Saturday, July 30, 2011

Beer Calendar: What To Do in August 2011

Dog days of summer? Maybe the weather. But the beer calendar shows no signs of dogging it around the Philadelphia region.

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

Tue. 8/2 - Brasserie d'Achouffe @The Belgian Café, Philadelphia, PA (7:15pm; PAYG)
Wed. 8/3 - Brasserie d'Achouffe @Jose Pistolas, Philadelphia, PA (12:00pm; PAYG)
Wed. 8/3 - Brasserie d'Achouffe @Eulogy Belgian Tavern, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG)
Wed. 8/3 - Pittsburgh Night in the Beer Garden @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG)
Wed. 8/3 - Yards Brewing Night (feat. Cape of Good Hope on cask) @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG)
Thu. 8/4, 8/11, 8/18, 8/25 - With Love Beer Garden (featuring Dock Street, Sly Fox, Victory, and Yards) @Four Seasons Hotel, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG)
Thu. 8/4 - The WIP Midday Show Beer Brawl Finals @Chickie's & Pete's, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG)
Thu. 8/4 - Night Market, Mt. Airy (with beers from Earth Bread + Brewery and McMenamin's) @Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG)
Thu. 8/4 - Keep the Glass Night (Pilsner Urquell) @Hop Angel Brauhaus, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG)
Fri. 8/5 - Free Sampling (Hop Monsters with Joe Sixpack) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Fri. 8/5 - First Friday After Work Party (Ithaca Dark Humor) @The Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG)
Mon. 8/8 - Mad Monday (Cantillon) @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (11:30am; PAYG)
Fri. 8/12 - Free Sampling (Long Trail) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Sat. 8/13 - Fun With Blondes @Nodding Head, Philadelphia, PA (3:00pm; PAYG)
Sat. 8/13 - Grey Lodge Goes Bollywood @The Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG)
Sat. 8/13 - Pucker Up Sourfest @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG)
Tue. 8/16 - Keep the Pint Night (Victory) @Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG)
Thu. 8/18 - Welcome to the Neighborhood (Iron Hill promo) @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG)
Fri. 8/19 - Free Sampling (Belgian Beers with Joe Sixpack) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Fri. 8/19 - Third Friday, Jodi's Firkin @The Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG)
Sat. 8/20 - Brett Beer Brunch @Resurrection Ale House, Philadelphia, PA (11:00am-3:00pm; PAYG)
Sat. 8/20 - HopScotch II @Khyber Pass Pub, Philadelphia, PA (12:00pm; PAYG)
Sat. 8/20 - Summer Session Fest @Jose Pistolas, Philadelphia, PA (3:30pm; PAYG)
Mon. 8/22 - 4th Anniversary special beer tapping and celebration @Dock Street Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG)
Wed. 8/24 - Beer and Cheese Tasting with Flying Fish and DiBruno Bros. @Osteria, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; $20)
Thu. 8/25 - Summer Wind with Ommegang @The Sidecar Bar & Grille, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG)
Fri. 8/26 - Free Sampling (Brooklyn Brewing) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Tue. 8/30 - Yards Tap Takeover @Hulmeville Inn, Hulmeville, PA (6:00pm; PAYG for more Yards than you can shake a stick at, including a firkin of Cape of Good Hope)

Philadelphia's close suburbs (within 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Thu. 8/4 - First Thursday Beer Tasting @Whole Foods, Plymouth Meeting, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; Free)
Fri. 8/12 - Victory Beer Sampling @Wegmans, Malvern, PA (5:00pm; Free)
Sat. 8/27 - IronFish/IPA event @Iron Hill Brewery, Maple Shade, NJ (PAYG)

Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania (beyond 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Fri. 8/5 - Beer Sampling (Philadelphia Brewing) @Wegmans, Downingtown, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free)
Fri. 8/5 - Pint Night (Victory) @Washington House, Sellersville, PA (6:30pm-9:00pm; PAYG)
Fri. 8/5 - Phillies Business Person's Special @Sly Fox, Phoenixville and Royersford, PA (1:00pm; PAYG)
Fri. 8/5 - Friday Night Sampling (Yards) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Fri. 8/5 - Firkin Friday (Hoppopotamus, a "double red IPA") @Iron Hill Brewery, Phoenixville, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG)
Sat. 8/6 - Friday Night Sampling (Sapporo) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (2:00pm-4:00pm; Free)
Sat. 8/6 - Free Sampling (Stoudt's) @Goshen Beverage, West Chester, PA (3:00pm-5:00pm; Free)
Sun. 8/7 - Friday Night Sampling (Sam Adams and Bull's BBQ Promo) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (2:00pm-3:00pm; Free)
Thu. 8/11 - Night of Fools @Craft Ale House, Limerick, PA (6:00pm; PAYG)
Fri. 8/12 - Yards Night @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (6:00pm; PAYG)
Fri. 8/12 - Friday Night Sampling (Franzikaner) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Sat. 8/13 - Friday Night Sampling (Stoudt's) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (12:00pm-2:00pm; Free)
Sat. 8/13 - Bocce and Beer @Iron Hill Brewery, Wilmington, DE (12:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG)
Thu. 8/18 - Yappy Hour @Sly Fox, Royersford, PA (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG)
Fri. 8/19 - Friday Night Sampling (Moosehead Light Lime) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Fri. 8/19 - Victory Beer Sampling @Wegmans, Malvern, PA (5:00pm; Free)
Tue. 8/23 - D-Town Skate Park Charity Event & Yards Tap Takeover @Side Bar & Restaurant, West Chester, PA (9:00pm; PAYG)
Thu. 8/25 - Flying Fish Happy Hour @Vudu Lounge, West Chester, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG)
Sun. 8/28 - Kan Jam 2011 @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, PA (1:00pm; $20)

Events Over $20

every Tuesday through Saturday in August - Philly On Tap Walking Tours @City Hall, western plaza, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; $35)
every Thursday in August - A Philadelphia Ale & Arts Walking Adventure @Field House, Philadelphia, PA (5:30pm-8:00pm; $30)
Sat. 8/6 - Sly Fox Beer Brunch @Varga Bar, Philadelphia, PA (11:30am-3:00pm; $TBD)
Sat. 8/6 & 8/20 - Craft Beer and Artisanal Cheese Tour @Old City, Philadelphia, PA (3:30pm-5:30pm; $49)
Thu. 8/11 & Thu. 8/25 - A Philadelphia Ale & Arts Trolley Adventure @World Café Live, Philadelphia, PA (5:30pm-8:00pm; $35)
Wed. 8/17 - Victory Beer Dinner @Gigi, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm, 7:00pm, 9:00pm; $TBD)
Tue. 8/23 - Can of Wheat Dinner @Percy Street Barbecue, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm; $50)
Thu. 8/25 - The Bruery Beer Dinner @Chifa, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; $65)

Philadelphia's close suburbs (within 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Sat. 8/6 - All-Grain Brewing Class @Keystone Homebrew Supply, Montgomeryville, PA (10:00am; $75)
Sun. 8/7 - Sour Power Brewing Class @Keystone Homebrew Supply, Montgomeryville, PA (1:00pm; $75)
Sun. 8/7 - Samuel Adams Beer Dinner @Fox and Hounds, King of Prussia, PA (5:00pm; $65)
Wed. 8/10 - Summer Beer Dinner, part 2 @Kaya's Cuisine, Havertown, PA (7:00pm; $65)
Thu. 8/11 - Caribbean Beer & BBQ @Normandy Farm, Blue Bell, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; $31.95/$35.95)
Fri. 8/12, Fri. 8/26 - Intro to Brewing Class @Keystone Homebrew Supply, Montgomeryville, PA (6:30pm; $40)
Sat. 8/13 - Next Step Brewing Class @Keystone Homebrew Supply, Montgomeryville, PA (1:00pm; $75)
Wed. 8/17 - Dogfish Head Beer Dinner @Iron Abbey, Horsham, PA (7:00pm; $60)
Fri. 8/19 - Beer Wars II, Championship @High Street Grill, Mount Holly, NJ (7:00pm; $50)
Tue. 8/23 - Gourmet and Pizza Beer Pairing @Pinocchio's, Media, PA (7:30pm; $45)

Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania (beyond 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Wed. 8/3 - A Summer Picnic with Sam Adams Brewing Company @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA (7:00pm; $45)
Sat. 8/6 - BrewBQ @Twin Brook Winery, Gap, PA (12:00pm-4:00pm; $25/$50)
Fri. 8/12 - Bring on the Belgians @Fonthill Museum, Doylestown, PA (7:00pm-10:00pm; $28/$35)
Sat. 8/13 - Craft Beer Bus Tour from the Craft Ale House in Limerick, PA to Lancaster County (11:00am-6:00pm; $65)
Wed. 8/16 - Intro to Brewing Class @Keystone Homebrew Supply, Bethlehem, PA (6:30pm; $40)
Thu. 8/18 - Time to Tailgate Beer & Spirit Tour @Wegmans, Malvern, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; $30)
Fri. 8/19-Sun. 8/21 - Honey Fest @Paradise Farm Camps, Downingtown, PA ($10/$15/$25)
Thu. 8/25 - Victory Beer Dinner @Earl's, Peddler's Village (Lahaska), PA (7:00pm; $55)
Thu. 8/25 - Time to Tailgate Beer & Spirit Tour @Wegmans, Collegeville, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; $30)
Sat. 8/27 - Micro Fest @Stoudt's Brewery, Adamstown, PA (12:00pm-4:00pm, 6:00pm-10:00pm; $35)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: July 28 - July 31

Not the biggest weekly list of beer events across the Philadelphia region. Yet, see that it's only, actually, four days worth of events to get us through the end of the month. And, for those of fortunate ones attending BCTC at Ommegang, this list likely won't matter much :)

Check out the entire July 2011 calendar over here.

If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know.

Tastings, samplings, and other promotions
@Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/29 - Free Sampling (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples of Flying Fish)

@Bella Vista Beer Distributors, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/29 - Meteor Sampling (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free tasting samples of Meteor beer from France. Wendelinus Abbey Ale, Grand Malt Lager, and Blanche ("White" Beer), all in 8oz bottles)

@Dawson Street Pub, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/29 - Cape of Good Hope IIPA and a good cause (5:00pm; PAYG for a cask of this year's Cape of Good Hope double IPA from Yards and a small donation at the door to raise money for The Dude Hates Cancer and the LLS)

Beer and Food
@Chifa, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 7/28 - Oskar Blues Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $65 for a three-course smorgasbord paired with Dale's Pale Ale, Yella Pils, Old Chub, G'Knight, and Ten Fidy)

@High Street Grill, Mount Holly, NJ--- Sat. 7/30 - Beer Wars II (12:00pm-2:00pm; $25 for a three-course lunch pitting Tröegs against Unibroue)

@Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/30 - The Kenzinger Clambake (4:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG for a clambake feast and fun and DJ'ed music from 4pm-8pm)

@Pub & Kitchen, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 7/28 - Bell's Beer Dinner (6:00pm-9:00pm; $40 for four courses of food paired with Oarsman, Pale Ale, Oberon, and Double Cream Stout)

Happy Anniversary
@Stewart's Brewing Company, Bear, DE--- Fri. 7/29-Sat. 7/30 - 16th Anniversary Party (PAYG as the brewpub taps the Stumblin' Monk, the 2011 barleywine, and potentially some other goodies from "the vault")

Get outside and do something
@City Hall, western plaza, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/29, Sat. 7/30 - Philly On Tap Walking Tours (5:00pm-7:00pm; $35 for a beer at each stop in your happy hour adventure, as well as a snack or two along the way)

@Old City, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/30 - Craft Beer and Artisanal Cheese Tour (3:30pm-5:30pm; $49 for 8 stellar beers, 4 amazing cheeses, and great fun facts and tips)

@World Café Live, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 7/28 - A Philadelphia Ale & Arts Adventure (5:30pm-8:00pm; $35 a pre-tour beer and a soft pretzel. Then, join a guide and weave through Philadelphia to learn the stories that bring the murals come to life. Plus, a stop at Dock Street Brewery)

Need last minute tickets to Ommegang's BCTC?

Psst, hey buddy! I know where you can get up to 4 VIP tickets and up to 2 general admission tickets (plus camping) to this weekend's annual Belgian fest in Cooperstown, NY.

Let me know if you're interested and I can hook you up with the sellers.

And, if you're're in for a great weekend

Ho Ho (Old) Ho at Victory's Christmas in July: 7/25/11

('10, '09, '08 Old Horizontals lined up for inspection at Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, Pa. during Christmas in July)

Learned a few things at Monday's Christmas in July day-long event at Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, Pa. Nothing particularly earth-shattering, but tidbits, nonetheless, here and there. Well, I didn't stay day-long, only long enough to sample all three (plus, for full disclosure, a little taster of Strangeways, an English session ale served on nitro) and order a pizza to take home for dinner.

