Saturday, October 30, 2010

Beer Calendar: What To Do in November 2010

No World Series games in November this year, but we here in Philadelphia can take solace in the world-class beers and bars all across our great region. As we get more into the holiday season, there's never a shortage of reasons to grab a beer and celebrate. 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. 11/4 - Terrapin Super Rarities & Flagship Offerings @Kraftwork, Philadelphia, PA (all day; PAYG) Fri. 11/5 - Yards Pin Tapping (dry-hopped IPA) @Terrace Taproom, Philadelphia, PA (8:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 11/5 - Friday Night Sampling (Stone) @Bell's Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Sat. 11/6 - The Science and Art of Colonial Brewing @Kite and Key, Philadelphia, PA (2:00pm-5:00pm; Free & PAYG) Sat. 11/13 - Wet Hop Cask Tasting @Nodding Head, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Sat. 11/13 - Craft Beer Express @11 locations around Philadelphia, PA (11:00am-9:00pm; $10 for the bus, then PAYG) Mon. 11/15 - 10 Yards with Tom Kehoe @Jose Pistolas, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Wed. 11/17 - Philly Beer Week Collaboration Reception (Win a Trip to Belgium) @McGillin's, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 11/17 - Get Lost with Lost Abbey and Port Brewing @The Belgian Café, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Thu. 11/18 - Victory Brewing Night @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 11/19-Sun. 11/21 - Pop-Up Brewery (Sixpoint) @City Tap House, Philadelphia, PA (all weekend; PAYG) Fri. 11/19 - Friday Night Sampling (Tröegs) @Bell's Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Tue. 11/23 - All-Brett Bottle-Conditioned Saison Release Party @Dock Street, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Tue. 11/23 - Leifmans Returns to the U.S. @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 11/24 - Rare Firkin from Italy @Fork and Barrel, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Thu. 11/25 - Thanksgiving Night (Southern Tier Pumpking tapping) @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 11/26 - Friday Night Sampling (Long Trail) @Bell's Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Philadelphia's close suburbs Tue. 11/2 - Taste the Harvest @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (PAYG) Thu. 11/4 - Victory Beer Sampling @Whole Foods, Plymouth Meeting, PA (5:00pm; Free) Fri. 11/5 - Incubus Friday @Sly Fox, Phoenixville & Royersford, PA (all day; PAYG) Tue. 11/9 - Luca Brasi Release Party @Iron Hill, Maple Shade, NJ (7:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 11/11 - Lew Bryson Book Signing @Issac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 11/11 - Fresh Hop Draft Promo @Capone's, Norristown, PA (11:30am; PAYG) Thu. 11/11 - Sierra Nevada Beer Sampling @Whole Foods, Plymouth Meeting, PA (6:00pm; Free) Thu. 11/11 - Brewery Promo Night (Weyerbacher) @Issac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 11/12 - Friday Night Tasting (Lancaster Brewing) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Sat. 11/13 - Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary @TJs, Paoli, PA (4:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 11/13 - Harvest Beer Promotion @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (12:00pm; PAYG) Tue. 11/16 - Stump the Philly Beer Geek @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ (7:00pm; PAYG) Tue. 11/16 - New Holland Epicurean Extravaganza @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (PAYG) Thu. 11/18 - Blues Brews 'n' BBQ @Ron's Original, Exton, PA (PAYG) Thu. 11/18 - Duvel Beer Sampling @Whole Foods, Plymouth Meeting, PA (6:00pm; Free) Sat. 11/20 - Pucker Up! @Iron Hill, Media, PA (2:00pm-5:00pm; PAYG) Tue. 11/30 - Happy 30th Birthday to Sierra Nevada @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (PAYG) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Fri. 11/5 - Friday Night with Brooklyn Brewing @Blue Dog, Lansdale, PA (6:30pm; PAYG) Sat. 11/13 - Cask and Ye Shall Receive-Cask Conditioned Hopfest @Iron Hill, Newark, DE (12:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 11/19 - Bottled Reserve Tasting and Book Signing @Iron Hill, Lancaster, PA (5:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 11/19 - Delaware Draft Release of Flying Fish Exit 6 @Stewart's Brewing Company, Bear, DE (5:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 11/27 - Hopsgiving @Union Jack's Olde Congo Hotel, Barto, PA (1:00pm-11:00pm; PAYG) Events Over $20 Philadelphia Mon. 11/1 - Sly Fox Beer Dinner @Brauhaus Schmitz, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-10:00pm; $65) Sat. 11/6 - Yoga Happy Hour @Dock Street, Philadelphia, PA (3:00pm; $25) Wed. 11/10 - PA Beer Raids @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $55) Sat. 11/13 - Stout & Chowder Festival @Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-8:00pm; $40) Sun. 11/14 - Imperial Pumpkin Beer Dinner @Hawthornes, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; $50) Wed. 11/17 - Stone Dogs! @2nd floor Cask Saloon at Fork and Barrel, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; $30) Thu. 11/18 - Iron Hill Beer Dinner @Chifa Restaurant, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; $65) Thu. 11/18 - Epic/Rare Beer and Cheese tasting @Fork and Barrel, Philadelphia, PA ($65) Thu. 11/18 - Aecht Schlenkerla Beer Dinner @Brauhaus Schmitz, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-10:00pm; $65) Philadelphia's close suburbs Fri. 11/12 - Wine versus Beer Dinner BEING RESCHEDULED FOR EARLY-2011 @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ (7:00pm; $50) Tue. 11/16 - Winter Brewmaster's Dinner @Iron Hill, North Wales, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; $65) Tue. 11/16 - Brewmaster's Dinner @Iron Hill, Media, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; $65) Wed. 11/17 - Trappist Chimay Beer Dinner @Iron Abbey, Horsham, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; $60) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Wed. 11/3 - Meet the Brewer Series (Terrapin) @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA (7:00pm; $40) Thu. 11/4 - Harvest Dinner: From Farm to Table @Triumph, New Hope, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; $65) Sat. 11/13 - Brewphoria @Canal Street Pub, Reading, PA (6:00pm-10:00pm; $35) Fri. 11/19 - Aecht Schlenkerla @Tap and Table, Emmaus, PA (7:00pm; $TBD)

