Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Queen's Day, La Trappe, & Flyers Playoff Hockey

What are three things you never figured could be tied together, no matter how obtusely, in one paragraph? Let's see if I can manage it: After a reminder of the Queen's holiday today in The Netherlands and considering that the Flyers are playing a pivotal game 4 tonight, I figured there'd be nothing better than wearing some orange to salute both and putting back some of the land's best beer, La Trappe/Koningshoeven quadrupel. None of the local publicans wanted to take me up on my offer for a multi-faceted celebration today. Suppose less than 24 hour is not optimal for promoting an event such as this. Though, Scoats might be the type to pull something like this off at the last minute. So, I'll be doing this on my own tonight, though alas my quadrupel will be coming from a bottle, not a tap. But, no worries because it's my sofa and the bottle is large :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Beer Calendar: What To Do in May 2008

Philadelphia Tue. 5/13 - Vegetarian & Iron Hill Beer Dinner @José Pistolas, Philadelphia, PA (7pm; $65) Tue. 5/13 - Brasserie de le Senne Beer Dinner w/Yvan de Baets @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (7pm-10pm; $55) Wed. 5/14 - Trappists Unrobed @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $60 sold out) Thu. 5/15 - Samuel Adams Beer Dinner w/Jim Koch @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (6pm; $55) Thu. 5/15 - The Art of Drinking Tröegs @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (6pm-8pm; PAYG) Sun. 5/18 - 1st Annual Belgian Bierfeesten @World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA (1pm-4pm; $55) Mon. 5/19 - Trappist Cornucopia @Chick's Café, Philadelphia, PA (7:30pm; $65) Tue. 5/20 - Radical Brewing with Randy Mosher @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $50) Tue. 5/20 - Pork & Beer Dinner w/ Garrett Oliver @Osteria, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm; $100) Tue. 5/20 - Full Mooner V (Oskar Blues, River Horse, Southampton, Victory) @Flat Rock Saloon, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-9:30pm; free) Philadelphia's close suburbs Tue. 4/29 - Belgian Beer Dinner @Epicurean, Phoenixville, PA (call for details) Fri. 5/2 - Friday Night Tastings (Lancaster Brewing) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free) Sun. 5/4 - Bock Festival & Goat Race @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (11am kickoff brunch; PAYG) Tue. 5/6 - Book Reading with Joe Sixpack/Don Russell @Borders, Wynnewood, PA (7pm; free) Thu. 5/8 - Friday Night Tastings (Victory) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4pm-6pm; free) Fri. 5/9 - IPA Project Varietal Beer Release (Fuggle) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (all day; PAYG) Fri. 5/9 - Malheur Tasting @Capone's Restaurant, Norristown, PA (8pm-10pm; free samples and 1/2 price bottles) Fri. 5/9 - Friday Night Tastings (Southampton Publick House) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free) Thu. 5/15 - Weyerbacher Promotion (+ Firkin of "Alpha") @The Drafting Room, Exton & Spring House, PA (6pm; PAYG) Fri. 5/16 - Third Friday Firkin Fest (Chester County Brown) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (all day; PAYG) Fri. 5/16 - Friday Night Tastings (Erie Brewing) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free) Fri. 5/16 - Friday Night Tastings (Yuengling) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4pm-6pm; free) Sat. 5/17 - Brandywine Valley Craft Brewers' Festival @Iron Hill, Media, PA (1pm-5pm; $30/$35) Thu. 5/22 - Sierra Nevada Night (w/ fresh hopped Harvest Ale) @The Drafting Room, Spring House, PA (5:30pm; PAYG) Fri. 5/23 - Friday Night Tastings (Ballast Point) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free) Wed. 5/28 - Chef's Table @Iron Hill Brewery, West Chester, PA (7pm; $40) Fri. 5/30 - Friday Night Tastings (Clipper City/Heavy Seas) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Thu. 5/1 - Isaac's 2nd Annual Golf Outing @Northampton Valley Country Club, Richboro, PA (9am; $99) Sat. 5/17 - 1st Annual Yardley Beer Fest @Buttonwood Park, Yardley, PA (12pm-3pm, 4pm-7pm; $30/$35) Thu. 5/22 - Spanish-themed dinner (w/ UBW beer) @Union Barrel Works, Reamstown, PA (6:30pm; $40) Thu. 5/22 - Thursday Night Tasting (Unibroue) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; Free) Fri. 5/30 - Cask Ale Night (Chamberlain PA; Ringwood Old Thumper ESA) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA (4:30pm-6:30pm; pay as you go) Elsewhere Wed. 4/30-Sat. 5/3 - New England Real Ale Exhibition (NERAX) @Dilboy Post VFW, Somerville, MA (see website; hours and prices vary by day) Fri. 5/2-Sat. 5/3 - 19th Anniversary Party @Cambridge Brewing, Cambridge, MA (5pm-1am both days; PAYG) Sat. 5/3 - 2nd Anniversary Party @Port Brewing/Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA (10am-2pm; $15) Sat. 5/10 - 12th Annual Boonville Beer Festival @Mendocino County Fairgrounds, Boonville, CA (1pm-5pm; $35-$50, camping extra) Tue. 5/13-Wed. 5/14 - The Lupulin Reunulin / Kill Dave tasting @The Brickskeller, Washington, DC (6pm both days; $35 each day) Thu. 5/15 - Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale & many others (Steve & Ken, too) from Sierra Nevada @The Brickskeller, Washington, DC (6pm; $35 each day) Fri. 5/16-Sat. 5/17 - SAVOR @Mellon Auditorium, Washington, DC (6:30pm-10:00pm both days, 12:30pm-4:00pm Saturday; $85 each session) Fri. 5/16-Sun. 5/18 - Cask Head Cask Ale Tasting @Brazen Head, Brooklyn, NY (all day; PAYG) Sat. 5/17 - 2nd Anniversary Party @Captain Lawrence, Pleasantville, NY (12pm-6pm; $20) Sat. 5/24 - Brew at the Zoo @Baltimore Zoo, Baltimore, MD (2pm-6pm; $45) Sat. 5/31 - Brooklyn Pigfest @Tobacco Warehouse, Brooklyn, NY (1pm-6pm; $85) Sat. 5/31 - Maryland Brewer's Springfest @Harry Grove Stadium, Frederick, MD (12pm-8pm; $TBA) Wed. 5/28-Sun. 6/1 - Mondial de la Biere @Windsor Station & Courtyard, Montreal, QC (11am-10pm Wed-Sat, 11am-8pm Sun; free admission, beer samples PAYG) Wed. 5/28-Sun. 6/1 - R.A.Re.-3rd Annual Real Ale Regalia @American Flatbread, Burlington, VT (call for details)

