Saturday, May 31, 2008

Homebrewing has their own Monthly Blogging Event

Looks like Adam should be proud of the turnout for the inaugural group blogging event (sounds sort of racy doesn't it?!). I lost count at somewhere around 20 participants who each pitched in their own run-in with homebrewing. Seems like there wasn't any difficulty coming up with first homebrewing stories. Very interesting and entertaining to say the least. Now let's see how they follow up with an encore topic. My first homebrewing extravaganza was documented here at The Brew Lounge. Not exactly riveting or entertaining, rather more of a documented first-person resource for stumblers-by on the Web. Reminds me that I have some stories (helpful, I hope) to share with you all about my latest batch, a Saison...which just so happens to be my favorite all-around style. Oh, regarding name suggestions for future months (since Adam admits that Homebrew Blogging Day is a bit cumbersome and my own personal pet peeve is that it contains that nasty word 'blog'...but it's not about me), I'll throw a couple in the ring. How about Tales from the Brew Kettle or Mash 'n' Meanderings or Kettle Talk or....

Friday, May 30, 2008

Beer Dates in History: June Anniversaries

135 years Brauerei Beck & Co. 20 years Santa Fe Brewing Highland Pub & Brewery Gordon Biersch Deschutes Brewery 5 years Baron Brewing 1 year Allentown Brew Works Auburn Ale House

Ron's Original is Celebrating Their Grand Re-Opening This Weekend

From the crew at Ron's Original in Exton, PA. Beer, wine, music, WMGK, and Sierra Nevada make it look like a fun weekend to stop in and check out the new place. Here are a few words and pictures from when I stopped in a few weeks back.
It's time for Ron's GRAND RE-OPENING! The weekend of May 29th-31st will be a weekend long party for Ron's Original Bar & Grille. Come check out this newly renovated and expanded Bar & Grille. The place is gorgeous and we can't wait to share it with all of our friends - YOU! There will be a weekend of events and promotions, check out our complete schedule of events here. The Ron's staff is excited to share our new space with all of you, so don't miss this exciting time. We hope to see you at some point during the weekend! Thank you and be safe! Ron's Original Bar & Grille

Thursday, May 29, 2008

What About Those Philly Beer Runs, you asked

The number of people asking me about running lately has increased. With the exception of a certain someone saying something to the tune of "what is it with you and running anyway? I have a saying, 'don't ever trust a skinny beer writer'", they've all been very positive and supportive comments. Let's see... Only after my second marathon did I finally begin calling myself a runner. And, a beer writer? Well, I certainly write about beer, but I know quite a few people that would stop short of sticking the beer writer label on me with all of the predisposed conclusions that people make about beer writers. But, skinny? No way. Relative to others that write about beer? Well, I'm certainly skinniER...but, I'm far from what pops to people's minds when they think of skinny! Let's cut to the factual stuff. I've been dealing with lower back disc ailments over the past few months. In fact, my last run of any significance was the Philly Beer Run that I took a group of around 20 runners on during the second to last day of Philly Beer Week 2008. What a great time that was. But this disc thing has been a blow to my young-at-heart ego that I can't wait to get past. Anyway, it was so great of a time, that it's finally time to try another one. I'm only going to ask that you send a note to me if you'd like to be included on an e-mail distribution list for Philly Beer Runners. I don't wish to clutter up this space with too much talk of running. I realize that many of you couldn't care less about my running exploits. Now that I'm almost healed (said with fingers crossed and knocking on wood and all of that other superstitious stuff), I'm finally ready to begin my 2008 marathon training. (I'm planning to do Philly in the fall.) Each week, I'll do a progressively longer run....called surprisingly, the Weekly Long Run. Since I'm starting from virtually nothing, the first week will be just a few miles. My plan is to let the distribution list know each week via e-mail where I'll be doing the long run and what the route will be. There'll be no commitment on either end. In other words, I'll leave at a certain time with whomever shows up. And, I won't be providing any type of support other than morale....which often is the best kind of support in this kind of training. Then, occasionally, I'll be conducting a Philly Beer Run much like what we did during Philly Beer Week. If you don't know what that was...basically it was a run from point to point, with beer involved in the cool down stage at the end. I'm picturing General Lafayette (Fairmount Park/Forbidden Drive), South Philadelphia Tap Room (city scape), and Ortino's (Schuylkill River Trail) just to name a few. These will be more of a fun run atmosphere, as opposed to training, with a sweet reward at the end. So, there you go; that's where I'm at with running lately. Not so much over the past few months, but a lot more over the upcoming months. Do you want to be part of it? Drop me a line if you do. As for the skinny comment? I'll chalk that up to humor, I suppose, and pretend that he really does appreciate and trust my writing efforts!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Save The Date: Philly Beer Week 2009

Philly Beer Week will return. And it's official. A note from Joe Sixpack this morning confirmed that the dates for the follow-up 10 day extravaganza will be March 6-15. Bigger, smaller? Wider, tighter? More, less? The one thing for certain is the number of days will be the same. I'm already anticipating what next year's installment will look like.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Beer Calendar: What To Do in June 2008

