Friday, July 30, 2010

On the Road to Ommegang BCTC '10

Off to Ommegang. IF the weather forecast means anything, this could shape up to be one of the best years ever. If you're not heading into Cooperstown and want to see a little of what we'll be up to, head over to this link for more than you probably want to know. And, if so, let us know what you'll be doing around your hometown instead. High-Low-Chance of Rain Fri Jul 30 Mostly Sunny 73° 47° 30% Sat Jul 31 Mostly Sunny 76° 53° 0% Sun Aug 1 Scattered T-Storms 75° 58° 10% (Past Reviews of Ommegang BCTCs)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: July 29th-August 4th

Stay cool, drink plenty of liquids, relax, and a have a great beer at any of the following events around the Philly area. Or, I'll be seeing some of you at Ommegang's BCTC this weekend, I'm sure. Check out the entire August 2010 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. Some sampling, some free, some PAYG @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/30 - Beer Sampling (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples of Sly Fox) @Pickering Creek Inn, Phoenixville, PA--- Thu. 7/29 - Craft Brew Night (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG for beers from Ballast Point & Coronado) @Triumph, Princeton, NJ--- Wed. 8/4 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (6:00pm; PAYG for a beer still TBD) A couple of cask tastings as well @Brew Works on the Green, Allentown, PA--- Mon. 8/2 - Cask Night on the Green (5:00pm; PAYG for the new Blueberry Cobbler) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA--- Fri. 7/30 - Cask Night (5:00pm; PAYG for Sixpoint Righteous & Tröegs Pale Ale) A special visit and collaboration....once in the City and once in the 'Burbs @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA--- Tue. 8/3 - SBS Imports Collaboration Night (6:00pm; PAYG for the debut of the De Proef-Terrapin collaboration called Monstre Rouge, an "imperial Flanders Red Ale") @The Belgian Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 8/4 - SBS Imports Collaboration Night (7:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG for the aforementioned Monstre Rouge) A beer dinner, of course @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA--- Wed. 8/4 - Summer Picnic with Lancaster Brewing Company (7:00pm; $TBA for food and beer from Sixpoint Craft Ales) @Tap and Table, Emmaus, PA--- Tue. 8/3 - Bullfrog Brewery Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $70 for a 5-course meal paired with Rogg-N-Roll, el Diablo Deluxe, Farmhouse Pale Ale, a Cask of a Flemish Sour Ale, and Undead Ed) A beer event with a title that screams out to experienced @The Institute, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/31 - The Institute Sprinkler Room featuring Victory Takes Over the Taps (12:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG for PVC pipes full of water and taps full of Victory's Sunrise Weiss, Whirlwind Wit, Lager, Hop Devil, Donnybrook Stout, and of course, Golden Monkey) And, an event thusfar without a specific date @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA--- August ??? - SourFest 2010 (PAYG for a bunch of mouth-puckering goodness)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Rogue and The Drafting Room

(A Draft List full of Rogues)
A quick stop-in at The Drafting Room this past Saturday night was fortunate enough for us to find just about everything from the day's Rogue/Pacific NW event still available. Though, for the hour that we were there, a handful more of both beers and foods went off the, it must have been a pretty good day of bustling business for this event. Without getting the full experience and not checking the calendar details of the past year, I still can't imagine that The Drafting Room has had a better conceived event in recent months. Not only did they gather up more than a dozen beers covering some of Rogue's more interesting and newer releases, but they lined up some special and appropriate food items as well like oysters, salmon, and cheese from the Pacific Northwest.
(Cheese from the Northwest to accompany beers from the Northwest)
Still not content to let the beer side of the menu get all of the accolades for the day, the kitchen whipped up a few different "shooters" as accompaniments for the oysters ranging from a 'Mignonette' to a 'Oregon Coast' to a 'Tabasco'. On the cheese plate not only were there three cheeses from the Rogue Creamery (chocolate stout cheddar, smoky blue, and rosemary cheddar), but they were served with some crunchy bread, a beer mustard, and a IPA- and peach-based jam.
(And, appropriately, oysters also from the Northwest to accompany beers from the Northwest)
We had a few samples including Mogul (Hoppy), XS YSB (hoppy but yet, to me, more balanced), Somer Orange Honey (refreshingly sweet in a good way), Double Mocha Porter (dryly rich and hoppy, surprisingly good with the heck of a beer), and the John John Juniper (as the name implies, but also not too much so....gin barrel-aged...nice with the rosemary cheddar). Lucky for you, if you missed this fine event, as of yesterday's online tap list, many of these beers are still being served. And, they're being served conveniently in 5 oz. and 10 oz. glasses to make sampling many of them more possible.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Iron Hill gives a History Lesson in West Chester

(Larry Horwitz, on screen and in person)
I was a guest of Iron Hill/West Chester's last week when Larry Horwitz (head brewer) presented a bit of past and present in the world of Wheat Beers at the Chester County Historical Society.
(Iron Hill's Belgian Wit beer awaits the class attendees)
The CCHS building is a local treasure that I'm going to want to explore more on my non-beer time; it appears to be quite a wealth of historical information, artifacts, and resources. Check out its website for more information.
(the crowd gathers with a Welcome Wit and some socializing)
After a Welcome Wit (I made that clever name up, what do you think?) and some socializing amongst the attendees, Josh Barker, Cultural Center Director at the Society, introduced Iron Hill's head brewer, Larry Horwitz, and things got underway.
(Larry works the crowd with humor and wheat beer information)
Approximately 25-30 people (wheat beer fans and curiosity-seekers alike) showed up to sit around banquet tables in the Media Room space and munch on light foods while Horwitz described the beers we were being served. Up first was the Belgian Witbier, followed by the Hefeweizen (modeled after Schneider Brewery's), Weizenbock, and Berliner Weisse.
(four good soldiers, clockwise from bottom left: Berliner Weisse, Hefeweizen, Witbier, and Weizenbock)
Two rounds of light fare was brought over from Iron Hill's restaurant to help soak up some of the beer. Not too light, though, to satisfy a dinner's worth of hunger...considering the 6:30pm start time, this was a good thing. I was seated around a table with four others. Fortunately, it was a social bunch including a Doug, an Erin, an Eric, and a Nicole...and conversation came quite easily. If I could judge their comments accurately, the easy drinking Witbier was a slam dunk winner followed closely by the Hefeweizen. The ABV punch of the Weizenbock might have been too much for the palates of the day's heat and humidity...which could also explain fondness for the Wit.
(Mr. Brew Lounge flanked by Eric, a local Iron Hill regular, and Doug)
In my book, the snappy Berliner Weisse made for a nice conclusion though as a new style to a couple at the table, the jury sounded a bit split on this judgement. And, even though I'm not a fan of adding the (green) woodruff syrup or the (red) raspberry syrup, we all had a bit of fun experimenting with the appropriate amount to add without making the beer too sweet.
(from left to right: woodruff syrup straight up, Berliner Weisse blended, and Berliner Weisse straight up)
Through it all, Larry gave a great rundown of the wheat beers, from Iron Hill's making of to some historical perspective (continuing the emphasis on his man-love for a guy named 'Schneider'). As many of you may know, Larry's not a shy guy and has a great stage presence in the room and an engaging style of speak, peppered with humor. He incorporated a nicely organized slide show of pictures, factoids, and even a bit of video. He erred on the cautious side of giving just the right amount of information in doses that the crowd of mixed backgrounds could handle and steered away from a completely dry dissertation on the history wheat farming. But, just when we might have thought that the night was just about as perfect as expected from Iron Hill, Larry announced a bottle that he dug out to share with us---a magnum of Saison. Slightly funky, somewhat citrus-y tart, and pleasantly this was the perfect ending
(Larry Horwitz and Josh Barker with a surprise beer..the wonderful Saison)
After having one more Berliner Weisse--gotta love those low ABV, refreshing and tasty beers--I headed over to the brewery/restaurant to dip into a glass of the recently-released Hopzilla and to fill up a growler with Dr. Drie. You know what I'm talking about, right? This was a beer that debuted earlier this year with yeasty roots deep at Belgium's Drie Fonteinen and is still as tasty as I remember. (you can find a better description over here at Larry's brewer's blog.) There was also a discussion of fondness for cheap, box wine but fortunately for Larry, I've destroyed those notes. If you missed the first two classes of this interesting and informative Series, the next installment takes place later in September when the theme will be "Grape versus Grain" and their parallels and intersections.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Beer Calendar: What To Do in August 2010