Friday, October 29, 2010

On the Rhine with The Brew Lounge, part 0.5

It will take some time to finally get into all that transpired from Amsterdam to Zurich. At least in the spirit of kicking things off (or procrastination, if you'd rather), here's a guide of where I'll take you over the coming weeks (probably months). The following list is the official itinerary for the cruise up the Rhine and Moselle rivers through Holland, Germany, Luxembourg, France, and Switzerland. Interlaced is Steve Beaumont's 'Beers on the Rhine' agenda. Prequel Days 1-3 How better to leave home before taking the train to PHL than to pay a 20 minute visit to TJs for a bon voyage beer? We even managed to squeeze in an informal tasting amongst five or so of us with my long-promised Maui CocoNut Porter that I brought back from Hawaii almost a year ago to the day. Changing trains in Philly at 30th Street Station gave us another opportunity for a birthday beer for me at Bridgewater's...and a light bite. After our red-eye flight to Amsterdam, we checked-in to our hotel, took a short nap, then set off to discover Amsterdam's canals, architecture, and pub culture over the next 48 hours. DAY 4: Amsterdam Welcome aboard after 48 hours of exploring everything that Amsterdam has to offer...well, not quite everything. DAY 5: Amsterdam In the morning, we took an excursion out to the country to visit the windmills, see a demonstration of manufacturing iconic wooden shoes, and stop at a cheese factory. After returning to Amsterdam, we headed out to Brouwerij 't IJ where Beaumont walked his beer group through a few beers and the planned itinerary for the following 11 days. DAY 6: Nijmegen We skipped the official walking tour and instead did a bit of our own instead. We walked around the Belvédère Castle and Tower and through De Hoge Veluwe National Park, saw local sites, and picked up some light snacks and beer from a grocery store for back on board. Speaking of on board, Beaumont conducted a pre-dinner tasting of Dutch Bok (Bock) beers. DAY 7: Bonn Again, we skipped the walking tour and I went for an early morning run through the city and along the river. The afternoon saw the Beaumont Beer Express head out for a few hours in Cologne, certainly one of the highlights, albeit too short, of the trip. Later, we drank a Liefmans Kriek in the room. An Orval too. Both purchased from the market in Nijmegen. Oh, and an Ithaca Brute and Tröegs Troegenator brought from home to be shared with new friends. DAY 8: Cochem We arrived in Cochem late after what felt like freshman-hazing on the river, where we got bumped back several places in line awaiting our turn for the locks. Here, we didn't do a whole lot save for a short walk around the quaint little town with (of course) a castle perched atop a large hill. Beaumont and the beer crew were picked up and driven to the Bitburger brewery; Patty and I took this opportunity for some down time. DAY 9: Bernkastel-Kues, Trier Trier was a nice excursion that strangely brought back zero recollection to my trip here in 1987. Nonetheless, back at the docking port of Bernkastel-Kues (one city on one side of the river, the other on the other side), Beaumont's beer group and I took a ferry ride to the Kloster Machern brewery and enjoyed a few beers on the site of a former abbey/monastery. DAY 10: Luxembourg Even the though this particular excursion was a bit of a bust in most our opinions, five of us beer volk broke off and found some champagne, mediocre beer, and prosciutto.....on a quiet Sunday morning in Luxembourg. Lovely, but a shame, because I understood that Mousel's Cantine would have been a fine sudsy stop. DAY 11: Rüdesheim – Rhine Gorge Stunning vistas of castles perched above the steep vine-covered slopes is how the tour company described this day of cruising the Rhine Gorge, beginning from Koblenz. A perfect day (albeit a bit chilly) for sitting on the deck, snapping pictures of castles and grapevines, and learning the legend of the Lorelei. It was a flashback to my trip here all the way back in 1987. On board, Beaumont conducted an Oktoberfest tasting of all six breweries that serve their beer at the annual festival. DAY 12: Heidelberg Heidelberg is one of Germany’s most beautiful towns. We participated in the official castle tour and then broke off to do a little shopping on our own before joining up with Beaumont and company at the Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg for an excellent tour and beers to sample. Steve wrote about it on his blog from the ship, check it out. DAY 13: Baden-Baden A 250-year-old casino was at the heart of the official tour excursion itinerary. Patty and I (and a new friend, Jerri) opted for the famous thermal hot springs and spa, then met up with Beaumont and the rest of the brew group at Amadeus Hausbrau in the heart of Baden-Baden. DAY 14: Kehl, Strasbourg We skipped the official walking tour of Strasbourg and instead did a walking tour with Beaumont to taste some beers represented at this year's Mondial de la Bière, which we missed by a mere day. Also, picked up some to-go beer from a decent bottle shop in the heart of lovely Strasbourg. DAY 15: Basel We took yet another pass on the guided tours which by this point we had grown fairly tired of (at least for the ones that we did join). Instead, we did something much more interesting and visited--wait for it--another brewery! This time it was Basel's Unser Bier, tucked away in a residential neighborhood south of downtown. It required two trolley rides to get there and the payoff was in the beer. DAY 16: Basel Disembark and onward to Zurich where we discovered its main train station has a bottle shop to rival many "normal" bottle shops, a Swiss/German brew house of questionable character, excellent Swiss chocolate, and pleasant walking around the visually appealing city of Zurich. These were a few things that filled our last day in Europe. Oh, and a 50-foot high glass-enclosed wine tower with "angels" flying around the tower to retrieve from the roughly 4,000 bottles within. You'll have to wait for the whole story! DAY 17: Zurich Flight home...because all good things must, as "they" say, eventually come to an end. And, if I ever manage through all of this material, here are just a few more topics that I've got in the works that you may eventually see one day. But, no promises. Providence for Beer; Meddlesome Moth surprise in Dallas; Sierra Nevada's 30th anniversary celebration; Pyramid's seasonal brews; and many more.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: October 28th-October 31st

