Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Amazing Weekly Philly Beer Calendar of December 2008, week 1

This year, December's Beer Calendar in the Philadelphia Region is not planning to take a back seat to any other month of the year. With a festive calendar of events planned, I'll post a little preview of each week's events. With at least an equally long list of social events and to-do lists, you'll want to make sure that you take in at least one or two events during the month...y'know...just to keep a good life balance...and low stress...or whatever other excuses you might need to employ to avoid unpleasant tasks or obligations ;-) Here goes...week one...December 1st-December 7th 2008 You've got some tasting events to get you through the week at various locations around the region. Check out the following, for example: ~ A couple of Victory tastings include one on Fri. 12/5 - Keep the Pint Night @Les Bons Temps and one on Wed. 12/3 Meet the Brewer Night @Spinnerstown Hotel ~ On Thu. 12/4 in Old City's Triumph is a special Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings of Jewish Rye (beer, that is) ~ And, also on Thu. 12/4, Harpoon Brewery Promo Night @Isaac Newton's As far as Repeal Day (aka The End of Prohibition) goes, I could only turn up one event and it looks like a great one. Leave work a bit early and check out: ~ Repeal Day Celebration on Fri. 12/5 @Memphis Taproom A handful of special events and dinners look worth checking out. They include: ~ Tue. 12/2 gets the week started with Ho Ho Holiday Brews with Don Russell (aka Joe Sixpack) @Tria Café ~ same night, Tue. 12/2, on the north side of center city, check out the collaborative dinner between The Institute, Root, and Sierra Nevada. ~ Fri. 12/5 - Mad Elf Night @Grey Lodge with an '07 version, '08 version, and some married version of a guy named Nick Johnson ~ Sat. 12/6 - Release Party for highly sought-after Bottled Lambics @Iron Hill ~ And a charitable festival also on 12/6, Winter Beer Festival @The Cliveden But, lucky me. One of the week's (month's?) absolute highlights looks to be just out my front door. Car service, please? ~ Sat. 12/6 - 5th Anniversary Party @TJs For the full December list, you know where to go.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Draft Magazine keeps the taps flowing

It's no secret that I enjoy an active in outdoor exploits like running, biking, and hiking just to name a few. Active also in my pursuit of well-crafted beer. Many wonder if these should be mutually exclusive, as in you can be a beer drinker or a runner, but not both. I agree with one word in that sentence, the word "NOT." The regular of you readers out there can attest that I remind you (sometimes probably painfully so) that moderate consumption of great beer goes perfectly well with an active lifestyle. You could even say that they complement each other quite well. And, now, the online version of Draft Magazine has carried on with this theme with a new section called Beer Runner. Though, I've got to wonder why they didn't ask me to play host for it. Ah well, perhaps I'll get a call for an interview of me and my perspective one day soon. Check it out; they've already got some good interviews and other material up for you reading pleasure. They've got another relatively new section as well that examines the intersection of Sports & Beer. It's all part of a widening focus that Draft Magazine appears to be taking. This, paired with well-rounded coverage of the beer industry (as a whole, not necessarily just "craft") is making for a decent beer publication that's maturing quite nicely. If you haven't checked them out in a while, you might just want to do so again soon.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tap List at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA - 11/28/08

What's on tap at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA as of 11/28/2008?

Abbaye de Leffe Blonde
Brooklyn Brewery Lager
Brouwerij Van Steenberge Augustijn Ale
Elysian Bifröst Winter Ale
Green Flash IPA
Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
Rogue John's Locker Stock Black Lager
Sierra Nevada Celebration
Southern Tier Tripel
Victory Bags Packed Porter (cask)
Victory Golden Monkey
Sly Fox O'Reilly's Stout
Legacy Midnight Wit
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Lindemans Framboise
Amstel Light

This is the kind of shopping I can get into

Mr. Sixpack is right on the money today with his plan of attack for dealing with Black Friday Madness. If you're in the western suburbs of Philly today, around, say, the Plymouth Meeting or King of Prussia Malls, do yourself a favor and get as far away as soon as possible and over to Capone's on Germantown Pike. The taps are now flowing! Session-ists need not attend. I could get into a bunch of superlatives here regarding this tap list, or I could shut up and just let you get to your drooling over this list. Sheesh, where to begin???
Black Friday November 28th Draft promo starts at 10:00am until 2:00am 16 Drafts-Pay as you go! Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter Great Lakes Nosferatu Hoppin Frog Boris The Crusher Imperial Oatmeal Stout Hoppin Frog Mean Manalishi Double IPA Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA Founders Old Curdmudgeon Ommegang Rouge Duchesse De Bourgogne "Flemish Red" Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela St. Bernardus Christmas Dogfish Head 120 Minute Otto's Otto Nater "Double Bock" De Proef Signature Les Deux Brasseurs Ale (w/Jason Perkins from Allagash) Russian River Damnation Russian River Blind Pig IPA Iron Hill Russian Imperial Stout (Nitrogen)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Still Looking for Thanksgiving Beer Menu Suggestions?

Even if you've got your menu for tomorrow locked up, you may wish to consult Sean Paxton's incredibly useful website of beer, food, and pairings website. Not just recipes, but tips and tricks as well, are found on his website. Even, the Turducken demystified! If you recall, earlier this year it was his inspiration that got me to the backyard in search of fresh hop shoots to saute over the rangetop. Drop an e-mail to him for additional insights; not only is he one of the most helpful guys, but one of the nicest as well. And, remember, it's not too early to begin planning your Christmas or New Year's Dinners.

Getting Back Off The Wagon

After gutting my way through the last mile and a half of the Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday, Patty and I met up with friends at The Tiedhouse where we had a table for nine. The Abbey Blonde was my first beer of choice, followed by a Bière de Framboises. With a Brewmaster's Breakfast Bowl and beer under my belt, I started to bonk. (Though, I don't think I bonked nearly as badly as did the Eagles...but that is a topic that shan't be discussed here.) Aches and pains from Sunday's marathon have subsided, but since then I've contracted a nasty cold. Apparently, and understandably, the body's immune system takes a beating during such a physical exertion so it's no surprise that I'm at the greatest risk for getting sick in the days immediately following the race. I should be back in the swing of things by this weekend. The time between the Thanksgiving and New Year's holidays will be a great time for beer here in the Philadelphia region. It begins with a dinner at The Farmhouse in Emmaus, a Stout event at Union Jack's, and an Open House at Philadelphia Brewing this coming weekend. Enjoy what will, for many of you, be a "long weekend." Here are a few more pictures related to the Marathon.
Signs of support from friends and family
Part of my "recovery plan."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Beer Calendar: What To Do in December 2008

