Thursday, August 30, 2007

Michael Jackson and A Day of Reflection

After seeing the news at Jay's and Lew's respective sites this morning, I feel even more fortunate to have met Michael for the first time this past spring. Our 10-minute conversation was memorable and will be cherished. Here's to a larger-than-life man who, in his pursuit of better beer, helped pave the way for what we all can fortunately enjoy today! [new links] All About Beer Brewers Association Morning Advertiser MSN (UK)

Getting Started in Homebrewing - Racking to a Secondary Fermenter

Racking (in layman's terminology, moving or draining) to a secondary fermenter is not absolutely necessary. But, I figured it didn't involve that much extra effort, bought me a little more time before bottling, and increased the chances for a more clear, stable, and better beer. The jury's out on those last three claims until I pop open the first bottle. But, the big idea is getting it off the sludge of yeast and other matter that had fallen to the bottom of the bucket after the primary fermentation had completed and allowing the beer to condition a bit more.

After a week in the plastic bucket that served its role in the primary fermentation, the frothy crud produced during fermentation (aka krausen) had mostly fallen to the bottom along with other particles (hops, proteins, and other stuff that I'm sure I'm not aware of) that didn't get strained out on its way into the bucket.

How did I know that it was ready to be racked? Well, honestly, I didn't. The fermentation never got up to a vigorous level of activity, but krausen was being produced...and had subsequently fallen. Watching the airlock bubble at a couple of times per minute for a few days, then not at all for a couple of more days seemed to indicate that some level of fermentation had indeed taken place. Plus, when I took the hydrometer reading, the result was 1.020 (down from an OG reading of 1.050). So, even though there may still have been a bit more fermentation yet to take place in the secondary (which, by many accounts, is not surprising), I felt comfortable racking it to the carboy.

Getting the beer into the glass carboy serving as the secondary fermentation vessel started with, you guessed it, sanitation. The glass carboy, racking cane, plastic tubing, and airlock (to be used again on the carboy) were all soaked in the bleach solution to be sanitized.

After a thorough rinsing and drying of these parts, I started the process of moving the beer. I filled the plastic tube with water, attached it to the racking cane, submerged the racking cane in the plastic bucket full of beer, and allowed the siphoning to begin. I ran the water out of the tube into a plastic cup until the beer started running through, then took a sample from the tube for a hydrometer reading, then shoved the tube to the bottom of the glass carboy. I was careful to minimize the splashing, or aerating of the beer, as it siphoned over from the plastic bucket. With the fermentation mostly completed, there was no need to get more oxygen into the beer.

If I thought this whole process of making beer required patience, then the secondary fermentation was the true test. The plan was to leave it in there for two weeks before bottling it. I kept the carboy covered with a brown paper bag (with a hole cut in the top for the airlock and neck to stick out) and kept the temperature regulated between 68-75F (best I could do in the northeast's summertime). After 8 days, things got interesting. Days 9-12 all of sudden brought more vigorous bubbling in the airlock than it had experienced in the primary. It coincided with a dramatic shift in the, damp, rainy conditions. Approximately 3/4" of loosely packed bubbles sat on top of the beer for almost 2 days as it bubbled through the airlock several times a minute. Then, it began to subside and the bubbling slowed.

Days 13-17 saw no activity whatsoever. This led me to believe that it may be ready to bottle. Adam loaned his "beer thief" to me so that I could taste the beer and take a hydrometer reading. I did not, but planned to do so before making the decision to bottle the beer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Mystery of the Pyramids