If August typically brings the 'dog days' of summer...then what the heck was July? In any case, the beer event calendar keeps on churnin' out some great-looking events. Here are some of them in and around Philly. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. $20 and under, down to and including FREE...Pay As You Go (PAYG) also included here Philadelphia Sat. 7/31 - The Institute Sprinkler Room featuring Victory Takes Over the Taps @The Institute, Philadelphia, PA (12:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Mon. 8/2-Sat. 8/7 - Shark Week @Resurrection Ale House, Philadelphia, PA (various specials all week long) Tue. 8/3 - $2 All Drafts @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA (12:00pm-2:00pm; PAYG) Tue. 8/3 - Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA Special @Resurrection Ale House, Philadelphia, PA (12:00pm; $4/8oz.) Wed. 8/4 - SBS Imports Collaboration Night @The Belgian Café, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 8/5 - Russian River mini-event @Resurrection Ale House, Philadelphia, PA (12:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 8/5 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (August's selection: TBD) @Triumph, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 8/5 - Yelp Film Club (featuring Flying Dog) @The Institute, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 8/6 - Beer Sampling (Weyerbacher) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Mon. 8/9 - Mad Monday, 8-9-10 (Allagash) @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (11:30am-???; PAYG) Tue. 8/10 - Double IPA Bottle Day @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA (all day; PAYG) Wed. 8/11 - Great Lakes Sampling @Hawthornes, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; Free) Fri. 8/13 - Beer Sampling (British Ales) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Fri. 8/13 - Lunch for Left Handers Day (with Left Hand Brewing, of course!) @Jose Pistolas, Philadelphia, PA (11:30am; PAYG) Fri. 8/13 - Friday the Firkinteenth @Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA (9:00am; PAYG) Sat. 8/14-Fri. 8/20 - (Tower of) Sour Fest 2010 @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (all day and night; PAYG) Sat. 8/14 - Charlie and the Sausage Factory (featuring smoked beer) @The Institute, Philadelphia, PA (2:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 8/14 - Saison Brunch @Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA (11:00am-3:30pm; PAYG) Tue. 8/17 - 25% off all Vintage Bottles @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA (all day; PAYG) Fri. 8/20 - Beer Sampling (California Drinking) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Tue. 8/24 - Saison Bottle Day @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA (all day; PAYG) Thu. 8/26 - Duvel, Ommegang, Drinking, Tasting, and Stuff @The Belgian Café, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 8/27 - Hand Pump Launch (Sly Fox) @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 8/27 - Beer Sampling (Flying Fish) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Sat. 8/28 - New Holland tap take -over: The Boys of Summer NG vs. OG @The Institute, Philadelphia, PA (8:00pm-12:00am; PAYG) Sun. 8/29 - 3rd Anniversary Party @Jose Pistolas, Philadelphia, PA (all day; PAYG) Tue. 8/31 - Lambic Day @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA (all day; PAYG) Philadelphia's close suburbs Tue. 8/3 - SBS Imports Collaboration Night @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 8/6 - Incubus Friday @Sly Fox, Phoenixville & Royersford, PA (all day; PAYG) Fri. 8/6-Sun. 8/8 - Phoenixville Grand Opening @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (all weekend;, beer, live music) Wed. 8/11 - Keg Tapping (Brew Works Epiphany) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (all day; PAYG) Thu. 8/12 - Craft Brew Night (New Holland) @Pickering Creek Inn, Phoenixville, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 8/12 - Brewery Promo Night (Prism Brewing Co.) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; Free) Fri. 8/13 - Friday Night Tasting (Brooklyn Brewery) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Tue. 8/17 - Pennsylvania Micro and Nano Breweries Day @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (PAYG) Thu. 8/19 - Bocce and Beer @Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Wilmington, DE (7:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 8/19 - Blues Brews 'n' BBQ @Ron's Original, Exton, PA (PAYG) Thu. 8/19 - Bocce and Beer @Iron Hill Brewery, Wilmington, DE (7:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 8/20 - Friday Night Sampling (Yards) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free) Fri. 8/20 - Friday Night Tasting (Samuel Adams Preference Tasting) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Fri. 8/20-Sun. 8/22 - 6th Anniversary Weekend of Events @High Street Grill, Mount Holly, NJ (PAYG) Wed. 8/25 - Keg Tapping (Bear Republic Racer X) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (all day; PAYG) Thu. 8/26 - Craft Brew Night (Belgian Brew Lineup) @Pickering Creek Inn, Phoenixville, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 8/27 - Great Lakes Oktoberfest Debut @TJs, Paoli, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Fri. 7/30 - Cask Night (Sixpoint Righteous & Tröegs Pale Ale) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Mon. 8/2 - Cask Night on the Green (Blueberry Cobbler) @Brew Works on the Green, Allentown, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 8/4 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (August's selection: TBD) @Triumph, Princeton, NJ (6:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 8/6 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (August's selection: TBD) @Triumph, New Hope, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 8/7 - Victory Brew-B-Q @Twinbrook Winery, Gap, PA (12:00pm; Free/PAYG) Wed. 8/18 - Green Flash/St. Feuillien Tasting @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 8/18 - Russian River Night @Craft Ale House, Limerick, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Events Over $20 Philadelphia Fri. 8/6 - Wine & Beer & Chocolate: Decadent Pairings @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $65) Sat. 8/7 & Sat. 8/21 - Craft Beer & Artisanal Cheese Tour @Old City, Philadelphia, PA (3:30pm-5:30pm; $45) Sat. 8/21 - 2nd Annual Phillies Tailgate & Ball Game (MS Fundraiser) @Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA (3:00pm-7:00pm; $30/$50/$55) Thu. 8/26 - Brooklyn Beer Dinner @Chifa, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; $65) RESCHEDULED FOR 1/20/11 Philadelphia's close suburbs Thu. 8/12 - Craft Beer Happy Hour @PJ's Pour House, Westmont, NJ (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 8/21 - Taste Local! Festival @The Desmond Hotel & Conference Center, Malvern, PA (12:00pm-3:30pm; $35/$40) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Tue. 8/3 - Bullfrog Brewery Beer Dinner @Tap and Table, Emmaus, PA (7:00pm; $70) Wed. 8/4 - Summer Picnic with Lancaster Brewing Company (Sixpoint Craft Ales) @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA (7:00pm; $TBA) Thu. 8/5 - Summer Beer Dinner @Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant, Lancaster, PA (7:00pm; $65) Thu. 8/19 - Third Thursday Beer Dinner (Voodoo Brewery) @The Farmhouse, Emmaus, PA (6:30pm; $35) Sat. 8/21 - Bourbon, Brews and Bryson Festival @Allentown Brew Works, Allentown, PA (5:00pm-8:00pm; $25/$45) Sat. 8/28 - Microfest @Stoudt's, Adamstown, PA (12:00pm-4:00pm, 7:00pm-11:00pm; $30)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Stewart's Brewing Company, 15 years: They grow up so fast!