A Quick Stop at the new Ron's Original in Exton, PA

Welcome to Chester County's Most Comfortable New Bar. The soft opening at Ron's Original is underway and will last for the next few weeks or so as they iron out some kinks. From the minute you walk in through the front door, you know this isn't the same Ron's Schoolhouse that many of you grew up with in northern Chester County. This is especially true in the bar area, where customers are now greeted with a comforting atmosphere of stone, dark wood, soft leather chairs, and even a friendly caribou. Though the renovations took place from one end of their long establishment to the other, the change is most striking in the bar area.

The bottle shop is still operating at the normal level of quality, now on the opposite side of the wall from the bar area and with its own entrance. On tap for starters this week at the bar is the list that you'll find further below. After they've had a couple of weeks to work out the bugs, I'll do a full dinner and drink review with additional comments. 'Til then, go check them out for yourself and let me know what you think.

p.s. don't bring your growlers quite yet, they're still working out the growler policy and pricing

(This is Ron's? You bet.)

(A view from the front windows)

(The comfortable bar area will keep you in your seat longer than you expect)

(So will the tap selections)

Avery Ellie's Brown
Bell's Amber
Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse
Chimay White
Dogfish Aprihop
Flying Dog Double Dog Double Pale Ale
Flying Fish Espresso Porter
Left Hand Sawtooth Ale
Ommegang Witte
Southampton Double White
Southern Tier Unearthly IPA
Stone Imperial Russian Stout
Stoudt's Double Mai Bock
Tröegs Mad Elf
Victory Baltic Thunder
Young's Double Chocolate Stout
Birra Peroni
Coors Light
Miller Lite
Yuengling Lager

Pyramid and Magic Hat announce intention to merge

Interesting news coming out of the top left and right corners of the country. What I didn't read in here (unless I read too quickly) was any detail about Pyramid brewing and brand continuance. Or, if this will result in simply a larger Magic Hat and the disappearance of Pyramid brands from the market? Deal is expected to close by August 31st of this year.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ron's Original is ready to take it to the next level

Stop in today as Ron's Original (fka Schoolhouse) gets the soft opening off the ground. I may stop in there on my way to Sly Fox, along the critical path to watching the Flyers game at 7pm. Need directions? check here. They'll be building things up to an official grand opening weekend in May. Stay tuned for more details.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Memphis Comes To Philly

The past week at the newly-minted Memphis Taproom in "Port Fishington" has seen quite the throughput of beer fans, writers, industry folk, and assorted other comers-by. I was in Dallas while opening night on Tuesday April 22nd was going down. According to Spanky, approximately 500 of the curious type to be exact. I can guarantee without being there that the scene at Memphis Taproom was 10x better than the beer scene in the entirety of the State that is Texas. More on that, though not much more as you could expect, later this week.

So, with that disappointment I arrived back into the Philly airport right around rush hour on Thursday evening. What's a beer guy such as myself to do when arriving into Philly at rush hour? Sit in traffic attempting to make it out to the western suburbs? Or, drive a few miles north (against traffic) into the fringes of north Philly? A quick stop off at Yards to check out their progress (pictures in a separate post) and then just a few minutes further north to Memphis Taproom (jump here for the map).

In a single word (you bet I can!): WOW! Brendan (aka Spanky) and crew at Memphis Taproom are continuing to reinforce one of Philly's strongest arguments for best beer city (where have we heard that before?) That is, some of the best beer bars and brew pubs can be found in the most unlikely of neighborhoods. See Dock Street, South Philly Tap Room, Grey Lodge, Johnny Brenda's, and so on.

I'll have more to say after Patty and I stop by there in the next couple of weeks for a full dinner experience. For the time being, I'll leave with you some easy advice. First, apply the same safe practice that you would anywhere, especially in the city. Leave nothing obvious sitting visible in your car to anyone passing by. It's not a dangerous neighborhood, but you want to be safe and practice common sense.

Inside, you'll be treated to reasonably priced food and beer. 10 beer taps and a coming-soon cask beer engine. And if the Black Bavarian is still on tap, go for's really that good! A real down-to-earth excellent neighborhood beer bar without pretension. A flat screen TV behind the bar (muted) if you're into the local sports scene.

I can't wait to return. TheRealBeerFly has already returned. Game on, folks! 35 miles away, Ron's in Exton is up next. Different scene, same great beer! As always, more to come...

Yards progress coming right along

A quick stop in at the future home of Yards on Delaware Avenue in Philadelphia shows that progress is coming right along. Similar pictures and more detail over at their site and the occasionally updated blog. Nice to see the crew hard at work and the kick in the pants they gave me to get over to the new Memphis Taproom.