Philadelphia Tue. 6/3 - Allagash Night @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (5pm-8pm; PAYG) Thu. 6/5 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tapping (Hefeweizen) @Triumph Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (6pm; PAYG) Sun. 6/8 - Slow Food Pig Roast @Philadelphia Brewing, Philadelphia, PA (2pm-6pm; $40) Tue. 6/10 - Rich Wagner Presents: "Early Lager Brewing in Philadelphia" @Triumph Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (7pm; free admiss. PAYG) Fri. 6/13 - Friday the Firkinteenth @Brey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (12pm-whenever they all kick; free admiss. PAYG) Fri. 6/20 - Victory Beer Dinner @Brasserie Perrier, Philadelphia, PA (1pm; $75) Fri. 6/20 - Voodoo Brewery & Cheese @Di Bruno Bros., Philadelphia, PA (6pm-8pm; $45) Tue. 6/24 - Sly Fox Beer Dinner @Chick's Café, Philadelphia, PA (7pm; $65) Tue. 6/24 - Odds 'n' Ends Night @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (5pm-8pm; PAYG) Fri. 6/27 - English Beers & Cheese @Di Bruno Bros., Philadelphia, PA (6pm-8pm; $50) Philadelphia's close suburbs 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) Thu. 6/5 - (Dr.) Joel Armato Presents: "Bridge Street Series" (Part I-Peak Organics/Wolavers) @Earthmart, Phoenixville, PA (6pm-9pm; $3) Thu. 6/5 - Thursday Night Tastings (Blue Point) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free) Fri. 6/6 - Friday Night Tastings (Tröegs & Joe Sixpack) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free) Sat. 6/7 - "Smoke-Free Saturday" Event @TJs, Paoli, PA (7pm; PAYG) Sat. 6/7 - Book Signing with Joe Sixpack/Don Russell @Barnes & Noble, Devon, PA (7pm; free) Thu. 6/19 - Anniversary Release (brewed by Tröegs) @The Drafting Room, Spring House, PA (5:30pm; PAYG) Fri. 6/20 - Friday Night Tastings (Dogfish Head) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free) Sat. 6/21 - Garden State Craft Brewers Guild Beer Festival @Battleship New Jersey, Camden, NJ (12pm-4pm; $40) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania 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) Sat. 5/31 - 11th Anniversary Party @Appalachian Brewing, Harrisburg, PA (2pm-???; $3 beers, free pig roast) Thu. 6/5 - Design, Drink, & Be Merry (Opening Reception) @GoggleWorks in the Schmidt Gallery, Reading, PA (5pm-8pm; $15/$20) Sun. 6/8 - Design, Drink, & Be Merry (Public Opening) @GoggleWorks in the Schmidt Gallery, Reading, PA (12pm-1pm) Fri. 6/13 - New Beer Debut @Weyerbacher, Easton, PA (5pm-8pm; free samples, bottles available to purchase) Thu. 6/19 - Third Thursday Tastings @The Farmhouse, Emmaus, PA (tbd) Sat. 6/21 - Harrisburg Brewers Fest downtown Harrisburg, PA (12:00pm-3:30pm, 5:00pm-8:30pm; $35/$40; VIP $95) Fri. 6/27 - Cask Ale Night (All Stoudt's: Scarlet Lady ESB; Scarlet Lady "with a difference"; and Black Eye Pale Ale) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA (4:30pm-6:30pm; pay as you go) Elsewhere 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) Sat. 5/31 - 4th Anniversary Party @Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa, CA (11am-???; PAYG) 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) Sun. 6/1 - Champagne Bottle Kick-off @Bullfrog Brewery, Williamsport, PA (all day; PAYG) Tue. 6/3 - Beer Dinner @Brasserie Beck, Washington, DC (7pm; $110) Wed. 6/4 - A Full Lineup of Ramstein @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG) Sat. 6/7 - Brett Fest @Spuyten Duyvil, New York, NY (all day; PAYG) Sat. 6/7 - The Annual Beerfest: A Benefit for Face to Face @Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, Santa Rosa, CA (1pm-5pm; $35/$40) Sat. 6/7 - 13th Annual Pennsylvania Microbrewer's Fest @Penn Brewing, Pittsburgh, PA (12pm-3pm, 3:30pm-6:30pm, 8pm-11pm; $37) Wed. 6/11 - A Full Lineup of Smuttynose @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG) Fri. 6/13-Sat. 6/14 - 11th Annual Real Ale Festival @Pizza Port, Carlsbad, CA (4pm-11pm Fri 11am-11pm Sat; $25 for 8 tasters; $1 each thereafter) Sat. 6/14 - The Brewing Network's 3rd Anniversary Party @Downtown Joe's, Napa, CA (5pm-11pm; PAYG) Sat. 6/14-Sun. 6/22 - IPA Festival @Lucky Baldwin's Delirium Café, Sierre Madre, CA (all day; PAYG) Fri. 6/20-Sat. 6/21 - American Craft Beer Fest @Seaport World Trade Center, Boston, MA (6:00pm-9:30pm Fri & Sat, 1:00pm-4:30pm Sat; $40/session) Tue. 6/24 - Kate the Great Release Party @Portsmouth Brewery, Portsmouth, MA (2:27pm; PAYG) Wed. 6/25 - A Full Lineup of Elysian (first in NYC) @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG) Wed. 7/2 - A Full Lineup of Italian Beer @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Today is a Wonderful Day

So it's good to see from the activity logs here at The Brew Lounge that most of you are not at your computer and likely out enjoying the day as I am. Here in the northeastern part of the United States, and from the looks of weather map, and most of the country, it is one of those days that you can't help but feel good to be alive. I sincerely hope you all have a chance to feel this way during the long weekend as well. You haven't been hearing from me much in this space since I published the 21 tap lists last week (betchya can still find a lot of it) and won't hear from me for a few days. Too many other good things going on right now, plus I get a feeling that you're not in the mood much for reading now during this weekend anyway. Wherever this may find you this weekend, be of good cheer with family or friends (and, of course, a good beer!) and take the time to remember WHAT THIS HOLIDAY IS ALL ABOUT. Cheers!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What's On Tap 5/22/08 - An Analysis

Just because my analytic side can't let go, here's a breakdown at what you can find on tap today at the locations I included. If you missed it, here's a link to download the tap lists. Enjoy.

Tap This!
  - 21 locations averaging 14 taps 172 unique beers

Drink Local
  - 19% non-U.S.; 81% U.S.; 64% of the U.S. beer is from Pennsylvania

  - Yuengling Lager on 10 taps; Guinness Stout & Victory HopDevil on 9 (Have you guys heard of a stout named O'Reilly? If you haven't, Call Suzy; I only see it on 4 taps); Miller Lite on 8 (it's not the worst of all dem macro lights, imo)

Rounding out the top 10 most found
  - Coors Light 6; Stella Artois Belgian Pale Ale 6; Hoegaarden Belgian Wit 5; Samuel Adams Summer Ale 5; Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 5; 5 tied at 4

What Hop Shortage?
  - 10 IPAs on tap; 9 APAs; 8 Belgian-Style Witbiers; 7 American Imperial/Double IPAs

  - Yards ESA and PPA only on a single tap each (I get a feeling that's about to change)

21 Tap Lists for today 5/22/08

21 Tap List Salute

Just a reminder that these are out there for your gustatory pleasure. Some times my excessive wording gets in the way of the point...and I didn't want you to miss these sweet looking tap lists that I published yesterday.

If you're around Exton, PA tonight between 6:30pm-9:00pm, stop by The Drafting Room for a meetup. You can find their tap list on the spreadsheet link as well. 21 Tap List Salute

Meetup at The Drafting Room tonight (5/22/08)

Just got the 10th RSVP, so I believe that we should be seeing a keg of the Victory Saphir tonight. If you're in the Exton, PA area tonight between 6:30pm-9:00pm, feel free to stop by and join us for this 2nd Meetup of The Brew Lounge. Now, if we could just get 15 to show up, there might be a keg of Edmund Fitzgerald in the evening for us, too!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What's On Tap tomorrow May 22nd? Funny You Should Ask

What's On Tap - May 22nd - northern Chester County, PA and nearby

Did you think I forgot about this little project called What's On Tap? Remember the last time I did it?

Recall that the idea is that I'm showing you what will be on tap. (Actually the proprietors are doing the telling, but let's not go and get all pedantic.) In this case, what will be on tap tomorrow, Thursday May 22nd.

Keep in mind that draft beer is not always a predictable thing. So, this is the proprietors' best estimation of what will be on tap tomorrow. In any case, it's a nice piece of P.R. for the great beer (local and otherwise) that we have flowing here in these suburban Philly parts.

This time around, I expanded a bit, now have 21 bars and brewpubs participating (last time it was 15, I believe). This time around we've got a new Ron's, an expanded Victory, and a few new entrants like Capone's and Half Moon. But, the biggest surprise to me is Rino's. Always known for excellent pizza and pasta, family-run Rino's is trying to make a splash in the better beer scene too.

