Thursday, January 31, 2008

Philly Beer Week 2008 - This Is Gettin' Big

Admit it, you're starting to get impressed. How can you not? Just take a look at the updated calendar. Either here in this spreadsheet that I've kept up-to-date, over at the Beer Yard website, or at the improved PBW calendar on their site. If I can count correctly (and, after staring at the beginning-to-get-staggering number of events), I'm seeing almost 70 events scheduled for the 11 days of Philly Beer Week in March. Wow, now this thing has certainly picked up some steam over the past month, hasn't it?

Blind Harrisburg

Not everyone will be partaking in the Super Festivities this weekend. It's good to see that not all establishments will cave in to the hoopla. But, the real nugget (so to speak), is found in the last sentence regarding a new beer to NYC.
Super Sunday is at hand... Now, as all of you know, the Tiger doesn’t have the whole crazy 8,000 HDTV’s, or the foamy hands, or the big banners, or the crazy fans, or angry losers, or the…okay, I'll stop. BUT… We do happen to have great craft beers and free kielbasa (with the football fixings)... Yeah, great beer and free tasty snacks, I know this sounds like a bribe to supplement for our lack of football hoopla…but the truth of the matter is…uh...that it is a bribe… I figured as we go in to the 100th week of political debates - truth might be the new spin. So join us on Super Bowl Sunday for some great beers and some great food! We'll be setting everything up at 7:30PM for your football and pairing needs... Also, on Feb. 6th @ 4:00PM we will be introducing Tröegs to NYC...draught list TBA.

The Inaugural Brew Lounge Meetup at TJs a Success!

Thanks to all who came out to TJs last night for the Inaugural Brew Lounge Meetup. I'd have to say it was a success with a dozen beer loving folks there (2/3 male, 1/3 female...a predictable ratio?) chatting up and drinking down some of TJs finer offerings. We didn't do anything formal, just a casual quaffing of some decent beer along with some of the kitchen's fine food creations. I think the only thing close to an announcement that I made was while casually raising a glass and saying "cheers, thanks for coming tonight." Jeff was a gracious host, even bringing out a Green Peppercorn Tripel from The Brewer's Art, which was brewed in Royersford's Sly Fox....for the Baltimore market. Alas, the Philly market has not seen this beer on its local shelves, even though it was brewed in our own back yard. We couldn't be more happy that Jeff was willing to share. Thanks! So, when's the next one, you ask? There was discussion last night about doing it as frequently as monthly...possibly on a weekend afternoon...rotating around to various establishments. We'll see. I wanted to get last night behind us first and do an evaluation. I'd say that with a dozen people coming out on a Wednesday night to Paoli, you can bet we'll do it again soon. Stay tuned... I owe you all a lot more. Five beer adventures from last weekend to write about. And, oh yeah, Philly Beer Week. Not sure how to tell you that my picture is in the men's (and women's) rest room at TJs. By now, you've heard (though not through me...weird, eh?) about the TJs/Bryson/Kolesar beer event during PBW. More on that to come...real soon...I promise.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Path To Philly Beer Week 2008 - A Profile of Stoudt's Brewing Company

They may not make or distribute as much beer as Victory, but when it comes to Philadelphia-area beer, there is a shared place in people's minds for Stoudt's Brewing Company of Adamstown (Lancaster County), PA. With Ed and Carol at the helm of this iconic Pennsylvania brewpub for over twenty years, Stoudt's has been built into one of the country's finest examples of a family-run brewery & restaurant business with a heavy emphasis on their German roots.

From Center City Philly, without traffic you can be in bucolic, Amish, and antiques/flea market country of Lancaster County in just over an hour. With a son in sales, son-in-law in the brewhouse, and daughters in various aspects of the business, there's certainly more than just a metaphoric family feel to a visit to Stoudt's. And, it would be a mistake to overlook the restaurant side of the business, complete with a raw bar, choice cuts of meat, and wine list. There's an affordable motel next door, so there's one less reason not to make a decadent, hours-long visit to Stoudt's. Hm, I think we'll need to try that again sometime soon.

As you ready yourself for Philly Beer Week 2008, study up on some background notes on Stoudt's and consider yourself lucky to be part of such a vibrant and rich beer region that PBW 2008 will celebrate.

Name: Stoudt's Brewing Company
Location: Route 272, 2800 North Reading Road, Adamstown, PA 19501
Phone: 717-484-4386

Carol & Ed Stoudt; founders & owners
John Matson; head brewmaster
Several other brewers and assistant brewers

Major Brands

American Pale; Blonde Double Mai Bock; Double IPA; Fat Dog Stout; Helles Gold; Pils; Scarlet Lady ESB; Smooth Hoperator; Triple; Weizen

Gold, GABF 1990
Silver, GABF 1993

Silver, GABF 1991

Dortmunder Export
Silver, GABF 1990

Gold, GABF 1992
Bronze, GABF 2000

Gold (Munich-Style Helles)
Gold, GABF 1992, WBC 1996
Silver, GABF 1988, GABF 1994

Golden Lager (Munich-Style Helles)
Silver, GABF 1992
Bronze, GABF 1991

Honey Double Mai Bock
Gold, WBC 2000
Silver, GABF 1992, GABF 1996
Bronze, GABF 1994, WBC 2000
Hon. Mtn., GABF 1995

Gold, GABF 1991
Bronze, GABF 2004, GABF 2007

Gold, GABF 1993, GABF 1994, GABF 1997
Silver, GABF 1999
Bronze, GABF 1995

Gold, GABF 1989, GABF 1990
Silver, GABF 2007

13 states including most of mid-Atlantic and CA, MI, OH, & GA

Roughly 10,000 bbls/year

History & Tidbits
  • Stoudt's Black Angus restaurant opened in 1964
  • Stoudt's Antique Mall (behind restaurant) opened in 1972
  • Karl Strauss mentored the Stoudts in brewing
  • Brewery opened in June 1987
  • Daughters, Son, Daughter-in-law, Son-in-law all involved in business
  • Stoudtburg Village opened in 1995
  • Eddie's Breads opened in 1997 and sells crafted bread under the same roof

  • Major Yearly Events
  • Microfest (held 3 times a year)
  • Oktoberfest (1 main weekend, followed by 4 similar weekends)

  • Where to Find Stoudt's During Philly Beer Week
  • Joe Sixpack's event on the 7th will feature their Gold
  • German Beer Heritage with Marnie Old on the 8th will showcase the Smooth Hoperator & Gold
  • Will be pairing their Mai Bock with London Grill's meatballs at The Brewer's Plate at the Independence Visitor's Center on Sunday the 9th
  • South Philly Tap Room's beer dinner on the 10th will include a firkin of Fat Dog Stout
  • Talk Stoudt's history with Carol at an historic Philly tavern, McGillin's, on Tuesday the 11th while they pour their Winter Ale
  • On the 13th @ White Dog Café, their 2007 GABF success will be celebrated along side other regional winners
  • Meet John Matson at Standard Tap on Friday the 14th (and another firkin of Fat Dog)
  • "Big Brother Pils" (new Imperial Pilsner) will be brewed for Philly Beer Week as a tribute to Michael Jackson's legacy
  • Scarlet Lady ESB will be included in the Real Ale Festival on Sunday the 16th
  • Carol will co-host a beer dinner at London Grill and join a tour Eastern State Penitentiary on the 16th

  • Tuesday, January 29, 2008

    The Inaugural Brew Lounge Meetup - Last Call

    The TBL meetup is almost here. Some of you have replied via e-mail to me; thanks for the notice. We've got some tables being put together for us, but there'll always be room for more if you can't commit ahead of time. No big deal at all. Of course, TJs will have plenty of great beer available in draft and bottle format. And, if you haven't eaten there before, there's definitely a little of something for everyone....and virtually every dish has beer worked into the recipe in some manner. There we's on. I'll be getting there around 6pm. Just ask for the Brew Lounge table when you come in. No start time, no ending time, no rules, no stress, just drinking some good beer with friends. Oh, and lest ye get the wrong impression...the Brew Lounge is not picking up the tab....full disclosure, right?! Hope to see you at TJs.