(former skate park, soon-to-be brewery)

(view of the Ben Franklin Bridge from the brewery windows)

(location of future tasting room)

(looking from tasting room to brewery operations)

(looking from brewery floor to back of facility and the storage & bottling areas)

(customers will be easy to come by from the new neighbors on the river banks)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

More Hop Growing Resources

To Adam's ever-growing slew of hop growing links at Beer Bits 2, I've come across a couple more podcasts lately that should prove quite valuable. Depending upon your location, there's still a small window of time to get some rhizomes into the ground for first year growth. Basic Brewing Radio's episode 4/24/08 - two episodes ago, James first made us all aware of Douglas over at Home Brew Perspectives. This current episode features Chris Colby of Brew Your Own magazine discussing steps for getting started with growing hops at home. Home Brewing Perspectives - after working out some audio kinks in the first episode, Douglas & Mike the Hop Guy have moved on to bring very detailed and interesting "perspectives" on growing hops as well as a very enlightening interview in their third episode with a non-drinking Mormon from Utah. A must-listen.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tap List at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA - 4/25/08

What's on tap at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA as of 4/25/2008?

Boulder Sweaty Betty
Dock Street Bohemian Pils
Great Divide Titan IPA
Legacy Euphoria
Scaldis/Bush Noël
Sierra Nevada Torpedo
Sly Fox Ichor
Victory Baltic Thunder
Victory Hop Devil
Victory Hop Devil (cask)
Sly Fox O'Reilly's Stout
Legacy Midnight Wit
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Lindemans Framboise
Amstel Light

Hop Shoots; It's What's for Dinner

As if growing hops in the backyard was not adventure enough, Mr. Homebrew Chef Sean Paxton had to go and tease me about what their young shoots might taste like. You may recall that I made some envious comments about a beer breakfast/lunch/dinner extravaganza (!) that the Toronado hosted last month with Paxton as the mastermind in the kitchen. He paired up something like 11 courses of food with close to 20 beers. I was so intrigued by the idea of taking the hop shoots that would ordinarily make it into either the trash or the compost pile after being pruned in the springtime and putting them to good use that I decided to give it a whirl. Just another attempt at further completing the sustainable lifestyle, eh?

(sampling the growth)
(picked, cleaned, carefully selected)

When I looked at the plants last weekend, I knew the time was ripe. They take off so fast each spring, that to harvest the tender, young hop shoots for cooking takes a good practice in timing. Otherwise, they begin to take on the tough, fibrous-y texture (in a way like really, really tough asparagus). The idea is to take very early growth when they are less than 12 inches high. If there are underground or near surface roots (I suppose they are considered part of the root structure, though I don't know for sure), they are white colored from their lack of exposure to light (creates chlorophyll) and can be used as well. Sean pointed out that a Belgian dinner that he had in Belgium (notice my proper use of Belgian vs. Belgium ;-) used the colorless hop shoots/roots.

(closeup of the candidates)
(egg yolks and beer measuring cup)

I won't write about exactly how I made the dish. For one thing, it's Sean's recipe to write which he will do in time and post on his website. I'll link to it at that point. But, he did give me a couple pages worth of valuable detailed notes of how he prepared them. All went well as I harvested around 30-40 pieces to use from two different rhizomes. Adam posted a picture of what the one had become. Quite the unwieldy, shall we say, hop bush. After soaking them in ice water for an hour or so, I rinsed them, one by one, under water and tested their toughness. Near the bottom where I made the cut, I tried snapping the shoot to see if it would break cleanly or if it was to fibrous-y (is there another word for "fibrous-y"...I'll need to check). If it broke cleanly, I next checked for any stringy-ness (another great word!) and peeled away strings like you would do with celery to make it less chewy and dental floss-y (now I've gone too far).

(accompanying beer of choice)
(the hollandaise sauce and way too much butter)

With a hand-selected bunch of about 25 or so hop shoots, they were ready to go. I needed to make a hollandaise-like sauce to accompany the cooked hop shoots. Sean recommended using half the egg shell for measuring the beer to be mixed with egg yolk. Probably the first time I ever used an eggshell as a measuring device. The cooking of the hop shoots was so simple and involved only butter, beer, salt, and pepper. I saved this step for last.

(cooking the shoots down)
(final product)

The end result? I rang up Adam and he had no problem obliging my request to join me in a sampling. And, of course, it didn't hurt that I was serving up the Deschutes Hop Trip (fresh hop beer, what else?) that I had used in the making of the dish. Heheh, uh, well, uh, let's see...I believe I was a bit off in the approximation of butter to use. Now, I know they say butter can make anything good (just like bacon, or anything deep-fried oil......) but, yikes, this was a bit crazy. However, once our palates could rid themselves of the salty butter (and, my "dash" of thyme might have been a bit fat-fingered!), we could taste the earthy, green vegetable taste of the hops. They were a bright green color and I think that Adam was on to something when he compared the taste to fresh-picked green beans. There was also a bit of a (surprisingly not so unpleasant) light crispness from their time spent in the saute pan, perhaps a bit too long. The sauce on the side added a very nice creamy complement. Unfortunately, with the butter drenching that they had taken, they didn't need much more of a creamy complement.

I'm really looking forward to trying this again. I realize a couple of things that could be adjusted on my side. Plus, I realize that Sean was cooking for a roomful of people and placing just a few on each plate. My intention was to just cook them up, mound them on a plate with some side sauce, and see how it worked. It worked, not perfectly, but like the beauty of brewing that's why we try and try again.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Shall we put a wrap on the Toronado Barleywine Festival? (Magnolia and 21A while we're at it?)

