Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's too easy to say it's never easy

But it's true. It's not good enough that the Phillies do in fact have one of the most talented teams in Major League Baseball this year and deserve to win the World Series. The baseball gods (and, I suppose in part, the "de facto commissioner" and mother nature as well) have found fit to postpone what we hope and expect to be the end of the current major championship drought in Philadelphia. I've tired of the talking and debating of last night's debacle, so I'll leave it at that...because, in reality, it is what it is and I can only hope that baseball manages to learn something from this unfortunate turn of events to prevent further erosion of the popularity of this great game. After all of the kvetching about where to go last night, Dennis the LanCo correspondent, Lloyd the football brain, and I headed to South Philly Tap Room. Everything was working out so well. Traffic into the city, not too bad. Parking? Barely a block away from SPTR. Arrived around 6pm and the joint was only half full; helping to find ourselves at a hightop ten feet from the large screen television. Excellent food to lay the base and more than a dozen taps pouring quality beer. Check, check, double-check. Yay, we're on our way. The place fills up to standing-room only for the Phillies Phaithful (yeah, I know...I hate gratuitous use of 'ph' too, but sometimes...well...) Standing on chairs for a better view, leaning up against strangers...all fine on this night. Skipping out on a big check, not cool at all. You know who you are and I don't envy having to live with yourself when that's the way you choose to live your lives. Pretty ballsy, I've gotta say, considering the size of your group. Oh, and thanks for the offer of buying us a round of drinks, considering you didn't have any intention of paying your tab. Mighty big of you. Anyway... How much fun was our time at SPTR last night, game outcome notwithstanding? Let's just say that this is exactly how I want to experience the next championship in Philadelphia...whether it comes before or after Thanksgiving is another question! But, seriously, being in a quintessential Philadelphia neighborhood pub with well-made food, great beer, and passionate fans as we all cheer, chant, and high-five our way to Broad Street is exactly how I want to, and believe all fans should, experience the winning game. If you know me, I'm normally the type that would prefer my TV, my couch, my "facilities," my beer cooler, and a few close friends for most games...even playoff games...even if it means watching alone. But, when it comes to the biggest of the big games, I want to be out in the streets with the crowd, celebrating as one big bunch of friends and family. Adding some Sly Fox (Black Raspberry & Oktoberfest), PBC (Kenzinger, Fleur de Lehigh, Newbold), Russian River (Damnation), Monk's Flemish Sour, Founder's (Harvest, Breakfast Stout), Stoudt's Pils, Legacy Midnight Wit, and Tröegs Dead Reckoning Porter to the mix makes for the absolutely perfect environment. So what does that mean for where I'll be for the conclusion of game 5? Dunno yet. It took a while to finally settle on SPTR for innings 1-5.5, it won't be easy deciding whether to head to Memphis Taproom, Jose Pistolas, For Pete's Sake, McMenamin's or any of the numerous other pubs in the city that I wouldn't mind being "stuck" at. We shall see....nothing's ever easy in Philly. UPDATE: With the conclusion of game 5 not scheduled for any earlier than 8:37pm on 10/29, it now means that I likely won't be at any of these joints. More important events must be attended to. I'll likely be watching and celebrating with Patty's family somewhere in far Northeast Philly or lower Bucks County. There are a lot of Phillies fans in her family and I'm sure that after we celebrate her mother's life at the evening's viewing, we'll gather together to celebrate the Phillies, albeit something relatively less important.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Where The 2008 World Series Was Won

How many special locations can you come up with to watch the final game of this year's World Series (a little optimism please)? I'd recommend that wherever you might head out to, that you make it one of Philadelphia's finest neighborhood pubs. I can count at least 20 that you might choose from. Germantown/Chestnut Hill/Mt. Airy to Manayunk to Old City to anywhere across South Philly, there's bound to be a spot (albeit a crowded spot) for you to park your fandom for some good food, beer, and baseball. Here's one suggestion that jumps out of my email inbox...I haven't ruled out that this could be our destination tonight. Memphis Taproom. Local food, beer, flatscreen, real people, real good time for sure...
How the Westvleteren Was Won The Phillies are coming home to WIN! Join Memphis Taproom for all of the upcoming World Series action, but especially on the night the Phils WIN the the whole thing. Memphis Taproom will be toasting our World Series Champions in high style, with a couple of six-packs of Westvleteren 6 and 8 for fans in attendance. Westvleteren beers are some of the hardest beers to find in the world, made by the clergy at the St. Sixtus Monastary in Belgium. What better way to combine a love of the Phillies and raging beer-geekdom? Over at The Beer Lass's website, Foobooz local glossary of food and drink, and of course Joe Sixpack's newspaper column, you'll find plenty more options to help you with the decision of where to watch tonight's game.

SEPTA delivering the Final Pitch for Suburban Philly Phans tonight?

Is SEPTA slooowly catching on to what comprises quality customer service? We'll see... From SEPTA's website Updated Monday, October 27 - The Philadelphia Phillies are set to play their final home game of the season, and possibly clinching game, in their quest to become World Champions against the American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays. SEPTA plans additional service for all of the fans planning on coming out to support our hometown team. There will be one additional Regional Rail train scheduled to depart Suburban Station one hour after the final pitch on the Warminster (R2), West Trenton (R3), Media/Elwyn (R3), Lansdale/Doylestown (R5), Paoli/Thorndale (R5), Norristown (R6), Chestnut Hill East (R7), Trenton (R7) and Fox Chase (R8) Lines. The easiest connection back to Suburban Station from the Broad Street Line is at City Hall using stairway 6.

The Best of the Philly Region on Cask at Iron Hill

As everyone talks about sour beer/funky beer being "the next big thing" or "the next frontier" for beer trends, I'd counter and say that cask beer really hasn't seen its heyday yet...at least here in the U.S. The East Coast has been doing casks every way 'til next Sunday for quite a few years now. The West Coast has caught on recently and places in between are discovering the real, the natural flavors of beer delivered through a cask system. Frankly, I'd like to see "newer" beer lovers discover the wonders of cask-conditioned beer before the off-the-wall flavors of native Belgian or Belgian-influenced funkhouse beers. Many of the mega beer festival (e.g. Philly, NY, SF Beer Weeks) feature cask events. Iron Hill in Newark, Delaware continues its annual real ale celebration in November. Details are forthcoming on their website; in the meantime, here's a sneak preview.
Event: 7th Annual Brewer’s Reserve Cask Event, featuring Black and Tan Beers (Dark Beers and Pale Ales). Date: Saturday, November 15th Time: Noon until 10 PM Place: Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Newark, DE What: Our annual Real Ale celebration showcases casks from the Philadelphia regions’ breweries, all in one place. This year’s Black and Tan theme will feature a dark beer or pale ale offerings from local brewers. Drink them straight or blend them and black and tans, it's up to you. All of the local breweries have been invited to participate. There will be at least 15 casks available throughout the day. Breweries include 7 Iron Hill locations, and up to 14 local breweries. Current participants include; Stewart’s, Nodding Head, Yards, Earth Bread + Brewery, Victory, General Lafayette, Sly Fox. Come out and enjoy an afternoon of pints or tasters of these great local beers.

