Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My favorite beers of the past 3 months

As we conclude our journey through the long and dark winter months, here's a quick listing of what has tantalized my taste buds and fascination over the past three months. I can feel it now, spring is just around the corner. That must mean a cleanout is in order...who's ready?! Brooklyn Local 1 Bell's Hopslam East End Big Hop IPA Brouwerij Het Anker Gouden Carolus Noël Firestone Walker 10th Anniversary Castle Brewery Eggenberg Samichlaus Victory Old Horizontal 21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat (yeah, I know, a bit "out of season", whaddya gonna do?!)

Which Stout shall I drink? Which Stout will you drink?

From my current inventory, here's what I have to choose from for Drink A Stout Friday. I'll take your input and drink up to 3 of them. So, tell me what to drink, then go pick your stout....from your own stash! Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout Bell's Expedition Stout Bell's Java Stout Bell's Cherry Stout Brooklyn Brewing Co. Black Chocolate Stout Dogfish Head Brewing Co. World Wide Stout Goose Island Oatmeal Stout Hopback Entire Stout Iron Hill Russian Imperial Stout Mackeson's XXX Stout Marin San Quentin's Breakout Stout North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout Ridgeway Lump of Coal Stout Stoudt's Fat Dog Stout Stoudt's Fat Dog Stout Whisky Barrel Aged Thirsty Dog Siberian Night Yards Brewing Co. Love Stout

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 2/27/07

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 2/27/07
Bell's HopSlam
Hitachino Nest Ginger Beer
Lost Coast Indica IPA
Castle Brewery Eggenberg Samichlaus
Brooklyn Smoked Weissbock
Koningshoeven Quadrupel
Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted
Stoudts Fat Dog Stout
Weyerbacher Bourbon Aged Strong Ale (hmmm not sure which one)
Brooklyn Smoked Weissbock
Magic Hat Roxy Rolles

Brewing Beer: What mistakes have you made?

This post is inspired by Eli's most recent post over at The Four Eyed Beer Geek. I for one appreciate his situation. It really captures how I have felt when homebrewing, uncertain, pensive, hesitant and just plain frustrated. Not to worry I think Eli's first batch will be just fine. Anybody have some advice for him? We all make mistakes, right? Charlie Papazian said it best, "Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew." That statement drives to the heart of what homebrewing is all about, having fun. Face it if we worried about every step and what could go wrong, we probably wouldn't start homebrewing in the first place. Hey homebrewers out there, what mistakes have you made? Click here and tell us all about it.

This Friday...Pour Yourself A Stout, Drink It, Tell Us About It

Drink A Stout Day Sounds simple doesn't it? Well, it is. This coming Friday, March 2nd, we are inviting you to drink a stout. Not your father's Irish Stout (actually, that's the theme), mind you...but, an interesting "New World" stout, something worth writing about. Go read the "rules" above, you'll see what I mean. You don't need to be a wordsmith. Just drink it, make some comments as a reply to this posting here, and all of the comments from across the great world wide web of better beer drinkers will be compiled over at Stan Hieronymous' site (the link is here and at the top). Now, won't that just make us all feel like one big cozy family on Friday? And, no excuses about drinking alone.....

Friday, February 23, 2007

Beer Tasting: Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale

The Beer: Anderson Valley Winter Solstice
Style: Winter Warmer
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. brown bottle; no date stamp

From where & how stored: Purchased from Beer Yard in Wayne, PA, stored at 55F until time of holiday beer exchange

Pricing: $40.00 per case of 24

Availability: Winter Seasonal

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 6.9% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- Orange-ish bronze
- 2 1/2 finger head; slowly fades

The Aroma:
- decent malty aroma
- licorice too
- bit of alcohol

The Taste:
- medium body
- bit of orange peel
- light carbonation, just enough
- spices not too intense at all

The Verdict: A nice, easy-drinking winter beer. Do the lack of strong, noticeable spices make this disappointing for a winter seasonal? I don't think so.
Adam's Notes
The Look:
- orange brown and slightly cloudy

The Aroma:
- light malty fresh hoppy nose
- I sure hope the rest of beer lives up to the nose!

The Taste:
- light on the palate
- taste is green bitter
- not sweet
- refreshing
- no roast, no sweet malt, almost sweet, almost bitter, almost drinkable
- I wonder if something was lost in the trip to the East Coast or perhaps my palate is not what it should be today

The Verdict: This really takes me in a different direction. Lately I've been very focused on dark beers; this isn't that. Why would you drink this? isn't bad, but, I'm a little confused by it. I wish I had another to try. Come to think about it the one I had a few months ago didn't really stand out either.

Beer Calendar: What to do in March 2007

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.

Fri. 2/23 - Firkin of Nectar @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA (pay as you go)
Sat. 2/24 - Lager Origins in Philadelphia (Rich Wagner) @Yards Brewing, Philadelphia, PA (2pm; free)
Sat. 2/24 - The Best of 2006 @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (12pm-???; pay as you go)
Sat. 2/24 - Beats, Brews & BBQ @World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA (1pm-5pm; $30/$35 or $50 VIP)
Sun. 2/25 - 5th Annual Victory Chili Challenge @Victory, Downingtown, PA
Fri. 2/23 - Sun. 2/25 - 11th 'Cask Head' Cask Ale Festival @Brazen Head, Brooklyn, NY (Noon-close; pay as you go)
Wed. 2/28 - Lancaster Home Brew Club Tasting @Lancaster Brewing Co., Lancaster, PA (7pm; pay as you go at the bar and BYO Homebrew)
Thu. 3/1 - Pennsylvania Beer Night @Barcade, Brooklyn, NY (pay as you go)
Fri. 3/2 - Drink A Stout Day @Wherever you may be (E-mail to and tell us what you drank; we'll write about it)
Sat. 3/3 - Main Line Brew Fest 2007 @Desmond Hotel, Malvern, PA (12:00pm-3:45pm; $35)
Sat. 3/3 - Philly Craft Beer Festival @Philadelphia Cruise Terminal at The Naval Yard, Philadelphia, PA (12pm-4pm, 6pm-10pm; $35/$40, $10 parking fee)
Thu. 3/8 - Sierra Nevada Stricklander Tasting @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (pay as you go)
Thu. 3/8 - Bell's Brewery Night @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; pay as you go)
Fri. 3/9 - Michael Jackson Beer Dinner @University of Pennsylvania Museum, Philadelphia, PA ($85)
Fri. 3/9 - Belgian Beer Dinner @The Farmhouse, Emmaus, PA ($80)
Fri. 3/9 - Friday Night Tasting (Erie Brewing) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free)
Sat. 3/10 - Michael Jackson Tutored Beer Tasting @University of Pennsylvania Museum, Philadelphia, PA (1:00pm, 3:30pm, 6:00pm; $45)
Sat. 3/10-Sun. 3/11 - 2007 Atlantic City Beer Festival @Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, NJ (12pm-4pm; 6pm-10pm; 1pm-5pm; $25)
Sat. 3/10-Sun. 3/11 - Split Thy Brooklyn Skull @Mugs Ale House, Brooklyn, NY (11:00am-'til they kick; pay as you go)
Sun. 3/11 - Michael Jackson Beer Dinner @Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm; $125)
Tue. 3/13 - Brooklyn Brewery Dinner @Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; $65)
Sun. 3/18 - March's Fancy Brew Dinner @Dogfish Head, Rehoboth Beach, DE ($39)
Wed. 3/21 - Rogue w/Sebbie Buhler @Tria Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $45)
Wed. 3/21 - Intro. of Malheur @Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-7:00pm; pay as you go)
Thu. 3/22 - Smuttynose Brewery Night @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; pay as you go)
Fri. 3/23 - Friday Night Tasting (Pilsner Urquell & Peroni) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free)
Fri. 3/23 - Ultimate Belgian Tasting II @Puck Building, New York City, NY (6:30pm-10:30pm; $95)
Sat. 3/24 - 12 Hour Belgian Beer Party @Pizza Port, Carlsbad, CA (11:00am-11:00pm; $25, plus $1 tasting tix after 5 complimentary drinks)
Sun. 3/25 - The Bryson Sessions - #1 @Ortino's, Zieglersville, PA (5pm; $40)
Wed. 3/28 - Yards Dinner @New Wave Cafe, Philadelphia, PA
Fri. 3/30 - The Dude In Exile @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (pay as you go)
Fri. 3/30 - Friday Night Tasting (Victory) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free)
Sat. 3/31 - Annual Open House @Weyerbacher, Easton, PA (12:00pm-3:00pm; free)
Sat. 3/31 - 5th Annual BA PA/Philly Gathering @Union Barrel Works, Stoudt's, and Victory (bus leaves Victory in Downingtown, PA at 11:00am)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Monk's Beer Dinner 1/23/07 : Russian River Brewing Co.- Adam's Take

