Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

From all of us at The Brew Lounge... Happy New Year! Adam: Toasting with a barleywine I brewed last year.

A Picture of Future Pictures

From now on, my pictures of beer, glassware, and other items should hopefully look better. Thanks to a great gift from my wife, the pictures should convey a better idea of how each beer presents itself differently.

What are you toasting with on New Year's Eve?

Yesterday I began with Left Hand Warrior IPA and Rogue Santa Private Reserve. For today and tonight, I have a nice little selection to choose from. In the cooler, I have DFH World Wide Stout, New Glarus Enigma, Boulder Killer Penguin, Middle Ages Double Wheat, Pyramid Snow Cap, Left Hand Snowbound, and Brooklyn Winter Ale. Over the coming weeks, you'll see tasting notes from these all show up here. What quality brew are toasting with on this New Year's Eve or tomorrow on New Year's Day?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

'Topic of the Week': Week In Review; Respecting Beer

I shouldn't let 'em get to me so easily. Most times I don't. But, last week on BA threads was far from my favorite and, lucky for you, I vented. The whole 'respect beer' thing is relied upon as a crutch for them to shout people down when they don't agree with their viewpoint. 'Respect Beer' is a great mantra; heck, it's the BA slogan and carries a lot of meaning. So, why do I bother with them? Well, because I do (really, do) respect beer, I feel the need to pay attention to what everyone is talking about. This includes respected writers and columnists, brewers blogs, macro news, amateurs, and other industry sites like Beer Advocate. Further, I feel the need to hear what everyone is buzzing about in order to get a bigger (better?) picture of the beer industry. So, sometimes I get sucked into pointless threads and get bent out of shape. I'm done. I have more important things to get to... Travis and Adam rang in with their opinions on the subject. They both echoed roughly the same sentiments. They both pointed to their past frustrations with overly zealous contributors to beer and political threads. To combine and paraphrase, they singled out the ideas of liking what you like and blocking out the noise. Great advise! Lastly, allow me to borrow a phrase included in Jack Curtin's 12/27 posting, which dealt with a similar strain of the subject: "...And fun is what we're all about around here. So enough of this..."

Beer Tasting: Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Samuel Adams Boston Lager, the unofficial airport beer of the United States (ha!), typically finds its way into our house as a decent "standby beer" for those guests who are not so curious about "craftier beers." But, seriously, I don't knock Sam. It's still a respectable brewery that turns out consistently solid brews. I've dipped my hand into a few of these Sammys lately as the weather has cooled. Quite the leaf collecting beer. Bryan's Notes:
  • Pale, golden color
  • Creamy head disappears soon to a thin layer
  • Sweet and rich malty nose
  • Moderate carbonation keeps this solid, flavorful beer alive on the tongue and roof of mouth

Adam's Notes: (added on 12/30/2006)

  • 1 inch head dissapating to 1/4 inch
  • nutty lager nose
  • no sulfer notes :-)
  • orangish amber
  • malty lager like a Maibock, but, drier
  • subtle and complex hops flavor
  • this beer would go well with a variety of food
  • caramel flavors come out as it warms

Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 12/29/06

On an attempted regular basis, we'll post the tap list here to the Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA. We have no affiliation with the establishment other than living within 2 miles of it and appreciating the usual quality tap and bottle list. If you like this idea, please drop us a note and let us know.

On Draft as of 12/29/06
Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA
Bell's Double Cream Stout
Anchor Christmas Ale (2006)
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (2006)
Legacy Triple H IPA
Avery Old Jubilation Ale
Gouden Carolus Noël/Christmas
Legacy Nor'Easter Oatmeal Stout
Left Hand Smoke Jumper Smoked Imperial Porter
Wild Goose Snow Goose Winter Ale

Friday, December 29, 2006

Beer Advocate Magazine has arrived!

The much-anticipated inaugural issue of the Beer Advocate magazine arrived in my mailbox today, complete with a tasteful 2007 BA beer calendar. I've thumbed through it and it looks to be a good read for quiet time spent down the Shore this weekend.

Way to go, Jason and Todd...congratulations on a successful year. And, thanks for all that you continue to do to support the wonderful craft beer industry.

p.s. by the way, did I mention that in addition, of course, to the Alstrom Bros. there's Brooks, Bryson, Cook, Crouch, and Russell contributing also? just to name a few


My Annual Beer Exchange

Tis the most wonderful time of the year...for more than one reason. It's the time of the annual beer exchange at my place of employment. Both a 12 oz. exchange and 22 oz./25oz. exchange take place. Of course, I can't resist joining in the festivities of both. Because, why not give and receive just as much as you possibly can during "the season?"

So, what was dealt during these sessions? Just take a look at the pictures and I think you'll see that the coming months have some more good beer in store, in addition to the already overflowing cooler, cabinets, refrigerator, and workbench. Yikes!....I mean, Cheers! :)

Compare/contrast versus last year's exchange.

Union Barrel Works in Reamstown, PA - Construction Update 12/29/06

Thanks to loyal reader of The Brew Lounge, Dennis, for sending in this picture. Based on this and updates from the owners, could a January opening be in the works at Union Barrel?

A Short, but Busy Trip to New York City

Sure, it might've seemed a bit crazy to some. But, come on? Dontchya think 4 hours of travel time to NYC is worth it for 6 hours of great beer and bad food habits? Check it out...and come back here over the next week or so for full writeups on Essex Ale House and The Collins Bar. Ray's Pizza for a slice of, uh, pizza (Houston and 2nd ave.) Essex Ale House (on Essex, just below Houston), full write-up here - Gnomette II - N'ice Chouffe - Houblon Chouffe Hop Devil Grille (just off Tompkins Square Park on St. Marks) - Southampton Porter Papaya King for a couple of frankfurters, fries, and a papaya drink (14th & 7th) The Collins Bar (46th & 8th), full write-up here - Sprecher 'Special' Amber - Chelsea Hoppy Holidays (cask) - Sprecher Black Bavarian - Sprecher Oak-aged Russian Imperial Stout (jackpot!!)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Beer Dates in History: January Anniversaries

Anniversary cheers go out in January to the following who are still doing what they love...and giving us what we love. 150 Years Stevens Point Brewery 135 Years Straub Brewery 25 Years Redhook 10 Years Pyramid Brewery & Alehouse (Berkeley)

A Visit to Magnolia Brew Pub in San Francisco, CA

Oh, Magnolia, how I missed thee and thine beers. Could it be possible for me to somehow bottle the Magnolia experience for the East Coast? If you haven't picked up on my opinion in the past, then allow me state it again: No trip is complete to San Francisco without a visit to Magnolia in the Haight-Ashbury district. If you can add an Anchor tour and a stop across town at 21st Amendment, you've got yourself a perfect beer trip within the city proper. Instead of telling the same lovey-dovey story again, you can read (or re-read?!) my summary from earlier this year. Many of the notes and sentiments remain the same.