Many Stoudt's in NYC or Pennsylvania owns New York

Since the New York baseball fans won't be doing any postseason reveling this year, perhaps they can drown their sorrows (and raise a toast to the Phillies at the same time) this Wednesday at the Blind Tiger as they pour a good 15 or so of one of Pennsylvania's pioneering breweries.
This Wednesday Oct. 29th @ 4:00PM, we will be tipping our hats to our dear from Stoudt's Brewing Company... The List: Stoudt's Mai-Bock Stoudt's Ocktoberfest Stoudt's Smooth Hoperator (Doppelbock) Stoudt's Gold Lager Stoudt's American Pale Ale Stoudt's Scarlet Lady ESB Stoudt's Fat Dog Imperial Stout Stoudt's Double IPA Stoudt's Triple Stoudt's Pilsner Stoudt's Old Abominable 07' (English Barley Wine) Stoudt's Abbey Double Stoudt's Dunkelweiss Stoudt's Scotch Ale 07' AND maybe we might have one other special treat...if we are lucky... As always, there will be free cheese on hand for your pairing needs...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Beer Calendar: What To Do in November 2008

As we begin to move from warm to cold weather, lighter to heavier beers, less clothing to more...there'll be plenty of beer events over the next month to fit any of your current moods. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. Philadelphia Mon. 11/3 - Philadelphia Brewing Company Night @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7pm-9pm; PAYG) Tue. 11/4 - Get Stoned on Election Day @Tria, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $55) Tue. 11/4 - Election Tapping of Avery's Ale to the Chief @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Thu. 11/6 - Celebrate a Victory for Earth@Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG) Thu. 11/6 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (Rauchbock)@Triumph, Philadelphia, PA (6pm; PAYG) Thu. 11/6 - Beers of the World Dinner with Joe Sixpack @Manayunk Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (6pm; $50) Fri. 11/7 - 39th Annual Bavarian Oktoberfest @Cannstatter Volksfest Verein, Philadelphia, PA (7pm-12am; $10/$12) Tue. 11/11 - High & Mighty Beer Dinner @The Belgian Café, Philadelphia, PA (7pm-10pm; $55) Wed. 11/12 - Christmas Beer & Winter Warmers with Joe Sixpack @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (7pm-9pm; $24) Wed. 11/12 - Firkin Night (Victory HopDevil) @The Kite & Key, Philadelphia, PA (7:30pm; PAYG) Thu. 11/13 - Homebrewed Live & Local@Triumph, Philadelphia, PA (6pm; $10 & PAYG) Thu. 11/13 - The Session Beer Project @Tria, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $50) Fri. 11/14 - Sierra Nevada Blue (Food) and Grey (Lodge) Night @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (6pm-9pm; PAYG) Fri. 11/14 - Merchant du Vin Beer & Cheese @Di Bruno Bros., Philadelphia, PA (6pm-8pm; $45) Sat. 11/15 - Roxy Brewfest @Roxborough YMCA, Philadelphia, PA (1pm-5pm; $30) Sun. 11/16 - Crafty Beer, Crafty Tracy, Crafty You @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (3pm-6pm; PAYG) Mon. 11/17 - Beer Dinner (Victory) @Standard Tap, Philadelphia, PA (6pm; $25) Tue. 11/18 - New Holland Dragon's Milk Flight Night @The Institute, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Wed. 11/19 - Firkin Night (Flying Fish Grand Cru, dry hopped) @The Kite & Key, Philadelphia, PA (7:30pm; PAYG) Thu. 11/20 - New Holland Draft Night w/ Soul Food & Soul Music @The Sidecar Bar & Grille, Philadelphia, PA (5pm; PAYG) Fri. 11/21 - Firkin Friday (Yards ESA) @Pub & Kitchen, Philadelphia, PA (4pm-6pm; $3 pints) Sat. 11/22 - Philadelphia's Colonial Taverns and the Drinks They Served @Philadelphia Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA (2pm-3pm; free) Sun. 11/30 - Open House @Philadelphia Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA (1pm-5pm; donations) Philadelphia's close suburbs Tue. 11/4 - Brewmaster's Autumn Beer Dinner @Iron Hill, North Wales, PA (7pm; $50) Fri. 11/7 - Incubus Friday @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (12pm-???; PAYG) Fri. 11/7 - Friday Night Tasting (Yards) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm; free) Tue. 11/11 - Sierra Nevada "IPA" Beer Dinner @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (6:45pm; $59) Tue. 11/11 - New Holland Beer Dinner @Molly Maguire's, Phoenixville, PA (TBD) Thu. 11/13 - Full Mooner XI @General Lafayette Inn & Brewery (Yards, He'Brew, New Holland, General Lafayette), Lafayette Hill, PA (6pm-9pm; $15) Fri. 11/14 - Second Friday IPA Varietal Release (Aurora) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (12pm-???; PAYG) Fri. 11/14 - Friday Night Tasting (New Holland) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4pm-6pm; free) Sat. 11/15 - Allagash Beer Dinner @The Drafting Room, Spring House, PA (6pm; $59) Tue. 11/18 - Ithaca Beer Night @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (PAYG) Thu. 11/20 - Sly Fox Christmas Party @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (PAYG) Fri. 11/21 - Third Friday Firkin Fest (Red Fox) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (12pm-???; PAYG) Fri. 11/21 - Friday Night Tasting & Food Pairings (New Holland) @The Beer Yard & Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (5pm-7pm, free at Beer Yard; moving over to TND for PAYG remainder of night) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Tue. 11/4 - 5th Anniversary Party @Ortino's Northside, Zieglerville, PA (5pm-???; PAYG) Wed. 11/5 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (Double Witbier)@Triumph, Princeton, NJ (6:30pm; PAYG) Wed. 11/5 - Meet The Brewer Series Presents...Sierra Nevada @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA (7pm) Fri. 11/7 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (Grand Cru)@Triumph, New Hope, PA (10pm; PAYG Sat. 11/8 - Brewphoria 4 @Canal Street Pub, Reading, PA (6pm-10pm; $35+service fee) Sat. 11/8 - Breweries of Central PA Tasting Tour leaves from Conshohocken, PA (9:30am; $65) Thu. 11/13 - New Holland Tasting @Ortino's Northside, Zieglerville, PA (7pm; PAYG) Fri. 11/14 - Gambrinus Beer Dinner (Casey Hughes of Flying Fish)@Triumph, New Hope, PA (7pm; $65) Tue. 11/18 - Meet The Brewer Series Presents...Craft Beer & Artisan Chocolate @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA (6:30pm) Thu. 11/20 - For The Love Of St. Bernardus @The Farmhouse, Emmaus, PA (6:30pm; $30) Sat. 11/22-Sun. 11/23 - Great Brews of America @Split Rock Resort, Lake Harmony, PA (12pm-4pm; $26/$23) Sat. 11/22 - Beer & Food Matching Dinner @Split Rock Resort, Lake Harmony, PA (7:30pm; $55) Fri. 11/28 - Thanksgiving in Belgium @The Farmhouse, Emmaus, PA (TBA) Sat. 11/29 - Back in Black @Union Jack's Inn On The Manatawny, Boyertown, PA (1pm; PAYG) Elsewhere Sat. 11/1 - Achtung Baby! @Zeno's Pub, State College, PA (TBA) Sun.11/2-Sat. 11/8 - Syracuse Beer Week around the city/region of Syracuse, NY (see website for details) Wed. 11/5 - Brooklyn Brewmaster's Event @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG) Thu.11/6-Sat. 11/8 - NERAX North 2008 @The Tap, Haverhill, MA (6:30pm-10:00pm, 6:30pm-10:00pm, 1pm-7pm; $10 admission + PAYG) Fri. 11/7-Sun. 11/9 - Fall Real Ale Cask Festival @Brazen Head, Brooklyn, NY (TBA) Sat. 11/8 - Great International Beer Festival @Rhode Island Convention Center, Providence, RI (1:00pm-4:30pm, 6:30pm-10:00pm; $36) Wed. 11/12 - Goose Island @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG) Fri. 11/14 - Pittsburgh Brewfest @Bar Room & Saddle Ridge (Station Square), Pittsburgh, PA (6pm-9pm; $25) Sat. 11/15 - 15th Anniversary Dock Sale @Hair of the Dog, Portland, OR (10am-4pm; PAYG) Wed. 11/19 - VSK 2008 @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG) Fri. 11/21 - Sierra Nevada S8zon Release @Falling Rock Tap House, Denver, CO (5pm; PAYG) Fri. 11/28-Sat. 11/29 - Cask Weekend @Zeno's Pub, State College, PA (PAYG)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