No, not a tap list update from the Flying Pig. Rather, a curious update from the good folks at Pyramid who seem to be up to some suspicious activity out there in the Greater Northwest! This should be interesting....if anyone runs into it and has a chance to try it, let me know how that goes. =============================================== Pyramid Introduces Imperial Hefeweizen, a Craft Beer Category First 2007 Limited Edition Specialty Brew Continues Tradition of Wheat Beer Expertise SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 29, 2007 Pyramid Breweries Inc. (NASDAQ:PMID), brewers of the award winning Pyramid Hefe Weizen, today introduced Imperial Hefeweizen, the first in a line of new limited edition, specialty beers known as Pyramid's "Brewers Reserve." "Pyramid pioneered the wheat beer market back in '85 with the first year-round wheat beer brewed in the U.S. since prohibition and soon followed it up with our American style Hefe Weizen. Now we're taking that wheat beer tradition one step further by introducing one of the first, if not the first, Imperial Hefeweizens brewed and distributed in the U.S.," said Art Dixon, Seattle Head Brewer for Pyramid Breweries. "Our team is truly pumped to feed our passion for wheat beers in this new select Brewers Reserve release." Pyramid's new Imperial Hefeweizen, like our flagship Hefe Weizen, is a smooth, unfiltered ale, but also features a pleasant hop flavor and a more full-bodied and robust taste. The limited edition ale is brewed in small batches of less than 120 barrels using the finest West Coast ingredients, combining 60% malted wheat with Nugget and Tettnang hops for a robust, yet surprisingly refreshing taste. Pyramid Imperial Hefeweizen has an alcohol by volume level of 7.5%. "Beer aficionados are in for a one-of-a-kind taste experience with our new Brewers Reserve beers," said George Arnold, Master Brewer for Pyramid Breweries. "Starting with our inaugural Pyramid Imperial Hefeweizen, these limited edition beers are specifically designed for those who want to take their craft beer experience to the next level." According to Arnold, West Coast brewers were the first to brew 'double' hopped versions of their original brews. Some brewers then began to bring the malt into balance with the hops, creating more complex flavors. Today, the term "Imperial" is used to suggest this added complexity. Additionally, the word "Imperial" is borrowed from the Imperial Stout style, which is also a maltier, hoppier interpretation of a familiar beer. Pyramid Imperial Hefeweizen is available beginning in September in select locations on draft and in 22oz bottles while supplies last. The company plans to then follow up its inaugural Brewer's Reserve beer with another unique offering in early 2008.

Philadelphia Beer Region; The Fertile Crescent defined

Over time, there's been quite a bit of dialog about best beer cities/regions in the country. Best for brewpubs, best for beer bars, best for festivals, and on and on. Lately, Jack Curtin has suggested that the Philadelphia region is the best region for beer not just in this country, but perhaps in the world. I'll stand next to him and argue this position as well. We're not just talking about a city here, nor a particular facet of the industry, but rather the whole region for a total beer experience. Consider that "this whole region" spans from Delaware north through the NJ border counties of PA, west into the Lehigh Valley (Easton, Bethlehem, Allentown/Emmaus), southwest out to Reading, Lancaster, and Harrisburg. Across these areas, you will find acclaimed breweries and brewpubs, festivals and events, retail beer stores and great beer bars, and homebrew clubs showcasing beer styles across the spectrum to rival any region. The names of the makers and the sellers are way too numerous to mention here. Want a list? Drop me a note. At the epicenter (at least figuratively speaking) lies the city of Philadelphia, which has more beer history than any other city in the country, hands down. (Consult Rich Wagner if you need further proof.) Philadelphia also has the proud distinction of being affectionately called the 'Brussels of the U.S.', due to its role in introducing Belgian beer to the States (more specifically, thank you Tom Peters). Coming in 2008, Philadelphia will be adding a world-class event to its resume in the form of a 10-day festival of beer called Philly Beer Week. I'd also go out on a limb and say that we are blessed with the richest talent of beer writers and cognoscenti. I've been thinking of this lately as I've read some of the most excellent coverage of all stuff beer in the Delaware Valley ranging from the city's Don Russell (aka Joe Sixpack in the Philadelphia Daily News), the western suburb's Jack Curtin (with his now interactive not-a-blog), and the northern suburb's Lew Bryson (exclamation points required!!). They are listed in no particular order and I won't try to tell you who's "the best"; that's up for you to decide based on your reading preferences. Suffice to say they all do an amazing job covering the rich Philadelphia beer scene and beyond. And, this summer certainly has not slowed them down. Something about the past few months has brought out the best in all of them. From Don's packed column last Friday, to Jack's practically daily updates at both his site and Beer Yard's, and Lew's thought-provoking (sometimes controversial?) editorials and travel news bits, it's certainly easy to get your fill of beer info just here in the Delaware Valley. Then, consider that between the three of them, the periodicals of Draft, Beer Advocate, Celebrator, Ale Street News, Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, American Brewer, and Beverage (I'm sure I've missed a few more) all benefit from their collective expertise. You want more? How about Gary Monterosso & Mark Haynie further to the east in New Jersey, Woody Chandler out in Amish country, and a writer/BJCP judge (Chester County's David Hauseman) in between. Then, all of the fine folks who are standing up for better beer at Beer Advocate and Rate Beer. Each of these sites boasts a user population from the State of Pennsylvania above just about every other state in the country. (I've reluctantly started listing names, and fear that I may have dug myself into a hole by potentially leaving some out. Please feel free to correct this in the comments below.) So, between those who are making beer, those who are selling it, those who are buying it, and those who are writing and talking about it here in the Philadelphia region, I ask you: Does it get any better than this?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Beer Calendar: What To Do In September 2007

The fall season is just ahead, and September gets it off to a roaring start here in the Delaware Valley with beer events. Check out what's going on and let me know if you've been to any of these events in the past or will be attending any of them this coming month.

