Monday, April 29, 2013

Beer Calendar: What To Do in May 2013

Lots going on around these parts in May, as if that should surprise you. In addition to all the wild and crazy times spilling out below, there's also National Homebrew Day on May 7 for which the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) is celebrating with a "Big Brew Day".

Not to be outdone, the professionals have their own nationwide celebration in American Craft Beer Week. You might see a few related events on the schedule here below.

And, finally, the grandaddy of 'em all,
Philly Beer Week kicks off on May 31. Any event tagged as Philly Beer Week for 5/31 will not be included on this May 2013 calendar. But, you can bet I'll have something to share related to the calendar of events planned for this sixth installment of Philly Beer Week.

As always, 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

Mon. 5/1 through Fri. 5/31 - Brewery Of The Month (Breweries of Pennsylvania) @Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa. ($PAYG)
Mon. 5/1 through Fri. 5/10 - 10 day 10th Anniversary Celebration @Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa. ($PAYG)
Wed. 5/1 - Beer School (May subject: TBD) @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, Pa. (12 p.m.; $Free)
Thu. 5/2 - Thursday Beer Sampling (Oskar Blues) @The Bottle Shop, Philadelphia, Pa. (6 p.m.-8 p.m.; $Free)
Thu. 5/2 - Harpoon Brewing Night @Barcade, Philadelphia, Pa. (4 p.m.; $PAYG)
Thu. 5/2 - Chocolate and Beer Pairing @Craft Beer Outlet, Philadelphia, Pa. (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $20)
Fri. 5/3 - Hitachino Brewing Night @Strangelove's, Philadelphia, Pa. (5 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/3 - Thursday Beer Sampling (Founders) @The Bottle Shop, Philadelphia, Pa. (6 p.m.-8 p.m.; $Free)
Fri. 5/3 - Dogfish Head Shittel Load of Sixtels @Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, Pa. (6 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG)
Sat. 5/4 - Maifest Street Festival @Eight blocks of South Street (and in front of Brauhaus Schmitz), Philadelphia, Pa. (12 p.m.-8 p.m.; $Free Admission to the street and an option to buy a $100 VIP ticket — see "Philadelphia" $20+ section farther below.)
Sun. 5/5 - Chestnut Hill Home & Garden Festival @Iron Hill, Philadelphia, Pa. (11 a.m.-5 p.m.; $PAYG)
Sun. 5/5 - Cinco de Mayo Brunch with Guest Chef @Dock Street, Philadelphia, Pa. (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG)
Sun. 5/5 - Cinco De Mayo @Hop Angel Brauhaus, Philadelphia, Pa. (3 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG)
Sun. 5/5 - Ten day 10th Anniversary Celebration @Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa. (12 p.m.-3 p.m.; $PAYG)
Mon. 5/6 - Bottle Shop Happy Hour (Left Hand) @Local 44 Bottle Shop, Philadelphia, Pa. (6 p.m.-8 p.m.; $Free)
Mon. 5/6 - Gluten Free Feature Week @Iron Hill, Philadelphia, Pa. (5 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG)
Tue. 5/7 - A Barrel-aged Night featuring Death's Door Spirits @Barcade, Philadelphia, Pa. (4 p.m.; $PAYG)
Tue. 5/7 - Meet the Brewer with Valter Loverier of Loverbeer @Alla Spina, Philadelphia, Pa. (6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.; $PAYG)
Wed. 5/8 - Beer School (May subject: TBD) @Resurrection Ale House, Philadelphia, Pa. (4 p.m.; $Free)
Thu. 5/9 - Belgian Beer Night with St. Killians Importers @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, Pa. (7 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/10 through Sun. 5/12 - Bocks and Brats @Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, Pa. ($PAYG)
Fri. 5/10 - Anchor - the San Francisco Treat @Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, Pa. (6 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/10 - Hill Farmstead Brewing @The Cambridge, Philadelphia, Pa. ($PAYG)
Sat. 5/11 - IPA Block Party @Hawthornes, Philadelphia, Pa. (2 p.m.-8 p.m.; $PAYG)
Sat. 5/11 - May (Be Some) Flowers @Nodding Head, Philadelphia, Pa. (3 p.m.-6 p.m.; $PAYG)
Mon. 5/13 - Bottle Shop Happy Hour (Oskar Blues) @Local 44 Bottle Shop, Philadelphia, Pa. (6 p.m.-8 p.m.; $Free)
Wed. 5/15 - Beer School (May subject: TBD) @Local 44 Bottle Shop, Philadelphia, Pa. (5 p.m.; $Free)
Wed. 5/15 - Yards Tap Takeover @The Bards, Philadelphia, Pa. (6 p.m.; $PAYG)
Thu. 5/16 & Fri. 5/17 - The Porch Beer Garden @30th Street Station, Philadelphia, Pa. (3 p.m.-8 p.m.; $PAYG)
Thu. 5/16 - Pennsylvania Brewery Night @Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa. ($PAYG)
Thu. 5/16 - Stone Brewing Night @Barcade, Philadelphia, Pa. (4 p.m.; $PAYG)
Thu. 5/16 - Philadelphia Brewing Tasting @Craft Beer Outlet, Philadelphia, Pa. (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free)
Thu. 5/16 - Stoudt's Promo @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, Pa. (4:30 p.m.; $PAYG)
Thu. 5/16 - Night Market @Fairmount neighborhood (22nd/Fairmount), Philadelphia, Pa. (6 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG)
Sat. 5/18 - Wheaties Fest @South Philadelphia Taproom, Philadelphia, Pa. (12 p.m.-8 p.m.; $PAYG)
Mon. 5/20 - Bottle Shop Happy Hour (Founders) @Local 44 Bottle Shop, Philadelphia, Pa. (6 p.m.-8 p.m.; $Free)
Thu. 5/30 - Dinner & A Movie (Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck Cartoons) @Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa. (7 p.m.; $PAYG)