GABF 2008---the full story, part 2

link back to part 1 After stopping at Wild Boar, a real, comfy, and local coffee and breakfast joint on our way out of Fort Collins, we were on the road west then south to Glenwood Springs. Our plan was to head through Estes Park and into Rocky Mountain National Park on route 34. However, at the toll gate, we were told that the road was closed a few miles ahead due to the first major snowstorm of the season. Seemed as if the high country of western Colorado had a different plan than we. As we headed west...up, down, up, and down again from Mile High Denver to Mile-and-a-Half High Vail to Two Mile High Breckenridge and beyond (we hit 14,000 ft. somewhere, I just don't recall where)...I began to feel a bit like Stan and the Slow Travelers. The awe-inspiring scenery barely kept me on the road. There were changing leaf colors at lower elevations and snow at higher elevations. Temperatures plummeted by the mile from the 70s into the high 30s as we steadily climbed the elevation. I won't go on any more about the scenery. If you've been to places like the Rockies before, you know what I'm talking about. If not, check out the scenery pictures from the link below and you'll see what I mean. We finally arrived in Glenwood Springs, approximately 160 miles west of Denver, in the early afternoon. Glenwood Springs, home to natural hot springs and caverns, is a city nestled amongst the canyons along the Colorado River. The main draw in the area, other than the mountain activity are the hot springs. I didn't try to corroborate someone's claim that theirs was one of only three or four natural hot springs in the State. Checking in at The Hotel Denver didn't take long for me to look left and spot the Glenwood Canyon Brewing Company. I recognized the name from my spreadsheet of every GABF, WBC, and other beer awards from over the years. But, I didn't really know much about the brewpub other than their name being in the list of previous winners. It didn't take us long to decide to pay them a visit. After getting our bags situated, we grabbed a late lunch/early dinner along with some late Sunday football. I opted for a seafood and pasta dish to go with a sampler tray of beers that Patty and split before deciding on which full glasses of beer to order (hey, staying at a hotel with a brewpub has its benefits!). We visited several brewpubs while in Colorado and we found that prices for samplers were always quite generous. Here we got 9 samples (7 ounces each!) for just around $12. The Vapor Cave IPA was a real nice and solid IPA without going to big...it was something along the lines of a Sierra Nevada or perhaps a Victory. It did a great job in cleaning up and washing away the sauce and the spice from the pasta dish. The Red Mountain ESB and the No Name Nut Brown left an impression on me as a couple that I could be happy drinking all night. But, to finish things off I had, and highly recommend, the dessert-friendly Shoshone Stout. After an early morning run the next day, I returned to the hotel to smell Ken Jones and the brewing staff (smelled the beer, not the guys) cooking up a batch of ESB. Ken took the time out to chat for a little while about their location, beer, and plans for GABF. We stopped in one more time for lunch when we grabbed a couple of sandwiches and an excellent Oktoberfest. Somehow through all of this, I managed to take zero pictures inside the brewery and the restaurant. So, you'll have to take my word for the comfortable and casual brewpub-like atmosphere and the friendly, informative service. Three days and nights of The Hotel Denver/Glenwood Canyon beer, outdoor adventure, massages, and soaking in hot springs had us all set for our ultimate destination, the 2008 Great American Beer Festival. It was Wednesday the 8th, my birthday, when we headed back to the east. I'm not sure how the locals ever really get accustomed to the beauty of their environs; the scenery east was just as jaw-dropping as it was in the opposite direction. So, where better to stop on my birthday than Beaver Liquors in Avon, CO?! This was a trip 16 years in the making after a college friend/part-time roommate stopped there and brought back pictures, beer, and "trinkets" from the store. It always remained one of those mythical places that I knew to keep on my list of places to see if I ever made it out to that area. Beaver Liquors, majestic scenery. How does one compare?! Seriously, though, Beaver (we'll just call it that for short) stocks plenty of great wine and beer. I picked up several bottles of local brew from Estes Park, Backcountry, and Uinta (Utah). Some merchandise purchases, too, and we were ready to finish our trip into Denver. We checked into our Westin hotel, which is roughly between the LoDo area of great beer bar destinations and the Convention Center where GABF is held. I headed out for a quick 7 mile run, came back, stretched, iced, showered, and changed. GABF was "on" and we headed out to Falling Rock (where else?) to begin the debauchery. Next up, I'll talk about our Thursday and Friday adventures in Denver. You can find the crib notes version of the trip that I published each day by checking these quick links: - Philly's GABF participation - GABF preparations - pre-GABF travels in Colorado - GABF Session 1 - GABF Session 2 - GABF Sessions 3 & 4 PICTURES As I go along with my little wrap-up of our trip to Colorado and GABF, you might like to follow along with the pictures that I've posted at Picasa. I've taken the liberty of breaking them into more manageable pieces for your viewing ease. (Insert my own personal peeve: those who post pictures, all 592 of them, without removing duplicates, mistakes, or irrelevant ones...hopefully I've done this well for you.) People Pictures Brewery Pictures GABF Awards Ceremony Pictures Scenery and Nature Pictures Miscellaneous Beer Pictures (aka whatever's left)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

From Belgium to Cooperstown to NYC with Love

This week continues my NYC dry spell; but, Patty and Kathleen will be in NYC on Friday. They may have to swing by Blind Tiger to see what, if anything, is left. From Alan and the good folks at Blind Tiger...
This Wednesday Oct. 22nd @ 4:00PM, our dear friends from Ommegang, Duvel, D’Achouffe, Maredsous & Liefmans will be at the Blind Tiger for this amazing night... Yeah, all these beers together! The List: Ommegang Witte Ommegang Rare Vos Ommegang Hennepin Ommegang Abbey Ommegang Three Philosophers Ommegang Stout (Dry Irish Stout) Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence Ommegang Rouge (Flemmish Grand Cru) Ommegang Tripel Maredsous 8 (Brune) Maredsous 10 (Tripel) Liefmans Kriek Liefmans Frambozen Liefmans Brune D’Achouffe LaChouffe D’Achouffe McChouffe D’Achouffe Houblon Chouffe D’Achouffe N’Ice Chouffe Duvel Green AND, maybe, a special treat.... PS – Wednesday Oct. 29th @ 4:00PM, join us at the Blind Tiger as we pay homage to Stoudt’s Brewing Company… (over 12 lines of Stoudt's best brews) PSS - Wednesday Nov. 5th @ 4:00PM, we will be hosting Garrett Oliver from Brooklyn Brewery for the Brooklyn Brewmaster’s Event. (Some of the best and rarest from our friends at Brooklyn)

Picture this On Tap at Bridgewater's Pub at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, PA

After a wine-tasting (yes, you heard correctly) in the City last night, we shuffled over to Monk's for a while and then headed out for our train at 30th Street. Of course, there was time for one quick t.u.d. and that was at the place you've heard discussed here, here, and over here before, Bridgewater's. Figured, I'd let the photo do the talking instead of words...here's what was on tap last night.