Thanks Bryan for getting your impressions up here last week. Here are my notes from the night. We really ought to pay our interns. We might get better turn around times. ;-) OK, so after last year's Russian River/Pizza Port dinner blew my palate all outta shape I was a bit relieved that only one of them would be in the ring with us that night. So what did I expect? Well I'm not a sour virgin anymore, but, that doesn't mean I know sour yet. I have a looong way to go before that's the case. I think I expected to actually TASTE each of the beers this time and I expected some outstanding beer and food pairings. How did I fair. Well lets see. Bryan and I walked briskly on a crisp night from our rail car. Soon we saw the neon sign and walked up the steps into a much warmer place. It was a familiar scene. One that we enjoy with every beer dinner. Fergy and Tom milling about and George MC'ing in that little dark comfy place everybody calls Monks. The hostess led us to our seats after a bit of shoulder to shoulder bumping around. Ahhh the excitement builds. Alright lets have a look at the menu. Spicy Thai Shrimp sounds interesting, but, with Temptation...hmmm I wonder. I'm not a real fan of Duck. Pork tenderloin sandwich? is this all going to come together. Well the bread pudding sounds like something for a cold cold night. George took the mic and introduced Vinnie from Russian River. He spoke about the horse blanket. He scared us with the dirty socks. Ultimately he said that control was the name of the game. Control that nasty little brett animal or it would be the end of your beer. Of course Vinnie has done just that with many of the beers we tasted that night. Vinnie then took the mic with confidence and spoke of each beer like a proud father. I'm paraphrasing here. The Damnation is a bottle conditioned "good Belgian blonde ale" which is offered year-round. Tonight's Sanctification is one of the last kegs around. There isn't even one left at the brewery. It is fermented with 100% brett and some other microorganisms. Supplication is Tom's fav and his wife's too. It seems there's more left at Monks than at the brewery in this case too. The Blind Pig, a solid year round IPA, stands out as the only non "tion" beer on the menu tonight. Last but not least Salvation, a strong dark ale at 9-9 1/2% ABV. Temptation was also mentioned, however the intern spilled coffee on those notes. Vinnie also spoke about the presence of fruit in each course. He mentioned the pair-ability of the beer. They are dry and drinkable. Not too sweet. What follows is a brain dump of my impressions from that night. Let the tasting begin. No notes on the Damnation. Must have been terrible ;-) JK Temptation = Pucker Up and Transport me to sourville. What happens when you mix heat, watermelon and temptation? You want to drink more! What a delicate pairing. Kinda like that watermelon wheat we tasted with some dry spices. This pairing just worked. If Temptation sent me to sourville, Sanctification sent me downtown where the action is. I knew I was going to like this sour thing. Still have a hard time explaining it, but, damn it's fun. Scallops were tender and delicious. Not sure about the whole course though. Bryan did find something interesting out here though. I think it he said that the fish eggs really brought out the er...FUNK! I think it was a in a good way. I hear some people are really into that FUNKY beer thing. Me I'm still trying to acquire that taste. My fish eggs were gone too quickly to try the same combinations as Bryan. I guess I'm gonna have to order some sushi with my next sour beer. Is it just me or does the word Supplication just go with the word Duck? Must be that "u" in there. Well let me tell you I ain't had nuthin' this good since my Gram made me some homemade chicken noodle soup. I loved it. I don't think I'll ever get duck this good again. Ok...I know it sounds like the beer went to my head...and well it did...but, that's besides the point. It was so tender and tasty. (I really need some new adjectives.) Duck + Apple + Supplication = Happy Man! Have you ever been to a fancy dinner and been left a I have. Well here comes the pork tenderloin sandwich to save the day. This puppy really hit the spot with the tangy blue cheese and sweet pineapple. The Blind Pig was there to chase it down too. Man what a pairing and satisfying too. Do you know how hard it is for me to write a review like this? It's like trying to paint a sunset and capture all the subtle differences in the colors. On to the dessert. What can I say? It was one of the best desserts I have ever had. I know, I know I've said stuff like that before. I especially enjoyed the dessert pairing at the RR & PP dinner last year, but, this is different. Although I enjoyed the Salvation. I thought the dessert, Bananas Foster Bread Pudding absolutely stole the show. I can't explain it. Do you remember that scene in when Harry Met Sally? Yeah the one at the diner. OK, you got it. That's it. That is how good this was. Whew, is it getting hot in here? After dinner we milled around a bit hoping to catch some people before they left. We decided it would be nearly impossible to get the next train so we were "stuck" here for another hour. No matter we made the best of it. Bartender I'll have a.... There you have it. It was another incredible night at Monks. A big thanks to Adam the Chef and his team.

