Monday, April 30, 2007

Belgium Comes to Cooperstown 2007 (Ommegang's "Smaller is Better" event)

I don't know about you, but after reading Ommegang's "new rules" for this year's Belgium Comes To Cooperstown event in Cooperstown, NY, I'm even more stoked than I was before the announcement was made. What am I talking about? Well, tickets are on sale, and you better take action if you want a piece of the, uh, action. Sales will be strictly limited this year, with the VIP tickets likely to be the hottest buy. Go check out the details and come back to finish up. Done? Now see? Am I right or am I right? If you took the time to read the details, just think about it...I don't believe they're wrong. It is a good deal. Weekend camping on the premises, Friday night dinner, Saturday afternoon festival, brewery tour, bottle of Ommegeddon and accompanying glassware, and probably some other goodies that I'm leaving out. All this in a more controlled, less overcrowded environment for enjoying some of the best and hardest to find beer out there, especially from Belgium. Don't you just love their title? Smaller, in this case, is indeed better! So, as you can tell, my suggestion is to make a weekend of it. Get the VIP tickets while they last. If you go up on Friday morning, you might be able to spend some time at the Baseball Hall of Fame, approximately 5 miles away in downtown Cooperstown. Oh, and by the way, if there's any doubt that this is one of this country's top beer events of the year, check out our material from last year's installment. Have any questions? Feel free to drop a comment to us below....or an email to

Growing Hops: Four and a half feet tall!

Well, what do we have here? Could it be some Chinook hops bines? The Chinook and the Cascade
are by far the fastest growing.

What about the Willamette and Hallertau? Well they seem to be getting a slower start. I supposed that isn't a surprise to some of you. I have heard it is harder to grow them.

What is it about the Hallertau and Willamette plants that is making them grow more slowly? Anybody want to chime in?

We want your input at TBL.

Take our poll over there on the right. Pick your favorite type of content ---> Read more... Cheers!

Beer Dates in History: May Anniversaries

140 years Leinenkugel's 10 years Troegs Appalachian Brewing

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tap List at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA - 4/28/07

The Drafting Room in Exton, PA has a decent web presence and quite a huge reputation proceeding them. Their beer turns over quite quickly. So, in the spirit of service, whenever we get to The Drafting Room, we'll post the current tap list.

What's on line as of 4/28/07? Funny you should ask.

Blue Point Sour Cherry Imperial Stout
Lancaster Brewing Dunkle Weizen
Unibroue Maudite
Sly Fox Helles Bock
Sly Fox Galena
North Coast Pranqster
Ommegang Rare Vos
Rogue Latona 20th Anniversary (John's Locker Stock)
Oskar Blues Gordon
Smuttynose IPA

Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 4/28/07

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 4/28/07
Avery/Russian River Collaboration
Flying Dog Doggie Style Pale Ale
Flying Dog Horn Dog
Wychwood Hobgoblin (cask-conditioned)
Brouwerij De Regenboog 't Smisje Tripel
Stoudt's Double Blonde Maibock
Victory St. Boisterous
Victory Hop Wallop
Troegs Nugget Nectar
Weyerbacher Prophecy

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Brewing Beer: Last minute brewing...

If there is one thing I am an authority on, it is last minute brewing. For years I would think, hmmm maybe I should brew today. Usually it was Sunday or some other time when the homebrew store was closed. This time I'm lucky. Thanks to Bryan I have ingredients and I'll be able to brew tonight. While visiting Bethlehem Brew Works he stopped by the homebrew shop nearby and picked up; 4 cans of malt extract, some DME, 4 oz of cascade hops pellets, a couple liquid yeast packs. I also have various random packages of hops pellets in the fridge. I'm all set. Oops, I forgot the grains. Oh well, this one will be without steeping grains. I still had some yeast harvested from the last batch of California IPA. I have a starter of that in the works. I also have the German ale smack pack. I guess I should think about my recipe now. I will be brewing with the German ale yeast by 8:00 PM. What can I say? I'm a last minute kinda guy. As long as I stockpile some ingredients that isn't a problem.

Brewing Beer: That's it! I'm brewing tonight.

I've been thinking of brewing more often. Heck I thought that I might even come up with a schedule to help keep me on track. Not that I'm good at schedules. I don't even know what I'm brewing, but, I have some ingredients and I have some time. Gotta get my starter goin'. Then I'll have no choice.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Green Hopped California IPA - Collection of Posts

I collected all the posts about the Green Hopped California IPA into one post. The only thing I don't have here is a recipe. When I find it I'll add it. Each of the posts has a link to the next. Enjoy! - 10/19/2006 Harvesting the Cascade Hops - 11/7/2006 Making a Yeast Starter - 11/9/2006 California IPA Fermentation Video - 11/9/2006 Time Lapse of Primary Fermentation - 11/21/2006 Green Hops in the Secondary - 4/22/2007 Kegging the Green Hopped California IPA

Survey-We Want Your Input

What have the last 20 months meant to us here at The Brew Lounge? Well, if you missed anything, there's a recap further down. Here's what we'd like to know from you. Please use one or both ways to communicate to us. Either use the quick poll on the right side of this page, or scroll down to type a response into the comment section. What are we doing right? What would you like to see more of? Less of? Does the format of the site make it easy to find what you're looking for? Are you only watching our most recent posts or do you search the archives looking for specific pieces of information? What niche in the craft beer and homebrewing industries do you think needs to be better explored and covered? We always want to make sure that we're providing you with the content that serves you the best and in a format that makes the best use of your time. Let us know...In other words, help us to help you! 120+ beer tastings & reviews 100+ establishment reviews 50+ articles about growing hops and homebrewing 25+ reviews of beer-related events and festivals New Brewpub construction/opening updates A monthly calendar of events Topic of the Week discussions