Fri. 8/31 - Friday Night Tasting (Boulder) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free)
Sat. 9/1 - 275th Anniversary Party @General Lafayette Inn & Brewery, Lafayette Hill, PA (12:00pm-3:30pm; $40)
Sat. 9/1 - Penn Brewing's Penndemonium & Oktoberfest @Vidalia Marketplace, Lansdale, PA (1pm-3pm; free)
Sat. 9/1-Mon. 9/3 - 135th Volksfest (Oktoberfest) @Cannstatter Volksfest Verein, Philadelphia, PA (12pm-???; $5/$8/$10 admission)
Fri. 9/7 - Friday Night Tasting (Magic Hat) @TJ's Everyday, Paoli, PA (6pm-8pm; free)
Sat. 9/8 - Jenkintown Jazz & Brewfest @Jenkintown Town Square, Jenkintown, PA (1pm-5pm; $20/$25)
Sat. 9/8 - Stone's 11th Anniversary @Stone Brewing Company, Escondido, CA (11pm-2pm, 2:45pm-5:45pm; $30)
Sun. 9/9 - Chester County SPCA Wine and Beer Festival @Duling-Kurtz House and Country Inn, Exton, PA (12pm-4pm; $30/$35)
Tue. 9/11 - Allagash Beer Dinner @Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (7pm-10pm; $55)
Thu. 9/13 - Brooklyn Brewery & Garrett Oliver with Cheeses @Di Bruno Bros., Philadelphia, PA (6pm-8pm; $45)
Thu. 9/13 - Brewery Promo Night (Lindeman's) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free)
Sat. 9/15 - Steel City Big Pour @North Point Breeze, Pittsburgh, PA (12pm-3pm, 5pm-8pm; $30/$40)
Sat. 9/15 - 10th Annual Capital City Invitational Beer Festival @Appalachian Brewing Company, Harrisburg, PA (12pm-3pm, 4pm-7pm, 8pm-11pm; $30/$40)
Sat. 9/15 - Breweries of Northern Liberties @Yards Brewing Company, Philadelphia, PA (2pm-5pm; free)
Sat. 9/15 - Oktoberfest @Iron Hill Brewery, Phoenixville, PA (4pm-10pm; pay as you go)
Tue. 9/18 - Gaarden Beer Festival @Gullifty's, Rosemont, PA (6pm-8pm; $20)
Thu. 9/20 - Southampton Goes North @Ortino's Northside, Zieglerville, PA (evening; pay as you go)
Fri. 9/21 - Autumn Harvest Beer Dinner @The Farmhouse, Emmaus, PA (7pm; $80)
Sat. 9/22 - Chocolate & Cheese @South Philadelphia Tap Room, Philadelphia, PA (check website for details)
Sun. 9/23 - Sippin' By The River @Penn's Landing, Philadelphia, PA (1pm-5pm; $30/$40)
Sun. 9/23 - 2007 Dogfish Dash 5K/10K Road Race @Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, Rehobeth Beach, DE (8am; $15/$20)
Sun. 9/23 - Oktoberfest @Triumph Brewing, New Hope, PA (2pm-6pm; pay as you go)
Thu. 9/27 - Brewery Promo Night (Lagunitas) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free)
Sat. 9/29 - Fall Fest @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA (2pm-9pm; pay as you go)
Sat. 9/29 - Lehigh Valley Brewfest 2007 @Ag Hall Allentown Fairgrounds, Allentown, PA (1pm-2pm (VIP), 2pm-5pm; $30/$35)
Sun. 9/30 - National Toast for Michael Jackson @Monk's Cafe & Many Other Pubs Nationwide (9pm eastern time)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Great Glass for A Great Beer?

Have I mentioned how much I like one of my newest pieces of glassware? It's the one that Boston Beer Company spent a lot of effort on to make it the "perfect" beer drinking vessel and sent to me earlier in the summer. Whether or not you choose to believe it, I for one can say that it fits the hand and the mouth quite nicely. And, overall, it showcases the head, the aroma, and the beer just right. Would I pay $30 for a 4-pack of these glasses? Hm, maybe.

p.s. gracing the glass this weekend was the latest "Brewmaster Reserve" batch from Stoudt's...Joey's Saison; the Tröegs Scratch Beer #2 (porter); the Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale; and just for fun Ommegang's Three Philosopher's.

Here are some of the purported features of the glass, according to Jim Koch and company:

-beaded rim (to release flavor)
-outward lip (to direct beverage)
-narrow top (to contain head and aroma)
-rounded middle (to collect aroma)
-thin walls (to maintain temperature)
-laser-etched bottom (to instigate bubbles)
-features a slogan "Take Pride In Your Beer" (makes you feel good!)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 8/25/07

On an attempted regular basis, I'll post the tap list here to the Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA. I 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 me a note.