With most people taking extra long looks at their finances, I've taken the approach of separating beer events into those free and under $20 from those that are greater than $20. I believe that it will serve festival planners well to keep the economy in mind when planning events in the foreseeable future. Everyone, even the geekiest of beer geeks, will have limits where they just won't be able to justify the "star" guests, the ambiance of the venue, or even the beer selection when doling out their beer dollars. So, let's take a look at the December 2008 calendar in this format. Let me know how this works for you. Cheers! If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. Under $20, down to and including FREE...Pay As You Go (PAYG) also included here Philadelphia Sun. 11/30 - Open House @Philadelphia Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA (1pm-5pm; donations) Thu. 12/4 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (Jewish Rye)@Triumph, Philadelphia, PA (6pm; PAYG) Fri. 12/5 - Keep the Pint Night (Victory) @Les Bons Temps, Philadelphia, PA (7pm-9pm; PAYG) Fri. 12/5 - Repeal Day Celebration @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA (3pm-4pm; all beer=$1 each) Fri. 12/5 - Mad Elf Night @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Wed. 12/10 - Firkin Night (Victory) @Standard Tap, Philadelphia, PA (6pm; PAYG) Thu. 12/11 - Meet the Brewer/Keep the Glass (Sly Fox) @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG) Fri. 12/12 - OMG! Ommegang! and Authors A'Plenty #6 @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (6pm-9pm; PAYG) Sat. 12/13 - 15th Annual Holiday Arts & Crafts (& Beer) Show @Sugar Mom's, Philadelphia, PA (12pm-6pm; PAYG) Tue. 12/16 - Joe Sixpack Christmas Beer Book Signing @Home Sweet Home Brew, Philadelphia, PA (5pm; free) Tue. 12/16 - Joe Sixpack Christmas Beer Book Signing @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7pm; PAYG) Tue. 12/16 - Crafty Tracy, Part Deux @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (5pm-8pm; PAYG) Wed. 12/17 - Joe Sixpack Christmas Beer Book Signing @The Irish Pol, Philadelphia, PA (7pm; PAYG) Fri. 12/19 - Sly Fox 13th Anniversary Party @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (6pm-9pm; PAYG) Sat. 12/20 - 20th Anniversary Party @Dawson Street Pub, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Fri. 12/26 - Boxing Day Beer Festival @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA (all day; PAYG) Wed. 12/31 - Brew Year's Eve Party @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (9:30pm; TBA) Philadelphia's close suburbs Sat. 12/6 - 5th Anniversary Party @TJs, Paoli, PA (PAYG; see website for details) Sat. 12/6 - Release Party-Bottled Lambics @Iron Hill, Wilmington, DE (PAYG; 2pm-5pm; 750ml=$24.50, 375ml=$13.00) Thu. 12/11 - Firkin of East End Big Hop Harvest @The Drafting Room, both Spring House & Exton, PA (5:30pm; PAYG) Fri. 12/12 - IPA Project Day 2008 @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (all day; PAYG) Fri. 12/12 - Friday Night Tasting (New Holland) @Goshen Beverage, West Chester, PA (4:30pm-6:30pm; free) Sat. 12/13 - Release Party-Bottled Lambics @Iron Hill, Media, PA (PAYG; 2pm-5pm; 750ml=$24.50, 375ml=$13.00) Tue. 12/16 - Maredsous Blonde Debut @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (6pm; PAYG) Wed. 12/17 - Victory Night @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (7pm-9pm; PAYG) Fri. 12/19 - Third Friday Firkin (Oatmeal Stout) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (all day; PAYG) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Wed. 12/3 - Meet the Brewer Night (Victory) @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA (6:30pm; PAYG) Wed. 12/3 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (Oatmeal Cookie Stout)@Triumph, Princeton, NJ (6pm; PAYG) Thu. 12/4 - Brewery Promo Night (Harpoon) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (6pm-8pm; PAYG) Fri. 12/5 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (Flemish Brown)@Triumph, New Hope, PA (10pm; PAYG) Thu. 12/11 - Book Signing with Don Russell @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; PAYG) Thu. 12/11 - Keep the Pint Night (Victory) @Gavin's Tavern, Ambler, PA (9pm-11pm; PAYG) Sat. 12/13 - Sly Fox Firkin Night @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA (4pm; PAYG) Thu. 12/18 - Brewery Promo Night (Hook & Ladder) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (5pm-7pm; PAYG) Fri. 12/19 - Victory Night @Bones, Lansdale, PA (5pm-7pm; PAYG) Sun. 12/21 - Annual Christmas Party @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA (5pm; PAYG) Elsewhere Wed. 12/3-Sun. 12/7 - Holiday Ale Festival @Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, OR (see website for details) Sat. 12/6 - Sleigh Bells Ring @Zeno's Pub, State College, PA (3pm-8pm; $20 for 15 4oz samples) Sat. 12/6-Sun. 12/7 - Belgium 2 Brooklyn @Mugs Ale House, Brooklyn, NY (PAYG; see website for details) Events Over $20 Philadelphia Tue. 12/2 - Ho Ho Holiday Brews with Don Russell (aka Joe Sixpack) @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $45) Sat. 12/6 - Cliveden Winter Beer Festival @The Cliveden, Philadelphia, PA (1pm-6pm; $50/$65) Tue. 12/9 - Beer Geek's Winter Dream with Matthias Neidhart @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $60) Tue. 12/16 - Holiday Beer Dinner @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (7pm-10pm; $85) Thu. 12/18 - A Revolution Is Brewing with Rob Tod @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $55) Sat. 12/27 - Christmas Beers & Winter Warmers @University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, PA (12:30pm-4:00pm; $75/$90/$125) Wed. 12/31 - New Year's Eve @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm & 9:30pm seatings; $TBA) Philadelphia's close suburbs Tue. 12/23 - Victory Holiday Beer Dinner @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA (6pm; $50) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Tue. 12/9 - Wild Game & Beer Dinner @Union Barrel Works, Reamstown, PA (6:30pm; $40) Elsewhere Tue. 12/2 - Christmas Beer Dinner @Falling Rock Tap House, Denver, CO (7:30pm; $55/$65) Fri. 12/5-Sat. 12/6 - Strong Ale Festival @Pizza Port, Carlsbad, CA (4pm-11pm, 11am-11pm; see website for details)

Friday, November 21, 2008

On A Roll

I occasionally get asked if I have a blogroll. And, I say...uh, yeah, um, kinda. Actually, it's a separate page of links to various beer-related sites. I'd say that it's barely maintained...and that's where I fall down. See, I've never been a big proponent of cluttering up my home page with a "sidebar" that goes on for screens and screens with nothing but un-vetted links to everything under the sun. Some do, and it works fine for their approach; it's just never been mine. If I could have a homepage with a feature "something" on it and 5-10 links on it, that would be just perfect. Nice and clean. On the other hand, I believe (honestly, I do) that it's important in the online world to have websites that play nicely with others...if for no other reason than it enhances and makes more efficient the web surfing experience. In other words, this whole "linking" conversation. Many people with websites/blogs/whatever you wish to call them, choose to place links on the homepage in something of a blog roll. I dunno, maybe that's the generally-accepted approach. I, perhaps being a bit contrarian, believe that it's more important to link to other sources within the body of my writings that will help to enrich what I write. At the end of the day, What I write may or may not, at the end of the day, make much of a difference. I do feel, though, that I am contributing value in the sense that I'm bringing awareness through more formal-type writings, less formal-type postings, reviews, activities, etc. around an industry and product(s) that I fervently believe in. So, where I don't claim to know everything (and sometimes very little), I link in expertise and perspectives from others that are writing about similar topics. Okay, let's bring this to a conclusion. I'm sticking to my guns and not starting a blog roll on the homepage. But, what I do plan to do is wipe the slate clean. Get rid of the links page and begin to add something along the lines of a new Brew Lounge Hall of Fame page (don't hold me to that title, but it sounds good right now). I will add over time to this page, not simply by just placing a link but by writing a short description and bringing to your attention why I'm linking to a particular website. There's so much information about beer available via news agencies, freelance writers, full-time bloggers (who take it seriously), part-time bloggers (who take it sort of seriously), trade boards, portals, forums, social networks, consumer publications, public relations firms, and the brewers and owners of the beer and bar businesses that are actually making the stuff that I write about....and on and on....that I feel it's time that I take a step back and ask the question: "Where can we find the best information about beer on these here Internets?" I'll get started on this mini-project no later than the first of the new year. Many of you already drop notes to me asking if I will make mention of or link to your site. Chances are, if I already link to you, you'll wind up in the Hall of Fame, or whatever. If you'd like to see your website featured, please drop a private e-mail to me for my consideration (now that sounds arrogant, doesn't it?).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Get Your Wood On; 'The Year of 2008' runner-up?