While the tap list may not blow a lot of you away, there are a few good ones on there and plenty more of spectacular bottled ones in the cooler. According to daughter Samantha, father Lance is trying to bring in new and interesting (though, I think she might have used the word "crazy" :) stuff. Case in point, there's a poster board by the front door that encourages drinking Saison Dupont with dinner. While there are no plans to have a bar environment, keep Rino's in mind when taking the family out for a decent sit-down dinner or passing through the Exton Square Mall. Thanks to whomever it was that advised me to check them out.

So, click here and check it out. When you click "Open With Excel," or something like that, you'll get two tabs in the Excel for all of the establishments and their offerings and one for a style listing for all of the beers. Drop me a line if you've appreciated this "What's On Tap" concept. One of these days, I just might make it a more frequently occurring feature.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Brandywine Valley Craft Brewers Festival at Iron Hill in Media, PA: 5/17/08

(top: Mike "Rut" Rutkowski; bottom: Paul Rutherford, Chris "Lappy" LaPierre, Jean Broillet, Justin Sproul, Bob "the medal machine" Barrar)

I finally made it to Iron Hill's Brandywine Valley Craft Brewers Festival this past weekend...after years of being thwarted by a wedding, travel, or other conflicts. I picked up my ticket Friday morning online at their website. When I checked back less than an hour later, there was a big "SOLD OUT" message across the webform. Almost missed it again, phew!

The weather was as perfect as a beer festival could possibly ask for. Overcast turning to mostly sunny with a light breeze. The music of XXXXX (a little help, please?) rocked the parking lot and the closed end of State Street in Media. Joe Sixpack was signing books and talking with fans of his work. The Iron Hill clan was everywhere, as were other brewers, sales reps, and owners from over 20 local breweries and brewpubs. Scores of volunteers roamed the scene as well pitching in wherever necessary.

There were a lot of usual suspects (beer, that is) floating around, so if you don't mind having a Tröegs HopBack, a Dogfish 90 Minute, a Sly Fox Royal Weisse, or a General Lafayette Chocolate Thunder then you were just sittin' pretty on this wonderful Saturday afternoon. And, c'mon, does anyone ever really "mind" having any of these beers or other "standards" from our outstanding local breweries?

(Dock Street's Michael Fava)

But, then, every few booths or so was something that just stood out a little farther (at least to me). Like the Rock Bottom Czech Mate Pilsner. Then, the Stewart's Abbey Hoffman. Or, the Dock Street Sexual Chocolate. Yes, you heard me correctly...just try asking Mike Fava for some Sexual Chocolate with a straight face! And, how could I not mention the River Horse Double White? New from their Brewers Reserve line, I was first wowed by it back at The Brewers Plate in March. It still fails to disappoint. If you haven't come across it yet, keep an eye open for it and don't pass it up.

Then you get to the Iron Hill booth. These guys bring their A-game from one of their locations to the next; any naysayers, I challenge. If you came bearing a Mug Club membership card you received your choice from Bourbon Wee Heavy, Bourbon Russian, and Heywood. Sneaky of these guys to find a way to drive Mug Club membership sales on Saturday! I noticed a few people duck inside the restaurant to sign up in order to get to these special beers.

All in all, the reputation of this festival isn't far from reality. It's planned well with cooperation from the borough, police, and brewers. Ticket prices are reasonable given the represented breweries and beers. Charity is involved in the form of the Media Youth Center. Rinse water was almost always available at each table. The event was not too crowded, so it was evident that the ticket sales limit was being observed.

Tidbit from Iron Hill Gang: bottling day for Ring of Fire is in two days.

Tidbit from The Beer Lass: she's got way more pictures (and more fun pics, at that) than I took. Go check out her take on the day.

Picture Prizes for you if you made it here to the end: If these pictures don't scream "family-friendly beer festival," then what does? I'm smelling another caption contest on the horizon. Anyone?

(you should know who the bearded one is; the other you could guess from her shirt. Or a picture from a few weeks ago.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Pens are Mightier than the Flyers

It's all over, 'cept the crying. I don't think anyone will tell you, myself included, that the Flyers were the better team coming into this series. Heck, there's a good case that can be made that the Penguins were actually the number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference this year. I saw them play twice in person and several times on TV during the regular season and playoffs. They certainly deserve to be where they are; they really are that talented. But, I'm let down in the way in which the Flyers fell out of this year's playoffs. The regular season was topsy-turvy. The first two rounds of the playoffs were impressive for the Flyers; they knocked off the numbers 1 & 3 seeds. But so many of the players who had previously been standing as tall as ever were just simply silenced and shut down. The Penguins just simply were faster, better puck handlers & communicators, and ably showing off their incredible young talent. So, I'm surprised how little respect the Penguins are already getting against their next (presumptive) challenger, the Detroit Red Wings. Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going about collecting all of the goods that were put up for the beer wager between Philly & Pittsburgh, The Brew Lounge & Craft Beer Radio. The Philly faithful came through strong with 11 establishments pledging all sorts of beer related stuff. Jeff Bearer at Craft Beer Radio is back from SAVOR (keep your ears open for the series of SAVOR podcasts that he's already begun to publish) and putting together a process for distributing the goods to his listeners. If all works out, I may even put together a roadtrip to Pittsburgh to humbly turn over the winnings to Jeff and his listeners...and drink a few beers...and catch a Pirates game. Stay tuned...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

TBL Meetup this Thursday at The Drafting Room

Let's get to the special kegs that I promised more information. Based on the number of responses, The Drafting Room will put on a special keg for us. Here's the details: if only I show up: I get whatever they're already serving if 3 show: Great Lakes Amber Lager & a Rogue JLS (either Black Brutal, Charlie, or Brewer) if 5 show: Weyerbacher 12 if 10 show: Victory Saphir (from this year's CBC) and if 15 RSVP: Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter So far, I think, we're at 4. Get your RSVPs in and let's see if we can get a little taste of Eddie Fitz this Thursday at The Drafting Room. You can either comment below or drop me an e-mail at with an RSVP. Did I mention? Somewhere around 6:30pm.

Friday, May 16, 2008

TJs is still staffed at the bar

Last Friday afternoon's rainy day special showed you a glimpse into the underage drinking scene at one particular ballpark ;-) This week, the weather's even worse, but I've got something better for you. Have a look at what one of the area's favorite bartenders has been up to. Next time you're at TJs bar, you'll be thankful he came out of this experience in one piece. Might as well cover two other points on TJs while I'm at it. Jeff continues to keep the tap list as current as ever. Check it out. While you're there, be sure to support their Smoke-Free Saturday Nights; they may be coming to an end...If everyone who's got something to say about smoke in bars would support TJs, perhaps things wouldn't be ending this way. But, it appears that Jeff may have a decent alternative in store.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

2nd Meetup of The Brew Lounge: May 22nd

Is it time for another meetup of the patrons of The Brew Lounge? (uh, wait. Patron implies paying customer. Let's call ourselves friends.) Me thinks so too. Remember last time? Let's do it again. This time, I'm proposing next Thursday, May 22nd, at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA. Hopefully this is not too short of notice for you. This gives anyone leaving the area for the holiday weekend a last chance to have a local beer with friends. TDR will have some tables set aside for us. Adding to the intrigue, the management of TDR has offered to put up a keg of our choosing, the quality of which will be determined by the number of people who reply. Basically, this means the more that reply the more special of a keg that they will put on for us. More on this later. We are also invited to bring any "special bottles" that we may want to share with each other. As long as we remember that we are not freeloaders and will appropriately take care of the staff. And, one more thing? If necessary, game 7 of the conference finals between the Flyers and Penguins is scheduled for 7:30pm. Sounds perfect to me. But, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves! Are you in? Send RSVP via e-mail to by Tuesday the 20th.