- The three vintages of Old Horizontal, '10 '09 and '08, came across pretty much as expected. Meaning that Old Horizontal, stored properly, should be a fine drinking barleywine still several years after bottling. The '10 had the most noticeable hop presence whereas the '08 appeared sweeter and boozier and a smooth sipper. The '09 was in between on both accounts and the more balanced of the three. All three would have made fine growler accompaniments to Ommegang this upcoming weekend. I, however, had one choice to make, and it was the '09.

- An $11 growler fillup of vintage Old Horizontal is indicative of the year-round prices that make Victory growlered beer to go one of the best deals in the region.

- The menu has been tweaked lately and there are now cheeses selections from local farms like Birchrun Hills Farm (Chester Springs), Conebella Farms (Elverson), September Farm (Honeybrook), Shellbark Hollow Farm (West Chester), and Yellow Springs Farm (Chester Springs).

- Also catching my eye (or both of them) on the menu was an interesting-looking brie and asparagus pizza with roasted peppers and ricotta cheese....and the sandwich section, where there's one named after employees Whitney Thompson -- The Whitney, something that looks kind of like a Turkey Reuben -- and Scott Dietrich -- as in, The Dietrich, also reuben-esque. No one was revealing whether The Jerk Grinder was named after anyone ;-)

('10, '09, '08 Old Horizontals presented for Christmas in July at Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, Pa.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

One fine Sunday from Saison Dupont to Kite & Key

(A draft list befitting a 3rd anniversary party)

A Sunday morning that begins with Saison Dupont for breakfast with the final day of the Tour de France could go one of a few ways. The rest of the day could go to the so-called hell in a handbasket after such a tasty beginning. Naps could ensue. Et cetera.

I instead used it as fuel for one of the most productive six hour stretches in recent weeks. Articles written, e-mails (some rather old) responded to, RSS feeds/articles read and cleaned up, pictures processed and organized, and the upcoming week leading to Ommegang's annual BCTC was planned.

Now, the only question remained: Could I squeeze in a couple of hours to check out and help celebrate Kite & Key's third anniversary? The draft list that owner Jim had sent along to me the Friday prior continued to tap away from deep inside my thick skull.

One final check of Google Maps/Traffic showed the Schuylkill Expressway all green. 25 minutes later, I was at Kite & Key to verify that the beers were as good on tap as they were on paper.

(from left: Bryan Kolesar, The Brew Lounge; Cameron Saunders, Shangy's; Jared Littman, PhillyTapFinder; and Jim Kirk, owner of Kite & Key)

Along my drive, I wondered what type of crowd would turn out on a school work night for a hefty beer list such as this one. The dinner crowd -- reportedly larger than usual -- came early and stayed longer. And, the bar remained comfortably crowded until a little after 9 p.m. when I decided it was time to call it a night as well.

It was a pleasant crowd that seemed more comprised of local/neighborhood beer enthusiasts rather than hardcore beer geeks that traveled from far and wide to hold up pen lights to test the beer's SRM. Yet, some familiar faces to me included Jared and Kristy Littman (, Arthur Etchells (Foobooz), Cameron and Jess Saunders (Shangy's), and Rich Isaacs (

(Rich Isaacs of with Jim Kirk of Kite & Key)

Many of Jim's and Jake's regulars also turned out seeking some of the geekiest beers on the list such as Bell's Oracle, Bear Republic Apex, and Ithaca Thirteen. I'm a sucker for Sorachi Ace hop as well as the Citra. Therefore, the Thirteen may have been my favorite of the evening, though it didn't take more than a few sips of the potent Bell's Batch 10000 to want to stay the night. For a recipe that reportedly incorporates over 100 grains and 60 hop varieties, it's a pretty tightly clean beer that goes down so intoxicatingly pleasant.

All in all, a decent and satisfying way to celebrate a 3rd birthday and close out a day of delicious beer-drinking in Philly.

(Anniversary party-goers at Kite & Key filled the room from dinner on through the night)

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Drafting Room turned 17 and Tröegs brought the beer

(Chalkboard delights at The Drafting Room's 17th Anniversary Party on 7/21/11)

I can't begin to guess when The Drafting Room in Exton, Pa. became a regular stop for me. I've been working in Exton for nearly 12 years, so it was surely sometime in the early years when I learned of the good things happening on Route 100, somewhere between the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the north and the Exton Square Mall to the south (for those of you that need some landmarks for your first visit).