The Brew Lounge Great Contest Giveaway I - WINNERS

Anyone can brew a beer, right? It takes someone more special to do it on a production basis. It's even more of a challenge to implement a full-fledged business plan for a brewery in the world's most {fill in your adjective here} city. That's what Beer School is about. An engaging story of Steve Hindy's and Tom Potter's journey over the past twenty years at Brooklyn Brewery.

The fine folks over at Wiley Publishing were kind enough to ship some copies for us to pass along to you. Since three copies were sent from the publishing house, we've decided not to hold on to any copies for future contests.

We also decided not to retain the auditing services of Dewey, Skruem, and Howe. Rather, we took some pictures of the drawing as it occurred last night just to give you the "warm and fuzzies" that this all went down in an respectable fashion :)

So, without further ado, here are the three winners in The Brew Lounge's first contest giveaway. They were drawn from all of the correct answers that were submitted in the past week's challenges. Congratulations to the winners; please contact us at with your mailing address and we'll get your book out to you ASAP.

If you haven't won today, buy the book and a variety case of Brooklyn beer from your local beer shop. You'll find they go perfectly together!

(first names only)

Beer & Tastebuds: Back in the Saddle after the Flu

I don't know if you have noticed, but, I've been a bit absent from this space over the last week. Thanks for taking up the slack Bryan. I know we all like to see something fresh here everyday. So where have I been? Sick with the flu :-( Here's the story. The last beer I tasted before taking ill was Tuesday night a week ago. I had a hard time tasting an Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout. This is when I noticed that something was wrong. It just didn't taste all that great and I'm pretty sure it doesn't suck ;-). I'm sure somebody out there can back me up on that one. I suspected that I might be coming down with something, but, tried to shrug it off. Well that didn't work. I called in sick the next day and joined the rest of the family watching TV and coughing. As you might imagine I didn't really enjoy the next couple of days with a fever, cough and just being plain washed out. I Lost my appetite for most food, even beer. SHOCK and horror, I know. Of course I don't really drink alcohol when I'm sick because it tends to dehydrate me, but, worse than that it just tastes like crap when you are sick. This brings me to what I think is an interesting point. What if you're sense of taste were taken away? So much of what I like about beer relies on that one sense, taste. I guess you could say I have taken it for granted. Not anymore. I can't wait until I can taste a beer again. Seven days and counting. How long must I wait? Anybody out there sick? Here's to getting your health back and hoping your taste buds come with it. NOTE: Over the weekend I did have a beer that almost cured me, Stone IPA. If you think your taste buds are still only at 10% and you want to enjoy a beer, Stone IPA. My taste buds never tasted anything sweeter. I know I didn't really taste it...taste it, but, those hops really came through loud and clear.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Getting Started in Homebrewing - Why?

Why am I telling you this story in this space? Two reasons. First, I hope that writing about my first homebrewing experience will enhance the process in two ways...I'll be more "in touch" with what I'm drinking and what I'm writing about and those of you with homebrewing experience will feel free to chime in with tips, tricks, and guidance to keep me on the right path. Second, as I'm learning this process and documenting it all, hopefully it will become somewhat of a guide for others who may also wish to embark on this wonderful trip. One warning, this will play out over many weeks, several months. I'll jump into this carefully and plan things out over the next several months. Hopefully, you'll be patient with me...unfortunately, it's not the only thing going on! Let's get started...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 2/19/07

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 2/19/07
Bell's HopSlam
Hitachino Nest Ginger Beer
Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock
Lost Coast Indica IPA
Castle Brewery Eggenberg Samichlaus
Brooklyn Smoked Weissbock
Koningshoeven Quadrupel
Flying Fish Love Fish
New Holland The Poet Stout
Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Winterfest at General Lafayette Inn & Brewery 2/17/07

Kudos to Chris, Russ, & the Rest of the Gang at the General Lafayette in Lafayette Hill, PA for pulling off a successful first attempt at a major regional beer festival. This was subtitled Strong Beer & Great Food. I had my skepticism that a place laid out in the way that G.L. is could host an event with 15+ breweries and plenty of food to go around. Small rooms connected by small passageways make for an intimate restaurant, inn, and brewpub, but a festival?

Absolutely yes, appears to be the answer. Ticket sales were capped at a smart level which allowed for no restroom lines, virtually no waiting for beer or food, and the ability to move freely from one room to another. Even the parking was adequate for all of the festival-goers.

So, what scored big points? Here's a quick recap of some fun observation, followed by a listing of who brought which brews.

Man in costume: Woody Chandler in a button down corporate shirt and shaved face. Ok, the first is true and the second...nah.

Brewers, Writers, and other Cognoscenti: I lost count.

Top 3 Beers of the Day (not ranked): Stewart's McBride's; Brooklyn Local 1; Appalachian Broad Street

Best Lineup Presentation: Brooklyn Brewery

Best Way to the End the Show: Stewart's McBride (66%) & Nodding Head Wee Heavy (33%)

Food options and placement: Well-done!

Reigning under-recognized brewery in the lagging (but catching up) northern Philly suburbs: General Lafayette

Victory - Golden Monkey & Hop Devil
Weyerbacher - Blithering Idiot & Double Simcoe IPA & Quad
Sly Fox - Ichor & Odyssey
Stewart's - McBride's Strong Ale & Conundrum Saison-Inspired Quad
Nodding Head - Wee Heavy & Rudy's Kung Fu Grip
McKenzie Brew House - Cherry Stout & Imperial Red Ale
Yards - Chateau Kenso & Thomas Jefferson Ale
Iron Hill - Hopzilla & Russian Imperial Stout
Brooklyn - Smoked Weizenbock & Local 1 & Black Chocolate Stout ('05) & Monster ('05)
Appalachian - Broad Street Barleywine
Legacy - Fantasy & Euphoria
Manayunk - Barleywine & Tripel Lindy
Rock Bottom - Barleywine & Subzero IPA
Tröegs - Mad Elf & Troegenator & Nugget Nectar
General Lafayette - Chocolate Thunder Porter & High Alt-itude
Flying Fish - Classic Dubbel & Bourbon Barrel Dubbel

p.s. A good time had by all??? No doubt! Can't wait for the next event at the General!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year 4705 (Year of the Pig)

