Friday, March 30, 2007

Poll: Growing your own hops?

NOTE: We added "I don't want to grow hops." as an answer. You may change your vote if you like. Remember this is highly scientific. We'll be getting the deconfrabulator out to verify the results later. ;-) If you can't tell, we have HOPS FEVER over here at The Brew Lounge. So we wanna know. Do you have it too? How many of you are interested in growing your own hops. Perhaps you already grow your own. Maybe you didn't even know you could. We want to know!

Poll Question: Are you interested in growing your own hops?

The poll is over there on the right near the top of the page. See it? Ok. See you next Friday when we review the results. If you have more to say, say it by posting a comment.

Poll Closed: Have you ever hombrewed?

Last Friday we started polling our readers. The results are in.

The Poll Question: Have you ever homebrewed?

Participants: Thirty one votes were cast.

The Answers...

- 72% home brewed at least once
- 22% never homebrewed
- 6% assisted in some way

Well no matter whether you are a homebrewer or not, we think you'll like the next poll. It's all about growing hops! Stay tuned, it will be posted shortly.

Beer Tasting: River Horse Hop Hazard

The Beer: Hop Hazard
Style: American Pale Ale
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. brown bottle; no evident date stamping on bottle

From where & how stored: Purchased from Exton Beverage and stored at 42F since then

Pricing: $23.99 per variety case of 24

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 5.5% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- slightly cloudy, brownish-orange color
- what little head there was disappeared in an instant

The Aroma:
- sweet, malty aroma

The Taste:
- slight bitterness
- slight sweetness
- slight carbonation

The Verdict: - Slightly below average. It starts off as inviting to the nose and the front of the mouth, but then loses any momentum quickly and whithers away to nothing.
Adam's Notes
The Look:
- copper
- small head thinning to thin ring with islands

The Aroma:
- quite sweet and a bit hoppy

The Taste:
- sweet like the nose
- couldn't drink too many of these
- not really super hoppy, but, hops are there

The Verdict: Eh...pretty typical of their beer. Nothing to write home about.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Put a (Blind) Tiger in your Tank

After failing to come up with a clever title, you're stuck with my lame excuse of a headline for this excellent news from NYC. If there's any doubt about the return of the Blind Tiger, this should settle things for you. For your reading pleasure and teasing, here's the latest e-mail from Alan. Now, just figure out how to get there on Monday. ================================================================= Dear Tigerites, First of all, I can't tell you how much I appreciate seeing all you having a beer and a bite at the new space. It almost makes me want to cry in my beer or, maybe, just drink my beer...actually, it just makes me drink...forget the crying thing...sorry. I know everyone has been patiently waiting for us to get back up to speed, and I thank you for that patience. Giving birth to a tiger is not a simple task - especially if you aren't a tiger, or a woman for that matter. But now that we're purring, I figured it was time to break out some very special beers! Besides crying in a corner for the past year, I've done my share of begging breweries to make or keep some special treats for our dedicated Tigerites. Disgusted by seeing a grown man beg like a small hairless dog, the brewers finally complied. Please no comments about the crying or the dog or, especially, the hair-less know how sensitive I can be. So here's the deal... Monday April 2nd, we'll be opening at 7:00PM! You might ask, "why, Alan, at 7:00PM?" The answer is simple...that's how long it's going to take me to tap these fantastic kegs, and I want to drink a pint of each one before you get your greedy hands on them! So come to the Tiger (281 Bleecker St.) at 7:00PM, April 2nd, and come very thirsty! The List: Sixpoint Blind Bengali Tiger (that's right, blind!) Allagash Inoculator (berries with that triple?) Alchemist Heady Topper (Double IPA only found in VT) Alchemist Heathen (John Kimmick's Spring IPA (see above)) Dogfish Black and Blue (get ready to be beaten Black and Blue) Burlington's Hearth/American Flatbread (beer style TBA) Smuttynose (Imperial Brown Dog - PS. the brown dog passed away on the day of our opening, we will miss her...) Victory (beer TBA) Brooklyn Blast (one of Mr. Oliver's finest) Blue Point Imperial Stout (cask and awesome) Rogue Brewer (big, bad, and tasty) Avery Hog Heaven (Adam will knock you out) Stone Russian Imperial Stout (ouch!) Stone Ruination (Ouch, ouch!) Sierra Big Foot aged in Bourbon Barrels (the one and only) Also, watch out for some extra goodies... If that wasn't enough for you, this Sat. and Sunday we'll be opening our doors at 11:30AM for Brunch! After Monday our new regular hours will be 11:30AM til 4:00AM, with the kitchen staying open til 2:00AM (for those late night munchies). Thank you, thank you, thank you, Alan

Of Choices between Weyerbacher, Union Barrel Works, Stoudt's, and Victory

Ah, the agony of picking between two quality events this coming Saturday. While a whole bunch of fun beer-loving folks from Beer Advocate are heading out on a bus tour to the newly opened (or at least very, very soon to open) Union Barrel Works in Reamstown, I was planning to buck the trend and head up to Easton for Weyerbacher's annual open house. I attended the open house last year and great karma was oozing all around...along with 15 or so of their delectable brews. Plus, with Blasphemy and Wild Ale being two new additions to this year's open house, I figured it was worth the drive on what is due to be a nice weather day. But, then I got a lot of grief from certain individuals, one of whom is organizing the bus tour and was plying me with Allagash Curieux at the time. Then, there's my friend Dennis who lives 1/2 mile from UBW, who's anxiously been awaiting the opening and going to be there anyway, and was hoping to pull up a barstool along side of me on Saturday. So, bending to peer pressure (beer pressure?), I started leaning back to the UBW-Stoudt's-Victory bus tour. Though, I would drive and not take the bus, in order to hang out with Dennis later for dinner. But, then I see Dan's posting over at BA and, well, what can I say? I'm back squarely on the fence and it ain't feeling too comfy! Ah, the choices we must make. Anyone else want to try and persuade me on which direction to head on Saturday....westerly? or northeasterly? Unfortunately, we will not be able to fill growlers of the Wild Ale, we want there to be enough to last the entire event. We are going to produce at least 2 wild Ales with Brett for market in about 8 to 12 months. They will be bottled in the tall Chimay type bottle, corked and caged. Supplies will be very limited at the beginning, but we will continue to produce these beers in limited quantity depending on demand. What's being sampled is now 9 months old, and may not be the final recipe version we use, but will give you some idea of what we are working on, and its quite an intriguing beer already! Dan

Growing Hops: Is it that time again?