Philly/Pittsburgh beer wager in the news

Bob Batz, beer scribe at the Post-Gazette in Pittsburgh, has caught wind of our little wager with Pittsburgh-based Craft Beer Radio. Barring an historic comeback*, I will be turning in a bevy of beer goodies from the Philly area to Jeff at CBR. Maybe Bob can join us if we have a meetup when this series concludes. * The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders are the only NHL clubs to overcome a deficit of three games to none in a playoff series. Those teams did it 33 years apart. And this year is 33 years from 1975. (source: Tim Panaccio's column in Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/15/08)

Musings from the road; Texas Trio (Grapevine, Addison, & Dallas)

On to Texas, or shall I say back (a few weeks ago) to Texas? After jumping into a rental car at DFW, I left the airport property where I was immediately in Grapevine territory and headed to where I thought I might find the best variety of regional beer in the Dallas area. The World Market chain typically has (where allowed by law) a well-stocked inventory of beers and wines for the customer who also happens to be shopping for home accessories...go figure. I've had good experiences in California, Arizona, and Virginia at stores of theirs. (Unfortunately, the closest one to home, their Delaware location, did not carry beer/wine and recently closed....coincidence?!) This Grapevine location was pretty darn decent to say the least. The wine selection was larger than any I'd seen at other World Market locations. Ditto the beer selection. While I came prepared looking for Saint Arnold and varieties of Shiner that I hadn't seen before, I'd completely forgotten that I should be able to find New Belgium as well. And, find it I did. Okay, before you, they weren't stocking La Folie or any other of the funk house brews coming out of Colorado! So maybe in that case they aren't that great? What I did find, though, was Blue Paddle, Springboard, Skinny Dip, Trippel, and 1554 Black. I was more than happy to bring these home along with Saint Arnold's Lawnmower, Bock, Amber, and Texas Wheat. An oddball I hadn't seen before was Rahr & Sons from Fort Worth. I picked up a black lager of theirs called Ugly Pug and will let you know how that decision turned out. And Shiner's Black Lager (sensing a theme here you should) was a very roastily-decent drinker. But, don't be fooled by the "only Texans get it" label on this other beer called ZiegenBock. If I'd read the label at all, I may not have picked up this beer because the words Anheuser-Busch lurk in small print. But perhaps I'm glad that I did, because I can flatly recommend that you do not do as I did. Because if you do as I did, then you'll done pour that beer down the drain. Thin, devoid of flavor, and nothing more to say about it. I rarely pour any beer out and won't always point out to you what I don't like. Oft times I feel that it could be the current state of my own palate at the time or personal taste or bias that is influencing whether I in turn like the beer. This one deserves for you to hear about my reaction. Its fact sheet says that is "smooth, full-flavored, and easy drinking." Wow. Really? It won a bronze medal at the 2006 GABF for the American-Style Dark Lager category. Hm, must've been a specially-brewed batch for the competition...or the competition was really weak. Either way, consider yourself warned. You're welcome in advance. After finishing a day of work in Irving, I needed to catch game 7 of the Flyers playoff series. Silly of me to think that going to game 6 the night prior in Philly would have seen things wrapped up and wouldn't need to trouble myself in to finding a barstool and TV in Texas to watch Philadelphia and Washington play a hockey game. Alas, with the hotel not carrying the Versus network (not a surprise) I found myself taking The Brew Lounge show across railroad tracks and through tumbleweed to Addison's Humperdinks sports bar. I didn't really inquire too deeply about the state of beer; I was really only there for the hockey game. From what I seemed to understand from the staff, they used to be associated with Big Horn Brewing. Now, they seem to simply be a very good sports bar catering to local professional and college sports (it's very close to Univ. of Texas/Dallas); in fact, they call themselves Hockey Central. After some wrangling (that's a Texas-born term, I believe...I could use horse-trading but I didn't really trade anything), I got myself into a seat with a clear view of the one TV out of 50 with the Flyers game (42 of the others had the Mavericks playoff game on). A few suspect Sierra Nevadas and Shiner Bocks, burrito, and a Flyers win later, I headed back to my hotel. Great sports bar to watch a game, don't set your expectations too high for the beer. The last stop on the Texas swing was The Old Monk north of downtown Dallas on North Henderson Road. Apparently, they've been around for almost 10 years, but has their beer selection only recently improved? I'm not sure. Figured I should stop in and wait out some Texas Toronados that were reportedly ripping through the area. I won't write much about them here today, as I plan to give them a more thorough going-over during my next trip to the area. They definitely have the proper vibe going on at The Old Monk...dim lights, bit of a small and earthly feel to it, and the requisite Belgian drafts. They have some decent American, German, English, Czech, and others thrown in for good measure too. The glassware and service seems to be up to snuff as well. Definitely worth another trip...that you'll be sure to hear about somewhere down the road.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Musings from the road: Providence, RI

Providence, Grapevine, Addison, & Dallas. It's not exactly New York, San Francisco, and Boston. But, sometimes business travel takes me to places a little farther off the beaten path. I take 'em as they come and report to you what I find along the way. Today I'll give you a few bits about my recent trip to Providence and tomorrow a few bytes about a dip into Texas a few weeks ago. In Providence, RI I knew that I really would not have much time to search out local beer attractions. It was a 24 hour trip that basically took me from the airport to the hotel (less than 1/2 mile from airport) to the client location (a few more miles) and back to the airport. But, along the way, we stopped in for dinner at the Legal Seafoods located just outside the hotel's front door. Good enough, I figured. There might be a local beer or two (Harpoon, Boston Beer, e.g.) but with a presentation the next day, I was more interested in the food from this bastion of New England seafood dining instead of the beer. What I found here, though, continues to underscore the phenomenon of finding better beer in more out-of-the way locations than ever before. We were greeted by a large placard announcing the upcoming (actually, today 5/14) Samuel Adams Beer Dinner when we walked through the entrance of Legal Seafoods. Inside the menu at our table were inserts describing the dinner as complete with Hors d'oeuvres, 4 course meal, and "education." Wow, I thought. Not only was I surprised by a "chain-like" restaurant such as Legal Seafoods hosting a beer dinner that looked more than something just quickly thrown together. But, I was surprised by the location of it. Downtown Providence? No. Long Wharf in Boston? Nope. The location just outside the Providence airport property in Warwick, but of course. Am I the only one that finds the location odd? Who is the customer base? The local neighborhood, who is that? I'm thinking, how often is it that I consider what food and drink events might be occurring at hotels or restaurants around the Philly airport? In fact, what restaurants are near the airport that I would consider going to on any average night? Not to take anything away from Legal Seafoods. The service was great, the food excellent, and now they're hosting beer dinners! It was a full house at 8pm on this particular Tuesday evening, so they probably do a fair bit of business from transient diners just passing through or at a nearby convention. All I say is, good for them, great for the customers. But, is Utopia being served? No, but hopefully I can expect them to be saving that for Monk's, right? More from my Texas trip tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Iron Hill's Ring of Fire Porter - revisited and revised

After discussing with Chris LaPierre in more detail, a slight bit of a revision here to what I posted yesterday. In fact, the Lodestone was the basis for Ring of Fire. When the initial result was off the Scoville chart, they went through a series of blending experiments to temper the heat. With the big malt and slight hoppiness of the Pig Iron Porter, they found the porter to be the best match for the Ring of Fire.

