. (5:00pm-7:00pm; $Free)
every Fri. in February - Firkin February @Iron Hill, Media, Pa. (5:00pm; $PAYG)
Sat. 2/4 - British Invasion @Iron Hill, Phoenixville, Pa. (2:00pm-7:00pm; $PAYG)
Fri. 2/10 - Flying Fish Tap Takeover @The Drafting Room, Exton, Pa. (6:30pm; $PAYG)
Wed. 2/15 - Beer & Chocolate Pairing @Iron Hill, Lancaster, Pa. (6:00pm-8:00pm; $PAYG)
Thu. 2/16 - Learn About Lagers and Ales beyond Pilsners and Pales @Total Wine, Claymont, Del. (6:30pm-8:30pm; $15)
Sat. 2/18 - Winter Folk Festival @Stoudt's, Adamstown, Pa. (3:30pm-10:00pm; $10/$12)
Sat. 2/18 - Learn About Lagers and Ales beyond Pilsners and Pales @Total Wine, Claymont, Del. (3:00pm-5:00pm; $15)
Tue. 2/21-Sat. 2/25 - Featured Brewery Week (Flying Dog) @TJ's, Paoli, Pa. ($PAYG)
Thu. 2/23 - Southern Tier Tap Takeover @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, Pa. (7:00pm-9:00pm; $PAYG)
Fri. 2/24 - Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark @Iron Hill Brewery, Wilmington, Del. (6:00pm-9:00pm; $PAYG)
Sat. 2/25 - Annual barrel-aged festival @Union Jack's on the Manatawny, Boyertown, Pa. (1:00pm; $PAYG)
Sun. 2/26 - Chili Challenge @Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, Pa. (12:00pm-3:00pm; $PAYG)
Tue. 2/28-Sat. 3/3 - Featured Brewery Week (Flying Dog) @TJ's, Paoli, Pa. ($PAYG)
Wed. 2/29 - Ladies Night Out (plus, collaboration brew announcement) @Iron Hill Brewery, West Chester, Pa. (6:00pm-8:00pm; $PAYG)
Wed. 2/29 - Leap of Faith Limited Release Party @Iron Hill Brewery, Wilmington, Del. (5:00pm-7:00pm; $PAYG)

Events Over $20

Sun. 2/12 - Valentine's Beer Dinner @Hawthornes, Philadelphia, Pa. (6:00pm-9:00pm; $75)
Tue. 2/14 - Valentine's Day Dinner @Varga Bar, Philadelphia, Pa. (7:00pm-10:00pm; $55)
MOVED TO TUESDAY, MARCH 13 Tue. 2/14 - The Beers of Winter @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, Pa. (7:00pm; $95)
Sat. 2/18 - 3rd Annual PYP with Yards Brewery @The Institute, Philadelphia, Pa. (2:00pm-6:00pm; $40)
Thu. 2/23 - The Zymatore Project @Tria Fermentation School, Philadelphia, Pa. (6:30pm-8:00pm; $65)
Sat. 2/25 - German Society Bierfest @German Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa. (12:00pm-5:00pm; $18/$25/$38/$53)

Philadelphia's close suburbs (within 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Tue. 2/7 - Weyerbacher Beer Dinner @Uno's, Maple Shade, NJ (6:30pm-9:00pm; $55)
Wed. 2/15 - Wine vs. Beer Dinner @Iron Abbey, Horsham, Pa. (7:00pm; $60)

Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania / Other (beyond 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Thu. 2/2 - Fegley's Brew Works Beer Dinner @Holiday Inn, Breinigsville, Pa. (6:00pm-9:00pm; $49)
Wed. 2/8 - Beer and Eclat Chocolate Pairings @Iron Hill, West Chester, Pa. (6:00pm-9:00pm; $25/$40)
Wed. 2/8 - Beer & Chocolate Pairing @Iron Hill Brewery, Wilmington, Del. (6:00pm-9:00pm; $25)
Sat. 2/11 - Sly Fox Beer LOVERS Dinner @Allentown Brew Works, Allentown, Pa. (7:00pm-10:00pm; $50/$95)
Wed. 2/15 - Sweet and Savory 16 Beer Dinner @Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, Pa. (6:00pm; $55)
Sat. 2/18 - Friendfest @Beltzner Hall/Kutztown Fairgrounds, Kutztown, Pa. (1:00pm-3:30pm, 4:00pm-6:30pm, 7:00pm-9:30pm; $10/$35/$50)
Sun. 2/19 - Winterfest @The Chameleon Club, Lancaster, Pa. (1:00pm-4:00pm; $10-$35)
Tue. 2/21 - Brewmaster's Fat Tuesday Beer Dinner @Iron Hill, Phoenixville, Pa. (7:00pm; $70)
Wed. 2/22 - Sly Fox Beer Dinner @Leaf Cigar Bar, Easton, Pa. (6:00pm-9:00pm; $59)
Sat. 2/25 - Brewer's Winterfest @Stoudt's, Adamstown, Pa. (6:00pm-10:00pm; $35)
Mon. 2/27 - Flying Fish Beer Dinner @Uno's, Metuchen, NJ (6:30pm-10:00pm; $50)
Wed. 2/29 - Monthly Beer Dinner (16 Mile Brewery) @Two Stones Pub, Newark, Del. ($TBD)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: January 26 - January 31

Attention all ladies in the northern Chester County area. Next Tuesday night, the West Chester Beer Ladies is meeting at The Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern to discuss plans they developing with Iron Hill in West Chester to brew a beer of their very own. They have a website but, like it seems everyone nowadays, the most current info can be found on their Facebook page. The meet up is at 7 p.m. on 1/31/12 at The Pig.

Check out the entire January 2012 calendar over here.