In addition to the results and few pictures that I gave to you almost two months ago, here's a bit more of a wrap-up from one day in San Francisco that included the Toronado Barleywine Festival, late lunch/early dinner (linner?) and many beers at Magnolia, and a "nightcap" at the 21A (21st Amendment). Timely, it'is n't, but hopefully you'll enjoy just the same.

The Barleywine Festival produced some judged winners from Lagunitas, Stone, and Deschutes Super Jubel, Drake's Frankenwein, and Schooner's Old Woody as my top, let's see that's, four of the afternoon. Bringing in a surprise honorable mention was (new to San Francisco) Wunder Brewing's Old Knuckledragger. As Jay had mentioned, it sure was odd seeing the draft menu above the bar with a bunch of empty slots while the taps were pouring many of these unique brews. I'd share the tasting notes, but I get a feeling that after all this time that has passed, it likely won't interest you all that much.

Ironic that we ran into Dave McLean on the way out the door. We were ready for serious table food, the likes of which only Magnolia could satisfy at this point. And there he was to keep us from it. We chatted for a while about happenings at the pub, his (relatively) newer Alembic further down Haight near the Park, and his ties to Pennsylvania. Great guy Dave is, it was a shame that we were headed in opposite directions.

We then strolled the half mile or so up, and down and up, Haight to Dave's Magnolia. It was just one of those picture perfect San Franciscan days; we could have walked to the ocean. Inside Magnolia, the mayhem was much more subdued than Toronado. But with Strong Beer Month staring us dead in the face, there was no shortage of beer loving fans there to get their Strong Beer Month card punched (yes, seriously. PBW 2009, take note). We scored a table after a few minutes of waiting, then were pleased to see Kelly (newlywed Kelly that is, congrats to Ben the, sounds weird, is that like Bob the Builder?) come over to our table to see what we wanted for drink and food. I've run into Kelly a couple of times in the past. She certainly exudes the all-around great vibe coming out of the atmosphere at Magnolia...and Ben adds to the good vibe coming out of the kettle...a good pairing, I must say, of two fine people.

So we did the whole strong beer thing, putting back the strong beers with the Old Thuderpussy, Promised Land (Proving Ground "on steroids"), and Smokestout Impy really standing out along with the food we've come to expect from Magnolia. With these unique beers available for Strong Beer Month, I was still missing the Saison de Lilly. It was also my first time at Magnolia not putting back at least one each of the co2 and cask Proving Ground IPA. Too many other goodies. The saison gods were smiling on me, though, as it was available the following day at the Celebrator Anniversary Party.

Free range, organic, locally grown, sustainable, etc. You'll find this kind of language all over the well-conceived fresh menu. We jumped into a cheese plate and other light snacks to add to our food base, had our tickets punched for the 6 strong beers then regretfully went back to Toronado....cuz some things just gots to be done! I figure by the time I return to Magnolia, the renovations that they've undertaken will have been completed. After 10+ years in business, they're taking the care to polish and improve for the future. You can read more about the changes over here.

After another completely delightful walk (this time mostly downhill, or was that the beer's influence?) and stops into a few of the Haights "unique" stores, we wound up back at Toronado to polish off a few more samples of barleywines. Perhaps not too surprisingly, we saw others who had made the same bounce between Toronado and Magnolia...and later, 21st Amendment. At the Toronado, winners had been announced, kegs of beer were being knocked off one by one, darkness was falling, but the crowd's enthusiasm was rising. The perfect weather probably had something to do with it. If I recall my notes correctly, the Russian River Old Gubbilygotch was the first to go.

Just around the time we decided we would hop across town to the 21A, Justin Crossley and The Brewing Network crew rolled in. They were doing the crawl in the opposite direction, coming from 21A and moving westward to Toronado and on to Magnolia for dinner. This would be the first of a few run-ins with these guys during the weekend.

After a zippy cab ride across town, we drug our growing-weary bodies into 21st Amendment. It had been a long day of carousing through the city and putting many barleywines and other similarly strong beers behind our belts, so the pep in our step was going a bit flat. We chowed on a pizza (ugh! no garlic fries), completed the Strong Beer Month punchcard, got our souvenir glass, and called it quits. After faking the walk, we grabbed a passing empty cab and went back to the hotel to recharge for Sunday, which held in store for us the Celebrator 20th Anniversary Party. You've already seen the pictures over here and the stories over here. It was a great day that I finally got to share with Patty three of my favorite San Franciscan gems.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

1st Annivesary Party @ Union Barrel Works

The perfect thing about the party at Union Barrel Works this past Friday evening was that it, well, wasn't too planned. Sure, there was the usual suspects on draft and food coming out of the kitchen. But, really, there was a live band playing...a really good live band...and that's about it.

And I believe that's what made the night. Same food and beers (okay, with a couple of more recent additions) that have been around since day one, same prices, a bit of live music, no cover charge, no giveaways, no "special" anniversary beer. Just show up and have a good time. And that's exactly what everyone did. Including Tom and Amy Rupp, the owners. The crowd filled the room, the lagers were flowing, and gemuchlicheit was in full effect.

When we arrived just before 9pm, they were finishing up in the dining room and moving to the front bar with all of the action. By 9:30pm, the joint was jumping with the music of Boyertown's Vuja De (not a typo) and a house full of party people. With business as usual on cruise control, it was obvious that Tom and Amy could completely enjoy the evening that celebrated the first year of very successful brewpub business in Reamstown, PA. If Vuja De sounds appealing from their sound over at their MySpace page, go check them out in person. They'll be back at UBW again in May. And, here's a tip for you. If they don't play Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee", be sure to ask for it. It's one of the highlights of their sets and the lead's voice will pull you right in.