Have you bought your hop rhizomes yet? It is that time of the year. There are plenty of places to get them these days. Homebrew shops, the Internet, friends, your Mom... ;-) If you were around last year, you know we grew hops for the first time. We planted four varieties of hops including Cascade, Chinook, Hallertau and Willamette. (would be nice to figure out which are which) They were planted late. The Cascade took off and yielded five ounces (green not dried) by the end of the summer. I used those hops when dry hopping an IPA which has yet to be kegged. It does taste good... been sneaking tastes from the carboy. I'm thinking it is the perfect beer to celebrate the first hop bine sprout poking through the earthy crust. So, what is in store for us this year? Maybe those bines will go nuts and cover our entire yards! We'll keep you up to date on their progress this year. Who know maybe we'll shoot another time-lapse video and take a few pictures of the harvest and drying. Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. For now I'll have to settle for kegging the IPA, sitting in the back yard and waiting....and waiting...and waiting. I hope I have enough beer ;-)

Beer Tasting: River Horse Tripel

The Beer: River Horse Tripel Horse
Style: Belgian-style Tripel
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. brown bottle; no evident date stamping on bottle

From where & how stored: Purchased as part of a variety case from Exton Beverage, stored at 42F since then

Pricing: $23.99 per variety case of 24

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 10% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- nice amber color
- one-finger head fades quickly
- a few stray floaties take up residence on the bottom

The Aroma:
- obvious sweetness
- faint spiciness
- touch of vanilla
- overall, though, not a big nose

The Taste:
- a bit of spiciness comes through as it warms
- bit of mild sweetness

The Verdict: this medium-bodied, slightly carbonated beer certainly does not offend. Though, it doesn't 'wow' me either. It's just a flat-out decent drinking beer, with a few interesting notes here and there, but that falls short when it comes to tripels.
Adam's Notes
The Look:
- amber orange
- no head to speak of
- not very carbonated

The Aroma:
- sweet malt nose
- very pleasant

The Taste:
- the taste is like the nose
- sweet and soft
- a bit thin
- some yeast bite or something
- bitter off taste in the finish

The Verdict: Would I buy a case of it? might be a cost thing. I like it, but, it isn't top of its class.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Beer...Robots...What's Next?

I suppose that I'm okay with some of these recent "inventions" so long as they're not drinking my beer...or spilling it. Has anyone seen other robot/beer contraptions? Anyone care?! Robot pours a beer Robot throws a beer

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Do you homebrew?

Looks like the homebrewers are winning this one.

- 71% hombrewed at least once
- 23% never homebrewed
- 4.8% assisted in some way

Only 21 votes in so far. Things could change. The poll is over on the right. Interesting, I thought it might be split down the middle between homebrewers and shall we say people who simply appreciate good beer. Hmmm...

Poll will be closed Friday so vote now!

East End Brewing, Pittsburgh, PA

This story is long overdue, but, too important to pass up.

It was a beautiful day if not a tad cold in "dahn-tahn" Pittsburgh, PA. I just got some great news and I was ready to go back to Southeastern, PA. Of course I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see what East End Brewing had to offer. Especially since it was Thursday and Scott opens up for growler hours from 5:00-7:00.

Now I used to live in Pittsburgh, but, it has been a long time and had no idea where this place was located. Google maps helped me out a bit and before I knew it I was looking at a very unassuming facade. Some might think, "this is it?". I was thinking, "This is IT!". Hey, I like informal places ;-) Two cars out front and uh...where's the front door?

Oh there it is. The one with the sticky note that says "Come on in!". Now that is informal. In a way I felt like I was at a dance club in Pittsburgh's Strip District or perhaps in Buffalo, NY. Basically it seemed like an old building that was re-purposed into industrial park like spaces. Not too different from Tom Baker's old place in Ocean, NJ.

Inside there's a long dark hallway leading back to the brewery. If you look at the picture on the front page of his website you'll see basically the same tanks, taps and well Scott Smith himself. I kinda milled around while he was talking to somebody and introduced myself as that guy from The Brew Lounge that emailed him and he asked what I might like to taste. There were five options that night. Fortunately I wrote them down.
All of them were very tasty. The Fat Gary is a solid session beer. The Witte needed a little more time to mellow out and lose a bit of the nose, but, it tasted great. The Big Hop was obviously for those of you our there who enjoy a ridiculous amount of hops. Don't miss it. I don't remember it being noticeably out of balance, but, I don't usually care about that anyway. Black Strap Stout is well just plain delicious. Reminded me somewhat of Perkuno's Hammer from Heavyweight. American Wheat #7 was delicious, if not a bit cold, but, hey its winter and the keg was on the concrete floor. Nice hit of hops with enough malt to keep it grounded.

Scott is definitely enthusiastic. I guess you have to be when you run a brewing business by yourself in a freezing cold warehouse atmosphere with concrete floors and icicles hanging from your nose...ok..ok, it wasn't that bad. Scott, does have some volunteers. The place is definitely charming in that manly kind of work your butt off way...heheh. Ever since Bryan brought East End to my attention and I checked out his site, I have been interested in meeting the one man machine behind the scenes.

My time was running short. I had over three hours to drive and as much as I wanted to stay, really need to get on the turnpike. So I asked Scott to pack up two bottles of The Ugly American and two of the 2006 Gratitude. One each for Bryan and I. I also took a growler of Fat Gary's Brown Ale. (after quick trip to a ATM I was all set)

What a truly great guy who brews very good beer. Pittsburgh is lucky to have a brewer like Scott. I hope to be back soon. In the meantime I'll have to find somebody to share those two big bombers with. Did I mention that all this beer is brewed in an environmentally sustainable way.

Thanks Scott. BTW, next time I'm coming in the summer!