So, is it a boar or a pig? Let's go with the latter, and say we raise a Blind Pig IPA, a Pig Iron Porter. Or hang out at The Spotted Pig or the Flying Pig Saloon? Too bad the Mad Boar Brewpub in North Myrtle Beach is closed, or we could also raise a Snout Stout! On Sunday, February 18th, Chinese New Year 4705 celebration begins. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Years 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031 Pig personality traits Intellectually curious, honest and tolerant, those born in the Year of the Pig can be relied upon for their loyalty and often make true friends for life. Like the knights of old, Pigs are often highly regarded for their chilvary and pureness of heart, and will often sacrifice their own well-being for the greater good. The Pig can be very naive, however, and may easily fall victim to the unscrupulous who take advantage of their idealistic nature - as Pigs see everyone as loyal and caring as they are. Although forced to play the fool many times, they will just as likely hold fast to the notion that everyone is at heart decent and admirable. Stubbornly optimistic, the Pig will not tolerate those with well-meaning advice on how to be a Pig, but since they dislike quarreling and discord their anger usually cools quickly. Sometimes looked upon as a snob, the Pig just finds it right and natural to exhibit good manners whenever possible. Their main goal in life is in serving others, and no matter how difficult circumstances become the Pig will never waiver or retreat, forging ahead in the sure knowledge that all will be well. Pig people love to read, are generally thirsty for knowledge, and not readily talkative, but if presented with an opportunity to discuss topics of interest with like-minded individuals Pigs may find themselves talking non-stop for hours! People born in the Year of the Pig are trusted associates in whatever career they happen to choose and often shine as entertainers, social activists or politicians. Pigs are most compatible with : Rabbit, Sheep Famous people born in the Year of the Pig : Lucille Ball, Humphrey Bogart, David Bowie, Bamber Gascoigne, Thomas Jefferson, Elton John, Ernest Hemingway, Alfred Hitchcock, Mahalia Jackson, David Letterman, Dudley Moore, Gerry Rafferty, Arnold Schwarzenegger

Friday, February 16, 2007

Tap List at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA - 2/16/07

We've gone to some effort to publicize on a regular basis the usual quality taps at Flying Pig in Malvern, PA. They need a bit of publicity because they have no web presence and the tap handles are constantly changing.

However, The Drafting Room in Exton, PA has a decent web presence and quite a huge reputation proceeding them. But, their website occasionally falls behind with what's currently on tap. Of course we understand the nature of the bar business. Patrick and company do a great job of stocking great beer on tap and that's the most important part. It's to their credit it turns over as fast as it does.

In the meantime, we'll give it a try here to post on a semi-regular basis the current tap list.

What's on line as of 2/16/07? Funny you should ask.

Victory Old Horizontal
Castle Brewery Eggenberg Samichlaus
Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot
Troegs Nugget Nectar (both CO2 and Cask)
Flying Fish Love Fish
Brooklyn Smoked Weizenbock
Bell's Expedition Stout
Bell's Sparkling Ale
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Sly Fox Chester County Lightning

California Dreamin'.....still

Going to the gym this morning (like how I made a point of saying that?!), the voice on the radio said the temperature was in the single digits. After writing about this last night, it reminded me of a great song from a few years ago. Sorry for the off-topic posting here, must be cold weather going to my head. Should get some fresh Nugget Nectar at Grey Lodge tonight to help cure that condition. ------------------------------------------------------------------ All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey I've been for a walk on a winter's day I'd be safe and warm if I was in L.A. (or in the Bay Area, at Magnolia, Toronado, or 21A, or, or, or!) California Dreamin' on such a winter's day Stopped into a church I passed along the way Well, I got down on my knees and I began to pray You know the preacher likes the cold he knows I'm gonna stay California Dreamin' on such a winter's day All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey I've been for a walk on a winter's day If I didn't tell her I could leave today California Dreamin' on such a winter's day

A Victory for Perkuno's Hammer

Well, what do you think? I've got seven 12 ounce bottles remaining. Can I begin to look forward to increasing that stash? Thanks Lew for finally breaking the news! Exciting Friday news indeed! p.s. If it's to be made in Downingtown, how many more beer runs to Victory for fresh beer do you think I'll be making?! Get those beer trades ready. Related news from the wire! Beer Advocate The Four Eyed Beer Geek Seen Through A Glass

Last Chance for Beer School contest

All correct entries received by 3pm eastern time today will be entered into the drawing for the Beer School book. As a reminder, if you haven't taken any of the "challenges" yet and submitted a response, you may do so now for any of the three. There are a maximum of 4 entries that you can have in this drawing. Good luck! Reply with your entries. Feb. 9th-First challenge Feb.12th-Second challenge Feb. 14th-Third challenge

Thursday, February 15, 2007

California Dreamin'

This is not necessarily a plug, but rather a notice of what is going on in one of my favorite beer cities and beer joints. For those of you lucky enough to live in or be visiting the area around this time (and you like better beer), how can't you work this into your plans?! ========================================================================= (copied from Magnolia e-mail) GREETINGS FROM MAGNOLIA! Here we are at halftime of the rolling juggernaut known as Strong Beer Month. It's really as big a time as it gets here at Magnolia, to paraphrase the late Ken Kesey. We've put on more strong beers than ever and you have come in to drink it in record-breaking numbers. Thank you so much for the support that makes us do this again and again. Five of the six beers are still flowing. Promised Land is already gone but we saw that coming and have an unprecedented second batch about to come on (most likely tomorrow). In the meantime, you can still drink the cask version, at least for the moment. Still to come in the second half: Old Thuderpussy and Weekapaug Monster casks, vintage Thunderpussy from the library, round two of this year's Promised Land, and more. Though the Saison de Lily isn't technically a "strong beer", this one comes close at 7.7 abv, putting it in the part of the category sometimes known as "super saisions". And it's pretty tasty, too (not to mention the most versatile food pairing beer that we make). Look for it early next week. We've also brought in another round of guest casks, including some strong ones: old favorites from our friends at the Burton Bridge Brewery as well as a few new to us from a small farmhouse brewery in Denmark called Wintercoat. Assuming they all made the 6000-mile journey in good shape, here's the order we'll serve them (beginning today): Burton Bridge Festival Ale (5.5%) Wintercoat Yellow Jacket (5.3%) Burton Bridge Top Dog Stout (5.0%) Wintercoat Double Hop Imperial IPA (8.5%) Burton Bridge Thomas Sykes Old Ale (10.0%) We'll finish big with that Danish double IPA and the legendary Thomas Sykes, right around the time some of our own strong beers might need reinforcements. The kitchen has kept its focus on our strong beers, too. Weekend dinner specials have been designed with pairings possibilities in mind, and the special menu of little bites for each strong beer has been a huge success. Favorites include the classic Stilton cheese-Old Thuderpussy combination and the local Bermuda Triangle cheese and red onion confit paired with Tweezer Tripel. If you haven't tried them, what are you waiting for? Meanwhile, down at the Alembic, we've got a rotating Magnolia strong beer tap plus a couple of guest beers that fit the bill: Iron Springs Pub & Brewery's Barstow Lundy Barleywine and Drakes Brewing's Hop Salad, an imperial IPA brewed with seven different hop varieties. And then, of course, comes the granddaddy of strong beer events: Toronado's annual barleywine fest (this Saturday, 2/17), just down the street at 547 Haight ( Old Thunderpussy will be there, as usual, but so will up to 50 other barleywines from both near and far. Reports from South of Market say that all the Strong Beers still flow at the 21st Amendment, too, so there's still time to chase down that last punch or two on your card. If, for some reason, you're still not sure, 21st Amendment is at 563 2nd Street, between Brannan and Bryant. So the state of the strong beer is great from this perspective, with the rest of the month looking at least as exciting as the first half. We've restocked our t-shirts, glasses, and punch cards, we've remembered to hydrate, we're definitely not drinking and driving, and we're ready for more. See you soon! As always, thanks for reading and please stay in touch. Cheers, Dave McLean Magnolia Pub & Brewery 1398 Haight Street San Francisco, CA 94117 (415) 864-7468 Alembic Bar 1725 Haight Street San Francisco, CA 94117 (415) 666-0822 Past Writings of The Brew Lounge Magnolia (May 2006, December 2006) 21st Amendment (March 2006, December 2006) Iron Springs (September 2006) Toronado (March 2006, December 2006)