Beer Dinners or Wood-aged Beer, which made a bigger splash in 2008? With 7 weeks to go in the year, I'm leaning towards Beer Dinner...but, a case (or barrel) can certainly be made for wood-aged beer. Take a look below at a just a couple of events that have been held in this month. These and other similarly-themed events have underscored a year in which beers of the wood have gone on their way to becoming commonplace in the craft brewing world. Take for example the number of beers entered at the last three GABFs (2008, 2007, 2006) in the following categories: Wood & Barrel-aged Beer (25, 26, 29); Wood & Barrel-aged Strong Beer (79, 72, 58); Wood & Barrel-aged Sour Beer (27, 21, n/a). The Sixth Annual Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer - 11/8, 113 beers, 41 breweries, 14 states Barrel Aged Beer Festival - at The Bistro in Hayward, CA on 11/15; wrap-up by Jay at his site Victory has joined the fray with a rotating weekly wooden 30-liter cask of unfiltered lager to be tapped each Friday.....things get underway tomorrow, the 21st, at 5pm with Prima Pils in the wood. The Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood - Not only about the wood, though it's part of their original raison d'être

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When the Dust Clears, Give Me a Local Craft Beer from St. Louis

The official AB-InBev deal-closing news as of 11/18/08; link to St. Louis Post-Dispatch An article from September highlighting a small craft brewer, Schlafly, that you may be familiar with and their perspective on the local beer market in St. Louis; link to St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yards is Green and on NBC10

Green? Yards is certainly doing a better job of representing green than the local football team.A nice promo piece for Yards and some of their environmentally-friendly endeavors. UPDATE: The video link above seems to be currently unavailable. Here's a link to the alternate, abbreviated text version.

New Holland not so new in PA anymore

Dr. Joel unveiled the New Holland Variety Pack, now available in Pennsylvania, at Exton Beverage last Friday. It's a nice looking case with four bottles each of six varieties. Most enticing to me is the inclusion of the Ichabod Pumpkin. Joel says that it's one of the last places that we'll be able to find this beer for the year. At this point, I'm calling it my new go-to Pumpkin beer for next year. It has such a nice undertone of pumpkin spice that it adheres to the rule (or at least, my rule) of being a beer first and foremost. Also in the case is oatmeal stout (The Poet), kölsch (Full Circle), brown (Cabin Fever), ipa (Mad Hatter), and amber (Sun Dog). Not a dog in the bunch. Well, other than the Sun, get it...right?! Get a case while you still can and share with friends. With the variety of styles, you shouldn't be disappointed.

These Kegs are Sorta Special, would you say?

And, yet again, one more ho-hum reason to stay home. Thank your lucky stars if you're anywhere near Manhattan tomorrow evening.
Wednesday Nov. 19th @ 4:00PM the adventure will begin – are you ready? Please join us at the Blind Tiger as we break-out some of the rarest kegs around for our annual VSK Event (Very Special Keg – for those of you just joining us). What you see below is the basic list; I’m still toying with a few thing – to be honest, I'm seeing if I can part with a few other kegs that I have stashed away… They're like my babies!!! The List: Allagash Four (oak aged) 2007 Avery Collaboration Not Litigation 2006 Brooklyn Fortitude 2007 Blue Point Sour Cherry Imperial Stout Dogfish Head Theobrama Captain Lawrence Nor’easter Captain Lawrence Sour Dry Hopped Golden Ale (Gravity Keg) Goose Island Raspberry Matilda Green Flash Imperial Stout (oak aged in bourbon barrels - cask) He’Brew Jewbelation 2005 Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Left Hand Widdershins Barley Wine(barrel aged) 2006 Lost Coast Double Trouble IPA 2005 North Coast Old Stock 2003 Ommegang 3 Philosophers 2005 Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 2007 Sixpoint Diesel 2005 Smuttynose Barleywine (barrel aged with Jack Daniel’s) 2004 Speakeasy Double IPA 2007 Stone Double Bastard Stoudt’s Double IPA 2005 Rogue Hop Heaven 2007 Victory V12

Monday, November 17, 2008

Two Books on the Desk and One on the Shelf

I've begun to crease the pages of two excellent books and have one on the way. Any or all of them will make perfect stocking stuffers for your best beer buddy this holiday season. First up, the last major writing by Michael Jackson was awaiting my return from GABF. Fittingly it is an updated Belgian Beer Guide called Great Beers of Belgium, 6th edition. At just over 500 pages, this book is choc full of gorgeous pictures and beautiful prose that makes it so easy to turn page after page. Maybe I'll finally learn a thing or two about writing from MJ. Closer to home, for me at least, is Philadelphia's own Don Russell who delivers a bagful of goodies in his latest book, Christmas Beer. Backgrounds, tasting notes, and stats related to one of the year's most interesting "seasonals" can be found in "the first ever book devoted" to these beers. If you haven't rewarded yourself with any of Don's writing (outside of the Daily News), check out this deal. "For a limited time only, order both books Christmas Beer & Joe Sixpack's Philly Beer Guide, and we'll waive the shipping and handling charge." That's just $34.90 (save close to $10) for both of Joe Sixpack's books! And, one that I need to add to my reading stack is "Red, White, & Brew - An American Beer Odyssey" from a San Franciscan, Brian Yaeger, who has been touring the country sharing his experiences and writings with those he meets along the way. He's got a few more book dates on the calendar still to come before the holidays. They're listed below; and the book, you can pick up over here. Or, have a last chance to get a first edition at a local bookstore before the forthcoming second edition is released. Monday, November 24, 6:30 AM Apple Store-San Francisco San Francisco, CA Tuesday, November 25, 7:00 PM Hopmonk Sebastopol, CA Wednesday, December 17, 7:30 PM Capitola Book Cafe Capitola, CA

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Peaking or Puttering?

I need your help. Not financially. I've never asked (and won't) for financial contributions here at The Brew Lounge, something I'm very adamant about. Last year in conjunction with the Marine Corps Marathon that I ran, I raised money for cancer research. No, this year, I only need your shouts of encouragement. Almost exactly one week from now, I should have my feet up at The Tiedhouse in Philly. I should be celebrating the finishing of my third marathon. All goes well, Chris Leonard should be celebrating his second finish and we'll be raising a toast of good beer for good health, likely with his Lafayette's Escape (1.9% ABV) for starters. Question is: Will we be happy with our finish times? In running parlance, it's called a P.R. as in Personal Record. My first marathon finish time was a 4:35:55; my second in D.C. was a 4:21:31. Both times, I met a few goals that I set for myself. Will I set a new marathon P.R. this year? This year, I'm staying close to home and running Philly's Marathon. It's been quite the journey, with training tapering down in the past few post-DST weeks of darkness and more often than not, rain. But, my training as a whole has been erratic this year. Many distractions, a few nagging injuries, and perhaps a bit too much comfort knowing that I've run two before. But, one thing I constantly hear cautioned from more experienced runners is that the marathon distance should never be underestimated or disrespected. So, I have these creeping doubts about my finish time next Sunday. That's where you come in. I'm asking that if you wish to come out next Sunday along the marathon route in Philly to encourage me along, that could sure help. Let me know if you'll be looking for me; I'll let you know my anticipated timing and what I should be wearing. If not, and you'd like to send along a virtual shout of encouragement, that would be pretty cool too. I guess what I'm saying is that I need a pick-me-up. My last several training runs have felt pretty good, but on a whole, my training for this year has been sub-par. What do you say? How about...Anyone who can "prove" that they were there to support me during the marathon and shows up at The Tiedhouse around 12pm, their first beer is on me. UPDATE, to this whole 'first beer is on me' deal. The Tiedhouse will be opening at a special time, 9am, on Sunday November 23. The Leonard family has extended an offer of free first beer to all marathon and half-marathon participants. Change order for the Escape; Think I'll make mine the $16 275th anniversary ale ;-) And, don't forget...Brewmaster's Breakfast Bowl, Brewmaster's Breakfast Bowl, Brewmaster's Breakfast Bowl, eat, sip, repeat...