Monday, October 20, 2008

GABF 2008---the full story, Part 1

This was the most lavish birthday trip I've ever had. Beyond that, it's probably a top 5 trip of all time for Patty and me. From the outdoor adventures to the relaxation to the beer and to the friends, there was barely a disappointment to be found. On top of that, no night ever got so far out of control (I think I can be proud of that, right?!) that we couldn't get going the next morning. That's saying quite a bit considering the amount of eating, drinking, and exercising that we logged. You can find the crib notes version of the trip that I published each day by checking these quick links: - Philly's GABF participation - GABF preparations - pre-GABF travels in Colorado - GABF Session 1 - GABF Session 2 - GABF Sessions 3 & 4 If you're still here, what follows is the full writeup (or at least, Part 1) that I promised. After being away for nine days, getting back into the swing of things, back on my running schedule, and the Phillies playoff games, it's taken me a bit longer than expected to get this all together. Plus, I didn't even get around to my roughly 500 pictures until last night. So, here we go. We were about a half hour ahead of schedule after an uneventful early Saturday morning nonstop flight from Philly to Denver. After jumping into our rental car, we headed north to Fort Collins. Because the University of Colorado's homecoming was this day, we decided to stay away from Boulder and instead head straight into Fort Collins, roughly 1 hour north of Denver. Our main goal for the day was a visit (or shall I say, pilgrimage?) to New Belgium. After checking in first at our hotel, we headed into the "downtown" of Fort Collins for lunch (New Belgium does not serve food) where we found our first surprise of the trip...CooperSmith Pub & Brewing right smack in the heart of the Town Square. Their beer selections span the style spectrum, and while none jumped out at us as out-of-this-world, I could certainly be happy to spend an afternoon there making my way through ones like the Punjabi Pale (the cask version too...or especially), Octoberfest, Mountain Avenue Wheat, and Horsetooth Stout. The chili beer, though, just didn't sit well with me. It almost had a raw green bell pepper snap to it chased by a little bit of spicy "heat" that wasn't working for me. Still, between the large varieties of beer, the decent pub food, and the outdoor on-the-square dining this was a decent place to start our visit in Fort Collins. We were both satisfied with our lunch order that started with pub chips prepared like a standard nacho plate, then finished with a Buffalo Burger and a Pub Burger (beef). During the lunch, there was a Democrat Party rally taking place complete with a Mariachi band and other entertainment. Good times, but it was time to move on...but not before making our way to the restrooms, passing the brewhouse along the way, and finding some one-year-old Kriek aging in four oak barrels. I couldn't find anyone with any idea of when it might be turned loose on the paying customers. So, if you're in the area, you'll just need to keep your eyes open for it. Time was ticking and we wanted to make sure not to miss the last tour of the day at New Belgium. Unfortunately, we didn't know how popular the tours (leaving on each half hour) can be. Even though we were there on the Saturday prior to GABF, the crowds were thick...apparently not an unusual scene. After learning the (free) tours for the remainder of the day were already fully booked, I uh well let's call it what it is...name-dropped (but I'm not gonna tell you whose name). So, we waited out a couple tours with some of the complimentary beer (4 each, roughly 5-6 ounces, I believe) and caught the last tour of the day. Unfortunately, if we had waited for the correct day to drop the better name, we might have gotten this tour instead, ah well. I get this feeling if we lived in the area of Fort Collins, we'd be at the brewery almost as much as in our own house. It seems to be a central social gathering point for friends. I'm going to stop with New Belgium at this point, because I have a lot more to say about them which I'll put into a dedicated story about New Belgium. Suffice to say for now, that this pilgrimage to New Belgium is something I recommend every beer enthusiast do at least once. In a trip filled with memorable experiences almost every day, this stands near the top, if that's possible. Even though we'd been up for the equivalent of 15 hours at this point (4am eastern time), we decided for one last T.U.D. at Odell Brewing, just a couple of miles away. We must have looked like zombies at Odell each with our heads hanging over sampler trays. The atmosphere at Odell is much like New Belgium, albeit on a much smaller scale, with the groups of friends gathering to share some beers. The price, a small amount though I don't recall exactly, of the beer samples comes with tokens that can be redeemed for a discount on merchandise. And, being partially asleep at the wheel, I neglected to use my AHA card which would have scored us a free sampler tray, free pint glass, and discounted merchandise. It was off to Wilbur's Beverage (for some local takeaway goodies) and Whole Foods (for some dinner munchies...neither of us had any energy to sit at a dinner table) before heading back to the hotel to fiiinnnallllyyyy turn in for the day. A quick note about Wilbur's Beverage in Fort Collins: Don't miss it. Wide selection of locals and imports with prices right around where they should be. Tomorrow: We head west/southwest through Estes Park, the Rockies, and Vail into the high-country and Glenwood Springs. Click here to jump to Part 2. As I go along with my little wrap-up of our trip to Colorado and GABF, you might like to follow along with the pictures that I've posted at Picasa. I've taken the liberty of breaking them into more manageable pieces for your viewing ease. (Insert my own personal peeve: those who post pictures, all 592 of them, without removing duplicates, mistakes, or irrelevant ones...hopefully I've done this well for you.) People Pictures Brewery Pictures GABF Awards Ceremony Pictures Scenery and Nature Pictures Miscellaneous Beer Pictures (aka whatever's left)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's Funny the Effect of 9 Days in Colorado

Today, after some yardwork, housework, hops picking, and beer drinking (the latter 2 with Adam), I will be almost completely caught up from our 9 Days in Colorado. I'd originally planned to have Part 1 of 3 (or maybe 4) of our trip to Colorado and GABF to share with you by this weekend, but alas it shall wait until tomorrow morning....promise.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wanna know how I bested Vegas Vic?

Warning: There's no useful information contained herein other than what you need to know to marvel at my amazing insights into the world of Phillies postseason baseball. A picture of notes that I scrawled on Wednesday morning shows my prediction for the Phillies series-clinching game on Wednesday night. Lancaster County correspondent, Dennis, returned this piece of paper to me yesterday, corroborating my prediction. Now, what I can do with this other than brag is beyond me. So, boast I will... If you can't decipher, it says Phillies 5 Dodgers 1 (my undocumented notes said that Manny would have a solo home run for the Dodgers only run). Cole was going 8 innings and striking out 9 (7 and 5 in reality) and the Dodgers would have 1 costly error...turns out it was 3, but that was not nearly their only undoing.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Couple of More October Events in Philly's Western 'burbs

Update: I've added an event this coming Sunday that represents one of the better examples of the combination of fitness and beer. If I get my long run in on Saturday, then I might just head out to beautiful Ludwig's Corner, PA (real easy, just shoot for the area of route 100 just above route 401) and check this out. Looks like a perfect way to spend a fall Sunday afternoon. Plus, hey, the Eagles are on a bye week, so no excuses for not being outdoors. A couple of late additions here that hadn't made the original October calendar and look to knock me off my post-GABF wagon after a few well-deserved days off. Sunday 10/19 - Wissahickon Cyclocross, sponsored by Victory (free samples as you watch the competition) - Ludwig's Corner - 11am-4pm Friday 10/17 - Octoberfest Sampling - Exton Beverage - 4pm-6pm - free Thursday 10/16 - Pumpkin Release Party - West Chester's Iron Hill - 5:30pm-7:00pm - PAYG Wednesday 10/15 - Phillies Game at Victory Brewing - 8pm-??? - PAYG What's on your calendar?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.