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

Special Tastings, Brewery Promos, and Samplings
@Beer Yard, Wayne, Pa.--- Fri. 1/27 - Friday Night Tasting (5:00pm-7:00pm; $Free tasting samples of Leffe blonde and brune beers)

@Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 1/27 - Friday Night Tasting (4:00pm-6:00pm; $Free tasting samples of Victory Brewing's beers)

@Isaac Newton's, Newtown, Pa.--- Thu. 1/26 - Brewery Night featuring Corsendonk (7:00pm-9:00pm; $PAYG)

@Philadelphia Bar & Restaurant, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 1/27 - Awesome Night of Ballast Point Beers (5:00pm-10:00pm; $PAYG for brandy barrel-aged Three Sheets, Barrel-aged Sextant, Tongue Buckler, Yellowtail, Calico, Sculpin, Wahoo Wheat, Sea Monster, and bourbon barrel-aged Black Marlin)

@Teresa's Next Door, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 1/28 - Holy Hops! ($PAYG for Russian River goodies, Founders Double Trouble, and, yes, Bell's HopSlam)

@The Belgian Café, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 1/27 - An Evening of Ommegang (7:00pm-10:00pm; $PAYG as Megan of Duvel-Ommegang will be on hand to give tastes and maybe some prizes. Featuring draft Ommegang Seduction, Ommegang Three Philosophers, Ommegang Belgian Pale Ale, and also featuring draft N’Ice Chouffe. 25oz Bottles of Ommegang Aphrodite, Ommegang Adoration, and some bottles of N’Ice Chouffe vintage 2010)

Special events with that little something extra
@Hulmeville Inn, Hulmeville, Pa.--- Thu. 1/26 - Hair Of The Dogfish Head Tap Takeover (6:00pm; $PAYG for Chicory Stout with Randall-infused Apple Brandy Apples & Oak Chips, 60 Minute, 90 Minute, World Wide Stout, Palo Santo, Ta Henket, Olde School, My Antonia, Hellhound & more TBD)

@Iron Hill Brewery, West Chester, Pa.--- Sat. 1/28 - Belgium Comes to West Chester (1:00pm; $PAYG for 29 Belgian beers from 26 breweries sure to knock your socks off. And, probably still more surprises to make the 50 degree weather day even more perfect. Beats the weather of two years ago!)

@The Four Seasons Hotel, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Mon. 1/30 - A Beer Four All Seasons (6:00pm-8:00pm; $PAYG for the Truffled Old Ale, collaboratively-conceived with The Four Seasons and brewed at Dock Street. $16 per 750mL bottle on this night only…plus $8 commemorative glass)

@TJ's, Paoli, Pa.--- Sat. 1/28 - The Shelton Brothers Take Over TJ's @TJ's, Paoli, Pa. (12:00pm; $PAYG for a stellar lineup including tasty treats from Mikkeller, To Ol, Nogne-O, Cantillon, Struise, DeProef, Blaugies, Jandrain, Kerkom Bink, Dieu du Ciel, Amager, DeMolen, Jolly Pumpkin, Christoffel, St Somewhere, Monchshof, and Kapuziner)

Bus pickups in either Limerick or Lansdale, Pa.--- Sat. 1/28 - North Wales Winter Warmer Tour (11:00am-6:00pm; $70, see website for all the details )

Did you resolve to homebrew in 2012?
@Keystone Homebrew, Bethlehem & Montgomeryville, Pa.--- throughout Jan. '11 - Beer Making, Cheese Making, and Wine Making classes (See website for all the class details)

Beer and Food events
@Occasions, New Hope, Pa.--- Sun. 1/29 - Chili Cook-off (1:00pm-4:00pm; $35/$45 to vote for your favorite chili in the People’s Choice Award competition and stay for our trophy presentations for this and the Judge’s Choice. Includes a commemorative glass.)

@Pinocchio's, Media, Pa.--- Mon. 1/30 - Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $75)

@South Philadelphia Tap Room, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sun. 1/29 - Beef and Beer (4:00pm-8:00pm; $50 for a gourmet beef buffet with all the fixins' prepared by Chef Scott Schroeder, and drink firkins from your favorite local breweries like Sixpoint Vienna Pale Ale, Dogfish Head 75 Minute, Sly Fox Chester County, Sly Fox Route 113, Dock Street Rye IPA, Manayunk California Dreamin', PBC Newbold, PBC Kilty Pleasure, Weyerbacher Hops Infusion, Victory Smokin' Oats Porter, plus a sixtel of Tröegs Scratch 55)

@The Abbey Bar at Appalachian Brewing Co., Harrisburg, Pa.--- Sat. 1/28 - Winterfest ($TBD)

@Victory Brewing Co., Downingtown, Pa.--- Tue. 1/31 - Terrior Des Tettnangs Beer Dinner (6:00pm-9:00pm; $35 for a sensory tour of Tettnang as guided by Ron Barchet through six different batches of Braumeister Pils brewed with this signature noble hop)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dock Street and The Four Seasons. Old Neighbors back together again.

(Truffled Old Ale, winter seasonal release from Dock Street and The Four Seasons)

Dock Street and The Four Seasons began their relationship over 20 years ago when the brewery and restaurant opened just around the corner on 18th Street in the space that is currently occupied by Public House. Much looks very familiar at the old brewpub, but Dock Street has certainly taken its spirit in a different direction than its original Center City location suggested.

Dock Street has been at 50th and Baltimore in West Philly for the past five years after Rosemarie Certo took back the reins of her restaurant and brewhouse. After a few noteworthy brewers, Scott Morrison has reemerged as head brewer from the brew kettle's shadows. It seems that barely a few months pass without a beer forum thread asking a question along the lines of "What ever happened to The Dude?" or a beer writer making passing reference to potential plans of his to open his own brewery here or there.

(The collaboration team, sans Chef, from left to right, of Scott Turnbull, Four Seasons Fountain Restaurant's sommelier, Rosemarie Certo, Dock Street owner, Scott Morrison, Dock Street head brewer, Marilyn Candeloro, Dock Street sales, marketing, and public relations coordinator, Justin Quinlan, Dock Street brewer)

Morrison's been manning the mash paddle at Dock Street since Ben Potts left a few months ago. At one point, Morrison did have designs on opening his own brewery and had the whole brewhouse in storage awaiting that day. Though, for the foreseeable future, he is back in the fold at Dock Street, having recently sold the brewing equipment to an outfit in Alberta.