    Monday, January 28, 2008

    Path To Philly Beer Week 2008 - A Profile of Victory Brewing Company

    To outsiders, Victory could well be the brewery most identified with the Philadelphia region. It certainly has the largest distribution footprint of all local breweries. (If you throw Dogfish Head into the region, as much of a stretch as that may be, they would give Victory a challenge on that statistic.)

    Now heading into their 13th year of business, Victory is solidified as a Philadelphia region brewing powerhouse. They've kicked off the year 2008 with ambitious renovation plans at the brewery/brewpub in Downingtown to help ensure that they'll be around for quite some time to come.

    As you ready yourself for Philly Beer Week 2008, study up on some background notes on Victory and consider yourself lucky to be part of such a vibrant and rich beer region that PBW 2008 will celebrate.

    Name: Victory Brewing Company
    Location: 420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown, PA 19335
    Phone: 610-873-0881

    Ron Barchet & Bill Covaleski; founders, owners, & head brewmasters
    9 dedicated brewers
    Scott Dietrich - Brewery Operations Director
    Dr. Tim Wadkins, PhD. - Director of Quality Assurance

    Major Brands
    Baltic Thunder; Festbier; Golden Monkey; Hop Devil; Hop Wallop; Moonglow Weizenbock; Old Horizontal; Prima Pils; St. Boisterous; St. Victorious; Storm King; Sunrise Weissbier; V-12; Whirlwind Wit

    Festbier (German-Style Märzen/Oktoberfest)
    Gold, GABF 2007

    HopDevil Ale
    Champion Beer - Great British Beer Festival 2002
    Domestic Beer Of The Year - Malt Advocate Magazine 1999

    Grand Champion (Dortmunder/Helles), US Beer Tasting Championships 2004

    Prima Pils
    Silver (German-Style Pilsner), GABF 2007
    Grand Champion Pilsner, US Beer Tasting Championships 2002-2005

    St. Boisterous
    Grand Champion (Maibock), US Beer Tasting Championships 2006

    Storm King Stout
    Bronze (Imperial Stout), European BeerStar - Nuremberg, Germany 2007
    Champion Stout - Real Ale Festival of Chicago 202

    22 states including most eastern seaboard and TX, IL, MN, CA, WA, WI, CO, & OR

    Roughly 40,000 bbls/year

    History & Tidbits
  • Meeting in 1973 as fifth-graders, Ron & Bill became lifelong friends in pursuit of great beer
  • Covaleski has mentioned that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was an inspiration for his Hop Devil
  • Brewery begun operations in February 1996
  • Added new bottling line in 2002 & expanded 50 bbl brewhouse in 2004
  • Added 8 new 200 bbl fermenters in June 2006
  • Undergoing a major renovation, due to complete in late spring/early summer 2008

  • Major Yearly Events
  • Chili Challenge (Winter event)
  • Love Fest (Valentine’s event)
  • Fall Festival (debut Harvest Ale & Harvest Pils)

  • Where to Find Victory During Philly Beer Week
  • Bill will be getting things kicked off on the 7th with a Tria Fermentation Class pairing cheese with his beers
  • Joe Sixpack's favorite beers event will include the St. Victorious
  • Will be pairing their beer with food at The Brewer's Plate at the Independence Visitor's Center on Sunday the 9th
  • Meet 'n' Greet with Bill Covaleski on Tuesday, March 11th at Standard Tap
  • @ The Four Seasons Hotel for the Victorious Beer Dinner on Wednesday, March 12th
  • On the 13th @ White Dog Café, their 2007 GABF success will be celebrated along side other regional winners
  • Around town it will be difficult to miss Hop Devil at many bars and the occasional Prima Pils and Golden Monkey at a few others

  • Sunday, January 27, 2008

    Philly Beer Week 2008 - The Schedule

    I went and updated the Excel spreadsheet that I've shared with you; PBW website did the same. It's a bit more organized than previously, but I'll continue to update the spreadsheet right here, in the case that you like this usable format instead. What I like even more is when sometimes takes my swell idea and makes it even better. Now, it's not a spreadsheet, but the organization is real nice. Jack's organized a nice-looking traditional calendar over at the Beer Yard website. You might like to check that out for a quick overview glimpse of the seemingly ever-changing schedule of events for PBW. There are details behind each event too, with links to ticket ordering where applicable. No matter the "fluidity," it's sure shaping up to be one heck of a 10 days. Do you have your plans set yet?

    A Rolling Stone Gathers More Stone

    Looks like I'm going to miss this by just a week. Guess that'll leave some Stone for some other unworthy souls! Yowza
    THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF STONE BEERS ON TAP IN ONE PLACE AT ONE TIME, EVER We're having the Stone Winter Storm at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens with an avalanche of 35 DIFFERENT STONE BEERS ON TAP AT THE SAME TIME! That isn't even mentioning what Stone bottled beers we're pulling from our archive as well. All of these beers will go on tap the moment we open on Sunday, January 27th and will remain on until Saturday, February 2nd (or until each beer is gone). Stone Pale Ale Stone Smoked Porter Stone Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla Stone IPA Stone Ruination IPA Arrogant Bastard Ale Levitation Ale OAKED Arrogant Bastard Stone 4th Anniversary IPA Stone 7th Anniversary Ale Stone 8th Anniversary Ale Stone 9th Anniversary Ale Stone 10th Anniversary IPA Stone 11th Anniversary Ale with wet simcoe hops *ON CASK* 2004 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 2005 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 2006 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 2007 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 2002 Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2003 Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2004 Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2005 Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2006 Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2007 Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2003 Double Bastard Ale 2005 Double Bastard Ale 2006 Double Bastard Ale Stone 03.03.03 Vertical Epic Ale Stone 04.04.04 Vertical Epic Ale Stone 05.05.05 Vertical Epic Ale Stone 06.06.06 Vertical Epic Ale Stone 07.07.07 Vertical Epic Ale Stone 07.07.07 Vertical Epic Ale Aged in red wine barrels Stone Oatmeal Stout Brewed by Jeremy Moynier Sawyer's Triple Bottles Stone 4th Anniversary IPA Stone 5th Anniversary IPA Stone 6th Anniversary Porter Stone 7th Anniversary Ale Stone 8th Anniversary Ale Stone 9th Anniversary Ale Stone 10th Anniversary IPA 2002 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 2003 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 2004 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 2005 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 2006 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 2007 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 2001 Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2004 Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2005 Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2006 Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2007 Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2001 Double Bastard Ale 2004 Double Bastard Ale 2005 Double Bastard Ale 2006 Double Bastard Ale Stone 05.05.05 Vertical Epic Ale Stone 06.06.06 Vertical Epic Ale Stone 07.07.07 Vertical Epic Ale Sawyers Triple (2004) A FEW GROUND RULES: Serving sizes and prices will vary depending on alc/vol and rarity of supply. All bottles must be enjoyed on premise, if you buy it - the cap comes off - these beers are not available for take home. You need a minimum of two people to purchase a 22oz bottle of archived beer. Don't worry though, if you don’t have someone to share it with, we bet you won't have trouble making a friend. Many of these beers have been cellared for a long time. Over time the flavors of these beers have changed. If the condition of a beer has degraded past the point of drinkability, we will accommodate you. If you just don't care for the beer, you knew the risk going in - we're not responsible for your personal taste. If you've been doing your own squirreling and want to enjoy your prize with us, we want to encourage you! So feel free to bring along any Stone beer over 2 years old and check it in at the host stand and we'll waive the “corkage fee.” It's your job to make sure you bring it at the proper serving temperature.

