Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cambridge Brewing on The History Channel tonight (7/31)

One of my favorite places to be in the Boston area will be spotlighted tonight on The History Channel. The note below came from Chris at Cambridge Brewing Company earlier today and contains a bit of background on the episode. In a way, this note has Ommegang significance (since, after all, I did declare this week to be 'All Ommegang, All Week') since I anxiously awaiting Will's beers at BCTC on Saturday!
Hi There, We're sorry for the short notice on this one, but TONIGHT on the History Channel at 10pm, please tune in to see a new show entitled "THE WORKS" with host Daniel H. Wilson. Tonight's episode is on that one thing we all hold dear: BEER! TheWorks film crew spent several days filming here at Cambridge Brewing Company, delving into the secrets of brewing and dispensing our favorite beverage with CBC Brewmaster Will Meyers and Lead Brewster Megan Parisi. We first met Daniel and Company at the Beer Advocate Extreme Beer Fest last January, and they just followed us home. Tonight, members of the History Channel's THE WORKS production crew will be joining us here at CBC to watch the show on our tv while enjoying a number of handcrafted ales. Please join us, or at least remember to tune in at home or set your Tivo's. Cheers! THE WORKS on The History Channel Thursday, July 31st, 2008 10:00pm Best Regards, Chris

Day 3 Bear Sighting

(Index to The Week of Ommegang)

Remember the bear/cub sighting that Chris mentioned back on Day 3 of their trip? Well, he was able to send a picture of each of them. Or maybe it's him playing around on his iPhone, not sure. All fun 'n' games out there on the road, tough work if you can get it ;-)



(Index to The Week of Ommegang)

Philly's Cyclists Go To Cooperstown, Day 4

(Index to The Week of Ommegang)

Interesting bunch of pictures from Chris yesterday where they wound up in Hancock, NY. Sounds like the light is at the end of the tunnel with just two days to go and some fresh clothes on their backs. Today, they're off to Andes, NY. Couple more 50 mile days and they'll be sittin' pretty in the Fields of Ommegang.

Take it away Chris.

Probably the most uneventful day of the trip both cycling wise and beer wise. Today we crossed into New York after a modest 55 miles. As always the route was beautiful and almost completely traffic-free. Don said it was one of the best bike routes he'd ever been on.

Jeff, our guide, is basically using us as Guinea pigs for a touring company he'd like to start. When he gets it off the ground I'd highly recommend using him if touring is your thing.

Today route involved less flat tires and less hills (still not for the faint of heart though). Also, no bears on today ride although I did have a deer cut me off!

As for the beer, last night was hard to top. I keep thinking about the beer list last night and it was way better than anything I'd ever seen in a hotel before. Tonight we did manage to find Spaten Oktoberfest and Harpoon IPA in Hancock, but it took some searching.

The town's a bit eerie and there's not much going on (ed. note: if anyone didn't receive a call home, the picture above may explain why...and a little something more about the town). Apparently it's an old stone quarrying town. I've included a couple of pictures, one from the inside of the restaurant we ate in, and one of a storefront window on the main street. Aside from that, there's a gun raffle you can get tickets for and apparently Elvis is coming to the playhouse in August.

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow for two reasons;

A. The Beer Lass has arrived and that means fresh riding clothes and cargo-free riding for the remainder of the trip.

B. Jeff tells us that our lodgings for tomorrow night will have the best beer selection of the trip!



(Index to The Week of Ommegang)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ommegang BCTC 2008: A Primer

There's been quite a bit of activity 'round here lately related to Ommegang's Belgium Comes to Cooperstown event, occurring again in just a couple of can't-be-short-enough days. Not only with Chris LaPierre's Two-Wheeling Chronicles, but with many of you stopping by looking for pictures and words about the event. I can guess that some of you might be first time attendees. So, here are some quick links from prior years for anyone wondering what to expect from BCTC at Ommegang this weekend. Now, go get ready. Oh, did you want the 2008 BCTC tap list? 2006 ~ Bunch of Links to pictures and words 2007 ~ Pictures ~ Written, part 1 ~ Written, part 2

Philly's Cyclists Go To Cooperstown, Day 3

(Index to The Week of Ommegang)

So, here I am feeling a little lazy watching these weekday warriors tackle 350 miles to Cooperstown. I decide to run 7 or so miles last night through the rolling hills of Zieglerville and Schwenksville and the like. Then, I see that our friends in spandex (ugh, strike that image) did something like 80 miles heading north from Delaware Water Gap today. Then, came this....

I'm not sure if this is a ransom picture, or what. But, it sure was a mention something of a bathrobe, hottub, wearniness, and needing a beer. Theresa, he may just be trying to reinforce that there's a lot of physical effort being exerted out there on the road, dunno. Click here if you wish, but consider yourself warned! I'm not sure how I'll sleep tonight ;-)

Moving along...Chris, takes it from here.

Sitting here in the lounge of The Settlers Inn with a St. Bernardus on the armrest, our start at the Deer's Head Inn seems like days ago. It was our biggest day, both in mileage and vertical feet, with a plethora of flats thrown in.

We rolled out at 9. Around 10 I realized that every day Nick unknowingly reminds me that touring isn't worth it unless you're looking at something other than your odometer or the butt of the guy in front of you.
Less than an hour into the ride on each day I hear Nick yell "it's beautiful!" and see him looking off to his left or right. Today it really paid off when he started yelling "bear bear!".

Now I grew up in the Pine Barrens and go back country hiking in Colorado every year. But this was my first real live bear sighting. A momma and her cub about 15 yards from the road. That's the thing about cycling, you're quieter than a car but faster than a hiker. You can sneak up on things without even planning to.

The rest of the ride was scenic and cultural but spotted with torturous climbing and flats (four! Three of them mine!)

