Monday, August 30, 2010

Have I ruined a perfectly good homebrewed stout?

The answer to the title is still unknown. The jury will be out for at least a week, I suppose. Gotta let the cherries do their thing with the yeast (or actually, vice versa, right?) In the meantime, thought you might like to see a few pictures. Or, at least one particular person is interested in the cherries and these pictures. After the beer spent 6.5 days in the primary fermenter, it seemed time to move it to the secondary glass carboy fermenter where I could watch the fermenting cherry action. The original gravity was spot on 1.100 and after almost a week in a 70-74 degree room, two packets of dry yeast brought the gravity down to right around 1.030. The fermentation had begun in less than 12 hours and last for around 40-42 hours. This attenuation, Adam tells me, was a pretty good one and resulted in a hearty stout weighing in at around 9.5% ABV. Then, I had to open up those darned frozen cherries. They were fresh last August from a Berks County farm, but I knew I wouldn't use them quickly enough, so into the freezer they went. Now they've made their debut. Let's see now. What have I learned? I've learned, first off, that these fresh cherries will not only have pits (duh, I knew that), but there will also be small twigs, leaves, and stems as well. When I decided not to pit the cherries before tossing them into the carboy, I knew that I would have to somehow break the skin of the cherries so that the beer could better and more quickly get to work on the sugars contained therein. This turned into a project of taking small handfuls of cherries from the freezer bags, picking out stems and whatnot, and squashing them in my hands to break their skins before tossing them through the funnel--all ten pounds of them I also learned that it would have been much kinder on my hands to have allowed the cherries to come closer to room temperature before handling them instead of moving them from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight to immediately using them first thing in the morning. Then, it was on to the transferring of the beer from the bucket to the carboy on top of the cherries. Actually, the third thing that I learned was that a full five gallons of beer and ten pounds of cherries will fit into a six gallon carboy with no problem. Within minutes, there were little bubbles forming around some of the cherries that had already floated to the top. By the time I put the airlock on more apparent fermentation had begun and in less than two hours, the airlock began slowly "burping". By the time 24 hours had passed, the airlock was burping every five seconds, or so, and everything appeared okay.....for now.... Now it's just a matter of time to see what the introduction of these cherries will do to what was seeming like a perfectly good chocolate imperial stout.
p.s. Laziness got the better of me and I decided not to re-shoot nor try to edit the video that you see here. Sorry, just turn your head if you really care to watch this most boring video. Hint--not even the cats find it interesting to sit and watch the fermenting action!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sounds like Bryson pulled it off

(Lew Bryson at his eponymously-named beer and bourbon event at Allentown Brew Works)
Thanks to The Pour Curator, Greg Heller-Labelle, for not only making good use of my comp'ed media pass for the event, but for sending along the following words and pictures to help describe the event for all of you. I would have been one of those bourbon neophytes, as Greg describes further below and probably would have appreciated the full slate of Buffalo Trace. The various takes on already-interesting beers sound like it made for an afternoon and admission well-spent. I'm hoping and looking forward to a reprise next year. You, too, can thank Greg by paying him a visit over at his site, The Pour Curator and checking out his contribution to the world of beer and art. (since writing this, I see that Brian Parker also has his own review of the event up over at his I Am Beer Wise site)
(Rick Anstotz from Yards Brewing Company)
The *Yards Bourbon Barrel aged Thomas Jefferson Tavern Ale* was maybe the beer that picked up the most vanilla Bourbon flavor. The *Stoudt's Bourbon Barrel Cask-Conditioned Scarlet Lady* was a special one-off for the occasion, and that was the beer that was most transformed by the bourbon barrel-aging. Anyone who’s had a Scarlet Lady is familiar with the lively, hoppy ESB, and it was close to impossible to believe that the earthy, mellow, round tasting brew at the event was the same beer.
(Josh Bushey of Allentown Brew Works)
The Brew Works had three selections. The *Beau’s Perfect Porter* and *Black Dog Stout* were mellowed versions of flagship beers, but they also had a kegged *Apple Lambic* that was a nice tart change of pace from all of the rich vanilla flavors. Weyerbacher poured their popular bourbon barrel-aged brandywine, the *Insanity.*
(Lew Bryson, presenter)
The third floor was devoted to bourbon, including multiple sessions by *Lew Bryson,* who talked on everything from the Pennsylvania roots of whiskey to the modern innovations and procedures that create great bourbon today. The full slate of *Buffalo Trace* distillery products was a particularly popular hit, in part because it offered tastes for all palates, including the bourbon neophytes in attendance.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Beer Calendar: What To Do in September 2010