Chris LaPierre hammered the tap through the keystone so quickly, I didn't even catch him midswing. Looked much easier than a traditional cask ;-) So the Iron Hill in West Chester got their pumpkin thing on tonight. Chris had the beer in the pumpkin (scraped out and "sanitized" with boiling water) for only about an hour, so it didn't pick up much more essence from the fruit. But, the beer was still a tasty one as you might expect, not overwhelming in any sense of certain "pumpkin" beers. They also put out a nice little spread of food including a delectable pumpkin/vegetable lasagna (they had a better name for it, I just didn't take note), chili, vegetables, and pumpkin cake dessert. A pumpkin-carving contest took place amongst the employees, with the winning entry ("The Booery", of course) awarded a sixtel of pumpkin ale. Oh, and a little gold medal winning beer called Saison, if I recall correctly, was on tap as well ;-) About 5 barrels or so remain, so get there while you can. This won't last. Suze, you showed up after the tapping...did you snap any interesting or compromising pictures? (he asks, knowingly)

Let's-Go-Phillies, Vic-tor-ino, Free-Hop-Devil, Go-Home-Manny

Just a few of the many chants ringing out last night at Victory in Downingtown, PA. So glad I decided to stop in...well, actually stay for 3 hours and see the Phillies clinch their first trip to the World Series in 15 years. This is a fun team to watch and I highly recommend getting behind them if you're not already. Then, maybe next week I'll tell you which Presidential candidate I recommend throwing your support behind :) In the meantime, get thyself to Victory for some cask Porter, Harvest Pils, Hop Wallop, and...oh...any of the other 20 or so beers you can find there on CO2, cask, or nitrogen! (photo credit: Michael Perez/PNI Staff Photographer)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Victory for You and the Phillies

Well, our faithful Victory correspondent Richard has just moved me a couple of steps closer to watching the Phillies/Dodgers game tomorrow night at Victory with this following note: Well, if the ballgame doesn't light your fire, maybe the beers will. The 2008 version of Hop Wallop is on tap, the new porter is available both on the hand pump and on CO2 and the Scarlet Moon is back again....OMG It should be a wild and fun evening!! Go Phils and go Cole Hamels!! I'm usually one for watching games either at the ballpark or in the comfort of my own home. But, this could be a very good reason to see me at the pub. Where will you be and what will you be drinking?

Victory should name a beer for Shane Victorino

The one thing I enjoy about visiting great states like Colorado, California, and the Pacific NW (other than their excellent beer communities) is the chance to not lose sleep over prime-time nationally-televised sporting events. Take, for example, games 1 and 2 of the National League Championship Series. The Phillies won both games. I was able to enjoy the games with friends and good beer and the latest game was over by 9:00pm mountain time. So I found other ways to lose sleep in Denver instead ;-) While I love to call the New England-to-MidAtlantic region of this country home, not losing sleep over late night games is something that I envy in our westerly friends. Last night was certainly one of those sleep-losing nights; this morning was rough. As is the morning after any late Sunday or Monday night football game. These games, as well as last night's, end typically after midnight. Still, I'd trade sleep for the way last night's game turned out. Truth be told, if the Dodgers had scored one more run, I might have called it a night (I know, I know what that says about me!). But, I hung in there to see our surprise centerfield postseason star and a 40-year-old's homerun blast seal the deal for the Phillies. Now, one question remains: Will I need my Friday night's game 6 tickets in Philly?

Monday, October 13, 2008

GABF 2008---a few numbers to ponder

As everyone recovers in this week after GABF, I'm running some numbers and it looks as if a mere 230 medals were awarded to 142 different breweries/brewpubs across 81 categories, including the Pro-Am and brewery/brewpub of the year categories. One category did not award a gold, and one only awarded a silver; the controversy continues. Some interesting notes from Iron Hill, Lost Abbey, and Flossmoor Station provide insight into a brewery's preparation for this annual festival. For starters, an interesting note: least amount of entries in a category (10, up 2 from last year; Gluten Free Beer) and most (104, down 16 from last year; American Style IPA) Most awards by organization (at least 4) 8 to MillerCoors 8 to Lost Abbey/Pizza Port 8 to Rock Bottom 6 to Firestone Walker 6 to Iron Hill 5 to AleSmith 5 to Anheuser-Busch 4 to Alaskan 4 to Pabst 4 to Pyramid 4 to The SandLot Number of awards to groups of restaurants/brewpubs 8 to the Lost Abbey/Pizza Port group 8 to the Rock Bottom group 6 to the Iron Hill group 3 to the CB & Potts group 2 to the BJ's Restaurant group 2 to the RAM Restaurant group Some other quick stats: 17 from the greater Philadelphia region (6 Iron Hill; 3 Dogfish; 2 Tröegs; 1 Flying Fish; 1 Nodding Head; 1 Sly Fox; 1 Stewart's; 1 Victory; 1 Allentown/Bethlehem Brew Works) You might say, huh? Sly Fox with only one award? (or we could say that for other breweries listed here as well, the argument could go on...) I'd agree with you, but then, check out their gold and the category that it is in...Smoke Flavored Beer beating out 30 other entries including the perennial (and most-decorated beer ever) winner, Alaskan Smoked Porter. Very nice indeed! Within a further shouting distance from the Philly region, these guys deserve notice as well: Penn in Pittsburgh (2), Clipper City in Baltimore (2), and Bullfrog in Williamsport (1). A bunch of my favorites from neighboring New York also took home hardware, like Captain Lawrence, Ithaca, Ommegang, and Six Point. Check out the full list over at the Brewers Association's website. One last statistic is for Elk Grove in California. Fortunately, they picked up yet another two GABF medals, this year for their Brown and their Bock. Unfortunately, as perhaps one of the earliest signs of the times for the craft brewing industry, Elk Grove is closing up citing financial difficulties. Congratulations and best wishes for the future to the folks at Elk Grove.

Celebrate GABF gold at Blind Tiger

Seems like the perfect place, outside of Delaware, to celebrate Dogfish Head success at this year's GABF will be this Wednesday at Blind Tiger in New York City. Check out the list which includes the three medal winners from DFH: Red & White; Palo Santo Marron; and Pangaea. Fresh off the Blind Tiger e-mail... Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA '06 Dogfish Head Red & White '07 Dogfish Head Black & Blue '07 Dogfish Head Pangaea '07 Dogfish Head Fort '05 Dogfish Head Sahtea (9th Century Finnish Rye) Dogfish Head Arms Akimbo (a porter with a lot more - Gravity Keg) Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (via Randall) Dogfish Head India Brown Ale AND.... Duvel Green (the USA premiere)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