We had a great lunch in Milford at the Water Wheel. The fact that they had a selection of Vietnamese dishes gave me hope for beer selection that evening. Hope is what I needed because all of yesterday's Weyerbacher was gone, the Beer Lass won't show up with cans of Sly Fox until Wednesday night, and I've been seeing lots of NASCAR memorabilia all day. Further encouragement came when a bathrobe-clad Joe Sixpack sent us a text informing us that Éphémère was on tap at tonight's lodgings.

When we got there we weren't disappointed. After a shower I headed to the oak-furnished lobby/lounge of The Settlers Inn in Hawley, PA. We were provided with comfortable furniture and chess tables if we had the energy for them! They were changing the keg of Allagash White when I arrived at the bar and not being able to wait I got a bottle of Monty Python Holy Grail. Hoppy and dry, and I mean English water, mineral dry. My next beer was a La Trappe Quad (had to jump in with both feet). Then we moved to the dining room for the best meal I've had in weeks including in Philly. I had a Lamb Shank in a blueberry sauce paired with a St. Bernardus 12. (ed. note: WOW!)

Great ending and just reward to a long tough day. I plan to return sometime when I haven't been abusing myself all day.

Tomorrow we head to Hancock, NY. 60 miles and hopefully less climbing! Plus the Beer Lass will be there to meet us with a selection of Sly Fox cans and bottles!



(Index to The Week of Ommegang)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hop Sacs are Filling Up

This may sound a lot like last year, but what the heck? The growing process is so much fun to observe.

Philly's Cyclists Go To Cooperstown, Day 2

(Index to The Week of Ommegang)

Monday's travel had our friends heading out from Upper Black Eddy, PA to Delaware Water Gap, PA...close to 50 miles.

Looks like The Brew Lounge doesn't know what it got itself into. Mrs. Sixpack has stepped in to ask just what exactly is going on out there on the Road to Cooperstown. Seems the crew has it covered in pictures...little bit of cycling, little bit of Americana, and a little speed bump or two that Don has phoned home about. Yeah, and a few beers for sustenance.

Today, it's another 78 miles of pedal power on to Hawley, PA. Go get 'em guys; you're almost 1/2 way there.

Chris is back again to tell his side of Day 2's story.

So we started this morning to the "road closed" sign. Actually we'd learned about it the night before, but it did take some adjustments and add a couple miles.

Beverly, the owner of Indian Rock sent us off at 9:30 after a breakfast of fruit and locally baked pastries that only a touring cyclist can justify eating.

Then we were off to Easton. About ten miles into the ride our fearless leader Jeff confessed that we were about to hit the first "real" hills of the trip. One of them being one of the steepest I've ever done in my life.

The road up to Weyerbacher had me wondering what Dan Weirback had against cyclists. Apparently there's no way to get there without doing some pretty serious hills.

Once we got there though we realized cyclists were very welcome. Brewers Chris and Jeff met us on our arrival and informed us that they were in the middle of a brew, but welcomed us to help ourselves to samples at the bar. More importantly they directed us toward the cold liquor tanks where we dumped out our chlorinated hotel tap water and filled up with the clean, filtered water they make their beer with. Much better.

Then to the bar to try some new releases. We started with a bottle of yet unlabeled Bravo, the second of their "Brewer's Choice" series. (it follows Alpha, get it?). It was a very smooth and well balanced Red Ale. Just the right thing for a mid-ride stop as opposed to the blow-your-doors-off 10% alcohol stuff Weyerbacher is often known for. We also had a splash of their Slam Dunkel dunkelweisse. Good stuff, complex on both the yeast and malt fronts.

Of course we had to get back on the bikes so we couldn't sample all of the beers we wanted to. But our host Barbara told us to take whatever bottles we could fit on our bikes. Some how the crew elected me to carry the beers. They determined that I had the least cargo. So my packing prowess and Spartan travelling philosophy had earned me an extra 3 pounds of cargo. Jeff got assigned some cargo too, but that's because he's a monster. He used to own a courier service for Pete's sake. He probably didn't even notice it was there.

From there we crossed over into New Jersey and spent the next couple of hours winding our way along the Delaware River along scenic roads and past beautiful houses that make a former Jersey boy like me wonder where our state ever got it's rep.

Around 4:00 we pulled up to our lodgings at the Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, Pa. This place is a great Jazz venue that attracts a lot of well known musicians. Unfortunately for us there was no jazz tonight and music is their chosen art, not beer. Good thing we had the Weyerbacher. We put it on ice immediately then hit the showers.

By 5 we were relaxing on the Inn's wrap around porch enjoying a Weyerbacher Blanche to the sound of bells from the church tower next door. That was followed by the Muse (very refreshing after a day in the saddle), then dinner across the street. Great Italian food, but again a mediocre beer selection. Fortunately we'd saved a couple dessert beers.

The second round on the porch involved a Weyerbacher Heresy (a rich and warming Bourbon-aged Imperial stout) and 13, the latest of their big, high alcohol, numbered beers. Also this round on the porch was set to the sound of tree frogs instead of church bells.

Fortunately the beer ran out before we could get ourselves into trouble. Tomorrow after all us our biggest day, both in miles and vertical feet. Jeff however promises that this will be made up for by the fact that tomorrow's lodgings will be some of the best on the trip. Wish us luck!

(By the way, this last picture has nothing to do with beer or bikes but we did have ice cream there. I just like the fact that they specialize in hot dogs and apple pie! What else do you need?)



(Index to The Week of Ommegang)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Day 1, more Pictures

(Index to The Week of Ommegang)

The Lass was present for the ride-off and sent along these pictures to add to Chris's first diary entry of the trip to Ommegang.

(Index to The Week of Ommegang)

We Interrupt this Ommegang Broadcast to bring you Breaking Political News

I think we may have discovered Lew's mysterious doings that Jack brought question to earlier today. Hm, challenging the PLCB? Will this help or hurt his chances?