September. Back to School. Back to Football. Back to our usually-jam-packed beer calendar here in the Beeradelphia environs. Enjoy! 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 Thu. 9/2 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (September's selection: TBD) @Triumph, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 9/2-Sat. 10/2 - Month-long Oktoberfest @McGillin's, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Fri. 9/3 - Pils Picnic @Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA (12:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 9/3 - Friday Night Tasting (American Fest Biers) @Bell's Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Tue. 9/7 - Brewsday Tuesday (Philadelphia Brewing) @Dos Segundo, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Wed. 9/8 - Belgian Beer Sampling @Hawthornes, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; Free) Fri. 9/10 - Meet the Monk (Abbey of Christ in the Desert) @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (4:30pm-6:30pm; PAYG) Fri. 9/10 - Friday Night Tasting (Pumpkin Ale & Fall Beers) @Bell's Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Tue. 9/14 - Brewsday Tuesday (Great Lakes Brewing) @Dos Segundo, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Thu. 9/16 - Sour Fest @Kite and Key, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Fri. 9/17 - Friday Night Tasting (Sam Adams) @Bell's Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Sat. 9/18 - 200th Anniversary of Oktoberfest Celebration @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (10:30am; PAYG) Tue. 9/21 - Sixpoint Keep the Growler Night @Hawthornes, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Tue. 9/21 - Brewsday Tuesday (Terrapin) @Dos Segundo, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Wed. 9/22 - Beer Camp versus Beer Camp @London Grill, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-9:30pm; PAYG) Fri. 9/24 - Boulder Night @Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 9/24 - Friday Night Tasting (German Oktoberfest Beers) @Bell's Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Sat. 9/25 - Weisbrod & Hess brewery Now and Then with Rich Wagner @Philadelphia Brewing, Philadelphia, PA (12:00pm-3:00pm; Free) Sun. 9/26 - Sam Adams 6th Annual Beer Lover's Choice @Hawthornes, Philadelphia, PA (11:00am-1:00pm; PAYG) Tue. 9/28 - Brewsday Tuesday (The Bruery) @Dos Segundo, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Philadelphia's close suburbs Fri. 9/3-Sun. 9/5 - Labor Day Weekend Port / Lost Abbey Extravaganza @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (all weekend; PAYG) Fri. 9/3-Sun. 9/5 - West Coast Brewery Weekend @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (all weekend; PAYG) Fri. 9/3 - Firkin Friday (Rye Not Roggenbier) @Iron Hill, Media, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 9/3 - Incubus Friday @Sly Fox, Phoenixville & Royersford, PA (all day; PAYG) Sat. 9/4 - Tröegs/Teresa's/Beer Yard Event for Delco SPCA @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (1:00pm-4:00pm; $5 plus donations) Tue. 9/7 - Tasty Tuesday (Anchor Brewing) @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (PAYG) Wed. 9/8 - Pete's Celebration Release Party @Iron Hill, Maple Shade, NJ (5:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 9/10 - Friday Night Tasting (Southampton Publick House) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Fri. 9/10 - Friday Night Tasting (Magic Hat) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free) Thu. 9/16 - Blues Brews 'n' BBQ @Ron's Original, Exton, PA (PAYG) Thu. 9/16 - Yappy Hour @Sly Fox, Royersford, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 9/17-Sun. 10/3 - Oktoberfest Celebration @all 8 Iron Hill locations (PAYG) Sat. 9/18 - Hop Fest VIII @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (all day; PAYG) Sat. 9/18 - Fall Homebrew Contest @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ (12:00pm-4:00pm; see website for all details) Sun. 9/19 - Halfway to St. Patrick's Day @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ (12:00pm-4:00pm; $10) Wed. 9/22 - Fundraiser for Animal Rescue Foundation of SE PA @Iron Hill Brewery, Media and Phoenixville, PA locations (5:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 9/23 - Brewery Promo Night (Duck-Rabbit) @Issac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; Free/PAYG) Thu. 9/23 - Craft Beer Happy Hour @PJ's Pour House, Westmont, NJ (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 9/24 - Friday Night Tasting (Tröegs) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Fri. 9/24 - Friday Night Tasting (Sam Adams) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free) Sat. 9/25 - Bottling Party @Iron Hill, Maple Shade, NJ (12:00pm-4:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 9/25 - Customer Appreciation Day @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (12:00pm-4:00pm; Free) Thu. 9/30-Sun. 10/3 - McKenzie-fest @McKenzie Brew House, Malvern, PA (a $39 dinner on 9/30, see below, but otherwise PAYG all weekend long) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Wed. 9/1 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (September's selection: TBD) @Triumph, Princeton, NJ (6:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 9/2 - Charity Cask Night (Sling-Load Ale) @Bethlehem Brew Works, Bethlehem, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 9/3 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (September's selection: TBD) @Triumph, New Hope, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Mon. 9/6 - Cask Night on the Green (September's selection: TBD) @Brew Works on the Green, Allentown, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 9/9 - Charity Cask Night (Banshee) @Bethlehem Brew Works, Bethlehem, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 9/9 - Imperial Pumpkin Release @all Fegley's Brew Works locations, Allentown & Bethlehem, PA (PAYG) Sat. 9/10 - Stoudt's Beer Tasting @Blue Dog, Lansdale, PA (6:30pm; PAYG) Sat. 9/11 - Malt Madness Homebrew Competition @Allentown Brew Works, Allentown, PA (4:30pm; see website for all the details) Sat. 9/11 - 3rd Annual Cask Festival and Pig Roast @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA (12:00pm-5:00pm; PAYG) Mon. 9/13 - Microbrew U @Brew Works on the Green, Allentown, PA (7:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 9/15 - Bière de Garde Release @Allentown Brew Works, Allentown, PA (PAYG) Thu. 9/16 - Charity Cask Night (TBA) @Bethlehem Brew Works, Bethlehem, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 9/16-Sat. 9/18 - Saison Fest @Tap and Table, Emmaus, PA (4:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 9/23 - Charity Cask Night (Carbomb) @Bethlehem Brew Works, Bethlehem, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 9/25 - Funky Sour Saison Saturday @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA (12:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 9/25 - Book Signing (Pennsylvania Breweries IV by Lew Bryson) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA (4:30pm-6:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 9/25 - Wealth of Riches @Blue Dog, Lansdale, PA (PAYG) Sat. 9/25-Sun. 9/26 - Oktoberfest Opening Weekend @Stoudt's, Adamstown, PA (all day; PAYG) Events Over $20 Philadelphia Wed. 9/1 - British Invasion @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $50) Sat. 9/4 - BBQ at the Ballpark @Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA (3:00pm-7:00pm; $80) Tue. 9/14 - Local Beer / Local Food Dinner @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; $45) Mon. 9/20 - Left Hand Beer Dinner @Brauhaus Schmitz, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-10:00pm; $65) Sat. 9/25 - Philadelphia Magazine's Craft Beer Experience @City Tap House, Philadelphia, PA (12:00pm-4:00pm; $80) Wed. 9/29 - Ommegang Beer Dinner @Le Virtu, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; $65) Thu. 9/30 - Yards Beer Dinner @Chifa Restaurant, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; $65) Philadelphia's close suburbs Sat. 9/18 - Oktoberfest Party in the Tent @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ (1:00pm-5:00pm; $45) Tue. 9/21 - Sly Fox Dogfish Head Night @Savona, Gulph Mills, PA (5:30pm-10:00pm; $49) Wed. 9/22 - Tröegs Beer Dinner @Iron Abbey, Horsham, PA (7:00pm; $50) Thu. 9/23 - Flying Fish Beer Dinner-POSTPONED @Braddock's, Medford, NJ (6:30pm-10:00pm; $65) Sat. 9/25 - Newtown Beerfest 2010 @Newtown Stocking Works Complex, Newtown, PA (12:30pm-5:30pm; $10/$40/$75) Sat. 9/25 - Octoberfest @Frontier Saloon, Folsom, PA (1:00pm-5:00pm; $20/$25) Sun. 9/26 - PASA's 3rd Annual Bike Fresh Bike Local Ride @Victory Brewery, Downingtown, PA (7:00am; $35/$40) Tue. 9/28 - Brewmaster's Five Course Beer Dinner @Iron Hill, North Wales, PA (7:00pm; $65) Tue. 9/28 - Wild About Beer Class Series #3 ("I Can't Believe That's Beer) @Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA (6:30pm-9:00pm; $49.95) Thu. 9/30 - Anti-Reinheitsgebot Oktoberfest Beer Dinner @McKenzie Brew House, Malvern, PA (7:00pm; $39) Thu. 9/30 - Ocktoberbest Beer and Wine Festival @Ship Inn, Exton, PA (6:30pm-9:00pm; $30) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Wed. 9/1 - A Summer Crab Boil (with The Brew Works) @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA (7:00pm; $45) Wed. 9/8 - Beer and Cheese Pairings @Iron Hill, Lancaster, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; $25) Sat. 9/18 - Capital City Invitation Beer Festival @Appalachian Brewing Co,, Harrisburg, PA (2:00pm-5:00pm, 6:00pm-9:00pm; $15/$35/$40)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: August 26th-August 31st