On Draft as of 8/25/07
Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale
Stoudts Double IPA
Sly Fox Incubus
Brooklyn Abbey Singel
Bischoff Weizen
Magic Hat #9
Left Hand Sawtooth ESB
Bell's Oberon
Ommegang Ommegeddon
Troubadour Obscura

Keepin' it Real with the new Dock Street

Don Russell's Joe Sixpack column in Friday's Philadelphia Daily news used a word that I use a lot when talking about beer....REAL. "Real" to me, is what makes beer, specifically 'non-yellow fizzy malt pop', so absolutely without a doubt GREAT. Sure, not all craft/micro beer is great, but on a whole the vibe is more often than not, GREAT. And, seeing the rebirth of Dock Street in West Philly (the extended University City?) proves this point. With Don making the clear distinction between the Dock Street of the early 90s ("polished", etc.) and the Dock Street of the late 00s ("edgy", "funky", "counter-culture"), he intentionally proves the point that this craft/micro beer age is more about being real than showy. Sure, I know, there are some elements out there that point to those trying to capitalize on recent trends. I'm confident that the real craft beer audience can and will elevate those who are keeping it real and weed out those who are not. So, what's my message here? Dunno, think it was something along the lines of "let's support those who are keeping it real," because that is what will keep great beer REAL GREAT. Dock Street is one of those. Might have to make a trip there this weekend, just so that I practice what I preach. Plus, now that everyone else seems to have been there, guess it's time for me to pay a visit (It's tough to keep up with, much less a step ahead of, this Philly beer crowd!)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Founders, Teresa's ND, and Brunch...perfect together

I think you all know that I'm just geeky enough to be there for Sunday brunch when the Breakfast Stout is pouring. Looks like it might now be far away now. Stay tuned...

Getting Started in Homebrewing - Chilling the Wort

Without having a good brewing setup at home, I needed to move the 3.5 gallons of wort to the laundry room to be chilled and incorporated with the reserved 1.5 gallons. I set the kettle on top of the washing machine, rigged up the wort chiller to the laundry basin, and began the chilling process. Surprisingly, for one of the hottest weeks of the year, it took barely 15 minutes to bring the wort down to around 70F-80F.

I then set a strainer over the top of the plastic fermenting bucket and vigorously poured the wort into the waiting 1.5 gallons of reserved water. I took a small sample for a hydrometer reading (1.050, by the way), then pitched the dry yeast from the supplied packet.

I then sealed the lid on top of the bucket and, covering the airlock hole, shook and rocked it around for about 30 seconds. Lastly, the airlock was put on and filled with vodka. Water can be, and is often, used in the airlock. Alcohol further provides for assurances for a sanitary environment, but in some opinions is hardly necessary.

That's it. I placed the bucket in area that wouldn't go above 75F and let it sit for a week.

Over the following week, the fermentation began. Check back again soon for more about the primary fermentation stage.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Proof is in De Proef

Back in the spring of 2007, Signature Ale was conceived as a collaboration between Tomme Arthur (Port Brewing) and Dirk Naudts (De Proef). Hopped in the aggressive American style and fermented with saccharomyces and brettanomyces yeast strains, the brew was an interesting ride of an experiment for the brewers. This is a beer that I'll be anxious to dive into. The De Proef Collection is not yet available here in Pennsylvania, but SBS-Imports may be helping to bring those days to a fortunate end. Stay tuned for more info.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Getting Started in Homebrewing - Boiling the Wort

After adding the extract and returning to a boil, the dark extract was now officially "wort" and on its way to becoming beer. Nothing too exciting happens during this boil. I stirred occasionally, perhaps just out of boredom.

I've heard people talk about hot-side aeration and its potential to introduce off-flavors. Although this seems to be more of a topic for all-grain brewing, I took care not to stir too often or too vigorously. But even though I tied a good luck goat (the Ayinger goat to be exact) to the spoon, maybe I was a bit too vigorous as the spoon fell into the boil!

Near the beginning of the hour-long boil, I dropped the bittering hops in from the prepackaged bag. The good thing about kits is that everything is nicely measured out with clear instructions. The bad thing is that for people like me who want to know as much as possible about every ingredient and every step, some of those details are omitted. Like, in this case, what type of hops were used for bittering and which type for aroma. But, no worries, as I progress through my brewing experience I'll have plenty of opportunity to get intimately familiar with probably more than I ever thought I might.

During this almost 60-75 minutes of boil time, I read through the directions again and made sure that the wort chiller and fermenting bucket were ready for their next step. I cracked open a beer and took a breath. Maybe this wasn't as difficult as I first thought. Ah, but we've only just begun.