On this particular evening, travelling colleague and friend Matt and I stopped in at Magnolia after our sushi dinner at Sakana (if this was a food site, too, you'd get a full glowing writeup on Sakana...or do yourself a favor and stop here too for great sushi in SF). We nibbled on a couple of appetizers (bacon-wrapped water chestnuts and plantain fries) and almost (almost, I say) sampled each and every beer served on tap that evening....yes, both CO2 and cask! Dave Keene and crew certainly continue to impress with their consistent brews, conducive atmosphere, and wonderful staff. Unfortunately, we did not have the time to make our way down the street to Dave's new establishment, Alembic. Next time, Dave, I promise :)

In review of the night's sampled brews, it was really no surprise that Proving Ground IPA rose to the top as it did at my last visit. Following quite closely was another old friend, Cole Porter. And, the ESB made the top 3 as a solid, straight-to-style (but, oft-neglected) ESB. Even the Number 9 beer, a 9th anniversary "light beer" that we put at the bottom of our consensus ranking, was still a nice beer that delivered subtle flavors and nuances that we had to pay attention to in order to appreciate. Which all goes to remind us that bigger beer does not always mean better and that the lighter, softer beers can still deliver a wonderful experience.

Can't wait to go back!

p.s. Oh, and by the way, be sure to ask for one of Kim's table while you're there if you're looking for pleasurable service and a friendly back-East face (she went to Pitt).

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bell's Hopslam Delivers!

Get slammin' with Bell's Hopslam! This is one incredible brew that has found the perfect balance between hops, malt, and alcohol. What a pleasant drinking experience...and at a deceiving ABV of close to 10%, it'll get real pleasant right quick. And, the folks at BA and RB seem to universally agree. If you're looking for a Hop Wallop that's just a bit more balanced, this is it. If you're looking for a Pliny the Elder with a bit more alcohol, giddy up. If you're looking for a cleaner Ruination, a hoppier 90 Minute, or an ever-so-slightly softer Hopsickle, you've come to the right place. If you haven't guessed it yet, I really found this beer to be practically perfect in so many ways. Oh, and I've rhapsodized the hops, but what about the flavor you say? How about pineapple, grapefruit, fresh hop flavors? Sound good? How about smooth, lively alcohol playfully intermingling with these flavors. Ok, I'll stop now. Patrick at The Drafting Room came into possession of one of these kegs recently and it has quickly become a fan favorite. In the spirit of full disclosure, our friend Mr. Curtin tipped us off over at his site in his 12/24 posting. Thanks, were 100% on the mark.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Beer Tasting: Left Hand XXXmas Ale (2005)

The Beer: Left Hand XXXmas Ale (renamed Snowbound Ale in 2006)
Style: Winter Warmer
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 22oz. brown bottle; "01/21/05"

From where & how stored: Received in a "big bottle" exchange during the holiday season of 2005; stored at 42F refrigeration since then

Pricing: unknown

Availability: Winter Seasonal

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 7.6% ABV; 16 IBU
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- deep mahogany walnut color
- thin head
- bit of oiliness on the glass walls

The Aroma:
- sweet, maple syrup type aroma

The Taste:
- hazelnut
- chocolate covered nuts...praline?
- Flavors fade quickly at the end

The Verdict: A bit thin, but a decent balance of malt and hops. Overall, a decent beer, but not great. This bottle may have been past its prime at almost two years old.
Adam's Notes
The Look:
- brown copper and somewhat dirty

The Aroma:
- caramel vanilla hints
- fruitiness in the nose

The Taste:
- taste is a bit malty
- somewhat bitter
- reminds me of a maibock a little
- needs to warm
- seems to have a better nose than a follow up taste
- cinnamon appears in the finish as it warms

The Verdict: A wonderful treat on a cold winter night; though, not sure what the xxx is all about

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Brew Lounge 'Topic of the Week': Holidays, Respecting Beer, and Miscellany

I'd like to first start by sending out best wishes for the best possible holiday for all of our loyal readers (and too for those of you that just happen to stumble upon us :) My hope is that you all are able to use the holiday season to focus on what is good in this world and in your own personal lives. But, that you also use "the season" to reflect upon how it can all be better. Ah, there it is, the segue. The segue into 'what the heck is wrong with certain individuals over at Beer Advocate?' I'm not singling out BA or any individual in particular. This happens all over the place. But, it's a particular discussion thread that got me fired up the other day. Truth be told, in the BA discussion forums, this happens to me on average of once a week. Ok, maybe I'm a bit more ornery this week, because it happened twice :( One post had to do with "respecting beer" and another one had to do with getting carded in a liquor store when the purchase was non-alcoholic. In these sort of threads, seemingly benign and sometimes pointless topics are thrown out there (as bait?) and before you know it the vitriolic arrows from the left and right comes slinging in. Oh, and my favorite (not!) is the "you idiot, this topic was raised three years ago and here's the link to prove it." I know, I one is forcing me to read it, but you staring at the sun.... Before you know it these topics have gone off into the world of "you don't respect beer" (which I totally don't get, but more on that later) and "why even 90-year-olds should be carded" (not a word more on that, I promise!) Respect beer? What is that? Do they mean "respect alcohol?" Or respect the brewer? Or the respect the craft beer because it's so much more worthy than macro beer? Those points, I suppose, in the right context can be accepted. But, now I've seen it somewhat frequently where writers have said that if you do a beer sampling with more than 2 ounces of beer at a time....or take more than a thimble full to wash across your palate...or get anywhere near to a state of inebriation that you don't respect beer. For crying out loud, I suppose I've disrespected beer many a time. Because guess what? I've practically chugged a S.N. Celebration because it's just so damn good and I was enjoying it. Then, I've had another just for good measure. Or, there have been nights when I've done tastings 6-12 ounces at a time with 4, 5, or 6 beers. Or, I have made a "session beer" out of an 8-percenter. And sometimes I wasn't quite sober at the end of it all. Was I rude to my beer? Did I diss it? Did I let myself down or the industry? Am I worthy of writing another word about craft beer? Ok, sorry for that. I don't usually take my rants on-line. But, a plea to you all out there who want to shout down others in online forums. STOP! Yes, those are all capital letters. Your attempts to puff your chest and act like you sit in a higher place are misguided. Once again, I'd urge those folks to use the holiday season to pursue what is good in life and the craft beer industry. That's what I'm going to do for the last couple of sentences here. How shall I do this? Oh, I know. I have one remaining vacation day for 2006 and I just may spend it making a trip to The Collins Bar in Hell's Kitchen (NYC) for their Sprecher event on Wednesday evening. Along with a cask of Chelsea Hoppy Holidays, it seems like a positive way to roll into 2007. So, hopefully, if you made it through my rant to the end, you got this piece of miscellany as a tip for what to do Wednesday 12/27 in New York City. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Merry Christmas!