Wow! I know as we approach Labor Day, the beer events are gonna thin a bit. But, wow! Really? Am I missing something around here? Of course, that's not to say there won't be any good beer to be found on area lists at any given time on any given day. Just not many "scheduled events." Please people, remain strong and we can all get through this dry spell together and in one piece! (Since I wrote these first couple of paragraphs, there have been a few more announcements trickling in to the events desk here at TBL HQ. So, things aren't looking as bleak as originally thought ;-) Check out the entire August 2010 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. Instead of putting them into cutesy little categories, here they are... @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 8/27 - Beer Sampling (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples of Flying Fish) @Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA--- Sun. 8/29 - Beer Fest at the Ballpark (2:00pm-6:00pm; $40/$50 for sampling from 20-25 breweries, hot dogs, pretzels...while 15% of ticket sales will be donated to PSPCA who will have an on-site adoption RV with cats and dogs) @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 8/27 - Hand Pump Launch (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG as they unveil their new hand pump with a threesome of Sly Fox available for your enjoyment: Sly Fox Standard Porter; Sly Fox Royal Weisse; and Sly Fox Ale (sorachi ace) ) @Fonthill Museum, Doylestown, PA--- Fri. 8/27 - Biergarten Evening (7:00pm-10:00pm; $34/$40 to enjoy a tutored beer tasting of German beers featuring lagers, bocks, wheat beer, pils, and helles, and taste German fare by Newportville Inn, Cabot Cheese and more while listening to music performed by the Philadelphia German Brass Band. Keystone Homebrew Supply will also be on-hand providing samples of their beers and instructions on homebrewing.) @Jose Pistolas, Philadelphia, PA--- Sun. 8/29 - 3rd Anniversary Party (7:00pm-9:30pm; PAYG) @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 8/31 - Lambic Day (all day; PAYG for great deals on Lambics. Expect favorites from Cantillon, Boon and Giardin, and exciting additions like St. Lamvinus and the Doesjel from Drie Fonteinen.) @Pickering Creek Inn, Phoenixville, PA--- Thu. 8/26 - Craft Brew Night (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG from a collection of Kwak, La Chouffe, Leffe Blonde, and Grimbergen Dubbel on draft) @Stoudt's, Adamstown, PA--- Sat. 8/28 - Microfest (12:00pm-4:00pm, 7:00pm-11:00pm; $30 for a tasting glass, 4 hours of beer sampling, live entertainment by the Daisy Jug Band, buffet from 12-3 pm, and free shuttle bus service to local accommodations) @The Belgian Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 8/26 - Duvel, Ommegang, Drinking, Tasting, and Stuff (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for Duvel Green, Ommegang Zuur and other pourings & tastings, along with t-shirt giveaways!) @The Penn Stater, State College, PA--- Sat. 8/28 - State College Microbrewers Expo (1:00pm-6:00pm; $50/$75 for this 12-year-old beer festival that will benefit Penn State Coaches versus Cancer. Plus, an all you can eat buffet is included with every ticket) @TJs, Paoli, PA--- Thu. 8/26 - Great Lakes Oktoberfest Debut (6:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for an Ohioan Oktoberfest delight)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Does TJs make the best burger?

(The Wasabi burger at TJs in Paoli, PA)
Main Line Dine recently took up the challenge to compare Paoli's TJs and Philadelphia's Village Whiskey at something they both do very well, make delicious burgers. The headline certainly caught my eye, especially considering TJs as "my local"...and, considering that Village Whiskey has been on my short list for what seems like forever. I've read countless articles about VW's burgers from the more "simple" to the more decadent (e.g. toppings like blue cheese, foie gras, bacon, and so on) and they've got me to the point of where I needs must--has anyone used that phrase in, like, 500 years?!--find myself to 20th and Sansom Streets as soon as possible. This article may finally have been the tipping point. Hooowwwever, it is an interesting and perhaps unlikely conversation to have...pitting Village Whiskey against TJs. My usual choice of burgers at TJs is ordered medium-rare and with wild mushrooms and smoked mozzarella. I find that this burger has a wide range of beers that it will pair just nicely with, from the hoppy to the malty. I wander occasionally into the Boursin Burger and the Rauchbier Burger and enjoy them almost as much. The other night I finally gave into temptation and ordered up the Wasabi Burger. Cole Slaw and wasabi mayo on a burger always looked tempting from afar but never enough to pull the trigger and order it. Frankly, deep in conversation with tablemates while I was eating it, I don't recall what I was drinking at the time, but I do recall thinking something like: "hot diggety, another fine burger on the list here at TJs." Apart from the interesting toppings and the usual grilled-to-my-liking (by the way, I didn't mention, did I, that to work the grill at TJs, one must pass a test of preparing a burger perfectly to specification, including internal temperature; they demand consistency), I find that one of the most appealing things across all of these burgers on the menu is the LeBus brioche roll that houses the burger and all of its fine toppings. Reminds me of the early days of LeBus on Main Street in Manayunk...but that's sort of an unnecessary tangent at this point. Speaking of points, my final point was that this particular roll has enough substantive structure to keep everything together between the buns, gives just enough of a bready flavor to the sandwich, but then gets out of the way to let the meat and the toppings shine. Frankly, I don't know how bread does that, but this particular bread from LeBus on a TJs-made burger does just that. I think I've put in enough research at TJs with their burgers. Now, how about that dinner at Village Whiskey? How about you? Have you done a contrast and compare between the two?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Victory Village: A Contender for Top 10 new beer of 2010?

The best part of waking knowing that a Victory Brown Ale and One Village Coffee will be in your cup by the end of the night. Péché Mortel from Dieu Du Ciel outside of Montreal? Sure, it still holds a special place on my palate. But, how about a real drinkable coffee beer? There have been a couple I've sampled lately that have been anything but. Not this one. At 5.1% ABV, this one has sessionability written all over it. With just the right balance of coffee aroma, coffee flavor, and a real honest-to-goodness beer to back it up, upon one more review at Victory I think I'll be ready to put this solidly on my list of Top 10 new beers of 2010. Last night at Teresa's Next Door, I took the opposite approach and went to the debut of the beer at somewhere other than the brewery. I figured with the coffee roaster spending his night at TND, there might be a good story lurking there. Rob Altieri, co-Founder and Lead Sales Manager of Souderton's three-year-old One Village Coffee, was on hand to personally hand-press some of his Smart Blend coffee and serve it next to the draft beer collaboratively brewed and blended at Victory Brewing Company. He started his night by quickly pulling the tap on the first Village beer poured at Victory in Downingtown and then afterward heading up TND where he spent the rest of his evening eating, drinking, and sharing the story of his coffee and this fine beer. As Andy and the TND crew is often wont to do, a special pairing menu was put together to help accentuate the beer, and vice versa. Unfortunately, we had other plans for dinner at home, so we opted only for a quick little bite of Tuna Tacos off the "regular" menu. If I have my numbers correct, this was a 50-barrel batch. I'm not aware of how many kegs are staying with Victory and how many are making it out to market. However, at Victory's website, they do say that Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting (a special pouring with Rob on Friday 8/27 from 8pm-11pm), Teresa's Next Door and Christopher's (Rob part-time bartends there) in Wayne, and Hawthorne's in Philly are a few of the select chosen accounts to be pouring this draft-only beer. In other words, between less than 100 kegs of this beer floating around and me filling up a few growlers at the Pub over the next month, if you want to taste some of this new beer from Victory you better do as "they" say and Act Now! Were you at one of the debuts last night? What was your opinion of the beer? Comment below!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Tiger is loose in the Sierras again