Philadelphia's close suburbs (within 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Wed. 5/1 - Weyerbacher Wednesday @UNO, Maple Shade, NJ (5 p.m.-8 p.m.; $PAYG)
Thu. 5/2 - First Thursday Beer Tasting @Whole Foods, Plymouth Meeting, Pa. (6 p.m.-7 p.m.; $Free)
Thu. 5/2 - Keep the Pint and Raffle @Capone's, Norristown, Pa. (6:30 p.m.; $PAYG for night of Summit beers plus purchase any "craft draft" and get a raffle ticket (only one ticket per patron) to win the right to purchase a very limited bottle of Founders Doom.)
Fri. 5/3 - Ithaca Brewing @Pinocchio's, Media, Pa. (5 p.m.-7 p.m.; $PAYG)
Sat. 5/4 - Bitter Rivalry @Iron Hill, North Wales, Pa. (1 p.m.-5 p.m.; $PAYG)
Wed. 5/8 - Nautical Puppies @Fingers Wings and Other Things, Conshohocken, Pa. ($PAYG)
Thu. 5/9 - Dogfish Head Tap Takeover @Flanigan's Boathouse, Conshohocken, Pa. (6 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/10 - Friday Night Tasting (Weyerbacher) @The Beer Shoppe, Ardmore, Pa. (5 p.m.-7 p.m.; $Free)
Thu. 5/16 - Yards Happy Hour @Uno Chicago Grill, Newtown Square, Pa. (5 p.m.; $PAYG)
Thu. 5/16 - A Night with Flying Fish @Pinocchio's, Media, Pa. (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/17 - Friday Night Tasting (21st Amendment and Uinta) @The Beer Shoppe, Ardmore, Pa. (5 p.m.-7 p.m.; $Free)
Sat. 5/18 - Suburban Wood Fest @Union Jack's, Glenside, Pa. ($PAYG)
Thu. 5/23 - Weyerbacher Night with Mike @Pinocchio's, Media, Pa. (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/24 - Friday Night Sampling (Yards) @Beer Yard, Wayne, Pa. (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free)

Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania / Other (beyond 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Wed. 5/1 - Charity Cask Night (to benefit Allentown Freak Out Festival) @Fegley's Brew Works, Allentown, Pa. (5 p.m.; $PAYG)
Wed. 5/1 - Wednesday Keg Tapping (Left Hand Twin Sister II IPA) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, Pa. (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG)
Thu. 5/2 - Belgian White Beer Release @Iron Hill, Newark, Del. (4 p.m.-7 p.m.; $PAYG)
Thu. 5/2 - Charity Cask Night (to benefit PBS39) @Fegley's Brew Works, Bethlehem, Pa. (5 p.m.; $PAYG)
Thu. 5/2 - Yards Brewing Night @Rams Head Bar and Grill, West Chester, Pa. (7 p.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/3 - Incubus Friday @Sly Fox, both Phoenixville & Pottstown, Pa. (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/3 - Free Samples (Deschutes) @Goshen Beverage, West Chester, Pa. (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free)
Fri. 5/3 - Friday Night Sampling (Kona) @Exton Beverage, Exton, Pa. (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free)
Fri. 5/3 - Beer Tasting (Stoudt's) @Washington House, Sellersville, Pa. (5 p.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/3 - Mahalo, Apollo! Beer Release @Iron Hill, West Chester, Pa. (5 p.m.-8 p.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/3 - First Friday Firkin @Iron Hill, Phoenixville, Pa. (5 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/3 - Tröegs Tap Takeover @Johnny & Hons Smokehouse, Robesonia, Pa. (6 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/3 - Neshaminy Creek Tap Takeover @Bistro on Bridge, Phoenixville, Pa. (7 p.m.; $PAYG)
Sat. 5/4 - Kentucky Derby @Iron Hill, Wilmington, Del. (4 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG)
Sun. 5/5 - Bock Fest and Goat Races @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, Pa. (11 a.m.-6 p.m.; $PAYG)
Sun. 5/5 - Cinco de Smutty @Union Jack's on the Manatawny, Boyertown, Pa. (1 p.m.; $PAYG)
Wed. 5/8 - Wednesday Keg Tapping (Left Hand Ambidextrous) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, Pa. (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/10 - Friday Night Sampling (Oskar Blues) @Exton Beverage, Exton, Pa. (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free)
Fri. 5/10 - 10% on the 10th @Side Bar, West Chester, Pa. ($PAYG)
Sat. 5/11 - Saturday Sampling (Stoudt's) @Exton Beverage, Exton, Pa. (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free)
Mon. 5/13 - Harpoon Tap Takeover @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, Pa. (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG)
Wed. 5/15 - Wednesday Keg Tapping (Dock Street Fresh Saison) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, Pa. (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/17 - Hop Attack @Iron Hill, Lancaster, Pa. (11 a.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/17 - Third Friday Firkin Fest @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, Pa. (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/17 - Firkin Friday with DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus @Arroga's Draft House and Sports Bar, Harrisburg, Pa. (5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.; $PAYG)
Sat. 5/18 - Preakness Stakes @Iron Hill, Wilmington, Del. (4 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG)
Wed. 5/22 - Wednesday Keg Tapping (Stone Oaked Smoked Old Guardian) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, Pa. (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 5/24 - Friday Night Sampling (Fegley's) @Exton Beverage, Exton, Pa. (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free)
Sat. 5/25 - Yards Sampling @Wegmans, Malvern, Pa. (3 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free)
Wed. 5/29 - Wednesday Keg Tapping (Lost Abbey Deliverance) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, Pa. (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG)