After the race, bring your finisher’s medal for a complimentary pint of General Lafayette beer!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Do Philly Fans get a Bad Rap?

Does the background cheering sound like the Victory Crew at GABF after winning for this year for Prima Pils?

Friday, November 14, 2008

GABF 2008---It's a Wrap

Here's an attempt to bring together most of the first-hand accounts of GABF 2008 that I've come across. If you know of others that should be included, feel free to drop me a line with a link.

In no particular order:
~Steph, another Philly-based beer enthusiast has multi-part content that traces some of the same path that Patty and I did through Colorado. Start with this link over at her site.

~Is Banjo Bandolas a pseudonym? Dunno, but Banjo has a writeup over at Real Beer

~Jay suffers from the same writing style as I, but pulls it off much better over at his eponymous beer site

~Larry threw the hometown party while the Iron Hill crew brought down the house in Denver. He writes about it on the company blog

~The brewers blog at Flossmoor Station has a few entries regarding their trip to GABF and the Pro-Am. Particularly fascinating to me was their description of the judging process

~Draft Magazine was omnipresent at the festival and had lots to say about it...and show

~Chipper Dave has a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at volunteering at GABF.

~Lew brought home a new wall hanging for his writing skills and has a bit to say about it at his blog.

~Tomme always has something interesting to say on his brewer blog. After drying out back at home, he shares some of this thoughts of GABF 2008.

~I was disappointed not to have crossed paths with talented writer (political, beer for starters), Maureen Ogle, but enjoyed catching up with her reactions to her festival experience

~Jenny Talley, award-winning brewer at Squatters in Utah, has a few words as well.

~Don Russell, aka Joe Sixpack (our Joe Sixpack, not the Governor of Alaska's) wrote about some of his favorite beers and has a link to a great illustrative map of festival winners, past and present

~Charlie Papazian reflects upon the magnitude of the GABF festival

~William Brand got around town quite a bit and shares with us some of his perspectives

~Andy Crouch analyzes the past, present, and future of the GABF from his point-of-view

~Dr. Joel of New Holland worked the festival, the town, and the networking like a man on a mission and shares a few of his thoughts on his blog.

~Brian (Mr. I'm going to Second Edition already) Yaeger of Red, White, and Brew fame found time in his busy schedule in Denver to publish not one, but two, accounts of his tales from GABF 2008

I, myself, had 15 separate postings (actually, this makes 16) about this year's GABF. I won't link directly here to each posting; but, you could start with a full directory of all of them. Then, you can pick and choose from them at your reading leisure. I know many of you like the pictures, so here are some direct links to Picasa photo albums.

People Pictures
Brewery Pictures
GABF Awards Ceremony Pictures
Scenery and Nature Pictures
Miscellaneous Beer Pictures (aka whatever's left)