They've gone and done it again. Blind Tiger in NYC has scared up a bunch of Sierra Nevada kegs and is putting them all on draft in two days. No need for further commentary from me. Check out the list and then figure out if you can make it to the pub on Wednesday evening. Cheers!
this Wednesday, August 25 at 4 PM, the Blind Tiger will be hosting our dear friends from Sierra Nevada. I said it before, and I will say it again… this is one of those super special events where we pay homage to a brewery that helped lay the tracks for the American Craft Beer Movement. So come on down and raise a pint to some of the forefathers. Sorry Sierra Nevada folks for making you seem so old. I meant “forefathers” in more of a young hip Park Slope father way as opposed to… I'll just shut up now, sorry… Oh, the list: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale/ American Pale/ 5.6% ABV Sierra Nevada Glissade/ Golden Bock/ 6.4% ABV Sierra Nevada Summerfest/ Summer Pils/ 5.0% ABV Sierra Nevada Tumbler/ Brown Ale/ 5.5% ABV Sierra Nevada Celebration 09/ Winter IPA/ 6.8% ABV Sierra Nevada Porter/ American Porter/ 5.6% ABV Sierra Nevada Stout/ American Stout/ 5.8% ABV Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere/ Fresh Hop IPA/ 6.7% ABV Sierra Nevada Estate 09/ American IPA/ 6.7% ABV Sierra Nevada Limb & Life/ Spiced Beer/ 5.0% ABV Sierra Nevada Charlie, Fred, Ken 30th Anni/ Imp. Heller Bock/ 8.3% ABV Sierra Nevada Fritz and Ken 30th Anni/ Imperial Stout/ 9.0% ABV Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 06/ Barley-Wine/ 9.6% ABV (+/-) Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 10/ Barley- Wine/ 9.6% ABV Sierra Nevada Chico IPA/ IPA/ 7.2% ABV Sierra Nevada Pilsner/ German Style/ 4.7% ABV Sierra Nevada Vienna/ Vienna Lager/ 5,1% ABV Sierra Nevada Kolsch/ Kolsch/ 5.0% ABV Sierra Nevada Brown/ Brown Ale/ 5.6% ABV Sierra Nevada Blonde/ American Blonde/ 5.0& ABV Sierra Nevada Jack and Ken/ Barley-Wine/ 9.6% ABV Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest/ Marzen/ 4.7% ABV

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Victory Village, finally (?)

It seems like eons ago that I was searching out info about the Victory Village beer brewed by Victory in collaboration with local coffee roaster, One Village Coffee from Souderton, PA. No one seemed to know much, or else was saying much at the time. Unless I missed a press release or some other courtesy e-mail, I suppose there's good reason for the stealth debut? I was doing a bunch of accidental surfing tonight (doesn't sound as glamorous or salacious as you might think), when I came across what appears to be a release (finally!) of the Victory Village beer. the Pub...and at Teresa's Next Door. I may stop in at Teresa's to see if I can finally get some of the closely guarded secrets of this beer. Or, perhaps I should call first....just to be sure. btw, here's a link back to the early end of the story, if you wish.

Some of you really know your brewer resumes!

Beau Baden used to brew at a Pyramid Alehouse in California. A few of you that wanted to go to Bourbons, Brews, and Bryson yesterday knew that and replied to my quick little "popup contest" yesterday. Greg Heller-Labelle (of the nicely "art"-iculated Pour Curator) was both the overall quickest and the first to reply with the correct answer about Baden's brewing history. Greg attended with a couple of his friends and, with no pressure from me, offered to bring back a few words and pictures to share with the rest of us. For those of us that intended to go, or had second thoughts, I get a feeling we're all going to be a little disappointed for not being there as well. Congratulations, Greg, and I trust you enjoyed your complimentary ticket from the Fegley Crew at Brew Works.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A New Homebrew....what could be next?!

(The brewhouse setup, looking all nice and clean while awaiting boiling temperature)
I heard the cries to "just brew something". I felt the beer pressure from The NonconFermist. I'd put the finishing clamps on the homemade wort chiller that Patty made for me....2 years ago!! I bought the ingredients from Mike Hamara at Artisan Homebrew in Downingtown, PA all the way back in early May. I was out excuses and had no where to hide; it was time to brew. The way I shape the story makes it sound like I don't like to homebrew the way some people don't like to prepare and cook dinner for themselves. Reality couldn't be farther from that. I love to cook and I love to homebrew. Problem is, as life accumulates more things and more things to do, it seems that I have less time than ever to cook dinner, let alone make a batch of homebrewed beer.
(After the boilover, everything looking not so nice and clean)
It was obvious this past weekend that I was a bit rusty. My timing and sequencing of steps was off. My sanitation and attention to detail, fortunately, was pretty good. Maybe the recipe was too much for a "re-entry beer". Who knows. Still, even after brewing in the rain and cleaning up in the dark, the following morning it appeared that the yeast had begun their busy digestion of sugars overnight and a fermentation was underway. With 11 pounds of malt extract, 3 pounds of specialty stepping grains, 8 ounces of 100% cacao baking chocolate, and two packets of healthy yeast, there wasn't much excuse for fermentation to not begin quickly. In between, let's see, what else happened? I used a new turkey fryer that we got a steal of a deal on after last Thanksgiving at Lowes. Apparently turkey fryers don't sell so well after Thanksgiving. For $70, we got a nice 30-quart 45,000-BTU turkey fryer. Also, new to the process was a sweet new wort chiller that Patty made for me as a wedding anniversary present. Which anniversary, you should ask? Wait for about our 10th anniversary? Yup. And, yes, your math might be correct if you said we were coming up now on our 12th. Yup, I'm the jerk...but no-less-grateful jerk.
(The wort chiller after a hard 25 minutes of work)
She made the wort chiller with approximately 50 feet of copper tubing and made the input/output pieces high enough clear even the deepest homebrew kettles. Once hooked up to the garden hose, we were able to chill this batch from boiling temperature to under 100 degrees Fahrenheit in 10 minutes. Getting it down another 20-30 degrees proved a little more difficult given the extra warm summer we've been experiencing. After a total of 25 minutes, we gave up and dumped the wort into the primary fermenting bucket at 75 degrees Fahrenheit and pitched the yeast. There was, obviously, plenty of sugar for the healthy yeast to go to work on. In less than 12 hours and a temperature hovering around 70 degrees, the fermentation took off and lasted for almost two full days, with close to 30 of these hours showing a vigorous fermentation. Okay, so that was gratifying, given all that seemed to have gone wrong leading up to this point. Now, it's time to let things settle down and out before taking a reading in the next day or so to determine if we need more yeast to a little more work before racking the beer over into a glass carboy for a secondary fermentation while sitting on ten pounds of fresh sour cherries (well, fresh last year...frozen since then). Check back and I'll let you know what's happening.
(The morning after, the yeast looks to have found enough sugars to digest)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I have a ticket for this event that I will not be able to use….Do you want it?