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Slippery Slope and Those We Passed Along The Way

I believe, but can't speak for all of us, that we are fully recovered from The Bryson Sessions: Preamble on Saturday evening. No, this was not a scheduled event. Unfortunately, we did not make it to the Ortino's showing of the first installment of The Bryson Sessions on Sunday afternoon. See it happened like this... We shoulda seen it coming. It was all part of the proverbial slippery slope. Wrap up the work for the day and go to the Flying Pig "just for one or two" before we make dinner at home? HA! Well, I won't say we didn't have the right intention. Along with me for this little project were "the dead girl" and "the blonde." It all started with a guy named Pliny...the Younger, that is. Then, a guy named Bryson made himself known to us. (Enter stage left, the slippery slope.) An Old Stock (2004) from North Coast...another guy, this one named Lenny from Shmaltz...and a happy anniversary for Mr. Tod from Allagash. There was some other mysterious, but tasty, liquid in there too....and we're not even all the way down the slippery slope yet. So, after wild tales of things to remain untold, Mr. Bryson continued his wonderful county-hopping tour of the Philadelphia region and we went home for dinner. Though, the Allagash Curieux was on my mind that I just had to return for later. You think we're down the slippery slope yet? No way. What comes next on our way down the slippery slope? Well, a stop at the lodge half way down gave me some food from Mandarin and a St. Victorious from Victory. Then, it was back to the Flying Pig for round two with "the blonde" and a new batch of party people. I believe I've said enough. Oh, and one more thing...Let's just say the off-ing has been called off and is no longer in the offing. All's good again and Mrs. B can sleep well.

Beer Tasting: Lagunitas Brown Shugga

The Beer: Lagunitas Brown Shugga
Style: Strong Ale
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. brown bottle; no evident date stamping on bottle

From where & how stored: good question! it mysteriously showed up in my fridge; stored at 42F since purchase

Pricing: $x.xx

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 9.9% ABV; 1.100 OG; 51.1 IBU
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- a cloudy pour of brown, slightly auburn brew
- topped with a thin off-white head that drapes itself down the walls of the glass

The Aroma:
- easy to pick up the sweet, rich malty aroma

The Taste:
- moderately heavy, but smooth, mouthfeel of sweet, rich malty goodness (hm, sounds like the aroma dunnint?)
- slight tang of bitterness in the end to finish a good session (suprisingly low given the 51 BUs)

The Verdict: Don't listen to me because Beer Speaks, People Mumble (of course!) This decent beer was not as deep and rich as I recall last year's experience with the draft version.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Beer Calendar: What to do in April 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.

Sun. 3/25 - The Bryson Sessions - #1 @Ortino's, Zieglersville, PA (5pm; $40)
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)
Sun. 4/1 - The Brewer's Plate @Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia, PA (5pm-8pm; $50, general session; $100 VIP session)
Thu. 4/5 - Belhaven/Young's/Dekonick @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; pay as you go)
Fri. 4/6 - First Friday (Legacy) @TJ's Everyday, Paoli, PA (1pm-5pm; $30/$35 or $50 VIP)
Sat. 4/7 - Easter Hopfest @Union Jack's On The Manatawny, Boyertown, PA (12pm-???; pay as you go)
Sat. 4/7 - Split Thy Skull @Sugar Mom's, Philadelphia, PA (1pm-???; pay as you go)
Tue. 4/10 - New Belgium Beer Dinner @Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (7pm-10pm; $65)
Wed. 4/11 - Yards Dinner @New Wave Cafe, Philadelphia, PA
Fri. 4/13 - Friday the Firkinteenth @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (12pm-???; pay as you go)
Sat. 4/14 - Heavenly Beer: Celebrating the Monastic Brewing Tradition @Brickskeller, Washington, DC (1:00pm-4:30pm; $65/$82)
Sat. 4/14 - Great Brews From Around The World International Beer Festival @Split Rock Resort, Lake Harmony, PA (1pm-5pm; $20/$25)
Sun. 4/15 - Dogfish Head Fancy Brew Dinner-Slathered in Sauce @Dogfish Head, Rehoboth Beach, DE ($39)
Wed. 4/18 - The Elder, The Younger, And Much More @Capone's, East Norriton, PA (all day; pay as you go)
Thu. 4/19 - Thirsty Dog @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; pay as you go)
Fri. 4/20 - AHA National Homebrew Competition 1st Round Northeast Region @Home Sweet Homebrew, Philadelphia, PA ($8, members; $12, non-members)
Fri. 4/20 - Arrogant Bastards and Rainy Day Women @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (6pm-9pm; pay as you go)
Sat. 4/21 - The Breweries of Brewerytown & Vicinity @Yards, Philadelphia, PA (2:00pm-4:00pm; free)
Tue. 4/22 - Stephen Beaumont Dinner @Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (7pm-10pm; $65)
Fri. 4/27 - Friday Night Tasting (Lagunitas) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free)
Fri. 4/27 - Anniversary Beer Dinner @Stoudt's, Adamstown, PA (6pm-???; $65)
Sat. 4/28 - Birthday Beer Bash @Stoudt's, Adamstown, PA (7pm-11pm; $35)
Sat. 4/28 - Brew Fest Extravaganza @Manayunk Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA (12pm-4pm; $25/$35)
Sat. 4/28-Sun. 4/29 - TAP New York 07 Craft Brew & Fine Food Festival @Hunter Mountain, Hunter, NY (12pm-5pm; $45/$49)
Sat. 4/28 - San Francisco International Beer Festival @Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA (7pm-10pm; $55/$65)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 3/24/07

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 3/24/07
Mad River Steelhead Extra Pale Ale
Brasserie d'Achoufee N'ice Chouffe
Smuttynose Hanami Ale
Young's Winter Warmer
Wild Goose Snow Goose
Russian River Pliny the Younger
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine
Allagash Curieux (Jim Beam barrel-aged Tripel)
Dock Street Illuminator Doppelbock
Black Sheep Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale (cask) And, if the draft list doesn't offer you enough, try these bottles on for size...

Russian River Temptation
Allagash 11th Anniversary
Avery Mephistopheles
Avery The Beast
Green Flash West Coast IPA
Avery/Russian River Collaboration
Dogfish Head Midas Touch
Speakeasy Old Godfather
Stone Epic 06-06-06