    Friday, January 25, 2008

    The Inaugural Brew Lounge Meetup - A Reminder

    TJs in Paoli on 1/30 around 6:00pm I've been doing this Brew Lounge thingy for almost 3 years now and there's a whole bunch of you that I only know through our online exchanges. Last week, I proposed the Inaugural Brew Lounge Meetup. There'll be no stress with this first meetup. Nothing special going on, just getting together to meet some friends in person and drinking some good beer. Come and go as you please. So far, so good. We've got a handful of people who have said they'll make it out to TJs on 1/30. I'll be showing up around 6pm or so. Go earlier if you wish, I'll see you eventually. We have enough to get a few tables together and the management of TJs has graciously allowed us to do that. For those that have responded to me privately, I'll be sending you a note with something else we'll be doing that I won't mention in this public forum (don't worry, it's not all that salacious). If you think you'd like to join us, drop me a note or just show up. Check out their current tap list here if you need further motivation. TJs is easy to find either by car or by train.

    Brewers in the News

    One in the mainstream press (Iron Hill) and one in the not so mainstream, depending upon your POV, YouPress (Cricket Hill). Both informative and fun in their own ways, it's must-see TV. enjoy

    Thursday, January 24, 2008

    Iron Hill Brings Belgium to West Chester, PA - the lineup

    I know you're all excited. You're chattering about it on Beer Advocate. You've mentioned it to me when I've seen you out on the town. You've sent me an e-mail to ask if I'm going. Well, yup, I'll be there. And, if there was any doubt (or if you still have doubt), check out the lineup that I received yesterday and tell me if there's still any question?
    (alphabetical order) Dock Street, Philadelphia PA ~~ Imperial Wit - Double strength Belgian style Wit beer made with malted and unmalted wheat, coriander, grains of paradise and orange peel. 20 Plato, 17 BU, 8.0% abv Flying Fish, Cherry Hill NJ ~~ Bourbon Abbey Dubbel - Classic Abbey Dubbel aged in a used Bourbon barrel. Exceptionally complex beer with many interwoven flavors. 16.4 Plato, 7.5% abv General Lafayette Inn, Lafayette Hill PA ~~ Biere de Framboises - Sour, tart, dry, wine-like Belgian-style Ale made with 400 pounds of whole raspberries and a lactic fermentation. Six months in the making, this bright red brew has a quenching finish. 12 BU, 7.8% abv Harpoon, Boston MA ~~ Belgian Brown Ale - Fruity, sweet and malty ale fermented with the legendary Duvel strain. 14 Plato, 44 BU, 5.2% abv ~~ Wild Ale - Brewed with Vienna malt and lightly hopped. Fermented with Bastogne yeast then transferred to an open oak barrel and spiked with Brettanomyces-Lambicus. Light and dry yet tart and complex. Iron Hill, West Chester PA ~~ Heywood - fermented completely in oak with 100% Brettanomyces. Tart, complex an funky. 17 Plato, 11 BU, 7% abv ~~ The Quadfather - dark, rich, malty and very complex. Belgian Abbey yeast, dark candi sugar and a huge assortment of specialty malts provide layers and layers of complex fruity aromas and flavors and a warming alcohol finish. 27 Plato, 50 BU, 10.5% abv ~~ The Cannibal - Light bodied and dry but complex. Unique yeast strain imparts notes of spice and tropical fruit. Gold medal 2005 GABF, Silver Medal 2006 World Beer Cup. 28 Plato, 35 BU, 7.2% abv Iron Hill, Phoenixville PA ~~ Imperial Wit - Double Belgian White made with 7 gallons of Pine Barrens honey and fresh orange peel then aged in oak for 7 months. 29 Plato, 7.8% abv Iron Hill, Newark DE ~~ Fe10 - In celebration of our 10th Anniversary, we have crafted this wonderful dark Belgian style abbey ale. Using dark roasted malts and light and dark candi sugar, we have created a beer with a great nose of roast, fruity esters and spice, with a flavor that starts with a malty character up front and a clean finish. 24 Plato, 27 BU, 10.0% abv Iron Hill, North Wales PA ~~ Fred (Flemish Red) - This Flemish Red ale is deep red in color, starts off malty with a bit of caramel character the use of a sour mash, oak aging and a bacteria culture gives this beer a unique tartness and complexity. 13.5 Plato, 15 BU, 5.0% abv Iron Hill, Media PA ~~ Rudolph’s Revenge - American style Belgian golden strong ale, complex aroma and flavor of grapefruit, spice and bananas with a refreshing hop bitterness. This beer was hopped like an APA. We basically took our Belgian Tripel and hopped the hell out of it. 21 Plato, 60 BU, 9.0% abv Iron Hill, Wilmington DE ~~ Cannibal Nocturnum - Roasted and chocolate characters from Belgian malts mingle with the spicy character and tropical fruit notes of the Belgian yeast strain used in the original Cannibal. 28 Plato, 35 BU, 7.2% abv Manayunk Brewery, Philadelphia PA ~~ Tripel Lindy - Dive on into a tongue-tapping experience with this authentic Belgian Tripel made with German Pils malt and aged English hops. 22 Plato, 25 BU, 9.5% abv McKenzie Brew House, Malvern PA ~~ Grisette - A Belgian-style farmhouse ale brewed with wheat and French barley. A classic Saison spice character and substantial noble hop character are at the forefront, yet a moderate body allows it to sit along side its stronger Saison cousins. Designed as a crisp, easy drinking session ale inspired by a 19th century brew beloved by thirsty miners. 11.5 Plato, 28 BU, 4.2% abv Nodding Head, Philadelphia PA ~~ Otay - Unfiltered straw colored ale brewed with Belgian yeast and 12 lbs of organic buckwheat. 16.5 Plato, 25 BU, 7% abv Sly Fox, Phoenixville PA ~~ Saison Vos - Saison/Farmhouse Ale- Brewed with German Pils malt and hopped with East Kent Goldings. Fermented with a proprietary yeast which imparts its dry, spicy character. Golden orange in color. 14.5 Plato, 32 BU, 6.9% abv Stewart’s Brewing, Bear DE ~~ Stumblin’ Monk - Golden Strong Ale hopped with Styrian Goldings and Saaz 22.0 Plato, 9% abv Stoudt's, Adamstown PA ~~ Stoudt’s Tripel - strong, full bodied abbey style ale. The yeast strain contributes a rish array of spicy, phenolic, fruit-like flavors and a noticeable alcoholic warmth. 17.5 Plato, 37 BU, 9% abv Triumph, New Hope PA ~~ Belgian Red Ale - This light-bodied, traditional Belgian Red Ale is brewed with authentic Trappist yeast, Belgian candy sugar and imported caramel malt. Well balanced with high alcohol, full malt body and a touch of European hops. 15.0 Plato, 20 BU, 7% abv Tröegs, Harrisburg PA ~~ Mad Elf - The combination of Cherries, Honey, and Chocolate Malts delivers gentle fruits and subtle spices. Fermented and aged with a unique yeast, this ruby red beer has significant warming strength. 27 Plato, 11% abv, 15 BU Victory, Downingtown PA ~~ Abbey 6 - Mildly fruity, well-tempered Belgian single exhibiting characteristics of the Westmalle Abbey yeast strain. 15.3 Plato, 31 BU, 6.2% abv

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    We Interrupt This Beer To Bring You....