Be the first to answer this question correctly by 12:00pm on 8/20/10 and I will pass along my ticket (courtesy of Fegley’s Brew Works) to you for use on Saturday. If you take along a friend, there are still regular admission and designated driver tickets still available. So here’s the deal. Simply send an email to me saying "I want the ticket". If you’re the first to respond with this phrase and no one answers the following question correctly, you’ll get the ticket. BUT, whomever responds both with the phrase "I want the ticket" and the first correct answer to the following question, will automatically get the ticket. Q: At what brewery in California did Brew Works brewmaster Beau Baden formerly work? This should be a great time and one that I’ll be sorry to miss. Here are the details
Bourbon, Beer and Bryson Festival! August 21st, 2010, 5pm-8pm Bourbons and other Spirits Buffalo Trace, the Eagle Rare Single Barrel, and Blanton’s Single Barrel featured in tasting seminars with Lew Bryson (see below)! Woodford Reserve and Gentleman Jack featured in "The Bourbon Barrel Lounge," featuring the "Art of the Bourbon Cocktail" with mixologist Donna Scott giving bourbon tips and bourbon sips! The NEW Maker’s 46 stave-aged bourbon from Maker’s Mark and the Knob Creek 9-yr-old. 4 Roses Single Barrel, their 4 Roses Small Batch Bourbon, and the 4 Roses Yellow Label. Three selections from Wild Turkey - Wild Turkey 101, Wild Turkey Rye, and Wild Turkey American Honey. Brews Allentown Brew Works Master Brewer Beau Baden will feature Draft Bourbon Barrel Porter as well as a Specialty Bourbon Cask and a Cassis Lambic that will enhance your Bourbon Pecan Foster Bethlehem Brew Works brewer Lewis Thomas will work his magic and provide an infused cask that will match the moment. Stoudt's Brewery in Adamstown is creating a specialty bourbon beer that only they can make; Weyerbacher Brewery of Easton; and Yards Brewing of Philadelphia Bountiful Bites --Fried Plantains topped with Bourbon Pulled Pork and Smoked Mozzarella --Carving Station – Ham with Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce --Brisket served over Collard Greens and Bacon, topped with Fried Okra --Corn Bread with Butter and Honey --Apple, Raisin and Bourbon Pecan Foster over Vanilla Ice Cream Bourbon Round Table Seminars Hosted by featured speaker: Lew Bryson, author of Pennsylvania Breweries Session Times: 5:15 pm, 6:15 pm, and 7:15 pm Maximum 30 guests per seminar Featuring Buffalo Trace, the Eagle Rare Single Barrel, and Blanton’s Single Barrel. Lew Bryson has been a full-time writer and lecturer since 1995 and is the author of four brewery guidebooks, including Pennsylvania Breweries and New Jersey Breweries. He is the Managing Editor of Malt Advocate, the country’s foremost whisky magazine, and writes the American Whiskey Column for the magazine. His books will be available for purchase and signing at the Festival. The Bourbon Round Table seminar will feature tastings of Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare Single Barrel and Blanton’s Single Barrel. Lew will be discussing the distillery and the making of the bourbon, how these bourbons are different from each other and the mingling and growth of Craft Beer and Bourbon. Dan Williams, Sazarac Director of Sales in Pennsylvania, will also be on hand to provide his expertise on the distilleries and their art in producing their Bourbons. Bourbon Barrel Lounge "The Art of the Bourbon Cocktail" -Sharing sips, tips, and recipes. Demonstrations with Woodford Reserve & Gentleman Jack by Liquor representative and Mixologist Donna Scott. The Lounge will be open for your pleasure for the entire duration of the event. Master Bourbon Discussions: Session Times- 5:15pm, 6:15pm, 7:15pm Our open forum discussion groups with samplings allow for deeper insight into some of our favorite American spirits. Additional Vendors: Benjamin Hull, Custom Bottle Openers; Indulge Chocolates by Erin Coughlin; Tobacco Village of Whitehall, PA Cost: $45 per personDesignated Drivers: only $25

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: August 19th-August 25th

What a diverse list of beer events is this week's beer calendar in and around Philadelphia. From bocce, to free tastings, bourbon/beers/Bryson, the spectrum of event diversity seems to be covered. Check out the entire August 2010 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. Take a little taste, get a little happy @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA--- Fri. 8/20 - Friday Night Sampling (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free tasting samples of Yards ESA, Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, and Brawler) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 8/20 - Beer Sampling (4:00pm-6:30pm; Free tastes of some of California's best beers) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA--- Fri. 8/20 - Friday Night Tasting (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free to take part in the Samuel Adams Preference Tasting) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA--- Wed. 8/25 - Keg Tapping (all day; PAYG for tastes of the superb Racer X from Bear Republic) Beer as a sporting and spectating event @Iron Hill Brewery, Wilmington, DE--- Thu. 8/19 - Bocce and Beer (7:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG to watch Dogfish Head, Victory, Yards, Flying Fish, Stewart's and Sly Fox battle it out for the championship trophy. Beers from each brewery will be on tap during the competition) Would you like some food with your beer? @Ron's Original, Exton, PA--- Thu. 8/19 - Blues Brews 'n' BBQ (PAYG for this weekly special of great craft beer and great BBQ from Jimmy's BBQ of Frazer) @The Desmond Hotel & Conference Center, Malvern, PA--- Sat. 8/21 - Taste Local! Festival (12:00pm-3:30pm; $35/$40 to celebrate local food, wine, and beer with area wineries, breweries, and food purveyors) @The Farmhouse, Emmaus, PA--- Thu. 8/19 - Third Thursday Beer Dinner (6:30pm; $35 for a night of Matt Allyn's western PA Voodoo Brewery) Happy Anniversary, Support a Charity...aka I didn't squeeze these into other categories @Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 8/21 - 2nd Annual Phillies Tailgate & Ball Game (3:00pm-7:00pm; $50 to help raise money and bring awareness for National MS Society. Food, beer, soda/etc, and a game ticket is all inclusive for $50! We will have Yards, Flying Fish, Victory, and Nodding Head breweries on hand. @High Street Grill, Mount Holly, NJ--- Fri. 8/20-Sun. 8/22 - 6th Anniversary Weekend of Events (PAYG for a weekend full of exciting celebrations, starting with the beer Wars Finale and ending with our Hawaiian Shirt 1/2 price blow out party) Sours, Saisons, and....Lew Bryson @Allentown Brew Works, Allentown, PA--- Sat. 8/21 - Bourbon, Brews and Bryson Festival (5:00pm-8:00pm; $25/$45 for bourbon-loving food, bourbon cocktails made with Woodford Reserve and Gentleman Jack, samplings of the new Maker's Mark 46, and hourly tasting seminars. Allentown Brew Works Master Brewer Beau Baden will feature Draft Bourbon Barrel Porter as well as a Specialty Bourbon Cask and a Cassis Lambic that will enhance your Bourbon Pecan Foster. Bethlehem Brew Works brewer Lewis Thomas will work his magic and provide an infused cask that will match the moment. Guest brewers include Stoudt's, Weyerbacher, and Yards) @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 8/14-Fri. 8/20 - (Tower of) Sour Fest 2010 (all day and night; PAYG for a whole wide variety of sour beers. By now, they're probably through the initial list and into some or all of the following: Rodenbach Grand Cru, Liefman's Kriek, Jolly Pumpkin Luciernage, Duchesse de Bourgogne, Russian River Supplication, Furthermore Thermo Refur, Cuvee de Jacobins Rouge, Bruery Hottenroth Berliner Weisse, Two Brothers & Urthel Moaten collaboration, Dogfish Head Festina Peche) @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 8/24 - Saison Bottle Day (all day; PAYG for Saisons in bottles and on draft from Stillwater, The Bruery, Brasserie Dupont and many more)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