To bring this all back to 2012, Dock Street has partnered with The Four Seasons on a planned series of beers paired with the seasons of the year. The first one up is available exclusively at the hotel's Swann Lounge and Fountain Restaurant beginning Monday, January 30.

The beer is called Truffled Old Ale and is much like the name suggests. All the recipe details are up on Dock Street's website, including words like "malty", "chardonnay barrel", "winter truffles", "vodka" that are sure to peak your palate's interest.

I had a chance to preview this beer at the hotel's Swann Lounge last night. It's still rather remarkable to be drinking quality craft beer in a setting as warmly rich and comfortable as The Four Seasons. I'd first done this with Fritz Maytag three years ago during Philly Beer Week. At the time, I'll admit that I was nothing more than skeptical of The Four Season's intention of getting involved with Philly Beer Week. Really? It had to be nothing more than a marketing ploy, right? Would they really represent craft beer throughout the year? Then, they really stepped up their involvement during last year's PBW with a daily focus on various local craft breweries. Now this. Color me convinced.

(A glass of beer. Certainly more interesting to drink than to look at.)

So, what's the story with the beer, you ask? Any fears that this is just a novelty beer should quickly subside after the first taste. The truffle essence is rather subdued and plays just a hinting role in the flavor of the beer, instead letting the hallmark English maltiness and slight bitterness remind you that this is a beer. A beer, in fact, of which you can have more than one. The truffle essence comes out so slightly as the beer warms, as does the chardonnay characteristics.

Only on January 30, the 750ml bottle will be available at The Four Seasons for $16. There are somewhere around 15 cases, give or take (depending upon, of course, how much we drank last night), available for sale.

After that, the bottles will sell for $19.85 until they're gone. Get it? 19. 85. The year of Dock Street's founding.

Expect more from the collaborative series beginning with a spring release -- style still yet to be determined by Morrison and Chef.

(Dock Street beer taking center stage in the Swann Lounge in front of the fireplace)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekly Brew Bits Update: 1/23/12

Definitely seem to be generating some significant interest via these weekly updates. Certainly has me thinking about how to best use these to satisfy your need/interest for relevant and interesting beer material.

In that spirit, I'm making a small modification here this week that should help in weeks that there are more than just a handful of interesting stories to share.

I'll be organizing these weekly updates much like the ever-popular calendar of area.

Everyone has a place that they call home. So, Philadelphia, naturally, will be my first area of interest to group news updates by. Then the bigger regional ring(s). Then, everywhere else in the world.

Thanks for your continued support and feedback. It truly does keep me going.

~ Philly Beer Week put out an exciting promotional video for PBW '12 and conducted the first organizing meeting this past week in Philly. I have a split-second cameo at 0:09 which was captured during the Hammer of Glory parade segment between Kite 'n' Key and The Four Seasons.

~ This one's sort of a fun inside joke here in Philly, and a good reason to link to Suzy Woods' Beer Lass website, something I haven't done in quite some time.

~ Craig Laban at has a preview of the very intriguing upcoming Truffled Old Ale from Dock Street, being released as a "collaboration" with The Four Seasons hotel, the brewery's original neighbor way back in yesteryear.

~ A local TV station ran a nice piece on the new Tröegs brewery in Hershey.

~ Jack Curtin has a couple of bits about new brewhouse arrivals and installations for Sly Fox in Pottstown, Pa. and Flying Fish in Somerdale, NJ (moving from Cherry Hill).

~ Lew Bryson and Green Leaf Media have reached the $6,000 goal to fund the pilot episode of American Beer Blogger. Continue to give, as I did this weekend (finally), and help them on the way to a full series.

~ The Atlantic took a stab at America's best beer gardens. Philly's Frankford Hall made the list as did other notables (at least from my own first-hand experience) across the country like Zeitgeist (SF), Stone, Bohemian Hall (NYC), and Standard (DC).

~ I'm excited to find some of the recently-released Tweason'ale. Dogfish Head owner, Sam Calagione, is as well and he shares this video to describe a bit more about the beer. You should be able to find it shortly on store shelves near you.

~ San Francisco Beer Week is just weeks away, beginning on Friday, February 10. I'm co-hosting (or maybe I should call it ghost-hosting) another Beer Run in conjunction with Brian Yaeger and Derrick Peterman. Check out all the details for the run at Derrick's site and the whole SFBW '12 shebang at

~ Speaking of San Francisco, Bitter American from 21st Amendment is 4.4% ABV. Lew Bryson took notice of it and, from the sound of it, loves it as much as I did. As much as I did to call it the #3 Craft Beer of the year over in the place where I've been known to write those things.

~ Stephen Beaumont, took one more shot at bringing attention to what different role players in this great world of beer could do to make all of our experience just a bit better. He threw two more out there this past week, Part 2 of what beer servers should not do --all astute, but #3 is a classic. Also, rules for beer marketers. And, finally, the commenting on his entry of what beer raters should/should not do continued...and who wouldn't have expected it to?! Sensitive bunch.

~ The Brewing Network recently spoke with Chief (aka Jeff O'Neil), formerly of Ithaca and now with Peekskill Brewing. He speaks of the hows and whys that Peekskill Brewery may soon become a much bigger beer geek destination. The interview starts at 2h 23m mark of the nearly 5 hour podcast and runs approximately 18 minutes. The entire Sunday Session was chock full of everything from excellent homebrew advice to Illinois' Destihl Brew Works to this interview with O'Neil. Check it out.

~ Difficult to believe that it's been a year (tomorrow, in fact) that Japan suffered through the beginning of two natural disasters that wreaked so much damage and sorrow. From a beer perpective, here's a little look back on the brewing industry impact from, incredible pictures from, and a look forward from a Draft Magazine article in 2011.

Unable to uncover more recent updates on the impact to Kiuchi Brewery (Hitachino Nest, et al), I solicited some information from importer B. United's regional sales representative, Jon Lundbom, whose response I've pasted here below and should provide some nice and new information for many you. Cheers!