Here are some pictures from the holidays. While in downtown Philly Saturday for our yearly visit to the Dickens display and the light show, we (my family and some friends) grabbed a bite to eat at Independence Brew Pub. I ordered a 10 oz. glass of their winter warmer and a pint of Yards Love Stout from one of their guest taps. I wonder how long they have had guest taps. Wow, that has to be one of best stouts in the region! So good that I took the opportunity to purchase a growler of it. One more for the collection.

I've also included a picture of two gifts from my wife. First, two American Expedition pint glasses featuring the whitetail deer. Second, a T-Shirt!

Have a wonderful holiday!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Beer Tasting: 21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat

The Beer: 21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat
Style: Wheat w/fruit
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12oz. can; no date stamp

From where & how stored: Purchased from the brewery in Dec. '06, transported home, and stored at 42F since then

Pricing: $9.00 six-pack

Availability: Year-Round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 5.5% ABV; 17 IBU
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- 1-finger airy head; quickly dissipates
- orangish-yellow color

The Aroma:
- nice aroma of watermelon rind as opposed to the sweet top-end of the watermelon slice, unbelievable
- never thought they could pack watermelon flavor into beer with destroying the beer flavor and without being fruit-juicy

The Taste:
- starts soft and nice
- explodes into watermelon flavor in the middle and wheat in the finish; so nicely balanced
- just enough carbonation to carry the beer through to the finish
- just a bit of lingering flavor like I chewed on a watermelon seed

The Verdict: This is one of my two favorite summer beers of 2006 (the other, how can you forget, was Celis!)
Adam's Notes
The Look:
- big quickly dissipating head
- cloudy pale hay color

The Aroma:
- gentle sweet nose
- wheat nose with a hint of perfumy watermelon

The Taste:
- now for the taste
- incredible
- delicate, dry with hint of watermelon
- I was worried this would be sweet
- not so

The Verdict: The perfect lawnmower beer; Not exactly a winter brew...heheh. I'd love to try this one on a hot day. Thanks Bryan!

Beer Gift to Me!

Have you heard the one about Adam getting a beer gift for me? Hopefully, you got some good tips for a variety of beer gifts available out there and how to go about narrowing down your choices. And, in the end, you may have seen that my gift was comprised of an Imperial IPA from Rogue and a Belgian-style beer from Unibroue. Both excellent choices! Thanks, Adam.

Hopefully, he didn't feel too let down over my comment that I'd tasted the Rogue before. Actually, it was on tap at the Rogue Ales Public House in San Francisco. It was excellent then and I anticipate it to be excellent in the bottle. Plus, a nice keeper of a bottle with a swingtop stopper. Check back for tasting notes.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Beer Tasting: Deschutes Black Butte Porter

The Beer: Deschutes Black Butte Porter
Style: American Porter
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer

Packaging & Date Stamping: 12oz. brown bottle; "Best by 09/01/06"

From where & how stored: Purchased Sept. '06 from Safeway Grocery in Santa Cruz, CA; transported home and stored at 52F refrigeration since then

Pricing: $6.99 six-pack

Availability: Year-Round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 5.2% ABV; 30 IBU; 192 calories

First Award: Gold Medal, Brown Porter Category; 1996 Great American Beer Festival

Most Recent Award: Silver Medal, Porter Category; 2006 Australian International Beer Awards

The Look:
- black with deep red color
- frothy, shaving cream head with khaki color
- big head for not that aggressive of a pour

The Aroma:
- not a huge aroma; a bit bready

The Taste:
- medium, smooth mouthfeel
- some chocolaty and coffee flavors mingle well together
- just ever so bitter

The Verdict: Not overwhelming in any way; But, yet a very pleasing drink for a porter; should be likable for many different palates

'Topic of the Week': Week In Review; Music and Beer

Two of my favorite pleasures of life go so well together. On this past week's topic, Wendell agreed too and shared with us his love for Tea Leaf Green. Thanks, Wendell, I checked them out and downloaded some of their live music. They definitely have a great jam band sound and worthy of putting back a few quality brews with. On the other hand, it sounds like Adam likes to use each to help appreciate the other. He drinks good beer and it urges him to put on music that he's in the mood for at the time. But, on the other hand, listening to music that moves him will likewise move him to grab a good beer to relax and enjoy the moment. (Or at least that's the way I interpreted his note :)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 12/22/06

On an attempted regular basis, we'll post the tap list here to the Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA. We have no affiliation with the establishment other than living within 2 miles of it and appreciating the usual quality tap and bottle list. If you like this idea, please drop us a note and let us know.

On Draft as of 12/22/06
Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA
Bell's Double Cream Stout
Anchor Christmas Ale (2006)
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (2006)
Troegs Mad Elf (2006)
Legacy Triple H IPA
Legacy Hedonism Red Ale
Avery Old Jubilation Ale
Gouden Carolus Noël/Christmas
Sly Fox O'Reilly's Irish Stout

Beer Tips: 10 Beer related gifts. (Day 5)

In this series I'm exploring the difficulties of buying beer as a gift. Yesterday I finally found two beers I thought Bryan would like. Nevermind that I found out he had already tasted both. (rolls eyes) Somehow I knew that was going to happen. Today I'm going to jump to a related topic, beer related gifts. There are plenty of beer related items out there, from Beeropoly to home brewing equipment to Michael Jackson DVDs to beer dinner tickets. I could go on and on. Here are the top gifts that catch my eye and a few fun choices as well.

Anybody have other beery gifts in mind this year? We would really like to hear about them! I think we'll wrap up this series tomorrow with a few odds and ends and a recap.

Don't forget to TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE BEER GIFTS! I'd like to include that in the wrap up.