No such thing as too much Victory

Other than the Gassy Jack posting a few weeks back, I haven't had much to say about Victory recently. Kind of strange given that they are the closest--and certainly largest--full production brewery to my house and there's absolutely no shortage of good things going on around there. >>> Take, for example, the news release that I received last month about the most recent expansion in Victory's growth plans. They're in the process of taking delivery of and installing eight 440-barrel fermenters. When the new fermenters are fully operational, it will push Victory's total production output capacity to 100,000 barrels. Not only will the additional fermenters dramatically increase output, they plan to power them from photovoltaic electricity captured from solar panels. Not bad for a brewery whose seeds were initially sown in the early '70s in the back of a school bus between two friends that would go on to live the dream as business partners and helping to shape the world of craft beer. >>> The craft brewing scene looked a lot different in 1995 than it does today. As Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski were putting finishing touches on their business plan, I'm sure when they opened in February 1996 that they were dreaming big, but yet probably had little idea that their concept would become as big as it has here in 2010. With Victory currently being distributed in 29 states (find them here), I can't wait to see how they celebrate 15 years of craft brewing greatness next year. >>> Speaking of back to the future, during Philly Beer Week, Bill Covaleski joined Mark Edelson (Iron Hill), Gene Muller (Flying Fish), Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head), Tom Kehoe (Yards) in a roundtable at Victory hosted by Greg Koch (Stone). They mused about the past and talked about where they've come to as they're all in the midst of celebrating 15 years of successful craft brewing. (while you're checking out that particular video, you also shouldn't miss the "sketch" they'd aired during Philly Beer Week) >>> If you can't get to the brewpub, Victory will come to you. I'll admit, I know nothing about this brewery on wheels, only accidentally stumbling across it while skimming through the brewery's website. Bill and Ron act as co-brewmasters of the brewery; I suppose this gives them a chance to the take the show on the road as well. If any of you have ever seen this in action, I'd (we'd) love to hear about it. >>> Victory is actively active as well. On May 30th, they conducted a 'Run for Victory' 5-k road race which easily sold out at the maximum number of participants (I forget, was it something like 1,500 I believe). And, coming up on September 26th, they'll be hosting the 3rd Annual Bike Fresh, Bike Local ride of 25, 50, or 75 miles. >>> Also upcoming at the brewery is one of its most well-attended and popular events of the year: Fall Fest on October 3rd. They've moved the event out to Lancaster Avenue this year where attendees will enjoy area restaurants, crafts, live music, a BMX aerial show, and a Victory Beer Garden. >>> This sounded unique and seems to bear mentioning...if for nothing more than a unique beer & wine tourism mention. There's something called Brandywine Valley Barley & Vine Camp due to take place next weekend (8/20-22) and includes participation from local breweries (Iron Hill and Victory) and wineries (Kreutz Creek and Chaddsford). No one had to reprimand me to do this Victory catch-up. I just thought it prudent to do so before someone cried foul :)

The Brew Lounge extends its hours

If I had my act more together, you would have heard yesterday from me that my inaugural column submission was included on the homepage of The Washington Times yesterday. In fact, it may still be there today when/if you hop over there. It's in the Communities section and that's where my new column, After Hours at The Brew Lounge, will regularly be housed. In the first few weeks, my goal will be to have a new column written roughly twice a week. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to go into a lot more detail about it right now (see, this is one posting that I really did not--and probably should have--pre-stage), so I will leave you with a couple of snippets that you can find over at After Hours. You can trust there will be more on this topic in the days and weeks to come.
After Hours at The Brew Lounge: Exploring the people, places, sights, sounds, and stories behind the passionate pursuit of great beer. "...The Brew Lounge will carry some exclusive stories, as will After Hours at The Brew Lounge here at The Communities. There will be some cross-posting where the same story will show up in both places, and yet in other cases I will likely use the opportunity to begin a story in one spot and pick it up in the other..." Read more over at The Washington Times...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Grey Lodge Pub's Friday the Firkinteenth: Here a Firkin, There a Firkin - 8/13/2010

(Typical outdoor scenery at Grey Lodge's Friday the Firkinteenth)
With a beautiful day of weather and a handful of tasty firkins sitting on top of the Grey Lodge's downstairs bar, I decided to take a few hours off from work and cover this somewhat typical-but-not-yet-quite typical event for all of you dear readers!
(Typical indoor scenery--downstairs--at Grey Lodge's Friday the Firkinteenth)
(Typical indoor scenery--upstairs--at Grey Lodge's Friday the Firkinteenth)
I've only ever headed to Friday the Firkinteenth once for the early-morning mayhem; that was enough for me. Being there early and "battling" for a seat is part of Friday the Firkinteenth personal lore for many, but it makes for a long day if you'd like to be around for the kicking of the first kegs and particularly if you'd like to try a glass of each by the time they have all poured in the early evening. But, for those who don't care about staying all day or being the first in line in the morning, your best bet for optimizing your firkin fun time is to arrive early afternoon when most or all of the original firkins are still pouring. You'll be able to sample from those at a casual pace as they begin to kick one at a time. Over the next few hours, you'll see another handful of firkins thrown up on the bar. You can grab your late lunch/early dinner and sample your way through at least half of all the offerings by the time you leave late afternoon.
(Scoats taps the Manayunk firkin that replaced "my" Sixpoint Righteous)
This time around (only one F13 in 2010), proprietor Mike "Scoats" Scotese arranged for roughly 30 firkins to be tapped throughout the day---7 at any given time. According to Scoats, the first to kick was Dock Street's Summer Session Ale, approximately 3.5 hours into the day. Along my typically annoying drive along the Schuylkill Expressway and the Roosevelt Boulevard (even in the early/mid-afternoon....but, yes, it was a summer Friday, so there y'go), all I was saying was "please let there be some Sixpoint Righteous Rye left when I get there." Well, there was...sort of. Within about 90 seconds of walking through the front door, I ceremoniously kicked the Sixpoint keg with a serving of approximately the last 2 ounces of the tasty Righteous Rye. I moved along to grab a Sly Fox Standard Porter and Prism Bitto Honey IPA and went upstairs to order some lunch. Cuban Sandwich, perfect. Took a small glass of Brooklyn Buzz and Prism Tea Party for samples as well. Scoats joined me for a few minutes at my table in between his firkin tappings duty. Shared with him some news about The Brew Lounge that I haven't shared with any of you as of yet. How's that for a teaser?!
(Friday the Firkinteenth "tailgating", Northeast Philly style? Sure, why not)
Patty joined me a couple of hours later. Anyone coming to the Grey Lodge from Center City probably knows--but, in case you don't--that the trip is a pretty easy one on the Market-Frankford El to the end of the line at the Frankford Transportation Center. From there it's either a $1 transfer to the '66' bus or a 3/4 mile walk out Frankford Avenue. On a day like yesterday, a walk would have been totally appropriate. Otherwise, the bus will drop you off less than a block away from the front door.
(We dined under the picture of the beloved, late Gary Bredbenner)
We sampled a few more beers, had a chicken cheesesteak, fries, and wings (glad I'm not marathon training!), socialized. When we figured evening rush hour traffic had died down, we headed back home. Just more of the typical good ol' fashioned fun on the firkinteenth. There's only one F13 scheduled (I don't think "they" are planning to change the calendar before then!) for 2011, so if you missed this one keep in mind that there will only be one next year to get your F13 firkin on in Northeast Philly.
(Jill Mowery said she hardly ever sees a picture of herself that she likes, until this one. Posted, with her approval :) Btw, if you can lend a hand to help her move to Northern Liberties on September 1st, let me know and I'll pass the word)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: August 12th-August 18th