Just a quick half-week schedule here to round out the month of October. With post season baseball and more great beer than you can shake a mash paddle at, has this been a great October, or what?! (well, perhaps accept for a certain called third strike on 10/23, which I thankfully missed) Check out the entire October 2010 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. Tastings and Samplings @Bell's Beverage, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 10/29 - Friday Night Tasting (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples from some of this years's GABF winners) @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 10/28 - Pumpkinfest (7:00pm; PAYG for drafts like Bruery Autumn Maple, Dogfish Head Punkin, Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Rock Art Pumpkin Spruce Stout, Sixpoint Pumpkin Brewster, Brew Works Devious, and Arcadia Jaw Jacker accompanied by seasonally-appropriate food from the kitchen like Pumpkin Soup topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, Pumpkin Ravioli with a sage brown butter, Stuffed Pork Chop with Pumpkin Stuffing, and Pumpkin Mousse) @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 10/28 - Brewery Promo (6:00pm; PAYG for guest beers from Victory Brewing) @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 10/29 - It's the Greater Halloween (6:00pm; PAYG for several great pumpkin beers on tap, including Dogifsh Head Punkin Ale, Heavy Seas Greater Pumpkin, Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin, and maybe a little more) @Iron Hill, West Chester, PA--- Sat. 10/30 - The Gathering of the Gourds (2:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG for Ichabod Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Boom Sticke Pumpkin Alt, Bruce Camp-ale, and Punktoberfest from Iron Hill and guest pumpkin beers from Elysian BrewIng Company and Cambridge Brewing Company) @Standard Tap, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 10/28 - Pumpkin Head (4:00pm; PAYG for Six Star, Brew Works, Weyerbacher, Dock Street, Southhampton, and Manayunk, to name a few) @TJs, Paoli, PA--- Fri. 10/29 - Randall Fridays (3:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG for this week's experiment with Ommegang Three Philosophers and Brandied Cherries) Sit down for a proper beer dinner @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA--- Thu. 10/28 - Fall Beer Dinner with Sierra Nevada (6:45pm; $59 for a four-course meal served alongside Chico Estate Homegrown Ale, Northern Hemisphere, Fritz & Ken's Ale (Imperial Stout), Jack and Ken's Barleywine, Charlie, Fred and Ken's Bock, and Oak Aged Ale) Real Ale all Weekend @Bulls Head Public House, Lititz, PA--- Fri. 10/29-Sun. 10/31 - Real Ale Festival (PAYG for over 20 delicious cask ales) A special section here for Casey Hughes and his super friends @Swift Half Pub, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 10/29 - Superfriends Beer Extravaganza (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for this wonderful collaboration IPA, Flying Fish Exit 16, Ithaca Brute, Ommegang Cup o Kyndness, a firkin of Southampton dry-hopped IPA and Saison, plus some more surprises...and, oh yeah, it's Casey Hughes birthday) @Varga Bar, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 10/30 - Superfriends Release Party (9:00pm; PAYG in case you missed the beer at Swift Half...or want to do it all over again) For lack of creativity, we call this Miscellany @Dawson Street Pub, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 10/28 - Yards Sweet Sixteen (5:00pm; PAYG and join Tom Kehoe and friends as we tap some special beers and reminisce about the Yards of old.) @Iron Hill, North Wales, PA--- Fri. 10/29 - Firkin Friday (5:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG as you watch the Media location take on the North Wales location in a Cask Challenge with Media's Super Secret Surprise Beer Fun Time facing off against North Wales' Vanilla Bean Pumpkin Ale) @Center City, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 10/30 - Philadelphia Beer Experience, Special Halloween Edition (11:30am-4:00pm; $35 gets you a pass that includes beer samples at all four locations (Monk’s, Nodding Head, McGillin’s, and Jose Pistolas), a seasonal Rolling Barrel tee shirt, plus a guided tour and other surprises along the way.) @Sidecar Bar & Grille, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 10/30 - Five Year Anniversary Halloween Party (8:00pm; PAYG) @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA--- Sat. 10/30 - Lew Bryson & Andy Crouch Book Signing (4:00pm-6:00pm; the name implies, it's a Bryson and Crouch show)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Travel notes, not necessarily about the beer