GABF 2008---the full story, part 3

jump back to Part 1 jump back to Part 2 I've lagged, obviously, in the past few weeks since GABF. My mother-in-law's passing, the World Series, the election, marathon training, and oh yeah my day job have all contributed to me being distracted from putting out the final installments of my 2008 GABF wrap-up. So, I'll try to put it all together here in one big part 3 posting, without getting too carried away (think I can do it? nah, don't even think those crazy thoughts!), so that I can move on to other beer writings that are backing up in the queue. So, sit back, maybe even send this one off to the printer, and have one last read of what was GABF 2008. It's a nice weekend to catch up with reading, right? I'm sure that in everything that's ever been said in the past about the magnitude of GABF, you've certainly got the proper impression (if you've never attended) that it is big...very big. And, it can be overwhelming if you don't go into it with this understanding and a plan for how to deal with it. Without one, you can quickly find yourself drunk and missing things that, in hindsight, you wished you'd seen while at the festival. (On the other hand, if getting drunk and stupid is your thing, then forget the don't need a plan for that.) Plus, before and after each festival session, bars and breweries across town (and the region) are hosting their own mini-festivals of events, tastings, and the like. It truly is an almost 4 day long beer festival with something to do in practically every hour of each day. Our first order of business on Thursday was to take advantage of one of these off-site parties. Starting at noon was the luncheon at Great Divide's brewery. It used to be more of a luncheon for media types. But, apparently it's turned into more of a "if you know about it, then you can come" event. Which, of course, is fine too. The beers are the same, so is the food, and it's still all "on the house." But, it's still not an advertised event and these kind of events I found to be pretty darn fun. After several beers, a bunch of tasty cheeses, meats, and other finger foods, and an unofficial tour of the brewery, we wandered back to our hotel to prepare for the evening session. My plan for the festival sessions, as I hear is that of many other attendees, was to concentrate on regions that I typically don't drink from. Another plan of attack could be to focus on a single style and move across the festival floor tasting as many of the style as possible to contrast differences. I tried this approach as well for a short time with about eight to ten porters. Upon arrival at the first session on Thursday, I stood back just to take in the vastness of the festival floor. The noise can be almost like an arena crowd much in the way it sounds when the "wave" circulates around the space. It didn't take long to run into the first people I recognized, James Spencer and Andy Sparks of Basic Brewing. We chatted for a while, never having previously met in person. They then captured an interview with me for the video side of their website. These guys have one of the most useful websites (and products) related to homebrewing and I highly recommend that you check them, their DVDs, and other merchandise out. On top of that, they are some of the nicest folks as well...sheesh, I get tired of saying that about beervolk, don't you?! Speaking of meeting up with people. I can barely make a list of all of the people (well, actually I did, but it was more than a page) I ran into that I knew or were meeting finally for the first time in person. Almost as long would be the list of people that I somehow didn't run into after four sessions and days in Denver. That's just how big this thing is... The first official GABF beer for me was a porter from Sixpoint in Brooklyn. I'm pretty sure that this wasn't the baltic porter that they won a bronze for; this was more "basic," but a tasty basic porter. I got sidetracked by a dark lager from Bend Brewing. Then, I stopped messing around and made a beeline for the Plains region, the first checkpoint on my plan. The introduction to the midwest/Plains was just perfect with a wonderfully malty maibock from Blind Tiger...not this Blind Tiger....this one. Once in the midwest, it didn't take long for me to predict that the perfectly-not-too-tart Grand Cru from Upstream would be a festival standout for me (while they didn't medal for the Grand Cru, they did win a well-deserved silver for their gueuze). Don agreed as well. Apparently, their secret wasn't kept for very long as Upstream was out of beer by half way through the afternoon session on Saturday. Also capturing my fascination from the midwest included: The Covey's strong Belgian ale called Predicament (okay, not really midwest I suppose) and Piece Brewery's Top Heavy Hefe (they won silver for a German Wheat). Then, as if the midwest, plains, etc. hadn't already stood out, I then ran into a solid lineup from Goose Island's brewpub and production plant. Matilda (duh, I suppose most would say), a 5% brown called Naughty Goose, and a very nice La Petite Saison. Still trying to figure out how these guys only took home one medal. One of the most interesting beers that I tried to dissect was New Holland's CharkootaRye, a hopefully-not one-off doppelbock with smoked malted barley and rye. Lastly, from the midwest, I was glad to pick up on the oatmeal stout and American wheat from Gella's Diner, yes you read that correctly, Gella's Diner in Kansas before their medals were awarded. These were both medal winners, and without a doubt deservedly so. As a matter of fact, this was the second time across the stage for the oatmeal stout, previously a silver in 2005. Thursday night was a lot of fun as well because of the Philadelphia contingent (and bandwagon hangers-on) around the Coors table. While some sipped Prohibition Lager from Coors, and liked it, we all reveled in the Phillies game 1 victory over the Dodgers. This will certainly be a significant memory of mine of the Phillies 2008 World Series voyage. Thursday night was rowdier than I was prepared for. Past attendees had warned me of the sophomoric nature of the Friday and Saturday night crowds (going so far as to recommend skipping Saturday night). But, it was barely an hour into the Thursday night session when I witnessed glasses being knocked out people's hands, running through the crowds, and a general energy level that kept my guard up throughout the session. Saturday night was a similar experience, though not that much markedly different. Not a problem, so much, just an observation... But, on a much more positive note, can someone please remind me who came up to me on the festival floor with a half-ounce of Utopias? I need to say thank you once again! This was my third run-in ever with this beer and I haven't tired of it yet. Another one of these off site events came to us after leaving session #1. I'd known that the Rock Bottom (just a few blocks from the Convention Center and conveniently along the walk to LoDo) was planning several events during GABF, but never really put them on my radar. I'd just figured that we'd eventually stop in there and see if they're doing the decent quality Rock Bottom beer that I'm accustomed to at my local King of Prussia outpost. Here, with the proper credentials (thanks again, Iron Hill, for ours), we could get into a private sidewalk patio, a buffet line of food, and a choice of two different beers in a commemorative mug/stein. Frivolity ensued as one might expect. I've written about Michael "Mufasa" Ferguson (from BJs) before and it didn't take long for me to recognize him. We struck up a conversation for a while about various topics, but as expected settled on the extract versus all-grain homebrewing debate for a little while. More importantly though, my takeaway was that there may be no two other men in brewing with as distinctive of voices as Ferguson and Lew Bryson....maybe Jim Koch too, but definitely Mufasa and Lew. Friday we made a day trip to Boulder. It turned out to be a cool, breezy day so we cruised through some shops and walked along Pearl Street, doing a bit of brewer spotting along the way. Then the decision to grab lunch was between the BJs (on Pearl Street) and Boulder Brewing (a bit of a drive from Pearl Street) or a visit to Avery. Then there was Mountain Sun. I'd heard of them before, knew they were in Colorado, but never put the proverbial two and two together to think to look them up in Boulder. Okay, they were actually on my list, I just overlooked them. But, boy, I'm glad we decided to stop in. We fed the meter a bit more and off we went for a quick lunch and some very generous samples of some very good beer. One of my first reactions to Mountain Sun was the similarity to Magnolia in San Francisco. Similar in the way of the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and the whole laid back and psychedelic vibe of the 70s. And, the people? Super nice. The team concept in waiting on tables is perfect. Anyone on the floor staff might stop by to take an order, check in on our happiness, or clear the table. The head brewer even stopped by just to make sure that everything was going okay for us. Being that it was my cynical day off, I determined that this is something that happens year-round, not just when industry folk are in the region for GABF every autumn. And the beer? Well, not too shabby in that regard either. Six samples that looked to be around five ounces for $9.25. Great deal, especially considering that a couple other samples were thrown in gratis...simply because we showed an interest in them. Good thing we were planning to share the samplers; it was more than enough for the two of us. The amber (well-balanced malty brew), the Colorado Kind (great hop bitterness), the IPA (well-balanced IPA, hops first), the Java Porter (perfect undertones of coffee) were just four of what were all very well-done beers. Even the lightest of the bunch, the Golden, would be a perfectly fine session-y type of beer that delivered enough, but not too much, flavor. All of these beers and a solid spicy, chicken burrito was the perfect way to begin our day before heading back into Denver to prepare for the Friday evening session. Along the way to the Friday night session, we paid a visit to the Philly Beer Week promotional event at The Corner Office. A bunch of Philly regional beers were being poured for dozens of industry folk from around the country. Not a bad, the game 2 of the NLCS was on, so we once again got a chance to show off our great beer and great baseball team. I attended roughly half of Friday's session since we had made plans to meet up with college friends that we hadn't seen in years. I spent a bit more time in the Plains region, but also made sure to get to some of the West Coast and Pacific Northwest breweries that I don't see often enough on the East Coast. From the northwest, a very nice organic tree hugger porter from Oregon's Laurelwood (who took gold for a Munich Helles) captured my attention with its slightly roasty flavor. From the west coast, it was impossible to get past the Lost Abbey table where Isabelle and Angel's Share (boozy, woody, yet smooth and seductive) captured my attention for multiple pours, oh yes, multiple pours. Had one Hop 15 sample as well; it won bronze the next day. Ran into James and Andy again here; this time they were "off the clock." :) Also in this region, I couldn't pass up the still perfect Moylan's Hopsickle, a newfound oatmeal stout favorite (and bronze winner) from Schooner's, and a bronze-winning Russian Imperial Stout from TAPS in Brea, CA. I also hung for a bit at the back stage listening to a couple members of the Brett Pack (Calagione, Cilurzo), Ron Jeffries of Jolly Pumpkin, and Don Russell (aka Joe Sixpack) discuss the merits of "exotic brewing." I poured Iron Hill beer for a while; man, the buzz around Iron Hill was palpable and this was before they won any of their six 2008 awards. Then, it was off to meet our friends for drinks at the Canadian-based Earl's and Marlowe's. After a few hours and a few Odell beers, we headed back to the hotel. We'd thought of catching up with the Iron Hill party which was just breaking up around 1:30am, but we took the conservative route. Saturday was the motherload of the day that would test our capacity. Up early enough in the morning to pay a breakfast visit to Dixon's, which came highly recommended from Big Dan...and we can pass that recommendation on down the line. We did a bit of reorganizing and packing prior to leaving for the 12pm start of the afternoon, members-only session back at the convention center. The lines were once again snaking around the block. With the awards ceremony starting around 1pm, we had a bit of time to cruise around for some samples before getting a spot to view the ceremony. We also stopped in to the Draft Magazine hospitality room for some grub and Ommegang beer (Rare Vos and Witte, thank you!). We had the pleasure of running into Zane Lamprey of Three Sheets fame (Pleepleus did not come along on the GABF trip) and spent 20-30 minutes chatting about things (mostly) drinking related. Good times, great down-to-earth and fun guy...exactly who we imagined him to be. The awards ceremony was also exactly as I imagined. At first I thought I may watch a few category presentations, grab some beer samples, perhaps ducking in and out during the course of the ceremony. But, I was so caught up in watching the presentations and the camaraderie amongst brewers. What seemed most genuine was the support that fellow brewers showed for each other, applauding the awards that they missed out on as well as applauding the awards that went to the "big boys." Most pleasing, of course, was watching brewers from the home turf walking across the stage. Whether it was the Iron Hill crew for the umpteenth time or the Flying Fish boys for the first, the "Delaware Valley" region represented very well. You can get a look at all of the medals awarded over at the Brewers Association's website. (If you'd like to get a more intimate look at the judging process, check out the brewers blog over at Flossmoor Station.) After a couple of hours of an empty glass, I headed back out to the tasting floor to discover an understandable run on most of the medal winners. We headed out just prior to the end of this session to grab some dinner a few blocks away at Appaloosa Grill. Another good base set, along with some Great Divide Hades and Deschutes Black Butte, and we were set to return for one last session at the convention center. We had ninety minutes of pouring to do for Iron Hill during the evening session. Once again, especially now more than ever during the four sessions, the Iron Hill beer was in high demand. The post-awards buzz had certainly circulated with a constant crush of party people lining up for a taste of whatever was still remaining on the table. Before we did our pouring, we did one last tour through the tasting floor looking for beers and breweries that had still yet escaped our reach. We also stopped in to see Carolyn Smagalski and Chuck Skypeck putting on a cooking demonstration (with beer, of course), wandered through the book stalls, gazed longingly at the chair massage station, and checked out some of the more unique and interesting merchandise being sold (ex-Mormons, Beer Bottle Nightlights, Beer Clothing Co., just to name a few). Once our pouring was finished, we took off to get a couple hour headstart on the rest of the party by getting to Falling Rock Tap House one last time to secure some elbow space before the crush came calling from the convention center. And, what an after party it was. First of all, to see all of the brewing, ownership, and other industry-related talent gathered in one space is staggering. Then, watching everyone who worked so hard to organize the events and participate in the festival finally let their hair down (though, you could argue that some certainly had their hair let down all week long!) was also quite the scene. And, that's probably where the Saturday night story should end ;-) The FINAL T.U.D.? At the airport, of course. While we didn't take the time to get a beer at Timberline Steakhouse on our way in from Philly, it seemed only appropriate, since we had the time to spare, to stop for lunch and one final T.U.D. What was it, you ask? A simple beer...Stone IPA, heheh. And, with that, our time in Colorado came to a close. (By the way, if you'd like to see the amazing lineup that is typical at this atypical airport bar, plus many many more airports around the world, check out Lesson Learned? You can certainly get as much or as little out of a GABF experience as you can handle. Sure, you can go balls to the wall, drinking nonstop and let the chips fall where they may. Or, you can pick and choose and take a more cautious approach. Either way you go, it's difficult to imagine not having a great time. With so much to choose from, you're a winner no matter how you go. And don't forget the picture links below, if you haven't checked them out in the past. People Pictures Brewery Pictures GABF Awards Ceremony Pictures Scenery and Nature Pictures Miscellaneous Beer Pictures (aka whatever's left)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Drafting Room Beer Dinner 11/11/08: Sierra Nevada