Holy, moly. I, too, thought I was in Stewart's inner circle of distribution lists when Ric Hoffman asked if I knew about their anniversary doings...which began this past Wednesday. NO, I did not! Although, an enterprising youngster like me should have stopped by their website to see if anything new and interesting was going on. So bad on me in that regard... ...and on to the point. Stewart's Brewing of Bear, DE is in the midst of celebrating its 15th anniversary of opening the mashtun door on 7/27/1995. And, here's what they've got cooking here 15 years later in 2010. Other than taking the show on the road, as they typically do, to Ommegang's BCTC event in Cooperstown, NY, back at the fort in Delaware, they've got a bunch of fun stuff going on for us all to enjoy in helping them to celebrate 15 years. Maybe I'll use one of these dates as an excuse to deliver on a long-promised visit.
Wednesday, July 21- Tapping Pilsner & Cask Manchester Friday, July 23- Tapping Honey Summer, Munich Dunkel & '06 Bourbon Barleywine; Cajun cuisine all night and lower case blues at 8:00pm Saturday, July 24- Cajun cuisine all night and Barrel House Blues at 8:00pm Sunday, July 25- Special Off-Season Game Day Trivia from 2:00ish until 7:00ish. Come get your geek on! Monday, July 26- Full moon tonight. (This isn't a band or anything. There just happens to be a full moon.) Tuesday, July 27- Irish fare all night and Chapel Street Junction at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 28- Brewer's Dinner (more info below) Thursday, July 29- Tapping Monk's Revenge Friday, July 30- Tapping Cask Smoked Porter; Irish fare all night Saturday, July 31- Irish fare all night and The Brigade (Irish band) at 8:00 p.m. Finally, we have a menu for the six-course Brewer's Dinner on Wednesday, July 28: -Pilsner; Fried Golden Roma Tomato topped with Broccoli Rabe, Lump Crab and Melted Provolone Cheese -Honey Summer Ale; Arborio-Encrusted Sea Scallops with Julienned Poblano Chilies and a Honey Citrus Glaze -Smoked Dunkelweizen; Cedar Plank-Roasted Salmon with Smoked Salmon Casino Topping, Cherrywood-Smoked Bacon and Lemon Hollandaise -Monk’s Revenge; Butter Lettuce Cups filled with Grilled Pears, Shaved Prosciutto, Julienned Salami and Cranberry Compote with an Abbey Tripel Cranberry Spritz -Dunkel Rico; Roasted Crisp-Skin Duck Breast with Wild Mushroom and Cabbage Bread Pudding and Munich Dunkel Duck Jus -2005 Barleywine; Dark Chocolate Ganache topped with Roquefort Brulée in a Sweet Buttered Tart Shell with Chocolate Stout Crème Anglaise There are still tickets available for $65/person, but seating is limited and by reservation only. Please stop in to purchase your tickets at the bar.

Happy Anniversary at Iron Hill

If we weren't heading in the totally opposite direction today toward Harrisburg, we'd be driving over to Maple Shade to help the good folks of Iron Hill celebrate one year of breaking in to the 'Jersey' market. Congrats to Chris Lapierre and everyone involved. Have fun today!...some great beers, I see. Head over to Beer-Stained Letter for a video and more details. and, at his blog, Chris announces the special beers that will be pouring:
Dark Situation (Cask Conditioned) We set a couple of firkins of this aside after The Situation’s release party and this is the last one left. It’s a blend of The Situation (golden barleywine) and Russian Imperial Stout. The result is a complex marriage of rich, sweet specialty malt character and lots of American hop bitterness and aroma to balance it. 9.8% abv Christmas in July When the holidays were in full swing we filled a used bourbon barrel with our Winter Warmer (a strong dark ale finished with winter spices). It’s been sitting in there soaking up bourbony deliciousness since then. Jeff is kegging it off as we speak. 7.2% abv Vintage English Strong Ale Bold, rich, dark and malty, brewed with molasses and demerara sugar. 7.2% abv Flemish Red Ale Deep red to brown in color, this beer starts off malty, with a bit of caramel character and subtle chocolate notes, then finishes with a refreshing tartness. 5.0% abv LIMITED TAPPING!!! Bourbon Quadfather This one will be tapped at 3 pm, and probably gone by 3:15. Our dark Belgian Strong Ale aged in a used bourbon barrel for four months. Strong, complex malt flavors and yeast fruitiness are complimented by distinct bourbon and vanilla notes, served on nitrogen. 10.2% abv

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ommegang BCTC '10: What's on Tap