Warning, this is mostly off-topic. Or, maybe you like that sort of thing. Traveling, particularly far from home, often gives me a chance to put a lot of things in to perspective. And, believe it or not, it doesn't always involve beer! This contemplation typically comes when aboard a plane or train, when there is very little distraction apart from the random jerk that I'll come back to later. As I ease my way back into a "normal life" here in suburban Philadelphia, I'm looking back on notes I tapped out during the long nine hour flight home from Zurich--at least it was nonstop--just a mere couple of days ago. I was reflecting upon some observations that I made along the way; once again, not really much to do with beer. I'm guessing that you'll be able to spot some familiar pet peeves of your own as you read through the list. I also made a list of the most influential music played through my headphones during this trip. I have a set of music that I always keep on my iPod for inducing a tranquil travel chi. And, then there are usually new batches of music that I move in and out of rotation just to mix things up. What you'll find below is a beer guy's dozen (that'd be 13, just like a baker's) of songs and artists that were most memorable to me on this European trip. (in no particular order of annoyance level) -Please return your seat to an upright position. Well, let's get this one out of the way first. The inability for reclining jerks not to be aware of the impact of their inability to sit still is just one simple example of how incredible I find that so many people can be so absolutely unaware of the people around them and the impact that their behavior and actions have on others. Yes, I said that in all one breath. Just one more reason to hate the act of flying in today's aviation environment. -Clean ship. I'm far from a germ-a-phobe, but I wish the rest of society from workplaces to gas stations and grocery stores was even half as concerned about cleanliness and sanitation as a cruise ship's staff is. -Don't phone home. From Holland to Germany to France to Switzerland, people obviously use their phones and other handheld devices. But, when in pubs, restaurants, and other social situations, I just simply did not recognize what feels like an epidemic abuse of technology here in the States. That goes for kids with gaming devices as well. -Don't ask, cuz I'm not telling. Steve Beaumont, like many, does not like to be asked "the question", particularly after midnight. Why is it that some people--particularly the ones that find beer so "curious"--insist on insisting that we have a favorite-of-all-time-beer? And, further, why are they not okay when we can logically explain why it's virtually impossible to ever name a favorite beer? I mean, c'mon, how about "what's your favorite song of all time"? Can you answer that one? -Old is relative. What will be left standing in the U.S. 500-1,000 years from now? Even the buildings that we consider "old" here in North America (100-200 years old, maybe a rare 250-300 year old one here or there), will they still be standing in another 500 years? I can't imagine of what has been built in the past 50 years, what will still remain standing in even another few dozen years, let alone another few hundred. Our stadiums get replaced every few decades or so. How is it that I saw castles almost 1,000 years old and residential buildings still inhabited that are 300-500 years old across Europe? -On my honor. Buying a ticket for public transit that will rarely ever be checked or enforced?! Maybe in Europe. I couldn't imagine this working in Philadelphia, let alone most other major metropolitan areas across the U.S. -Pathetic state of airline industry and service. From grumpy service to cramped seating in coach class, the state of the airline industry and customer service has never been worse. Take, for example, after the jerk's (described above) seat had been thrust back into my chest, I was no longer able to bend over to pick up something off the floor that I had dropped. If you've flown any time in the, say, last 10 years or so, I'm sure you can commiserate. -It's a sporting life. No one seems as pop culture obsessed (from sports to Hollywood to "reality") as in the U.S. Of course, people love their soccer (futbol?) across Europe and I did have interesting conversations with knowledgeable baseball fans from Canada (they still like Roy Halladay), but at the end of the day I get the sense that more conversations in the States start and end with sports and television (particularly "reality" shows) than anywhere else in the world. Enough curmudgeonism, on to the music... (in no particular order other than alphabetical) Cat Empire, Fishes. I've been to several Cat Empire concerts and have never heard this song live...only on their live album. Just another great example of infectious happy music and positivity from this Australian band. Diego's Umbrella, Viva La Juerga. Because we were basically a gypsy, beer-drinking party on the Rhine and Moselle rivers and we demonstrated some of the spirit of this song. Doyle Bramhall, A Birds Nest on the Ground. A guitar that speaks, nuff said? Dr. John, My Indian Red & Didn't He Ramble. Between these two songs, Dr. John adds color to the already colorful tapestry of "real" New Orleans. Jackson Browne, Rock me on the Water. A song I routinely play during every flight. John Denver, Country Road. A guilty pleasure? Maybe it would have made more sense if the lyrics were something like "country river...take me home." Or "country air..." Basically it was a song that made me thinking of going home after 17 days away. Makes sense, eh? Johnny Cash, A Satisfied Mind. Love the lyrics that go something like "The wealthiest person--Is a pauper at times--Compared to the man--With a satisfied mind". Apply Mr. Cash's voice to this country classic and you get great stuff for the ears and soul. Lauren Hart, God Bless America. I typically don't go for the jingoism associated with a lot of "patriotic" songs, but I love Lauren Hart's voice and it seemed appropriate as we were circling Philadelphia. Melissa Etheridge, I Run for Life. Because this is one of the most deeply meaningful running-related songs that I listen for to get me motivated to run. Oktoberfest music. I had a couple of Oktoberfest-themed albums on the playlist. Hey, when in Deutschland, right? Ray LaMontagne, Hey Me, Hey Mama. His music can be a bit droning like a lot of similarly-styled music, but this one has a little something extra...maybe it's the banjo picking, the trombone, the trumpet behind this foot-tapper. Stevie Wonder, Living for the City. The "deep" storytelling told in this song on the epic album, Innervisions, is delivered like only Stevie Wonder can in this classic. The Commitments or Wilson Pickett, Mustang Sally. One of my favorite songs of all time (but notice I didn't say absolutely, definitely, indubitably my one and only favorite of all time!) Toby Keith/Willie Nelson, Beer for my Horses. Talk about Americana. What else says this more than Toby, Willie, country music, beer, and horses. There you have it. What are we if we can't be honest with each other?