Get Stoned at Tria Cafe in Philadelphia, PA

This was certainly a nice way to begin my Friday morning. This e-mail came through from Tria Cafe, host to great beer, food, and tasting events in Philadelphia. Looks like they're gonna get a jump start on Monk's Cafe Stone event later in May with their own here on this coming Monday night (4/30). ======================================================================= Hopheads Rejoice! Get "Stoned" on Monday at Tria. An all-night celebration of the Stone Brewing Co.'s hopalicous ales with head brewer, Mitch Steele. The Details The Stone Brewing Co. of Escondido, California, is the poster child of bold, brash, hoppy American ales. Think super, funky, gnarly West Coast hoppage. This coming Monday, Stone's head brewer, Mitch Steele, will teach a sold-out class at Tria's Fermentation School. But we will be getting (legally) Stoned at Tria all night long. Join us from 4:00pm to close and enjoy six Stone selections, including a few not-for-PA treats. At 9:00pm Mitch will join us to tap the evening's seventh beer, a Double Dry-Hopped IPA, a special-release brew you'll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else! If you dig West Coast-style brews, then this is a must-attend event. No RSVP - just stop by ***** Mitch Steele was a head-honcho at Anheuser-Busch for a decade: an "interesting" background for a the Stone gig, considering that Stone's marketing happily skewers the the big brewers and their "tasteless fizzy yellow beer!" Indeed, when Mitch joined Stone in the Spring of '06, the real-beer community was rather stunned. Not to worry, Stone hasn't sold out. Not only has Mitch been an avid and accomplished homebrewer for decades, but he also spearheaded A-B's specialty beer projects, releasing innovative and tasty brews that didn't rely on frogs or bikinis to move product. Over the past year Mitch has helped Stone expand production (more beer for us!) without sacrificing the quality and bold flavors that we have come to expect from Stone. We'll drink to that, Mitch!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Cleaning Whole Hops from a Carboy

The green hopped California IPA I brewed was kegged recently. You may remember I was concerned about separating the hops cones from the beer. Well as usual I worried a bit too much about all that. I just shook the carboy and with a little help they all came out. I did lose some beer that was absorbed by the cones, but, it was worth it. Here are a few pictures of the carboy after the secondary was emptied.

Growing Hops at Home in 2007, Three Feet Tall Chinook!

At this time last year the rhizomes were still in the fridge waiting to be planted. Where are they now? After they died back last year we pruned them to the ground knowing they would grow back this year. We didn't cover them with mulch or straw for the winter as some people do. After a bit of cold weather a late snow and a warming trend the race was on. Almost a month ago we sighted the first sprouts.

Now the tallest bines are standing three feet tall! It was June 13th before any of them were that tall last year and the Chinook wasn't among them. This year the bines are thicker, new shoots appear every day and some are already growing five inches a day. Folks we still have FIVE months to go. This is the reason we decided not to force growth into a few of the bines by pruning all but a few of them back. We would much rather have many shoots that are shorter. Hopefully that won't decrease the hops harvest yield.

This is the second year for these plants. We will be telling an entirely different story than last year with more growth and hopefully more hops cones. Be sure to check out last year's story, we've made it easy to follow our hops as they progressed through spring, summer and into the fall.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Beer Calendar: What to do in May 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. Do the first couple of weekends in May look crazy, or what? This should be quite the balancing act trying to squeeze in a couple of these events.

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)
Sat. 4/28 - Zeno's Belgians @Zeno's, State College, PA (3pm-8pm; $35)
Sun. 4/29 - Brewphoria @Canal Street Pub, Reading, PA (1pm-5pm; $30)
Wed. 5/2 - Stone Beer Dinner @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA (check back for details)
Thu. 5/3 - Hacker Pschorr/Paulaner @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; pay as you go)
Sat. 5/5 - AHA's Big Brew Day (see website for all the details)
Sat. 5/5 - This Event Has No Name @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (12:00pm-???; pay as you go)
Sat. 5/5 - Home Brew Demonstration @Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, PA (1:00pm; free)
Sun. 5/6 - Bock Fest & Goat Races @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (11:00am-???; pay as you go)
Mon. 5/7 - 21st Anniversary Party @Max's Taphouse, Baltimore, MD (5:00pm-???; pay as you go)
Wed. 5/9 - Smuttypalooza @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (check back for details)
Fri. 5/11- Sun. 5/13 - Cask Head Cask Ale Festival @Brazen Head, New York, NY (12:00pm-close; pay as you go)
Sat. 5/12 - 10th Anniversary Party @Appalachian Brewing, Harrisburg, PA (12pm-???; pay as you go)
Sat. 5/12 - 7th Annual Brooklyn Pigfest @Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York, NY (1pm-6pm; $75/$85)
Mon. 5/14- Sun. 5/20 - American Craft Beer Week @Many Places
Mon. 5/14- Sun. 5/20 - American Craft Beer Week @Max's Taphouse, Baltimore, MD (11am-2am each day; pay as you go)
Tue. 5/15 - Lucy Saunders Beer Dinner @Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-10:00pm; $65)
Thu. 5/17 - Magic Hat @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; pay as you go)
Fri. 5/18 - Friday Night Tasting (Brooklyn) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free)
Sat. 5/19 - 7th Annual Brandywine Craft Brewers' Festival @Iron Hill, Media, PA (1:00pm-5:00pm; $30/$35)
Sun. 5/20 - Head For The Border, It's A Fancy Brew Dinner @Dogfish Head, Rehobeth Beach, DE ($39)
Tue. 5/22 - Everybody Must Drink Stone @Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (5pm-8pm; pay as you go)
Thu. 5/24- Sat. 5/26 - The Session Summer Of Love Fest @Ortino's Northside, Zieglersville, PA (check back for details)
Sat. 5/26 - Brew At The Zoo @The Maryland Zoo, Baltimore, MD (2pm-6pm; $18/$20/$25)
Wed. 5/30- Sun. 6/3 - Mondial de la Biere @Windsor Station and Courtyard, Montreal, Canada (T,F,Sa-11:30am-10:30pm; W,Su-11:30am-9:00pm; free admission, $1 tasting coupons)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Another Visit to Brick Store Pub in Decatur, GA