The Worst Brew Lounge Effort Ever. Cut right to the chase, I forgot my camera. This sort of thing bothers me. Mostly because as much as I'm sure that you read and hang on every word (ha!), I know that some of you stop by just for the pictures.

Well, maybe I can make up for it with my well-manicured prose and that this time you really will read just for the words. This was actually my first sit-down beer dinner ever at The Drafting Room, in Exton, PA...and I sense that it will be the beginning of a new trend.

I've been to plenty of beer events at TDR, just never any of the sit-down dinner variety. This dinner was pulled of quite nicely. Four courses, four beers (actually six), 60 people, in two hours. It doesn't hurt that Sierra Nevada's representative, Patrick Mullin, can work a crowd with the greatest of ease.

After casually being served our Southern Hemisphere welcome beer along with the bite-size appetizers, the mingling in the main dining room came to an end and everyone settled into their seats. The grilled St. Andre cheese with blueberries was served next along with the Chico Estate Harvest IPA (one of three kegs in Pennsylvania, if I heard correctly). This beer, tough call, but I'd say was my favorite of the evening. There was a unique earthy flavor that I never got around to discussing with Patrick.

That's when Patrick introduced himself to the packed room and got started on the history of Sierra Nevada and even wandered down the history of beer road all the way back to Pliny the Elder himself. It took all of about 30 seconds for Patrick to have the crowd toasting, laughing, and applauding.

Which reminds me...the last sit-down, "lectured" event that Patty and I attended was a wine tasting at Morton's. Lovely wine and all. But, the stuffy crowd? bleh. Last night at TDR, tables for six and eight patrons were scattered around the room, ensuring that strangers were bound to sit together, just as at our wine-tasting event at Morton's. The biggest difference was that at TDR, the attendees genuinely and outwardly appeared to be enjoying themselves. I have little doubt that the winos were enjoying themselves as well, but it just seems that they've been trained to not effusively show it. It took going with two others from Morton's to Monk's Café to find out that they had some real personality.

Okay, enough wine-bashing for today. (And, this is coming from someone who really, really enjoys wine....but, let's save the rest of that conversation for another day.) Back to beer...Then, we hit the jackpot. Three years of Harvest Ale (aka Yakima) were presented to us with the lamb entrée. Not three, or five, or 6 ounces...but, ten ounces each. Yikes. Any sign of palate fatigue from twenty ounces of hops assault that wasn't already being experienced was sure to set in after this course, right? Well, sort of. Sixty ounces of hop perfection was the total tally of hops intake by the end of the evening, but remember that this was certain to be a night of hops education.

Tasting the Southern Hemisphere next to the Chico(s) and next to the three vintages of Wet Harvest ales (2006, 2007, and 2008) was a study in different levels of spicy, citrusy, piney, and earthy aromas and flavors. For the record, at least in my book, the 2006 was the most balanced fresh hop treat, the 2008 gave the biggest hop punch, and the 2007 left the smallest impression on me.

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the dessert. Yes, we can put this in the books as a successful beer dinner because it passed the final test...the last course of the night. The bread pudding was just as you'd expect it should be. Delicately doughy and tantalizingly sweet. Ordinarily, I may not have wished to pair this with an IPA, but on this night with Sierra Nevada in the house, it just seemed right.

All of these beers were pouring from 1/2 barrels, so you should still be able to find them at The Drafting Room for at least a short bit longer. Kudos to the front of the house service (table staff as well as bar staff led by Heather Higgins and Sean MeGettigan) and the kitchen staff led by Chef Theo Charitos; they sold me on their beer dinners (not that I'm surprised) and I'll be sure to return for the next one.