GABF 2008---Closing Things Down

The big whopper of the final day that is the double-session of GABF began for us with a belly-filling breakfast at Dixon's. An easy-going spot on the edge of LoDo provided us with everything we needed to set a good base for what was in store for us over the following 16 hours. (Thanks to Dan for the tip.) After getting some of our things in order for our next day's return trip home, we headed out in the cool and drizzly midday weather to the Convention Center. It's amazing to see how early and long the general admission line forms to get into each session. When we ducked out for a bite to eat in between the two Saturday sessions, the line was already snaking down the street and around the corner...the evening session wasn't due to begin for a little more than another hour. Here are a few quick notes about each session and the remainder of our trip to GABF. I'll be following up with a slew of pictures and a full written review of GABF 2008 later this week. - I was astounded by how special the awards ceremony can be for brewers, friends, and family alike. There's true appreciation that can be felt in the crowd as winners names and beers are announced. - I figured I'd duck out for a few beers during the ceremony, but I stayed dry as I was captivated watching from the first award to Lew Bryson and on through the numerous awards to Philadelphia region breweries. (Maybe they could use a "hey, beer man" to circulate during the awards ceremony, ha!) - Iron Hill? I suppose I underestimated when I mentioned yesterday that they had a few medal winners on the table. Gotta say how proud I was to be behind their table pouring and representing. - I continued to be impressed with what I found in the Plains states region. Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma all represented very well. - I began to dabble in the Pro-Am beers, but not nearly as much as I would have liked to. I knew a few of the people from around the country who had entered beers. I tasted theirs, but wish I had just a bit more time to taste others. I really do enjoy seeing this homebrewing angle/aspect to the professional side that makes up the majority of GABF. - We grabbed dinner at Appaloosa Grill just a few blocks from the Convention Center. As you'd expect in this great beer state, a Great Divide Hades and Deschutes Black Butte were on two of the many quality tap handles and they went nicely with my dinner. Brian Dunn of Great Divide pulled up at barstool next to us and chatted with us for a while...then, it was back to the Convention Center for the evening session. - okay, first up about Saturday's evening session. Yes, it is a bit different from the other three sessions. But, not really that much different than what I saw on Thursday or Friday night. The Saturday afternoon session (the awards ceremony) did have a markedly different profile to the crowd and its behavior. But, for all of the warnings I received about staying away from Saturday, I couldn't quite see why...maybe in past years? The biggest drawback, of course, was the lack of beers available; I get that. Once the awards were given out and stickers went up on the brewery tables signs, whatever beers weren't already kicked went very quickly after that. - We did leave the evening session about half way through. We were hoping to get ahead of the curve and secure some space at Falling Rock for the "closing party" before the throngs arrived. This approach worked out well. - Downstairs at Falling Rock? Well, there could be plenty of stories to tell...I'm working on which ones to share and which ones to keep. Many have no point in being shared, rather they are the kind of stories that need to be experienced first hand. I'll leave for now with the awe that I had for the amount of brewing talent at Falling Rock. Brewers and related industry folk more than I could keep track of were tucked into the cozy downstairs. But, then I went upstairs and outside as well to find even more of the same. - Pitchers of Salvation, Eric's, La Terroir, La Folie, Smoked Porter and many, many more were floating around. If you recognize these names, you'll know how special this last night of GABF was at Falling Rock. Russian River had an "event" earlier in the evening and New Belgium was closing things down with a late night promotional event of their own. With everyone's work finished, it was fun to watch everyone unwind, tell stories, and create a little trouble :) - Patty and I took a taxi back to our hotel and shared with literary award-winner Lew Bryson. Once again, for you full disclosure folks (ah, full disclosure, how liberating ;-)...Lew continued on in the taxi to his hotel and paid our fare. Now I can't call him cheap, I suppose? - Our mid-day flight home today to Philly was packed with award-winning brewers, publicans, and PR people. I won't say who sat in first class and who in coach, but no drinks were passed back from first class and everyone arrived home safely. - Well...except for a few bottles of beer that I needed to discard of at Denver's airport. I've never had a problem with weight restrictions in the past, but this time there were one too many larger format bottles, and my suitcase was weighing in up around 65 pounds. I won't disclose which bottles didn't make the cut, but I will say there was no way the La Folie wasn't making the trip and that I wasn't ready to shell out an extra $50 for the ones that I left behind. My sweet-talking skills must have been off, since the ticket counter agent wasn't showing any leniency. Oh well...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

GABF 2008---Two for Two

I've got two solid sessions under my belt just as the Phillies put away game 2 on the way out to Los Angeles for 3 games. - first up for Friday's agenda was a quick trip to Boulder and a way-better-than-expected stop at Mountain Sun. I've heard of these guys before, but they far exceeded expectations. While Avery, Redstone, and Boulder Beer can be easy distractions, these guys shouldn't be missed when in Boulder. I'll have more on them in a future review. - Chipper Dave has a fascinating look into the life of a GABF volunteer. The amount of time and coordination that goes into putting on this festival is mind-boggling. - The first four innings of the Phillies NLCS game 2 win was spent at the Philly Beer Week 2009 media promotional event at The Corner Office bar inside the Curtis Hotel. Several dozen media, brewers, and other industry insiders showed up to socialize, talk Philly Beer Week (and compare it to the fledgling SFBW ;-) and put back some of the Philly region's finest from Stoudt's to Yards to Tröegs to Iron Hill and several more. William Brand took notice. - Ran into Carolyn Smagalski who told me about her beer and food presentation that she was putting on. I put it on my list of things to check out. There are just so many things other than tasting beers to be done at GABF... - ...like a discussion with Vinnie, Sam, Ron, and Sarah Palin's favorite Joe Sixpack about the uniqueness of beer flavors...pictures to follow. - I was playing brewery rep for Iron Hill and pouring from their insane lineup of 15 all very different beers. Yes, for you full disclosure types, this means that they comp-ed my admission. But, that doesn't mean I only make positive comments about the Iron Hill family. Trouble is, these days, it's mighty difficult to come up with something to the contrary...especially when they back up their game with at least a few medal winners on the table. Let's see how that prediction works out. - How is it that one of the country's most sought after beers, the Smoked Porter from Alaskan, was kicked before the second of four sessions? Poor planning or smart marketing? Interesting debate, but still a lot of disappointed fans/seekers of the beer. Yet the Cuvee, Isabelle, Angel's Share, and several others over at Lost Abbey were still pouring strong into Friday evening. - Bumped into James and Andy again, who were this time sans A/V equipment - Chatted and took photo opp with Charlie Papazian who (while confirming that I wasn't crazy) concurred with me that Friday night's crowd seemed better behaved than the Thursday night crowd. Interesting... - I wish I had more time to spend with The Brewing Network crew. I listen to them each week and they're a great bunch of guys (and lady) and they were bringing it strong with their daily GABF live show. When I stopped by, they were in the middle of a spirited game (as they usual are) of Beer Jeopardy (trademark pending?!) - I cut out about 90 minutes early to go and meet up with college friends that I haven't seen in years. Unfortunately, that meant that I missed out on a handful of after parties around town. But, you can't really put a measure on getting together with such great friends that I haven't seen for years and reminiscing about one of the formative periods of our lives. - I'm trying to figure how I've managed to neglect to say anything about the countless Falling Rock (one of the country's top 10 quality beer bars in my opinion) events during the week. We kicked things off their Wednesday and I'm not sure if they've closed since then :) How many stories will come out of there on Saturday night/Sunday morning remains to be told....or not - Two more sessions and the awards presentation on Saturday before hitting the town hard once more before heading home. What a long, wonderful trip this has been....more to come......