As the boil stage neared completion, following Adam's advice I placed the wort chiller in the boiling pot approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled end of the boil. This was a way to sanitize the wort chiller, which I had already given a once-over in the sink. With about 5 minutes remaining in the boil, I dropped in the aroma hops.

Check back again soon for the next stage of chilling the wort.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sierra Nevada, a couple of notes

I originally had not planned to write anything about Steve Harrison's disappearance. After all, I don't know him personally nor had anything new to add on the topic. Check out the first, second, and third links over at Jay's site for more information. Truly a disheartening ending. But, after tasting the Anniversary Ale this weekend (on tap at Flying Pig, if you didn't know) I figured a shout-out was necessary to a guy who had been involved with Sierra Nevada from the early days. After tasting this year's Anniversary on draft, a pickup of a case (in PA, of course) seems to be in order. Check out this link or this one over at Sierra Nevada's site with more specific information about this very decent beer.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 8/18/07

On an attempted regular basis, I'll post the tap list here to the Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA. I 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 me a note.

On Draft as of 8/18/07
Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale
Stoudts Double IPA
New Holland Zoomer Wit
Brasserie Dupont Bière De Miel Biologique
Sly Fox Incubus
Brooklyn Abbey Singel
Bischoff Weizen
Lancaster Strawberry Wheat
Magic Hat #9
Left Hand Sawtooth ESB

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Iron Hill, Do You Want More?

My jury duty has been completed for this go-round. Justice has been served, thank you very much. Of course, I couldn't make it out of West Chester without one last visit to the crew at Iron Hill (directly across the corner from the many jurors have been faced with the same "problem"?!) I already went on yesterday about their coming German Pilsner. But, check out what's going on right now. This may be a bit of a stretch, but allow me to say that you may not find a better lineup at Iron Hill. Okay, you probably will, but you've got to admit, this is pretty good. Of course, there is the usual lineup of Pig Iron Porter (my year-round favorite from these guys), Ironbound Ale, Lodestone Lager, Anvil Ale, and Raspberry Wheat. But, this week (and beyond, to a point) you'll find the Bourbon Porter on nitro (Pig Iron, courtesy of bourbon influence!), The Cannibal (Silver Medal, case closed?), Belgian White (crisp, seasonal, and delightful), and Ironbound on cask (APA allowed to fully present its beautiful self sans forced carbonation).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Of Pliny Things Old & Young

While they may not be on draft at the same place at the same time, if you still haven't sucked up some of the Pliny the Younger at Teresa's Next Door you might be so lucky after all. As of 8pm this evening, the hoppy elixir (let it warm for best results) was still flowing at TND in Wayne, PA. Then, this weekend head on up to Ortino's Northside for some sibling rivalry with Pliny the Elder on tap at the It's Not The Heat, It's The Hops event. Along side of Bell's Hopslam, Troegs Nugget Nectar, Weyerbacher's Double Simcoe, and a bunch of other goodies it should prove to be one of August's highlights here in the Delaware Valley. More to come I'm sure...

Coming Soon to Iron Hill in West Chester, PA

Short PSA here for all of you Iron Hill fans out there. A potential future GABF winner will be on line later this month when they tap one of their latest creations, a German Pilsner. A short preview yesterday says that this will be a 'wow' beer. No surprise given these guys' track records. More later...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dave's Pub in Birmingham, AL

While I can be fairly certain that no one goes to Alabama in search of beer, you may find yourself in the Magic City (Birmingham, that is...seriously, that's their nickname) someday and want to find an interesting beer. Alabama is one of the few remaining states with an ABV cap on beer set at six percent. With the law currently stacked against much of the better and more interesting beer of the world, bars like Dave's Pub are left to do the best job they can within the letter of the law to bring good beer to its customers. (By the way, do you want to check out the State's plight? Go visit the well-maintained website, Free The Hops, to see how things are progressing in their fight to change ill-conceived legislation. It's worth it.)

My trip to Birmingham last week allowed me to once again explore this decent little hangout in the Five Points area, near the UAB campus. I used to get to Birmingham fairly often and Dave's was a place that I'd been to a few times before. Though, it had been almost two years since I was last in Birmingham and this trip was barely a 24 hour southernly jaunt. After deplaning at 8:30pm, I quickly checked in to the hotel and was sitting at Dave's by 9:15pm. This was after staggering down the street in 98F heat that made it feel as if the sun was still hung high in the sky.

The pub is located on the southern edge of Five Points and has a front porch area running the length of the building that overlooks the street action. The Five Points area is definitely considered a nighttime destination for many locals and tourists alike. With the variety of ethnic dining options, bars, and nightclubs there is a little something for everyone here.