I'm leaving you here with the menu and then the worst pictures (from cell phone) in the history of The Brew Lounge. I'm sharing them with you because in case Patrick needed an alibi for last night, this picture does nothing if not prove that he was there. Plus, I think he might prefer the picture this way ;-)

~ Gun Powder Tea Smoked Buffalo Hanger Steak, Goat Cheese Polenta Crisp, Oven Dried Tomato, with Black Pepper & Roasted Shallot Aioli served with: Southern Hemisphere
~ Blackened St. André Cheese, Agave Peach Gastrique, Ciabatta Crostini, with IPA Macerated Blueberries served with: Chico Estate Harvest Ale
~ Mint and Pecan Pesto Lamb Loin, Fingerling Potato “Risotto,” Shaved Balsamic Brussels Sprouts, with charred Lemon Oil Drizzle served with: Harvest Ale 2006, 2007, and 2008
~ Maple Toasted Almond Brioche Bread Pudding, with Sierra Nevada Porter Syrup and Caramelized Apples served with: Chico IPA

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another Beer Dinner date change

Seats still remain at Molly Maguire's in Phoenixville, PA. The New Holland Beer Dinner date was moved from tonight to next Wednesday the 19th due to a conflict with a local dinner event tonight in Phoenixville. This should be a great location for getting to better know the beers of New Holland Brewing from Michigan. Here's one beer that won't be on the menu: a Doppelbock with smoked barley and rye. I had it at GABF and it blew me away; would love to have it again someday, but it was a one-off, so who knows... But, with 5 courses paired with the likes of the following beers, it sounds like a winner winner beer dinner. It's the week prior to the Philly Marathon and I'll be on my self-imposed wagon or I'd be there with my bib on. Plus, Dr. Joel will be in charge (at least of the beer)... Welcome Beer: Sundog Amber Ale Amuse: Toasted Black Bread w/ Smoked Salmon and Dill Cream Cheese Ichabod Pumpkin Ale Appetizer: Butternut Squash Ravioli w/ Tahitian Vanilla Bean Cream Golden Cap Saison Ale Salad: Rocket w/ Black Mission Figs and Bleu Cheese Crumbles Poet Oatmeal Stout Entrée: Braised Corned Beef and Cabbage w/ Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes Mad Hatter IPA Dessert: Double Chocolate Brownie w/ Fresh Raspberry Sauce Dragon’s Milk Ale Call the pub at (610) 933-9550 for Tickets; $45.00 (including Tax and Gratuity)

Next UBW Beer Dinner, like a Dungeon Dragon

About as adventurous as I've seen the Rupps get with a beer dinner comes up on Tuesday December 9th, 2008 at Union Barrel Works in Adamstown, PA. The menu details follow... ~ Appetizer ~ Fried Python with a Chipotle Remoulade Paired with Kölsch ~ Soup ~ Lion Stew Paired with Lager ~ Interim ~ Alligator Jambalaya Paired with Pale Ale ~ Pre-Entrée ~ Grilled Marinated Mako Shark Skewers Paired with Dubbel U ~ Entrée ~ Bear Meatloaf & Bear Roast with Gravy & Mashed Potatoes Paired with Wobbly Bob ~ Pre-Dessert ~ Cranberry Vanilla Blonde Bock Sorbet Paired with Blonde Bock ~ Dessert ~ Chocolate Raspberry Soufflé Paired with Round Boy Stout Price per person ~ $40.00 + tax and gratuity Reservation required – 717-335-7837 - Seating at 6:30pm Note: 3 glasses of wine may be substituted for Beer Please indicate when making reservation

Beer Dinner Cancelled Tonight at The Belgian Café

The High & Mighty beer dinner at The Belgian Cafe has been cancelled tonight due to illness. No rescheduling details are available as of yet.

The Twelve Years of Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh, PA

The kitchen and brewhouse at the Church in Pittsburgh, PA are always turning out something just a bit different than the mainstream. To point, they're celebrating twelve years and rolling out some interesting beers and food items. Looks as if the party rolls on 'til next Sunday.
To help relive the memories of the last 12 years, the CBW is featuring old menu favorites from the past including Rattlesnake & Cactus Pierogies and Southwestern Pizza! (menu available after 4:00PM) Specialty Brews (subject to change) MM Double Amarillo Black Ale ThunderHop I.P.A. Oktoberfest Bell Tower Brown Ale

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Goose is Loose

I promise that I wouldn't continue to pass along these Blind Tiger events if I didn't think they're were entirely worth your while.
When I got this list... Well, let's say my jaw is still dropped... This Wednesday Nov. 12th at 4:00PM, we are very proud to be hosting our dear friends from Goose Island Brewing Company. Here is the list: Session Sour Brown Session Saison "Clausenii" Session Saison "Lacto" Session Saison "Lambicus" Cerveza de Juerez Pappy Van Sherry Red Felt Doppelbock Wil's Saison Schwartz Bier Blue Czar Debbie’s Little Helper 2008 Bourbon County Stout Organic Pale Ale Matilda de Bois Brian's Saison Honkers Ale India Pale Ale (IPA) Nut Brown Oatmeal Stout Harvest Ale Pere Jacques Matilda 312 Mild Winter 2008 Juliet Maybe with a few other treats...if we have room! Yeah, this is going to be killer! Be sure to thank Greg Hall when you see him... Also, let it be known VSK (Very Special Keg) will be Wednesday Nov. 19th at 4:00PM... It's going to be amazing, so get ready!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

We Ran so Fast, We Ran Through the Rain

And, we ran so fast, we didn't get as wet as if we'd run slower ;-) A Few Light Showers. Please define 'Light'. 7 runners and 8 cyclists gathered outside General Lafayette Inn & Brewery on Saturday. I considered this a great turnout given only 4 days notice and a chance of rain. It wasn't raining at the time. But with only light showers forecasted and half our run being under a canopy of autumn colors, how bad could it be?...asks the fool. Plus, running or biking in a light drizzle can actually be pleasant. Not so pleasant were the occasional downpours that we ran through. Nonetheless, everyone seemed pleased with the route, their run, and more importantly the beer and food that awaited us at the Tiedhouse in Fairmount. I'll have more to come on the Tiedhouse in the near future. From a few hours spent there this weekend and a look at the food and drink menu, I can tell that it's just one more reason for me to miss living in the Fairmount neighborhood. If you didn't catch the upper-case shouting below, the Brewmasters Breakfast Bowl on the new weekend brunch menu (we were the first brunch customers in Tiedhouse history) is the perfect after-race meal. In the meantime, you should make your own visit there and tell me what you think. There's a very good chance that I'll be hosting, but no paying for, a post-marathon luncheon at the Tiedhouse on 11/23. You'll all be the first to know if this will happen.
(The General's proprietor, Chris Leonard, lays out the route for Matt, Greg, Jay, Courtney, and Bree)
(Is this a race?)
(Refueling is key)
Fresh Beer from The General and some of the best stuff not from The General

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Sleigh Bells Ring, What are you Drinking?

Three upcoming events have me looking forward to the most wonderful time of the year in the month of December. I'm working to have the full December calendar up here at The Brew Lounge sooner than I normally would so that you have plenty of time for planning this usually hectic month. First up on the 5th of December we have the Winter Beer Festival at the Cliveden historical property in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. This was a significant location during the Revolutionary War (I love the east coast for its historical significance...around virtually every corner). The choice of this location seems just brilliant. Put great beer on display in a historically significant location and raise money for charity (in this case, the preservation of this historic site) at the same time. All details are not yet available yet, so keep an eye on the website for details as they develop. The following day is shaping up to be a wonderful day in Paoli, approx. 25 miles west of Philly. TJs is one of the day-in and day-out standard bearers of food and beer in the Delaware Valley. The Millers are celebrating their 5th year anniversary (hard to believe) with what so far is looking like an incredible lineup of great beer. And, if that was not enough, Sly Fox is rolling out an anniversary beer for them. Oh, let's make it four events, what the hey. While we're on beer and food, I'd be remiss in not mentioning Monk's annual holiday dinner on the 16th. Of course, this dinner was sold out within an hour of when reservations were being taken. My recommendation is to call and hope for a cancellation or put this on your calendar for next year. Always one of the best beer dinner extravaganzas of the year. Once the two day afterburn of Christmas (and five days after Hanukkah) has passed and you're ready to head back out on the festival trail, be ready for a date in the Philly region that I believe beer lovers will want on their calendars. Don Russell will be leading the sleigh ride through Christmas Beers, Winter Warmers, and the like at the University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. While there, you'll also be able get a signed copy of Don's latest book, Wishing You A Merry Christmas Beer, which I just received a preview copy of, to run down some of the better beers that should be in your cooler this winter season. I'll be back later with some highlights from the book. Check your list and check it twice. If at least one of these events is not on your December Beer Calendar, you must have been a bad person this year.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The General to The Tiedhouse: We Run Tomorrow

Don't forget, you don't need to RSVP. Just show up at the General Lafayette tomorrow morning between 9:30-10:00 for a 10:15 departure. Again, this is not a race and runners and cyclists alike are welcome to join in for this autumn roll down the Wissahickon and Schuylkill. RAIN OR SHINE! If you'd like a sneak peek at our scenic route that we'll be taking, check it out over here.