Either only 4 of you care about this, or most of you simply saw through my contrived attempt to get a few of you to comment and knew that I would eventually post this up here for you anyway :) In any case, you ask for it every year and Ommegang is glad to oblige via The Brew Lounge. Here is the not-yet-finalized list of attending breweries and their intended beers to pour at next weekend's annual Belgium Comes to Cooperstown event. I have a full list of these beers, complete with descriptions. Instead of putting the full list of descriptions here, I decided to save a little space and put the whole list up instead over at Google Docs. (here's a handy one of those linky things to get you there) There's a bunch of stuff to sift through this weekend as you plan for next weekend. I do a lot of commentary around here; instead, I'm gonna let this one up to you all: What do you think of this preview list? Any surprise omissions or newbies...teasers...expectations...recommendations based on your experience?
Allagash Brewery ~ Allagash White ~ Allagash Larry Artisanal Imports ~ Urthel Saisonnière ~ St. Feuillien Saison ~ La Trappe Isid'or ~ Tripel Karmeliet Bobcat Café & Brewery ~ Saison de Cassis Brooklyn Brewery: TBA Butternuts Beer and Ale ~ Autumn Harvest ~ Trappist Ale Captain Lawrence: TBD Clipper City Brewing Company ~ Heavy Seas Holy Sheet ~ Heavy Seas Yule Tide ~ Heavy Seas Red Sky At Night Custom Brew Crafters Inc ~ CB's signature series "Barry" ~ CB's signature series "Ryan" ~ CB's signature series "Max" ~ CB's signature series "???": TBD D&V International ~ Duchesse De Bourgogne ~ Echt Kriekenbier ~ St. Bernardus Abt 12 ~ St. Bernardus Prior 8 ~ St. Bernardus Pater 6 ~ St. Bernardus Triple ~ St. Bernardus Wit ~ Caracole Nostradamus ~ Caracole Troublette ~ Val-Dieu Triple ~ Buffalo Stout ~ Des Rocs Grand Cru ~ Oud Beersel Framboise Dogfish Head ~ Raison D'etre ~ Festina Peche Flying Bison Brewing Company ~ Rusty Chain ~ Dawn Patrol Gold Global Beer Network ~ Troubadour Blond ~ Troubadour Magma ~ Golden Draak Halftime Beverage ~ Wittekerke Harpoon Brewery/Mass Bay Brewing ~ Chocolate Orange Wit ~ Jed's Pony ~ Belgian Pale Ale Haverhill Brewery ~ Three Graces ~ Seventh Seal ~ Ascension Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant ~ Abbey Dubbel ~ Abbey Tripel ~ Cannibal Keegan Ales ~ Old Capital ~ Mother's Milk ~ Hurricane Kitty Lagunitas Brewing Co ~ A Little Sumpin' Wild ~ Lagunitas IPA Latis ~ Palm ~ Rodenbach ~ Boon Kriek Lawson's Finest Liquids ~ Session in The Rye Magic Hat Brewing Company ~ #9 ~ Wacko Matt Brewing Company/ Saranac/ Lake Placid ~ Saranac Pale Ale ~ Lake Placid UBU Ale Merchant Du Vin ~ Orval ~ Westmalle Dubbel ~ Westmalle Tripel ~ Rochefort 6 ~ Rochefort 10 ~ Lindemans Framboise ~ Lindemans Cuvee Rene ~ Greens Discovery Microbrasserie Charlevoix ~ Dominus Vobiscum Triple ~ Dominus vobiscum Blanche ~ Dominus Vobiscum Double Olde Burnside Brewing ~ Penny Weiz Ale ~ Dirty Penny Ale Six Point Craft Ales: TBD Sly Fox ~ Incubus ~ Ichor ~ Saison Vos ~ Black Raspberry Reserve Southampton Publick House ~ Double White Ale ~ Southampton Saison Deluxe ~ Southampton Saison Brun ~ Southampton ABBOT 12 ~ Southampton Cuvèe des Fleurs Stoudt's Brewing Co. ~ Gold ~ Triple The Bruery ~ Trade Winds Tripel ~ Mischief The Peekskill Brewery ~ Paramount Pale Ale ~ Sour Old Wagon Ale ~ Rosemary's Baby Tröegs Brewing Company ~ Mad Elf ~ Scratch # 29-2010 12% Imports ~ Stateside Saison ~ Valeir Extra ~ Noblesse ~ Finesse ~ Gaverhopke Extra ~ Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout Unibroue ~ Blanche De Chambly ~ Éphémère ~ La Fin du Monde ~ Maudite White Birch Brewing ~ Belgian Style Pale Ale ~ Dubbel ~ Tripel ~ Wrigian ~ Indulgence ~ Barrel Aged Wild Ale Yards Brewing ~ Saison

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ommegang BCTC '10: Wanna start planning your hit list?

In addition to the great beer around all of the campsites at next weekend's BCTC at Ommegang, oh yeah, there'll be a great lineup of beers under the tent on Saturday. Wanna know what the list is? If enough of you let me know in the comments below that you want to know, I just might post the list :)