Philly's Cyclists Go To Cooperstown, Day 1

(Index to The Week of Ommegang)

As violent storms ripped through the Philadelphia area yesterday, Sunday, July 27th, our fearless cyclists celebrated the end of the Tour de France by embarking upon the first of 6 legs (this one, 60 miles) from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and winding up in Upper Black Eddy, PA.

This just so happens to be across river from The Ship Inn in Milford, NJ where the group refueled before crashing at the charming, pet-friendly Indian Rock Inn on the other side of the river. Hopefully only a couple of English-styled pints allowed them to make the short return without incident back across and up river to their beds at the Inn.

Today, it's 47 miles farther up river to Delaware Water Gap. Here's a recap of the day, direct from Chris.
Well day one is done! Following a hearty dinner, we're hanging out in the "common room" at the Indian Rock Inn hoping to catch the Tour recap.

Today we rode 60 miles from the Art Museum steps to Upper Black Eddy. Beautiful ride with some really nice roads. The only wrench in the works was of course the intense thunderstorm that hit us at mile 52. It was bad enough for us to take shelter on a complete stranger's front overhang for 20 minutes or so. Most importantly I was concerned that the deluge would jeopardize our planned stop at the Ship Inn in Milford. Between the soaked chamoises and the threat of another round of tempest, I was sure everyone would want to head straight to the lodgings. To my delight though, things got drier and spirits got lighter by the time we reached the pub and everyone was ready for a beer.

The Ship Inn is set up like an English pub and the beer theme matches with English style house brews and a selection of imported English beers. Fortunately, it was casual enough for us to barely command second looks when we walked in in bike shorts and matching Philadelphia jerseys.

After our milds and ESBs we remounted and rode the remaining 4 miles to the Indian Rock where Chris, one of the owners, informed us that the "bar was open." While not a beer bar by any means we were glad to see they had a selection of four different Tröegs beers to end the day with.

Tomorrow we'll head up along the Delaware River to the Delaware Water Gap. Ten miles into the ride though we'll stop at Weyerbacher for a tour. The challenge will be to keep our Blithering Idiot consumption low enough that we don't decide to stay in Easton and scrap the remaining 40 miles. Wish us luck!



(Index to The Week of Ommegang)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Bags are Packed, The List is by the Phone

(Index to The Week of Ommegang)

What would you do for good beer? Well, try topping Chris LaPierre (head brewer, Iron Hill-West Chester), Don Russell (aka Joe Sixpack), Jeff Appeltans of GoCycling, and three other beer and cycling enthusiasts as they left this morning from the Philadelphia's Museum of Art...destination Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, NY. 354 miles to be exact, give or take a few revolutions of the big sprocket.

Chris, from the picture, apparently took last night off to tune up his bike. It looks like, maybe, perhaps, that he won the battle. Don, on the other hand, was working the crowds over at the Philadelphia Zoo, signing his recent Philly Beer Guide. I was due to be there, but wimped out at the last minute (like, 5:50pm to be exact) and headed to West Chester instead (beer finds at Spence Cafe, more to come later). But, I'm assuming that Don has held up well and was ready for the early morning departure...cuz, that's what professionals do! There was some speculation that they would go with the bike design in the following picture, but saner heads appear to have prevailed. (It would have been nice to have one of these surreys for the Ocean City boardwalk this past week...oh wait, OC's dry)

Over the next several days, The Brew Lounge will be Ommegang BCTC full-time, all the time. Following below is a brief itinerary for the spandex-clad boys (and girl). Chris will be sending updates on a daily basis, connectivity willing, with photos and blurbs about what they've seen and drunk along the way.

May I say it again? Can I? This is just another great example of the kind of world that we can live in when we realize that responsible beer making and beer drinking can go so perfectly well with a physically fit lifestyle. I'll add more to these comments as the days go by. Until then, let's get ready for Ommegang.

Sunday, July 27th Philadelphia to Upper Black Eddy/Narrowsville, PA (60 Miles)
Monday, July 28th Upper Black Eddy/Narrowsville, PA to Delaware Water Gap (47 Miles)
Tuesday, July 29th Delaware Water Gap to Hawley, PA (78 miles)
Wednesday, July 30th Hawley, PA to Hancock, NY (71 miles)
Thursday, July 31st Hancock, NY to Andes, NY (48 miles)
Friday, August 1st Andes, NY to Cooperstown, NY (50 miles)
(Index to The Week of Ommegang)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Big Victory for Ron's

If I'm not mistaken, this may be Ron's Original's (Exton, PA) most star-studded beer event since re-opening a couple of months ago. Sales rep extraordinaire Tracy from Victory Brewing will be there pouring some wonderful brews. She'll also bring along glassware and prizes. It's where I'd be if I wasn't Down the Shore. So, I'm counting on all of you to not leave any for me when I get home. WildDevil HopDevil Ten Year Alt Baltic Thunder Victory Kölsch Mad King's Weiss Whirlwind Wit Prima Pils

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Whole Foods + Beer + Cheese = Contentness

Here are some pictures of the always well-stocked Whole Foods on Houston in NYC. From the front door to the beer store, this location on Houston (betw. Bowery & 2nd) feels to me like one of the largest and best inventories of all that I've been. A walk-in cheese cave, a beer store, what else do you need?!

Growler station fillups were available from Brooklyn, Dogfish, Sly Fox, Defiant, and hm, was it Climax or Magic Hat? And, get this. Empty growlers only cost $2.99 and fillups range from just under $10 and on up based on the brand and style (e.g. the Defiant Tripel was $13.99, Sly Fox Abbey Extra was $8.99).