Beer Site: Beer Haiku Daily

Shout out to Captain Hops over at Beer Haiku Daily. I enjoyed the Beer Haiku yesterday. Not only did he link to us which is always good, but, he administered some good advice for gift buying ;-)

Beer Tasting: Victory Hop Wallop

The Beer: Victory Hop Wallop (2006)
Style: American Double IPA
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer

Packaging & Date Stamping: 12oz. brown bottle; "Enjoy by 11/08/07"

From where & how stored: Purchased from the brewery and stored at cold refrigerated temperatures

Pricing: $10 per six-pack (after tax)

Availability: Seasonal

ABV, IBU, & Other Available Stats: 8.5% ABV

The Look:
- Large, airy bubbles atop a 1 1/2 finger creamy head
- Slickness on walls of glass
- Fairly clean and golden-colored with a bit of cloudiness

The Aroma:
- Fresh, bright, grassy and damp woodsy aroma...expect hops to follow

The Taste:
- Malt backbone? Barely. This is a hop-forward beer.
- Not very balanced like many east coast IPAs
- Medium-bodied, smooth mouthfeel
- Bitterness persists, especially through the finish
- Predominate flavors of grapefruit and sour candy

The Verdict: A sipping winner for the bitter loving hopheads

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Beer Tips: What beer to choose as a gift? (Day 4.5)

Ok I stopped by Michael's Deli. You should check out their beer list. Wow I was floored! There were plenty of options. Big bottles and small bottles. My two choices were. Bryan here are your presents for this year! (Do I get to have a taste? Heheh!)

Now I'm sure I paid way to much for both of these beers, but, it was better than driving to Delaware and going to Total Wine. I viewed it as a convenience store purchase. I was surprised I would find any singles within the Belgian Strong Pale Ale style.

Merry Christmas Bryan!

Tomorrow I'll continue this series. We'll take a look at beer related gifts. Thanks for the suggestion Bryan :-)

Read about some of my favorite beer related gifts on day 5

Beer Tips: Beer Tips: What beer to choose as a gift? (Day 4)

In this series I'm exploring the difficulties of buying beer as a gift. Yesterday I discovered Bryan's BeerAdvocate page which listed his favorite style. Today I'm going to stop at Michael's Deli in King of Prussia, PA at lunch. Wish me luck! While I'm off doing that I would like cover another aspect of buying beer for somebody, Seasonal beer as a gift. Seasonal beer is often of a style that is outside the normal styles that many people drink. Here are a few styles you may run accross (links to Beer Advocate Style pages). NOTE: Skip to the bottom of this post if you want some quick tips, dos and don'ts. Honestly, you could find just about any style as a Winter seasonal, but, I think most people would agree the vast majority of Winter seasonals have a higher abv. and/or bolder taste. While most people reading this blog probably welcome this, it does tend to cause a problem for the average unexperienced buyer of gift beer. I mean how many people know what a Weizenbock is or what a spiced beer will taste like? What further complicates life for me is that here in Pennsylvania the easiest beer to buy is packaged in cases at the distributers. So what is a gift buyer to do? I guess it depends how much effort one wants to put into it. Limited Time and Little Knowledge. Lets face it this time of year can feel like somebody is pressing on gas pedal and just won't let up. First, if the person you are buying for is fairly new to craft brew, you might want to be conservative with your selection. The Don'ts
  • Don't buy a whole case.
  • Don't buy the most expensive.
  • Don't buy something that is spiced.
  • You might want to stay away from the seasonals too.

What should you do?

  • Talk to somebody who knows the beer they are selling and ask their advice.
  • Go with the recipients favorite beer.
  • Buy something that is similar to their favorite beer.
  • Find out what micro/craft beer is popular this time of year. (ask at the store)

What would I do?

  • If I didn't know too much about beer and the recipient didn't either, anything from Sam Adams is a good place to start. Seriously, the only mainstream Sam Adams Beers I don't like are the Cherry Wheat and the Cranberry Lambic.
  • Something from a local brewer adds a nice twist. Go with their flagship. A nice ale or lager or one of each. You don't need to buy the craziest one they have.
  • Some of the best beer you can find (ask at the store) and couple that with something you know they like. If they know you are into beer and you know they want to experiment, then give them what you know they like and add a kicker. Perhaps a six pack of Guinness with a bomber of Stone's Arrogant Bastard Ale. Remember even the most expensive widely available beers won't cost much compared to wine.
Lots of Time and little knowledge.

For all those planners out there (not me).

  • The Familiar - Find out what they like and look for something similar that they may have never tasted. Buy a bottle for yourself so you can see what it tastes like. Repeat as necessary until you find something your comfortable with. This is my approach with Bryan this year :-)
  • Keep on Giving - Perhaps a beer of the month club? Not sure how much these cost these days. My wife did this for me one year when we lived in Virginia. It was pretty cool. Especially since I was in the early stages of my beer tasting journey. If anybody has suggestions let us know.
  • Beer from Another Region - Find some beer that you just can't get around your region and get it. New Glarus comes to mind as being Wisconsin distribution only. There are many...many more.
  • Local Specialties - Go to the local brew pub ( and see if they have something special bottled. Tell them you are looking for a special gift. In Southeastern, PA Sly Fox has some interesting bombers like Christmas Ale and Odyssey Imperial IPA. Watch for a tasting here of the Christmas Ale.
  • Learn and Execute - Do your research. Check out some beer sites and see what people are raving about. Chances are you'll be well rewarded for your efforts.

Ok...ok...I'm sure I could think of some more, but, I need to get Bryan's gift. I hope you don't have to buy for the beer guy that has tasted everthing. Sheesh.

Read about what I found at Michael's Deli

Beer Tasting: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (2006)

The Beer: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (2006)
Style: American IPA
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer

Packaging & Date Stamping: 12oz. brown bottle

From where & how stored: Purchased from Exton Beverage in Exton, PA and stored at cold refrigerated temperatures

Pricing: $35 per case of 24

Availability: Seasonal

ABV, IBU, & Other Numbers: 6.8% ABV; 62 IBU; 16 Plato OG

Adam's Notes
The Look:
- copper clear
- mountainous head eventually dissipating to islands in a ring

The Aroma:
- oh sweet hops

The Taste:
- straight to the hops baby
- enough malt to back it up, but, still leave it hop heavy
- buy it for the hops

The Verdict:
- good session beer for the holidays
- hopefully every house I visit banks on the Sierra Nevada brand and buys it

Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- 2-finger head
- mahogany colored
- clean, filtered

The Aroma:
- pleasant aroma of tamed hops

The Taste:
- medium-bodied
- perfectly carbonated to make the hops dance across the roof of the mouth

The Verdict:
- solid IPA, but not mind blowing...just a nice solid beer with pleasant hops
- a session IPA? depends on your tolerance for hops; a definite for me

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Beer Tips: What beer to choose as a gift? (Day 3)

In this series I'm exploring the difficulties of buying beer as a gift. Today I'm using BeerAdvocate to help in my search. I discovered that Bryan listed his favorite beer on his BeerAdvocate profile as Belgian Strong Pale Ales. So I check out the list on BeerAdvocate for that style.