Monday, October 25, 2010

While I was out....

....on a Rhine and Moselle Rivers cruise with the esteemed Mr. Stephen Beaumont (beer cruise tour director of 'Beers on the Rhine'), things appeared to be humming along as per usual in and around Philadelphia. As I continue to dig out from around 2,000 emails, 3,000 RSS feeds, hundreds of missed Facebook and Twitter connections, and hundreds of podcasts, it will be nearly impossible to catch up with everything that I might have missed. But, that was the intentional direction of this trip--it was designed to be a vacation away from everything. For almost 17 days, I did absolutely no Facebook updates or RSS surfing and replied only to the emails that looked like they required a timely reply. Prior to leaving on October 8th (Happy Birthday to me :), I wrote around eight articles to be posted on a scheduled basis at both The Brew Lounge and After Hours at The Brew Lounge (Washington Times Communities). So, while it may have looked to some of you that I was still actively on line, nothing could have been farther from the truth--and, it was good! Now, I'm back and getting re-engaged. Here's a bit of what I missed that I could glean from various sources. If I missed something important, like responding to your email, please forgive me and gently nudge me with a follow-up e-mail. - Lew Bryson reported on PBC's Harvest from the Hood. I saw a shelf-full's worth at Wegmans this morning and, if it wan't 5am (y'know...jet lag...the body clock thing), would have purchased a bottle or two to bring home. This is a fine beer to do such a thing. - Adam the NonconFermist was busy. Not only did he finish his garage floor in preparation for a new homebrew system, but he was able to sneak some time in at Iron Hill's West Chester location where they were conducting a homebrew contest. (And, here's a link to Iron Hill's take on the event.) - Victory will be at Rattle 'n' Hum in NYC on 11/2/10. Lots of their beer like only Rattle 'n' Hum can do it. Reportedly 40 lines, plus cask, and Bill Covaleski too. - More from Lew...he'll be at Craft Ale House in Limerick tomorrow (10/26) and he's fond of their Pennsylvania lineup in honor of his book promotion tour that he'll be there for. Check it out and see if you agree. - I haven't quite figured out the whos and whats of Thirsty Girl yet, but Whitney Thompson of Victory Brewing is one of them. A nice bit of reading about her over on the Facebook page. - Just a few miles south down I-95, Alexander Mitchell covered Baltimore Beer Week with passion and a lot of ambition and motivation. Check out his site and scroll through some of the fun stuff that he posted along the way. I get a feeling that if we hadn't been out of the country, an overnight trip to Baltimore during BBW would not have been out of the question. - Back home here in Philly, Joe Sixpack discussed pre-Prohibition as both a time period for beers as well as a modern-day style. He also touches on the very cool event occurring this coming weekend in a cemetery--yes, a cemetery. - Jack Curtin, last but certainly never least, kvetched a bit over session beers. I'm not sure if there was any motivation to the posting other than wanting to start a conversation. Basically, my response is that a session beer is very personal when it comes to ABV level. Because of my size and my eating and drinking habits, I've always considered my own "session level" to be at around 5.0%-5.5% Do you feel differently? Go to Jack's site and contribute to the conversation. - Bringing this full circle to Steve Beaumont, he, on the other hand, did take his laptop with him and manage to squeeze in some blog posts and Facebook updates. Scroll through and find a couple of Rhine-related postings of his over here. My telling of the 16+ days in Europe will have to wait until I can wade through 1,000+ pictures, dozens of videos, and scribbled notes (oh, typed ones, too, on my iPhone) and determine just exactly how to present some slimmed down portion of them to you. Until such time...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: October 21st-October 27th