Some of our more astute readers may recall my ramblings over time about the Brick Store Pub in Decatur, GA. After my most recent visit there, the third for me, I believe that I'm prepared to anoint it as one of the top ten beer bars that I have visited. In fact, this club is so exclusive, I'm not sure if I have ten bars that make the list. We're talking exclusive company of (no implied order) Toronado, Monk's, Hop Devil, Red Bones, Linwood Grill, The Drafting Room, Ginger Man (Austin), Fat Heads

So, what happened this time? Well, for starters on a such a beautiful Georgia day, how does a Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen sound? Then followed up by some bigger beers of Lagunitas Hoppus Maximus, Oskar Blues Gordon, Great Divide Oak-aged Yeti Imperial Stout, and Caracole Nostradamus? I was excited to try the Gordon and it sure did not disappoint. Those not enough for you? Check out their full list.

To accompany these excellent beers and satisfy my other hunger was a decent cheese plate and an open-faced chicken salad melt. Pair that with other friendly bar patrons and bar staff (thanks, Anna!) and you have the same result I've experienced each time I visited the Brick Store.

Beer Tasting: Brooklyn Local 1

The Beer: Brooklyn Local 1
Style: ("strong") Saison
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 750ml brown bottle; no evident date stamp on bottle

From where & how stored: A parting gift from Monk's/Brooklyn Beer Dinner

Pricing: Retails as low as $7.00/bottle

Availability: Potentially year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 9.0% ABV; 18.5P
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- beautiful fluffy head of foam sits atop this cloudy golden ale
- dissipates while draping itself all over the glass walls

The Aroma:
- damp, earthy meadow
- zesty tartness

The Taste:
- obvious, pleasing tartness
- spicy and bitterness play nicely together
- some floral and citrusy notes in there too
- well balanced
- alcohol kick comes along at the end too

The Verdict: If you only casually read this site, you'll know that I often find the saison to be one of the most food pairing-worthy beers out there. And, this offering from Brooklyn sure does not disappoint in that regard. So lively, so refreshing, so bursting with flavor that matched perfectly with my Easter dinner.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Quick Review of Gibney's Pub in Atlanta, GA

The first stop for lunch during my most recent business trip to Atlanta took me to Gibney's Pub. It's located behind/under the Peachtree Center in downtown Atlanta. I'd been there for an after dinner beer a few years ago and wanted to find it again this time and do a more thorough review. Well, find it, I did. A thorough review...not. Since I was heading over to my client's office, it was a trip from the airport to Gibney's for quick lunch, check in to hotel, and get to my meeting. Alas, no barley and hops for me on this trip to Gibney's. On my next trip to Atlanta, I'll be sure to pay a later night visit to Gibney's and check out some of the brew on draft. While you won't get the volume or quality of Vortex (farther north in Midtown) or The Brick Store Pub (6 miles east, in Decatur), Gibney's had a few decent ones on draft like Flying Dog Pale Ale, Sweetwater IPA, Terrapin Rye, and Abita Turbo Dog, among 15 others on tap. Duvel and some others that I did not note were available in bottles. The Terrapin Rye is one that I've had before and will hope is on tap next time I pull up a stool at Gibney's. From a food and atmosphere perspective, Gibney's delivers a solid pub feel. From the dark wood, to booth and bar seating, to tile floor, and dimly lit after dark, the proper pub mood is set. The standard pub fare is evident here in the sandwiches, salads, munchies, and other typical pub grub. What this visit did remind me is that there is more than one decent beer option in the downtown Atlanta business district; the other being Max Lager's. Other decent beer joints around Atlanta require at least a MARTA or taxi ride to get there. If you're in the downtown/convention center area, you can choose from the Hard Rock/Hooters/Benihana category, or search a bit more for a place like this. The other benefit, other than better beer of course, is that you stand a better chance of seeing more of an after work local scene than a business/tourist scene of the chain restaurants I mentioned earlier. All depends upon what you're looking for.

Beer Tasting: Anderson Valley Brother David's Triple

The Beer: Anderson Valley Brother David's Abbey Style Triple
Style: Belgian-Style Abbey Tripel
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 22 oz. brown bottle; no evident date stamp on bottle

From where & how stored: Purchased from Monument Liquors in Concord, CA flown home and stored at 60F since then

Pricing: $4.99 per bottle

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 10.0% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- pretty well filtered
- orangish-bronze color
- thin head

The Aroma:
- orange, clove, alcohol

The Taste:
- alcohol warming in the end is what you're left with

The Verdict: A little aging could help this beer round itself out a bit more. Their Brother David's Double is better at this age.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

'Topic of the Week': Week In Review; Mug Clubs

Either most of you don't care about mug clubs or you're just a silent bunch on this week's topic. Thanks to Jeremy and Matt; both added their favorable experiences with Iron Hill's mug club in West Chester, PA. It certainly, from my limited experience, does seem to be one of the better managed ones, for both the business and their customers. Beer geeks tend to be a migratory bunch and, as Adam mentioned, just want good, well-crafted beer at a fair price wherever they may pull up their bar stool. My advice would be, if you're so inclined to join one of these clubs, to seek out a brewpub that you like (duh!) where the entry fee, thresholds, and benefits are acceptable to you. Avoid those with unreasonable fees, minimums, and renewal "fine print." Remember, it should be about promoting better/craft beer culture and community, not the "glory" of being club president (i.e. you spent a whole lot of money).