T.H. Brewster's (at Sheraton Four Points LAX) in Los Angeles, CA

After my successful business trip to Los Angeles (but, unsuccessful beer hunting for a BevMo purchase in Pasadena), I needed to reward myself with a trip to T.H. Brewster's at the Sheraton Four Points hotel, located adjacent to the LAX airport. Plus, with the looming redeye flight back to the East Coast, I figured it might provide a good sleep aid.

Here's a tip for anyone searching out the Four Points hotel. First, go to the airport and return your rental car, check your baggage, and get your boarding pass. Then, step outside and catch the free shuttle bus between the airport and the Sheraton properties. In less than 5 minutes, you should be deposited at the front door of the Four Points hotel. It's in a cluster of hotels and business located around the airport.

If you've done all this in sequence, then when you're finished at Brewster's, you'll easily catch the shuttle back to airport where you can proceed directly to the security points. I did this all in the span of two hours. But, I really think that if you had as little as 60-90 minutes of extra time (and the desire) that you could have yourself at least a decent beer or two without feeling rushed.

Once inside, the bar is just down the hall from the main entrance and across from a "loungy" area where live music often occurs. Well, I can't say much about the ambiance of the bar...there isn't much. But the quality draft and bottle list, that's a different story all together! I've only listed the notable ones below. While they don't have many draft beers, the ones on tap on 1/31 were certainly nothing to turn away.

So, what did I partake in? After a bottle of Alaskan Amber, I turned to Bear Republic's Racer 5 and North Coast's Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, both on tap. Who can't get sleep on an airplane after that? Turns would be I that cannot!

Let's see, about the bar I can tell you that service is pleasant but not overly beer knowledgeable, but that was OK for me. The draft lines seemed clean and the beers were poured and presented properly. Hard to complain in that regard. There were several TVs showing various sporting events, hard to complain in that regard. I can probably only complain in the sense that the atmosphere was sort of cold feeling. The chairs, the tables, the bar area, the overall size and squarishness of the place just leave me kind of blah. I know, I know...just enjoy my glass of Racer 5 and don't dwell on the environment. Ok, that kind of helps. But, if you're judging the environment, this places gets a low mark. I know, I's a hotel and it's at the airport, but I'm demanding ;-) Point is, the beer here is the real winner. Check it out below and see if you agree.

p.s. the only one other wish that I have (go figure!) is that this would be located inside the terminal security at the airport, or at least connected to the airport. Just a tad more convenient in that case.

Draft ($5.50-$6.50; 3 oz. flights $1.50; 6 oz. $8.00)
Bear Republic Racer 5
North Coast Old Rasputin RIS
Paulaner Hefeweizen
Spaten Munich
BJ's Jeremiah Red
Chimay Cinq Cents

California (bottles)
Rogue, Stone, North Coast, Anderson Valley, Sierra Nevada, Anchor

Other Notable (bottles)
Alaskan, Victory, Flying Dog

Belgian (bottles)
Cantillon, Rochefort, Houbon Chouffe ($30-750ml), N'ice Chouffe, Affligem, Westmalle, Duchesse de Bourgonne, Orval, Duvel, Chimay (all 3), Delirium Tremens, Fantome, Scaldis Noel ($45-1.5L), Samichlaus, Gouden Carolus

Other International (bottles)
Unibroue, Czechvar, Spaten, Schneider Aventinus, Belhaven, Young's, Hitachino Nest

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Beer Tasting: Clipper City Heavy Seas Winter Storm Category 5 Ale

The Beer: Clipper City/Heavy Seas Winter Storm ("Category 5") Ale
Style: Imperial ESB
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. brown bottle; 'purchase by' date notched as May 2007

From where & how stored: Obtained via holiday beer exchange in Dec. 2005 and stored at 50F since then

Pricing: $x.xx

Availability: Winter Seasonal

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 7.5% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- Clean filtered dark brown ale
- 2-finger tight, light tan head, with some larger bubbles in the formation of a star (really! like me Lucky Charms :)
- fades and leaves lacing all over the glass walls

The Aroma:
- unremarkable
- bit of alcohol
- bit of bark and earthiness

The Taste:
- medium-bodied
- noticeable kick of citric tart bitterness
- must be the malt to balance out the hops

The Verdict: It's loaded with Magnum, Fuggles, Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops so that must be where the bitterness (duh) is coming from. But, I don't think it's too in your face and is nice. Otherwise, I'm having a hard time trying to find something remarkable to say about this beer, but it may have to wait until next year. It's a drinkable hop-friendly beer, but one or two for the session will be just fine, thank you.
Adam's Notes
The Look:
- pours a very thin head even with aggressive pour

The Aroma:
- very amber, fruity ale nose ( not like real fruit, but, like real ale )

The Taste:
- tangy malt
- slightly roasty
- alcohol is present
- mixes with the bitterness of this beer
- almost too bitter

The Verdict: is probably as close to an Alt than anything. Think Alt and take a drink. I wouldn't pass on it offered.

Giveaway 2/16/07 - Qualifying Round 3

One last chance to earn an entry into the drawing on 2/16/07 for the Beer School book which chronicles the Brooklyn Brewery business venture. You've had two other chances which, if you haven't already, you can still submit entries for. (challenge #1, challenge #2) Today, we're going to call this the "I drank this beer last night" challenge. In this case, we're talking about the beer that I drank last night. You'll get a couple of clues and have to guess exactly which beer it is. Not to subtle of a takeoff of Craft Beer Radio's "What Beer Am I?" Here goes... On April 22, 1836 this monastery became a Trappist abbey and served their first beer roughly eight months later. Now that you know which brewery I drank of last night, you've got a good chance of guessing which style. But, to help you out, the style I drank was the same as the type of base hit in Major League Baseball of which Sam Crawford is the all-time leader. What beer did I drink last night? E-mail your answer to

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Beer Tasting: Middle Ages 11th Anniversary Double Wheat

The Beer: Middle Ages 11th Anniversary Double Wheat Ale
Style: American Wheat
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 22 oz. brown bottle; no date stamp

From where & how stored: Obtained via holiday beer exchange in Dec. 2006 and stored at 42F since then.