SAVOR is finally here; few tickets remain

The excitement for SAVOR has been growing ever since the announcement was first made during last year's GABF. And for good reason. From Garret Oliver's groundbreaking book a number of years ago to hundreds of beer dinners since, beer lovers (even the most casual) are waking up to the myriad possibilities that the pairing of food and beer provides. Since I'll be heading out to Pittsburgh on Saturday to catch some playoff hockey action between the Flyers and Penguins, I won't be able to make the SAVOR sessions in Washington, D.C. Fortunately, though, I will have just had my own run-in with beer and food at Thursday's dinner with Jim Koch at Monk's Café in Philly. I'll be very anxious to hear the reactions from those that are attending in D.C. There will be thoughtfully paired beers and food items and breakout sessions with the biggest names in craft brewing. Remember not to show up without a ticket, as they will not be available at the door. Though tickets are no longer available on line to Saturday's sessions (Friday is still available on line), they can still be found at local (DC Metro area) establishments. As of now, the weather doesn't look too bad for gallivanting around the city this weekend. If I could, I'd go; it sounds well worth the admission price. If you attend, savor it (sorry, it was too obvious, but yet I did). Ticket Outlets (call ahead for ticket availability): Brickskeller, Washington, DC 202-293-1885 (available at the Lupulin Reunulin event on 5/13 & 5/14) Dogfish Head Alehouse, Gaithersburg, MD 301-963-4847 Dogfish Head Alehouse, Falls Church, VA 703-534-3342 Rock Bottom Brewery, Arlington, VA 703-516-7688 Rock Bottom Brewery, Bethesda, MD 301-652-1311 Details: Friday, May 16, 6:30pm–10:00pm Session; $85 Saturday, May 17, 12:30pm–4:00pm Session $85 Saturday, May 17, 6:30pm–10:00pm Session $85 Included with Ticket Purchase: ~ Samples from a wide variety of savory and sweet appetizers crafted to match the taste profiles of craft beers ~ Access to Educational Salons, which have a Beer and Food focus ~ Commemorative tasting glass ~ 2-ounce samples of specially selected craft beers ~ Souvenir program ~ Craft Beer Tasters Journal ~ Federal City Caterers will orchestrate the food menu.

Oh Maia in Villanova, PA

The famed Brothers Feury (Patrick and Terence) plan to open the ambitious and exciting Maia has finally come to fruition. It looks like they plan to offer a little something for everyone at this grand new location. Thanks to Matt for picking up a drink menu when he cruised through Villanova this past weekend. Below are a few tidbits from a late 2007 press release, followed by highlights of the draft and bottle beer menu. It looks as if a visit could be fast approaching. But, I'm not sure if it will be eligible for the R5 Train & Beer Trip or not. It's close to 1/2 mile from the Villanova train station. (no website yet, that I could track down) ... The restaurant pledges to mix "European flair" with fresh ingredients grown locally. ... The market on the first floor will offer house-baked breads, pastry, charcuterie and fish cured on the premises, as well as restaurant-quality carryout items. Produce, fish, meats and cheese will come from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, when possible. The market will also feature a selection of craft beers from regional breweries and small producers worldwide. ... The café will feature coffee, organic teas and a menu of "light fare." Live music will be featured at night. Maia will be open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Draft - Allagash; Ayinger; Founders; Geants; Gaffel; Grimbergen; Ommegang; Sly Fox; Tröegs; Victory; Yuengling Bottle - Anchor; Brooklyn; Chimay; Dupont; Duvel; Jenlain; Legacy; Sierra Nevada; Stone; Stoudt's; Victory

Monday, May 12, 2008

Will Iron Hill Light Your Fire?

Now here's something worth getting hot and bothered over! I'd reported on this way back somewhere in time when they'd just filled a Tabasco barrel with the Lodestone Lager. (Turns out Ithaca had done something similar; reminds me to check in with them to see how things turned out.) I wondered if the beer and Tabasco would play nicely together and settle down after I'd heard the first reaction to it from Chris, Jean, and Mark.

The lager must not have worked out as planned, but the porter did well enough and they're now making the Tabasco barrel-aged porter available to customers on Father's Day next month. It's been tagged "Ring of Fire Porter". Sounds like the perfect treat for Dad.....or anyone for that matter. I like the availability in smaller bottles, since their bigger bottle format consistently comes in around $20 and can get you thinking twice about shelling out for it. Though, as I've said before, all bottle offerings from Iron Hill have always been high quality and well worth Mr. Jackson's disappearance.

From their press release...

On Sunday, June 15, Iron Hill will premier "Ring of Fire Porter," an assertive brew sure to light Dad’s fire.

Crafted from Iron Hill’s own Pig Iron Porter, then aged and finished in a TABASCO® pepper mash oak barrel, this is a libation that will please beer and barbecue lovers alike. Better still, it arrives just in time for grilling season. Ring of Fire will be available in 375 ml bottles for $9 at all Iron Hill locations for dine-in and carry-out.

As the beer ages inside the oak Tabasco barrels, the heat and the pepper character mix with the roastiness and subtle chocolate notes of the porter, making this a steak-friendly beer with 5% alcohol that’s sure to be a summertime favorite for its sweet, smoky character and flavorful punch.