GABF 2008---One down, three to go

Thank you Coors! Why, many of you ask, am I starting off this post with props to Coors? Because if it not for the two flat screens that they had at their tables (behind some beer games that they also constructed), I and 50 (or more?) other baseball fans (all but something like 3 were Phillies fans) would never have been able to see the Phillies play a great game of come-from-behind baseball to take the first game of the NLCS. We watched the last 3 innings at the Coors table and made breaks in between innings to venture a few tables away to get a beer sample and quickly come back. It probably worked out well from a sobriety standpoint to have this slowdown in the 5 hour session. Other quick highlights from Day 1. - must concur with Don's opinion of Upstream's Grand Cru. Though I don't recall if he told me about it or vice versa ;-) - Isabelle from Lost Abbey. Only had it once from the bottle. On tap was just as nice. I can see big things for this beer on Saturday. - more tasting notes and impressions to come when I wrap this whole thing up next week. The pocket recorder was the best purchase I made prior to GABF and has made note taking a breeze. - met James Spencer and Andy Sparks from Basic Brewing Radio. They asked me a couple of questions while doing some mobile taping, so you may see me show up on Basic Brewing Video. - my approach to this first session was very subdued, in order not to overwhelm myself with all of the possibilities. With all of the people (strangers, old friends, and new connections alike), the sideshows, and the beer, getting overwhelmed could have been very easy. But, I kept things under control and Friday morning was a piece of cake. - speaking of subdued, I was surprised to see the edginess/rowdiness of this first night crowd. It didn't follow with people's experiences of past years.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

GABF 2008---the time is nigh

Finally, my first visit to the first session of the 2008 GABF. How painful it is that Game 1 of the NLCS between the Phillies and Dodgers is right smack in the middle of tonight's 5:30pm session (mountain time). So, I'm counting on my friends back home (or back east, shall I say) to keep me updated....and I'll have my Phillies lid and rally towel with me to do my part. In the meantime, we found ourselves checking into our downtown Denver hotel, halfway between LoDo and the Convention Center (home of GABF). The city is truly taken over by the festival, at least at any beer bar and brewpub that matters. Yesterday, we made our way to Falling Rock (Oskar Blues and Avery promotions) and today over to the Great Divide reception. So far, it's been everything we could imagine. It's been a blast meeting up with people I've only previously met through e-mail or audio podcasts. I'm sure that the next few days will bring only more of the same. I don't have the ability to upload pictures from Denver, so those will have to wait until I get home. Joel Armato (of New Holland and Grain Bill) will have some updates forthcoming as well. Here's his first short installment.

I've Got Some Work to Do When I Return to Philly

In the meantime, get thyself over to EB+B and save a seat for me. (Just don't bother a guy named Richard if he happens to take the last seat.)

Way to knock this one off your list, Lew, before leaving town.

Then, follow Suzanne's notes over at The Beer Lass for what's happening at the Tied House, newest home for many of General Lafayette's beers. Check out her posting for opening menu of food and beers.

It appears that I've got some work to catch up with when I get home.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Happy Birthday to the Balanced Libras

This was an interesting find from our friend, Dell...Mr. Deep Pond Brewing to you. Take it for what you will. Under my sign... Yuengling's Porter and Lord Chesterfield Ale were two of my earliest introductions to "non-mainsteam" beer. They still represent to me some of Yuengling's better offerings. Happy Birthday to me and all other Libras. Grab a Yuengling to celebrate, I suppose? Ah, never mind, I've got a bottle of Blind Pig and a bottle of La Folie here in Colorado, so that will have to do!

My lead-up to GABF

The first major snowfall of the season (6"-18" around the high-country) is hitting Colorado this week, just as thousands of brewers and their staffs hit Denver for the 2008 Great American Beer Festival. Patty and I have been criss-crossing Colorado and the Rockies for the past several days and here's what we've been up to. - Early morning flight to Denver gets us to Fort Collins in plenty of time to catch lunch at Coopersmith's in downtown (they've got a few barrels of one year old Kriek whiling away in the basement) and the last tour of the day at New Belgium. - New Belgium should be on every beer lover's short list of places to visit. To call it a pilgrimage would be appropriate. I'll soon be writing much more about my stop there. Let's just say that if all you know of New Belgium is Fat Tire, you've got a lot of catching up to do. - One of the most scenic car trips that we've ever taken from Fort Collins to Glenwood Springs in and around the Rockies. As high as 12+ thousand feet and back down to "only" 5,500 feet. - Glenwood Canyon brewpub is on the ground floor inside of our hotel in Glenwood Springs...how sweet! Watched their brewing as they discussed their GABF plans for this year. - Hot springs and spas in Glenwood Springs to help prepare and relax the body for the onslaught of barley, hops, and yeast in Denver. - One of the most amazing 6 mile runs I've ever taken. The scenery in the canyon was so distracting, I hardly noticed the altitude taking its toll on me. I'll get some pictures out here next week for you to see what I'm talking about. If you've never criss-crossed the Rockies in Colorado, put this on your list as well. - a fascinating Glenwood Caves tour with a great tour guide named Sydney, who just so happens will be on a stout and porter search with her husband at GABF. It wasn't the belly-crawling cave tour that we were hoping for (they've cut back the tour schedule in the off-season), but it was still fun nonetheless to plunge a couple of hundred feet into the small mountain. - hiking around the western foothills. I suppose that we call these things foothills, even at 8,000+ feet. - along the way back to Denver, a stop for a hike in the Hanging Lake, a stop 16 years in the making at Beaver Liquors of Avon, CO, and lunch at Breckenridge Brew Pub So, it's been a few days of outdoor activities, beer hunting, and relaxing. Now, it's on to Denver for the second half of this vacation. Picked up a pocket recorder today to keep me from fumbling with pen and pad at GABF. This was a recommendation that I heard more than a few times from others.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Philly Continues its Winning Ways

This topic has been tossing around in my noggin' over the past couple of days (esp. more so as the Phillies moved on to the National League Championship Series) and I was putting the wraps on it this morning when I saw this from Lew. It further captures the essence of what's going through my mind. Is Philly becoming a (more) winning city/region? The Flyers continue to improve, the Sixers might be doing the same, the Eagles are so-so, and the Phillies are going to prove that they're one of the best teams in the post-season playoffs this year. College teams are representin' too. The Soul won their championship this year, though I'm not sure if anyone noticed...they did have a parade. In recent years, there have been horses and boxers (the fighters, not the dog breed) who have brought acclaim to their hometown, but I now I'm getting a little crazy from the altitude. From a beer perspective (at least as it relates to baseball), Tampa Bay? Boston? Los Angeles? Well, I won't diss Boston too badly, but Tampa or LA? (These are the other three of the 'final four' teams in Major League Baseball this year, in case you aren't following along.) Not by a long shot. They can't even hold a lit candle to Philly's and its region's beer scene. We proved it last year with Philly Beer Week and have been putting plenty of planning hours into making PBW 2009 (new website) even better. The multi-faceted pervasiveness of better beer across the Philadelphia region is proof-positive that no where in this country is great beer more accessible in greater quantities. I've got my Phillies lid and rally towel with me here in Colorado as I and other Philly beer cognoscenti will leave a very strong reminder on the Denver crowd (we're not a bashful bunch). Now, it's time to get on with GABF and see how much new hardware the area brewers bring home with them this year. I'm predicting big things for both the Philly-area brewers and their baseball team this year.