The second year promises more beer dinners, rotating cask conditioned beer, and a possible expansion into the upper floor(s). Congratulations to the Rupps on their first year of success at Union Barrel Works.

Celebrator Beer News "Evening Brews"

This is fun if for no other reason that to catch the Dogfish "commercial" and spelling errors of a particular host. If you have trouble with the video below, just click here. Will be fun to check back every week to see how the format evolves over time. Seems they're on to something fun here.
CBN Evening Brews : April 14, 2008 from Celebrator Beer News on Vimeo.

Baseball and Beer

Well, not really beer. Just Phillies baseball and Richie Ashburn. I can weave in beer, but that's for another story (Summerfest Lager, as I type if you must know). Today, I just want to point out that it is possible to get choked up over a 3:12 YouTube video if you're a true, die-hard Phillies fan. DVD will be on my short list. Go check it out.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's ironical, ain't?

On my way to check out Ortino's Friday frivolity and I got sidetracked by a little late-Friday curve ball at work and rush hour madness around Phoenixville. Now I'm set back an hour, and there's no way I can justify the drive to Zieglerville to spend, like, only 15 minutes on beers like Tiny Pliny, Perkuno Metata, Stone's Throw, and Dirty Ol'.

I guess my frustration got the better of me, because I drove right on by Sly Fox and Iron Hill in Phoenixville when I decided that I was bagging the Ortino's trip and heading home. I'm counting on some of these fine brews to still be available tomorrow and perhaps I can make me a Sunday afternoon diversion.

But, in the meantime, I'd found those aforementioned ironies in the form of two smaller beers at Exton Beverage and The Drafting Room. Patrick Mullin (fka The Drafting Room's beer guy) paired up with EB's Greg Ramirez on this splendid Friday afternoon and was pouring and spreading the good word of Sierra Nevada. The Pale Ale was flowing, of course, but the Summerfest also made appearance fresh from the bottling line. I liked the Summerfest Lager so much (even better than the Pale Ale...must have been the almost-unseasonably warm weather) that I bought a case of it...$29.99...this message was brought to you by the fine folks at Exton Beverage and Sierra Nevada!

Seriously, though, at 5% ABV, it's just pushing its sessionability but in an oh-so-refreshing way. The advertised 32 IBUs are just enough to get your attention with the soft finesse of the Saaz hops. Such a good drinker that it became my lawnmower/hockey/lawnmower beer today. They've been doing this beer for quite a few years, but this, to the best of my recollection, is my first taste of it. The bar's been set for my favorite new summer beer of 2008.

Speaking of The Drafting Room, it'd been at least a few weeks since I'd stopped in (and thanks to Heather for making special notice of my absence). In the spirit of supplying an updated tap list to all of you fine folks and, uh, rehydrating in the couple of miles that it'd been since I left Exton Beverage, I stopped in to find another close-to-session beer in Lakefront's White. Just a 10-ouncer, though if I had known I was canceling my trip north, I'd have gone for a second or at least a full pint. A real nice crisp and to-the-point Belgian wit-style. Though just a bit thin, it helped to accentuate the tart flavors and make it an easy, refreshing drinker.

So, in the end, no big beers for me. Just a couple of real pleasant finds before we were off to Union Barrel Works' 1st Anniversary Party in Reamstown, PA. More on that later.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tap List at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA - 4/18/08

What's on line as of 4/18/2008?

Lakefront White
Legacy Euphoria
Peak Organic Pale Ale
Rogue Black Brutal Bitter (John Locker Stock series)
Sierra Nevada ESB
Sierra Nevada Torpedo
Smuttynose IPA
Victory V-12
Weyerbacher Heresy
Victory Hop Devil (cask)
Sly Fox O'Reilly's Stout
Legacy Midnight Wit
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Lindemans Framboise
Amstel Light

Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em

Messers Bengel & Ortino are excited this morning. Well, I can only assume that John is as well. The blogmaster certainly is. After successful QC last night, he announced this morning the addition of the surprise keg for this evening's affair: '05 Heavyweight Perkuno's Hammer. After having same from a bottle a few nights ago, I agree that it's stood the test of time. Suppose then that I'll be triangulating through the Fertile Crescent this evening from Exton to Zieglerville to Reamstown and back home. Will I see you along the way? Don't like these ideas? Check what else is happening in the Philadelphia region?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tap List at Teresa's Next Door in Wayne, PA - 4/17/08

For those who have not made their way to Teresa's Next Door, here's the tap list as of 4/17/08. 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.

Atomium Grand Cru
Bell's Third Coast Old Ale
Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont
Brouwerij De Koninck De Koninck
Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat Maredsous 10
Brouwerij Van Steenberge Piraat
Cantillon Lou Pepe '05
Chimay White
Corsendonk Brown
Founders Devil Dancer
Green Flash West Coast IPA
Hoegaarden Witbier
Kulmbacher Brauerei EKU Pils
Lindemans Framboise
Ommegang Three Philosopher's
Ridgeway Blue
Sly Fox O'Reilly's Stout (nitro)
Sprecher Imperial Stout
Stoudts Gold
Tröegs Pale Ale
Victory Baltic Thunder
Victory Hop Devil (cask)
Victory St. Boisterous
Victory V-12
Weyerbacher Hops Infusion (cask)
Wyder's Apple Cider

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 4/16/08

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 4/16/08
Bell's Cherry Stout
Blue Moon Spring Ale
Brasserie La Binchoise Blonde
Dogfish Head Aprihop
Peak Organic Nut Brown Ale
Philadelphia Brewing Kenzinger
Southampton Double White
St. Bernardus 12
Stone Ruination
Stone Russian Imperial Stout
Tröegs Nugget Nectar
Troubadour Obscura
Weyerbacher Hops Infusion (cask)