Events Over $20

Fri. 5/3 - Hitachino Omakase Beer Dinner @Zama, Philadelphia, Pa. (5 p.m.; $80)
Sat. 5/4 - Spring Craft Beer and Sausage Fest @Philly Homebrew Outlet, Philadelphia, Pa. (12 p.m.-6 p.m.; $20-$25)
Sat. 5/4 - Maifest Street Festival-VIP Access @Brauhaus Schmitz, Philadelphia, Pa. (12 p.m.-8 p.m.; $100)
Fri. 5/10 - Living Social's Craft Beer Festival @The Piazza at Schmidt's, Philadelphia, Pa. (6 p.m.; $39)
Sat. 5/11 - Greater Northeast Beer Festival @Cannstatter Volkfest Verein, Philadelphia, Pa. (1 p.m.-5 p.m.; $10-$35)
Wed. 5/15 - Neshaminy Creek Beer Dinner @Revolution House, Philadelphia, Pa. (7 p.m.; $50-$55)
Wed. 5/22 - Philly Beer Scene Awards @World Café Live, Philadelphia, Pa. (7 p.m.-11 p.m.; $75)

Philadelphia's close suburbs (within 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Wed. 5/1 - Victory Swing Cocktail Dinner @Savona, Gulph Mills, Pa. (6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; $65)
Thu. 5/2 - Tröegs Beer Dinner @John Henry's Pub, Ardmore, Pa. (6 p.m.-8 p.m.; $TBA)
Thu. 5/2 - Ballast Point Beer Dinner @The Churchville Inn, Churchville, Pa. (7 p.m.; $45)
Fri. 5/10 - Brews At The Ballpark @Campbell's Field, Camden, NJ (6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.; $35)
Wed. 5/15 - Tröegs Beer Dinner @Iron Abbey, Horsham, Pa. (7 p.m.; $60)
Wed. 5/15 - Beer Wars Dinner @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ (7 p.m.; $50)
Sat. 5/18 - Brandywine Valley Craft Brewers' Festival @Iron Hill, Media, Pa. (1 p.m.; $5-$45)
Tue. 5/21 - Spring Beer Dinner @Iron Hill, Maple Shade, NJ (7 p.m.; $65)

Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania / Other (beyond 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Sat. 5/4 - PA Flavor @Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex, Harrisburg, Pa. (1 p.m.-5 p.m.; $20-$75)
Sat. 5/11 - Mount Hope BrewFest @Mount Hope Estate, Manheim, Pa. (11 a.m.-3 p.m.; 4:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.; $20-$45)
Sat. 5/11 - Washington Crossing Brewfest @Washington Crossing Historic Park, Washington Crossing, Pa. (12:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.; $10-$40)
Sat. 5/11 - Microfest @Stoudt's, Adamstown, Pa. (6 p.m.-10 p.m.; $35-$40)
Fri. 5/17 - 10th Anniversary Beerfest @Firewaters, Atlantic City, NJ (6 p.m.-10 p.m.; $25)
Sat. 5/18 - Yardley Beer Fest @South Delaware Avenue, Yardley, Pa. (12 p.m.-5 p.m.; $10-$65)
Sun. 5/19 - Run for Ryan @Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, Pa. (1 p.m.-4 p.m.; $25-$35)
Thu. 5/23 - Beer Class @Rino’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, Exton, Pa. (7 p.m.; $24.95)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Weekly Second-Hand Brews News Update: 4/27/13

I long ago lost the ability to keep up with even half the beer news out there in the wild and wacky world of craft beer. There was a time I attempted daily (or even more frequent) updates with interesting tidbits from around the brewniverse along with small contributions of my own thoughts.

That has yielded to my weekly updates that you'll find here every Saturday morning with some of what I consider to be some of the more interesting news out there that you might like to add to your weekend reading list (or Monday morning at work, depending upon your preference).


~ St. Benjamin, still on the horizon?

~ Michael Klein talks of the soon-to-be PE6

~ Foobooz was on site a day early.

~ Hm, am I the only one skeptical about this project?

~ Party planning in Clifton Park, NY.

~ Jeff is gonna need an intern soon.

~ Logic passed along from our friend Lew

~ Gut reaction is that it won't truly be a beer garden

~ Larry profiled.

~ If this is what it seems, I love the sound of it, even coming out of A-B.

~ Catching up on events in Asheville over at Beer Pulse here ... and here.

~ Response to crime around the new New Belgium property in Asheville.

~ Speaking of North Carolina, some insights from Ken Grossman

~ Tragic news from Grupo Modelo.

~ And, then lastly, once again from Mr. Brooks, some funny stuff to take us out. Glad to see this stuff is universal!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Writing this ship, Part VI (Atlanta, Ga.)

Still going. Working on get caught up around here. This time it's Atlanta's turn in the spotlight. Check back here if you still need to get caught with the "intro", Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and/or Part V.

(Hotlanta? The A-T-L? A fun city/region no matter how you spell it.)

Atlanta. The Big Peach. Hotlanta. The A-T-L. New York of the South. Some of the ways in which folks refer to this "new capital of the south".

Tomahawk Chop. Dominque Wilkins. Spud Webb. "Pistol Pete". "Prime Time". Dale Murphy. Tom Glavine. John Smoltz. Phil Niekro. Greg Maddux. Hank Aaron. The Olympics. Sports have a fairly strong history here.

Martin Luther King. Coca-Cola. CNN. Gone with the Wind. All cultural and political touchstones.

(plug for Atlanta tourism)

But, beer? Not so much a major thread in the fabric of Atlanta until only the past five to ten years. Even fewer years in some areas with still plenty of room for growth.