Longer review (sans pictures, hence this posting) this past December back over here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Tiger was taken by a Sly Suprise

(The kids were all obediently lined up for roll call; this was only 1/2 of the Sly Fox offerings, paired with 6 from Arcadia of Battle Creek, Michigan)

(The house was filled with the most balanced male/female ratio I believe I've ever seen at the Tiger...Tim and Brian attempted to take credit)

(Brian O'Reilly (Sly Fox), Tim Suprise (Arcadia), shared a good time had by all)

Friday, July 18, 2008

July's casks at The General Sutter announced

Not like Paul and the crew at General Sutter Inn in Lititz, PA need any promotion from me; these last Friday's have become wildly popular. But, you should go and see for yourself. This month, like others, you won't be disappointed. Check out this month's offerings for next Friday, July 25th.
Another Three Great Cask Ales. For your pleasure and education. This month we are pleased to be offering three superb cask ales 1. Victory Hop Devil AWARDS Details Magazine - One of Ten Best Summer Beers (June/July 2006) Champion American Beer: Great British Beer Festival 2002 Domestic Beer of The Year: Malt Advocate Magazine 1999 Menacingly delicious, with the powerful, aromatic punch of whole flower American hops backed up by rich, German malts. HopDevil Ale offers a roller coaster ride of flavor, coasting to a smooth finish that satisfies fully. German 2 row malt American whole flower hops Alcohol by volume: 6.7% 2. Victory Uncle Teddy's Bitter Full and creamy on the tongue, this classic British ale is golden in colour and mild in character, it's a session beer that satisfies. Only available on handpump at the Victory brewery. Now you can have it without driving to Downingtown. German 2 row malt Styrian and Kent Goldings hops. Alcohol by volume: 4.3% 3. Oliver's Mad Monk Mild Classic Black Country mild originally brewed for the coal miners and steel workers in the Midlands of England. Tempting aromas of malt and gentle hop resin, chocolate and coffee notes developing. Once very popular in the UK, nowadays can be difficult to find. One of my favourite beers. Halcyon pale ale, crystal and chocolate malts plus a little malted wheat. Fuggles and East Kent Goldings hops. Alcohol by volume: 4.0% Join us on Friday July 25 from 4:30 pm.

International Brewers Day- A Conversation with Ric Hoffman

Any excuse would be poor; I've known about 7/18 being tagged International Brewers Day by Jay Brooks since he announced it almost 2 months ago. But, I let it go...didn't even put up a banner for it until this week. Now, I'll attempt to make up for my tardiness.

This is a worthy way of recognizing brewers and the work that they do. So, to participate, I put together a list format of typical questions that could (hopefully) be answered by a willing brewer. I took all the brewer names I have in my address book, stuck 'em in a spreadsheet, and used a random number generator to select my profile.

Given only two days notice, I graciously thank well-accomplished and highly-regarded Ric Hoffman of Stewart's Brewing Company for agreeing to sit down and answer some questions about himself and his occupation. He went over and beyond in thoughtfully and completely answering my questions. Secretly, I was hoping that random number thingy chose Ric because in an industry full of great folks, he's near the top.

If you're not familiar with Ric's product, I've included an abbreviated list of products and full list of awards during his tenure at Stewart's Brewing Company in Bear, Delaware (and you thought Delaware only played host to that other crazy brewery...there's plenty of crazy to go around in Delaware!)

As you read through this, think about the last time you thanked your brewer for the work they do to provide you with the beverage you love so much. Send Big Cheers and Thanks today to all brewers around the world!

Dunkel Rico (GABF 2006 Bronze)
Stewart’s Barleywine (GABF 2003 Gold)
Stewart’s Irish Red Ale (WBC 2000 Bronze)
Stewart’s Oktoberfest (GABF 2007 Silver; GABF 2003 Bronze)
Stewart’s Smoked Porter (GABF 2006 Bronze; GABF 2001 Bronze)
Stumblin’ Monk Abbey Trippel (WBC 2006 Bronze; WBC 2002 Silver)
Windblown Blonde Kölsch (WBC 2008 Gold)

A few other Beers to list

Abbey Hoffman (Abbey Dubbel)
Lockjaw Double IPA
Pacific Coast Porter
Gudneitzenbock (Weizenbock)
Blue Rocks Pilsner
Mcbride's Strong Ale
Saison de l'Ours

Q&A with Ric Hoffman

TBL: How did you get interested and started in brewing?
RH: I was living in Tucson in 1996, working a phone sales job (read: minimum wage), and was really poor. I loved good beer, but my budget only included one 12 pack of Weinhard's per week. Obviously that wouldn't do, so I thought about making my own.

The first thing I did was actually wine: I had a pomegranate tree in my backyard, and you can only eat so many pomegranates... so I made 10 litres of pomegranate / apple wine. Not bad, but you couldn't really drink it day to day.

So, I walked into the local homebrew shop (Rillito Creek Homebrew supply, if they're still out there) and told them I liked Sierra and Anchor.... what could they do for me? I walked out with the basic 2 bucket kit and some extract and malt.

A year later, a friend of mine was running a brewery in North Carolina, knew I was homebrewing, and offered me a $5.00/hr job if I could be there in a week. I was a day late.

TBL: What was your first batch?
1) Amateur: (see above) California Common, fermented Tucson-style (80 degrees)
2) Professional: (my first pro recipe) English Brown

TBL: Was there anything memorable about it?
1) Amateur: So memorable. It was actually an OK beer, but the most amazing thing was opening that first bottle, hearing the carbonation, pouring the beer, seeing the foam form, and most amazing of all... IT TASTED LIKE BEER! IT'S ACTUALLY BEER! Like an epiphany.
2) Professional: Not so memorable (the English Brown). Pretty pedestrian, if not downright bad.

TBL: Do you still homebrew?
RH: I don't really homebrew anymore, if just for the fact that if I want to do 5 or 10 gallons, it's much easier to do it at work where I have more resources available to me. The last true homebrew I did was brewed was a 10 gallon batch in 2004 with my wife Natalie, a Double Chocolate Imperial Stout (the Double Lovin' Spoonful) for our wedding favors, in nip bottles. And we still brewed that out back of the restaurant. And, it must be said that she pretty much brewed most of that by herself, as I was actually brewing at the pub that day too (it's still drinking OK, believe it or not... some bottles are falling off a little, but some are surprisingly robust).