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

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Drink Victory Beer, Raise Money for Charity @ The Wooden Iron

What are you doing next Tuesday evening? The following is a note from The Beer Man To The Stars: Beer Yard's Matt Guyer. Sounds like a great Tuesday night option. Being a few days away from Teresa's Next Door makes for a very nice one-two punch option.
I am guest bartending at The Wooden Iron in Wayne ( 2 doors down from TND ) on Tuesday April 22nd from 5:30 - 9 for Philabundance. We are donating $3.00 from every Victory ( 5 on tap ) to the good cause. Thanks, Matt

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Playoff Hockey & Gordon Biersch

So many different ways this little piece of writing is going, I'm not sure where to start. Let's start with a rousing and convincing win today to bring the Philadelphia Flyers back to even with the Washington Capitals in the first round of the NHL playoffs. Now let's face it. I love baseball, but it's still hockey season. Best yet, it's playoff hockey season: the second season. And, there's not much better.

Except maybe for watching playoff hockey with good beer. Going to the Wachovia Center where the Flyers home ice is won't provide much in the way of decent beer for its fans. Fact is, this year I've rarely drank beer at the games I've been to.

Good thing I was at home today enjoying, among others, a Gordon Biersch Dunkelweizen. A nice little hospitality package showed up a couple of weeks ago and I've enjoyed several, and provided some to others, since then. In fact, it's become Mrs. BrewLounge's favorite new beer of the year, thusfar.

Comps, conflicts of interest, and the like have been a topic of heated debate lately. I've provided my own two cents in my latest "profile update" over to the right side of the page here if you're so inclined. I've got another two cents on the topic that I'll share somewhere down the road.

Back to the beer at hand. I've always been a fan of Gordon Biersch beer. All the talk over the past year or so about session beers, lagers, and non-"extreme" beers reminds me of GB, in a good way, every time I run across them. In D.C., Atlanta, California, or any of the dozen or so states that they're located, one can find a very good lager-style beer. I had a nice run-in with a few of their "friends" at the Embarcadero location in San Francisco a couple of years ago.

Trust me, I too hope that I find some way out of this tangled mess that I'm weaving here. I still need to complete our tax returns tonight. (Oh, what the heck, there's always tomorrow night!)

In some ways, GB reminds me of a very large Triumph (of NJ and PA). They do lagers very well. In fact, the GB family has, by my count, brought home 16 GABF or WBC medals over the past 10 years.

Now, they've gone and bottled the Dunkelweizen for the first time. (Oh by the way, keep in mind that the restaurant/brewpub group is managed separately from the brewing company that makes these bottled beers.) My bottles are dated 3/21/08, so this is virtually as fresh as it can get, especially for being west coast brewed and delivered across country.

This LA County Fair gold medal winner pours smoothly as a dark brown, a very murky brown, beer with a modest head that laces the glass a bit. The aroma and the prominent flavor match up and leave no doubt: yeast-driven banana. Faint spice notes and bit of bubblegum flavor (I stole that from their press release, but agree wholeheartedly...honestly!) Unfiltered, as the label says, for sure. But, don't be afraid, there are no chunks. Actually, after a relatively careful pour, only a ring of sediment is left in the bottom of the bottle. No ABV is listed, but it drinks like something not more than 6%.

Unfortunately, we won't be seeing bottles of this in Pennsylvania in the near future. Bottle distribution is initially in a handful of western states (CA, NV, AZ, HI) at retail stores and select airport locations (mental note for next flight through SFO.) But, national distribution of this and other GB bottled products is reported to be on the horizon in 2008, so stay tuned. Be on the lookout for this wherever you may travel. This is one good drinker.

Last bit of news. Dan Gordon will be the guest interview on The Brewing Network's Sunday Session tonight in, oh, about 60 minutes. It's been a while since he's been interviewed. If you've never heard him, do yourself a favor and tune in tonight or download the podcast version tomorrow. There we go, I think I've now got all my plugs in.

In the meantime, I'll be content with D.C. having their Gordon Biersch brewpub. We'll take the next round of the playoffs, thank you ;-)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Who are you? Who am I? What are we doing here?

3 Years of Beer-Related Content Lives Here. Bet you missed something. A whole bunch of you come here every day. Roughly half of you come here on a subscription or e-mail basis (and some of you are just very habitual) and others of you come via a search engine finding. Hopefully some of you latter folk decide to stick around this little thing called The Brew Lounge after your first visit. Realizing that many of you may be new to The Brew Lounge, or shall we say, may not have found your way through all three years worth of content. That said, over the next several weeks, I plan to reintroduce you to some of my, and your, favorite content from the past here at The Brew Lounge. Of course, there are handy-dandy links over there on the right to help you find some of the most frequently visited material here. People are coming in every few minutes or so to find something that I had written many moons ago. But, it's not always as intuitive as I might imagine for said person to realize that there may be something else that they would be interested in at The Brew Lounge. I know all of the history here; I shouldn't expect that every reader will. Today, I'll feature one of my favorite and reader's favorite section of The Brew Lounge. It's the section that contains roughly 100 reviews of brew pubs and beer bars that I've done over almost three years. You want to know what places are like before you go there and I enjoy writing about the people, the beers, and the atmospheres that make these places our favorites for a good beer. I travel around quite a bit. So, while you'll see reviews here covering everywhere from LA to NYC and San Juan to Santa Monica, the majority will fall within the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area, my home region. Here's a quick link to all of the establishment reviews that I've done to date. p.s. While you're over there on the right side of the page, be sure to sign up for an e-mail or RSS subscription to ensure that you'll always get all of the updates.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Beer & Food; The Homebrew Chef; Toronado; Best Beers in the World