Okay, back inside to Dave's. Obviously, the weather was hot so almost everyone was hunkered down in the air conditioned bar instead of outside. Dave's is a dimly lit bar of brick and wood...very pubby feeling indeed. It's a smoking-allowed pub where the staff is just friendly enough to make for a pleasant visit. The brightest area is at the bar where two flat screen TVs hang above showing some variety of sporting events. (This was the night of Barry Bonds' 756, for whatever that's worth.) The remainder of the seating area fades back into a scattering of high-tops and a jukebox. And, after noticing the missing footrail at Union Barrel Works, I rediscovered at Dave's the beauty of a well-placed footrail!

As I mentioned earlier, Dave's does do the best it can to bring in the better of the lower alcohol domestic craft and imported beers. Local favorites of the south, Terrapin and Sweetwater, are readily available by draft and bottle. Lower gravity offerings from Left Hand, Rogue, Sierra Nevada, Weihenstephaner, Anchor, Brooklyn, Red Hook, Franziskaner, Paulaner, and Mackeson are some of the better stocked beers at Dave's. While the taps are lined up approximately 20 long across the far wall, the bottles are presented in an ice trough along the bar top for the seated customers to help themselves to....I mean, to look at. My choice of the litter on this particular evening was a solid standby, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, and a surprisingly well-done newcomer (in my logs) in Terrapin's India Brown Ale.

Food? I wasn't eating and I neglected to check, but I don't believe they have a kitchen there. I could be wrong, so it will have to take a follow-up visit next time double-check this! In the meantime, should you find yourself in the Magic City, check out Dave's. You can't do much better.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Another A+ Blind Tiger Event - Sierra Nevada on 8/22

I feel like you normally don't get this much notice for a Blind Tiger event of this caliber. Here's a quick note from our friends in NYC regarding next Wednesday. Take the day off...plan business in NYC around this...give someone a lift to JFK! ============================================================== ....And remember to take a few days off work for the Sierra Event August 22nd @ 4:00PM...20 Sierras on draught! Let me just tell you about one - Bourbon Aged Sierra Celebration... Do I need to go on?.... ==============================================================

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Getting Started in Homebrewing - Sanitizing & Boiling

After laying out the ingredients and equipment, I figured my first step was sanitation. It was, but I quickly learned that this can be done while bringing the water to a boil. See, this much water takes a while to boil and you know that thing about a watched pot, right?

Since I used a 24 quart stock pot, I didn't feel comfortable trying to do a full 5 gallon boil in one pot. Adam advised that I do a partial boil. I used a smaller pot to boil 1.5 gallons, then set it aside for incorporation later. In the large stock pot, I brought a little over 3 1/2 gallons to a boil.

While boiling the water, I mixed somewhere around 1/2 cup of ordinary (unscented) household bleach with approximately 5 gallons of water in the plastic fermenting bucket. Into the solution, I put any equipment that would touch the wort after it begins the cooldown from its boil. This included the plastic bucket (obvious, right?), the airlock, the strainer, and the thermometer.

While bleach worked just fine, I may consider using something else to sanitize in the future. With bleach, I needed to very careful to control splashing. Also, thoroughly rinsing after soaking the equipment was mandatory so not to leave any bleach behind. And, while time wasn't a factor, when using bleach to sanitize, it's recommended to allow the equipment to soak for approximately 30 minutes. Using an alternative like Iodophor would require less time soaking, less care in handling, and no rinse cycle.

After a few good rinses and drying, the equipment was sanitized. In the meantime, the 3.5 gallons came to a boil around 45 minutes after lighting the flame on the cooktop. Time to add the malt extract. Also concurrently, I had placed the bag of liquid extract in a sink of shallow warm water to help soften the liquid a bit more. I added the extract slowly, stirring it around to prevent scorching on the bottom. This obviously lowered the temperature, so I needed to return the mixture to a boil. I kept the rolling boil for a little over 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Check back again soon for more information about the boil, the malt, and adding hops to the boil.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Pliny the Younger spotted

Along with La Chouffe and Cantillon Pepe '04, Pliny the Younger has made what is sure to be a brief appearance at Teresa's Next Door in Wayne, PA. A very good session beer (imho) from Sprague Farm in the form of their amber was a pleasant surprise also on tap. Now that I've stopped in last night and had mine, go getch yers! Come to think of it, I'll be doing a run today and will need to rehydrate. Should probably go back later today and make sure the Pliny kicks before it goes bad! Let me know if you'd like to meet up.

Independence Brew Pub in Philadelphia Shut Down/Closed?

So, another Saturday morning of cruzin' BA and I turn up this interesting post from our local Mr. Sixpack himself. Can't wait to hear more about the future of Independence Brew Pub....