A little of this and that in the upcoming week. One thing's for sure, there are some big beers out there for your enjoyment. Go forth... Check out the entire August 2010 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. One free tasting to report this week @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 8/13 - Beer Sampling (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples of "British Ales") @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA--- Fri. 8/13 - Friday Night Tasting (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples of Brooklyn Brewery) @Pickering Creek Inn, Phoenixville, PA--- Thu. 8/12 - Craft Brew Night (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG for New Holland's Mad Hatter, Golden Cap Saison, and Full Circle) @PJ's Pour House, Westmont, NJ--- Thu. 8/12 - Craft Beer Happy Hour (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG for a couple of hours of good beer tasting, hosted by Joe Sixpack) Slightly bigger tastings @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA--- Tue. 8/17 - Pennsylvania Micro and Nano Breweries Day (PAYG for what can best be described as "...obscure local beers procured in legal fashion in a registered vehicle, purchasing properly registered brands from registered brewers...") @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA--- Wed. 8/18 - Green Flash/St. Feuillien Tasting (6:00pm; PAYG for the Biere De L'amitie collaboration, Green Flash West Coast IPA, Green Flash Hophead Red, Green Flash Summer Saison, Green Flash Le Freak, St. Feuillien Saison, St.Feuillien Brune, St. Feuillien Tripel, St. Feuillien Wit) Bigger... @Craft Ale House, Limerick, PA--- Wed. 8/18 - Russian River Night (6:00pm; PAYG for Registration Ale, Blind Pig IPA, Consecration, and Damnation) @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 8/14-Fri. 8/20 - (Tower of) Sour Fest 2010 (all day and night; PAYG for an opening tower of sour that is due to include: Petrus Aged Pale Ale, Cantillion Kriek 100% Lambic, Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca, St Louis Gueuze, Russian River Consecration, DeProef/Terraping Monstre Rouge - collab DeProef & Terrapin, Ommegang/Liefmans Zuur, and Bell's Oarsman) Must stop to refuel with some food and a good deal @the Institute, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 8/14 - Charlie and the Sausage Factory (featuring smoked beer) (2:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG for a collaboration with Brauhaus Schmitz, German potato salad, sausages, smoked food, and smoked beers from Stone, Victory, Furthermore, and others) @Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 8/14 - Saison Brunch (11:00am-3:30pm; PAYG for brunch plus a beerlist to choose from including: Brew Works Monkey Wrench, Brew Works Space Monkey, Dock Street Saison du Potts, Flying Fish Exit 6 Wallonian Rye, McKenzie Saison Vautour, Philadelphia Brewing Pharmhouse Arrest, Sly Fox Saison Vos, Victory Helios, Weyerbacher Kilo, Yards Saison) @Jose Pistolas, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 8/13 - Lunch for Left Handers Day (11:30am; PAYG for a lunch with Left Hand Brewing, of course!) @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 8/17 - 25% off all Vintage Bottles (all day; PAYG for some great deals) The biggest? certainly the one and the only @Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 8/13 - Friday the Firkinteenth (9:00am; PAYG for always a combination of 7 the following on top of the bar at any given time: Arcadia, Cricket Hill, Dock Street, Dogfish Head, Flying Fish, General Lafayette, Iron Hill, Lancaster, Manayunk, Nodding Head, Philadelphia Brewing, Prism, River Horse, Six Point, Sly Fox, Stillwater, Stone, Stoudt's, Tröegs, Victory, Weyerbacher, Yards)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Early Morning News: Bus Accident at Monk's

I awoke to the morning news channels leading off with the big story and my e-mail inbox was abuzz with multiple "did you hear" and "bus accident at Monk's" notes from friends. Other than curiously referring to Monk's as a "popular Belgium brewpub and restaurant", there don't seem to be too many details yet floating around about the SEPTA bus accident at the front door of Monk's Café in the early morning hours today. Or news about how the accident may affect Monk's ability to stay open over the coming days. (Yesterday, Monk's hosted an Allagash Monday Madness event and there are no other officially-scheduled events on the calendar until September's Local Beer Dinner on 9/14.) No one was reported injured. has the most pictures, most of them dark and from a distance. NBC Philadelphia perhaps has the clearest and closest look at the damage to the façade. >>mid-morning update from Michael Klein at Tom Peters reportedly thinks that they can be open and operational again within two week.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Ommegang's BCTC 2010 wrap-up