    ...a note about running. Hold on, get back here...don't go anywhere. This won't hurt, I promise. I'm going to the movies tomorrow night to see Spirit Of The Marathon. It's been a while since I've written about my running escapades; it is winter after all. Darkness, cold, and Hibernation Ale have a way of cajoling me into slower motion. But, tomorrow night, I'm going to head with some marathon-nutty friends and Patty to see this truly inspirational-looking feature length documentary about amateurs and two professional runners in the 2005 Chicago Marathon. It's showing for one night only across the country. Chances are it's playing in a theater near you. If you watch the trailer, I think you'll agree that if you enjoy stories about the human spirit, athletic competition, and the fight to accomplish great things, you will enjoy this movie without ever having run 26.2 yards, let alone miles. We may now resume this beer...

    The Brewer's Plate 2008 lineup

    There's not much doubt in my mind that The Brewer's Plate food and beer pairing event is one of the shining gems in the Philly Beer Calendar each year. Following a twenty year history of the highly successful The Book and the Cook series in Philadelphia, The Brewer's Plate takes Garrett Oliver's passion and marries the wonderful local agriculture, talented chefs, and handcrafted beer.

    If there's any doubt that Philadelphia is a premier dining destination in this country, I'd suggest attending this event. It proves that Philadelphia has a fully-rounded restaurant scene to compliment its high-end dining establishments. I'd recalled an article from Stephen Beaumont a while ago, and I was happy to be able to track it down in his archives to share with you.

    In the fourth year running, the event showcases the best of food and beer and demonstrates the matrimonial merits of the pairing. Hosting the event at the Reading Terminal Market further enhances the event. During Philly Beer Week, the event will be held at the new and polished Constitution Center in the historic Independence Mall area; but, in the fall the event will return to its more natural roots at the also-historic Reading Terminal Market to give us a double-dose of The Brewer's Plate in 2008.

    I'll have more to say about the event as we get closer to PBW. For now, check out the list of local restaurants and brewers that will be on display at the event in March. Tickets are currently on sale over here. If you'd like to check out my reviews of the last two year's installments, check here for 2006 and here for 2007.

    Participating Restaurants
    Abbaye 215-627-6711


    Bar Ferdinand

    Belgian Café

    Cantina Los Caballitos 215-925-4471

    Fork Restaurant & Fork Etc.

    General Lafayette Inn & Brewery

    Iron Hill

    London Grill

    Manayunk Brewing Co.

    Restaurant Alba



    Siam Lotus

    The Sidecar Bar & Grille


    Southwark Restaurant & Bar



    White Dog Café


    Participating Breweries
    Appalachian Brewing Company

    Climax Brewing Company

    Cricket Hill Brewing Company, Inc.

    Dock Street Brewery

    Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

    Flying Fish Brewing Company

    General Lafayette Inn & Brewery

    Iron Hill

    Lancaster Brewing Co.

    Legacy Brewing Co.

    Manayunk Brewing Co.

    Nodding Head Brewery

    Philadelphia Brewing Company

    River Horse Brewing Co.

    Sly Fox Brewery

    Stoudt’s Brewing Co., Inc.

    Triumph Brewing Co.

    Tröegs Brewing Company

    Victory Brewing Company

    Weyerbacher Brewing Company

    Yards Brewing

    Tuesday, January 22, 2008

    Philly Beer Week 2008: What To Do

    If you read last week's post closely enough (and, to the end!), you may have caught a link to a spreadsheet-based calendar of events for Philly Beer Week 2008 that I posted. I found the calendar at the official site a bit too difficult to navigate for my own planning purposes, so I put the events in a spreadsheet and shared with all of you in the case that it's also helpful for you. Lew mentions last night that the site has been experiencing some difficulties and that they should have it worked out soon. In the meantime, I've been trying to keep up with various notes from here and there, from whom I'd expect the information to be most correct. The spreadsheet's not the prettiest, but it works for me....gets it all on one sheet with the pertinent information. And so it goes. More to come, I'm sure...

    Monday, January 21, 2008

    Construction Across The Way: Lagunitas

    Piggy-backing on my last post about Philadelphia-area construction, here's an update on some happenings from the other side of the country. Jay has posted some great pictures over at his site. More capacity means more Lagunitas, right?! Good stuff, thanks Jay!

    Ron's Original Bar & Grille: Construction Update 1/21/08

    This came via e-mail update from the folks at Ron's. It's finally off the ground; Add this construction project to the list. Let's see, this makes West Mt. Airy (Earth Bread & Brewery), Downingtown (Victory), Philadelphia (Yards), and now Uwchlan Twp/Exton. I'm probably missing some brewery/brewpub-related construction project here in the Delaware Valley, but these alone give us promise that the flow of better beer in this region will continue through 2008. Ron's Original Bar & Grille, aka Ron's Schoolhouse Bar & Grille, has been talking about this long-anticipated expansion for some time now. For the beer lover in all of us, this should be a welcome addition to the area. Tom M. and company already bust their butts to stock the to-go coolers with great bottled beer...soon there'll be 16 taps a-flowing with draft beer. Can't wait!
    To Our Loyal Customers: As you may have heard, we are about to start a new era in our restaurant life. The extensive remodeling project that we have all been waiting for is finally upon us! We will remain open throughout most of the construction and will only close when it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. During this phase there may be times when we run low on certain food, beverage or condiment items - please be patient with us, the end result will be well worth it. Ron would like to stress, as he has already to many of our guests, that the food itself and our prices will NOT change. During this exciting time we will communicate as best we can through signage and our website if and when we will be closed. Be sure to visit if there is any question as to whether or not we will be open. Or call 610-594-9900 for updates via a daily message about the progress of our construction. Thank you for your continued support. Ron's Original Bar & Grille

    Victory Renovations Picking Up Steam

    First, the newsletter...then, a brief stop at Victory this past Saturday afternoon to, by chance, see the starting cuts being made in the future entrance way. Inside, the joint was jumpin' as usual and I made off with some to-go beer for me and friends. Didn't expect to be taking pictures, so these cell phone pictures will have to do for now.