Beer & Baseball - New York Yankees and Ruppert Beer; 21st Amendment too

Diving further into continuing research of my two favorite topics, baseball and beer, I discovered a little nugget regarding my favorite American League baseball team, the New York Yankees (let the tomato throwing commence). The Yankees were purchased in 1915 by brewing magnate Jacob Ruppert, commonly referred to as The Colonel. He was responsible for the "stealing" of Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox, the building of Yankee Stadium, and the assembling of what would become the most dominant and successful major sports franchise...anywhere...across all of further discussion. Further, he and his father were responsible for bringing Knickerbocker beer (and promoting German lager style) to the Yorkville neighborhood of New York City. Here's a bit more history of New York City's brewing history and Ruppert's role in it. A bit of research turns up that Southern Tier in New York does a beer called Ruppert's Dark; it's basically their porter recipe and they brew this beer for Ellicottville Brewing (attempting to confirm this with Phin at the brewery. Does anyone out there know for sure?) What reminded me of this topic? Well, a combination of the re-emergence of spring and the following e-mail from 21st Amendment in San Francisco, CA. Knowing that my friend, Dennis, was in Florida watching a spring training game last weekend and seeing this e-mail from Shaun O'Sullivan has whetted my appetite even more for Opening Day 2007. Hope springs eternal! Here's an excerpt from Shaun and Nico's e-mail. A "Session IPA"?...from the west coast?...and it's hop-filled? As Tony the Tiger would say, 'That's Grrrrreeeaat!' Click here for the full length version of the e-mail. Hey Gang, Baseball is right around the corner at the 21st Amendment and we are looking forward to another exciting year from the San Francisco Giants. February was an unbelievable month with Strong Beer Month. This was our fifth year of doing this with Magnolia Pub and Brewery and it just gets more popular every year. Both Shaun and Dave McLean, the owner and Brewmaster from Magnolia, have come up with another special event this November. So stay tuned....... Click here for the full length version of the e-mail. Hey! Wake up! Are you still with me? Sorry for the rambling nature. If any of you followed this, see me at the bar this weekend, and give me a summarized (coherent) version, I'll buy you a beer!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Polling all readers! Are you a home brewer?

Some like to taste it and some like to make it. Me? I like both. Look over there on the right. Now cast your vote. Are you a home brewer? We'll be running this poll for about a week.

Beer Tasting: Great Divide Hibernation Ale

The Beer: Great Divide Hibernation Ale [2005]
Style: American Strong Ale
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Awards: World Beer Cup (1998 Silver, Strong Ale); Great American Beer Festival (1997 Gold, Strong Ale; 2003 Silver, Strong Ale; 2006 Silver, Strong Ale)
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. brown bottle; notched as a 2005 bottling

From where & how stored: Received in trade with Eli at

Pricing: $x.xx

Availability: Winter seasonal (early winter availability)

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 8.1% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- pours softly with creamy thin head
- dark brown

The Aroma:
- rich toffee, caramel aroma, coffee too

The Taste:
- undertone of hop bitterness
- bit of figginess
- bittersweet chocolate
- smmmoooooth!

The Verdict: My impression of this was that is was very close to a barleywine comparison. Similar to an Old Stock Ale, but with more noticeable hops. Do they age this in a scotch whiskey barrel?...if so, I bet it would be awesome! Thanks, Eli...great trade!
Adam's Notes
The Look:
- cloudy dark brown oak
- lotsa sediment
- no head despite aggressive pour

The Aroma:
- sweet malty nose like a specialty bread

The Taste:
- this one is complex
- malt at first, but, not too much before the array of hops flavors take over
- almost grassy
- bitter finish like a German Alt

The Verdict: From Sweet nose to less sweet taste up front giving way to more malt in the middle. The finish is definitely a slightly bitter tang. There was a different hops profile with each taste. You'll want to buy two, just so you can ponder this truly special winter brew. As a homebrewer I would like to try something like this.

I just read Bryan's notes. That reminds me. Eli, can you send us more? ;-)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Heavyweight've heard...right?

By now, this bit of good news has surely reached your inbox, right? If not, New York, Northern Jersey, and Connecticut are rejoicing while Pennsylvanians are saving their gas money for road trips to Nyack. Welcome back, Tom & Peggy!

Poll: Session vs. Extreme Beer Wrapup

A few weeks ago we polled our readers with this question.

Would you rather drink a session beer or an extreme beer?

The options were session beer, extreme beer or other. About fourty five votes were cast and to the left you can see that extreme beer received fourty two percent, session beer received thirty six percent and "other" received twenty seven percent of the votes.

What does this tell us. Considering a few people had some questions about the actual definition of the terms extreme and session, I'm not really sure. There is no definitive "winner" here. I would interpret it as an indication that we are interested in this topic, but, we're still exploring the idea of what these beer types are.

Anybody wanna offer up their definitions. Here are mine.

A session beer is a beer that is lower in alcohol and doesn't shred your palate.
(highly technical term I assure you)

An extreme beer is a beer with more alcohol and/or shreds your palate.
Why do I care? I like the idea of a beer that still tastes good even after having a few. I don't think brewers have really explored this area enough. Also, the alcohol is obviously a big part of why many people like beer, but, low alchohol beer is easier to cope with in general.

Disagree? Agree? What's your definition in 100 words or less?

Our next poll is just around the corner.

Beer Tasting: 't Smisje Calva Reserva

The Beer: 't Smisje Calva Reserva
Style: Belgian Quadrupel
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 11.2 oz. brown bottle; no evident bottle stamping

From where & how stored: Gifted by good beer buddy, Dell

Pricing: $x.xx

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 12% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- murky brown
- off white head that fades quickly

The Aroma:
- big malt, bit of alcohol, brown sugar (shugga?!)...very appealing aroma
- figgy, burnt chocolate

The Taste:
- figgy, burnt chocolate
- bit of earthy woodiness
- dried fruit
- nice bitterness tang in the ending

The Verdict: This was a nice drinking quad, albeit slightly on the thinner side of quads than I'm used to. It had nice flavor and was a deceptive 12% ABV.
Adam's Notes
The Look:
- opened the bottle and let it sit while I was doing something
- bubbles came to the top of the bottle
- light murky tan

The Aroma:
- figgy yeasty nose
- not overly sweet

The Taste:
- liquid bread
- slightly sour sweet, but just barely sour
- more like sour dough
- alcohol is there, but, not distracting
- slight figgy taste, but, nothing overpowering

The Verdict: Liquid bread, do I need to say anything else? This reminds me how different one beer can be from another. Just when I thought I was in love with crazy stuff like Hop Slam, something like this comes along and reminds me there's more to life than hops balanced with malt. Oh...the agony. ;-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Beer Tasting: Weyerbacher Winter Ale

The Beer: Weyerbacher Winter Ale Style: Winter Warmer Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. brown bottle; no date stamp From where & how stored: Exton Beverage warm and then my fridge Pricing: $26.99 per case of 24 Availability: Winter seasonal ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 5.6% ABV -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bryan's Notes The Look: - Dark ale; gives off a dark reddish-brown glow - tight one-finger tan colored head - ring of swirly lace hangs around for the duration The Aroma: - a pleasant, rich aroma - burnt, roasty notes - tiny bit of sweetness The Taste: - the flavor isn't as deep and complex as the nose was leading me to believe it might be - medium carbonation - slight off-bitterness in the finish - a bit thinner than I would have preferred for a "winter ale/warmer" The Verdict: Nice drinking, but hard for me to pick anything, other than the aroma, that I thought was memorable. Could drink a second one, but that would be enough. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Adam's Notes The Look: - almost porter like dark brown - I could still see through it in a pint glass The Aroma: - smells kinda nutty and slightly sweet - roasted grain is present The Taste: - reminds me of a brown ale with more roasty grain - kinda like the spruce with no spruce and extra roastiness - slight peppery taste up front - light sweet lingering aftertaste The Verdict: Well I bought a case of it. Not bad for a standard winter ale to have around, but, I probably won't buy a case again.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Proverbs can be useful things...