Brewing Beer: Fresh hopped California IPA

So if you brew an IPA and fresh hop it with frozen hops cones and then forget about it for about six months, is it still called a fresh hopped IPA? I don' t know, but, I like it! Kegged it on Friday night and shared a few pints yesterday with Daren around the fire. And to think that the hops I used in the secondary came from plants I started growing about this time last year. I wonder what the harvest will be like this year. The cascade plants only yielded five ounces of green hops last year. I'm expecting tons more this year now that the plants have established themselves. They're already about ten inches tall or more!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Beer Tasting: Erie Red Ryder

The Beer: Erie Red Ryder
Style: Scottish Ale
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. brown bottle; no evident date stamp on bottle

From where & how stored: Found in a dark corner of Exton Beverage (heheh, thanks Greg!); stored at 42F since then

Pricing: $x.xx

Availability: Winter seasonal

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 9.3% ABV; 35 IBUs; 19.9P
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- very little foam
- cloudy with sediment
- reddish-brown

The Aroma:
- nonexistent, or unmemorable, can't quite recall!

The Taste:
- smooth-drinking brew
- some nice big fig and toffee flavor up front, fades quickly, and delivers alcohol heat that nags me for a while in the finish

The Verdict: I feel let down, like they traded taste for alcohol. Take away a percent of alcohol and give some flavor back and this could be a pretty good beer.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Beer Tasting: New Glarus Yokel

The Beer: New Glarus Yokel
Style: Keller/Zwickel Bier (Unfiltered lager)
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. brown bottle; no evident date stamp on bottle

From where & how stored: Came via Wisconsin from a friend of a friend of a friend...seriously. Stored at 42F since then

Pricing: $x.xx

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 4.7% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- slightly cloudy pale golden
- decent white foam that thins slowly

The Aroma:
- not much aroma, just some basic pilsner malt

The Taste:
- taste doesn't deliver much either

The Verdict: You can tell it's a lager beer, but not much else coming through. Taste is clean and finish is nonoffensive, but difficult to come up with much else to describe this beer.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

National High Five Day - 4/19/07

In the spirit of National High Five Day tomorrow (4/19/07), here's a quick list of the 5 events and 5 beers that I most excited to partake in over the next 5 weeks. If you see me, are you gonna give me a high-five? Events The Drafting Room (Exton, PA) May 5th Bock Fest/Goat Races (Phoenixville, PA) May 6th A Visit to the new Union Barrel Works (Reamstown, PA) ????? Iron Hill Brewers Reserve (Media, PA) May 19th Old Harbor Brewery (San Juan, PR) May 12th Beers Flying Dog Whisky Barrel-Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter Ithaca Cascazilla Red Port Brewing Old Viscosity Barleywine AleSmith Horny Devil Belgian Ale more warm weather, then more Hacker Pschorr Weisse

Beer Tasting: New Glarus Fat Squirrel

The Beer: New Glarus Fat Squirrel
Style: English Brown Ale
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. brown bottle; no evident date stamp on bottle

From where & how stored: Came via Wisconsin from a friend of a friend of a friend...seriously. Stored at 42F since then

Pricing: $x.xx

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 5.8% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- 2-finger head sticks around for a while
- cloudy orangish-brown ale
- not much sediment in the bottle to speak of...some floaties in the glass

The Aroma:
- light, pleasant malt aroma...slight citric hoppiness is noticeable

The Taste:
- nutty flavor (psychological? squirrel..)
- medium body, moderate carbonation
- slight bitterness in the finish
- toasted malt flavors dominate

The Verdict: I could certainly drink a few of this smooth drinking, nice malt beverage. Quite a good reminder of why english browns can be so good.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Topic of the Week: Mug Clubs, Who Benefits?

We haven't done one of these in a while, so let's jump right in... What is it about Mug Clubs at many brewpubs across the country? They don't particularly fit my pub-hopping persona, but I can certainly understand how they can be appealing for many others. The questions I pose here this week are: how much should the business be allowed to benefit without appearing greedy? does the consumer ever really "make out" in a Mug Club deal? Certainly, there are some Mug Club deals where it seems apparent that both sides win. Locally, the membership at Iron Hill's club (General Information; Loyalty Program) appears to be a win/win for both sides. But, then I look at ones like Schooners in Antioch, CA ($100 entry fee) and Bethlehem Brew Works in Bethlehem, PA (rules upon rules, high-priced auctions, unreasonable thresholds) and I wonder how many patrons really truly benefit over the course of the year. Are there really customers that will frequent the brewpub often enough in one year to recoup their initial outlay? Or isn't that what it's about? Perhaps I'm missing the point here. Is it more about supporting your local craft brew? Can it really be boiled down to that kind of charitable drinking? Is it about being part of something? Or are customers really looking to come out ahead on their per beer average cost? I really have no answers, just guesses (not necessarily educated). The topic has come up lately as I began looking into why so many over at BeerAdvocate have their knickers in a bunch over the club at BBW here in Pennsylvania. After reading the voluminous rules, disclaimers, and exceptions not only was I a bit confused and had to re-read the documentation, but I can understand the furor. Add that on top of what these same folks are claiming is a deteriorating product and you can make the case for an overly aggressive reach for more revenue. That's enough on my part. What do you think? Do you have a Mug Club membership anywhere? Do you have one at any of those that I've mentioned? What are your feelings? Do you keep track of what you've drank and whether your investment has paid off? Do you care? Is it more about being part of the community there at "your" particular brewpub? Should be interesting to get your position on this subject. Here's a few more: General Lafayette Legend Brewing Appalachian Brewing Rock Bottom