Atlanta is a destination I've visited many times over the years on both business and personal time. Wonderful friends live in the northern suburbs beyond the perimeter. I've attended Braves games both at the old Fulton County Stadium and the new Turner Field. Run around the city and its sprawling Piedmont Park. Toured the Martin Luther King house and historic site. Climbed Stone Mountain. Caroused through Buckhead and Underground Atlanta, both in their perhaps hipper days. (Haven't seen Buckhead lately. Are they still "recreating" it?)

From Downtown to Midtown to Buckhead to the Highlands, I've seen a lot of Atlanta over the years. But enough about me and the past. Where is Atlanta now and, more importantly, where are they now with regard to the beer scene?

As I mentioned, the last ten years have seen a great deal of change. This change has come partly due to the changing national landscape and general perception of what beer is — what better beer is — but it has come mostly thanks to the maximum ABV in beer being raised in 2004 from 6% to 14%.

Back in the fall, I found myself there again for a few nights and it just so happened to correspond with the all-out blitz that New Holland Brewing Company (from Michigan) was assaulting the greater Atlanta region with. Perhaps assault is an unkind word. Nah, Dr. Joel (an old friend, so I know he'll take this well) was part of the traveling wrecking crew, so we'll go with assault :)

While they made their way from the airport to distributor (United Distributors, if you're one that likes to know these things) to one retail account after another (plus a few, I'm betting, that stayed off the official docket), I joined up with them at a few choice locations including Olde Blind Dog out in the suburban town center of Brookhaven, the Brick Store Pub, and Leon's Full Service, the latter two both in Decatur.

Hm, should I jump directly to Decatur? Nope, let's try to keep some order to this.

Let's begin back downtown and work our way out. Throughout the years, not much has changed in the heart of downtown. Downtown, as in the heart of the business district around the world trade center, hotels, the aquarium, Underground Atlanta, CNN, Coca-Cola, etc.

There's been Max Lager's — at the intersection of Peachtree Street NE and West Peachtree Street NW always a fun joke to play "how many Peachtree roadways are there"? Just take a look at a map, seriously, if you don't understand — for roughly fifteen years and, if you're not planning to wander far from your hotel when staying in downtown Atlanta, Max Lager's will suit you just fine for, say, a bowl of gumbo and a glass of their Red Ale, Pale Ale, or special seasonal brew.

(Trader Vic's is all-around fun in the bottom floor of the Hilton Atlanta.)

(Trader Vic's for fun and for cocktails.)

In the subterranean level of the Hilton Atlanta, you'll find Trader Vic's and plenty of great island drinks (Mai Tai should be on your short list), but the topic here is beer, so let's stick with that for the time being. Just remember, if you need a break, Trader Vic's is a fun stop to make.

Wander farther north into Midtown and you'll find a couple of solid standardbearers: Vortex Bar and Grill and Gordon Biersch. Vortex has been doing their thing in their own unique way to bring better beer into Atlanta for a good twenty years. Gordon Biersch and their solid, predominantly lager-based, lineup of beers can be experienced at their nearly 40 locations nationwide.

(Gordon Biersch in Atlanta's Midtown neighborhood.)

(Oktoberfest to quench a post-run thirst at Gordon Biersch in Atlanta's Midtown neighborhood.)

During this trip, a quick bite and an Oktoberfest got me started on the right foot after working up an appetite running a seven mile route in and around the wonderful Piedmont Park. Once again, I digress. I started a lively conversation at Gordon Biersch about just how much the local sports fans must miss a one Michael Vick. Then, I left and made sure no one followed me to Vortex. There are a bunch of new breweries, as there seem to be in just about every corner of this fine country, popping up and Atlanta has no shortage.

(Vortex Bar and Grill in Atlanta's Midtown neighborhood.)

(The lighting at Vortex Bar and Grill in Atlanta's Midtown neighborhood is not easy on flashless photography. Here, the Wild Heaven Ode to Mercy Imperial Brown Ale.)

At Vortex, along with a way-excellent Cubano (at the time I remarked, quite possibly one of the best I've ever had) and some plantains, the specially-brewed Hoplanta (brewed for Vortex by twenty-year-old Red Brick (fka Atlanta) Brewing) went down real nicely. But, it was the rather new Wild Heaven and its Ode to Mercy Imperial Brown Ale that knocked my socks off and prompted me to call it one of 2012's most memorable beers.

Is anyone gonna remind me about Decatur? Anyone? No, I did not forget. But, before we get to Decatur, it was a meet up at the Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub in suburban Brookhaven. I took MARTA's train line out there and once you get past Buckhead you start to think, yeah I'm out there.

(An assortment of staff and execs from the pub, the brewery (including Fred Bueltmann, third from back left, and Joel Armato, third from front right), and the distributor at Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub in Brookhaven, Ga.)

Olde Blind Dog is in one of those suburban town center type of setups and the inside of this particular Irish Pub incorporates both an indoor and outdoor Irish Pub feel. I'd attempt to describe it more but I get a feeling you don't really care. It definitely has a comfortable feel for waiting on the New Holland crew (distributor meeting/training) to show up to share some light bites and bigger beers. Dragon's Milk for happy hour? Sure thing.

Definitely fun seeing "Dr." Joel, Pennsylvania transplant (to Michigan), cross paths with me in Georgia. So much so that we met up again a few hours later in — wait for it — you guessed it, Decatur.

Remember all the way back up top when I described the slowly changing (more rapid of late, but slowly still all the same) beer scene in Atlanta? The reason I do look forward to an Atlanta trip is because of Decatur. Used to be, there was one place and one place only that I focused on visiting at some point during each trip. I've made it my first stop from the airport, I've made it my last stop from the airport.

Brick Store Pub.

This time it was around 9 o'clock or so when I jumped off the train in the heart of Decatur (only a 20 minute train ride from downtown Atlanta. Very convenient.) to meet up yet again with the New Holland crew. This was bound to get ugly.