Kiuchi is back up and running at full capacity -- they are brewing six days/week and it still isn't enough beer to satisfy the market (the US market, specifically). They have resumed work on their expansion and hope to move into their new brewhouse sometime this year. We now have a bulk tank container 100% committed to Hitachino and should have more than 3,000 kegs available in the US for 2012.

We are about to release the Hitachino 3 Days Earthquake Ale, a single batch of beer that underwent a prolonged and uncontrolled lactic fermenation in a mash tank that lost temperature control during the power outage. All accounts that donated to the B. United/Hitachino earthquake relief fund will be receiving free bottles. Toshiyuki Kiuchi will be visiting the US sometime this Spring. While there are no concrete plans as of yet, we will definitely be doing an event at Jimmy's No. 43 in NYC. Jimmy Carbone's "Brewers for Brewers" event was by far the single biggest contributor to the fund.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: January 19 - January 25

Philly Beer Week released a video last week. If it doesn't get your lupulin flowing for PBW '12 (the 5th anniversary already!), I'm not sure what will. My 1/2 second of PBW '11 fame comes at 0:09 :)

Until then, continue your winter/spring training for PBW '12 with some of the following beer events in and around Philadelphia. As usual, there's no shortage or diversity in events to keep you thawed during these cold winter months. Carry on...

Check out the entire January 2012 calendar over here.

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

Special Tastings, Brewery Promos, and Samplings
@Beer Yard, Wayne, Pa.--- Fri. 1/20 - Friday Night Tasting (5:00pm-7:00pm; $Free tasting samples of Samuel Adams beer)

@Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 1/20 - Friday Night Tasting (4:00pm-6:00pm; $Free tasting samples of Southern Tier beers with Joe Sixpack)

@Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 1/19 - Keep the Pint Night (4:30pm; $PAYG for a night of Flying Fish beers like HopFish IPA, Extra Pale Ale, Grand Cru Winter Reserve, Abbey Dubbel, and Exit 13 Belgian Chocolate Stout. Take-home glassware as well.)

@Goshen Beverage Center, West Chester, Pa.--- Fri. 1/20 - Friday Night Tasting (4:00pm-6:00pm; $Free tasting samples of Boxcar beer)

@Hulmeville Inn, Hulmeville, Pa.--- Thu. 1/19 - Philadelphia Brewing Tap Takeover (6:00pm; $PAYG for all the PBC standards, plus Broadcaster Brown (yay!) and Harvest From The Hood. Free glassware, too.)

@Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Tue. 1/24 - Duck-Rabbit Night (7:00pm-10:00pm; $PAYG for a selection of Duck-Rabbit drafts, including a special coffee-infused Milk Stout firkin. Buy a pint, keep the glass. Duck vs. Rabbit food specials with Daffy Duck & Bugs Bunny cartoons on the TV.)

@The Wishing Well, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Mon. 1/23 - Quizzo (8:00pm; $PAYG to test your beer knowledge and win prizes supplied by Victory)

@Total Wine, Claymont, Del.--- Thu. 1/19 - Learn About Belgian Classics (6:30pm-8:30pm; $15 for a wide variety of classic Belgian beer styles. Authentic Trappist and Abbey ales of Belgium will be featured along with beers from other countries whose brewers are offering accurate renditions of these timeless brews of Belgium. Class includes beer selections, tasting sheets, take home educational materials, and discounts on the beer presented in class.)
@Total Wine, Claymont, Del.--- Sat. 1/21 - Learn About Belgian Classics (3:00pm-5:00pm; $15 for a wide variety of classic Belgian beer styles. Authentic Trappist and Abbey ales of Belgium will be featured along with beers from other countries whose brewers are offering accurate renditions of these timeless brews of Belgium. Class includes beer selections, tasting sheets, take home educational materials, and discounts on the beer presented in class.)

@Yards Brewing Company, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 1/20 - Brawler vs. Pugilist (6:00pm-9:00pm; $PAYG for a bare-knuckles cask match-up of Yards' Brawler and Iron Hill-Lancaster's Pugilist. Possibility of a nitro-ized Brawler as well.)

Special events with that little something extra
@Club Polaris, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 1/21 - Big Ass Beerfest (12:00pm-3:00pm, 4:00pm-7:00pm; $45/$55 for sixty or more brews ranging from imperial porters and stouts, double IPAs, barleywines and many more. Sample all you want the whole session. If you like high ABV beers you'll love this fest. Most beers will be over 8% alcohol by volume, but we will have a few that are just too interesting to not have at a beer fest. There are some new breweries in town that we want to showcase like: Evil Genius, Neshaminy Creek Brewing, and more.)

@Craft Ale House, Limerick, Pa.--- Thu. 1/19 - A Very Funky Farewell (6:00pm; $PAYG for a farewell event for one of the nicest guys in the beer biz, Dr. Joel Armato from New Holland Brewery. We'll have many New Holland beers on draft, and Dr. Joel will be spinning some old school vinyl. Beers will go on around 6:00 and music begins around 8:30.)

@Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 1/20 - 120 on 1/20 (10:00am; $PAYG for the tapping/detonating at 10am. Weighing in around 20% ABV, we expect this sixtel to last all day.)

@High Street Grill, Mount Holly, NJ--- Sat. 1/21 - Winter Beer Fest (12:00pm-2:00pm, 2:30pm-4:30pm; $30 for beer sampling from Tröegs, Weyerbacher, Oskar Blues, Victory, Founders, Firestone Walker, Allagash, Ommegang, and many more)

@Iron Hill Brewery, Maple Shade, NJ--- Sat. 1/21 - Barrels, Bourbon, and Bugs (12:00pm-4:00pm; $PAYG for Five wild beers and five bourbon barrel-aged beers on tap)

@Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 1/21 - The Trouble with Trippels (11:00am; $PAYG for special food menu, a DJ, and troubling trippels like: Victory Golden Monkey, Sly Fox Incubus, Stoudt's Abbey Tripel, Weyerbacher Merry Monks, Dock Street Prisoner of Hell, Flying Fish Exit 4, Allagash Tripel, and Flying Fish Grand Cru)

@London Grill, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 1/19 - Sierra Nevada Ovila Series plus ExPortation (7:00pm; $PAYG for the dubbel, the quad, the saison, and the bar's last keg of ExPortation)

@Sly Fox, Phoenixville, Pa.--- Fri. 1/20 - Robbie Burns Birthday Event (6:00pm-11:00pm; $PAYG for Gang Aft Agley Scotch Ale and Burns Scottish Ale, the bagpipes will be piping and the arrival of the Haggis (6:30pm) will be marked by Ian Turnbull's reading of Burns' Ode to a Haggis. Celtic Spirit will play music throughout the evening. We will also reward everyone who attends wearing a kilt with a free pint and have a judging of the best Kilt attire, male and female, with first, second and third place prizes.)