20 most reviewed Belgian Strong Pale Ales

  • Duvel, Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat NV
  • La Fin Du Monde, Unibroue
  • Delirium Tremens, Brouwerij Huyghe
  • Don de Dieu, Unibroue
  • Pranqster, North Coast Brewing Co.
  • La Chouffe, Brasserie d'Achouffe
  • Allagash Grand Cru, Allagash Brewing Company
  • Pauwel Kwak, Brouwerij Bosteels
  • Salvation, Avery Brewing Company
  • Au Courant, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
  • Damnation, Russian River Brewing Company
  • Affligem Blond, Brouwerij De Smedt / Brouwerij Affligem
  • Pangaea, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
  • Lucifer, Brouwerij Riva S.A.
  • Moinette Blond, Brasserie Dupont sprl
  • Demolition 1800 Ale, Goose Island
  • Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale, Kiuchi Brewery
  • Unibroue 15, Unibroue
  • Southampton Grand Cru, Southampton Publick House
  • AleSmith Horny Devil, AleSmith Brewing Company

I might just print this out and take it to a store and see if I can find some of them. I have to find a store that sells singles in PA.

Read part four of this series

Beer Calendar: What to do in January 2007

Another year, another chance to look forward to an ever-improving industry of better beer. Here's just a sampling of upcoming events over the next several weeks, mostly in the Philadelphia area, that look interesting to check out. Let us know if you think you might be heading to one of these events or have been to one of them in the past. Not such a bad list of calendar events to keep the post-holiday mid-winter blues at bay!

Thu. 12/21 - 10th Anniversary Party @Selin's Grove Brewing, Selinsgrove, PA ('til it kicks; pay as you go)
Thu. 12/21 - Thursday Night Beer Tasting (Stoudt's) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free)
Fri. 12/22 - Friday Night Beer Tasting (Flying Fish) @ Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free)
Sun. 12/24 - Dogfish Head Punkin Ale Tapping @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (pay as you go)
Sun. 12/31 - New Year's Eve Dinner @Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm & 9:30pm seatings; $50/$85)
Fri. 1/5 - Incubus Friday (The ICHOR Alternative!) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (all day; pay as you go)
Fri. 1/5 - Friday Night Beer Tasting (Legacy) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free)
Fri. 1/12 - Dogfish Head Blows & Touches (with Matt!) @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (pay as you go)
Sat. 1/13 - Sixtel Saturday @General Lafayette Inn & Brewery, Lafayette Hill, PA (12:00pm 'til they kick; pay as you go)
Mon. 1/15 - Phil Markowski Book Signing & Southampton Beer Special @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (5:00pm-9:00pm; pay as you go)
Wed. 1/17 - Russian River Night @Capone's, Norristown, PA (6:00pm; pay as you go)
Fri. 1/19 - Munich in Mayfair 6: Refrigerator Outside/Optimator Inside @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (pay as you go)
Fri. 1/19 - Robbie Burns Birthday Bash @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (6:00pm-Midnight; pay as you go)
Fri. 1/19 - Friday Night Beer Tasting (Clipper City/Heavy Seas) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free)
Sat. 1/20 - The Breweries of Kengington, Frankford and Bridesburg @Yards Brewing, Philadelphia, PA (2:00pm; free)
Tue. 1/23 - Russian River Dinner @Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (7pm-10pm; $65)
Thu. 1/25 - Legacy Beer Dinner @Bridget Foy's, Philadelphia, PA (7pm; $45)
Thu. 1/25 - Erie Beer Tasting @The Foodery (Northern Liberties), Philadelphia, PA (5pm-7pm; free)
Fri. 1/26 - Victory Hop Wallop (cask) Night @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (6pm-9pm; pay as you go)
Fri. 1/26 - Friday Night Beer Tasting (Allagash) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free)
Sat. 1/27 - Brewers' Reserve-Belgium Comes To West Chester @Iron Hill Brewery, West Chester, PA (4:00pm; pay as you go)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Beer Tips: What beer to choose as a gift? (day 2)

In this series I'm exploring the difficulties of buying beer as a gift. Today I'm concerned about the availability of beer. Ok folks, I need some help here. What beer do I get for Bryan this year? Yesterday I listed some characteristics of beer, but, I don't think that will help me with Bryan. He likes all kinds of beer and all kinds of tastes. It is safe to say he probably wouldn't appreciate a macro beer. He did comment yesterdays post and suggested I check out these sites. I quickly checked them out, but, I think I'm going to be limited by local availability. I don't think I can get beer delivered via any shipping service.

A Visit to Toronado in San Francisco, CA

What do you get on a Friday evening in December when you mix a visit to an excellent beer bar with hot tamales and Alaskan Smoked Porter on draft? Well, I can't tell you either, since I left no room after dinner for the tamales and the Alaskan had just kicked. Oh, and there were intermittent downpours of rain, too. More on the tamales later...

In any case, though, travelling friend and colleague Matt and I did make it to Toronado, the excellent beer bar (if there was any question!) as the last stop on our West Coast swing through the San Francisco Bay Area. This was Matt's first time there and I do not believe he left disappointed. The tap list was chock full of the usual high-quality suspects. Among them, just to name a few, included Alaskan Smoked Porter, Deschutes Jubelale, Russian River(s), St. Feuillien Noel, Delirium Noel, Anderson Valley(s), and more. Of course, way way way too many to try to choose from when you're only there for a few. Especially for us East Coast guys who don't have the pleasure of spotting anything from Alaskan on a regular basis.

We were able to slide into a table in the back room to enjoy our beverages. We settled down with Anchor's Christmas, the Deschutes Jubelale, and the Drake's Imperial IPA. Then came the tamales. Now keep in mind that Toronado doesn't have a kitchen. That's where the story turns humorous. The legendary tamale lady made her appearance. And, judging by her enthusiastic customers, her popularity is unsurpassed. Unfortunately, we had eaten (too) well at Sakana (sushi) and at Magnolia and were in no mood for more food. But, tempting it was...

I'm not sure if it's possible to leave Toronado feeling satisfied. On this trip, I left disappointed that I had not sampled the Moonlight seasonal, Santa's Tipple. During the Lagunitas Skunk Train event in September, I had sampled a couple of their brews and was quite impressed. Also, missing from my tasting radar on this particular evening were the Butte Creek and the, uh, oh yeah, the Alaskan Smoked Porter. After a sampling of the nightlife at Toronado, we left the Haight happy on some fronts, unsatisfied on others, but anxious for the next return visit.

Beer Tips: What beer do I choose when buying a gift?

This time of year people spend alot of effort looking for the best beer to give as a gift. We wrote about what to get the beer geek a while back. That was more about what to have on hand at your house for a visit from a beer geek though. Today I want to talk about buying a special beer or two...or six...or twenty four...(you get the picture), for that special person.

Well...this is a tall order. Maybe there are a few different approaches to this one. Here are some questions.