Pick a title, any title. I'm too dazed from reading the highlights below. See how well you do... Has 2008 been anointed the year of the beer dinner yet? Now, I've been to some tremendous beer and food pairing events, but I'm not sure that I've ever seen anything like this...and am hard-pressed to imagine what it would take to top this. The pictures that Jay provides at his site help illustrate just how phenomenal this marathon brunch (or blunch as he calls it...11 courses...close to 20 beers) probably was to attend in person. Toronado in San Francisco has set the bar. Anyone? Anyone here in Philly want to take a stab at topping this? Please? You've got to check out the pictures and words at Jay's site (btw, Jay, you've got to stop with the superb material; linking to you has become a bit routine lately :) But, I'll do my best here to summarize the beers that he mentions. Saucerful of Secrets, Oude Lambic, Avec les bons Voeux, Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait Single Cask #52, Toronado 20th Anniversary Ale, Duchesse De Bourgogne, St. Bernardus Christmas Ale, Chimay 2001 Grand Reserve, Orval, Saison D’Erpe-Mere, Fantôme Saison, Duvel, Pliny the Elder, Westvleteren Abt 12, Van Honsebrouck Bacchus, Malheur Brut Noir, Damnation. Oh, and by the way, through all of this hoopla, I failed to mention Sean Paxton, one of the chief creative forces behind this past Sunday's event. If you haven't heard of him, check out his site for a long resume that's sure to impress and some great recipe ideas that we can all use at home. If you'd like to hear him as well, he makes occasional appearances on The Brewing Network's Sunday Session. Blanched hop shoots? Cantillon Saint Lamvinus Sorbet? Oh, the humanity!

Union Barrel Works Irish Theme Dinner - 4/8/07

Fastest Beer Dinner Ever? Perhaps. 7 courses of food and beer in less than 2 hours sure sounds fast. (Contrast this with a 6 hour marathon 11-course/18-beer brunch at Toronado last weekend...more on that'll see what I mean). But, how the crew at Union Barrel Works suffered for speed during their fifth beer dinner in the first year of operations, they made up for in quality.

Plentiful chunks of tender lamb meat in the stew had me begging for more. A creative and tasty take on the shepherd's pie had me not missing the traditional mashed potatoes so much. The sorbet (strawberry and pilsner this time) was a pleasant intermezzo as always. The salmon with potatoes was done nicely and accompanied surprisingly well by sliced apples. And for dessert? Why, of course, chocolate cake and stout. Very nice. And, I'd be remiss in not mentioning the appearance of one of my favorite vegetables, rhubarb. Though, allow me the chance to nitpick and say that I would have loved it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Seven courses all paired with a unique UBW beer. Two were new to me during this visit. The Dubbel Union and the Pilsner are new to the lineup as is the Pale Ale on handpump and a name change to the Octoberfest (Uncle Fester).

One last note on Union Barrel Works here, if I may, as they approach their one year anniversary. If you haven't checked them out yet, next Friday (4/18) could be a good time to do so. They'll be celebrating with a One Year Anniversary Party. No cover charge, no package deals, nothing special other than Tom's wonderful beers on tap and live music beginning at 9pm.

If you want a table for dinner, keep in mind that without reservations on a Friday or Saturday night, you'll often find yourself on a waiting list. In Tom's words, the first year results have exceeded expectations and they're looking forward to a second year of growth in Lancaster County.

Ortino's event schedule

First, Union Barrel Works takes a March-themed dinner and does it in April. Now it looks as if Ortino's is bringing April in with a lion's roar. So, here's a new calendar entry for our friends up at Ortino's Northside. Apparently it suggests that I shouldn't wait until their patio-opening party on May 10th before making my first trek of the season north on Route 29. I believe that can be arranged.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Iron Springs in Fairfax, CA to close?

Looking at my review of Iron Springs from a couple of years ago and the last sentence that I wrote, it looks like only the landlord could complain...for more rent. The situation does not look good in Marin County's small town of Fairfax, where they appear poised to lose a solid brewpub, business partners, and all-around great people. Mike Altman had grown a brewpub and a following that I hope will very quickly find a new home. I'll be anxious to hear updates that I'm sure Jay will provide as they come along.

Monday, April 07, 2008

75 Years Ago Today...

Unless you've been under a rock, you've heard about how the ball got rolling 75 years ago today toward the Repeal of Prohibition. With a revision to the Volstead Act, beer (albeit max of 3.2% alcohol) again was flowing to Americans.

Today, establishments across the country found different ways to celebrate. Rock Bottom in King of Prussia, PA celebrated with day long $2 drafts. Found myself a pint of Fire Chief ESB and watched as award-winning brewer Brian McConnell led the toast at 6:43pm, then again at 6:00pm.

Arriving at 6:29pm, I figured I'd timed things just right. Turns out that the Fox29 camera guy and I got the wrong press release. As you can see from the pictures, Rock Bottom planned to do things at 6pm (or 6:30, wait just a minute) without us. Fortunately, my presence (or was it the news camera's?!) prompted them to do a re-toast just for us. If you're reading this in time and are in the Philly television market, you'll want to check out the 10 o'clock Fox29 news for a quick look at Brian's toast.

Or, perhaps a better bet is to get over to Rock Bottom for a $2 draft!