In comparison to last week's 7-day beer calendar in and around Philly, this looks like an off-week. Ha, to think! Check out the entire October 2010 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. Tastings and Samplings @Bell's Beverage, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 10/22 - Friday Night Tasting (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples of various organic beers) @Dos Segundo, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 10/26 - Brewsday Tuesday (PAYG for all the Sixpoint goodies from New York) @Iron Hill, North Wales, PA--- Fri. 10/22 - Firkin Friday (5:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG for Pure Evil Pumpkin Imperial Porter) @PJ's Pour House, Westmont, NJ--- Thu. 10/21 - Craft Beer Happy Hour with Joe Sixpack (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG to drink along side of Joe Sixpack) Announcing one of the most interesting events of the beer year @West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA--- Sat. 10/23 - Beer Barons to Homebrewer (3:00pm-5:00pm; $5 to enter, $10 to attend, see website for all the details) For the dogs... @Sly Fox, Royersford, PA--- Thu. 10/21 - Yappy Hour (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG to bring your well-behaved dog out for our extended patio happy hour, where Perk Valley Pet Eatery will be passing out free treats, as well as The Berks County Humane Society with their mobile RV unit) For your appetite... @Ron's Original, Exton, PA--- Thu. 10/21 - Blues Brews 'n' BBQ (PAYG for, well, blue....brews....and, let's say, BBQ) It's Oktoberfest all year round in Adamstown @Stoudt's, Adamstown, PA--- Sat. 10/24 - Oktoberfest continues... (1:00pm-6:00pm; PAYG)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reinheitsgebot? Ach wo!

Patty and I stopped in as guests at McKenzie Brew House's Anti-Reinheitsgebot dinner on September 30th. I filed a full "report" over at After Hours. As has been reported here and elsewhere, Ryan Michaels and Gerard Olson are doing special things in the McKenzie Brew House, and these "things" were certainly showcased at the dinner. The dinner also proved, once again, that Ryan and Gerard might just be the two most relaxed brewers in the business.
(Ryan Michaels, head brewer, and Gerard Olson, assistant brewer, cleaned up and with collared shirts)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Goodnight Irene's in Wildwood, NJ

Goodnight Irene's is a place I've heard about mentioned casually by a few friends that make their way to Wildwood, NJ in the summer months. Apparently, for a few years now, they've been the real deal for real beer at The Shore. When Jeff Miller from TJs in Paoli described Irene's as "TJs by the Sea", I didn't bother asking why he'd say that. Turns out, though, that a former employee of his, Will Pumphrey, headed Down The Shore a few years back and helped bring better beer to the beach. So, forget bad stereotypes and reality shows, Goodnight Irene's has some of the best beer available at The Shore. Read the entire article over at After Hours.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: October 14th-October 20th

In comparison to last week's 7-day beer calendar in and around Philly, this looks like an off-week. Ha, to think! Check out the entire October 2010 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. Tastings and Samplings @Bell's Beverage, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 10/15 - Friday Night Tasting (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples from Lancaster Brewing) @Blue Dog, Lansdale, PA--- Fri. 10/15 - Friday Night with Yards (6:30pm; PAYG for a bunch of beers from Yards) @Dos Segundo, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 10/19 - Brewsday Tuesday (PAYG for suburban Sly Fox's best) @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 10/14 - Brewery Promo (PAYG for a lineup of Left Hand from Longmont) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA--- Fri. 10/15 - Friday Night Tasting (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples from Sierra Nevada) @Hawthornes, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 10/19 - Spaten Keep the Growler Night (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG and includes membership into our Growler Club. Take home a free growler) @Iron Hill, North Wales, PA--- Fri. 10/15 - Firkin Friday (5:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG for Pumpkin Ale with Chocolate Nibs) @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA--- Wed. 10/20 - Get Randallized (6:00pm; PAYG for Victory's Village Coffee beer pulsing through the Randall) @Stoudt's, Adamstown, PA--- Sat. 10/17 - Oktoberfest continues... (1:00pm-6:00pm; PAYG) @The Foodery, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 10/14 - Beer Tasting (6:00pm-8:00pm; Free tasting samples from Victory) @TJs, Paoli, PA--- Sat. 10/16 - A Night of Ithaca (4:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG for the best of Ithaca including: Brute, Outdoor Harvest (Firkin), Cascazilla, Flower Power, 2009 Cold Front, 2010 Cold Front, Ground Break, Smoked Porter, and Apricot Wheat) Beer, it's what's for dinner @Iron Abbey, Horsham, PA--- Wed. 10/20 - Fall Beer Dinner (7:00pm-9:00pm; $50 for a five-course meal paired with pumpkin, oaked, and cider beers) @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 10/20 - Beer for Winos (6:30pm-8:00pm; $60 to sip the wine styles you know and love alongside Master Sommelier Melissa Monosoff's favorite brews then compare each with classic cheeses) @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA--- Tue. 10/19 - Harvest Beer Dinner (6:00pm; $50 for a five-course meal paired with Pursuit Pale Ale, Scarlet Sunset, Festbier, Harvest Ale, and Moonglow) Meet the Beer Peeps @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 10/14 - Pennsylvania Breweries Meet the Author Night (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG to meet Lew, buy his book, and have him buy you a beer....I mean buy him a beer...I mean just buy your own beer wouldjya?) @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 10/14 - Meet Dominique Friart of St. Feuillien (5:30pm; PAYG to meet the owner and sample from her Saison, Tripel, Brune, La Blanche, and Cuvée De Noël) Can a Sixteenteenth be far behind?...and yet other northeast Philly stuff @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 10/14 - Home Brew Legalization Day (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG and meet some professional brewers who started out as homebrewers, get some tips, and maybe some recipes. Lew Bryson will be by at 9pm to sell and sign copies of the just released 4th edition of Pennsylvania Breweries. Due to liquor laws, we'll have to ask everyone to drink any homebrew at home.) @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 10/15 - Friday the Fifkinteenth (6:00pm-12:00am; PAYG for Cricket Hill Colonel Blide, Iron Hill Iron Bound Porter, Lancaster Amish Four Grain, and Tröegs Hopback)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: October 7th-October 13th