  • Are they a beer geek or do they just like beer in general?
    • If they aren't a beer geek then just find out what their favorite beer is and buy them what you can afford.
    • If they are, well you may have your work cut out for you! Read on.
  • Do they like a certain type of beer?
    • lager vs. ale
    • light vs. dark
    • german vs. belgian vs. irish etc.
    • domestic vs. imported
    • mild vs. extreme
    • hops vs. malt
    • wheat vs. barley
    • West Coast vs. East Coast
    • Bitter vs. Mild
    • big vs. little (abv.)
    • typical vs. extreme
    • fruit vs. no fruit
    • fancy vs. plain
    • well known vs. obscure
    • rare vs. mainstream
    • seasonal vs. year round
Wow I didn't realize how many factors there are! At this point you might want to give up and just give them a gift certificate or money ;-) Ok...Ok...if you don't want to take the easy option, there might be some things for you to do. Hmmm how should I explain this. Ok, I have an idea. Why don't we try to figure out what Bryan would appreciate.

Bryan, if this works out I guess I'll have to buy if for you! If it doesn't, you're getting a case of macro brew...heheh.

So, over the next couple of days I'll document my effort to buy Bryan the perfect beer for Christmas. If you want to help, just let me know by leaving a comment. I think I'm going to need all the help I can get!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Beer Tasting: Rock Art India Pale Ale

Adam and I split a variety case of Rock Art, which has become more commonly available in the southeastern region of Pennsylvania. 'So far, so good' we say to the crew from Vermont.

Bryan's Notes:
  • A thin, watery pour
  • Soft, creamy head...dissipates quickly
  • Not much aroma to speak of
  • Just a slight malty
  • Tastes more of an amber ale
  • Not a significant level of hops
  • A drinkable, non-offending beer
  • Difficult to call this an American IPA

The Brew Lounge 'Topic of the Week': Music and Beer

As with many things in life, there is no absolute answer to this question. In fact, it's quite personal I suppose. I'm not right, and you're not wrong. But, while you most likely have some favorite beer drinking music (other than German polka, I presume), have you ever given thought as to why? Perhaps this a deeper and more philosophical question than you expected when you first started reading this. Or, maybe, you're rolling your eyes thinking that this sounds like just another aimless Beer Advocate thread. Heheh, maybe you're right on both counts :) Well, if you're still reading, here's my take. While you may find me on any given day listening to anything ranging from classical to country to jazz to blues to electronica to heavy metal to rap/hip-hop (who knew?), when I'm settling back with some quality brew it tends to be music from the country, blues, roots, americana, and folk genres that really sets the proper mood for me. Why, you may ask? May you? Of course, you may... After hours upon hours of soul-searching on this question (picture me sitting against a tree with a goblet, staring off into the deep blue sky), I look at these genres of music as possessing two things that I appreciate the most in music. A rhythm that can move something deep down in my soul to get the toes tapping and a real down-to-earth, honest-to-goodness (or badness) story to tell. I feel that way about my beer too. Even the best and most complex beer, in just about every circle, lacks pretension. So does most music in the genres I mentioned. Formal attire is not required for beer and an appointment is not needed to crack open some of the most special beer. And, listen to the song lyrics in these genres; they tell stories of real people, with real triumphs and tragedies, in a straightforward manner. Even some of the most sought after beers are made by people with whom you or I stand a very good chance of running in the same circles. Real people, real beer, real music, real honest-to-goodness traits. My music, my beer. Ok, you may have felt some undertones (not so "under" you say?) in the preceding paragraph of future 'Topic of the Week' versus other liquid trappings. We've danced around this subject a bit before. But, let's not get into that here. Let's leave it with a simple question...What sort of music do you favor when you're enjoying your beer and why?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Beer Tasting: General Lafayette Holiday Cheer

This beer was enjoyed from the tap at the pub. Chris, Russ, and the crew at the General continue to impress with their takes on standard and not-so-standard brews. Can't wait for their festival in February. Bryan's Notes:
  • Made from the second runnings of the 275th Anniversary Ale (due out 9/07); which sounds like it should be a WOW beer, can't wait
  • Thin, creamy head
  • A cloudy, orangish-brown color
  • Medium-body and carbonated just enough to make it dance
  • Cinnamon and cloves dominate, along with some moderate hints of alcohol
  • At 8% ABV, certainly not a session beer, but definitely a joy for a "short session"!

'Topic of the Week': Week In Review; Communicating a Bad Experience

Thanks for the comments on this most recent 'Topic of the Week' at The Brew Lounge. As was pointed out to me both online and off, many people find it difficult to give critical/negative feedback. I can understand this; however, I find it more perplexing when I hear this from certain industry writers and critics who claim they will not write about a beer or an establishment with which they have had a bad experience. As I pointed out earlier, I feel it's incumbent upon the consumers to be heard from but perhaps even more so imperative that respected industry writers do the same. As for an approach, I think that Jeff may have summed it up nicely with his comment. Instead of taking the approach of not saying anything if you don't have anything nice to say, he suggests that you "give two positive compliments first, before you give a negative criticism." Excellent advice from a former coach of his. It sure does suggest that you can see the big picture and not just focus on the negative. If we take this approach, I like the odds that some of our average and substandard bars, brewpubs, and beers may improve to our liking.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Beer Tasting: Rock Art Ridge Runner Barleywine

Adam and I split a variety case of Rock Art, which has become more commonly available in the southeastern region of Pennsylvania. 'So far, so good' we say to the crew from Vermont.

Bryan's Notes:
  • Dark with an off-white fluffy head
  • Slick pour
  • Malty aroma matches the flavor
  • Kinda dark lager, kinda stoutish tasting
  • Hops not all too noticeable
  • But, like the IPA that didn't fit the style, I'm not quite sure I'd call this a bonified barleywine
  • A bit of molasses gives me a hint of being a strong ale/barleywine
  • Another drinkable, non-offending brew from Rock Art

Adam's Notes:
  • Something to note here. Doesn't Vermont have a 8% abv beer law? That would really restrict you in this style.
  • I had a hard time thinking this was a barleywine.
  • I don't have one to taste right now, but, I think I can remember it pretty well.
  • It wasn't bad. It might actually taste better over time.
  • A bit too bubbly and thin.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 12/15/06

So, I was on the way to pick up a pizza and I felt inclined to prove Joe Sixpack's thesis, published today in his weekly contribution to the Daily News. Uh, let's just say he (and I) could have never been more correct in proclaiming Flying Pig Saloon as one of Philadelphia Suburb's best beer bars. Check it out and tell me which one in the bunch sucks...