Updates from Russian River, Magnolia, and Lost Abbey

Covering the best of California from top to bottom all in one posting. Here are some interesting tidbits pulled over the past couple of days from Russian River Brewing's, Magnolia Brew Pub's, and Lost Abbey's e-mail and blog updates. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Lost Abbey - (5/9/08 blog update) Keep up with them at ... In February we acquired more oak barrels. Specifically, we added 100 new Brandy barrels and 50 more Bourbon barrels. Since then, we have filled 50 Brandy Barrels of Angel’s Share which we hope to release in time for Christmas. We’ll be filling the other 50 in the next month. This will mean a plethora of Angel’s doing their work all summer long at The Lost Abbey. Sounds divine if you ask me. ... A couple of weeks ago, the Craft Brewing World descended on San Diego. It was a chance for every local brewer to do their part and shine. We at Port Brewing hosted so many brewers. It was a special week for us. The highly anticipated Isabelle Proximus was launched. It turned into an amazing beer and we can’t wait to get the barrels reloaded and make more. The beer has been labeled and should see the light of day in late June- just in time for the summer swelter. ... Last weekend, we hosted our 2nd Anniversary Party. In true Port Brewing fashion, we rolled out 3 beers for the weekend. The buzz around the brewery seems to be that the Cuvee tastes as good as last year AND don’t even get us started on the 2nd Anniversary Ale. If there’s one place there isn’t a hop shortage, it’s those bottles we filled- 11 pallets worth! ... I have put a moratorium on new beers for the next few months. Don’t ask me the timeline. I don’t have one. What I do know is that since January of this year, we have launched or brewed Moon Lit Sessions, Shark Attack, Port 2nd Anniversary, Serpent’s Stout, Carvnevale, Inferno, Hildegard’s Saison and Holy Water. It’s time for me to stop imaging and conceptualizing new beers every 20 minutes. I’m having a hard enough time keeping track of where these beers are. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Finally Brewing at the New Brewery! - (5/10/08 blog update) Keep up with them at ... On Thursday, May 8th, we finally brewed our first batch of beer at the new production brewery in Santa Rosa! Of course, it was far from the perfect brew day. Vinnie arrived at 6am and left at 4:30am… ouch. ... The first beer brewed on the new/used 50 barrel Dogfish Head brewhouse was Consecration- a sour beer which will age for a year in Cabernet barrels with black currents and the usual bugs and critters. ... Today, Saturday, I decided to forego Boonville to help Vinnie brew the first batch of Pliny the Elder! We don’t brew together anymore, now that we are business partners. So today was a very special day for me! Jay has a bunch of great pictures over at his site...check 'em out +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Magnolia Closed For Remodeling - (5/11/08 email update) Keep up with them at ... At long last, after a seemingly endless spring of preparation and planning, we’re closing tonight after dinner for nine days of remodeling. ... Some parts of this process have been underway for weeks and are just awaiting final installation, like the new bar and table tops built from wood salvaged from the original Levi Strauss building. Others, like extensive painting and restroom tiling, require a closed and quiet pub to commence. And a few projects will continue on over the next two months. ... Brandon has reached out to the producers whose philosophy aligns most closely with our own, bringing Marin Sun, Cattail Creek, Devils Gulch, Wolf Ranch, Liberty and other farms into Magnolia for the first time. ... The most exciting addition, however, is the unveiling of our new sausage program(!), with a selection of five different house-made sausages (including a veggie one). ... Come see how it all turns out on Wednesday, May 21st, when we will re-open for dinner. ... And if you’ve got a thirst for Proving Ground or one of our other beers, Alembic (1725 Haight @ Cole) will be serving Magnolia beer from all ten of its taps during the downtime (along with the usual array of cocktails, spirits, bottled beer, wine, sake, and small plates). ... PS – The next SF Brewers Guild Meet the Brewers event is just down the street at Toronado on May 22 from 6-9pm. There will be a beer on tap from all seven Guild breweries, including Magnolia. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Friday, May 09, 2008

Tap List at Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA - 5/9/08

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 5/9/08
Arcadia HopMouth IPA
Bell's Cherry Stout
Brouwerij Verhaeghe Kriek
Flying Fish Hopfish
Lagunitas Lumpy Gravy
Mad River Steelhead Extra Pale Ale
Peak Organic Nut Brown Ale
River Horse Hop Hazard
Southampton Double White
St. Bernardus 12
Stone Russian Imperial Stout
Tröegs Pale Ale (cask)
Troubadour Obscura

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

Tap List at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA - 5/9/08

What's on tap at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA as of 5/9/2008?

Atwater Block Pilsner
Ballast Point Big Eye IPA
Ballast Point Black Marlin Porter
Ballast Point Wahoo Wheat
Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale Ale
Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale
Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale
Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse
Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse
North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner
Stoudts Smooth Hoperator
Victory Hop Devil (cask)
Sly Fox O'Reilly's Stout
Legacy Midnight Wit
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Lindemans Pêche
Amstel Light

Not quite sure what to do with this

I'm not quite sure what to do with this video other than share it with you on this dreary Friday afternoon, at least here in the mid-Atlantic/Northeast. (Though, I can guess what certain "concerned organizations" might do ;-) Caption Contests seem to be all the rage lately. Perhaps I should conduct one here. This video has so many clever captions that could be tagged to it.

CBR & TBL; Flyers & Pens; Philly & Pitt; It's On Like Donkey Kong

It's sure difficult getting through work today waiting for the dropping of the puck at 7:30 eastern time tonight. We've got ourselves the making of a nice little wager here between Philly-based The Brew Lounge & Pittsburgh-based Craft Beer Radio.

I'm expecting to see our Flyers come through strong like our local brewers and proprietors have done. Here are the 11 participating establishments along with their officially pledged items (but not expecting to surrender):

Grey Lodge - Grey Lodge t-shirt
Iron Hill Brewery - couple of 750 ml bottles
McKenzie Brew House - Abbey 8 in 750ml bottles
Monk's Café - limited edition, Monk's Café bottle opener (only 50 handmade, by local blacksmith)
Sierra Nevada Brewery - SN golf shirt
Sly Fox Brewing - Sly Fox t-shirt & 6 pack
The Drafting Room - unspecified
TJs - One 12 oz. bottle of each: 2006 Avery The Beast; 2007 Dogfish Head Raison D'Extra; 2008 Dogfish Head Immort; 2008 Peche Mortel
Tröegs Brewing - couple of six packs of mixed Tröegs
Victory Brewing - six pack each of Prima Pils & Hop Devil
Yards Brewing - 6-pack of Philly Pale Ale


Put a Little Art in Your Beer with Tröegs

Tired of your typical festivals and beer tastings? Wanna try a little something different with your beer? It’s that time of year and Tröegs is once again ramping up their Art of Drinking Tröegs promotion. On Thursday May 15th, the mid-Atlantic bars listed below will participate (alternate dates in parentheses) where you can pick up a Starter Kit and have a few beers to help get those creative juices flowing. Each of the bars will have posters, coasters, and pint glasses available while supplies last and most importantly some tasty Tröegs beers on tap or bottles. For more info check out their website Philadelphia- o Old Eagle Tavern (5-20-08) o South Philly Tap Room o Brigid’s o Standard Tap o Johnny Brenda’s o Grey Lodge o Good Dog o Pub on Passyunk East o Dawson St. Pub o The Khyber Chester County- o Drafting Room Exton o TJ’s Everyday (5-18-08) o Flying Pig Bucks County- o Spinnerstown Hotel Montgomery County- o Brother Paul’s o Drafting Room Spring House (5-14-08) o Ortino’s Northside o Union Jack’s Glenside o Union Jack’s Congo o Capone’s o Bones Grille Berkss County- o Union Jack’s on the Manatawny Baltimore, MD o Max’s On Broadway o Mahaffey’s Pub- (6-15-08) o Racer’s Café Frostburg, MD o Dante’s Columbia, MD o Frisco Grille- (6-4-08) Washington DC o Pizzeria Paradiso (Make sure to check with the bar first, some may do the promo on another day)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Vegetarian Rules the Night at José Pistolas with Iron Hill & Essene