I read this somewhere recently. Where I don't quite remember, but I like it...a purported German proverb. Perhaps not a beer proverb, but nonetheless, I'm off to get a beer this instant. Here's to long life... "To live long, eat like a cat, drink like a dog."

Beer Tasting: Maredsous 10

The Beer: Maredsous (Duvel Moortgat) 10
Style: Belgian Tripel
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 11.2 oz (330 ml) brown bottle; "Use best before 07/2009"

From where & how stored: Purchased from The Foodery and stored at 50F since then

Pricing: $4.75 per bottle

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 10% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- slightly cloudy golden ale
- airy, frothy, creamy 2-inch head sits perfectly atop the beer
- the head drapes itself all over the walls of the glass as its drunk
- the perfect pour and presentation? quite possibly

The Aroma:
- bit of citrus, bit of peppery spice, bit of tartness

The Taste:
- bit of citrus, bit of peppery spice, bit of tartness (hey, did I say that already?)
- flavors present themselves nicely, and drinks fairly easy despite the ABV level
- pleasant sweetness, though not cloying, lingers nicely

The Verdict: Nice and enjoyable beer. Not as "triple-ish" as I might expect, but this is a good drinking beer with flavors that match the aroma. The Pranqster from North Coast and Lunacy from Heavyweight taste very similar to me. (That's a very good thing!)
Adam's Notes
The Look:
- beautiful golden color
- stream of bubbles from the bottom of the glass
- nice 1 inch head and dissipates down to 1/4 inch head

The Aroma:
- bready sweet nose

The Taste:
- a bit spicy
- citrussy
- delicate apricot
- some alcohol

The Verdict: I'll wait until it warms a bit. Warmer is better. More bready apricot goodness. I would seek this out again. Solid choice for a belgian triple.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Reunion Beer reunites brewers for a great cause

Former colleagues from Pete's Brewing got brewing together again in order to raise money for Myeloma and Bone Cancer research. They teamed up with Bison Brewing in order to do this self-described Imperial Brown Ale. I first heard of this from an interview with Alan Shapiro (SBS-Imports) over at Pacific Brew News. I don't see this Reunion Beer being distributed nearby, so I might place an order with Liquid Solutions. Give a new beer a try and contribute to a worthwhile cause?! Reunion is a collaborative beer created by Pete Slosberg & Dan Del Grande and inspired by Pete's original recipe. It is brewed with 6 different organic malts, 3 different hops and dry-hopped. It is 7.5% alcohol by volume. Reunion will be available at leading specialty beer retailers and many Kimpton hotels in the western United States.

Beer Tasting: Yards Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce

The Beer: Yards' Brewing Company Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce Ale
Style: Spiced Ale
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz bottle with no date stamp

From where & how stored: Purchased cold from Ron's Original Bar & Grille. In my fridge ever since.

Pricing: $2.50 per bottle (at The Foodery)

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 5% ABV, according to the bottle (4.5% according to their website)
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- brown, cola-like colored liquid
- decent, lumpy head hangs around for a while
- the cobalt blue bottle is an alluring conversation point

The Aroma:
- slight hoppiness to the aroma
- slight maltiness also
- suppose that makes the aroma slight, and not memorable

The Taste:
- the spruce comes through in just a subtle way
- a bit of sweetness as well, molasses perhaps?
- medium weight to the mouthfeel

The Verdict: Unlike previous experiences with this beer, the spruce came across as a bit "dead" as opposed to the fresh, sappy, live-from-the-tree spruce flavor that I've noticed before. I couldn't determine what may have contributed to this. But, in the end, not a bad experience. Would try again. (As I did with the draft version at White Dog Cafe.)
Adam's Notes
The Look:
- nice blue bottle
- something about that is cool :-)
- darker than an amber, more brown
- head is fairly small, but, nice thing carpet while drinking

The Aroma:
- mmmm...lightly sweet nose

The Taste:
- the taste follows with that same lightly sweetness
- that gives way to a tinge of something that must be the spruce
- clean brown ale with a little zip, but, oh so subtle

The Verdict: I need help understanding this. I've tried it a few times. I like it. It isn't hugely spruce. It is a clean brown ale with a little extra something. It's a keeper. ;-) Makes me wonder what the original tasted like. Hmmmm...I guess Ben Franklin took that to his grave. I'm happy he left his recipe behind.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 3/17/07

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 3/17/07
Bell's HopSlam
Castle Brewery Eggenberg Samichlaus
Stoudts Fat Dog Stout
Mad River Jamaican Red (cask)
Yards IPA
Brasserie d'Achoufee N'ice Chouffe
Smuttynose Hanami Ale
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Young's Winter Warmer
Wild Goose Snow Goose

Beer Tasting: Middle Ages Kilt Tilter Scotch Style Ale

The Beer: Middle Ages Kilt Tilter
Style: Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 22 oz. brown bottle; no evident date stamping

From where & how stored: Obtained via holiday beer exchange and stored at 52F since then

Pricing: $x.xx

Availability: Winter seasonal

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 9% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- dark brown, with slight reddish hue
- decent off-white smooth and creamy head that holds up for quite a while
- easy to stir up again

The Aroma:
- pleasantly sweet nutty aroma
- light bready aromas too

The Taste:
- more bitter tasting upfront than would've originally thought
- more like a brown ale than scotch?
- missing some richer, peatier flavors that I might have expected
- the bitterness lingers

The Verdict: As it warms, definitely improves with richer malt and alcohol flavors coming through. This was a decent drinking beer that is worth sharing.
Adam's Notes
The Look:
- amber red hue
- clear

The Aroma:
- sweet malty nose

The Taste:
- dry and lotsa carbonation
- not really that sweet
- Scotch ale hmmm..dunno about that

The Verdict: Clean and straight forward. Not something I would turn down, but, not something I would buy again

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Mother of all PA Beer Road Trips!