For those of you who keep track of my blatherings, you may recall me for years talking about the worthiness of Brick Store Pub. Because I sure recall many of you crinkling your foreheads and saying something like "yeah right, Bryan, you expect me to believe that one of the best pubs you've been to in the country is in Decatur, Georgia?" And, I'd say something like "yes, believe me. What you don't trust me? You don't think you know what I'm talking about? (flashback to 2006)

Okay, enough of my showing off. Because it was a few years ago that one of those online ratings site (or maybe more than one) and some public opinion polls began also naming it as on of the country's best. Then, a few of you that I know personally checked it out for yourselves.

(Meatloaf Sandwich at Brick Store Pub in Decatur, Ga.)

So yes, I stopped in again and yet again it exceeded expectations. One of the best beer lists around. An ever-changing food menu with lots of locally-sourced meats and cheeses. A friendly and incredibly knowledgable (but, not pretentious) staff. Comfortable environs from the spacious downstairs to the cozy upstairs. I can't get enough and I certainly hope for all of you that you too can get there someday. It really is the beer reason to visit Atlanta … I mean Decatur :)

Speaking of Decatur, though, I shouldn't neglect to mention Twain's Billiards and Taps for decent beer, pool, and sports, which has been there for quite some time. Do believe I wrote about it, as well, way back when. Ah, yes, here is the link.

There's also a Taco Mac (reputable sports/taco/craft beer bar chain with 25+ locations) and Square Pub which both hold their own when it comes to well-regarded beer lists.

(New Holland spirits on tap at Leon's Full Service in Decatur, Ga.)

(at Leon's Full Service in Decatur, Ga., United (Rachel Siegel, Andrew Chilton, and Chris Brown), New Holland (Lindsay Sprick and Joel Armato), Beer Street Journal (Reed Ramsey) and The Brew Lounge representin')

(at Leon's Full Service in Decatur, Ga., from left: Lee Dickson, Brick Store Pub; Bob Rhein, Square Pub; Brian Watts; and Dr. Joel Armato, New Holland Brewing)

But, the last place that I tagged along with New Holland to was one last stop (well, one last for it was pushing up against the last train back downtown) just around the corner from Brick Store Pub and conveniently pretty much on top of the train station — Leon's Full Service.

They've pretty much also got most of "it" going on here as well. Cocktails by expert mixologists, well-composed beer list, creatively interesting food, friendly (once again, seems to be a theme around these parts, eh?) staff, plus a spacious outdoor seating area when the weather cooperates. Here was quite the meet up of beer folks from local beer press, publicans, and fans all to check out what Fred Bueltmann and company brought down from Michigan.

New Holland and its Devil's Milk went down to Georgia, literally. I'm not certain anyone's been the same since.

And, with that, let's leave Georgia and roll just a few last parting shots……

(New Holland schwag)

(I've spent a fair amount of time on MARTA's trains and can't figure out why there are not translations for all of the prohibited activities.)

(Fortunately, after a night out with the New Holland crew, the escalators from MARTA trains to street level were operating.)

(One heck of a comfy international terminal food court/bar area with a live piano player.)

(Sweetwater 420 on tap at ATL's international terminal)

(flying out of ATL in class at the international terminal's Beer Lounge. Who can't get comfy in joint like that? With Sweetwater 420.)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: April 25 - April 30

Almost a full week's worth of events here to close out the wild month that April typically is. The events are all over the map here with a little something for everyone. Enjoy!

Check out the entire April 2013 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, don't hesitate to let me know.

Brewery Promos and Samplings
@Beer Yard, Wayne, Pa.--- Fri. 4/26 - Friday Night Sampling (5 p.m.-7 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beers from Weyerbacher.)

@Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 4/26 - Friday Night Sampling (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of Evolution's beers and an appearance from Joe Sixpack.)

@Kunda Beverage, King of Prussia, Pa.--- Fri. 4/26 - Friday Night Beer Tasting (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of Philadelphia Brewing's beers.)

@Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Mon. 4/1-Tue. 4/30 - Brewery Of The Month ($PAYG for specials on Tröegs beers throughout the month.)

@The Bottle Shop, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 4/25 - Thursday Beer Sampling (6 p.m.-8 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of Brooklyn Brewery's East India Pale Ale, Lager, Pennant Ale, and Summer.)

@The Drafting Room, Exton, Pa.--- Sat. 4/27 - Long Trail Brewing Company (12 p.m.; $PAYG to meet brewery representative Matt Geiser and try Brown Bag #1 IPA, Brown Bag #3 Milk Stout, Belgian White, Shed IPA, Double White, Blackberry Wheat, and firkin of double-dry hopped Centennial Red.)

@Trolley Car Diner, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 4/26 - Finally Friday Free Tasting (5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beer from Philadelphia Brewing. Purchase a six-pack from Philadelphia Brewing Company and win a free prize.)

"Takeovers", Debuts, Festivals, and other noteworthy events
@Arts & Events Place, Quakertown, Pa.--- Sat. 4/27 - McCoole's Beer Festival (12 p.m.-4 p.m., 5 p.m.-9 p.m.; $10-$35 for live music, great food, craft vendors, beer trivia, homebrew competition, and over 70 unique beers and many samples of Barefoot Wine.)

@Blue Dog, Chalfont, Pa.--- Sat. 4/27 - Voodoo Barrel Room Collection Release (11 a.m.; $PAYG for Buffalo Trace Black Magick, Pappy Van Winkle Black Magick, Laird's Apple Brandy Black Magick, Buffalo Trace Big Black Voodoo Daddy, Pappy Van Winkle Big Black Voodoo Daddy, Laird's Apple Brandy Big Black Voodoo Daddy, and Laird's Apple Brandy Gran Met.)