@Tapestry, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Tue. 1/24 - 24 Tap Takeover Night (8:00pm; $PAYG as they feature California breweries 50/50, Ballast Point, Coronado, Iron Fist, and Mission)

Did you resolve to homebrew in 2012?
@Keystone Homebrew, Bethlehem & Montgomeryville, Pa.--- throughout Jan. '11 - Beer Making, Cheese Making, and Wine Making classes (See website for all the class details)

Beer and Food events
@Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 1/21 - Ommebrunch (10:00am-2:00pm; $PAYG for a special brunch with a whole bunch of Ommegang beers like Adoration ['10], Adoration ['11], Gnomegang, Three Philosophers ['10], Three Philosophers ['11], Witte, and more)

@Iron Hill Brewery, Media, Pa.--- Thu. 1/19 - Cheese and Beer Pairing (6:00pm & 8:00pm seatings; $35 for four courses of cheese paired with Ironbound Ale, Vienna Lager, Abbey Dubbel, and Wee Heavy)
@Iron Hill Brewery, Wilmington, Del.--- Wed. 1/25 - Brewmaster's Merry Monks Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $65 for a six-course meal paired with Belgian Pale Ale, Tripel de Rut, Smokin Blonde, Saison, Belgian Rye IPA, and Fe10)

@Paramour, Wayne, Pa.--- Tue. 1/24 - Farmer's & Brewer's Dinner (6:30pm; $65 for a seven-course dinner featuring all-natural and locally grown Scottish Highland beef from Why Not Farm in Glenmoore, PA with specially selected beer pairings from Sixpoint Craft Ales of Brooklyn, NY like The Crisp Pilsner, Sweet Action Cream Ale, Bengali Tiger IPA, Spice of Life IPA, Righteous Rye Pale Ale, Diesel American Stout, and Otis Oatmeal Stout)

@Speckled Hen Cottage Pub & Ale House, Reading, Pa.--- Wed. 1/25 - Beer Dinner (6:00pm; $40 for a four-course meal paired with Ommegang Hennepin, Cigar City Maduro Brown, and Founders Breakfast Stout)

@Two Stones Pub, Newark, Del.--- Wed. 1/25 - Monthly Beer Dinner ($TBD)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Need a couple of clicks from you good folk

Things-a-little slow for traffic over at ye olde Washington Times. Seems all they want to talk about is Tim Tebow and the Republicans.

I contributed to an article that wove beer into a political (of sorts) story. Check it out. Read it if you like (it's extremely light), but most importantly as I always say, click the link here to let 'em know that you like reading about beer - if nothing else - on The Washington Times ;-) It's the old, helping-me-to-help-you kind of thing. Thank you in advance.

[Link to The Washington Times Communities section]

Then, San Francisco Beer Week. I won't be attending this year, but I will be conducting an event. Pretty cool gig, eh? I'll do some better promoting in the weeks to come.

Until then, check out the event over here through this link and if you or someone you know are in the Bay Area and want to get your run and drink on, this will be the event for you at the Golden Gate Park on Sunday, February 12.

Weekly Brew Bits Update: 1/16/12

Here's a bunch of unrelated stuff from the great wide world of the craft brewing segment. This weekly update is usually Philly-centric, but there's a bit more randomness in here this week. Figured many of you will, nonetheless, enjoy most of it.

There's a lot here. My goal has never been to make these too long and overwhelming.

~ One of the best food and beer events of the year takes place right here in Philadelphia. Tickets to The Brewers Plate on 3/11/12 have gone on sale and can be purchased via this link. And, if you'd like to know more about this tremendous event, you can read my past reviews of 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006. Lots of good and tasty stuff there, check it out. Don't know what happened to 2010's, but we can assume that it was equally "great".

~ Speaking of great events in the Philadelphia region, Iron Hill is gearing up again for its annual celebration of funk and fun on the last Saturday of January, 1/28/12. Belgium Comes to West Chester is a great showcase for Iron Hill's funky fantastic brews and also for nearly twenty other invited breweries. Check out the list of beers on their website.

~ Good friend and great writer, Stephen Beaumont, takes his unique approach to year-end lists in the form of things bartenders, patrons, writers, and raters should not do. Check 'em out and chime if you don't agree that almost all of them are rules we should all live by for a better beer experience.

~ I've passed through the Tampa airport [TPA] enough to find this interesting tidbit to pass along to you, in the case you find yourself there for spring training, spring break, or springing for a beer. Local brewery, Cigar City, will soon be making and serving up their highly sought after brews at its airport pub and Gerard at Road Trips for Beer shares some of the details.

~ After following a revealing piece from 2010 on Andrew Zimmern, I also stumbled across a nice piece on Philly boy, Michael Solomonov. He has had high-profile stops at Xochitl and Percy Street Barbecue and worked under Terence Feury, Patrick Feury, and Marc Vetri, with his last stop heading up Marigold Kitchen.

~ And, last but not least (or, least, depending upon your viewpoint), Dogfish Head has been in the news in more ways than one recently. For starters and in a positive light, they've got the gluton-free Tweason'ale and the Noble Rot both ready for the market. They both sound interesting to check out for, obviously, different reasons. Read more about the Tweason'Ale at the DFH website.