Ok Ok if you tried really hard you might be able to do better, but, what a PA beer road trip. Check out Nate's blog. Nate's Beer Trip Nate, do you need help drinking those growlers? ;-)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Cheers to Beer Advocate!

If you need any reason to raise a glass this weekend in honor of the better beer movement, here's one. Congratulations to Jason, Todd, and the Beer Advocate Community.

Beer Tasting: Czechvar Premium Czech Lager

The Beer: Czechvar (Budvar) Premium Czech Lager
Style: Czech Pilsener
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. green bottle; Date stamp of "Enjoy by 07-06" (oops!)

From where & how stored: I've had this so long, I forget where I purchased it. Probably Total Wine in Claymont, DE. Stored at 42F since then.

Pricing: $x.xx

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: N/A
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- one-finger of fluffy white head
- pale golden, very clean looking beer

The Aroma:
- not much noticeable aroma (base malts)

The Taste:
- very clean, crisp taste, but no edges
- slight hint of soft caramel
- easy drinking, mild carbonation
- not much aftertaste

The Verdict: This is just an easy drinking non-offensive session beer. While there's not much memorable about it, I wouldn't refuse it if it was presented to me with no other options.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Blind Tiger Ale House in New York, NY re-opens today!

Make no mistake about it, "game on" at Blind Tiger Ale House in the Village just a hop, skip, and a jump from the "1" and "2" lines at Christopher Street stop. Here's a peek at the tap list, set to pour at 4pm today. Welcome back! DRAUGHT Sly Fox Irish Stout Aventinus Clipper City Loose Cannon Triple IPA Brooklyn Smoked Dunkel Victory Prima Pils Chimay Bayrischer Bahnhof's Berliner Weisse Ommegang Witte Smuttynose Hanami Stone Arrogant Bastard Stoudt's Double Blonde Maibock Magic Hat #9 Southampton Imperial Porter Goose Island Matilda Doc's Cider Sixpoint Gemini Rogue Brutal Bitter Blue Point No Apologies Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball Sierra Nevada Celebration Duchesse De Bourgone Brooklyner Weiss Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter Dale's Pale Ale Heavyweight Lunacy Brooklyn IPA Dogfish Head 90 Min. Guinness CASK Sixpoint Bengali Tiger IPA Defiance Pale Ale GRAVITY KEG Thomas Hooker IPA

Monk's Beer Dinner 3/13/07: Brooklyn Brewery

"You are being lied to." That was one of the first things we heard from Garrett Oliver at last night's dinner pairing of Brooklyn Brewery's beers and Adam Glickman's food at Monk's Cafe. How's that? Well, you know the package of bread on the shelf at the grocery store is not really a loaf of bread, right? What is it? Well, you really don't want to know, though Garrett was kind enough to share with us. With these types of comments to kick things off, Garrett set the stage for a night of discussing better beer and better food...working with real ingredients, creating real food and real beer with passion. (He's good at that, isn't he?)

Adding to the buzz of the evening was the presence of Sir Michael Jackson (they may not have bestowed that title upon him yet over on that side of the pond, but I figure it sounds good). Other local beer fans and "celebrities" were in the house to welcome Garrett and the Brooklyn crew.

Now that you know the theme of the night, it's off to the beer and food. Things could not have started off any better than with a glass of the 2005 Brooklyn Saison. As some of you know if you pay me any attention (not sure why you would, though you may just be humoring me), the Saison style is one of my favorites. I believe that it's one the most food pairing-worthy styles out there. Paired with virtually any type of food enhances the flavors of both the food and the beer in ways that must be experienced to be described. This 2005 version was just perfect, so perfect I had another :) In fact, I saved some of this second glass to go with the second course listed below to create an excellent pairing that apparently was never meant to be.

As the "pre-game pleasantries" were quieting down, guests found their tables and George Hummel got things started in typical fashion. The dinner was in full swing with Garrett moderating each course as only he can do. There are hints of MJ-style to his thoughts and observations that he shares with those that will listen. I find Garrett's approach to beer storytelling more engaging than typical tasting notes. Frankly, I don't need to hear someone telling me about how they taste apricots, wheat, citrus, or coffee as much as I really want to hear some of the side stories that complete the beer experience. Taste is such a personal thing that some guiding may be nice, but it's the stories of Garrett travelling the world, tinkering in Brooklyn, and providing insights to the beer and food world that captivates me. What he has done in his career are things that I will likely never experience and helps provide a deeper, richer context in which to enjoy my own beer corner of the universe.

And, for those that won't listen (shame on you!), he is not bashful about making an example of them in front of the entire he did on more than one occasion. Sidebar: seriously folks, are his stories really not that interesting to you that you need to conduct amplified conversations and disrupt the enjoyment of others around you? Eh, I'm probably preaching to the choir here, as I bet those that I speak of most likely are not reading this.

Okay, back down off my soapbox...

The buche sure amused my palate with scrumptious little dollops of smoked salmon mousse in a pastry crust. I wasn't too keen on the pairing with the Cuvee d'Achouffe as I thought the salmon overpowered the beer. But, alone, each was excellent.

The next course presented, in my opinion, the best pairing of the night. You may recall my rave reviews on the newly-released Local 1 from Brooklyn. It's starting to become available in some immediate markets around NYC and beyond, but not yet in the Philly metro area. I've had it two times (now, make that three) and I'm still convinced that this will be in my top 10 beers of 2007. Reading the product notes, it's interesting to see (and hear Garrett describe during the course) how they refuse to be nailed down on a defined style for this beer. Though, many seemed to agree that it's something of a "super saison" or "strong saison" (dare I say imperial saison?....nah, I won't say it). Then, take this smooth, spicy, fruit-full beer and add some simply done rainbow trout and there's a wonderful wonderful [sic] gastronomical pairing.

The next two courses included stuffed quail and pork loin with chipotle. Judging from plates around the room, the quail received a tepid response. Though, the pork loin (all 3 pieces of it!) lightly doused with chipotle, was another clear winner especially being paired with the brown ale. Was it the way the pork was done that helped bring out some deeper elements of the brown ale? I don't know, but I was picking up enticingly burnt, roasted, even slightly smoked flavors in this solid brown ale. This combination worked very well.

The next course of duck and Weissbock was also quite good. How tender was the duck? I can't begin to describe, but this was also nicely done (getting tired of hearing this yet?). Though, I was struck by how the weissbock did not remind me of my last two run-ins with it. Even though Garrett admitted that they felt it came up shorter on the smokiness scale than they expected, I seemed to recall hints of it previously that I did not notice during this dinner. Perhaps the chipotle smoke overpowered it? In any case, still a very good pairing.