Monday, April 16, 2007

Beer Tasting: Founders Devil Dancer

The Beer: Founders Devil Dancer
Style: American Imperial IPA
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. brown bottle; 09/05 date notch on the bottom of label

From where & how stored: Purchased in May '06 at Federal Wine & Spirits in Boston, MA, flown home, and stored at 42F since then

Pricing: $1.99 per bottle (another pricing mistake? lucky me)

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 13% ABV, 112 IBUs, 26 days of dry-hopping
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- smooth brown pour, with virtually no foam
- reddish hints
- thin coating of sediment on bottom of bottle

The Aroma:
- swwweeeeet aroma, kind of 90 minute-ish
- shoofly pie aroma

The Taste:
- barleywine style alcohol & bitterness grabs you in the finish and doesn't let go

The Verdict: Part Hopsickle, part Double Bastard, part yowser! Not at all cloying, very very nice! Can a beer like this actually be balanced...seems the answer may be 'yes'! Glad to see it's finally available in Pennsylvania (as of April 2007).

With Friends Like This....

While ordinarily I might choose "Friends in Low Places", after Scott and Kathleen arrived home after last weekend's trip to New York, I choose instead to queue up "That's What Friends Are For." Considering that Brooklyn's Local 1 is not yet distributed in the Philly metro area, this is certainly a nice little stash delivered by them. And, what a nice surprise to find the Cascazilla (Ithaca) in there too. If you haven't had the opportunity to try it, I strongly suggest you do....but get your own ;-)

Oh, yeah, and did I mention one of my other top beers of the year thus far? the Red & White from Dogfish Head...thanks guys!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Victory: Sapphire Bock

I was out for dinner with the family at Victory Brewing in Downingtown, PA. Tasted their braumeister pils and then a Sapphire Bock. Enjoyed the Sapphire Bock immensely. My wife thinks it was 7.9%. I just remember a smooth crisp full bodied beer that isn't too hoppy. Has anybody else had it? Looks like it is a very recent addition to their taplist.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Quick Review of Zot in Philadelphia, PA

Quick notes here for the relatively new bar/restaurant, Zot, in Philadelphia PA. It's located just off 2nd street on Lombard. Full review to follow after we've had a chance to dine and drink.

Mussels 30 different ways; Frites; Fish with 20 different sauces (not all at once!); meats from beef to veal to pork to lamb to duck to kangaroo to ostrich to bison to sweet breads to boar to blood sausage. Average entree price in upper teens. Nice atmosphere for drinks and dinner. Nice to separate the front bar from the dining room bar. Believe there was a piano in the front bar area too. Certainly brings a cool atmosphere to the South Street area.

Beer Tasting: Founders Pale Ale

The Beer: Founders Dry Hopped Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. brown bottle; 09/05 date notch on the bottom of label

From where & how stored: Purchased in May '06 at Federal Wine & Spirits in Boston, MA, flown home, and stored at 42F since then

Pricing: $1.99 per bottle (a mistake, right?!)

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 5.2% ABV; ~32 IBUs
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- solid copper color, decent layer of sediment on the bottom of bottle
- one-finger head, hangs around a bit, then leaves a ring throughout the session

The Aroma:
- pleasing, teasing hint of cascade hops to aroma
- aroma otherwise not much to note

The Taste:
- taste, on other hand, is so very very pleasing
- alternating hits of barley....barley like grape nuts....and solid hop flavors pushing through
- borderline medium body.....decent carbonation

The Verdict: Just a great balance that makes the entire beer such a pleasure...would love more than one, or four! By the way, it went extremely well with my spicy Chinese food.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Monk's Beer Dinner 4/10/07 : New Belgium Brewing

After stopping at Triumph in Philly on Tuesday, we were off to Monk's. The day was shaping up just fine. It was a bit cool, but, the sun was shining and energy was in the air. This was the first Monk's dinner we attended since the start of day light savings time. Which means it was still light! It didn't take long for us to decide to walk to our next stop. Many...many blocks later we arrived.

Up the steps and to the right. We were lured back into the dim comfortable surroundings of the front bar. What's on tap? A French beer, St. Druon Abbey Ale I hadn't heard of before and ordered it up for Bryan and I to split. Not too shabby. Light in taste, something that wouldn't wreck our taste buds for the dinner. As we looked around we noticed a few of the usual suspects. Soon it was time to get started. Time to focus on what was ahead of us. Our table was ready. The menu read...

1st Course - Springboard Ale
Apple Fondue with Cheddar Dipping Sauce served in an Apple with Black Bread Cubes

2nd Course - La Folie
Organic Greens with Fresh Berries and Warm Goat Cheese Brioche dressing made
with La Folie

3rd Course - Abbey & Le Terroir
Grilled Scallop and Braised Short Rib; scallop topped with a Le Terroir hollandaise sauce; short rib braised in Abbey

4th Course - Eric's Ale
Peach Granite

5th Course - Fat Tire
Roasted Pheasant with Figs

6th Course - Trippel
Caramel Hazelnut Torte with Chocolate Banana Mousse

Lauren & Eric Salazar spoke about the beer. Lauren said she would have dragged the kegs here herself if need be, indicating that participating in a beer dinner at Monk's is a huge honor.