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: July 22nd-July 28th

As July slowly comes to a close in the hazy, hot, and humid Northeast, we also get no break on the Beer's just that we don't mind the latter as much. Plenty of good things to keep you interested and hydrated. Many of you are heading to Ommegang's annual BCTC in another week, hope your planning is all coming together nicely. Check out the entire July 2010 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. A little sampling, some free, will get you through the dog days @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA--- Fri. 7/23 - Friday Night Tasting (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free tasting samples of Southampton Publick House's Double White, Alt, IPA, and Keller Pils) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/23 - Beer Sampling (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples of Dogfish Head beers) @High Street Grill, Mount Holly, NJ--- Fri. 7/23 - IPA Challenge (8:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG to win prizes by blind tasting and naming IPAs from Ithaca, Yards, Heavy Seas, Hoptical Illusion, Stone, Lagunitas...and many more) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA--- Thu. 7/22 - Brewery Promo Night (7:00pm-9:00pm; Free tasting samples of Southampton Publick House beers) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA--- Wed. 7/28 - Keg Tapping Wednesday (all day; PAYG for Founders Devil Dancer) And while we all complain about the heat, these guys pedal on... @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/3-Sun. 7/25 - Tour de France (PAYG for Duvel and Ommegang specials and other cycling-related fun) @Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/3-Sun. 7/25 - Tour de France (PAYG for Duvel and Ommegang specials and other cycling-related fun) Where there's food, beer should naturally follow....and vice versa @Bethlehem Brew Works, Bethlehem, PA--- Sun. 7/25 - Arctic Alchemy Brunch (10:00am; $25 for a buffet styled brunch, limited edition Arctic Alchemy T-shirts available for a fundraising purchase, a filming for the Arctic Alchemy Archives with an interview and review of the historic beer, a complimentary sample of Arctic Alchemy Ale to toast the departure, and the send off for the crew's 2,000 Mile journey) @Chifa, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 7/22 - Craft Beer Dinner with Sly Fox (7:00pm; $65 for Four courses of food paired with Royal Weisse, Saison Vos, Rt. 113 IPA, and Incubus) @Restaurant Alba, Malvern, PA--- Sun. 7/25 - Victory Beer Dinner (6:00pm; $65 gets you a Victory Lager upon your arrival and then five courses of food paired with Sunrise Weissbier, Helios Ale, Summer Love Ale, Baltic Thunder Porter, and Storm King Stout) Some events are just a little bit "bigger" than others @Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/24 - Summer Ale Festival (6:30pm-10:00pm; $25/$55/$80 for 19 breweries, 15 food establishments, and music provided by WXPN) @South Philadelphia Tap Room, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/24 - Wheat Beer Fest (12:00pm; PAYG for $3 glasses of around 30 wheat beers from the likes of Allagash, Avery, Ballast Point, Brooklyn Brewery, Cricket Hill Dogfish Head, Dock Street, Great Lakes, Flying Fish, Ithaca, Lancaster Brewing, Manayunk Brewery, Lefthand, Ommegang, Philadelphia Brewing Co., Sierra Nevada, Six Point, Sly Fox, Southern Tier, Stoudt's, Terrapin, Troegs, Twin Lakes, Unibroue, Victory, Weyerbacher, and Yards) @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA--- Sat. 7/24 - Featuring Rogue Brewery (12:00pm; PAYG for a full lineup of Rogue beers including American Amber, Brutal IPA, Captain Sig’s Northwestern (cask-conditioned), Chatoe Rogue Dirtoir Black Lager, Chatoe Single Malt, Double Dead Guy, Double Mocha Porter, Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red, Hazelnut Brown Nectar, John John Juniper, Mocha Porter, Mogul Ale, Rogue Irish Lager, Somer Orange Honey Ale, XS I²PA, XS Imperial Red, XS Vintage Russian Imperial Stout, XS Younger's Special oysters from the West Coast and assorted cheeses from the Rogue Creamery.) Some have music and charity bartenders @Craft Ale House, Limerick, PA--- Mon. 7/26 - Matt Guyer Bartends for Charity (6:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG all day for this Habitat for Humanity fundraiser, or show up between 6pm-9pm when Matt will be bartending. Don't take it easy on him!) @Stoudt's, Adamstown, PA--- Sat. 7/24 - Battle of the Bands (6:00pm; $25 for an open bar, food buffet, and music from 6 brewery bands, including Stoudt's, Tröegs, Homebrew club of Lancaster, Yards, Victory, and Berwick Brewing) And others celebrate anniversaries and newcomers @Capone's, Norristown, PA--- Thu. 7/22 - Hops, Malts, & Hill Farmstead Brewery Debut in PA (beginning at 12:00pm with Meet the Brewer from 7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for a solid lineup of rare and interesting beers like Avery 17th Anniversary, Bear Republic Apex Double IPA, Cigar City Guava Grove Saison, Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA, Dock Street Rye Pale Ale, Great Divide 16th Anniversary, Hill Farmstead Edward Pale Ale, Hill Farmstead Harlan IPA, Ithaca Flower Power, Jolly Pumpkin Luciernaga, Lost Coast Hop Juice Double IPA, Petrus Aged Pale, Port Brewing Summer Pale Ale, Rogue Captain Sig's Deadliest Catch, Voodoo Gran Met, Weyerbacher 15th Anniversary, Young's Double Chocolate Stout, Plus More!) @Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Maple Shade, NJ--- Sat. 7/24 - 1st Anniversary Party (1:00pm-5:00pm; PAYG to help them celebrate with the likes of Dark Situation (Cask), Christmas in July (Bourbon Aged Winter Warmer), Flemish Red, Vintage English Strong Ale, AND a very special, limited pouring of Bourbon Quadfather) Finally, a homebrew-related event to put up here @Pinocchio's, Media, PA--- Sun. 7/25 - All-grain Homebrewing Demonstration (12:00pm; Free/PAYG to help them brew an IPA outside and sample some more inside) Oh, and is this really the only Christmas in July event I could fine? @Pearly Baker's, Easton, PA--- Sat. 7/24 - Christmas in July (PAYG for a special holiday menu complimented by an array of holiday brews including, but not limited to, Corsendonk, Tröegs Mad Elf, & Weyerbacher Merry Monks)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Weekend in the Life of Philly Beer, Part 2