While 2008 is shaping up to be the Year of Beer & Food (or Year of Beer Dinners, take your pick), a subcategory for trends of 2008 might include vegetarian restaurants and similarly themed dinners. Everywhere I seem to turn lately, I'm hearing of expanding vegetarian offerings, down to full out vegetarian menus. With several years of negative news related to animal production and consumption, it's probably not difficult to understand how more people are opting for diets that steer away from animals. This coming Tuesday, May 13th, Iron Hill (West Chester) brewers Chris LaPierre and Jean Broillet are pairing up with Jose Pistola's for a vegetarian beer dinner featuring guest chef Eric Anderson of Essene and José Pistola's executive chef Brenton Wallace. This sounds like an excellent forging of handcrafted and creative beer and food. Introduction beer - Vienna Lager 1st course - Chilled cucumber and cantelope soup paired with Heywood (Golden sour ale fermented with 100% Brettanomyces) 2nd course - Saitan Pastilla with puff pastry paired with American Brown Ale 3rd Course - Arugula salad, red onion, toasted pinenuts, with a California Chevre' in a golden balsamic dijon vinagrette paired with Belgian Triple 4th course - Roasted root vegetable pan fried fritter, black truffle lentils, forest mushrooms with a porcini reduction paired with Baltic Porter AND Saison Dessert - Vanilla Peanut butter mousse with an espresso bean cookie paired with Bourbon Aged Wee Heavy (strong Scotch Ale aged in Eagle Rare bourbon barrels) Price is $65 per person and reservations will be taken at 215-545-4101

Victory, yes I was there too

Is there anyone who hasn't made it to the "friends & family," "soft opening," or official opening? The way the threads read at BA, or over at Lew's site, Jack's site, and on and on, you wouldn't think otherwise.

Yesterday, May 7th, marked the official reemergence of Victory Brewing, the brew pub. But, nothing like you've seen before, at least not in Downingtown, PA. Congratulations to Ron, Bill, and entire Victory crew for opening, on time to say the least, a new version of Victory that is sure to impress and give my recent proclamation of northern Chester County's most comfortable new bar a run for its money. Well, really, there's fresh beer here, so.....

From a service aspect, Lew was right on the money to point out the efficiency of the kitchen and the bar. Service was prompt and attentive, the kitchen cranked out food faster than I've ever seen before, and the bar (filling station, not included) was keeping up with the thirsty patrons.

I'll have more to say after repeat visits, but for now make sure you head over for fresh tastes of Wild Devil (HopDevil with Brett), 10 Year Alt (revisited, and still a fave of mine), Sapphire, all of the other usual suspects plus some that will become more usual than they used to be. With taps-a-plenty and a growler filling station second-to-none, you'll have no excuses for not sampling the wide variety of styles that Victory is brewing.

Flyers-Penguins Beer Wager, The Goods are Stacking Up

Things are coming together quite nicely in the Great Philadelphia-Pittsburgh Beer Wager of 2008, I mean, Flyers-Penguins playoff battle. While the majority of comments (okay, all of them) on my last posting have been pro-Pens, Philadelphia-area brewers and proprietors are speaking loudly with their contributions to the wager. In the event that the Flyers should lose the series, I will be arranging delivery of the Fertile Crescent's finest to Jeff Bearer of Craft Beer Radio, based in western Pennsylvania. (My donation to the wager will be the shipping cost!) He will then, in turn, find a way of awarding the Philly beer bait to one or more of his listeners. But, if things go as we here in Phillytown expect them to, Jeff will be shipping some goodies to me for distribution to one or more of the TBL subscribers. Here's what we've got lined up so far coming out of the eastern side of the State. Jeff, what are your guys coming up with? This is last call for anyone still wanting to get in on this fun wager. We'll wrap this thing up tomorrow morning and officially announce the stakes before Friday night's Game One. Iron Hill - couple of 750 ml bottles McKenzie - Abbey 8 in 750 ml bottles Monk's Cafe - limited edition, Monk's Café bottle opener (only 50 handmade by local blacksmith) Sierra Nevada - golf shirt Sly Fox - t-shirt & 6 pack The Drafting Room - unspecified TJs - (1) 12 oz. 2006 Avery The Beast; (1) 12 oz. 2007 Dogfish Head Raison D'Extra; (1) 12 oz. 2008 Dogfish Head Immort; (1) 12oz 2008 Peche Mortel Tröegs - couple of six packs of mixed Tröegs Victory - six pack of Prima & Hop Devil Yards - 6-pack of Philly Pale Ale

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

What is a Lawnmower Beer?

Typically, a lawnmower beer is defined as one that you can drink while mowing the lawn, all the while keeping the lines straight. With rain on its way to my neck of the woods, I mowed this evening. But, earlier in the day, I stopped by the grand unveiling of the new Victory in Downingtown, PA. More on that visit later...

I picked up a growler of not-lawnmower-beer, Sapphire, the 10.5% ABV easy-drinking Belgian from Victory that they brewed for the Craft Brewers Conference recently in San Diego, CA. But, I also had a true lawnmower beer, the aptly named, Fancy Lawnmower Beer from St. Arnold Brewing in Houston, TX. This award-winning 4.9% ABV Kölsch was one of my take-home treats from my recent Texas trip.

These two beers couldn't have been more different, yet at the same time they were both refreshingly pleasing. Though, I suppose you could say that I should have only had a 12 oz. bottle of Sapphire and growler of Lawnmower. But yardwork is tough work and must be rewarded ;-)

Joe Sixpack on Tour

Finally, I have my copy of Joe Sixpack's Philly Beer Guide. Yes, I missed him at the kickoff to Philly Beer Week. No, I didn't feel like carrying a copy through The Brewer's Plate event. So, now that everyone else has a copy and been bragging about what a great resource it is, I finally have my own. I met up with Don at Borders in Wynnewood last night, then we polished off the evening with a La Chouffe on draft over at McShea's (pg. 39) in Narberth, one of suburban Philadelphia's most charming small towns. If you haven't been by lately, McShea's is now smoke-free by their own free will.

What? You don't have one yet? There's no better way to get a copy than to meet him in person at a book signing (there was another one tonight over in NJ at Flying Fish) and more coming in the future. The next one is in Devon, PA at the Barnes & Noble. It's not listed yet on their website, but you can put it on your calendar. It'll be here at the usual place when I get the June calendar out.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Beer Wager for Playoff Hockey

Game on! It's the two best teams in the NHL's Eastern Conference facing off. Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins The Brew Lounge and Craft Beer Radio are following in their respective cities footsteps (skates?) and taking on a friendly wager of beer. After the Penguins punched their ticket yesterday with a thrilling overtime win, Jeff Bearer at CBR and I discussed the details of the wager. This is for you dear readers and listeners. We put the word out for brewers, owners, reps, and writers to chip in to a pot of goodies to be raffled off to CBR listeners or TBL readers. The pledges have already begun to stream in. If you're beervolk and got my e-mail but haven't replied yet, get on it! If you don't know what I'm talking about, perhaps I don't have your e-mail address. Either way, drop a note to me at The first game is this coming Friday the 9th in Pittsburgh. Later this week, Jeff and I will announce what has been pledged by the beer folks in Philly and da Burgh. After the series is over, the winning website will conduct a raffle/drawing/or whatever better approach we come up with to determine which reader/listener will walk away with the bounty.