@Iron Hill, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 4/25 - IBU Smackdown II (5 p.m.-8 p.m.; $PAYG for a Wrestlemania-themed hot dog menu, entertainment, and Nelson Muntz IPA vs. Hulk’s MASH on tap. First cask to kick is the champion.)
@Iron Hill, Wilmington, Del.--- Sat. 4/27 - Delaware on the Dock (4 p.m.; $PAYG for special beers on tap from Delaware breweries like Iron Hill, 16 Mile, 3rd Wave, Argilla, Dogfish Head, Fordham, Stewart’s, and Twin Lakes and live music at 8 p.m. from Fat Daddy.)

@Isaac Newton's, Newtown, Pa.--- Thu. 4/25 - Yards Tap Takeover (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG for at least Love Stout, Bourbon Barrel-Aged Love Stout, Chocolate Love Stout, Imperial Stout, and Black Rye IPA. Each draft of Yards you order gets a chance to win a gift certificate for your next visit to Isaacs.)

@Liberty Taproom, Reading, Pa.--- Thu. 4/25 - Dogfish Head Flight Night (6 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG for flights that will include Positive Contact, Chatea Jiahu, My Antonia, 90 Minute, and 120 Minute on the Randall infused with bourbon-soaked oak chips.)

@Manayunk Brewing Company, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 4/27 - Manayunk Brew Fest (1 p.m.-5 p.m.; $45 for the area's longest standing brew fest. More than 50 unique craft beers from around the globe. Keystone Homebrew Supply will be on site demonstrating the brewing process. Homebrewed beer featured by Barley Legal.)

@Old City, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 4/27 - Historic Tavern Crawl and Craft Beer Tasting (2 p.m.-5 p.m.; $50 for a walk through old tavern sites and sampling of modern craft brews along the way. Discover Philly’s brewing heritage and the significance of the colonial beer scene with Rich Wagner, beer historian and author, as your guide.)

Food and Beer events
@Devil's Den, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 4/25 - Tapas & Beer Pairing w/ B. United (7 p.m.; $PAYG for five different tapas served a la carte with Etienne Dupont, Chocarrubica, BFM La Quartorze, Leipziger Gose, and Loverbeer D'Uvabeer)

@Doc Magrogan's, West Chester, Pa.--- Sun. 4/28 - Craft Beer & Oyster Fest (12 p.m.-4 p.m.; $40 for oysters a half dozen ways and all the appropriate accompaniments, oyster stout on draft, oyster and Champagne pairings, shucking lessons and contests, and oyster eating contests. Live acoustic music from Brent Christopher. This Benefits the Chester County SPCA.)

@Éclat Chocolate, West Chester, Pa.--- Sat. 4/27 - Beer and Chocolate (5 p.m.-6:30 p.m., 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.; $50 as Patrick Mullin from Sly Fox Brewery is teaming up with Master Chocolatier Christopher Curtin to bring you some delectable pairings. Light appetizers will be served.)

@Union Barrel Works, Reamstown, Pa.--- Tue. 4/30 - "When Pigs Fly" Beer Dinner (6:30 p.m.; $45 for a six-course meal served with Kölsch, Pale Ale, Mai Bock, Lager, Wobbly Bob, and Stout.)

@World Café Live, Wilmington, Del.--- Mon. 4/29 - Grilled Cheese and Craft Beer Tasting (6 p.m.; $38 for two of the best things on earth paired together – Grilled Cheese and Craft Beer from 16 Mile Brewery. Bring your vegetarian friends, too – we can accommodate them on all pairings.)

Homebrewing, Charity, Schooling, and Miscellanies
@Paradise Farm Camps, Downingtown, Pa.--- Sat. 4/27 - Crushin’ it for Camp (12 p.m.-4 p.m.; $10-$20 to participate in the fundraiser for Paradise Farm Camps and underprivileged children. Enjoy some Victory beer and food at this once-in-a-lifetime outdoor extravaganza.)

@Yards Brewing Company, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 4/26 - Beer Chemistry: Perfect Pairing (7 p.m.-10 p.m.; $55 as Yards master brewers and Monell sensory scientists explore the malting, milling, mashing and fermenting behind your favorite brews. Taste and drink your way through five stations that combine delicious suds and savory treats from local eateries such as Fette Sau, Little Baby’s Ice Cream, and Han Dynasty, among others.)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ommegang Hop Chef in Philadelphia: April 23, 2013

Hop Chef. Is it a foodie event? Is it a beer geek event? It doesn't take long to discover it's both.

Building on the wild popularity of last year's Hop Chef competition, Ommegang has once again taken its Hop Chef competition on the road for regional faceoffs leading up to the finals showdown in Cooperstown, NY on August 3, 2013 at the brewery's even more wildly popular Belgium Comes To Cooperstown (BCTC) annual event.

Last night, a few hundred fans of great beer and food showed up at Union Transfer for the Philadelphia installment. The event was the kickoff to four regional events where local chefs incorporate Ommegang's beer into the creation of one dish. The concept behind the usage of one of the ales can include any or all of the following: Simple Pairing (concept should be fairly obvious); Incorporation (as used in the cooking process); Mimicking (matching specific flavor(s) between food and chosen beer); Story-telling (as in, explaining the creative process from sourcing to preparation); and Experimental (the wild card element where beer is meant to be the "main star of a dish").

The participating chefs were: Mike Deganis from Alla Spina; Eli Kulp from Fork; Lucio Palazzo from La Calaca Feliz; Yun Fuentes from JG Domestic; Nick Macri from Southwark; and Pat Szoke from The Industry.