But then, oh boy, but then, brewery owner and industry poster boy Sam Calagione kicked up a bit of a storm within the storm that can often be found on the BeerAdvocate website forums. It was one of those typically routine and inane threads entitled "Most Overrated Brewery". Calagione's remarks were fairly well-measured and delivered. Yet, it only added to the debate amongst the geekerie think-tank about how effective criticism should be dealt and measured. Me? It reminded me why I rarely dip my toes into the waters of the frustrating forums at sites like this.

If you thought I might link to the forum, sorry. You'll have to go digging for it, if you really care. It really wasn't news, per se, but it sure did have people talking.

~ Then, when I thought I had this wrap-up completed, a couple more snuck in that I thought you may wish to read up on.

First, the website has a nice little guide for ordering and, if need be, refusing a beer in today's more enlightened world of beer consumption.

~ Then, a "story" about binge drinking. I found the article, the numbers, the analysis, the positioning, the half-baked conclusions confusing and misleading. What about you?

~ And, finally, a light-hearted story about dealing with potential litigation. Adam at has the original story and link. Then, follows it up with a bit of post-mortem.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: January 12 - January 18

How are we doing out there? Holidays behind us and recovered? The beer events calendar is heating up here in and around Philly. So grab a beer and give the list below a once-over and then get out there to support your local beer and bar scene.

Check out the entire January 2012 calendar over here.

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

Special Tastings, Brewery Promos, and Samplings
@Beer Yard, Wayne, Pa.--- Fri. 1/13 - Friday Night Tasting (5:00pm-7:00pm; $Free tastings of Sierra Nevada's Celebration, Torpedo, Stout, and the brand new Ruthless Rye IPA)

@Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 1/13 - Friday Night Tasting (4:00pm-6:00pm; $Free tastings of Full Pint beers)

@Capone's, Norristown, Pa.--- Thu. 1/12 - January Tap Event (11:30am; $PAYG a typical set of quality brews from Dieu du Ciel to Hill Farmstead to Russian River and many more)

@Iron Hill, West Chester, Pa.--- Fri. 1/13 - Old Tom Barleywine Release (5:00pm-8:00pm; $PAYG for the early release of the classic Old Tom Barleywine for Mug Club Members only until 8:00 p.m. Complimentary small bite for Mug Clubbers with purchase of a mug of Old Tom.)

@McKenzie Brew House, Devon, Pa.--- Thu. 1/12 - Trois Enfants Conifer Tapping (6:00pm; $PAYG for this new and extremely limited brew from the collaboration team of Ryan Michaels, John Defibaugh, and Jean Broillet)

@Nodding Head, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 1/14 - Ice Capades (3:00pm-6:00pm; $PAYG for Gordon's and Fava's Ode to the Eisbock. We are putting our own spin on the deliciously sweet and seductive ice-beer. There will be surprise guest beers; and costumes are encouraged.)

@Pinocchio's, Media, Pa.--- Thu. 1/12 - Fundraiser with Harpoon for Best Buddies (5:00pm-9:00pm; $PAYG where 20% of all Harpoon draft sales all day will be donated to the Best Buddies Champion of the Year campaign. Our friend Chris "DJ Snugs" Wierzbowski will be here all evening to talk about the work that this organization does, give away some Harpoon shwag, and drink some wicked New England brews like Harpoon's IPA, Winter Warmer, UFO, and several more TBA.)

@Sly Fox, Phoenixville, Pa.--- Fri. 1/13 - 113 Day (1:00pm-8:00pm; $PAYG at 1:13 p.m., when anyone in the pub can purchase a pint of Rt. 113 IPA for $1.13 and then, at 5 p.m., a firkin of Rt. 113 IPA will be tapped on the bar and you can buy a 10oz pour until the keg kicks. 1/13 will also mark the debut of our just completed video celebrating Pottstown, the new home of Sly Fox Brewery.)

@The Bards, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 1/13 - Boulder Tap Takeover (6:00pm; $PAYG for a lineup of Colorado's fine Freshtracks, Mortimer, Oaked Saison, Killer Penguin, Mojo, Sweaty Betty, Hazed and Infused, and Planet Porter)

@The Belgian Café, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 1/12 - Artisinal Imports Tap Takeover (7:00pm-10:00pm; $PAYG as Alex Forbes from Artisinal Imports will be here for a meet and greet/tasting event. Featuring Sunner Kölsch, Tripel Karmeliet, La Trappe Dubbel, Urthel Quad, Meantime Pilsner, and St. Feuillien Speciale.)

@The Institute, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 1/14 - Battle Royale (featuring New York breweries) (2:00pm-8:00pm; $PAYG for a fun night with New York breweries like Southern Tier, Ommegang, Ithaca, Sixpoint, and He'Brew. Also, 22oz bomber bottle giveaways from one of the fine breweries to the first 5 people that show up and then the next 5 people get tickets to the march Craft Beer Express.)

@Tria, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Mon. 1/16 - Meet the Brewer Night (5:00pm-7:00pm; $PAYG for a night with Rob Tod, Suzy Woods, and all their goodies like Thing 1, Thing 2, White and Black on tap, as well as tasting portions of Fluxus and Confluence from bottles)

Firkins for the firkinteenth
@The Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 1/13 - Friday The Firkinteenth (12:00pm; $PAYG for the world famous gravity-pour cask ale event that happens very Friday the 13th. Up to 30 firkins! Tapped 7 at a time until they are all gone.)