Family Fun at the 2008 Sly Fox Bock Festival & Goat Races: 5/4/08

Lew stole some of my thunder this morning. Well, not intentionally of course, but it's fun to blame someone else for what results from my tardiness in getting this to you. Jack and I were speaking yesterday at the Sly Fox Bock Festival & Goat Races about how the family aspect of the day has really become one of the defining features of the festival. Almost enough so to overshadow the goat races and the beer.

When looking across the festival yesterday and taking in the event, I couldn't help but take notice of the kids in attendance. Twice as many as last year? Could be. There was beer drinking, German folk dancing, goats prancing and racing (do goats prance?)...but, amongst it all were infants strapped on parent's fronts and backs, children playing on the ground, and everyone behaving as if this was all quite natural.

Unfortunately, this is not quite natural here in this part of the world. Too often drinking (usually, beer drinking) is demonized to the point that an outsider would believe that those who attend a type of festival such as this must have a "problem" and only drink to get drunk. To the contrary, this is one superb example of a festival where parents can feel secure in bringing their children and not exposing them to the, as Lew put it, boobs that can tend to give beer events and drinkers unsavory reputations. Chugging beer? Didn't see it. Profanity? Rarely. Casual eating, drinking, and laughter? Plenty of it.

Capturing a part of the overflowing gemuchlicheit of the day, my favorite photo is of Ric Hoffman's (no, no...not Ric..he's only in the background) daughter Sage. She wins hearts where ever she travels with pop; we first met her at Ommegang where we camped next to the Stewart's crew. But, back to the picture. Unfortunately, the other kids and the dog (whose leash she is holding) are not in the picture. That could have made the perfect picture. But, the picture is a great (and cute) example of the atmosphere at this Sly Fox event.

Oh, by the way, Jasper was the winning goat and, hence, the name of this year's Mai Bock at Sly Fox...which, oh and also by the way, is a smooth drinking example of good American-made Mai Bock.

More by the wayishness, don't forget to check out the continuing frivolity taking place at Dan Bengel-less blog as he frivols his way around Belgian, um Belgium.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

May 7th Opening @ the New Victory

A little birdie dropped a tip to me for this coming Wednesday, May 7th: Victory's Re-Opening Party. Perhaps not a party, but they're making a splash for sure, including what they're describing as a HopDevil on tap "that's a little wild." Other news from Victory includes new hours which allows for lunch to be served every day of the week and weekend brunches. More to follow, I'm sure....

Friday, May 02, 2008

Allow Me to Re-Introduce Myself...Again

Last month, I began to introduce (and for some of you, re-introduce) content from The Brew Lounge from over the past few years. Not that I'm running short of new content lately or am lazy. Ha! To think...Rather, I've realized that as the forum has outgrown the size of the original room here at TBL, there are many of you who were not around for some of this original content and may not have found your way to it since you've started hanging out with me. Sometimes I take for granted that with roughly 1500 different pieces of writing here, and despite my attempts to group them off to the right through categories, or sorted by month/year, or joined by "tags", the material can still be difficult to get to if you don't know where to look. My first re-introduction of material focused on Reviews of Establishments (approx. 100) that I have done and continue to do. Today, I point you to a couple of more tactical resources that I put together, a calendar and a notable anniversary listing. The calendar is updated every month and includes events that I feel are interesting to me and could be of interest to you. It's purposely not meant to be an exhaustive list, rather those events that I will, might, should, or could do during the month around Philadelphia and beyond. Or sometimes I throw an event listing on there just cuz I think it sounds like a cool event. Speaking of interest, the notable anniversary listings show every fifth year anniversary being celebrated by breweries/brew pubs that are currently still operating. Just another way of bringing recognition to the folks who continue to bring us the fine beer that we enjoy. Carry on, friends...I'm at Ortino's now, power-blogging for Big, Bad, Belgian (50-year-old) Dan.

May Calendar, revisited

I typically think you're all bright enough to find the calendar that I post here every month and check it out from time to time when you're deciding what to do on a given day. I wouldn't ordinarily remind you of the calendar. But, after I posted the first iteration of the May calendar just a couple of days ago, I've added almost 10 new events that I hadn't included the first time around. If you're a bit curious and so inclined, go check it out again. Oh, and while you're at it, check out updated arrangements for parking and weather considerations at this weekend's Bock Festival & Goat Races at Sly Fox.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Celebrating Cambridge Brewing's 19th Anniversary

If you're heading to Boston or already there, you've got great beer to look forward to at Cambridge Brewing's 19th anniversary party this weekend. They're also celebrating Will Meyer's 15th anniversary of brewing with CBC.

Check them out for special food and beer anytime Friday or Saturday between 5pm-1am at the pub. Looking at the beer details below, I can only imagine what their 20th anniversary will look like next year.

No cover, pay as you go. Wish I could find my way to Boston for this one. I've been to CBC three times and have never been disappointed with the atmosphere, beer, food, or service. They've got something real special going on there. Make sure they're on your short list when traveling around and through Boston.

1 Regatta Golden - Kölschbier – 4.2%
2 Cambridge Amber – 4.7%
3 Tall Tale Pale Ale – 5.9%
4 Charles River Porter – 6.0%
5 Spring Training I.P.A. – 6.3%
6 Bitchin’ Bitter – 4.0%
7 Golden Ring – Abbey Pale Ale – 6.0%
8 Cerise Cassée 2008 – Barrel-fermented Sour Ale with Cherries – 7.75%
9 Barrel-aged 2007 Blunderbuss – American Barleywine - 11.75%
10 CBC HefeWeizen – Unfiltered German-style Wheat Beer - 5.5%
11 Big Man Ale – ‘Nuff Said – 6.8%
12 Red God 2006* - More Than Enough Said – 8.4%
13 LuvBuzz Espresso Stout* - Stout with Organic Coffee - 6.1%
14 Late Harvest I.P.A. 2007* - 6.5%
15 Cask-conditioned Tall Tale Pale Ale with Cascade Dryhops– 6.0%
16 Tripel Threat 2007 – Belgian Special Strong Ale – 9.5%
17 Arquebus 2007* - Chardonnay Barrel-aged Summer Barleywine – 10.75%
18 Bannatyne’s Scotch Ale – The Brewdaddy Special – 9.2%
19 The Wind Cried Mari 2006* – Unhopped Heather Ale – 5.0%

*12 to be replaced by: Red God 2008 – 8.5%
*13 to be replaced by: Cherry Stout – Stout Aged With Organic Montmorency Cherries – 6.3%
*14 to be replaced by: Om – Barrel-aged Liquid Enlightenment – 9.4%
*17 to be replaced by: Biere de Miel 2007 – Belgian-style Blonde Ale with Cambridge Honey - 8.8%