In comparison to last week's 7-day beer calendar in and around Philly, this looks like an off-week. Ha, to think! Check out the entire October 2010 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. Tastings and Samplings @Bell's Beverage, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 10/8 - Friday Night Tasting (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples from Flying Dog) @Dos Segundo, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 10/12 - Brewsday Tuesday (PAYG for Weyerbacher's Hops Infusion and Imperial Pumpkin Ale) @Hulmeville Inn, Hulmeville, PA--- Fri. 10/8 - Brewery Promo (8:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG for Great Lakes' Lake Erie Monster, Oktoberfest, & Nosferatu on tap. Draft specials & give aways too) @Resurrection Ale House, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 10/12 - Tuesdays with Randall (PAYG for Dogfish Head's Burton Baton pushed through a Randall full of our own bourbon soaked oak chips) @Triumph, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 10/7 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (6:00pm; PAYG for an October selection still TBD) @Varga Bar, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 10/8 - Victory takes over the taps (6:00pm; PAYG for a variety of Victorys) Firkin times six @Bethlehem Brew Works, Bethlehem, PA--- Thu. 10/7 - Charity Cask Night (5:00pm; PAYG for an October selection still TBD) @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 10/7 - Smuttynose Special Firkin (PAYG for a very special Big A IPA and also their Pumpkin & Robust Porter) @Hulmeville Inn, Hulmeville, PA--- Thu. 10/7 - Firkin Thursday (6:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for a Sixpoint firkin still TBD) @Iron Hill, Media, PA--- Sun. 10/10 - Firkin Friday (2:00pm-5:00pm; PAYG for a re-release of Perfect 10, because you can never get enough Perfect 10) @Iron Hill, North Wales, PA--- Fri. 10/8 - Firkin Friday (5:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG for a firkin of Pumpkin Brown Ale) @Standard Tap, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 10/13 - Wednesdays are for Firkins (6:00pm; PAYG for PBC Harvest from the Hood) Oktoberfest isn't over until they say it's over @Hawthornes, Philadelphia, PA--- Tue. 10/13 - Octoberfest Samplings (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG for a variety of Octoberfest selections. Some of the choices will be Spaten Octoberfest, Heavy Seas Marzen, and Lakefront Octoberfest) @Pickering Creek Inn, Phoenixville, PA--- Thu. 10/7 - Oktoberfest Craft Brew Night (6:00pm; PAYG for German and German-style beers and traditional Oktoberfest style foods) @Stoudt's, Adamstown, PA--- Sat. 10/10 - Oktoberfest continues... (1:00pm-6:00pm; PAYG) Anniversaries, Mini-fests, and a little homebrew competition @Artisan Homebrew, Downingtown, PA--- Mon. 10/11 - The Great Artisanal Autumnal Homebrew Competition (free to enter, see website for all the details) @downtown Bethlehem, PA--- Sat. 10/9 - Harvest Fest (11:00pm-9:00pm; $20/$25 for Beer sampling, Wine trail with sampling, an open air produce market, Great food, Historic walking tours, Fine arts and crafts vendors, VitaminWater PongTournament, 19th Century brewing demonstrations, Harvest Soup contest and sampling, Grape Stomping, Live music on Main Street, and Broad Street, Children’s activities at the Smithy with a moonbounce, balloon twister and pumpkin painting, Beirgarten and live music in the Sun Inn Courtyard, Harvest Pie contest, and much more) @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 10/9 - 2nd Year Anniversary (6:00pm; PAYG) @Kite and Key, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 10/7 - Dogfish Night (PAYG for Red & White, Black & Blue, Theobroma, Sah'tea, and more) @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 10/9 - Thirstoberfest 2010 (12:00pm-6:00pm; PAYG for more than 40 rare, special and fall themed beers from the best local and international breweries. The list, so far, includes: Allagash Avance, Green Flash Le Freak, Dogfish Head Saison Du Buff, Sly Fox Rauchbier, Troubadour Magma, Dogfish Head Bitches Brew, Ommegang Cup O Kindness, Sly Fox Keller Helles, La Trappe Quadrupel, Du Ciel Péché Mortel, Bear Republic Racer X, Alvinne Extra, J.W. Lees Moonraker Ale, Victory Brewing Saison Du Buff, Green Flash Imperial IPA, Yards Love Stout, multiple Sierra Nevada Anniversary Collaboration Ales, and a variety of Oktoberfest lagers and rare German firkins) Food + Beer = Happiness @georges', Wayne, PA--- Fri. 10/8 - Sly Fox Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $65 for a five-course meal paired with Saison Vos, Pikeland Pilsner, Oktoberfest, Route 113 IPA, and Ichor) @Iron Hill, Newark, DE--- Thu. 10/7 - Brewmaster's Five Course Fall Beer Dinner (6:30pm; $60 for a five-course meal paired with Saison, Belgian Pumpkin Ale, Oktoberfest, Abbey Dubbel, and Russian Imperial Stout) @Parc, Philadelphia, PA--- Wed. 10/13 - St. Feuillien Beer Dinner (6:00pm-10:00pm; $75 for a 5-course dinner paired with St. Feuillien beers, plus a free piece of glassware to take home) @Rembrandt's, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 10/7 - Yards Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $50 for a five-course dinner paired with beer)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Dominique Friart of St. Feuillien has a full schedule in Philly