And, would a Monk's dinner be complete without a grand finale of oohs and aahs surrounding the dessert course? There have been many before, but how can this one possibly compare, even by just simply reading the description? The Black Chocolate Stout from Brooklyn paired with a Chocolate Coffee've got to be kidding me. Truly, it stands alone in a class of its own. I had my eye on this course from the second we sat down, and I sure was not disappointed. The deep, rich, and bitter flavors of the stout against the, uh, rich and bitter flavors of the cheesecake had us all polishing off this course in record time!

With the late start and the drawn-out good times of the evening, there was no way we were catching the 10:15 train. So, I settled in with a De Ranke XX Bitter from Wevelgem, Belgium. I needed to try one and once again, not disappointed! A perfect "nightcap" as we hung around for another 45 minutes chatting with whomever was left after the dinner and took the opportunity for some additional group pictures.

The last chapter to this long evening story included a train ride home with the esteemed, respected, and almost venerable Mr. Curtin. We're anxious to hear Jack describe his version of the story... (though, some aren't so anxious!)

Until next time....New Belgium, I believe that is....considered yourself warned :)

Brooklyn Saison [2005] (draft)

1st Course
Brooklyn Cuvee D'Achouffe (draft)
- Amuse (smoked salmon mousse with a hint of framboise)

2nd Course
Brooklyn Local 1 (bottle)
- Pan Seared Rainbow Trout with local baby cilantro

3rd Course
Brooklyn East India Pale Ale (draft)
- Thai Glazed Quail with spring roll stuffing

4th Course
Brooklyn Brown Ale (draft)
- Smoked Pork Loin with chipotle sauce

5th Course
Brooklyn Smoked Weissbock (draft)
- Roast Duck with cherry sauce

6th Course
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
- Chocolate Coffee Cheesecake

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Beer Tasting: Firestone Lager

The Beer: Firestone Walker Lager
Style: Lager
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. brown bottle; no evident date stamp

From where & how stored: Purchased from Gourmet Wine & Spirits in Los Angeles, CA, flown home, and stored at 48F since then

Pricing: $7.50 per six-pack

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 4.2% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- 2-finger white shaving cream head
- hangs around for quite a while and serious lacing
- pale golden, very clean looking beer

The Aroma:
- has a very soft, light powdery aroma

The Taste:
- soft, smooth mouthfeel; a bit creamy
- moderate carbonation; bit of citrus hops come through

The Verdict: A decent, smoothed out lager that, while I may not actively search it out, I would certainly not turn it away. Easy drinking with an interesting enough profile to make it enjoyable.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

General Tasting Session at UPenn: Extreme Beers 3/10/07

Click Here for notes from the Michael Jackson Tutored Tasting portion of the event.

Part II - The General Tasting Session
at University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology
3/10/07; 1pm session

Extreme Beers was the theme. And, in terms of extreme, hops appeared to rule the day as most brewers brought at least one highly hopped beer. Over 130 different beers represented over 50 breweries.

Extreme ambiance was the order of the day as well. Well, maybe not extreme, but certainly pleasing and comfortable under the large rotunda. The museum at Penn sure is a fitting venue for this age-old beverage that we all enjoy. And, perhaps even more fitting for the Midas Touch that Dogfish Head rolled out! There must have been something, too, about the circular setup of the brewers around the rotunda, because although the attendees filled the area, there was rarely a wait of more than one or two people to get even the most sought-after beers and the traffic continued to flow nicely around the rotunda throughout the session.

I circled 30 different ones on the list that I was interested in trying. My intention typically is to only try beers that I've never tried before. My discipline ran out when I got to the Stewart's table. When faced with a great beer like the bourbon barleywine from these unfairly underecognized folks in Bear, Delaware, well let's just say I did what I had to do.

In the end, I knocked off 15 of the original 30 that I circled, and then fell into 7 others. How can I complain? All in all, the positive beer karma flowed thick and fast on this festival day. (I hope that for the later sessions, they enjoyed the same reaction.) The people were great...from Bruce Nichols the event planner and director, to the brewers, to the MCs (Michael and Sam), to the volunteers, staff, attendees, and beer cognoscenti. I had so many great interactions with folks from each of these groups and left feeling very upbeat that with these kind of events, Philly Beer Week 2008 will be a great showcase to tell the world what a great beer region this is (if they didn't already know).

So, for the beers...There was not a single dog in the bunch. But, for the sake of declaring some winners from the day, here are the top 5 beers that I'd never had before these tastings. As you might be able to tell, Rogue ruled the day for me as the best lineup of represented beers. They had 4 interesting harder-to-find of their beers, the JLS YSB was the fourth (I've had it on draft and skipped it on this day).

Dogfish Head Red & White
Ommegang Ommegeddon
Rogue Brewer
Southampton Publick House Abbot 12
Weyerbacher Blasphemy

Honorable Mention
Monk's Cafe Cantillon Gueuze
Rogue Brew 10000
Rogue Imperial Pilsner

The Rest of my Log
Allagash White
Allagash Tripel
Brugse Zot
Bethlehem Brew Works Cassis
Bethlehem Brew Works Blast Furnace Imperial Stout
Blue Point No Apologies
Dock Street Illuminator Bock
Flying Fish Imperial Espresso Porter
Great Divide Titan IPA
Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout
Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale
Orval Trappist Ale
Stewart's Bourbon Barleywine
Unibroue 16

And, then who was on hand to bring the festivities to an end? Well, it was none other then the esteemed (I was going to say venerable, and mean it with all due respect, but I thought given the archaeology museum that the term may be taken out of context ;-) Jack Curtin.

Click Here for notes from the Michael Jackson Tutored Tasting portion of the event.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Michael Jackson Tutored Tasting at UPenn: Extreme Beer 3/10/07

Click Here for the General Tasting Session of the event

Part I - The Michael Jackson Tutored Tasting
at University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology
3/10/07; 1pm session

Saturday was a beautiful day to be outdoors in Philadelphia, but the University of Pennsylvania had something even better happening inside. We were pleased to attend their Michael Jackson tasting event, finally, for the first time. The event is organized so that the first 45-60 minutes is a "tutored" tasting with Mr. Jackson himself (co-anchored this year by Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head) and the last 2 hours is an open tasting session with approximately 50 breweries pouring their creations.