    Saturday, January 19, 2008

    Beer Calendar: What To Do In February 2008

    Many of you have expressed the importance and value of the calendars that I put up with event information each month. In an effort to get information to you sooner, in the future I will send the calendar of events closer to the middle of the preceding month, rather than in the last few days before month-end. So, let's give this a try. Of course, I'll keep it up-to-date with new events as I learn of them. Here are some selected upcoming February events that should keep the winter chill off. Can anyone say 'beer dinners'? Mon. 1/28 - Stout Dinner @Birreria Paradiso, Washington, DC (seatings at 6:30pm & 9:30pm) Tue. 1/29 - Firestone Walker Beer Dinner @JJ Brewsky's, Camarillo, CA (7pm; $50) Wed. 1/30 - This One Tastes Like Wine (Tom Baker) @Tria Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $45) Thu. 1/31 - Thursday Night Tasting (Boulder Brewing) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free) Fri. 2/1 - Incubus Friday (first Friday) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (12pm 'til it kicks; pay as you go) Sat. 2/2 - 2008 Groundhog Day Hawaiian Shirt Beer Breakfast and Lucky Cat Night Beer Prognostication @The Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA (7am-close; free entry, pay as you go) Sat. 2/2 - 20th Anniversary Celebration @Anderson Valley Brewing, Boonville, CA (4pm-???; $65) Thu. 2/7 - Bigfoot Vertical Tasting ('06, '07, '08) @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (6pm; pay as you go) Thu. 2/7 - Victory Beer Dinner @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA (6:30pm; $55) Thu. 2/7 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tapping (Nuit de Folie (Night of Madness)) @Triumph Brewing, Philadelphia, PA (6pm; pay as you go) Fri. 2/8 - Stout & Porter night @TJs, Paoli, PA (pay as you go) Fri. 2/8 - IPA Project Varietal Beer Release (Horizon) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (12pm-???; pay as you go) Sat. 2/9 - Sweet and Sour-Bretts, Bocks, & Scots-No Hops @Zeno's, State College, PA (3pm-8pm; $30 or $5 cover & pay as you go) Sat. 2/9 - Annual Double IPA Festival @The Bistro, Hayward, CA (11am-7pm; no entry fee, pay as you go) Sun. 2/10 - Wild Game Dinner @Ortino's Northside, Zieglerville, PA (5:30pm; $59) Tue. 2/12 - Mardi Gras Beer Dinner @Union Barrel Works, Reamstown, PA (6:30pm; $35) Tue. 2/12 - Lost Abbey/Tomme Arthur Dinner @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (7pm; $60) Thu. 2/13 - Winter Chef & Brewer's Dinner @Rock Bottom, King of Prussia, PA (6pm; $39.99) Fri. 2/15-Sun.2/17 - Belgian Beer Festival @Max's, Baltimore, MD (11am-close; free entry, pay as you go) Sat. 2/16 - Annual Barleywine Festival @Toronado, San Francisco, CA (12pm-???; no entry fee, pay as you go) Sat. 2/16 - Winterfest @General Lafayette Inn & Brewery, Lafayette Hill, PA (12pm-3:30pm; $45) Sun. 2/17 - Fancy Brew Dinner (Chocolate! Chocolate!) @Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, Rehobeth Beach, DE (6:30pm; $47) Sat. 2/9-Sun.2/17 - Beerapalooza 2008 various locations around the Bay Area, CA (visit website for more details) Sat. 2/16-Sun.3/2 - Belgian Beer Festival @Lucky Baldwin's, Pasadena, CA (details TBD) Thu. 2/21 - Bell's Beer Dinner @The Drafting Room, Spring House, PA (6pm; $45) Fri. 2/22 - Stoudt's Bomber Night (get it? 22 ouncers?) @The Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA (pay as you go) Fri. 2/22 - Friday Night Tasting (Boulder) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (free) Fri. 2/22-Sun.2/24 - 'Cask Head' Cask Ale Festival @The Brazen Head, New York, NY (12pm-close; free entry, pay as you go) Tue. 2/26 - Brew Master’s Dinner @Bethlehem Brew Works, Bethlehem, PA (7pm; $60) Fri. 2/29 - Cask Ale Night (Tröegs & Ridgeway) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA (4:30pm-6:30pm; pay as you go) Fri. 2/29 - Friday Night Tasting (Gritty McDuff) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (free) Fri. 2/29 - Quebec's Finest Cheeses & Beers @DiBruno Bros., Philadelphia, PA (6pm-8pm; $45)

    Friday, January 18, 2008

    Philly Beer Week 2008 is almost here

    I haven't yet said much about the fast-approaching Philly Beer Week. The fact is that it will be here very, very soon. Up until just a few weeks ago, not much had been planned, at least not officially planned. So, I didn't feel that there was much to add to, or opine on, the topic. From what I gather, there had been much in the way of fragmented discussion but nothing really pulled together until the last couple of weeks or so. The marketing arm of Philly Beer Week (as in, the 10 days of events) is Philly Beer Week (as in, the promotional group) which is comprised of around twenty beer industry folk, publicists, and lawyers who are promoting the 10 days through the website, print material, and radio spots. Last week, a large group of interested brewers, proprietors, luminaries, and the like gathered at Nodding Head to banter about various events that were at varying stages of planning. During the last couple of weeks, the website finally started posting actual dates, times, and prices for the events that were further along in the planning stages. Not surprisingly, hosting a good number of events during these ten days is the Monk's Cafe family. Michael Jackson is a presence that will be seen throughout the 10 days, given his propensity to enjoy the Philly beer region, the way in which he extolled the virtues of it, and his overall impact on the region. No less than three events will carry some influence of the late MJ. Though, in reality, much of the region's and industry's success throughout the past 30 years can be at least indirectly attributed to his life's passion for well-crafted beer. While the PBW website does keep an up-to-date listing of events, I found it to be a bit cumbersome to aid in my own personal planning of to-do events. So, I took the liberty of putting the events in a spreadsheet and sharing it with all of you. You can access it through this link, download it, and print it out. I will do my best to always keep it current with dates and times as they may change. Though, for the most reliable details, you should probably stay in touch with the PBW website and/or the individual hosting establishments. There's no doubt this is going to happen. What remains to be seen is the degree of participation from all of my fellow beer lovers. Will this be primarily a regional event? Will beer lovers come from across the country to take part in the many festivities? Will the shuttles around town make the various venues all easily accessible? Who will be the most frequently spotted beer celebrity around town? Will Lew's Main Line Express ever leave Bridgewater's? What will be the most talked about aspect of PBW 2008? Will it occur again in 2009? Will it eventually rival some of the country's foremost beer festivals and gatherings? Will Bryan ever stop with his questions? Will Bryan shut up and conduct his own PBW event? Hm, now there's an interesting question. Stay tuned for more information on the last question, since that's the only one that I can definitively answer.

    Thursday, January 17, 2008

    Upcoming Victory Beer Dinner at General Sutter Inn in Lititz, PA - 2/7/07

    Year of the Rat, nah. Year of the Beer Dinner! Paul has sent along the details to this good looking beer dinner in February at the General Sutter Inn. Do the folks in Lancaster County know how good their beer scene is becoming? (has become?) Wish I could check it out, but it doesn't look like this one is in the cards for me. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Victory Beer Dinner, Thursday, Feb 7, 6:30 5 Courses, 5 Beers, $55 First Course Victory Lager ~Hors d'Oeuvres to include canapés, cheese and assortment of brochettes, i.e. chicken, beef, pork~ Second Course Victory Hop Wallop ~Roast Duck Ragout with wild mushrooms~ Third Course Victory Prima Pils ~Butter Poached Diver Sea Scallops over Organic Greens with Confetti Vegetables and Citrus Vinaigrette~ Fourth Course Victory Cask-Conditioned Hop Devil ~Grilled Lamb Noisette with Cabot Sage Potato and Root Vegetable, Roasted Garlic Jus~ Fifth Course Victory Golden Monkey ~Goat Cheese Cake with Mixed Berry Compote~ We are extremely honoured to have Bill Covaleski, founding partner of Victory Brewing speaking at this dinner. Don't miss this great event. Call 717.626.2115 to book your reservation.

    The Inaugural Brew Lounge Meetup

    Meetups. Are they the fashionable thing to do for groups of people normally accustomed to only talking through the Web? It's been something I've considered for some time now, but it just never took priority. Well, I figured it was about time to host an inaugural meetup of The Brew Lounge community and see how it goes. Not gonna overplan this first one; nothing special for this first gathering. Let's just get together and drink some good beers. And, if the turnout is decent and we seem to like the idea, perhaps we'll make it a regular occurrence. How about we say Wednesday, January 30th at TJs in Paoli, PA? Show up anytime you like; I'll get there sometime around 6pm or so. While you don't need to RSVP, if you let me know you're coming, I can give Jeff (1/2 the ownership) a rough count and he may put together a special area for us to gather. Use the e-mail link on the right (or just click here) to send a private message letting me know if you think you can make it on 1/30.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    Upcoming Wild Game Dinner at Ortino's Northside