Friday, August 10, 2007

Jet Rock, Chickie's & Pete's, Beer at PHL

This probably falls just somewhere north of "who cares", but in the spirit of reporting news, the Terminal C Jet Rock Bar & Grill at Philadelphia International Airport is closing as of today. It's being replaced by Chickie's & Pete's. (The Terminal B location will remain). So, while the food is improving, the beer selection is declining. I knew something was off earlier this week when I ordered an Anchor (sorry, sir), then a Sierra Nevada (not that either), then had to "settle" for drinking local with a Victory Hop Devil. I didn't have much luck on the food side of the menu either as many food items were not available. The bartender informed me that they weren't restocking inventory as the days passed leading up to closing. For those of you not familiar with "Chickie's", it's a locally grown small chain of seafood/sports pubs (esp. crabs & fries) across the Philadelphia region. It's original location is just around the corner from another little establishment that you're probably all familiar with, the Grey Lodge Pub in the Mayfair/Wissinoming area of the city. They've grown slowly over the years to locations in the Sports Complex, the suburbs, and now the airport. They appear to becoming as synonymous with Philadelphia as Pat's, Geno's, and the Liberty Bell. On a slightly related note, only about half of the micro/craft taps were flowing at the Independence pub (not to be confused with Independence Brew Pub in Center City), located in the "mall" between Terminals B & C. Hopefully, this was just an off day and they will continue to be an airport oasis for Troegs, Yards (maybe?), Lancaster, Victory, and other local faves. PHL has always been known as a decent airport when it comes to beer selection. These two places are the primary reason.

Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 8/9/07

On an attempted regular basis, I'll post the tap list here to the Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA. I 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 me a note.

On Draft as of 8/9/07
Dogfish Head Festina Peche
Southern Tier Jah*va Stout
Southern Tier Unearthly Imperial IPA
Fort Collins Major Tom Pomegranate Wheat
Fort Collins Rocky Mountain IPA
New Holland Zoomer Wit
Brooklyn Abbey Singel
Clipper City/Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning Uber Pils
Brasserie Dupont Bière De Miel Biologique
Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen

Monday, August 06, 2007

At least it had a nice aroma...

I can't honestly recall if I've ever broken a bottle of good beer before. Well, tonight brought an unexpected cleanup project in the garage.

To make a long story short, the refrigerator door fell off its hinges. The temperature soared quickly from 50F to 72F, blood streamed from my bare feet and hand, and Salvation ran across the concrete floor. Go ahead, take the chance now to tell me that this is why we don't put bottles on the fridge door (another argument for O'Reilly, O'Sullivan, and O. Blues and their aluminum cans!!).

Vinnie and Adam could not have been more disappointed. I suppose I was more upset about the project of putting the fridge back together and reorganizing the bottles. Because the net damage was just one bottle...the Collaboration.

The vintage Thomas Hardy's, Russian River, Samichlaus, and other more recent goodies survived the fall...only by the grace and cushioning of Salvation, obviously.

Interesting how the tragedy began smelling like, well, sweet Salvation but ended up being a sticky mess reminiscent of many morning afters in college days. All that was missing was cigarette butts, stale crap beer, and strange people laying across the couch and in the bathtub.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Yards Brewing, the Beat Goes On

Tom Kehoe, one of BA's newest members, heard from this morning in his own words contributing to the running thread about the future of Yards Brewing and Philadelphia Brewing. Read it below....or here's a link so that you can read all of the chatter on the subject. This is my first post on the forum, and I am Tom Kehoe. It seems that with all of the activity of this page I wanted to just let you all know that I am reading the posts and I hope to communicate with the beer community through my actions as the President and founder of Yards Brewing Company. The official seperation [sic] happened on August 2nd and all "three" parties got what they wanted. The details are details. The big picture is Yards will be leaving It's lease early and moving to a new location (which I can't disclose now). And a new brewery will be formed at the former location. Philadelphia gets TWO breweries and we need more. Philly needs to take back the reputation it once had as the brewing center of the country. Yards will be making it's fourth move in the city since it was a small 3 barrel brewery in Manayunk. We incerased [sic] the size of the brewhouse to 30 barrels when we moved to Roxborough and kept it the same when we moved to Kensington but expanded the amount of fermentation to increase capacity. Each one of these brewhouses was designed by me to brew Yards. Now I am working on a new larger Brewhouse -- one that will be designed by brewery engeneers [sic] to my specifications to produce Yards Beers. Yards brews (and the Yards drinking public) will benefit from the move by having Yards produce a better product and an increase in availability. It's all about the beer -- Cheers, Tom.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Getting Started in Homebrewing - Setting Up

"Buy a man a beer and he'll waste an hour, teach a man to brew and he'll waste a lifetime."