23 pictures in a single post may be a record around here. Perhaps I should have put them up over in Picasa where I normally throw up large batches of pictures. But, I figured with the heat, I didn't want to over-exert you guys more than you needed to be. No need to be breaking a sweat around here, right?!
(another hot one in Philly)
In Part 1 of this mini-series, I mentioned how my own personal weekend began with a killer Friday night of beer, cheese, and good neighbors that took us well into the late night/early morning. No way I'd be up at 7am making coffee and watching Le Tour, now is there? After way too many years of being "programmed" to wake with the roosters (particularly during my teen years of working summers on my uncle's dairy farm and getting up before the roosters...but, that is an entirely different story for yet another day), it just comes naturally. But, awoke I did...watched another thrilling Stage did I....drank down a couple of good cups of coffee before getting ready to head out the door for brunch at Memphis Taproom and shopping at their Handmade Market. Actually, the shopping was more for Patty, but I enjoy least for a little bit. And, then I get hungry, thirsty, and cranky. Perfect entry point for Memphis Taproom, don't you think? Memphis Taproom - With summertime Shore traffic, getting in and out of the City on a Saturday can sometime be more difficult and frustrating than during a weekday rush hour. This was the case as we attempted to head in to the Port Fishington home (Port Richmond, Fishtown, and Kensington as they like to say) of Memphis Taproom. I've lost track, but it may have been the first time this calendar yeat that we've stopped in there. With the Handmade Market being held in the neighboring lot and along the sidewalks, it was a great excuse to make the trip for some Saturday morning Brunch.
(Memphis Taproom and their annual Handmade Market overtakes the side property and spills on to the nearby sidewalks)
If I took a wild guess and said there were 30 vendors of artwork, jewelry, clothing, and whatnot I probably wouldn't be too far off. This seems to be a nicely coordinated event that's gone over well in the neighborhood and it could probably make sense to do this as often as quarterly.
(dog days, and puppy days too for that matter, of summer at Memphis Taproom in Philly's "port fishington")
Something else 'nice' about this visit was the opportunity to see both husband and wife of the Brendan and Leigh ownership team at the same place and at the same time. Er, strike that. They were at the same address, but never sat down actually together to prove that they were, in fact, at the same place at the same time!...ah, the life of a mini-empire ownership team with a third wheel in the baby carrier--no rest!
(Memphis Taproom supports The Session Beer Project)
This turned out to be the perfect first stop of our day. Kibitzing with Leigh, scarfing down breakfast (oops, "Breffis" I should say, right?) kielbasa, eggs, scrapple, potatoes, and "bruncheros", and chased by a very nice cask-conditioned Wells Bombadier Bitter (a perfectly acceptable first beer of the day after a long night of beer the night prior), a Sly Fox Collaboration Brotherly Suds, and a Rodenbach Grand Cru. Yeah, this was going to be a good day. Oh yeah, and a surprise appearance by Mike Fava (brewer, Nodding Head) extended our stay a bit too. Always nice to see these guys away from their place of employment. Devil's Den - Since the drive took almost twice as long as it should have to get to Memphis Taproom and we sauntered around the Handmade Market and chatted a little too leisurely, something was going to have to give in our original plans for bopping around the City on this particular Saturday. It was going to be Devil's Den. Since there was nothing particularly "special" going on at Devil's Den, I felt comfortable giving them the bump. They do, however, have an ongoing contest during the Tour de France, but from the way I understood, it is simply a signup for a giveaway and a few select specials available at all times. Hopefully, can get back there before next Sunday....maybe Brunch with the last day of Le Tour. The Institute - So, at the risk of trying to squeeze too much in, we dropped Devil's Den and headed to The Institute where Charlie and Heather were throwing a provocatively titled event, "Bite Me." I thought it might be a good opportunity to finally dip my palate into The Bruery's Coton. Taking the weather, the driving, and the rest of my day into account, I thought better of this 14.5% ABV beer...And, remembered that the Hulmeville Inn would be serving same the following day. Instead, it was one Founders Red's Rye for the lady, and one Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca for me.
(Waiting for The Institute to open, we noticed something across the street that we hadn't before)
This was a short visit, but a worthy one since it'd been a while since I've last stopped in to The Institute. Was nice to see another ownership duo both onsite that we could casually chat with during our visit. We made the ride back out the Schuylkill Expressway, where the Shore traffic headed home from its week at the Shore was now picking up. Still not as bad as all of the new Shore traffic heading down in the morning.
(just another solid 'A' taplist at The Institute's "Bite Me" event)
Teresa's Next Door - Here was the cornerstone event of that had missed a lot of people's radars. But, logic says that this was not necessarily a bad thing. Of course, TND advertises their events...but, some of them more so than others. This one, called "PBW Recap" was listed, of course, on The Beer Yard's and The Brew Lounge's calendar of events. But, it had missed BeerAdvocate's and Rate Beer's. What that meant was a comfortable crowd in TND's long, narrow space and a lot of beer that was still on their draft list as of yesterday....including all 4 from the Russian River Consecration Vertical.
(how many Consecration Verticals do you think have been spotted outside of Santa Rosa)
Yes, the Consecration Vertical. If you didn't know, now you do. I haven't done any scientific research, but I wondered out loud how many times this type of event has happened outside of Northern California, even outside of Santa Rosa. What's a Consecration Vertical, you may ask? Take 4 draft versions from 4 batches of Consecration and serve them on tap at the same time for folks to sample and attempt to discern differences between them to see how well, or not, they age. This rare event had one each from April '09, September '09, February '10, and June '10 batches. How do you ignore Russian River's Supplication?....Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp Exporter?....Pennichuck's Pozharnik?....Cantillon's Cuvee St. Gilloise (the renamed Cuvee des Champions)?....Charlie & Ken's Imperial Bock?....Allagash's Black out of the firkin?....Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout?....well, it's easy when you're staring at all of the beers on the board at once. Unless you have a driver and an endless thirst for palate-busting beers. Like I said, good thing that many of these are still available as of today. Go check 'em out for yourself. The day finished itself out with neighborhood picnicking and then Late night swimming with Lord Chesterfield. Well, I should say drinking cans of Lord Chesterfield ale and swimming. There, that sounded better! Hulmeville Inn - Sunday brought around what grew by the minutes/hours into one heck of a beer event that on the surface to many may not have sounded like much. "Philly Beer Geek Day" is what they called it and it celebrated their own Steve Hawk and his victory as 2010's Philly Beer Geek.
(The Hulmeville Inn's tribute tap list for Philly Beer Geek 2010, Steve Hawk)
If you made the effort to head out to Hulmeville Inn on Sunday as Patty and I did, you know that this turned into something pretty special. Something that I was saying looked more worthy of a Philly Beer Week event than did many "events" that were on the PBW schedule this year. More people, more special beers, more cameras documenting the event, more beer dignitaries, more of the beer geekerie. And, free food! Burgers and hot dogs off the grill, salads and beans, and a tribute cake emblazoned with Steve's image. Everything you'd want in a mid-July beer geek picnic. This was only my second visit to the Hulmeville Inn, but I can see that something pretty special has happened here over the past couple of years as they have taken on a much more decidedly craft beer destination status. Beer events occur here with regularity, brewers show up for them, they have access to very special beer, and they treat their customers well. So well, in fact, that it's very obvious how tight-knit of a customer base they really do have. As with other bars that are so integrally wrapped into the fabric of its community, there's a sense of loyalty amongst customers and between them and the staff. After all, Steve Hawk is but one resident beer geek at the Hulmeville Inn. They sponsored him, he won, and they threw him a celebratory party like none other. Oh and one more thing: when they learned of Lew Bryson's father's passing, they took the proceeds from that day's sales of the Sierra Nevada Exporter beer that he helped design during Beer Camp plus additional contributions from a "passing of the hat" and donated it ($800-ish is what I recall hearing) to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network foundation. Not convinced that they're part of "the scene" yet? According to their online "keg counter", in 2009 they kicked 300 kegs. YTD 2010? They are at 315. Something's happening here, and the something seems pretty damned good. Even with the tobacco smoke that's still allowed to float free in the bar's air, if I lived anywhere in lower Bucks County, this very well could be "my local." See more Hulmeville-related pictures farther below. Wegmans - The opening of Wegmans in the western suburbs of Philadelphia is no longer cause for great curiosity or wonder as it was, say, five years ago or so when the Downingtown location opened. I stop in at that one on average of 2-3 times a week for lunch, groceries, beer, etc. But, as many of you have heard me say before, the selfish allure for me is that I can walk 0.5815 miles from my front door to the new Wegmans of Malvern's front door. This, as you can imagine, will be quite convenient. With the attached pub and one of the largest grocery store beer selections around, you can imagine my average Wegmans visits per week will likely go up.
(and now introducing...a Wegmans within walking distance of my house!)
In this case, we only stopped for 15 minutes or so on the way home from the Hulmeville Inn to see how things were going. It was crowded, but not annoyingly so. I picked out a 6-pack of Philadelphia Brewing's Fleur de Lehigh ($8.99), Rogue's Chatoe First Growth Dirtoir ($5.49), and Brooklyn's Local 1 ($8.99). Oh yeah, and a gallon of milk and some half-and-half. We said our goodbyes and promised to return soon :) And, thus ended a perfect example of a weekend full of beer events that is not only typical around these Philly parts, but when summed up over the 52 weeks of the year continue to make Philadelphia one of the best beer drinking city regions of the world. It was quite a sneaky that I would have never anticipated to have included so many great people, great bars, and so many great beers of the Philadelphia region, but sometimes those that are least planned turn out to be some of the best. More pictures from the Philly Beer Geek Celebration at the Hulmeville Inn
(Chaz, no last name required)
(Steve Lyford and Christine Gummper, kindred peripatetic beer geeks)
(Bryan Kolesar, The Brew Lounge (where you're at now!) and Carolyn Smagalski, Bella Online with a new bottle of Dogfish Heads Squall IPA...bottle conditioned, and dry-hopped 90 Minute IPA)
(Steve Hawk's Philly Beer Geek title came partially thanks to Carolyn Smagalski, organizer and emcee, and yours truly Bryan Kolesar, a judge...but, really, he earned it and needed no one's help)
(Steve Hawk, Philly Beer Geek, and another judge, Lew Bryson)
(Steve Lyford has the camera turned on him for a change)
(Lew Bryson, Mike Sodano, and Christine Gumpper...Mayor Mike apparently is saying "no pictures of the bathing beauty artwork hanging on the wall behind me!")
(Cathy and Lew Bryson, enjoying a break from a very busy and emotional last couple of months)
(Steve gets a little thirsty from time to time)
(Steve Hawk thanks everyone for their support)
(And, with pleasantries out of the way, Steve Hawk is off to work the crowd with the fundraising Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Exporter strapped to his back)
(Mike Sodano welcomes the crowd and reminds them of the fundraiser)
(Mike Sodano passing around the hat for Pancreatic Cancer Fundraising)
(Carolyn Smagalski, Bella Online, and Steve Hawk, Philly Beer Geek 2010)