    Wild Game sure is getting tamed as of late. There'll be such a dinner during Philly Beer Week. Union Barrel Works hosted one last month. Somehow I wouldn't be surprised if the SAVOR event in D.C. this coming spring would do something along these lines too. (Oh yeah, and I make an award-winning venison chili, thanks for asking.) John, Dan, Sarah Rocks, and the rest of the Ortino's crew are ready to put out their take on Wild Game and pair it with their finest Belgian beer stash. Passed along by Mr. Bengel and hand-typed by yours truly (dude, thanks for the jpeg, ggrrr), here's the menu that just might get me driving up route 29 to Zieglerville in February. For those uninitiated, be sure to follow route 29 north through Zieglersville to get to Zieglerville ;-) Or just follow this map. The time is 5:30pm, the dress is casual, and seating is give 'em a call at 610-287-7272 and make a reservation. Happy Hour Buffet - Fire Roasted Pig stuffed with Venison Sausage glazed with Beer BBQ sauce with gourmet mustards and breads - Belgian cheese course served with an array of fresh fruits and crackers Salad Course - Pheasant Confit on top of Baby Greens with Celriac Candied Hazlenuts tossed with Raspberry Framboise Vinaigrette Entree Course - Beer Braised Buffalo Short Ribs, Barley Risotto, and Witte Kerke Sauteed Leeks, Turnips, and Brussel Sprouts Dessert Course - Gulden Draak Raisin and Plum Rice Pudding with Baked Drunken Apples

    Union Barrel Works Seafood & Beer Dinner - 1/15/07

    Congratulations to Tom, Amy, and David Rupp at Union Barrel Works in Reamstown, PA. Thanks to The Brew Lounge, they successfully hosted their first sellout. Okay, partial thanks to The Brew Lounge. Okay, I shouldn't kid myself, they can only thank TBL for getting me there. Even my table mates would have gone with out me. Humbling, for sure :)

    But, on a much more serious note (because if beer's gonna be the "new wine", it's gotta be serious, right?! How am I doing at being smarmy?), UBW's third official beer dinner was another well-crafted combination of Tom's recipes from the brewhouse and son David's seafood creations in the kitchen. The first back in October may be best described as an all-American feast. Before taking a month's break to focus on the holidays, November's dinner focused on wild game.

    Truth be told, the menu this time around intrigued me the most. Seafood and beer, how would it be done? Would it be done well, or would it leave us reaching for the nearest glass of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Chardonnay? The consensus around the room seemed to be agree that the sea-food received an A.

    Speaking of around the room, as I mentioned earlier this was a full house. The dining room was filled with a rough count of at least 60 diners, including a certain someone, who if he doesn't start working soon (tomorrow, I believe?), I'm going to put in a vote that we give him the name "Wanderin' Patrick". This guy's been on a tear during his little working hiatus. Come to think of it, though, this could boomerang and raise questions about my own itinerary.

    If I may head straight into my rankings, my favorite dish of the evening was the stuffed lobster tail. We all wished, natch, that it was a WHOLE lobster but then the dinner price might have been more like $80 instead of $40. But, with the chunked lobster meat interspersed with the spinach and crab, it was quite the delicacy. The scallops ran a close second where the meaty bacon helped accent the honey glazed mollusk. The bed of risotto made this quite the welcome kickoff to the meal....the usual amuse bouche, it was not.

    As for pairings, I'm going to stick with that first course. On paper, it sounded to me like it would be a winner, and it didn't disappoint. While the scallops were certainly cooked, my dining companions agreed that it was much better than the alternative of being undercooked. The flavor coming from the bacon and the honey, held up by the starchiness of the rice paired so perfectly with the honey-nuanced mai bock. On its own, the mai bock is one of my favorites at UBW; paired with this dish, the beer became deeper and more flavorful.

    The lightly battered calamari rings with the lager was a surprise pairing that also pleased. The simple, perfected flavors of the lager matched nicely with the light oil/fry flavor and the tomato dipping sauce. Pairing with tomato is no easy feat.

    I wouldn't normally comment on a sorbet course, but the coffee sorbet with the dry, roasty Round Boy Stout was a very nice match.

    I normally end most beer dinner reviews with some high praise, and a picture of course, for the decadent chocolate dessert. Well, you get the picture here at the bottom but, surprise!, this time no chocolate was involved in the dessert. Whether it was rum, brandy, or some other liqueur drizzled through the sauce and ice cream it was a delicious end all the same to a great meal. The Wobbly Bob, perhaps my second favorite UBW brew, was paired with it, though I think it secretly longed for a chocolate companion ;-)

    Honey Scallops
    Wrapped in wild boar bacon and served over artichoke Risotto
    ~Paired with Mai Bock~

    Catfish Etouffe
    Served with white rice
    ~Paired with Pale Ale~

    Coffee Stout Sorbet
    ~ Paired with Round Boy Stout~

    Beer Batter Calamari
    Served with a plum tomato dipping sauce
    ~Paired with Lager~

    Lobster Tail
    Stuffed with spinach and crab and topped with a truffle Beurre Blanc sauce
    And potato herb pancake
    ~Paired with Kölsch~

    Lemon Raspberry Mousse
    ~Paired with Octoberfest~

    Barrel Bananas Foster
    UBW’s version
    ~Paired with Wobbly Bob~

    The next dinner is already set for Tuesday February 12, 2007. The theme is Mardi Gras and reservations are required by calling 717-335-7837.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2008

    Quick Review of The Belgian Cafe in Philadelphia, PA

    I want to like Monk's sister cafe, The Belgian Cafe, across town. I really do. Why? Maybe to invalidate Craig Laban's recent review, finding it hard to believe that the Monk's duo could be stumbling in their Art Museum neighborhood foray. Maybe because I previously lived just two blocks away and would like to think the former Tavern on Green would be turned into something where I could envision myself a permanent fixture if I still resided in the area. Maybe it's because given Philadelphia's and Tom Peters' preeminent position in this country's Belgian beer scene, success for the new establishment should be a fait accompli?

    Let's see, how did this all work out? Well, we stopped in late on Saturday afternoon after the Flyers overtime loss to the Bruins in a modern-day display of almost Old Time Hockey. Perhaps it wasn't the most fair time of day to stop in for a review. We sat at the bar and stayed for some beers and a dinner. This took around 90 minutes, or so.

    To the first point above, Laban's criticism was mostly pointed at the vegan side of the menu. For starters, I should say that this would not be my natural inclination. Not that I have a problem eating soy, plant, or other non-animal products; it just is not usually my first choice. Vegetarian meatloaf (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) just doesn't jump off the page at me. Saying that, we opted for mussels and a salad to start with, then the beef stew for me and the ham & cheese sandwich (more interesting than it sounds) for Patty.

    The mussels were decent. Around average size, I'd say, for this time of year. Plump and firm enough and they carried some of the flavor from the Herbes de Provence and Piraat that they were lounging in. Some of the rosemary sprigs could have been chopped a bit finer, since using them as toothpicks was not my preference. Providing a nice texture to the dish was the addition of chunked sausage.

    The beef stew that I had was a decent sized plate full of chunked beef (mmm, more chunked meat! told you we didn't go for the vegan options) surrounded by vegetables and topped with a generous dollop of mashed potatoes. The beef was just a couple of minutes away from being cooked too long for my preference, but overall, this was a satisfying and tasty bowl of stew for what would be a chilly evening.

    And, the ham and cheese sandwich that Patty ordered? It came out with each of the toasted sides of the sandwich open-faced, both layered with both ham and cheese, which was perfect for her to spread a knife of dijon mustard across. It was a really tasty, yet simple, sandwich. We would have liked to have had a bit more flavor, though, in the unremarkable slaw served as the sandwich's side.

    The beer? Oh, you want to hear more about the beer, eh? They've got a dozen taps pouring beers and on this particular day they ranged from Chimay to Rogue to St. Bernardus to Brooklyn to local faves Tröegs and Sly Fox. And, while it's only a subset of what's available at bigger brother Monk's across town, the bottle selection lists most of the requisite beers from around the world focusing, of course, primarily on Belgium and the United States. Our selections were drafts from Rogue Hop Heaven, St. Bernardus 12, Chimay Cinq Cents, Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, La Chouffe, and a bottle of Maredsous 8. All were poured and presented properly in fitting glassware.

    The service was fine too. It was sufficiently friendly, but certainly not aggressively in our face and not always on top of our needs. We were there, as I'd mentioned, in the late afternoon nearing shift change. Things might have been a bit more disorganized than they would be, say, three hours later. Plus, we sat at the bar and did not get the full dining room experience.