Beer Calendar: What To Do In April 2008

Philadelphia Sat. 3/29 - GTV Almrausch Schuhplattlers' Stiftungsfest (Spring Dance) @Cannstatter Volksfest Verein, Philadelphia, PA (7pm-12am; $10/$12) Thu. 4/3 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tapping (Love Potion) @Triumph Brewing, Philadelphia, PA (6pm; pay as you go) Fri. 4/4 - Sly Fox Brewmaster & Di Bruno Cheeses @Di Bruno Bros., Philadelphia, PA (6pm-8pm; $45) Sat. 4/5 - Allagash: Bringin' the Funk @Tria Fermentation School, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8pm; $55) Fri. 4/18 - American Made @Tria Fermentation School, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8pm; $60) Sat. 4/26 - Manayunk Brew Extravaganza @Manayunk Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (12pm-4pm; call brewery for tix) Philadelphia's close suburbs Sat. 3/29 - Sly Fox R5 Beer Trip @Malvern Train Station, Malvern, PA (12:45pm meet at train; $15 transit; PAYG beers; Contact Corey at Sly Fox for more information) Fri. 4/4 - Friday Night Tasting (Harpoon) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free) Fri. 4/11 - IPA Project Varietal Beer Release (Sterling) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (all day; PAYG) Fri. 4/11 - Friday Night Tasting (Philadelphia Brewing) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free) Mon. 4/14 - Victory Beer Dinner @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (6:30pm; sold out) Fri. 4/18 - Friday Night Tasting (Thomas Hooker) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free) Wed. 4/23 - Firkin Tappin' (Tröegs HopBack Amber) @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (4pm; PAYG) Fri. 4/25 - Friday Night Tasting (Samuel Adams) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Fri. 3/28 - Cask Ale Night (Oliver Breweries) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA (4:30pm-6:30pm; pay as you go) Sat. 3/29 - Annual Open House @Weyerbacher, Easton, PA (12pm-3pm; free) Fri. 4/4 - Four-Quad Night @Sly Fox, Royersford, PA (5pm-9pm; PAYG) Tue. 4/8 - Irish Themed Beer Dinner @Union Barrel Works, Reamstown, PA (6:30pm; $40) Fri. 4/11 - Repeal of Prohibition Celebration @Tröegs Brewery, Harrisburg, PA (6:30pm-11:30pm; $25/$40) Sat. 4/12 - Hop Fest 3 @The Drafting Room, Spring House, PA (all day; PAYG) Thu. 4/17 - Stone's R.I.S. '08 @The Farmhouse, Emmaus, PA (contact The Farmhouse for more details) Fri. 4/18 - 1st Anniversary Celebration @Union Barrel Works, Reamstown, PA (9pm-12am; PAYG) Fri. 4/18 - Give Me Pliny of Give Me Stone @Ortino's Northside, Zieglerville, PA (4pm-???; PAYG) Fri. 4/18 - Sierra Nevada Tasting @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4pm-6pm; free) Sat. 4/19 - Brewphoria @Canal Street Pub, Reading, PA (6pm-10pm; $30) Thu. 4/24 - Leinenkugel Tasting @Appetites on Main, Exton, PA (8:00pm-9:30pm; $3 pints) Fri. 4/25 - Cask Ale Night (TBA; maybe Nodding Head, maybe Dark Star as well) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA (4:30pm-6:30pm; pay as you go) Sun. 4/27 - 1st Annual Big Beer Fest @Appalachian Brewing, Harrisburg, PA (2pm-5pm; $40) Sun. 4/27 - The Biergarten @Hershey Gardens, Hershey, PA (1pm-4pm; $35) Thu. 5/1 - Isaac's 2nd Annual Golf Outing @Northampton Valley Country Club, Richboro, PA (9am; $99) Elsewhere Sat. 3/29 - Belgian Beer Party @Pizza Port, Carlsbad, CA (10am-4pm, 5pm-11pm; $40/$45 for entry & 8 beer tastings; $1 for each 4oz. tasting thereafter) Thu. 4/3-Sun. 4/6 - Gravity Rule @Zeno's, State College, PA (all weekend; PAYG) Thu. 4/10 - Ale Street News Ultimate Belgian Tasting III @Heartland Brewery (Empire State Bldg.), New York, NY (6:30pm-10:30pm; $98) Sat. 4/12 - International Beer Festival @Split Rock Resort, Lake Harmony, PA (1pm-5pm; $20/$25) Sat. 4/26 - Belgium Comes To Zeno's @Zeno's, State College, PA (3pm-8pm; PAYG) Sat. 4/26-Sun. 4/27 - TAP New York 2008 @Hunter Mountain, Hunter, NY (1pm-5pm; $54/$60)

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

After a successful day of work in Los Angeles and a prior night visit to Father's Office, we needed to get some dinner and (natch) some good beers...and get away from the city. Taking an early morning flight out of LAX meant only one thing: stay at an airport hotel and head to the T.H. Brewster's bar at Four Points (Sheraton brand) hotel. Coincidentally, our hotel was across the street from Four Points. So, a quick check-in and printing of boarding passes, we were good to go for dinner.

This was only my second trip to the World's Best Airport Hotel Bar (though they do a pretty good job of not looking like one), but to my traveling colleague I must have looked like a regular, navigating the front doorman to the hallway direct to the bar and into a table for two without any effort. It appears that most of the draft and bottle selection has remained the same from my last visit roughly one year ago.

For some reason, I gravitated immediately to the Racer 5 IPA from Bear Republic. I'd written not long before the visit how I'd been on a crazy hop kick; that must've factored into my choice. In any case, it was a good choice that paired well with spicy fish tacos. That was all that I needed before going back for a good night's sleep. A long weekend of Toronado Barleywine, San Francisco Strong Beer Month, and Celebrator Anniversary Party lie ahead of me! (have at it grammar police; lay/lie/lain/laid is something I've never mastered)

Check back over here to see notes of my previous visit to Brewster's.