Philly Beer Week 2011: Save the Dates

Just a copy of the press release for now. No time for commentary, which I'm sure will follow soon enough. Your comments, as always, are welcome below.
PHILLY BEER WEEK 2010 BUILDS ON PREVIOUS SUCCESSES, FEATURES 195 PARTICIPANTS AND MORE THAN 1,000 EVENTS PHILADELPHIA, PA – With 195 participants and more than 1,000 successful events, the third-annual Philly Beer Week (PBW), which took place this past June, has cemented its reputation as the nation’s foremost celebration of beer and brewing culture. From the ceremonial tapping of the first beer (a collaborative brew aptly named "Brotherly Suds," made especially for PBW2010) at the Opening Tap festival by Mayor Michael Nutter to the arrival of more than 80 brewers from 18 states and as far away as Belgium, Germany, England, Norway and Canada, the 10-day event proved once more that Philadelphia is "America’s best beer-drinking city," as it was christened by PBW Executive Director Don Russell. "Since PBW was founded, more than 25 other U.S. cities have put on beer festivals of their own, but ours remains the biggest and the best," says Russell, a.k.a. popular beer columnist Joe Sixpack. "And we’re thrilled to announce the dates for PBW 2011: Friday, June 3 through Sunday, June 12, 2011." Next year’s festival will surely see the return of such popular events as the Hammer of Glory (HOG), the official keg hammer of Philly Beer Week, and its over-the-top journey across the city to arrive at the Opening Tap, conveyed by everything from kinetic sculpture to zip line to Philly Roller Girls; The Forum of the Gods, a first-time event from 2010 that brought together some of the biggest names in local and national brewing for an informal round-table discussion; and scores of every type of beer event from Festivals to Food and Beer Pairings to the most popular "Meet the Brewer" events. An enhanced iPhone app, inspired by the success of the 2010 version, is also in the works, as additional smart phone apps for other wireless customers and of course, continued updates to, which received 10 million hits during PBW 2010 alone. "Based on extensive surveys of this year’s participants, we’re excited to begin working to make PBW 2011 every bit as successful as this year’s event," says Russell. "We encourage previous participants to join us once again, and we can’t wait to welcome first-timers to PBW, as well." About Philly Beer Week Philly Beer Week is a 10-day celebration of the Best Beer-Drinking City in America. Established in 2008, it’s the largest beer celebration of its kind in America, featuring hundreds of festivals, dinners, tours, pub crawls, tastings and meet-the-brewer nights to area bars, restaurants and other locations throughout Greater Philadelphia. Philly Beer Week highlights the region’s diverse beer scene – its world-class breweries, neighborhood taverns, trend-setting restaurants and rich beer culture and history. Philly Beer Week draws thirsty beer fans from throughout the region and beyond, making it one of Philadelphia’s key annual tourist events. Philly Beer Week is organized and operated by Philly Beer Week Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(6) organization overseen by a board comprised of brewery owners, distributors, restaurant owners and others, to promote Philadelphia’s beer and hospitality industries. For more information, visit

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Weekend in the Life of Philly Beer, Part 1