On an attempted regular basis, we'll post the tap list here to the Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA. We have no affiliation with the establishment other than living within 2 miles of it and appreciating the usual quality tap and bottle list. If you like this idea, please drop us a note and let us know.

On Draft as of 12/15/06
Middle Ages 11th Anniversary Double Wheat
Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA
Weyerbacher Hops Infusion
Bell's Hell Hath No Fury Ale
Anchor Christmas Ale (2006)
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (2006)
Troegs Mad Elf (2006)
Yards IPA
Legacy Triple H IPA
St. Feuillien Cuvée De Noël

Beer Dinner: Dogfish Head @ Monks Video Snippet -

Monks is a little dark as you can tell. I'll see if I can lighten it up a bit. Enjoy!
We were able to capture some video of Sam Calagione talking about the Baltic. I think the clip really speaks to the mood of the night and how much fun we had. See you later :-)

Monk's Beer Dinner 12/12/06: Dogfish Head [Part 2]

If you missed Part 1 of this review of the Dogfish Dinner at Monk's on 12/12/06, then click here and check out the first half of our comments. We'll be here waiting when you return. We're not convinced of this conversational format for doing an event review. If you have an opinion, please let us know.

Bryan: What do you say we finish blessing people with our thoughtful insights to the Dogfish Head beer dinner at Monk's? :)

Adam: we have any?

Bryan: Well, the night certainly stepped up to the next level with the third course. The purportedly retired Baltic de Belgium one-off from 1999 was "discovered" in Tom Peters' basement. Isn't that how the story went?

Adam: Pretty much, Tom was talking to me about it a bit.

Adam: He said that he was kinda forgetting about it and waiting for the right time. With Extreme Brewing being the theme he felt it was time. According to Tom, the aging helped make this beer stand out. I would agree. I would have to say it was the best beer of the evening!

Bryan: Hm, best? Well, it was certainly different. And it was my favorite at least until the next course came around. Seriously, though, this beer had developed somewhat of a legend that grew even more when it was announced to be served with this particular dinner. The addition of wormwood (am I allowed to say that?!) and "surprise finding" in Tom's basement only further adds to the legend! Sorry to say this could be the last time anyone has access to it in this sort of environment. {Check out a video to be posted later today of Sam describing this beer. A nice touch to the evening}

Adam: Let's see, what do my notes say? Smelled like licorice liquor, butterscotch, and slightly bitter. It doesn't even begin to describe it. It wasn't overly sweet either. D'Extra blew it away in that department. Yeah the wormwood is a good draw for this. I would say it added to the bitterness, but, honestly the whole package was just freakin' incredible.

Bryan: The aging did seem to thin the beer out a bit, which Sam acknowledged during his introduction to the course. But, the aroma to me was the real winner. Noticeable licorice, like sambuca, stood out. And, the accompanying food was a pleasant surprise. I was a bit skeptical about the Seitan (could it be....Seitan...oops, sorry!). Overall, great course. My notes started to suffer after this course for sure.

Adam: Heheh...mine too. I thought the food pairing provided a great backdrop. It let the Baltic take center stage. Man...if I could have a bottle or two of that! But alas, not from this batch. I wonder if they will ever try it again?

Bryan: While this was my second favorite course of the night (oh wait, what about dessert.....aahhh, dessert), the fourth course was it for me. The duck ragout/pasta was, uh, just spectacular with the chunks of meat tumbling around the pasta. But to have the the d'Etre and the d'Extra paired together with this course just made it an over-the-fence grand slam. The sweetness from the raisins and apple, the saltiness from the duck, and the alcohol warming rich flavors from these beers just all paired just so spectacularly well. Ok, I'll stop now or I'll go on forever.

Adam: Stop! You're making me hungry. Seriously though, you just made remember how much I liked that dish. I was going to choose something else. The d'Etre and d'Extra were incredible. This was my first experience with the d'Extra and it was amazing. Whew...another one at the top of the list.
Can we go back?

Bryan: The bar was definitely set higher here with each course. How about the lamb and the World Wide Stout? Not too shabby, eh?

Adam: Now this is my favorite course of the night. The lamb itself was incredible. Especially the bites with fruit compote. Wash it down with some WW Stout and bingo! Right up there with a Belgian dinner pairing. Can we go back?

Bryan: Funny thing is I don't (somehow) recall the yogurt or the fruit compote. But, I do distinctly remember the strips of tender perfectly cooked meat stacked upon each other and the succulent flavor. Maybe I didn't use the yogurt to top it? Oh well, in any case, the WWS unfortunately for me got lost in the mix of what was still on the table....that is, the Baltic, the d'Extra, the d'Etra, uh, and probably something else. You all get the picture out there? Actually, I believe we have one!

Adam: I'm telling you at this point I was feeling very warm. Knowing that there was one more course to go and knowing it was paired with a 14% brown ale definitely made me take pause.

Bryan: Yeah, I don't know if any of you saved your appetites because wasn't I the only one who finished the dessert? It was an incredible decadent chocolate dessert paired with an equally decadent brown ale. But, I don't recall getting much woodsy flavor in the brew, did you?

Adam: I know what you mean. There's something to be said of ordering your beers in a beer dinner. This beer would have been better to taste right before the baltic. It has more subtle notes and was in danger of being eclipsed by the dessert and the four high gravity high amplitude beers before it. I hope I get to try this again. Isn't it going to be sold under another name?

Bryan: Yes, it was certainly a solid beer, but 14% ABV. I didn't sense that. But, like you said maybe our palates had been "well trained" by this point of the night....Yes, Sam did mention putting it into production. As we could tell from his intro and comments throughout the night, he's quite proud of Mike Gerhart, their brewery and distilling manager and creator of this beer.

Adam: Ok...that's it. I'm goin' back to see if they have anything left.

Bryan: You know, come to think of it....these are the kind of guys (you know, Sam, Tom...etc etc) who always have something special hanging around. So, let's ask next time!

Adam: Heheh...we could only hope. Let's stop this crazy thing. Anything else to add?

Bryan: I'm sure we could go on and on with even more details about that night, but I think we got across the main point...a special evening with great beer, people, and food. A classic Monk's dinner if there ever was one. Does it make you anxious for January and Russian River, or what?!

Adam: I guess once I'm through the stages of grieving I'll be fine. It's always nice to know there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Bryan: And then another light called Lost Abbey....and New Belgium....and Brooklyn....and we're on a roll. Well, this has been fun doing something different with our event highlights. Do you think anyone else liked this format?

Adam: I guess we'll never know. Unless...

Bryan: I'm sure our loyal readers won't have any difficulties in sharing their opinions. Ok, then, 'til next time. Cheers, my friend!

Adam: Bring it on! Cheers!