Let's get this all setup and the party started. Brew Day is tomorrow. I've got my AHA membership card. The Homebrew Song (from The Brewing Network) is playing in the background. And, I've got my homebrew gear all laid out in front of me. Alright now, I realize that only the equipment and ingredients are necessary. Oh right, and a good quality beer to drink while making the homebrew. Before this first brew day of mine, I've re-watched the extract homebrewing DVD from Basic Brewing Radio. I've talked over the process with Adam, and he's gonna join me to give pointers along the way. And, I've read through the recipe and brewing notes again, just like I would do with a food recipe. Now I need to ask all of you homebrewers out there: "What is the one thing that I should be mindful of during my first homebrew experience?" "What is the most likely thing for a newbie to screw up?" In coming posts, I'll describe the various stages of my first homebrewing experience. Maybe throw in a few pictures too. First up, sanitation...oh, how important is this step? Oh, so very important!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Max Lager's in Atlanta, GA

I've been to Max Lager's in Atlanta, GA at least a half dozen times or so over the past few years. Each time, I never seemed to stay long enough or partake in enough of the experience (atmosphere, food, beverage, service, etc.) to do a full-blown review. What this will represent is an accumulation of all of my experiences to date. Fortunately, my impressions of their place have been consistent enough from visit to visit that this is fairly easy to write. (Isn't that what we wish for in all of our dining and drinking encounters? consistency.)

I need to start by saying that to understand why you must go to Max Lager's in downtown Atlanta, that you must first have been to downtown Atlanta. Okay, that may not have made much sense. But, if you've been there, you know what I mean. (And, you also know that everything begins with, ends with, or crosses a Peachtree of some kind or another! see right, if you don't know what I mean)

Unfortunately for a lot of business travellers in the downtown Atlanta business district, there are not many of what I would consider interesting options for eating and drinking after the work day is done. Within walking distance of the many offices and hotels you will find plenty of the typical chain offerings from Hooters, to Hard Rock Cafe, to Benihana, to Steak & Ale, and on and on and on. Sure, fair enough, there is Ray's in the City, Pittypat's, and Azio offering some creative dining fare in more comfortable setting. But, there is no real good outlet for brewpubs, beer bars, or take-out beer in the downtown Atlanta business district.

You've seen me write before about Gibney's...not a bad little downtown Irish Pub. Then, also about my trips to Midtown (Vortex and Gordon Biersch) and to Decatur (Brick Store Pub and Twain's). Other stops around the region could include Little Five Points (another Vortex location), Buckhead (eh, Fado), Smyrna (Muss & Turner's), and The Highlands (Limerick Junction, et al).

But, downtown, what's a beer lover to do without heading out of downtown? Go to Max Lager's. They're set off on the north end of downtown just a short couple of blocks from the Peachtree MARTA stop. The brewpub is inside a decent size two-story building, with a bar on each level. There's a small parking area out back if you have a car. It's unmistakable when they're brewing, as the mash tun sits just inside the front door. There was no mistaking the fact that I was in a brewpub the couple of times I walked in as the grains were being raked out.

The downstairs holds the kitchen, a decent size dining room, and a front bar area that can hold a moderate crowd at barstools, hightops, and tables. Upstairs you'll find the bright tanks, pool tables, another (longer) bar, and more dining.

The service for me has always been even and non-threatening. On one hand they're not slackers, but on the other hand they're not overly ambitious about helping out with beer or food selections. The middle ground, in this case, probably is not a bad thing. But, the good thing is they've always been available to get me what I need. A food order or a new beer has never beer far away. From a food perspective, the funny thing is, on maybe half of my visits I've ordered the Jambalaya with cornbread on the side. What a great food accompaniment for a variety of beers. So, without further ado....

....the beers. They run the gamut here from non-threatening (is that the second time I've used this descriptor?) for the timid to bigger, more flavorful beers for those that are looking for them. Here's a quick rundown of their four usual taps, followed by a couple of seasonals that I noted on my last trip there.

Gold- nothing much pleasing to note; aroma/flavor too sharp and metallic
Honey- subtle honey, very quaffable; good for a session
Red- thinner than expected, but nicely drinkable, just enough malt, nothing offensive over all
Black- ROASTED HEAVEN!, hint of chocolate, just enough weight
English Pale Ale- nicely balanced; a pleasant, mild fuggle hop bitterness in the finish
Barleywine- very nice; smooth, 11.5% ABV, decent body, hops noticeable in finish, then disappear; ready for more!

I think you get the message here. While Max Lager's may not be a destination beer stop in and around Atlanta, if you're in the downtown business district it is the place to go for decent craft beer and a nice dinner.