Wow! What an unexpectedly wonderful beer weekend in and around Philadelphia. This was a sleeper kind of weekend that just sort of snuck up on me. Of course, the calendar was always out there with great events on them, I just never expected to be a part of them. But, when the thermometer was flirting once again with the triple digits, it only make sense to stay indoors and hydrated, right?! Actually, the only event not officially on the calendar was one that broke out pretty much unexpectedly on Friday afternoon when I declared Friday night to be a night of beer and cheese cleanout at the Kolesar's. It'll take way many more thirsty folk to completely wipe out our beer supply, but taking a run at emptying the cheese drawer was a much more manageable task. Patty and I got started around 8pm with dinner and a couple of beers. We were joined by six neighbors and the table got quite crowded with beer, cheese, meats, and other snacks. Part of the motivation behind the beer side of this clean out was to dip into beers that have been gifted to me either by breweries, bars, or individuals. Some that could stay in the cooler in perfectly good condition for almost ever, and others that have unfortunately seen better days. I don't have as many beers sent to me as some writers do, but I have certainly built up enough over time and I should be doing a much better job at getting to them and writing about them as it seems appropriate. I'll have more to say about this in coming days. On to the lineup. There were nuts (not just the people kind ;-), pretzels, meats, and cheeses scattered around the table. I'd swear sometimes that I buy almost as much cheese as I do beer. Trying to clean out the cheese drawer on this night meant putting out Humboldt Fog (one of my no-brainer favorite cow's milk blue cheeses), an English Cheddar, Gourmandise Kirsch/Cherry, Apricot Stilton, a goat cheese Brie, and a French Sheep's cheese whose name escapes does the wrapper that's since been tossed. No matter, it was a wide spectrum of cheese flavors to match the wide flavors and aromas of beers that we were pouring. And, boy were they pouring! Why don't we go through a little run down here of what we tasted? A few of us were in it to sample every beer; some only tried select ones. At the end of the night (aka early morning!), though, it seemed every one had a blast and this may become the basis/template for something I'd like to do on a more regular basis. (in order) Dogfish 60 Minute IPA - off the kegerator tap. A half of a glass while we pondered dinner and the night to come while watching the evening news (who does that any more?). Good and predictable standard.
(Lancaster Brewing's Kölsch: reminds me that I'm so anxious to visit Cologne in October)
Lancaster Brewing Kölsch - courtesy of Greg Ramirez at Exton Beverage, this is a new canned offering from Bill Moore and the good folks at Lancaster Brewing. We drank this with our salads for dinner and it fit in more nicely that I expected with the vinaigrette salad dressing. I'm thinking some of this may be coming along for a tailgate or two in the coming months, or perhaps for Ommegang BCTC campsite sipping. Petrópolis Petra Premium Schwarzbier and Cuauhtémoc Bohemia Obscura - both from Brazil and both courteously gifted by a friend, Matt, who was there almost, gulp, two years ago. I say 'gulp' because it's my own fault that one of these was a dumper. I knew full well that neither of these beers should have stayed in the fridge that long and they suffered from being pushed further back one too many times. The schwarzbier held up fine enough to be a lightly roasted, easy drinking bock (as you might expect for the Brazilian climate and palates) but the other--the lager--not so much so. So, even though neither of these turned out to be highlights in the night, this is my humble and public mea culpa.
(Scratch my back; still tasty two years later)
Scratch's 10 & 11 from Tröegs - courtesy of Nick Johnson (sales) from Tröegs brewery, again, from almost two years ago. (Sensing a theme here?!) Are you familiar with the Scratch Series? Basically, each Scratch beer is a recipe from the brothers, either homebrew or pre-production experimental, that never quite made it into Tröegs production world of beers. They've been releasing these special one-offs (almost always as one-offs, with a few exceptions) on an almost regular basis now for the better part of 2-3 years. (They're currently up to Scratch Beer #32.) I had no idea which "styles" these two might have been close to, so we simply popped them open and played a little guessing game. Though, we didn't go online to try and research what these beers were intended to be, I did so later on and discovered that we were pretty close. We dubbed the Scratch #10 as "something Belgian", "kind of like a Tripel" and the Scratch #11 as a "nice, easy drinking ale", "kind of like a pale ale." Tröegs website says that #10 is a Grand Cru and that #11 is a Bitter. Not bad, boys, not bad at all. Sly Fox Phoenix Pale Ale - courtesy of The NonconFERMist, Adam brought this over in his little goodie bag that he filled with various cans of beer. This Sly Fox beer tasted somewhat like a slightly hoppier version of the Scratch #11 and generally liked by more around the table.
(Yards Brawler, always fighting the good fight)
Yards Brawler - courtesy of TBL's Lancaster County correspondent, Dennis, who had just stuck this in my cooler bag when leaving work a few hours before this tasting. This is a beer from Philly's Yards Brewery which I know many swear by, but for my palate, I still haven't come to grips with. Its low ABV with solid malt backbone makes this a good beer for a wide cross-section of beer drinkers. I try it every couple of months or so, but have only really enjoyed it when served cask-conditioned. The journey continues...
(Newcastle Brown Ale, that's 5 liters in that thar another 12 ounces that unfortunately, but maybe predictably tasted nothing like it does out of the keg)
Newcastle Brown - courtesy of Scottish & Newcastle in the UK and their US PR firm, Formula PR, this showed up on my doorstep during Philly Beer Week and has been held hostage by the beer cooler ever since. They sent along this 5 liter DraughtKeg, a 12-ounce bottle, and a piece of Geordie Schooner glassware. I'm pretty certain that it's the heaviest beer delivery I've ever received! What better venue than with a bunch of friends to share this and discuss? I remember drinking this around the turn of the 80s-to-90s at both Jekyll and Hyde in NYC and The Dicken's Inn in Philly (some legally, some not-so) and drinking this solid and dependable brown ale from the keg brought back those pleasant memories. Retailing for less than $15 for 5 liters (or, roughly, 10 pints) and advertised to stay fresh for 30 days after tapping, this semms like a smart investment--or gift--to make, particularly for a gathering of like-minded beer folks. Unfortunately, drinking from the clear glass bottle did not. Though, thanks to Adam's suggestion, we turned that experience at the table into an instructional lesson for everyone around the table as to what packaging a beer into a clear glass bottle can potentially do to the beer. I haven't had a beer that was that skunked in a long time.
(Tom figured out the pouring mechanism; actually quite simple)
(Voila! A nice Newcastle with a foamy head)
Sly Fox Royal Weisse - Another canned offering courtesy of Adam. This one exemplified the virtues of beer with cheese. Not only did this German Wheat's flavors meld nicely with the apricot stilton, but the carbonation did a fine job scrubbing the creamy cheese from the tongue to marry the flavors and clean away the palate before another sip/bite.
(Unibroue siblings from Quebec)
Unibroue Trois Pistoles & Terrible - courtesy of Rick Suarez at Ommegang's BCTC a few years back..I'm thinking it was '07 when late in the festival, I spotted a miscreant take off with some bottles from Rick's table. Ever the good snitch :) I pointed him out to Rick. In the end, he chose to do nothing about it, but rewarded me with a case of mixed bottles from Unibroue that he didn't get around to pouring during the festival. Since then, we've made our way through the La Fin du Monde, the Maudite, the Chambly Noire, the Quelque Chose, the Éphemère (apple), and the 15th and 16th Anniversary beers. These were the last two from the case and weighing in at roughly 9% and 10.5% ABV, respectively, they were bound to hold up well over the years. Both were ripe with dark fruits, the Terrible coming through with a little extra pepper kick (or alcohol?).
(Meat, Cheese, Beer, and Santa...Christmas in July?!)
Port Brewing Wipeout IPA & Elysian Immortal IPA - courtesy of! Finally, a couple of beers in this lineup that I paid for. Actually, had made a little Wegmans IPA run the other night and tracked down one each of these along with a couple of others. These two are quite reasonably priced. Being IPAs from the other coast, I figured these should be drunk asap. It was time to get a serious hop fix on in this tasting and these two could not have been more different. Wipeout seeming a bit more of a refreshing hop beer (loads of cascade helps) whereas the Immortal was more earthy (and, hence, a good pairing with both the French sheep's cheese the brie).
(Brooklyn Sorachi Ace, well worth seeking out)
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace - courtesy of Howard Weintraub at The Drafting Room, this beer has been on my radar and one of my favorite of the past 12 months, since last year's Ommegang BCTC. This Sorachi Ace hop with Japanese origins brings extra life (lemon rind/zest, a little bit of pepper) to an already stellar saison from these New York City brewers. Ommegang Three Philosopher's - courtesy of BCTC in '07. I think that this was bought from the brewery, but it could've been handed to me, I don't know. In any case, this Quadrupel is further Belgian-ized by the blending of Kriek (cherry) lambic and as a result made for a nice pairing with the Gourmandise Kirsch cheese. This beer, at around 10% ABV and with its ever evolving nature, has held up well for being stored at underneath-staircase temperature for 3+ years.
(Gratitude from East End at the end of a five hour tasting session; job well done!)
East End Gratitude - courtesy of, hmmmm....I'd originally thought that this was our take-away thank you gift from Scott Smith at East End Brewery in Pittsburgh for the time that we'd helped to wrap the annual release of the stellar barleywine that he puts out each year. But, then I looked at the label (and the bottle cap wax color, too, is a giveaway) and it said it was the 2nd anniversary celebration barleywine...and we were there at the brewery in ', this one must have been bought from somewhere--if I do the math correctly--it could have been during a visit in '07 to either D's or 3 Sons for western PA treats to bring home. If there was any doubt from the few of us still around the table, at 11.5% ABV and closing in on 2am, this was absolutely going to be the last beer. And a mighty fine last beer it was and one that has aged so very nicely. What an absolutely great night of beer, cheese, and some of the best neighbors you could ask for. Tomorrow, I'll continue on with a great weekend of beer that continued outside of our four walls.