Did you make a resolution to homebrew in 2012?
@Keystone Homebrew, Bethlehem & Montgomeryville, Pa.--- throughout Jan. '11 - Beer Making, Cheese Making, and Wine Making classes (See website for all the class details)

Beer and Food events
@Burlington County College Culinary Arts Center, Mount Holly, NJ--- Fri. 1/13 - Robert Burns Dinner (7:00pm; $75 gets you passed hors d’ouerves, a seated dinner, three beers or wines, ceremonial parade of colors, Highland Scottish Dancers, a toast to the Haggis, toasts to the Lassies & Lads, reading of the Tam O Shanter, and, of course, Auld Lang Syne

@Holiday Inn Conference Center, Breinigsville, Pa.--- Thu. 1/12 - Fegley's Brew Works Beer Dinner (6:00pm-9:00pm; $49 for a five-course meal paired with Always Sunny Pale Ale, Hop Explosion, Steelgarden Wit, Doppelbock, Rauchbock, and Insidious Imperial Stout)

@Iron Abbey, Horsham, Pa.--- Wed. 1/18 - Trappist Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $60 for a five-course meal paired with La Trappe Witte, Orval, Achel 8 Blonde, Westmalle, Rochefort 10, and Chimay Grand Reserve)

@Iron Hill, Phoenixville, Pa.--- Tue. 1/17 - The Beer and Cheese Experience (7:00pm-9:00pm; $35 for four courses of cheese paired with Iron Hill beers)

@Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, Pa.--- Tue. 1/17 - Tasty Tuesday with Tired Hands ($PAYG as Jean Broillet of Tired Hands will be on hand to tap his Grassroots collaboration beer "Do Saisons Dream of Electric Yeast?")

@The Farmhouse Restaurant, Emmaus, Pa.--- Thu. 1/12 - Sly Fox Beer Dinner (6:00pm-10:00pm; $66 for a delicious menu to complement five different outstanding Sly Fox beers that will be served along side each course, along with one specialty surprise brew and a Sly Fox gift to take home.)

@Uno's, Bensalem, Pa.--- Thu. 1/12 - Weyerbacher Beer Dinner (6:30pm-9:00pm; $55 for a five-course meal paired with Blithering Idiot, Big Ern’s IPA, Merry Monks, Fireside Ale, and Heresy '10)

@Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, Pa.--- Thu. 1/12 - Trout Unlimited Charity Dinner (6:30pm; $12/$18 to support the conservation of Chester County streams by joining the Valley Forge Chapter of Trout Unlimited for a buffet dinner at Victory Brewpub)

Monday, January 09, 2012

Weekly Brew Bits Update: 1/9/12

If you thought things in the beer world slowed down around the holidays, then you must have missed the following over the past week or so.

~ Lew Bryson has a potential production show brewing (get it?! er, never mind) with Green Leaf Productions and he's taken to the road to help drum up support. Well, and drink some good beer and talk about it along the way. Tonight he's at Devil's Den in South Philly.

~ Speaking of the big guy, Lew was on Beer Sessions Radio back in November along with the Vanberg & DeWulf duo Wendy Littlefield and Don Feinberg talking Belgian beer and the 30th anniversary of the V&D's business of bringing Belgians (the beer, not the people, well unless it was for a beer event) to America.

~ And now speaking of NYC-based Beer Sessions Radio vintage and Belgian beers were discussed the following week with Tom Peters. Both 45 minute long podcasts are worth the listen, even two months later. I only just got around to listening to them myself.

~ I've made some past reference to the Tröegs/Fegley's pending trademark dispute. During the holidays, Tröegs withdrew potential legal action. Lehigh Valley Live had the story.

~ Ben Potts recently relocated mash paddles from Philly (Dock Street) to Delaware (Dogfish Head, the pub). Here's a link to Food Informants at The Huffington Post where Ben provides a diary style peek at a week-in-his-life-at-DFH. I still haven't finished the article yet, but I trust you'll enjoy.

~ I wrapped up my three-part Top 10 list set in The Washington Times Communities section. The last one was the highly-anticipated, or debated, Top 10 Craft Beers. Check it out and weigh in.

~ Slowly, bit-by-bit, over time, things have been changing in Pennsylvania. Beginning yesterday, beer distributors are now permitted to open on Sundays for beer sales from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Additionally, restaurants serving Sunday brunch may begin serving alcohol at 9 a.m. Many distributors will not choose to stay open for the full twelve hours, citing not nearly enough incremental business to cover expenses (or aggravation) in the early and late hours of a Sunday. Around Philadelphia, Craft Beer Outlet has changed its Sunday hours to 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Exton Beverage and Goshen Beverage to 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

~ Nicole Erny recently became only the fourth certified Master Cicerone. The Cicerone exam will be hosted on March 15 by Hunterdon Distributors in Phillipsburg, NJ.

~ One of the most eagerly-anticipated beer festivals of the year on the East Coast takes place in Baltimore, Md. where Max's pulls together a reported 100+ draft and 175+ Belgian and Belgian-inspired beers for three days. February 17-19 from 11 a.m. 'til closing with no entrance fee is just about all you need to know. Their website has a running list of beers as they procure them.

~ Hot Specials. If you Like/Fan The Drafting Room on Facebook and show them proof in person at their Exton, Pa. location by 1/12/12 (this coming Thursday), you'll get a free appetizer.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Tired Hands, Construction Update #3

Tired Hands Brewing Company, 16 Ardmore Avenue, Ardmore, Pa 19003

The only thing that was for sure when today began was that we were heading into Philly, taking the dogs to a dog park (Schuylkill River Park), and making a few beer pick ups for an upcoming event.

After a sidewalk lunch at Dock Street, we opted for the westward route out of the city along Lancaster Avenue and found ourselves saying, "hey, I wonder if Jean is at Tired Hands today".

Ha! As if he'd be anywhere else ;-)

You could argue that I should always travel with my "big boy" camera, but today I did not. However, the iPhone is usually up to the task of taking halfway decent pictures.

So, here are a few from my impromptu and unofficial (but, yet, by me posting this, I suppose it has now become official....phlegh, I'm beginning to lose even myself here) visit to the soon-to-be official location of Tired Hands Brewing Company.

By the way, for a more comprehensive (and usually up-to-date) photo chronicle of the progress at this new Ardmore, Pa. brewery, keep up over at its Facebook page and/or its website/blog.

(A temporary reminder amongst the construction site)

(More temporary reminders of what's to come)

(Someday soon the sign will be gone, but the beer will remain)

(Tanks onsite and ready to be put into place)

(Don't worry beer geeks, they're planning with you in mind too..i.e. enlarge the picture and read the fine print)

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: January 5 - January 11

And so it begins. Another year. Funny thing, from a beer events calendar perspective, it's gonna look pretty similar to last year, I'll bet. In and around Philly, a lot of great things happening at breweries and bars. So buckle up and let's go. Here's a look at the next 7 days.