The Springboard Ale was understated at first. Lightly fruity to start with, but, an herbal dryness to finish. I wasn't so sure I could figure this one out, but, it became more interesting as it warmed and as I tasted it with other courses. The cheese fondue served in an apple was delicious. The apple, cheese and apple skin really complemented the beer. The apple skin really accentuated the herbal tinges of the beer. Interesting.

From Bryan's notes: "aroma somewhat nondescript at first (did pick up a bit
peach in the aroma); flavor in front of mouth was kind of uneventful 'til it
reached the back of my mouth; builds through the mouth into a hairy, drying,
wormwood punch on the back corners of my tongue; certainly lingered too; thanks to Tom F. for helping me now recognize wormwood :)"

Next up, the La Folie. Keep in mind that I haven't experienced any of New Belgium's beer before. While tasting La Folie, I knew it wasn't a mistake to attend. Sour, sweet, malty and a little earthiness would summarize this beer, but, wouldn't really do it justice. Imagine a plate with tender organic greens, fresh strawberries, raspberries and blackberries alongside a slice of bread with warm goat cheese. Now imagine that the beer you are about to taste is so well paired that you savor each bite like it was your last. Greens and Beer: Dry. Cheese and Beer: Sweet. Berries and Beer: Pucker City. Mix it all together and ride the beer roller coaster through all those flavors. Oh who am I kidding? It was better than that.

From Bryan's notes: "aroma of dark, rich cherry; alternating sweet and sour;
woodsy; fresh flavors reminiscent of Cantillon, quite the compliment; hands down
best course of the night....fruit, cheese, salad greens, bread,
Now for a double header, the Abbey and Le Terroir. At first I thought it was just one beer, but, I soon came to my senses when the second glass was placed before me.

The Abbey was probably the furthest from center in this group. That isn't to say that it was bad or somehow extreme. It was probably the least extreme tasting not sour at all. It did go very well with the short rib.

The Le Terroir took my tongue and beat it up with a sour patch kid. On its own it would be exciting. With the food, it was a wonderful hit of sour sweet to alternate with between bites.

From Bryan's notes: "earthy, approaching Iron Hill's Cassis level of funkiness,
but more drinkable in my opinion. more gym locker room, than barnyard"
Eric's Ale suffered from coming after the Le Terrior and La Folie. I know it was good, but, I just don't remember it standing out.

From Bryan's notes: "Don't have any notes, and I don't have any permanent memories that stuck with me and the peach granite seemed to maybe too cold/frozen to let the peach flavors come out....mixed with a bit of the beer
did seem to help, but otherwise not very memorable"
Next up, the very popular Fat Tire. What can I say, it was well paired, but, again this is a beer that suffered from coming late in the show. So this is what Fat Tire tastes like.

From Bryan's notes: "Was my palate wrecked from the more complex,
palate-altering beers to that point? don't know, but I never got used to what I
always thought was a decent amber....the pheasant was difficult to eat...I'm
usually up for a challenge, but this was almost as much work as eating
crabs....the pairing, though, did seem to help bring out the fruit notes in the

Last, but, not least, the Trippel. Well, Adam, the chef, did it again. Holy Smokes this was like a chocolate silk covered hazelnut cloud. Oh..right the beer. Yes it was good. It took a backseat to the dessert, but, definitely provided the right backdrop.

From Bryan's notes: "smooth, though thinner than I might have expected; almost held up to the rich, decadent dessert.. second best pairing of the night"
All in all the dinner was incredible. The La Folie paired with organic greens and berries was the best pairing. The dessert was the second best pairing. Monk's did it again. What a great introduction to New Belguim. I'm sold.

From Bryan's notes: "Ordering of favorites - 2nd course - 6th - 3rd - 1st - 5th -
Until next time, Cheers!


Friday the Firkinteenth at Grey Lodge...the stars align again!

Today will be the Fifteenth Friday the Firkinteenth. How's that for some alliteration? Potentially not as fun to say as the Firteenth Friday the Firkinteenth, but, check out that taplist! "Cardamom - Candy Sugar Resurrection Ale", what the heck is that!? Anybody going? Not sure if we'll be there or not, but, have a shorty for us if we're not! Here it is taken directly from The Grey Lodge site:

Current Cask List (likely to change, it always does):

  • Appalachian Celtic Knot
  • Brewers Art Cardamom-Candy Sugar Resurretion Ale
  • Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
  • Flying Bison Blackbird Oatmeal Stout
  • Flying Fish Farmhouse dry hopped with Columbus and Amarillo
  • General Lafayette Chocolate Thunder Porter
  • Iron Hill (North Wales) American Pale Ale
  • Iron Hill (West Chester) Belgian Pale Ale
  • Lancaster Saison
  • Legacy Hoptimus Prime
  • Middle Ages Duke of Winship
  • Nodding Head Wumpus ESB
  • Ramstein Alt
  • Rock Art Magnumus ete Tomahawkus
  • Sly Fox Route 113 IPA
  • Southampton Burton Ale
  • Troegs Just Hopback
  • Triumph Jewish Rye
  • Victory Donnybrook Stout
  • Yards double-dry-hopped IPA

Triumph Brewing in Philadelphia, PA...a brief stop before Monk's New Belguim Dinner

Leave work, then home to check in with the family and then off to the train station. Bryan was waiting with tickets in hand. Jumped on the Amtrak as it paused in Paoli. Twenty Six minutes to 30th Street Station and a quick switch to Regional Rail. Caught the L over to Triumph.

Speaking of which Triumph is cool in a rustic clean kinda way. Not too stuffy and not too casual. Decorated with rough wooden timbers as bottle racks behind the bar and a smooth wooden bar alongside stainless steel and art; lotsa interesting twists and turns in the space.