Adam will write about his own reactions, so I'll speak only for myself here. Overall, I could not have had a more pleasant afternoon, beginning with a flawless train ride into the city. I was attending a wedding in Center City Philadelphia later in the evening, so the logistics all worked out quite nicely. The event at UPenn, in my mind, only got better as the afternoon went along.

The tasting session was great in concept, but I was a bit disappointed in my inability to hear at some points, as the crowd apparently grew weary of the MJ stories and raised the noise level. Call me crazy, but regardless of the point of the story, I was there to hear the tutoring, not for the joys of hearing other's table conversations. Don't get me wrong, I'm not bent out of shape, but it was more than a bit annoying.

As for the beers, it was a nice selection with a few sure-fire winners in there, but I was a bit surprised at the serving size. To split some of these eight ways would have been difficult. We were fortunate based on the number of people sitting around us to only have to split them 5 ways. With the general session ahead of us, we obviously didn't need to get tanked on the MJ tasting session, but a few more sips would have been nice, especially since they were not all available in the general session.

I'm not even sure why I'm going to take a run here at ranking the beers that we all tasted together with MJ, since they are very unique and hard to compare side-by-side. But, just from my personal preference perspective, here's an ordering of how I enjoyed the eight beers. And, you know what? Allagash and Old Ho are at the bottom of the list more a result of being impressed with some of the new brews (to me) above them in the list that wowed me. But, as you know Allagash and Victory make the head of the class on any given day. Certainly, not an insult to them.

Dogfish Head Red & White - Wit beer aged in Pinot Noir barrels; very, very nicely done and little short-term aging shouldn't hurt the beer
Brasserie Artisanale Dieu du Ciel Peche Mortal - one of the most wonderfully bitter, sweet, rich delicious stouts I've ever had, period.
Iron Hill Cassis - if you can get by the barnyard funkety-funk, I think you'll agree that this is one heck of a phenomenal beer; not for everyone, but that just means more for me!
Avery/Russian River Collaboration, Not Litigation - mixing of sweetness and spiciness that I want to explore more with a few bottles that I must pick up for home consumption
Port Brewing Hop 15 Double IPA - just what you'd expect from a west coast IPA big boy....and then some
Nodding Head George's Fault - in my opinion, a better version of this honey-infused beer than what I had on tap at the pub last year; did aging treat it well or is it a different recipe?
Allagash White - a great wheat that sets the bar very high for American versions of the Belgian Wits
Victory Old Horizontal - seemed to be missing some of the "big richness" and bitterness that I'm used to with this perennial favorite; maybe it had been poured too long prior to the event?

Click Here for the General Tasting Session of the event

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Philly Beer Week 2008

Allow us to catch you up-to-date in case you've taken a hiatus from beer this past weekend (and, if so, what were you thinking?!) The Olympics of Beer (I think that's my title, given the wide stretch of events across the region) has been announced. After weeks of speculation, the news was broken by Bruce Nichols at the Michael Jackson Tutored Beer Tasting at UPenn yesterday. We were fortunate to have been in attendance for this fantastic news. Later the news ran rampant across the wire. Here are few places where you can get more info. As things continue to develop over the next year, you can be sure that we'll have the information up-to-date for you here. Lew Bryson Jack Curtin Beer Yard Beer Advocate

Blind Tiger Ale House Opening Date - 3/15/07 (4pm)

From their e-mail on 3/10: Dear Blind Tigerites: I know it looks like we screwed up our application and pissed off the neighborhood, just so we could get our beer and wine license in time for our 11th anniversary on March 15th. But believe me, it was pure luck. Yes, it's true. The Blind Tiger is rising again. I can't really believe it myself. We had just heard our license wouldn't be granted until the Mets won the world series, so we were very surprised when our lawyer called with the good news. The draught system is going in, we just ordered fifty kegs and I don't know how many cases, Louise is firing up the kitchen, and Carl Uhlman is flying back from Hawaii, having had to cut his vacation short. So on Thursday, sometime after 4 pm, if you get a chance, stop by and raise a beer for the new Tiger. She was a long time coming, but she's finally back. And hopefully better than ever. I want to thank all of you for your support during some very difficult times. Your emails and best wishes kept us going. I can honestly say we wouldn't have made it without you. As far as I'm concerned, it was never the beer that made the Blind Tiger special; it was always the Tigerites. I can't wait to see everyone coming through our doors again. On Thursday, at 4 pm, when I'm standing there with a beer in my hand, surrounded by the friends I've made over the past 11 years, it will all have been worth it. Until then, get plenty of rest... Dave PS Our hours will be 4pm to 4am, seven days a week, until we get our staff together. Down the road, we'll be open for breakfast and lunch. We'll keep you informed. PPS On Weds we'll post our opening beer list, which should be pretty good...

Friday, March 09, 2007

Did your grandfather make beer? Mine did.

So I'm here reflecting on the past few days over a Fat Gary Nut Brown Ale from East End Brewing. I'm thinking of some family health issues, time with my dad and my uncle and aunt and work stuff. What does it all mean? Hard to say I guess. On one hand there's the bad stuff. You know mortality, that thing we seldom think about. Then there's today and the way life can serve up something unexpected and good. Oh right, beer...what does this have to do with beer? I recently spent time with my family. I've spoken with my Dad about beer often. Heck we brewed our first batch together. I've written about that experience on this blog before back in 2005. It wasn't really his thing, he'd rather make wine, but, he told me about how his father brewed beer. He knows the kids helped bottle it and that there was a raisin in each bottle. Over the last few days I found out that my uncle who is a bit older remembered a bit more. While I spent a few days with him he shared his memories with me. I asked him, "What was this beer like?" Well it was dark or perhaps amber. It was made from malt that came from a can. Hops were dryed in the attic. My uncle remembered a conversation he had with my grandfather in their attic.
"What's that Dad?" "That's hops for making beer."
Now we're talking. So did he grow them? Did somebody else grow them? Did he buy them? What did it taste like? My uncle said he remembered it as being somewhat sweet and dark. Well there you go. Now I'm hooked. What was the recipe? Who might have it? Was it in his head or did he write it down? So here is what I know.
  • dark or amber color
  • raisin in each bottle
  • cake yeast
  • hops drying in the attic
  • brewed/fermented in a large crock
  • started it in the kitchen
  • finished in the cellar
  • brewed for the 4th of July celebration
  • kids helped bottle it
  • kids washed the bottles
All of a sudden I have a new mission. What was his recipe? Could I approximate it? Wouldn't it be fun to brew it again and take it to the 4th of July celebration? Anybody out there have an idea of what a typical recipe for beer would be like 60 years ago in rural Western, PA?