Pricing: $x.xx

Availability: One-time release

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 8.5% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- soft, pillowy head fades slowly, easy to stir up again
- orangish glow
- just a bit of cloudiness

The Aroma:
- faint fruit aromas
- bananas (got a whiff of bananas foster from our last Monk's dinner)
- alcohol present

The Taste:
- flavor of soft wheat dominates
- subtle hints of tangerine and apricot
- decent carbonation helps this beer live on across the palate
- flavors present themselves better at cooler temperature

The Verdict: Such a delicious treat, I had to have two (I shared a little of it) This is one of the boldest delicate beers I've had in a while. All the finesse of a wheat beer, made more complex with hops and alcohol. Note to self: must buy more.
Adam's Notes
The Look:
- very tall head
- straw cloudy yellow peach
- head sticks around a bit
- dies to a 1/4 inch

The Aroma:
- wonderful nose
- some coriander, apricot, clean, fruity

The Taste:
- crisp wheat beer
- spices somewhat present
- alcohol present
- interesting use of hops here
- like a double ipa
- hence the name double wheat?
- The last glass got all the sediment. Changes the taste. Improves it a bit with a bit more spice.

The Verdict: I really like it. I'd love to have a fresh hopped version of this.

Monk's Beer Dinner 1/23/07 : Russian River Brewing Co.

Welcome to "tion" night at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia, PA. That's the introduction we were greeted with. A dinner by any other name would not be appropriate for the annual west coast guests from Russian River. Husband-and-wife team Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo came east for a few days and made stops at Tria and Monk's for two first-rate events.

We only have The Brew Lounge interns to blame for the tardiness of this writeup. Seems they want some sort of a pay raise. Actually, they just want to be paid in some way. Uh, we'll have to work on that one.

In the meantime, let's talk about these two little beer institutions...Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia, PA and Russian River Brewing from Santa Rosa, CA. They got together for the first beer dinner of the year at Monk's on 1/23/07. If you recall our reaction from last year (Bryan's , Adam's) when both Russian River and Pizza Port showed up at Monk's for a combined dinner, this one was in some ways tamer. If only for the fact that there were half as many beers on the menu! But, what we got was an equally impressive evening where Vinnie showed off some of his finer beers. Some even that aren't available in the market any longer (Adam will have more detailed notes on this aspect later).

We arrived promptly at the 7pm start time, due to my work schedule and indecision about going (the tail end of a stomach virus, that's all you need to know!). The restaurant was predictably abuzz with anticipation for what the night held in store. The menu, listed below, surely had people ready to get started. As usual, George Hummel began by introducing Vinnie and the evening events to come. He also made mention of last year's over-the-top, sensory overload dinner.

George then yielded the microphone to Vinnie who went through the process of describing each beer's creation and fermenting history. Vinnie sprinkled in some interesting anecdotes about the availability (or lack thereof) of the beers and his personal favorites. Again, Adam took more copious notes here and will comment in more detail in a follow-up review of his own. It was evident that Vinnie probably had as much enthusiastic anticipation for this dinner as we all did.

Following are some of my quick notes, bullet style, of impressions of each course.
  • Course 1
  • ~Russian River Damnation
    ~Amuse (seafood mousse on grilled meyer lemon)
    A tasty start of tiny seafood bites. Damnation is a nice easy-drinking beer with a slight bitter note in the end. This style is one of my top 3 favorites, so it's no surprise to hear me say this. The GABF judges agree, too! Great start to the evening!
  • Course 2
  • ~Russian River Temptation
    ~Spicy Thai Shrimp w/grilled watermelon
    Nice, even building "heat" in the shrimp. Watermelon didn't move me, though. This barrel-aged award-winning beauty, complete with a touch of wheat-like delicateness paired with the Bret funk in the Temptation, went nicely with the spiciness.
  • Course 3
  • ~Russian River Sanctification
    ~Grilled Scallops w/grilled cantaloupe
    Fish eggs on the plate created the winning combination for me on this night. Perhaps it was the brininess that really helped to bring out and highlight the dank, barnyard, horsehair character of the Sanctification so much more so than when drank without the food. Simply awesome!
  • Course 4
  • ~Russian River Supplication
    ~Apple Glazed Duck Breast w/maple glazed, baked lady apple
    Duck was rare, tender, and so flavorful. A nice pairing with the Belgian-like Supplication strong ale.
  • Course 5
  • ~Russian River Blind Pig
    ~Mini Pork Tenderloin Sandwich w/grilled pineapple
    Such a nice break from the other courses. The IPA (a very, very delicious IPA in every sense) and the sandwich just went together seamlessly. And, neither required much thought-probing analysis...that can actually be a good thing, no? Enhancing the experience was the bleu cheese and the pineapple in the sandwich.
  • Course 6
  • ~Russian River Salvation
    ~Bananas Foster Bread Pudding
    For as practically perfect of a beer that Salvation is, I think the winner here was the bread pudding. It was a decent enough pairing, but the decadence of the food here seemed to overshadow the some of the dry roastiness of the beer. Some bitter and sweet undertones in the beer helped, but not seemingly enough for me.

Fortunately, we were "able" to miss our 10:15pm train, so we hung out at the bar with Vinnie and others for another 45 minutes waiting for the next train. Stories of beer making and beer travels were told. All around, another solid winner in the history of beer dinners at Monk's. It was a good enough time that we are able to almost forget that we didn't make it to Tomme Arthur's dinner two weeks later. So, up next is Brooklyn Brewery and Garret Oliver in is beery, beery good!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Upcoming Beer Event: 3rd Annual Brewer's Plate in Philadelphia, PA: 4/1/07

Here at The Brew Lounge, we're looking forward to the this year's installment of the annual Brewer's Plate event at the historic Reading Terminal Market in Center City Philadelphia.

I attended last year and the food, beer, and people all combined to make this an extremely worthwhile event.

Additionally, given the foundation and the people behind it, this is an event not to be missed!

{from their press release}
Craft Beer & Gourmet Cuisine: Together at Last!

The Brewer's Plate 2007 Sunday, April 1, 2007 5 pm - 8 pm Reading Terminal Market (Center City Philadelphia)

To purchase tickets/for more info:

Over 18 regional craft breweries and acclaimed regional restaurants will be matched at stations throughout the market, each offering two sample dishes paired with a complimenting handcrafted beer.

This 3rd annual craft brew and gourmet restaurant showcase will benefit the Fair Food Project, a program of the 501c3 nonprofit White Dog Foundation. Fair Food works to support a sustainable local food system in the Philadelphia region.