    Overall, The Belgian Cafe measured up just fine. Let's go back to my checklist in the opening above.

    A) Our food experience seems to have been better than Laban's;
    B) Based on the trendy edge, or shall I say edgy trend (I couldn't quite put my finger on whether they're going for a particular vibe), that they seem to be exhibiting, I'm thinking that Bridgid's would be a more likely every-other-day hang out for me, if I still lived in the neighborhood; and
    C) Tom & Fergie have done well opening this new location, but will be interesting to see the long-term viability of it in the Art Museum neighborhood. The changing demographic of the area will help to determine.

    It certainly deserves a full review after another visit and a chance to test out more of the menu and service.

    Monday, January 14, 2008

    Blind Tiger Loves Heavyweight Loves Victory Loves Beer

    In NYC this Wednesday? Now's as good as chance as any to check out what's flowing from their many tap handles. Direct from Alan's e-mail update... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Heavyweight Brewing Company, an old Blind Tiger staple, has been closed for over a year now... And even though we may still have some bottles kicking around, the draught list always seems a little empty without the ol'Heavyweight tap handle showing up every now and then. Luckily, the craft beer community is more of a family than just a bunch of small business owners trying to make a quick buck. In the true spirit of family, brewers in this small group love to share; whether it's ideas, stories, insight or even recipes... When I heard that Heavyweight founder Tom Baker was talking to Bill Covaleski (president and head brewer of Victory Brewing Company) my beer senses started tingling. I knew that the two of them together could do something to keep at least one of the phenomenal brews from Heavyweight within our grasp...and as rare as it is, I was right! This Wednesday Jan. 16th @ 4:00PM the Blind Tiger will proudly introduce Victory's homage (not a replica) to Heavyweight's Perkuno's Hammer...called Victory Baltic Thunder! This deep complex Baltic Imperial Porter has a beautiful symphony of flavors... Think deep roasted malts, with notes of chocolate, hits of coffee bitterness, and a finish that will have you begging for more. And just to make things even better, I will be putting on some of Victory's classic brews like the Hop Wallop, Hop Devil, Golden Monkey and the Donnybrook Stout. Oh, yeah, and I guess you guys might even appreciate a keg of Heavyweight...right? So, I'm going to let go of (and this is very difficult for me) the only keg of Heavyweight's Uncle Bob's Bog Weisse - a tart cranberry wheat... So come by, have a Victory...have a Heavyweight...heck, have both! And if we get lucky, we may even share a pint with Heavyweight's very own, Tom Baker.

    Saturday, January 12, 2008

    Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 1/12/08

    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 1/12/08
    Allagash White
    Avery Hog Heaven
    Black Sheep Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale (cask)
    Brouwerij De Koninck Winter Koninck
    Gouden Carolus Noël/Christmas
    Lancaster Brewing Milk Stout
    Left Hand Snowbound Ale
    Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat
    Scaldis/Bush Noël
    Verhaeghe Echte Kriekenbier
    Weyerbacher Double Simcoe
    Wild Goose Snow Goose
    Young's Winter Warmer

    And the usual suspects...
    Blanche De Bruxelles Witbier
    Chimay White
    Coors Light
    Guinness Stout
    Harp Lager
    Plzensky Prazdroj Pilsner Urquell
    Smithwick's Ale
    Stella Artois Belgian Pale Ale
    Victory HopDevil
    Yuengling Traditional Lager

    A Breath of Fresh Air at Sly Fox

    My first visit of 2008 to Sly Fox in Phoenixville, PA last night brought a pleasant surprise. I had forgotten that they planned to go smoke-free on January 1st. Within the first five minutes at the bar chatting with Wanderin' Joe and other beer buddies, I had to interrupt when I realized what was different. No clouds of carcinogens were wafting my way and the only thing drifting up my olfactory were the components of the beer that I was meant to taste and smell. Too bad this trip to Sly Fox was only due to last about 30 minutes. And, we actually stuck to it! The main objective was to sample the 5-year-old Ichor (quadrupel). This big beer was put away back in 2003 and made its way out to the bar yesterday at noon time. It seemed to have held up pretty well. It was starting to show its age a bit with some vegetal flavors, but they were not very noticeable in amongst the other things going on in this dark beer...nice malty profile and dried out dark fruit sweetness to it and roughly 10% ABV help to mask and minimize any deterioration. Overall, it was a nice drink. I topped it off with a small glass of the Burns Scottish Ale (nicely roasted malt and dry, faint smoke flavors). Patty enjoyed the always perfect Oatmeal Stout. Good times, as usual, at Sly Fox. And now, not so hazy and less laundry to do when we get home.

    Friday, January 11, 2008

    Hops Shortage - Can This Wait?

    I'm on a hop trip lately. The last month or so, I just can't get enough of HOPS. Funny thing is, I'm not a huge "hophead," but I do from time to time love me my hops. Alan's got the same thinking going on up North of the Border. Lew seems to be thinking in the same vein. Suzanne, too. William Brand, Eric Asimov (though not totally sure which side of the fence he's coming down on), Jon, and Jay. Even the scientists are getting in on the action. I just so happen to be writing this while enjoying (immensely) the Bittersweet Lenny's RIPA from Shmaltz. Such a friggin' great beer! Kind of takes me back to that memorable meetup with Mr. Bryson back in March '07. Between my Imperial IPA homebrew, Southern Tier's Unearthly IPA, Deschutes Hop Trip, Dock Street Rye IPA, Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale, and other hop beauties from Victory, Sly Fox, and Avery, I just can't seem to get enough of the Humulus Lupulus. Was it the Sly Fox Odyssey Project in December or all the news lately about hop shortages in the coming few years that did it to me? Dunno, can't explain it. But, I've got a bunch of stouts, barleywines, and other strong ales in the waiting. Well, at least there'll be hops in them there beers too!

    Thursday, January 10, 2008

    Philly's New Mayor and Philly Beer Week

    A new day has dawned here in Philly, for sure. I figure that if he doesn't want to take the First Mayoral Sip, or tap the First Firkin, Michael Nutter can at least team up with ?uestlove and The Pain Relievaz and lay down a PBW Welcome Rap. Michael? Sam?

    Tap List at Teresa's Next Door in Wayne, PA - 1/9/08

    For those who have not made their way to Teresa's Next Door, here's the tap list as of 1/9/08 and it's fairly typical of the quality and diversity that can be found there. Keep in mind, that these are the drafts. The bottle selection is just as good, but ten fold. Did I mention just how much I hate living in this region?

    Allagash Tripel
    Arcadia Cereal Killer
    Atomium Grand Cru
    Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye
    Brasserie Des Géants Goliath Belgium Tripel
    Brasserie Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux
    Brouwerij De Ranke Pere Noël
    Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat Maredsous 8
    Brouwerij Slaghmuylder Witkap Pater Tripel
    Chimay White
    Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre
    Flying Dog Double Dog
    Founders Breakfast Stout
    Fuller's London Porter
    Hoegaarden Witbier
    Koningshoeven La Trappe Quadrupel
    Kulmbacher Brauerei EKU Pils
    Lindemans Framboise
    Rodenbach Grand Cru
    Stoudts Gold
    The Lion Brewery Stegmaier Winter Warmer
    Thomas Hooker IPA
    Tröegs Pale Ale
    Sly Fox Oatmeal Stout (hand)
    Victory Hop Wallop (hand)
    North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout (nitro)

    Wednesday, January 09, 2008

    The Thunder Finally Rolls at The Drafting Room : 1/5/08

    The Tale of Two Beers. Maybe that's what this past Saturday should have been called at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA. There was the Perkuno's Hammer that some were tasting for the first time and describing as having a pleasant fruit tartness to it. Huh?! Then, there was the originally intended Perkuno's Hammer that many have tasted before which was not available on Saturday. It was, fortunately, available with my dinner at home the prior night from a 12-ounce bottle. It had kept perfectly well and was only slightly diminished in overall flavor and fullness. Luckily for me, I've still got another 5 bottles from that same case.