Oh right...the beer! With limited time to spend here we each ordered one pint. Bryan grabbed a dunkel. I tasted the kellerbier. We were also offered a complementary taste of the Chico and the porter. Not bad at all. The kellerbier was sharp with hops and held together well with malt. What a full and hoppy nose. This place could be perfect for a group outing. OK, we'll have to cover that in more depth at a later date. Off to Monk's Cafe!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Beer Tasting: Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Organic Amber Ale

The Beer: Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Organic Amber Ale
Style: Amber Ale
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 22oz. brown bottle; no evident date stamping on bottle

From where & how stored: Purchased from brewery in Sept. '06, travelled all around California, flown home, and stored at 42F since then

Pricing: $5.99 per bottle

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 5.4% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- decent head fades kinda quick to a thin layer of white head that persists
- copper-brown color with hints of iodine-red
- clean filtered look; just a bit of sediment on bottom of bottle

The Aroma:
- nice sweet malty aroma

The Taste:
- solid sweet malt dominates upfront with some hints of caramel and throughout until...
- ...the end where you get a nice little blast of bitter hops
- then all goes away leaving you ready for another dose

The Verdict: At 5.4%, this makes a nice easy-to-drink beer with pleasing flavors

Beer Tasting: River Horse Lager

The Beer: River Horse Lager
Style: American Lager
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. brown bottle; no evident date stamping on bottle
From where & how stored: Exton Beverage; stored at 42F

Pricing: $23.99 per variety case of 24

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 4.5% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- golden color with a few stray particles floating throughout, no concerns
- small head that leaves just a few swirlies

The Aroma:
- artificial sweet aroma matched by a sweet flavor that just doesn't do it for me

The Taste:
- almost like a blood orange sweetness, that just leaves a bit of cloying displeasure

The Verdict: This is a decent brewery, but this one lags some of their better brews

Adam's Notes
The Look:
- slightly cloudy yellow with slight orange tint
- lotsa bubbles, but, the head is gone quickly

The Aroma:
- yeah, that is a lager

The Taste:
- uh...what the heck is that?
- can you say diet sprite or 7up?

The Verdict: Blech

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bridgewater's Pub at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, PA

Who knew?!

This is not a full review, since this stop only lasted for one beer, or 20 minutes, but seriously...Piraat, N'ice Chouffe, Spaten, etc. on tap? Not too shabby. Nice option to keep in mind for when your train gets delayed or you have some extra time to spend at 30th Street Station in Philly.

Check out some decent bottles too.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Beer Tasting: Anderson Valley Brother David's Double

The Beer: Anderson Valley Brother David's Double
Style: Belgian-style Abbey Dubbel
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 22 oz. brown bottle; no evident date stamp on bottle

From where & how stored: Purchased from Monument Liquors in Concord, CA flown home and stored at 60F since then

Pricing: $4.99 per bottle

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 9% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- Dark brown beverage pours smoothly
- Presents a little over a finger's worth of off-white foam
- Thins to a ring and a swirl

The Aroma & The Taste:
- Bready, malty aroma comes through first
- Hints of chocolate and caramel
- crisp, sweet tang expresses itself so well in the aroma and then certainly in the flavor
- this is a sturdy beer without being overwhelming

The Verdict: A beer that delivers in the taste what I was teased with in the aroma, and vice versa, is well on its way to being a winner. Then, a beer like this that delivers matching pleasing aromas and flavors is a winner every time. I didn't pair this with food, but would bet it would stand up well with meats and cheeses.

Split Thy Skull at Sugar Mom's in Philadelphia, PA : 4/7/07

Was my skull splitten? Well, in the end, it probably is safe to say it was more split than not. (Though, not quite like last year.) But, while Sugar Mom's certainly contributed, it was probably moreso in the "post-game activities" that took me to the brink. While waiting for my train, I made a detour over to the newly opened Zot by Headhouse Square (near South Street) and partook in a perfectly poured, delectably decadent Gouden Carolus. (Note to self, must get back there for dinner sometime soon.) Then, a cab ride to the 30th Street train station and an unintentional rendezvous with the beer pest at Bridgewaters Pub yielded a surprisingly fresh, flavorful, and crisp Piraat on tap. Unfortunately, this beer had to be hurried through as the train was leaving in 10 minutes. Then, a beer on board was the ceremonial last beer of the day for me.

But, wait, I think I'm off topic here. Rewind 5 hours. The scene at Sugar Mom's wasn't much different than any other Split Thy Skull installment. The subterranean lair was full of the beer-loving masses who came to check out some high-gravity brews. You'll find the list below. Flights were arranged into two batches of four for $13 each. The trick is getting a little nook carved out for your group of friends. Fortunately, we had a table practically in the middle where we had decent access to the waitress on her trips to and from the bar. (Of course, it helps when I come in late and my friends have already done the table negotiating for me.)

Winners for the day? Porterhouse, Stone, Yards, and Thomas Hooker. Following close behind in the middle of the pack (mostly because I've had them before and they weren't as new and wondrous as the aforementioned) included Nodding Head, Flying Bison, Victory, Iron Hill, and Sly Fox. The Heavy Seas and Middle Ages, comparatively speaking at least for me, just weren't cutting it on this particular day.

Running into old friends and making new friends is all part of the fun with these kind of events. (Nice to see you again, Tom! no, not you Tom F., the other Tom) Which reminds me, isn't Friday the Firkinteenth coming soon?!

Ah, the beauty of mid-afternoon beer event in an underground bar.