Ticket price is $50 for general admission, which enables ticketholder to unlimited tasting and sampling during this three hour gastronomical extravaganza! Tickets go on sale February 9th and sell out fast! Purchase tickets online at

Participating Restaurants (18 in all!):

Derek's, Beau Monde, Abbaye, Fork, General Lafayette Inn, Iron Hill, London Grill, Rx, Tria, White Dog Cafe, Royal Tavern, James Restaurant, Paradiso, Down Home Diner, Patou, Cosmic Catering, Johnny Brenda’s

Breweries (18 in all!):

Appalachian Brewing Co., General Lafayette, Sly Fox, Troegs, Flying Fish, Stoudt's, Victory Brewing Co., Dogfish Head, Yards, Independence Brew Pub, Iron Hill, Nodding Head, Legacy Brewing Co., Manayunk Brewing Co., Triumph, Climax Brewing Co., Lancaster Brewing Co., McKenzie Brew House

Giveaway 2/16/07 - Qualifying Round 2

We warned you that you would have to work for this prize. In this second round, you'll need to do some searching and some arithmetic. Seven of you already have a entry in for the drawing on 2/16/07. Earn your first, or an additional if you already have one, slip of paper in the drawing if you can answer the following question. The 70's were big for the craft beer movement. In what year was the first brewpub, New Albion, opened by Jack McAuliffe? Add the year in which homebrewing was made legal with a Jimmy Carter presidential signature? Let's get current. Take the sum from above and subtract from it the total number (rounded up to the nearest hundred) of craft breweries in the U.S. in 2006. Finally, divide this result by the number of gallons in a barrel of beer (not to be confused with the "half keg") Add 1900. For an entry in the drawing, what's the final answer (rounded to the nearest integer)? E-mail your answer to For a bonus entry, there is a relationship between the final answer and one of the clues from above. What is it?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Bartender, give me one of, uh yeah, one of those!

Say what? How many of these sound like they tell you what to expect in the beer? Or do they sound like the staff got around to naming the beers at about 1am in the morning?

In any case, fun stuff indeed! They're real. Don't believe us? Click the link! How many have you had? Have any additions of your own?

And, by the way, what is it about the Pacific Northwest and Alaska?!

Adam & Eve Ale from Great Sex Brewing in CA Bare Ass Blonde from DuClaw Brewing in MD Big Fat Homo from Walking Man Brewery in WA Big Woody from Glacier Brewhouse in AK Blonde On Blonde & The Naughty Nurse from City Steam Brewery in CT Doggie Style Pale Ale, In Heat Wheat, & Horn Dog Barleywine from Flying Dog Brewery in CO Epluche Culotte from Midnight Sun Brewing in AK (you've GOTTA click the link for the translation! do it!) Fat Bastard & Fat Woody from Silver City Brewery in WA Hedonism from Legacy Brewing in PA Hummer from Sweetwater Brewing in GA Menage Frog Tripel from Rogue Ales in OR Old Leghumper from Thirsty Dog Brewing in OH Old Thunderpussy Barleywine from Magnolia Brewpub in CA Panty Dropper & Balls Deep from Kuhnhenn in MI Pecker Wrecker from Rahr & Sons in TX Rowdy Dick Amber from Engine House No. 9 in WA Wailing Wench from Middle Ages in NY Who's Your Daddy, Hop Whore, & Spank Me Baby from Tyranena Brewing in WI

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 2/10/07

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. Not such a bad list, eh?

In addition, spied bottles included Avery/Russian River Collaboration Not Litigation, Three Floyds Pride & Joy, He'brew Lenny's R.I.P.A., Avery The Beast, Avery Mephistopheles Stout

On Draft as of 2/10/07
Bell's HopSlam
Delirium Noël
Troegs Mad Elf
Hitachino Nest Ginger Beer
Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock
Allagash Musette
La Rullés Noël Du Coeur
Castle Brewery Eggenberg Samichlaus
Lost Coast Indica IPA
Legacy Raspberry Wheat

In addition to the usual Victory Hop Devil on the hand pull, they also had Young's Winter Warmer.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Giveaway 2/16/07 - Qualifying Round 1

Let's get things started here with a photo challenge. At stake is a book named Beer School which deals with the almost 20 years of fascinating Brooklyn Brewery history. Click here for more detail.

This photo challenge harkings back to one of our favorite beer events of 2006. We wrote quite a bit about it and posted links and pictures of each day that we spent camping in the RV at the event and travelling to and from it. The brewery's facility is in the background of this picture.

Name the brewery that hosted this event. (p.s. keyword is RV)

Either comment below, or send an e-mail to All correct responses will be entered into the drawing set to occur next Friday. There will be two more chances to enter before then. Look for them and good luck!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Brew Lounge Great Contest Giveaway I

Update: The Giveaway is underway. Click here to participate!

The Brew Lounge's goodie bin is full and it's time to start giving stuff away. But, we're gonna make you work for it. There'll be three qualifying rounds over the next week to give you the chance to be eligible for the giveaway prize. The first round will be a picture challenge. The second round will be a trivia question. The third round will be a beer challenge (in the spirit of Craft Beer Radio's 'What Beer Am I?').

The first giveaway will be a book donated by the fine folks over at Wiley Publishers. Beer School is a chronicle of the building of the Brooklyn Brewery brand name. The business approach of Steve Hindy and Tom Potter is spelled out across almost 300 pages and hooks the reader right from the forward and preface. Anyone interested in a good beer and business story should find it interesting and a good companion on the shelf next to Sam Calagione's Brewing Up A Business, also from Wiley.

Check back tomorrow, February 9th, for the first challenge.
February 12th for the second challenge.
February 14th for the third challenge.

Bonaventure Brewing Company in Los Angeles, CA

It's already out there; I've stated my underwhelming opinion of the downtown Los Angeles beer scene....or lack of it. Save for a couple of so-so beer bars, there may be only one other option, Bonaventure Brewing Company. The brewpub is located inside of the massive Westin hotel tower complex. Therein lies the rub...if you can find this place, then you might be able to enjoy a beer and the scenery. Allow me to explain.

{Skip down if you're not into rants}
Already despondent over just a one-night trip to the West Coast and the bleak beer scene in downtown L.A., I set out in search of what I thought could be the only redeeming drop of better beer within walking distance. Since I already know that BBC is inside the Westin along Figueroa, getting to that point was a snap. This is where things get hairy. (Of course, finding my way out was much easier and provided me with a much clearer path to the pub if I should ever choose to go again.) Not only was the hotel missing any clear signs (or signs at all, from what I could gather) pointing folks to the brewpub, but even the concierge was convinced that I wanted to go to the steakhouse. "OH! You want to go to the brewery?"...he asked incredulously. sheesh...Perhaps this whole West Coast beer thing skipped L.A.