    But it was the Baltic Thunder from Victory Brewing that lured most people to TDR on Saturday. Victory's rebirth (or perhaps better stated...recrafting) of the Perkuno's Hammer from the now-defunct Heavyweight Brewing (formerly of Ocean Township, NJ) was delayed for months for reasons ranging from legal to packaging problems. Patrick Mullin, über Suburban Beer Guy that he is, had been given the courtesy of hosting the event at TDR.

    Now, in the final twist to this new beer's quirky legacy, Patrick had his last day of work at TDR on December 31st. But, that didn't stop him from dropping in for a couple of hours before heading off to his new employer's, Sierra Nevada, company meeting. With tap handles in tow, it almost looked as if he'd never left, helping with some of the setup. But, before long he had beer glass securely in hand and looked just like the rest of us. Even laughing with Jack Curtin, what a sight!

    Unfortunately, anyone heading to TDR looking for a Baltic Thunder vs. Perkuno's Hammer showdown left disappointed. Unfortunately, the Hammer's kegged beer had turned and only left a sharp, sour taste which I'd mentioned above that some people actually enjoyed. I suppose my expectation for what the beer should taste like (rather, did taste like a year or two ago) was skewing my preference. Across the room, several pints were returned while others grinned and beared it. The same could be said for the Baltus O.V.S. whose time had also passed. Though, in my opinion, if one beer was more suited to the sourness, it was the Baltus.

    The Heavyweight beer for whom the light was still shining was the Lunacy. And, oh how happy I was, for this was the first Heavyweight beer to show me Tom Baker's brewing magic back in the early 00's.

    Uh, back to the Thunder. I seem to be jumping around quite a bit here, eh? Well, to me the Thunder was just nicely done. It wasn't a big wow beer, but then, my hopes weren't set that high. Considering the time in the tank, the blending that they had done, and the promise that this would not be Perkuno's Hammer #2, I was figuring it would be a quaffable, yet flavorful and interesting, beer. Just not an overly complex or boo-ya beer. Of course, this could change with the next batch, and I do expect it to be a tad bigger and livelier. But, some around the room could be heard poo-pooing the current version. C'mon now, does everything have to have the impact of wasabi paste? Does sushi really have to be drowned in soy and wasabi to make it enjoyable? (Actually, that sorta reminds me of a Pete Brown article from a few days ago.)

    So, what else....what else? How about the Scaldis Noel and the Bear Republic Racer 5? In a draft list that included all of the Victory and Heavyweight treats, and more delights in the bottle (Jackeldricka, Biere de Garde, Black Ocean, and Slice of Bread), I guess it wasn't so difficult to overlook the Scaldis and the Racer 5. Normally, either could easily be the first choice off a draft list. (Oh wait, when we arrived and the specials weren't flowing yet, I did have a Racer 5 and it was just right!) So when a glass of Scaldis was presented to me in my last minutes before leaving, it was a fitting and wonderful conclusion to the day.

    Tom and Peggy arrived not long before I was heading out so I only had a few brief words with them. And, a picture snapped by everyone's buddy Richard. I guess this calls for a visit to West Mount Airy in the coming weeks to see how things are going at Tom's newest project, Earth Bread & Brewery. How nice it would be to see the construction come along quickly enough to be serving some beer during Philly Beer Week. Seems optimistic, but let's keep our fingers crossed...

    Tuesday, January 08, 2008

    Another Round for REUNION Beer

    As the crew promised, they're back in '08 with a new REUNION Beer. I'm glad that they decided to hold true and continue this concept. I'll be anxious to try this year's version of an organic Red Rye. The story behind the beer and the beer itself was something I discussed a few times last year. Here's a link back.
    • The second annual release of REUNION - A Beer for Hope will take place during the week of February 17, 2008. This year's beer celebrates the life of Virginia MacLean, the inspiration and one of the founding partners of the REUNION beer collaboration.
    • This year's beer is an Organic Red Rye Ale, once again brewed in cooperation with Bison Brewing in Chico, CA. It is a reddish-amber colored beer, with a pronounced malt forward profile balanced by the delicate spices of the hops and rye. It is 6.5% alcohol by volume.
    • The beer will be distributed through the SBS-Imports distributor network, to approximately 20 states, suggested retail price of $4.99-$5.99 per 22 ounce bottle.
    • Consumers may also mail order (starting mid-February) via the Michael Jackson Rare Beer Club
    • 100% of the profits generated by SBS-Imports will benefit the Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research (IMBCR).
    • Donations to IMBCR accepted via REUNION Beer or directly at the IMBCR site

    2007: And On One Last Note, Part 2

    The General Sutter Inn is a, may I use the word lovely?, charming inn supplying food, drink, and lodging too. I plan to return sometime soon and learn more about the history of the Inn and explore more of the nooks and crannies. You'll get a full report on the General Sutter when I do. The town of Lititz is equally charming and would provide a nice little overnight getaway. Oops, let's get back to topic.

    In the front door and down the steps to the left found us greeted by a laid back room full of happy real ale imbibers. Paul Pendyck, the cordial host, was in the corner gravity pouring the cask conditioned Yards ESA and Yards Love Stout. He was pouring both short glasses and full pints. And, trying not to sound like a giddy schoolgirl, they were perfect. As time passed, I found myself chatting with some homebrewing folks (Karen & Frank, or MugHugger & HomebreWing if you'd like) from the Lancaster County Brewers (LCB...not to be confused with that other LCB), who are hosted by the Lancaster Brewing Company in.....Lancaster.

    So, after 90 minutes or so of cask delights and pleasant company, we headed back east again. I dropped off my wingmen, had some pizza, and pointed myself further east to Chester County. Unfortunately, the rainfall was picking up at this point and made the trip home a bit more challenging. So, I did what anyone would do and made a pitstop at Ron's Schoolhouse Grille in Exton, PA to peruse the selection and let the rain pass :)

    Paul Pendyck (r) with Bryan Kolesar

    I cannot understate the job that Paul and the General Sutter folks are doing to bring great beer experiences to the heart of Lancaster County PA. For folks in the Philadelphia area, this may be a bit of a hike for you. But, I strongly suggest you at least make a trip out to the General Sutter for one of their cask events, scheduled the last Friday of every month. You shouldn't be disappointed. They also have their first full-fledged beer dinner coming up in February, a 5-course Victory Beer Dinner.

    Believe it or not, that wasn't the grand finale of 2007 for me. Just when I thought the year would end on a high note for me on that wonderful Friday evening, little did I know that 60 minutes at The Drafting Room on New Year's Eve would put the exclamation point on it all for me. It was a well-deserved farewell for Patrick Mullin, who as you all know by now has moved on to become regional sales representative for Sierra Nevada.

    While the conviviality was busting the joint apart, I came across the final entry in my year's most appealing new beers to me. What do I speak of? Did you catch the TDR taplist that I posted last week? I mentioned liquid chocolate. Oh yes, the liquid chocolate called Chocklat from Southern Tier in New York. Yowzah! You've got to experience it to understand it. It's chocolate first and a beer second, unlike many chocolate beers like Chocolate Stouts which typically are beer first chocolate second.

    Let's see. In the last few days of the year...a solid establishment find (General Sutter), an awesome day trip through Berks & Lancaster Counties, a wowza beer (Choklat), a sendoff for a friend (Patrick from The Drafting Room), and we didn't even talk about the stroke of twelve midnight on New Year's Eve.

    That's it for 2007. Stick a fork in it.