Beer Run this Saturday

Come join Chris Leonard of General Lafayette and me on a 13.1 mile run from Lafayette Hill to Philadelphia's home of the new Tiedhouse. He and I could both use a lift as we come down the homestretch of preparation for the Philadelphia Marathon on 11/23. Run it or Bike it. It's one of the most beautiful routes through the Philly region into the heart of the city with...wait for and brunch awaiting us at the's the tap list as of earlier this week. The official details follow below. It may be short notice, but you've gotta get outside for some exercise anyways, right?!
Saturday, November 8, 2008; meet @ 9:30am; leave @ 10:15am > Start: General Lafayette Inn & Brewery; 646 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, PA > End: Tiedhouse; 2001 Hamilton Street, Philadelphia, PA * One hydration station will be located roughly at the midpoint of the route * Transportation will not be provided back to Lafayette Hill; but, contact for possible carpooling options This is not a sanctioned or sponsored race event; you will run at your own risk. However, to get your first round free at the new Tiedhouse gastropub in Philly, you'll need to show up at The General Lafayette and run or bike 13.1 miles along one of the most scenic routes in the Philly area. This coming Saturday, come meet in Lafayette Hill, PA at The General Lafayette at 9:30am for a prompt 10:15am departure down along Forbidden Drive, Wissahickon Creek, and Kelly Drive into the Fairmount Section of Philly and the new Tiedhouse restaurant. Your first beer will be on the house; there may even be prizes. But, you must have first run or biked from The General Lafayette. Whether you're in the tapering stage leading up to the Philly Marathon on 11/23 or simply looking for some exercise with fellow beer lovers, this couldn't be a more appropriate run to do this coming weekend. Plus, the weather forecast looks great for a beautiful autumn run. For more information or with questions, contact

GABF 2008---reminder to git 'er done

Looks as if James Spencer & Andy Sparks have got their GABF wrap-up out there and it reminded me that I still had parts 3, 4, and 5 to put out there for you. Lots of distractions lately. So, I promise to have this out to you on Monday and it'll be a doozy for sure. I'll wrap it all up in one ultra-long part 3 that will put this year's GABF to bed once and for all. Then we can all move on. In the meantime, check out Basic Brewing's video wrap-up. James puts out one of the best, in my opinion, homebrewing related podcasts and it should be on the short list of resources for every homebrewer. And I'm not just saying this because I have a short interview in it. It'd be even better without me in it.

Tap List at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA - 11/6/08

What's on tap at The Drafting Room in Exton, PA as of 11/6/2008?

Allagash Triple
Atwater Block Vanilla Java Porter
Bell's Best Brown
Biere du Boucanier Golden
Founders Backwards Bastard
Kira Belgian White
Peak Organic Nut Brown Ale
Roy Pitz Truly Honest Ale
Sly Fox Perle IPA
Sly Fox 113 IPA (hand cask)
Sly Fox O'Reilly's Stout
Two Brothers Cane & Ebel Red Rye Ale
Legacy Midnight Wit
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Lindemans Framboise
Amstel Light

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Can they Can because they Can? News from 21st Amendment

A few weeks back, I once again bumped my love for running up against my love for that I finished my office work, changed into running clothes, made an hour long run home, and participated in my first ever beer-related webcast. It was conducted by Campbell Consulting on behalf of 21st Amendment Brewery in downtown San Francisco, CA, just a few short blocks from AT&T Park (some of you might "get" that reference). Nico Freccia and Shaun O'Sullivan led the conversation between themselves and a dozen or so of what I figured were beer-related public relations, publishers, writers, bloggers, and the like...I knew some, but not all, of the participants. In other words, people that can help get the word out about the 21A's approach to canned beer. In fact, you can check out the Draft Magazine review over at their site. 21st Amendment, if you haven't heard of the brewery, is growing rapidly. Their canning operation is a partnership with Cold Spring in Minnesota, where Shaun has personally made many trips to ensure quality control over the end product. The beer from 21A can easily be found around the San Francisco Bay Area at better beer bars and retail outlets. By end of year, they're planning to be found in Sacramento and Lake Tahoe as well. Promises to come to the East Coast (for more than a Monk's dinner!) are still hoping to be honored. Canning in a more geographically-convenient location like Minnesota is central to these growth plans. Putting their product into these water-based polymer coated cans is instrumental to ensuring that the beer tastes as it's supposed to. Currently the 'Brew Free or Die IPA' and the 'Hell or High Watermelon Wheat' are the two brands available in cans. They'd like to do their annual Holiday Spice beer in cans, though likely not in time for this year's ski season or swinging holiday parties. Though, on the holiday note (and as a plug), the brewery plans to host a party on 12/5 which will include a pre-prohibition lager that they've been working on. Sounds like a significant departure from many of their current and past styles. What better approach to then do this webcast thing than to get some of said product into the hands of the participants? The package arrived around a week prior to the webcast; plenty of time to chill down the cans of Watermelon Wheat and IPA. So, within approximately 7 minutes of finishing my run, I chugged two tall glasses of water, then poured the can of the 21A's newly-branded Hell or High Watermelon Wheat. The name is as far as they took change. Otherwise, it's still the same as when I first got to know it as one of my favorite summertime, thirst-quenching beers. A good wheat beer, with just a hint of watermelon rind; very nicely done. After a review of the company and some brewing notes about the Watermelon Wheat, Nico and Shaun instructed us to dive into the IPA. They didn't have to ask twice. From the second I popped the top, the hops made their way up to my face; this is an IPA. I wouldn't say "crazy IPA"..."west coast IPA"...or anything like that. Just a well-made, balanced IPA. Perhaps in that case it's not a "west coast IPA?" Throughout the almost sixty minute session (not to be confused with sixty minute IPA), I didn't learn a whole lot that I didn't already know about 21st Amendment or canned beer. I could tell for sure that there were others in the audience who had not previously had the 21A's beer or didn't know a whole lot about them. On the other hand, I did get the rare chance to drink 21st Amendment beer in my east coast home and experience a beer webcast. Hopefully, other breweries will begin to take advantage of this technology in order to get their name, product, and message out there. I lead and participate in webcasts every week in my "day job" and it's nice to join these "webeerinars" from industry folks like those at 21st Amendment. Oh, and the question about canned craft beer in vending machines? Priceless...and ingenious. But, admittedly, not likely. ...Canning good beer is not exactly new, but something that many beer drinkers are just discovering. An article over at highlights what other breweries like Sly Fox, Oskar Blues, Surly, and New Belgium are putting in these much-improved cans. If you haven't had a can of beer lately, do yourself a favor and get one from a brewery near you. The ones mentioned above are regional breweries, guaranteeing that there's probably some craft beer in a can being made near you.