TBL: Favorite book (or other resource) related to brewing
RH: Randy Mosher's Brewing Companion; I still use it.

TBL: Role model in brewing; Role model in life
RH: There are a lot of brewers I look up to, I'm just not sure I want to be like them or make beers like they do. I guess the same is true in life.

TBL: Worst advice ever given regarding brewing:
RH: I can't really think of any.... The standard answer you give an aspiring brewer is 'don't bother, you can't take it', and then you see if they come back the next day. I had the good fortune of not knowing any professional brewers until it was too late.

TBL: Do you attempt to follow market trends when deciding upon the next new brew, or do you follow your own preferences...hoping the market follows you?
RH: We're the restaurant that started an all-you-can-eat pasta night at the height of the Atkins trend, are you kidding? So no, not really. The one concession I made was 'Double IPA'. I thought it was the dumbest thing I ever heard of at first, and I resisted for two years or so, but I went ahead and did it eventually... and now it's one of my favorite beers; go figure.

And if we followed local market trends, we'd make lite beer. Now they drink Oktoberfest like Bavarian fishes. So no, definitely not local trends, and probably not so much industry ones either.

TBL: Favorite book, not beer
RH:The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever (I have to say something, right?)

TBL: Favorite beer movie
RH: If Strange Brew doesn't count, and I hope it doesn't, I'll have to say American Beer, if nothing else than for Dave Hoffmann's stellar performance.

TBL: Favorite movie, not beer
RH: Any and all Star Wars, Cool Hand Luke, Barfly

TBL: Music to brew by
RH: I like it quiet so I can hear the pumps, but I let Eric (assistant brewer Eric Boice) play his death metal when he needs to.

TBL: Music to party with
RH: Whatever Jam is happening at my house at the moment. Also the Grateful Dead, always and forever.

TBL: You're at the bar buying the next round and faced with only "non-craft" beers to choose from...which brand do you choose?
RH:Bourbon, Tequila.... I like wine a lot too. I guess if it was a beer that I had to choose, it would be Original Coors, just because the guy who trained me would only drink that if nothing else was around. But no, I'm going to say Bourbon or Tequila.

TBL: Least favorite style to brew
RH: Honestly, they all brew the same. Maybe you just care a little more if you know it's something you'll love to drink, but for the most part, the work is all the same.

TBL: Least favorite style to drink
RH: Golden Ale, Irish Red, boring malty beers. (Don't get me wrong, I like interesting malty beers.)

TBL: The perfect beer trip/vacation consists of...
RH: Drinking beers from tiny breweries I can't usually get, and seeing mega production sites that blow my mind.

TBL: Which accomplishments/awards are you most proud of....& why?
RH: Really, just being able to make anything on the piece of crap brewery (maybe a nice way to say it is 'on the limited equipment') I have to work with (Sorry Al, but you're due for an upgrade). We've won some awards, but they don't pay the bills, or my salary.

The cool thing is that in our area, we've opened a lot of peoples' eyes to real beer, people who never would have tried anything if we weren't the corner bar. I've got people who drink Coors all year until Stumblin' Monk comes on tap, and then they can't get enough of it.

That being said, the major awards are a nice affirmation. Especially for lager styles (or anything but a Ringwood traditional English Ale), which by all rights we shouldn't be able to brew, right?

TBL: What advice do you give a young aspiring brewer?
RH: If you're smart enough to do it, you can make a lot more money in another field. If you're tough enough to do it, go join a union, and make a lot more money. If you're still here tomorrow, here's a deck brush. Show me what you can do.

And on one last note, Here's a happy picture over at Stewart's website

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The General Lafayette needs Your Help

Don't worry, the business is doing just fine. Though Chris is more than happy to accommodate as many of you that want to stop by as possible. I was excited to be able to join Chris Leonard and the rest of the General Lafayette team on their quest to compete in a very cool relay challenge...for each team member to complete two loops (8.4 miles each) around the Schuylkill River in 24 hours. The event is called the 20in24 Relay Challenge and supports a very worthy charity, Back On My Feet. But, then I checked my calendar and realized that I'll be at The Shore. This organization has received much well-deserved press over the past six months or so. Its main objective is to help get the homeless of Philadelphia "back on their feet" and into a life of self-sufficiency. They do this by using running as a means of building confidence and strength. Chris is being joined by his fellow Dragoon Running mates from the General: Steven Boyle (Bartender Extraordinaire); Tom Kiker (Mug Club Stalwart); Robert McCulloch (Veteran Dishwasher); and Seamus McCulloch (Dishwashing Upstart). Show them some support by wishing them luck at the pub and dropping a donation to their cause. You can also purchase a very sporting shirt that you can purchase from the shop that they set up. Very cool indeed. Run strong Brew Crew!

Stewart's 13th Anniversary Party and Big Beer Friday

This coming Friday, I'll be celebrating International Brewers Day by sharing a profile of and conversation with Stewart's (Bear, DE) Ric Hoffman with you. Until then, I'll remind you of their upcoming blowout weekend scheduled for 7/25 & 7/26. Details below. Remember to check back again on Friday for more brewing fun.
13th Anniversary Party!!!!! They actually gave us all the permits we need! It's official!!!! For our Thirteenth Anniversary, Stewart's Brewing Company is venturing outside. On Saturday, July 26, we're having a great big party on the lawn across our parking lot! There will be great beer, great food, fun and games for kids young and old and music. What kind of music, you ask? 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The Earth Dogs (Featuring Robio and Alan RacerX!!!!) 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Todd Chappelle (Acoustic music from the "I'm from Delaware" guy!) 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Beyond the Pale (Traditional Irish and really, really cool!) Plan ahead now; bring the whole family for the whole day. It will be a grand time under the beer-garden style tent, listening to music from the stage, enjoying our hand-crafted beer (including Stumbling Monk) and eating freshly grilled meat. Since you don't have to be here until 11 a.m. Saturday, we're also planning Big Beer Friday the day before! On Friday, July 25, there won't be bands or tents, but there will be any number of the following (depending on how long they last): Bourbon Stout, Cherry Dubbel, Barleywine 2008, Vintage Barleywines of past years, Bourbon Barleywines of past years, Stumblin' Monk, Abbey Dubbel and Conundrum.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together