Like last year, the friendly Tweet wars began heating up in the weeks leading up to last night's event. The doors opened to the public at 7 p.m. and the chefs were awaiting their fans with:

  • Mike Deganis used Ommegang's Belgian Pale Ale (BPA) to braise lamb necks which were served with mint fregola, fava beans, and a BPA vinaigrette

  • Eli Kulp whipped up a plate called "Ode to Cooperstown" that consisted of a foie dog with kimchee relish served on an Abbey Ale Potato roll with Abbey Ale mustard, Abbey Ale "Pretzel Jack" with mustard powder, and "Hall of Fame Crab Fries"

  • Lucio Palazzo found Ommegang's Witte to work best as a consommé to serve with his lamb barbacoa taco which was accompanied by a hominy tortilla, watercress, and radishes

  • Yun Fuentes made an Ommegang Rare Vos glaze on his duck arepa consisting of duck confit, jamon, and cherry-fig marmalade

  • Nick Macri showcased Ommegang's Hennepin in Hennepin-cured coppa with pickled chilies, "ballpark" nuts, grains of paradise bread crumbs, and an orange and coriander sauce

  • Pat Szoke took Ommegang's Three Philosophers and used it to braise beef short ribs served with with pickled long hots and a Three Philosophers cheddar sauce

  • With samplings aplenty and an open bar in the back of the venue providing full pours of even more beers from Ommegang (including the becoming-more-elusive Game of Thrones/Iron Throne Belgian Blonde), the crowd was definitely abuzz with the flavors and aromas of great food and beer coming together.

    On stage, brewery representative Megan Maguire kicked things off by welcoming all to the event and laying out the ground rules. Throughout the evening, emcee Marissa Magnatta from the WMMR Preston and Steve Show, kept the show interactive by inviting each chef up on stage to describe their inspiration for their chosen dish and beer. Last year's winner, George Sabatino (at that time, of Stateside fame), was also on stage to discuss his experience with the competition.

    The end result? You might think I wouldn't get to the point.

    First, for what it's worth, my top vote went to Fork's Eli Kulp and his team that assembled what I considered to be the best taste and the best presentation of the food plate paired with what has long been one of my favorite beers, the Abbey Ale, from Ommegang. My runner-up vote went to the Yun Fuentes from JG Domestic and his tasty duck and ham served with Rare Vos, another solid and food-friendly beer from Ommegang. Fuentes coincidentally took home the "People's Choice" award from votes tallied from attendees.

    Southwark's Nick Macri took home the honor from the official judges as Philadelphia's Hop Chef 2013. His plate of cured meat and accompaniments that seemed to cover all the flavor bases deservedly caught the palate of judges in their eyes as the best of the evening amongst a table full of tough competition.

    Macri will face off against the winners from Boston (competition to be held during week of May 20), Chicago (week of June 17), and Albany (July 8). The finals will go down at the annual BCTC event on August 3 as a separate ticketed event on brewery grounds.

    Congratulations to Macri, Fuentes, Ommegang, and everyone involved in a tasty evening in Philadelphia. As many of us already understand: Great Beer (does indeed) Deserve Great Food!

    Roll pictures.....

    (Overlooking the concert/event space at Union Transfer from the second floor)

    (Hop Chef Philly 2013 winner Nick Macri from Southwark)

    (Hop Chef Philly 2013 People's Choice winner Yun Fuentes from JG Domestic)

    (Pat Szoke and The Industry team)

    (Lucio Palazzo and La Calaca Feliz team)

    (Mike Deganis from Alla Spina)

    (Hop Chef Philly 2013 judges, hard at work)

    (Hop Chef Philly 2013 judges, front and center)

    (Hop Chef Philly 2013 judges. Back: Arthur Etchells, Cory Baldwin, Collin Keefe; Front: Caroline Russock, Scott Schroeder, Danya Henninger, Will Blunt)

    (Eli Kulp from Fork breaking down his "Ode To Cooperstown")

    Tuesday, April 23, 2013

    Writing this ship, Part V (Richmond, Va.)

    If you'd like to catch up with the pieces leading up to this Part V, head back and check out the "intro", Part I, Part II, Part III, and/or Part IV.

    How about we head off in a different direction this time, one that doesn't center around California? This time to the capital of the great Commonwealth of Virginia — Richmond.

    Back in October, I drove to Richmond which meant I could stop off at State Line Liquors along the way. Now, many of you, I'm betting, are veterans of this high-quality retail beer shop, just across the Del./Md. border in Elkton. Just a couple of short minutes off I-95 is where the rather average looking store sits. Inside is anything but average and where I found a couple bottles of the Grassroots/Tired Hands Wachu Saison brewed at ‘t Gaverhopke and Fanø Bryghus over in Europe. I'd be foolish to try and describe the beer's back story any better than Jean Broillet (Tired Hands) did over here.

    Let's get on with Richmond now, y'think?

    Er, oh wait one more minute, let's get DuClaw Brewing Company out of the way here too. Since DuClaw sits in Maryland along the critical path of Philadelphia to Richmond, I should be sure to cover that as well and I'll lead off with the few pictures from the Bel Air location. Comfortable environs, friendly service, satisfying and well-rounded food menu, and an extensive lineup of DuClaw beers, which only more recently began distribution in Pennsylvania. Happy to finally, after all these years, make the time-consuming effort to stop in Bel Air while passing through. Also, on my short list is their annual real ale festival; that must wait for another year.

    (DuClaw Brewing Company in Bel Air, Md.)

    (DuClaw Brewing Company in Bel Air, Md.)