St. Feuillien visits Philadelphia and is making the most of its trip. The charming and engaging owner, Dominique Friart will be out 'n' about during the week after next. I'm likely missing a stop or two of hers, so if you know of more that haven't hit the "official" calendar, feel free to add it below in the comments section. I've met her once before and highly recommend trying to make it out to one of these events. You've got three different environments to choose from. A sit-down dinner event at a fabulous restaurant not necessarily known for its beer. A Monk's meet 'n' greet functioning as a pay-as-you-go event. And, a grand opening party at the new Fork & Barrel in East Falls where Friart will help to kick off this Euro-beer bar with style. Enjoy! Wed. 10/13: Beer Dinner at Parc Restaurant, 6:00pm-10:00pm; $75 Thu. 10/14: Meet Dominique Friart at Monk's Café. There will be kegs of Saison, Tripel, Brune, La Blanche, and Cuvee de Noel. 5:30pm. Cash bar. Fri. 10/15: Grand Opening Party at Fork & Barrel with special guest Dominique Friart, owner of St. Feuillien. They will be cracking a very special 9 Liter bottle of St. Feuillien Triple from 2005!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Joe Sixpack packs a full weekly column

Joe's on top of things in last Friday's column that he writes for the People's Paper. All sorts of good material covering the latest and greatest. Check it out for yourself...and see some of The Brew Lounge's photographic evidence of January's beer dinner at McKenzie Brew House.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Update on the Chocolate Cherry Imperial Stout (or whatever it will eventually be called)

(All packed up and ready for a ride up the street)
(One final look at the emaciated sour cherries in the secondary fermenter/glass carboy)
(Just about finished racking to the keg)
(Closed up and under a protective layer of CO2)
Off to the NonConFermist for cooperage until such time that I can bottle it. The "downtime" shouldn't be bad for it. Now in a keg under a protective blanket of CO2, it will have approximately a month to settle out from its secondary fermentation on ten pounds of sour cherries. A little taste test reveals a beer with dark chocolate hints in the aroma and flavor, obvious sour cherry flavor, and an alcohol heat that is probably pushing 10% ABV. Seems, so far, that this could turn out to be a real nice winter "warmer" to be enjoyed by the fire in December through March. A parson is a nonconforming minister, according to the dictionary--I looked it up. Think I'll call Adam my beer's parson until he turns it back over to me.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Randall brings out the mad food scientist in the TJ's kitchen

Jeff Miller has a new toy at TJ's in Paoli. He went and bought an organoleptic hop transducer know, a Randall. Right? You do know, right? If not, hop over here and get some of the back story. Last night, after a few days of trial runs (hard work, if you can get it!) Jeff and company settled on the Chateau Jiahu run through a Randall full of Chinese 5 Spice blend. The Jiahu already has a lot of interesting flavors pulsing through it; now, imagine this beer going through a mixture of Schezuan Peppercorns, Star Anise, Fennel Seed, Cinnamon Stick, and Cloves. Interesting to be sure. The curious-seekers were out Friday night at TJs to see what the fuss was all about. In the future, Jeff says that he's not restrained as to what beer brands he can pour through the Randall or which added ingredients can be added. The only restriction is that the ingredients just can't be too fine or they will clog the Randall's flow. So, while he could let his creative kitchen mind run wild with ideas, the next couple that he has in the hopper (or, Randall) are Bell's Two Hearted through whole Centennial hops, Bell's Double Cream Stout with Cocoa Nibs & Vanilla Beans for a "Chocolate Milk Stout", and for their anniversary event on 12/4 Tröegs Mad Elf pushed through Brandied Cherries. This should be fun as only Dogfish can do it.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Lew Bryson, back on the road again

Lew's at it again. Between graduations and other family events, whiskey and beer, singing, and day-to-day writing and traveling, he's found time to finish the fourth edition of Pennsylvania Breweries. I received a copy in the mail recently and it, once again, looks to be the definitive guide (albeit only as current as the ever-changing brewing scene will allow) to traveling the long state in search of great beer. As you might expect, Lew's got a book tour lined up...coming soon to a great brewery/bar near you. Check out the calendar on his blog for an up-to-date calendar of details. In honor of Lew's hard-working travels....