I may have missed Victory last week, but I'm now confirmed to meet up with these party people tomorrow night. Not too shabby, I'd say. Could even be better than peanut butter and chocolate.
This Wednesday July 16th @ 4:00PM, the Blind Tiger is very proud to be hosting both Sly Fox Brewing Company and Arcadia Brewing Company, in one glorious event!!! The List: Sly Fox Helles Bock Sly Fox Seamus Irish Red Sly Fox Ichor Quad Sly Fox Dunkel Larger Sly Fox Black Raspberry Reserve Sly Fox Rauch Sly Fox Royal Weisse Sly Fox Grisette (Farmhouse Ale) Sly Fox Saison Sly Fox Gang Aft (Wee-Heavy) Sly Fox O’Reilly’s Stout (Irish Stout) Sly Fox Pikeland Pils Sly Fox Phoenix Pale Ale Sly Fox Route 113 IPA Sly Fox Abbey Xtra (Belgian Pale Ale) Sly Fox Incubus (Belgian Triple) Arcadia Big Dick’s Old Ale Arcadia Cocoa Loco (Imperial Chocolate Stout) Arcadia Hopmouth (Double IPA) Arcadia Scotch Ale Arcadia Cereal Killer (Barley-wine) Arcadia London Porter Arcadia Rye Ale Arcadia Hopmouth Cask As always, free cheese will be there to help with your pairing needs...

More Press for InBev

Didn't I say there would be much more press coverage on Monday?! As only Stephen Colbert can tell it :-D Thanks Jackie, for passing this along.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Great Beer Lists Found in Philly

Been a while since I've mentioned the great train station bar, Bridgewaters at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. Joe Sixpack reminded me when he posted The Khyber's tap list and how amazing he found it. Similarly, imagine walking to/from the train and stumbling across this tap list. When you need a beverage to go with your Llama meatballs, Gator Bites, Yak & Goat Burger or Cajun Catfish, look no farther than their beer list. Below is what it looked like this past Thursday, 7/10. Oh, do you need food a bit less "adventurous?" They also have paninis, gumbo, caesar salad, chicken salad, and the requisite Philly Cheesesteak. (does that need a TM?) Bridgewater's is always a good excuse for showing up early for a train, or running late for your appointment after getting off the train. Combination draft & bottle (sorry notes were sketchy which was which) Abita Restoration Ale Boddingtons Pub Ale Brooklyn Lager Brouwerij Huyghe Delirium Tremens Duvel Brauerei Kulmbacher EKU 28 Franziskaner Hefeweizen Gaffel Kölsch Gösser Blonde Gösser Dark Gruut Amber Hofbräuhaus Hofbräu Dunkel Lancaster Hop Hog Brouwerij Riva Lucifer Rochefort 6 Rochefort 8 Rogue Dead Guy Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout Samuel Smith Organic Lager Schneider Aventinus Sly Fox O'Reilly Stout Stoudt's Pils Traquair Scotch Ale Young's Double Chocolate Stout Like he said....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Good deal?

The saga whose outcome so many claimed not to care too much about had fingers perched atop the refresh button tonight, waiting for the deal to officially hit the wire. So, here it is....Anheuser-Busch InBev...a name which I predict will be changed within a year. Other links to WSJ and NYTimes. More, much more, to come on Monday for sure.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Iron Springs in Fairfax, CA-hopefully last posting for a while

The latest Iron Springs news reported by Brookston Beer Bulletin show that events all appear to be turning in the right direction for the Altmans and crew in Fairfax, CA at Iron Springs. The talented crew and successful business have their lease situation under control and a new brewer to boot. In Christian's place back on the other side of the bay, Rodger Davis (formerly of Drake's) has stepped in the brewer's boots at Triple Rock. Congratulations, can't wait to see you guys again soon.

Pliny the Elder and Bling Pig now in bottles

I was planning to post a simple link to Russian River's site announcing their latest news. Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig in bottles is something that fans of these beers have hoped and waited for a quite some time. With their new facility across town in Santa Rosa, this expanded production and bottling capacity dream is now reality. But, I see that Jay was on site and helping with the packaging. He took some great photos and you can find them over at his site. With his camera in tow, Jay brings great photojournalism to each event he attends and writes about. We likely won't be seeing these bottles on the East Coast for some yet unannounced period of time, so these will be going on my scavenger list of beers to find and bring home from California the next time I visit.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tap List at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA - 7/10/08

What's on tap at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA as of 7/10/2008?

Avery 15
Clipper City/Heavy Seas Hang Ten
Ithaca Cascazilla
Weyerbacher Slam Dunkel
Tröegs 14th Anniversary
Sly Fox Beer Styrian IPA (cask)
Sly Fox Beer First Gold IPA ('07)
Sly Fox Beer Target IPA ('07)
Sly Fox Beer Sterling IPA
Sly Fox Beer Horizon IPA
Sly Fox Beer Pikeland Pils
Victory Hop Devil (cask)
Sly Fox O'Reilly's Stout
Legacy Midnight Wit
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Lindemans Framboise
Amstel Light

In-Bev's Busch deal may be nearing closure

Sorry, I resisted playing word games with names for the proposed merger until now. Must be the casual Friday getting to me. "Friendly" bi-lateral talks are being conducted. The offer price has been raised. So, is a final deal nearing? Now, more than ever, it seems likely. Here's a link to a free capsule from the WSJ for some of the details. The fascinating journey continues.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Barclay's in Oakland, CA

Oakland? Not what comes immediately to mind. Berkeley? Almost. Barclays is located just off CA-route 24 (<- cool picture, make the jump) and a couple of blocks from the Rockridge stop of BART's Pittsburg line. It's along College Avenue heading into Berkeley on the north side of CA-24, so it's a healthy couple of mile walk up into the heart of Berkeley (town and university). It has an Oakland mailing address, but more of a Berkeley vibe.