Ommegang BCTC 2010
(See the pictures from Ommegang's BCTC 2010)
In the rear-view mirror 10 days later, it still looks just as sweet as one of the best BCTCs ever. Some things were improved upon and, sure, some things can still be improved, but yet this remains one of the country's top 10 beer events of the year in my (and many's) opinion. I particularly like how Larry Horwitz from Iron Hill in West Chester put it: "the best beer festival east of the Mississippi." With that, let's finally get on with things here. Patty and I set out to arrive at Ommegang around 2pm on Friday. The smooth and incident-free drive north was the first of many signs of great things to come. We made the trip in just a shade under four hours and began to set up camp next to a bunch of like-minded folks from in and around Philadelphia. Setting up Camp We hunkered down along the treeline where we camped during our first BCTC five years ago. (Tough to believe that it's been that long.) Camping next to Kevin and Chris with the Amazing Beer Truck (yes, the legend is true...if you haven't experience it, you must), it meant that before long I was checking off one entry on my list of things to do at this year's BCTC: drink a glass of Dell Massey's award-winning 23 Stitch Ale. A 'Belgian Sour/Wild', the beer was named after an unfortunate accident that Dell incurred that resulted in, yes, 23 stitches. This beer was, forgive the analogy, a sour punch to the palate but a great way to begin the weekend. I needed a palate cleanser for sure after this one, but it was fun to see why this beer was an award-winner at this year's National Homebrewers Conference (NHC). If you're a VIP-paying customer of BCTC, then after setting up camp you've got about 5 hours--give or take--to figure out something fun to do. Some go into town to check out the lake, the Baseball Hall of Fame, or numerous other attractions in the quaint village. Some take brewery tours, buy beer and merchandise from the brewery store, or walk the property to meet 'n' greet friends and strangers alike. Yet others, sit around their campsites sampling and trading beers and stories with neighboring campers. Games including frisbees and footballs might break out. Music gets cranked up. And, generally, people are just relaxing and enjoying their time away from their home lives here in this idyllic brewery setting. Beautiful weather doesn't hurt, either. For the first year that we can recall, weather conditions cooperated from start to finish. With relatively low temperatures and humidity, no rain whatsoever, the warm days and cool nights made for practically perfect beer festival conditions. No setting up or breaking down camp in the rain. No nasty, sweaty, dehydrating conditions in which to drink beer. Thanks to the festival organizers for doing whatever it took to strike a great deal with Mother Nature this year. The VIP Dinner After lounging, playing games, and socializing around the campsite with great beer, it was time for the VIP dinner to begin. To kick the dinner off, Simon Thorpe (president of Duvel USA) and the founder of Ohio's Winking Lizard chain of beer bars (name escapes me and I haven't yet tracked down a name) talked about Belgian Beer culture in the U.S. and how it has evolved over the years. Again this year, the VIP dinner was a six course meal with healthy serving sizes alongside unlimited amounts of the Ommegang, Duvel, and Chouffe families of beer. The Horseshoe Lounge Playboys entertained the dinner crowd for a few hours during and after dinner. I'm not sure the emphasis was all about pairings at this dinner, and am still not sure that it matters. What it is, is a great evening of food, beer, music, dancing, fellowship that gets the weekend kicked up into high gear right quickly. For every newcomer that has ever attended BCTC--and even still to this day for many of the more tenured attendees--learning how to kick up into high gear without burning out on Friday night is quite a skill that must be mastered if they are to make through 'til Sunday morning without completely self-destructing. Because in a weekend of great beer and inviting ambiance, the latter is so completely, totally possible. The night continued on, as it always does, with bonfires, eating and drinking from one campsite to the next, largescreen movies provided by Ommegang, and a whole bunch of tomfoolery (not to be confused with TomFolery...sorry inside joke). The (first) Morning After Saturday morning comes quick, which means a morning of staggering around attempting to regain some level of wits and composure before doing it all over again. The brewery provides outdoor showers, which lines quickly form for beginning around 8am. Like the day prior, folks partake in everything from downtown Cooperstown trips, to lake visits, to breakfast beer tasting, to campsite breakfast cookouts. No matter what you choose to do, the retelling of Friday night stories break out quickly and everyone is doubled over in laughter as everyone helps to recount stories that no one person can completely recollect on their own. Before you know it, Saturday morning was gone and people embark on either napping, prepping for the tasting portion of the festival, or taking brewery tours and buying take home goodies from the brewery. With the tasting session beginning an hour later than in the past, it meant there was one more hour to shake any lingering cobwebs loose from the prior night before going at it all over again. The Tasting Session From my rough count and far from official, the total number of participating breweries and importers was down 5, or roughly 12%, from last year. While I find this curious--but didn't really plug around for any answers--it really didn't matter. With the conspicuous exception of a few non-Belgian-inspired interloping brews, there's really no shortage of great Belgian and Belgian-inspired brews from around the world to keep every beer palate happy. Even with my checklist of roughly 20 or so beers that I was hoping to sample, I only knocked off a little more than half of them. There's that much goodness floating around this festival. So, what were they you ask? Winners, Losers? Winners are the easy ones. Here they are, in my book, with a few notes for reference. (in no particular order) ~~Hof Ten Dormaal Blond, Stillwater's Statewide Saison and Cellar Door, and Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout- Brian Ewing and his 12% Imports continues to impress with high-quality hard-to-find Belgian ales. Andy Dickerson of Teresa's Next Door says that he carries this in bottles. ~~A Little Sumpin' Wild- The "big brother" of A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' from Lagunitas; this apparently is due to be released in bottles this Fall. I recommend seeking out this very well-balanced "sour". ~~White Birch Brewing brought a lot of interesting looking beers with ingredients/descriptions like pears, toffee, caramel, noble hops, rye chocolate, coffee, grape skins, vanilla, chardonnay, and on and on. I only tried the Tripel (10.4% ABV, wow!) and Wrigian (10% ABV rye, ditto the wow!) and wished I would have come back for more. Plenty of others also seemed intrigued by these beers. ~~Allagash. Period. One of our country's leading breweries, particularly in the realm of barrels, Belgians, and bigness. This time, the Larry (sour) and dry-hopped Confluence gravity-poured stole the show. ~~Can't say whether I've had the Saison from St. Feuillen before or not. I don't see it on their product page, so I'm not so sure it's a regular offering. Too bad for many, it should be. It's a really nice take on my most oft-favorite style. ~~Cuvée des Fleurs from Southampton Publick House in the Hamptons is a perennial favorite of mine and one that is usually not that easy to come by. What a treat to see it at the festival again this year. ~~Never heard of Bobcat Cafe Brewery before. After tasting their funky Saison de Cassis, I'll be on the lookout for them next time traveling around Vermont (Bristol, to be exact). ~~At the risk of sounding like I'm kissing up to the host, the new Zuur from Ommegang really does deserve plaudits. Brewed in collaboration with Liefman's over in Belgium, it's got that going for it right of the bat. Then to be a drinkable kriek that is mildly tart is an even better thing. This was our VIP gift bottle giveaway this year from the brewery and we've already made quick work on one of the bottles. ~~Sixpoint Brewing from Brooklyn across board was as solid as ever. They put up two beers, beer lovers knocked 'em down. They put up two more, ditto. The first two that I had, Ghost Face ("spiced saison with coriander and sea salt") and Loaded ("Belgian IPA with New Zealand hops and Saison yeast), were early festival winners for me. Only to come back later near the end of the four hour session and be surprised by their Ollie Disaster ("Flemish Red-inspired") and Lux Biere ("a table saison"). Though, most anything coming out of Sixpoint is usually pretty good and that should not be a surprise. At 3.4% ABV, the Ghost Face was one of my top 3 favorites of the day. ~~What was everyone else looking for? Taking an informal poll of everyone I ran in to, the most common themes were The Bruery, Captain Lawrence, and Ithaca. In addition, many agreed with my picks of Hof Ten Blonde, Lagunitas Sumpin' Wild, and Allagash Larry and Confluence as some of the festival's best. ~~The only uniformly "what were they thinking award" that I heard from across the crowd went to Butternuts. You may know them of Porkslap, Heinnieweisse, and Snapperhead fame. Now they've gone and tried to make themselves a 'Trappist Ale'. The description alone was bait for the curiosity-seekers: "Brewed with 75% maple sap. Sap is soured, lending blue cheese mold aroma. Trappist yeast is used to ferment giving a clean finish. 8% ABV. Certainly don't know about the alcohol, because not only did the aroma obscure anything else going on in this beer, so did the flavor. "Love my blue cheese with my beer, not in it" was a sentence often repeated as I stood by the table to overhear other opinions. Can't figure what else to say about this beer accept how, um, interesting it was. Darkness Falls This is typically the point in my annual wrap-up of Ommegang's BCTC event where my commentary begins to trail off into.....and so we went back to our campsites.....cooked dinner.....drank more good beer.....embarked on more shenanigans to tell the grandchildren.....saw and heard things never to be repeated again. And that last point has always been an important one for me. When attending (especially) these type of events, I must seek out the fine line in the middle ground in which to walk between beer geek consumer and industry blog writer guy. Even though you'll occasionally find a few pictures of late night debauchery in my wrap-ups of festivals like BCTC, my comfort zone does not include taking things that are said or done and publishing them on The Brew Lounge. There's just not usually much good that can come from such things. Plus, it really could destroy goodwill and future communications. At some point, even though many industry folk are still, I guess, technically on the clock, they do deserve there own down time and should be allowed some privacy to conduct their own fun 'n' games without fear of being blabbed about on the Web. So the camera for the most part went away after dark. Fair enough, don't you think? Casey and Nick in a golf that's an entirely different story! The (second) Morning After How to end, how to end this? How about with Sunday morning? Another picture perfect day. One where we could break down camp without fear of being downpoured upon as in past years. It'll never cease to amaze me, I tell ya, how for all of the damage that folks inflict upon themselves on Saturday night at this festival, that so many folks bounce right back on Sunday morning--or, at least, give the appearance of bouncing back--to begin breaking camp as early as 7am-8am to get on the road and home. Net result: Ommegang's BCTC is still one of the best weekends each year that you can have in the Craft Beer Industry in the U.S. Still haven't been? Mark the calendar and make next year's your first. p.s. Want a taste of late night fun and games with live music? Check out the fun video below (or just use this link). I haven't officially cleared this posting to YouTube with the Hackensaw Boys band, so I hope they appreciate the publicity....they certainly deserve it.