Complicating matters (yes, I'm still going to harp on the logistics of getting there!) were four elevator banks, which did not make a stop on the street level that I came in on (huh?), and various escalators and circular staircases strewn around, some with PhotoShop-looking homemade signs pointing people to businesses and services throughout the various floors of the shopping complex. I believe there were 4 shopping levels in all. I was confused. And, for any of you that know me, you're probably convinced it was truly confusing because of my natural propensity for maps and navigating.

Ok, long story short for your benefit! If you go....come in off street level main entrance, hook a left on to the escalator, go up to the 4th floor, wind your way around to the right, follow the main concourse to {drum roll please} the storefront that has a neon sign glowing the word "brewery" above the door. If you try to take the elevator to the fourth floor (which you'd have to do from the lower level front desk area), you're doesn't stop there. If you go to the left off the escalator, you're screwed...because the walk is at least twice as long going that way. If you're looking for signs, you're screwed...there are none. If you're looking for someone to help...ha! you're still screwed...even hotel personnel don't seem to know that this 8-year-old brewpub is there.

{Resume relevant beer message here}
Hello? Is anyone left reading this at this point? If so, you must either be laid up in a hospital bed with nothing better to do or you're a glutton for literary punishment. In any case, thanks for listening to the rant. The experience truly was frustrating. So I finally settle in for a beer. With four of their beers on draft and a few guest taps (on this day, Anchor Steam, Bitburger, and Hacker Pschorr Hefeweizen) , they had somewhat of an assortment. They also had a golden blonde, a pale ale, and a strawberry blonde of their own.

I only had time for one beer, so I settled on their house stout. It was described as dry and smooth, so I'm thinking something British-style as opposed to Old Rasputin RIS (saved for the next night at Four Points LAX). It turned out to be lacking some richer flavor qualities that I had expected. I found to be too cold, but it was indeed quite smooth (almost too smooth for my liking) and as it warmed some roasty undertones and a bit of cloying sweetness came out in the middle. But overall it was just an okay-drinking, albeit easy at 5% ABV, beer. With more time, I might have tried the Pale Ale next, but the only thing that could get me to go back again and sample it was the ambiance.

The food here is typical upscale pub food. From chicken, to fish, to salads and appetizers, to plenty of interesting burgers and sandwiches, they've got the food menu gamut covered.

The ambiance is the true winner here. Yes, it is set inside the equivalent of a shopping mall and hotel, which is OK I suppose. Convenient, for sure, for hotel guests. The interior of the brewpub is a comfortable space with tables and chairs, wood trim and colors that make it easy to linger for a while. The bar area has a certain sports-related theme, complete with televisions.

But, head out through the doors to the patio and you'll find a whole new world. Brewing equipment is contained inside a sort of pool house looking structure (for lack of a better analogy, but you be the judge). Tables are set up amongst flower planters to give an extremely relaxing environment for dinner and brews. All of this is perched (at least) four stories about the hustle and bustle of the L.A. street scene. And, in appropriate weather, the swimming pool is only steps away. I'm sure more than a few hotel guests have enjoyed some craft brew and a dip in the pool.

It's funny. On the flight home, I debated not writing anything about BBC. I figured I wouldn't have much to say except for the outdoor patio area. Turns out I was right, except I had plenty to say about getting there.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Topic of the Week: What do you like about beer?

Earlier in the week we opened up the topic of the week with this question. "What's so good about beer anyway?" Nate stepped up to the plate very quickly with 10 good ones. Loren also spoke up. What about the rest of you. What do YOU like about beer? What were you doing the last time you had a beer? What did it taste like? Where where you? Why did you drink beer instead of wine, soda or water? What's so good about beer anyway? Tell us what you think! Click here to voice your opinion. Or click on the Post a Comment link below.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Just a typical night in Phoenixville?-Part II

If you think you've tried every beer under the sun, here's a few new ones to try. You probably won't be disappointed. Adam and I had a good time last night trying these new beers, among others, with some good beer drinking friends. That's what it's all about, right? Smuttynose Barleywine (Big Bottle Series) Port Brewing Wipeout IPA Unibroue Quelque Chose De Struise Brouwers Panneport Reserva-Old Fisherman's Ale

The Collins Bar in New York City, NY

The Collins Bar was my last stop on the way out of NYC on 12/27. After a day of New York pizza, beer, walking, beer, New York hot dogs, walking, and more beer I was sure wishing that I didn't have a train ride and an 80-mile drive ahead of me. Go here for a complete summary of the days events.

But, soldier on I did to The Collins Bar, on the border of Hell's Kitchen and Times Square in Manhattan. Boy, have times changed from when even Times Square was a bit dicey and Hell's Kitchen was just that...Hell. After leaving Hop Devil and making a quick pit stop at Papaya King, I made the walk off the subway over to The Collins Bar. Quite a congested area this neighborhood has become. And, the scene did not become any quieter inside.

At first, I thought that the hubbub all had to do with the special Sprecher event that the bar was hosting on this particular evening. But, judging from the beer and other drinks floating around the bar, the event didn't register with many of the patrons. No worries, though, from me at least. It just would've been nice to have a bar stool at the ready for me when I walked in and a little less noise. Or, perhaps I was just feeling old and grumpy by this time of the day and given the impending long trip home that I mentioned above.

On a more cheerful note, the hosts sure have made the best of a bad situation at The Collins Bar, given that their other location (Blind Tiger Ale House) has been temporarily shuttered due to unfathomable bureaucracy. The tap and bottle list is top-notch here and the service is downright hospitable. Unfortunately, my attempt at a flashless picture of the tap list will require the keenest of eyesight to prove that comment true.

So, what did I think of The Collins Bar? Unfortunately, this may not come out sounding great and perhaps I shouldn't say anything given my state of mind at the time. It was narrow and cramped, loud, and crowded. But, the beer was great! Tara (I hope that was her name) helped make my visit more tolerable. As did the group of guys that I rejoined here that I met earlier at Essex Ale House. We split a 1 liter bottle of Sprecher Scotch Ale five ways. At $30 and 10% ABV, it was advisable both financially and health-wise ;=) Sprecher appears to brew some fairly solid, but average everyday beers. Where they really seem to shine is with their Russian Imperial Stout, Scotch Ale, and Doppelbock that they brought along for this event. If they're available in your state, or you're ever in Wisconsin, make sure to try at least one of them.

From the Gnomette at Essex Ale House earlier in the day to Sprecher here at The Collins Bar to wrap up the day, this was exactly why I took the day off from work to do a day trip to NYC. To find beer otherwise hard to locate at home in the Philadelphia area. And, to check out a couple of new beer joints. Winner on all fronts! Though, I'll need to pay another visit to The Collins Bar just to give it a fair shake.