    (DuClaw Brewing Company's impressive lineup of draft beers)

    (DuClaw Brewing Company personalized sampler)

    Once off the DC Beltway, it's a fairly straight shot to Richmond. I've been there a handful of times over the years; this was the longest (four nights) and the most well-rounded in terms of eats and drinks. Considering it included stops at Legend Brewing Company, two locations of Capital Ale House, and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, not to mention retail beer stops at Total Wine, Whole Foods, and Cost Plus/World Market, well-rounded certainly sounds like a good descriptor of this trip where I capitalized on making this trip a driving trip.

    First up, Legend Brewing Company. The Legend Brown has long been a favorite of mine in the region back to the days when Brad Mortenson was head brewer at the brewery and pub that sits across the James River from downtown. Most cities I return to have those one or two places that require repeat visits upon each return. Every visit back to Richmond, Legend is one of those places for me. (Capital Ale House is another and Hardywood Park has just become another, but more on those in a minute.)

    I've always found Legend to be easy-going with a dependable menu of solid quality and taste. The crowd always seems to run the gamut from blue-collar union workers to white-collar office professionals with a smattering of beer geeks and wandering beer tourists thrown in for good measure. On the day of this visit, it was my birthday and I was traveling solo, but the friendly "neighbors" on either side of me (as is the case during most solo bar ventures when I travel) kept good company and upheld my point of Legend being a friendly and easy-going no-pretention zone.

    It was the Brown, once again, the Pilsner, and the Porter that were hitting the right notes during this visit and off the food menu, the grilled wings could not have been more satisfying. A few bottles to take along with me and it was time to head off to the suburbs.

    (Legend Brewing Company)

    (Legend Brewing Company's draft menu)

    (The story of Legend Brewing Company)

    (Legend Brewing Company's excellent dry-rubbed and grilled wings)

    (Legend Brewing Company's also-excellent fish tacos)

    (Downtown Richmond, as seen from across the river at Legend Brewing Company)

    As I mentioned earlier, this trip saw me hit up two of Capital Ale House's locations. I'd previously been to the downtown Richmond location as early as ten years ago and been mightily impressed with the selection. This time life found me passing by the Midlothian location and staying near the Innsbruck location. Both spots had service staff that showed off their deep knowledge or appreciation of well-made beer. If you're in the region, Capital Ale House is a name you should know. The other two of their locations, by the way, are in Fredericksburg and Harrisonburg.

    (One of Capital Ale House's locations. This one in Midlothian, Va.)

    (Capital Ale House, the Midlothian location with approximately 80 reputable draft lines)

    Every trip seems to offer up a surprise or two along the way. Hardywood Park Craft Brewery served that purpose on this trip. The name had been vaguely familiar to me, but probably for no specific reason. Now, though? It's a name at the top of the list when anyone asks me about Richmond which, yes, does happen from time to time in beer-y conversations.

    I'd been planning to head up I-95 when work was through on Thursday. But, the timing of it all didn't seem to make sense when I factored in rush hour not only out of Richmond, but more importantly, on the dreaded DC Beltway. So, think...think I did and when I put my beer sleuthing skills to work, what did I come up with? Thursday night Food Truck Court at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, located just off the campuses of both Virginia Commonwealth and Virginia Union universities on the western edge of downtown Richmond.

    Instilled in every wise beer traveler (or at least hopefully is instilled) is the good sense to be able to walk the delicate line between safely smart and dangerously dumb. Ahead of me was a four-ish hour drive which would begin somewhere around 8 p.m. So it was a few well-chosen beers, my hands-down runaway favorite being the Hardywood Singel (a Belgian Blonde which, weighing in at a moderate 6.2% ABV was perfect for the situation), and grazing from a half dozen food trucks that made for the absolute perfect ending to the Richmond trip.

    Hardywood has an enviable setup. Like many breweries (particularly smaller ones), they are setup in a low-rise industrial park. There, they have what they report to be "friendly neighbors" with mutual respect. This serves them well during times of popular events when overflow parking spills into neighboring parking lots. Most of these events, however, are off-hours for their industrial park neighbors and craft beer fans are, on a whole, a fairly well behaved and respectful crowd so it all seems to usually work out well.

    Back to the setup inside. The brewery will be celebrating its second anniversary later in 2013 and in this short time has continued to grow its operations and its reputation. The tasting room includes a small retail shop and has been built out to spill into the spacious barrel-aging room adjacent to the brewing operations. From the barrel room, customers have a direct line of sight into the 20-barrel brewhouse (with accompanying 80-barrel fermenters). There's a decent amount of room to grow inside, which they may have done since I made this visit roughly six months ago.

    Eric McKay and Patrick Murtaugh, co-owners, were away on GABF business when I stopped in. Alex, the Tasting Room manager, played the role of host perfectly to my unplanned visit and has me convinced that I'll be making return visit in the not-so-distant future for any one of their numerous special events, perhaps for a 4-mile run, a Firkin Friday, a special release, or a live music session.

    How to summarize my visit that left me thoroughly impressed and assured that these guys are not fly-by-night opportunistic businessmen? Friendly and knowledgeable staff, investment in quality beers, and commitment to community.

    I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the Hardywood Park story and leave Richmond at that until next time we meet.

    (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery)

    (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery tasting room manager Alex flanked by Kenzie (pouring) and Stella)

    (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery's tasting room menu)

    (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery's tasting room)

    (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery's barrel room/tasting room)

    (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery's barrel room/tasting room)

    (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery's barrel room/tasting room)

    (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery's Food Truck Thursday Night: Chupacabra and Curbside Creations)

    (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery's Food Truck Thursday Night: RVA Vegan Cupcakes & Tacos)

    (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery's Food Truck Thursday Night)

    (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery's Food Truck Thursday Night: Estes Bar.B.'Cue)

    (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery's Food Truck Thursday Night)

    (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery's Food Truck Thursday Night: Monique's Crepes)

    (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery's Food Truck Thursday Night: Monique's Crepes)