Now that the location for the National Homebrewers Conference in 2009 has been announced as "Bay Area" (Oakland), I figured it was high time I tell you my latest tale from California. That's motivation, plus the multitudes telling me they can't get enough of my aged stories originally written weeks and months ago.

This Barclays profile could be a week old or a year old; I'm thinking that it wouldn't matter. Even though I've now been there just once, I get a feeling that Barclays is as much the same as they ever have been, other than the constantly changing tap list and the daily specials. With the high quality tap list that they keep, the beers actually change quite often. Fortunately, they keep their website updated daily with current tap lists and food specials.

I make these statements with the greatest affection. Barclays feels like the kind of place that just continues to do what they do and do it well. Heading into their second generation (opened in October 1991 in the former space of Cactus Taqueria, who moved just down the avenue), this is no easy feat. Locals and college students who went to Barclay's in the early 90s are able to pass along stories, or at least maybe with discretion, to their children who are now coming of legal drinking age.

Approaching from the sidewalk, the pub is set down a few steps making it a semi-subterranean joint. Entering from a shielded patio area off the bustle of the sidewalk makes for a comfortable approach to the pub.

Looking at the tables and the decor on the walls, the pub has the feeling of memories laid upon memories. Beer memorabilia scatters across the walls. Taps, both CO2 and cask, line the wall behind the long bar. A dartboard hanging in the corner always had a gathering of throwers during a visit.

Old timers, youngins, prepsters, and beatniks of all ages take up seats at the bar and tables. I get the feeling from sitting in the pub that the stories and memories from across the years can be found in every corner and this creates a warm pub feel. (Keep in mind that I was there for lunch, so I have absolutely no idea what the scene looks like late at night.)

The food is a solid lineup of dependable suspects like chicken sandwiches and burgers, soups and salads, crabcakes, calamari, and shrimp cocktail, and a few solid entrees for the hungrier of the group.

For the thirsty crowd (hydration is important in the summer months!), local beverage dominate. Barclays has almost all corners of the Bay Area covered. When we were there in February, among the 30 or so taps we could easily find representation from Speakeasy, Anchor, Hoptown (now closed), Sierra Nevada, Bear Republic, Russian River, Tied House, Moonlight, Iron Springs, Lost Coast, Drake's, Anderson Valley, Trumer, and El Toro. As of this current week's tap list, most of these are still represented along with other local favorites from E.J. Phair, Lagunitas, and Marin.

For food, I kept all things French, with an Onion soup and Dip sandwich. My suds trip, on the other hand, took me from Anchor's Liberty (wish we saw this more often on the East Coast), to Bombay by Boat (never had anything disappointing from Brian Hunt at Moonlight), stepping up to Speakeasy's Big Daddy, and finishing off with Drake's 1500. Was I on the West Coast? Hell, yes!

If I was there this week, the Blind Pig would have no problem finding its way to my table over and over again. This was my first visit, but it certainly won't be my last visit. It would be interesting to hear from others more experienced with Barclays how close to the mark I am with my descriptions.

After Barclays, we headed further on up the road to the hills of Berkeley passing the USMC recruitment office protests along the way (CNN story link). We headed across town to Trumer, where we picked up some nice pilsener glasses to bring home with us. Saved for our next visit to Berkeley/Oakland are recommended beer joints Jupiter, Cato's Ale House, Ben & Nick's, and Triple Rock.

As for other lingering stories from the attic?! Fear not, there's still more from this February trip to California and also the June trip to Dallas. And, of course, Pittsburgh will be coming up in the queue too. Good thing there's thousands of great timeless beer stories to tell.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Summer Beer Dinner at Iron Hill, West Chester

or entitle this..."Where I'd be on 7/19 if I were not Down The Shore." Looks like a great one.
Saturday, July 19th at 7:00 pm $50 plus tax and gratuity Almost 1/2 of the 30 seats still remain; act now! e-mail: for reservations. First Course- Ceviche Playero Rock crab, scallops, honey, manila mango, papaya, pineapple, jicama, pasilla chiles, grapefruit, lime and plantain tostadas Paired with The Cannibal Strong Belgian Golden Ale. Light bodied but complex and high in alcohol with notes of tropical fruit and spice from the unique yeast strain used in this brew. 2005 GABF gold medal, 2006 World Beer Cup silver medal Second Course- Roasted Pork Tamale…. Dan’s way Sweet corn, cilantro and cheesy grits Paired with German Pilsner Dry crisp German lager loaded with continental hops Third Course- Pescado con Hongos Crema (fish dish) Serrano marinated woodland mushroom-poblano cream, rustic smashed potatoes and grilled green beans Paired with Saison Belgian Farmhouse Ale, dry and spicy with earthy undertones Fourth Course- Pato en Clemole Castellano Grilled-roasted, red chilled rubbed duck breast, mole of ancho and pasilla chiles, pecan and hazelnuts with black beans, braised greens and crispy onions Paired with Black and Tan (Ironbound and Porter) Roasted and chocolate notes marry with the bright character of American hops Dessert- Chocolate Chipotle Cake with cajeta sauce Paired with Baltic Porter Dark sweet lager with chocolate and mild roasted notes followed by a warming alcohol character