Porterhouse Pub Ol' Buck Barrel Aged Barleywine - 12% ABV
Nodding Head Wee Heavier - 11% ABV
Stone 10th anniversary 2XIPA - 10% ABV
Flying Bison Hercules C-130 - 9.5% ABV
Iron Hill Golden Barleywine - 9.6% ABV; 70 IBU
Sly Fox Panacea - 9.6% ABV
Victory Old Horizontal - 10.5% ABV
Middle Ages Druid Fluid - 9.5% ABV
Thomas Hooker Old Marley - 10% ABV
Heavy Seas (Clipper City) Below Decks - 10% ABV
Yards Chateau Kenso - 9.3% ABV

Monday, April 09, 2007

Friday the Firkineenth at The Grey Lodge Pub : The Firkins

Now doesn't this just make working for the next few days worth it...knowing that these beauties are awaiting us at this year's first installment of Friday the Firkinteenth at The Grey Lodge Pub? Weather's looking fine, so far, in northeast Philly... ~ Appalachian Celtic Knot ~ Arcadia TBA ~ Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA ~ Flying Bison Blackbird Oatmeal Stout ~ Flying Fish Farmhouse dry hopped with Columbus and Amarillo ~ General Lafayette Chocolate Thunder Porter ~ Iron Hill (North Wales) American Pale Ale ~ Iron Hill (West Chester) Belgian Pale Ale ~ Lancaster TBA ~ Legacy TBA ~ Middle Ages Duke of Winsip ~ Nodding Head TBA ~ Rock Art TBA ~ Sly Fox Route 113 IPA ~ Stoudts TBA ~ Southampton TBA ~ Troegs Just Hopback ~ Victory Donnybrook Stout ~ Weyerbacher TBA ~ Yards IPA

Poll Wrapup: Growing your own hops.

The Friday before last we asked, "Are you interested in growing your own hops?". Here are the results from the 20 participants.

10 % Growing hops for the first time this year.
15 % Grow their own hops regularly.
15 % Didn't know they could grow their own.
15 % Said they would not grow hops.
45 % Are thinking about taking the plunge

Thanks to all those who participated. Stay tuned for the next poll, this Friday.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Session #2: Dubbel Bubbel

(Apologies for the title, Dubbel Bubbel...heheh. No disrespect ;-) Yes, it's that time again, the first Friday of the month. Don't forget to check out Alan's page at A Good Beer Blog. He is collecting all the dubbel posts for The Session this time. To read more about The Session check out Stan's page Appellation Beer where the idea was conceived. Thanks to my in-laws, my wife and I were able to go "out on the town" a bit tonight. This made this "The Session" a bit more interesting than the last. Since there were no other ideas, I took the opportunity to search out some good beer at four, yes four, local bars. I have more to say about that in another post, but, this is about one beer from that night, Westmalle's Trappist Dubbel. This is only the second time I've had this beer so I was looking forward to getting to know it a bit better. I found it at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA. We ordered a piece of apple pie, a glass of water and the dubbel. It came in a 11.5 oz. bottle with a glass that closed toward the top. The Drafting Room seems to pay very close attention to the glassware. A bit too dark to judge the color. Lotsa bubbles and a big head to start. After that the head diminishes to little islands of bubbles. The nose had a yeasty hint of fruitiness about it. Next came the soft mouth feel which carried this bubbly liquid bread around my mouth. Everytime I have a belgian like this I think about how well it would go with food. Not overstated; not understated. After the first taste, I decided that it would probably compliment the pie with its Grannysmith apples sliced thin and piled up high covered with sweet crumbly cinnamon and brown sugar topping. I was right. The Westmalle didn't steal the show. It didn't get lost in the brown sugar and apples. It complimented them. A beer a tad sweeter would probably make a better pairing, but, I'm splitting hairs here. So what did it taste like? It was subtle in a way that a water color painting can be subtle. Light malt, super light dried figs, very light pepper from the alcohol and well a subtle bready yeastiness that really enticed me to have more, but, alas our "night out" was coming to a close. Are all dubbels like this? I don't know, I don't drink them that often or maybe I just don't remember. I'm interested to hear what others have to say about the dubbel they tasted. I want to know how a beer can be so soft, subtle, complex and all out delicious in a liquid bread sorta way at the same time. I guess the question is, "Should all dubbels taste like this?" By the way, my wife didn't like it. She did like the Southern Tier Java Stout we tasted earlier in the evening. Ah well, more for me ;-)

Union Barrel Works in Reamstown, PA is Now Open!

Thanks to loyal reader, Dennis, for sending in some pictures from his first visit to UBW last night. I'm sure he'll be there often as he lives only a 1/2 mile away and his initial reports say the beers are top notch. We'll be there to meet you soon, too!

Beer Tasting: Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale

The Beer: Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
Reviews: Beer Advocate Rate Beer
Packaging & Date Stamping: 12 oz. brown bottle

From where & how stored: Purchased from the brewery

Pricing: $22.00 per variety case of 24

Availability: Year-round

ABV, IBU, and Other Available Stats: 4.3% ABV
Bryan's Notes
The Look:
- short stack of white foam
- clean, pale golden color

The Aroma:
- apricot and peach jump right out of the bottle
- little bit of strawberry too, perhaps
- fresh and lively smelling

The Taste:
- solid pale malt
- backed up by noticeable, but not overpowering, hops
- nice balance, accompanied by decent carbonation

The Verdict: While I enjoy their ESA even better, Yards does a real nice job with this Pale Ale that does a good job at satisfying thirst and flavor.
Adam's Notes
The Look:
- nice head that thins to a carpet
- straw orange

The Aroma:
- fruity esters and a little malt
- light and fresh hops

The Taste:
- clean and crisp
- well balanced
- there's malt in there
- there's hops in there
- it is slightly bitter like it should be...mmmm

The Verdict: If I had to pick a session beer that stands for all that is good about beer this would be on the short list.