Bryan: Oh, one more comment. Did we even bother mentioning that this was at least partially in support of Sam's new book, Extreme Brewing? He was selling and signing copies and passing out complimentary glassware. Nice add to the collection.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Beer Tasting: General Lafayette Double Fest

This beer was brought home from the pub in a growler and sampled within hours of being poured. Chris, Russ, and the crew at the General continue to impress with their takes on standard and not-so-standard brews. Can't wait for their festival in February. Bryan's Notes:
  • Bready malt flavors throughout
  • Paler in color than I expected
  • Certainly lives up to its billing as an amped-up Oktoberfest
  • An easy-drinker even at 7.6% ABV
  • Solid body

Monk's Beer Dinner 12/12/06: Dogfish Head [Part 1]

SUPERLATIVES! SUPERLATIVES! Oh, what superlatives to use to describe the most recent beer dinner at Monk's in Philadelphia, PA featuring Dogfish Head beer. If you've grown too accustomed with 60 Minute, 90 Minute, Indian Brown, Chicory Stout, (zzzzzzzz, heheh), then this was the night for you. And, if you missed it, what a shame.

If you saw the menu that we posted here prior to the dinner, you should have seen that it would be a different (shall we say, off-centered?!) evening.

We're going to try a new format here. Since we both experienced the dinner together, we thought to put up our comments here as a conversation to recap (and piece our memories together!) the night. So, here goes...

Adam: yo

Bryan: yo

So, ready to go?

Adam: I'm ready

Bryan: Well, it's been 24 hours

Adam: Where are we going tonight?

I feel a bit let down.

Bryan: It was certainly a high point of the beer calendar this year, wasn't it?

Adam: Yeah I was thinking it will be hard to rank this relative to the Russian River & Pizza Port dinner (read more here) at Monks.

Bryan: Which reminds me that Russian River and Lost Abbey are just around the corner, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Adam: Agreed, we haven't even talked about last night.

Bryan: It was a fun train ride down with Patty and Kathleen and a great leadoff at Nodding Head with the 60 Shilling, Sled Wrecker, Double IPA, and The Donkey.

Adam: It was a great start. Nothing too heavy, but, something to whet our appetites.

Bryan: A good way to break in our palates, eh?
Too bad we couldn't sneak off with any of the private party's appetizers.
Cause I was hungry.

Adam: Nice night to walk around town. Just a bit brisk. A good night to step off the street into the cozy confines of Monks.

Bryan: And, judging by the early crowd, the anticipation was high as other beer lovers and the DFH crew were already indulging in pre-dinner beers and comaderie.

Adam: I was happy to see some familiar faces. Each time I feel more at home.

Bryan: Yes, for sure, the regulars were out and Sam was already in top form, along with some of his crew Matt Webster and Mike Gerhart. So, by this point, we've already got a few beers under belt and the "official" dinner hasn't yet begun. Yikes....

Adam: We were a bit wary about our seating at the bar instead of a table, but, as you'll find out it didn't hinder us at all. So this was the big question, "Should we have another beer before we get started?". That was a tough call considering all the big beer on this menu.

Bryan: Oh, that reminds me, you really enjoyed the Corsendonk Christmas, didn't you? I had it a couple of weeks ago at Bridgid's and was happy to see it again at Monk's.

Adam: Yeah, it was awesome. I liked it because it wasn't over the top, but, it still tasted like a Christmas Ale. Perfect, sort of a calm before the storm.

Bryan: Good segue...As usual, George Hummel kicked things off with an introduction to the night. (Seems like the microphone thing has not yet been figured out, but minor issue) Knowing that Sam wouldn't be upstaged, he quickly yielded the mic to Sam.

Adam: I would have to say at this point it felt like all the pieces were falling together. Just one more facet…the food.

Bryan: The first course was a nice intro to the night with the Jiahu and Amuse Buche. I'd say I probably enjoyed the combination of it with the foie gras the most. The others were nice too, but the foie gras was just so smooth and flavorful and matched nicely with the beer. Did you have piece of the course that you enjoyed more than another?

Adam: So how do you start a DFH dinner at monk's? With Dogfish Head Chateau Jiahu, snail, goose liver, mussels in a bath of pureed squash.

Bryan: Yeah, I would say the squash alone may not have been a great pairing, but that still didn't take away from being a very good first course.

Adam: The best bite was the mussel and squash washed down with an interpretation of an ancient brew, Chateau Jiahu.

Sam tells a great story about how they collaborated with who was it again?

Bryan: I believe it's the archaeology school at the U. of Pennsylvania. That's the great thing about a DFH dinner. You get a unique food experience from Monk's, great beer from DFH, and Sam the storytelling man to give the context of the beer that is being enjoyed.

Adam: Yeah, I'd love to hear the story of how Coors Light was created. Somehow it wouldn't be with the same. Unless it went a little more like one of the next beers, Golden Shower.

Bryan: Yeah, speaking of stories, fortunately he didn't go too far in telling the story (or perhaps the embellished story) of how the Golden Shower came to be called. But, wow, the next course certainly did step things up.

Adam: It was called Prescription Pils at first right?

Bryan: Oh, yeah, that's right, I forgot about that part of the story.

Adam: The federal gov. rejected it saying that it may appear to make healthful benefit claims.

Bryan: This beer was a bit bigger as was the companion Golden Revolution, but not so big as the scallops, you think? I'm not sure if I've had scallops that large before. Wrapped in bacon and topped with a spicy aioli, at some restaurants it could have been a meal by itself.

Adam: Yeah, we were really hitting our stride a bit early at that point. The scallops were awesome. The Golden Revolution had some honey and ginger overtones. Maybe it was the high abv and the choice of hops. Mmmm....and the golden shower was delicious. Reminded me of 120 Minute IPA.

Bryan: I see from the DFH website that next year they'll be calling the Golden Shower instead the Golden Era. Do you think they're trying purposely not to be as "ballsy" anymore? Sam, really, you think?!

Adam: Heheh...maybe the Michael Jackson segment on David Letterman put it over the top. Maybe he has heard too much after day after day.

Bryan: Ha, that's funny [smile]

Adam: So...its getting a bit late. We should probably wrap up for tonight. Kind of a shame really. My favorite beers of the night are yet to come.

Bryan: I know what you're saying. For as great as everything was leading up to this, I believe my favorite two courses were the third and the fourth. And the story to go along with the Baltic de Belgium is one of beer lore. So, let's finish this off tomorrow and our readers can check by on Friday for our discussion of the remainder of this wonderful evening at Monk's.

Adam: Yeah...somehow I can't find words to really explain how much fun I had.

Adam: At least without swearing at the same time ;-)

The conclusion to our comments about this DFH dinner at Monks including more pictures.