Monday, July 07, 2008

of Beer & Bicycles

I was originally planning to entitle this piece, 'I Want to Ride My Bicycle', but wanted to avoid any lyrical debate of the composers, performers, or whether Donna Summer or The Ten Tenors also performed a song of Queen origins that might detract from my message of beer and bikes. Let's get to the point. I know many who are all geared up (yup, geared up) now that the 95th Tour de France is underway. This was a great weekend of bikes and tennis, but I'll stay away from tennis for the time being, since I'm reaching for any beer tie-in. Let it be said, though, that from the women to the men, doubles to singles, this was a magnificent weekend for the tennis world, too. I have a handful of interesting links for you to check out related to bicycling and beer. First off, Jeff at Madison Beer Review has decided to do his own Tour de French Beer where he'll explore beer along the route of this year's Tour de France. He's off already with a posting this past Friday and intends to do it every week until the Champs-Élysées. Should be an interesting ride for both the riders and the readers of Madison Beer Review. A little closer to home, Scott Smith at East End Brewing recently completed the Keg Ride for Pedal Pale Ale of which he delivers the first keg by group bicycle ride to an previously undisclosed bar. Upon arrival, tapping commences and partying ensues. Great times for close to 200 bike riders this year. And back in the Philly region, you can keep up with the exploits of a group of bicycling and beer lovers. Their blog is headed up by Jesse and contributed to by several other enthusiasts. Lastly, when the Tour ends on 7/27 in Paris, Brendan and crew at Memphis Taproom will be celebrating accordingly. Details forthcoming; stay tuned.

More News to add to the InBev/A-B Saga

Is there a more riveting business story out there today? In the brewing industry? Likely not. Here's today's latest from InBev's website detailing the next steps they intend to take to see their takeover plans of Anheuser-Busch through. More links in a previous posting.

Victory to be Declared at Blind Tiger

I may strike out in my attempt to get to the Blind Tiger this Wednesday for the celebration of Victory that Alan has been squirreling away for some time now. Can't believe that it wasn't mentioned that local Victory celeb Richard will also be there. For those of you not in the know, you better make a note and introduce yourself. Oh, and let me know if he has any luck getting a New York 7-Minute slow pour.
Get ready for the big one... This Wednesday July 9th @ 4:00PM, the Blind Tiger will be hosting the Victory Brewing Company in the largest single brewery event in BT history! All draughts and cask will be from our friends at Victory... You want a list? I got a list for ya...check it out... Victory Golden Monkey Victory Lager Victory Storm King Stout (draught & gravity keg) Victory Whirlwind Wit Victory Festbier Victory Hop Wallop (draught & cask) Victory Hop Devil (draught & cask) Victory Old Horizontal Victory Ten Year Alt Victory Mad King Weiss Victory Sunrise Weiss Victory Dark Lager Victory Throwback Lager Victory Saison Victory V12 Victory Donnybrook Stout (nitro) Victory Uncle Teddy's Bitter (cask conditioned via nitro) Victory Sunnybrook Ale Victory Sunnybrook Lager Victory Scarlet Fire (Rauchbier) Victory Abbey 6 Victory Braumeister Harvest Pils Victory Kolsch Victory Wild Devil Victory Braumeister Pils (Tettanger) Victory St. Boisterous (Maibock) Victory St. Victorious (Doppelbock) Victory Baltic Thunder As always, there will be cheese on hand for your pairing needs... Just so you guys know, most of these kegs are try to hit the Tiger on Thursday and Friday for all the brews you missed on Wednesday. I know with events this large it's a little overwhelming but I think will have plenty of Victory for multiple sessions.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Beautiful Sunday for Beer & Running with the General Lafayette

Well, I woke up Sunday morning
With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt.
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad,
So I had one more for dessert.
Then I fumbled in my closet through my clothes
And found my cleanest dirty shirt.
Then I washed my face and combed my hair
And stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.
-Sunday Morning Coming Down; Johnny Cash

You may have felt this way this morning, given your activities last night. If so, your day may just about be getting started. Not so for the Brew Lounge runners, or whatever it is that we're calling ourselves. At least the Fishtown Beer Runners have a name for themselves. I stuck to a couple glasses of 3.7% Fat Gary's from East End last night (growler from last weekend's visit to the brewery in Pittsburgh), so I was more than ready to go this morning.

Speaking of Fishtown, founder David showed up to join me and a handful of others from Philadelphia and local areas to run 3.5 miles. It was a beautiful run that began and ended in the parking lot of General Lafayette Inn & Brewery in Lafayette Hill, PA. The route wandered down into Fairmount Park along Forbidden Drive before heading back out and through a neighboring community.

At the end we noshed on the General Lafayette's brunch and hydrated with some of their beers and mead. The weather wasn't all that bad temperature-wise, though the humidity helped sap us a bit. The brunch seems like a good deal, considering it's a buffet and the quantity of food from eggs/bacon/sausage/potatoes to smoked salmon/bagels to fruit and even shrimp cocktail.

It's always nice to help introduce newcomers to a brewery or beer that they'd not previously had. That was the case at Dock Street back in March and again today at General Lafayette. The folks new to GL were impressed with the mead, the Chocolate Thunder, the Sunset Red, among others. Most of us were also quite pleased with the Lafayette Escape (the 1.9% ABV beer) that you could serve in good conscious to your designated driver. Even a couple of them...beers, that is. Certainly one of the most flavorful low-alcohol beers I've come across. Reminded me of a pleasant similar experience at Magnolia in San Francisco, or the aforementioned one from East End.

After digging into the brunch buffet and putting back a few beers (growler fills, too), we were all unanimous in wanting to plan out some more beer runs centered around good beer (of course) and brunches. Maybe a joining of Fishtown Beer Runners with the Brew Lounge Runners too. I'll have to see what I can do about that.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Jack said...

...that he gets to tell the story of Friday night in Phoenixville. A link to him when he gets around to it. Un Tripel, Deux Trippel, Trois Tripel, brings me to Triplettes de Belleville & Hefeweizen of Victory. A magnificent Fourth, hope you did as well. And, this is too good not to share...overheard this afternoon: Anonymous Person A: Ah, so that's what you call a cougar? Anonymous Person B: Sheesh, just when they come up with the term 'cougar', I'm already too old for them.