If you think the calendar looks light by Philly standards, relax. I think everyone's still coming down off a crazy year-end and NYE blowout. There's plenty more good stuff to come in January.

Check out the entire January 2012 calendar over here.

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

It continues...., around the Greater Philly area. Expect to see Tom Kehoe and company gallivanting around the region every night from 12/31 through 1/11. They're calling it 12 Days of Olde Bartholomew Barleywine and it should be quite the spectacle as you've come to expect from the Yards Crew.
>> Dawson Street Pub (12/31, 6pm); Devil's Den (1/1, 12pm); Memphis Taproom (1/2, 4pm); Watkins Drinkery (1/3, 5pm); Standard Tap (1/4, 6pm); Hulmeville Inn (1/5, 6pm); Good Dog Bar (1/6, 7pm); Philly Bar & Restaurant (1/7, 5pm); Varga Bar (1/8, 7pm); Kite & Key (1/9, 7pm); The Drafting Room (1/10, 7pm); Barcade (1/11, 6pm)

Special Tastings, Brewery Promos, and Samplings
@Barcade, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 1/5 - Winter Beer Night (4:00pm; $PAYG for nearly two dozen wow-beers that put the "win" in winter)

@Beaver Brewing, Beaver Falls, Pa.--- Fri. 1/6-Sat. 1/7 - Nelson Sauvin Pale Ale Release (6:00pm-8:00pm (Fri) and 11:00am-2:00pm (Sat); $PAYG for this pale ale that "smells/tastes like wine from the hops")

@Drink Philly, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 1/6 - First Friday: Beer, BBQ, & Art (Sweet Lucy's & Phila. Brewing Co.) (5:00pm-9:00pm; $Free but they're looking for RSVPs as Sweet Lucy's Smokehouse is bringing some award winning BBQ, and our friends over at Rolling Barrel Events will be pairing it with an assortment of craft beers from Philadelphia Brewing Company, including Kenziger, Pennsylvania Pale Ale, and Joe Coffee Porter)

@Monk's Café, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Mon. 1/9 - Mad Monday with Dogfish Head (11:30am; $PAYG for an astounding lineup including 120 Minute IPA, Chicory Stout, Fort, Immort Ale, Miles Davis/Bitches Brew, Pearl Jam, Ta Henket, and World Wide Stout)

@Washington House, Sellersville, Pa.--- Fri. 1/6 - Friday Beer Tasting (5:00pm; $PAYG for Brian O’Reilly's unique interpretations of classic Belgian & German styles)

Don't be a booger, support a blogger
@Devil's Den, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Mon. 1/9 - "American Beer Blogger" event (7:00pm-10:00pm; $PAYG as Lew Bryson drums up support for his TV(?) show and the bar brings out a bunch of great beers in their own show of support like Bavarian Barbarian First Snow, Brew Works Second Coming, Dogfish Head Burton Baton, Philly Brewing Co. Shackamaximum, Sly Fox Odyssey, Voodoo Gran Met, Weyerbacher Tango, Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale, and a firkin of Stoudt's Sugar Plum Lager)

Some firkins if you please
@Bethlehem Brew Works, Bethlehem, Pa. ---Thu. 1/5 - Charity Cask Night (5:00pm-10:00pm; $PAYG for Chocolate Raspberry Stout, with hints of raspberry, chocolate, hop & malty goodness. 100% of sales benefit Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter)

@Hulmeville Inn, Hulmeville, Pa.--- Sun. 1/8 - Cigar City Firkinganza (10:00am; $PAYG for five firkins including Vanilla Maduro Brown, Jai Alai IPA, Cubano Espresso, Humidor Jai Alai, and Maduro Brown. Also, a beer themed breakfast)

Did you make a resolution to homebrew in 2012?
@Keystone Homebrew, Bethlehem & Montgomeryville, Pa.--- throughout Jan. '11 - Beer Making, Cheese Making, and Wine Making classes (See website for all the class details)

@Iron Hill, West Chester, Pa.--- Thu. 1/5 - Holiday Hangover Party (5:00pm-9:00pm; $PAYG for the last of the holiday beers and ‘re-gifting’ the worst of the holiday haul)

@Pearly Baker's, Easton, Pa.--- Wed. 1/11 - Dogfish Head Beer Dinner (6:00pm; $55 for a five-course meal paired with Chateau Jiahu, My Antonia, Immort Ale, 90 Minute IPA, Black & Red, and 120 Minute)

@Victory Brewing Co., Downingtown, Pa.--- Mon. 1/9 - Girls Just Wanna Have Suds: Beer + Chocolate Night (6:00pm-9:00pm; $40 for four chocolate courses paired with Festbier, Ranch S, Baltic Thunder, and Dark Intrigue)

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A new year, A new Iron Hill

For the first time, I can tag an Iron Hill-based posting here with the "Philadelphia" tag. As of tomorrow, 1/4/12, Iron Hill will have nine locations. From Newark, Del. to Lancaster, Pa., over to Maple Shade, NJ, and now to Philly's last westerly neighborhood, Chestnut Hill, in the city of wonderful neighborhoods.

The brewery family of perennial award-winning brewers has been hosting soft-opening "practice" lunches and dinners in expectation of the grand opening this week.

I was invited to stop by for dinner and check things out. Veteran fans of the brewery and restaurant will find many parallels in keeping with the company design, decor, and delivery.

What they'll also notice is a menu of beers that head brewer, Paul Rutherford, and assistant, Derek Testerman, have brewed themselves, save for the long-running favorite, Pig Iron Porter. For a grand-opening, they certainly timed the schedule of the brewhouse quite well. Rutherford's brewery has something the other IH brewers don't...a hopback. For opening night, expect to see the "standard" house five and three other specialities. Plus, a lineup of six more to come.

More to come, for sure. Enjoy, Chestnut Hill!

(Exterior facing Germantown Avenue)

(Interior front bar and dining room)

(Proud brewers, Derek Testerman and Paul Rutherford, standing in their shiny new brewhouse in front of a brew kettle and the hopback)

(Back restaurant dining room)