How to Tackle the GABF

How does a first-timer to the Great American Beer Festival plan an attack for making it the best experience possible? I've had many tips from a diverse group of people with lessons to learn from their mistakes of the past. While there are many, many event/parties/gatherings that go on around the circus that is the actual festival, I still must have a plan going into the festival (albeit, a plan that I'm warned I should be prepared to scrap). Afterall, there are hundreds of breweries bringing thousands of beer to taste and be judged. Fortunately, the Brewers Association lays out the festival tasting floor at the convention center in clusters of breweries by region (if you're attending, make sure you check out their floor plan too...if not, you can follow along at home, or at Iron Hill). This gave me the thought that I can help me to help you to help me. Below, I've listed the breweries and their beers that I'm familiar enough with to highly recommend that when you're at the festival you should make sure that you stop by and check out their table. On the flip side, there are some breweries that I have little to no experience with and am searching out. Sooooo, if you can help me out with my to-do list and let me know which I should absolutely make a point of visiting, that should help me refine my plan. Getting to know the style guidelines can be an even more highly technical approach for planning your visit to the GABF. Considering that these are the guidelines that are to be used in judging the beers, it can certainly be an interesting, if not useful, reference guide for attendees. Though, I probably wouldn't place too much emphasis on reading and trying to memorize them. Breweries I can recommend Pacific (sections A, B, G) - 21st Amendment, Drake's, Anderson Valley, Ballast Point, Bear Republic, Russian River, Sacramento, Port/Lost Abbey, Lagunitas, Kona, Green Flash, Firestone, Trumer, Alaskan, Magnolia, Marin, Moylan's, Stone, Sierra Nevada Pacific NW (sections K, L) - Rogue, Elysian, Full Sail, Hales, Hopworks, Pike Mid-Atlantic (sections C, D, H) - Ithaca, Brooklyn, Iron Hill, Sly Fox, Southampton Publick House, Stewart's, Stoudt's, Triumph, Troegs, Weyerbacher, Flying Fish and of course the more widely-distributed Dogfish Head, Ommegang, Victory Midwest (sections F, J, O) - New Holland, New Glarus, Capital, Three Floyds, Goose Island, Great Dane, Great Lakes, Summit, Thirsty Dog, Jolly Pumpkin New England (section M) - Shipyard, Trinity, Allagash, Cambridge, John Harvard's Rocky Mountain (sections E, I, N) - Avery, Boulder, Breckenridge, Great Divide, Fort Collins, Odell, Glenwood Canyon Southeast (section Q) - Duck Rabbit, Sweetwater, Terrapin, Twain's Southwest (section P) - Real Ale, Rahr, Saint Arnold, Live Oak The Plains (section K) - none, I'll need to work on this! Ones that I'm looking to learn more about Pacific (sections A, B, G) - Coronado, Schooner's, Fifty Fifty, Telegraph, Third Street Aleworks, Tied House, Triple Rock, TAPS Pacific NW (sections K, L) - Boundary Bay, Cascade, Elliott Bay, Alameda, Bend, Issaquah, Walking Man, Laurelwood, Pelican Mid-Atlantic (sections C, D, H) - hometown brewers, surprise me! Midwest (sections F, J, O) - Piece, 75th Street, Central Waters, Brugge Brasserie, Boulevard, Titletown, Elevator, Flossmoor, Surly, Schlafly New England (section M) - Haverhill Rocky Mountain (sections E, I, N) - Pug Ryan's, Red Rock, Sandlot, Uinta, Wynkoop, Wasatch Southeast (section Q) - Lazy Magnolia, Vino's, Bosco's Southwest (section P) - Papago, The Covey The Plains (section K) - Upstream, Blind Tiger, Tall Grass, Choc Beer And, for those of you typically accustomed to and appreciating all of my diligent linking to the brewery/brewpub websites....ha! not this time. You'll have to Google them yourselves...glasses up :)

Monday, October 06, 2008

GABF Simulcast at Iron Hill, a bit more detail

From the Iron Hill newsletter, The GABF viewing party kicks off at 2 p.m.; the first 50 attendees will receive a complimentary pretzel necklace. House-baked soft pretzels with Cheez-Whiz will be offered as a festival-appropriate snack, alongside pints of some of Iron Hill Brewery’s nominated ales and lagers. The live video simulcast from Denver will begin at 3:30 p.m. And, as at the actual festival, costumes are encouraged.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A Change in Pittsburgh's Lineup

Heading through western PA a couple of weeks ago got me to thinking. A few closures and an unpopular hefty drink tax in Allegheny County. What's going on? Shouldn't it be the Pirates lineup that is getting a bit of a shakeup? The craft brewing scene, gaining strength in recent years in the Pittsburgh region, appears to be going through a bit of a readjustment. But, I don't live in the area. If you are, let me know if this is something other than a few unsuccessful business models falling by the wayside.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Beer, To Go....and go, and go....

thebeergeek.com - Beer and Travel, two words that just go together. I caught these two recently on an episode of Beer School talking about their Year in Beer. I was impressed with their ambition for finding great beer and putting together a nice site to showcase their travels. I still haven't waded through all of it, but it certainly looks promising. Maybe I'll cross paths with Chris and Meredith during GABF. Seems like just another stop for this tireless duo.

Philly Beer Pride, What An Honor!

Thanks left coasters, we appreciate the compliment! Imitation, flattery, and all that...we get it, thanks! :)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Iron Hill, New Jersey, GABF, and Beer-Stained Letter

A couple of local sites o' suds have recently mentioned the new Iron Hill location planned next year for Maple Shade, NJ. One is a usual outlet, another you may not have heard of but should check out for insights (written and video) into New Jersey's Beer Scene. While we're talking Iron Hill, if you're not headed to Colorado for this year's GABF then you may wish to head to their North Wales location to check out the following event. Sounds like a fun way to follow along. From the Keystone Homebrew newsletter....
2008 GABF PARTY @ IRON HILL BREWERY NORTH WALES Saturday, 10/11 Can't go to Denver this year to cheer on your favorite brewery at the GABF? No worries. Iron Hill Brewery North Wales is going to throw a "Great American Beer Festival in North Wales" Party on Saturday, October 11th, 2008 starting at 2:00 pm. This event will feature live video coverage of the Awards Ceremony directly from the Festival Stage in Denver starting at 3:30 Eastern time. We'll be watching to see how Dave Grosch, our local homebrewer extraordinaire will do with his pro-am beer Dave's Dunkles Brewed at Iron Hill Brewery North Wales. Iron Hill Brewery will be tapping beers that have been sent to the GABF and generally celebrating the largest beer festival and competition in the United States. This should be a real nail biter!

Getting Ready for GABF; What's On Tap

October is here; that can mean only one thing...the Great American Beer Festival is upon us. Tomme says in his blog post yesterday that he'll be showing up in Denver next Tuesday, his 35th birthday. It reminded me that I'll be cruising in to town on Wednesday, my own birthday...37, if you're interested. After exploring Buffalo Country to the north and west of Denver, taking in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains and all that the region has to offer (yes, breweries included!), Patty and I will get into Denver recharged and ready to make the most of our first GABF experience. There will surely be late nights and curtain-drawn mornings and lots of frivolity to fill the remaining time. I've received all sorts of advice from others more experienced as to the official events as well as the unofficial events...where to be, when, and for how long. 1,969 BEERS WILL BE AVAILABLE FROM 432 BREWERIES!! This announcement is on the official GABF website. As for local Philadelphia region breweries and brewers, how will they be represented and spending their time in Denver? I've created a list of beers (here's the link) that have been entered by brewers who have shared this information with me. The list is not necessarily complete as some are not telling due to superstitions. With so much at stake, who can blame 'em? Check it out and you too can play along no matter where you are. Following are a few more notes from some of our local Philly-area brewers. From Sly Fox, Brian O'Reilly will be representing the rapidly-growing brewery as both a participant and a judge. Over at Triumph, brewer Patrick Jones and 12 other staff will be attending and pouring at GABF. In Patrick's words, he'll be "catching up with friends, drinking ALOT of beer, and winning more gold than Fort Knox." A little optimism can't hurt going into a competition like this, right?! Chris Leonard, Russ Czajka, and the General Lafayette crew are focused on other projects this year which in turn means increasing production. Look for them to likely show up in Denver in 2009. Ryan Michaels and his assistant, Gerard, from McKenzie Brew House will both be in Denver and pouring. Mike Fava will be making his inaugural trip to GABF and will be making it now as the Head Brewer at West Philly's reborn Dock Street. Curt Decker and Gordon Grubb from Nodding Head will be tag-teaming Denver and taking no prisoners. If/as I come across more information that brewers wish to share, I'll do likewise with you. The countdown is on...