In any case, as goes much with regard to the passage of time, it's difficult to grasp another passing year and another anniversary party at The Drafting Room. This anniversary party marked 17 years. The beer landscape has changed quite a bit in those 17 years. Northern Chester County (and bleeding a bit into Montgomery County) is generally accepted as the richest of the beer-rich suburbs around Philadelphia and The Drafting Room sits smack in the middle of it all.

In the middle of a couple of Iron Hills (Phoenixville and West Chester), a couple of McKenzies (Malvern and Glen Mills), a couple of Sly Foxes (Royersford and Phoenixville), Victory (Downingtown), Rock Bottom (King of Prussia), and in the middle of a bevy of high quality beer-centric bars (Teresa's Next Door, TJ's, Flying Pig, Ron's Original, and Station Taproom to name just a few).

(Old buddies, Tracy Mulligan and Nick Johnson)

As has been the practice since the 10th anniversary, Tröegs brews a special anniversary beer for The Drafting Room. Even with all of the busyness of the impending move from Harrisburg to Hershey, for this year's commemorative brew the brewery took its Sunshine Pils as a base and basically upped the malt bill and finished with a significant bit of dry-hopping using Hersbrucker and Tradition hops. Think in the ballpark of Imperial Pilsner.

The beer drinks fairly nice and cleanly, though with a noticeable Noble Hop punch thanks to the multiple hop additions from the five varieties in the boil kettle, to the hopback, to the finishing dry hops. At 6.5% ABV, it may not be an all-night session-style beer, but it'll certainly get you through happy hour both happily and in one piece.

How about we close out this anniversary party note with a beer and food pairing suggestion? This 17th Anniversary Imperial Pilsner? When at The Drafting Room, be sure to order the Portuguese Sliders. Roast pork, fontina cheese, roasted peppers, cucumber relish, and the aioli sauce all go along quite nicely with this Imperial Pilsner.

(Dan "His Bigness" Bengel enjoying a TDR 17th Anniversary)

Beer cocktails? The time has come

I've typically eschewed the concept and the practice of "beer cocktails". Certainly, a beer -- after being crafted from multiple ingredients -- could not be made any better by mixing it with other liquors, juices, and what-not. Right?

Then, someone who knows a thing or two about our beloved beer and many other things food- and beverage-related, Ashley Routson aka The Beer Wench, posted a recipe that she stirred up at home.

After reading, then re-reading, I had my epiphany. Many of us talk affectionately about cooking with beer -- adding it to chilis, sauces, and the Thanksgiving turkey just to name a few common uses. In most cases of cooking with food, how much original beer aroma and/or flavor remains in the final food product once plated? Typically, not so much as to be obviously noticeable.

So then why should I get so preachy against beer cocktails where the beer plays a role, but may not be the lead player? The recipe that The Beer Wench passed along called for a hop-prominent beer. She used Brew Free or Die from 21st Amendment; I am quite familiar with this lovely beer and had a can that I could use (their new Hop Crisis was the backup).

I like Tequila and we'd just bought a new bottle of Reposado, coincidentally once again just what the recipe called for.

The final two ingredients I found readily at my local Wegmans market: Agave nectar and fresh lime juice.

After shaking together and serving over ice, the result did not disappoint.

All the in-your-face hop bitterness from the beer was diminished but still noticeable. The Tequila made sure of that. But, like in a margarita, the Tequila can be adjusted to be more or less recognizable.

Offsetting these two bold flavors were the lime juice which added just a bit of bracing tartness and the agave with a touch of sweetness.

So basically it was an almost-margarita with an undercurrent of hop bitterness and pretty darn refreshing. It's opened my mind to new possibilities.

Hop over to The Beer Wench's site for the full recipe.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Room Service

Is it just me (I love when people ask this question), or does the bucket of Yuengling Lagers look like the best room service deal going at the Loews Philadelphia hotel? Of course, adding the double bogus whammy of a delivery charge makes it a little less of a "deal".

But, really? What makes the Tri-Colored Corn Tortilla Chips the most expensive items on the food menu at $14 and who buys these? Relatively speaking, looking at the Chicken Wings, the order probably only contains three wings.

For your listening pleasure: Vinnie Cilurzo at NHC

James Spencer and his team over at Basic Brewing continue to do what they have done for over six years. That is, produce some of the highest-quality podcasted audio and video, mostly on the topic of homebrewing.

On a drive yesterday, I was able to take in a recently-posted audio cast that Spencer put up after this year's NHC in San Diego.

The keynote address was provided by Russian River's Vinnie Cilurzo. If you know Cilurzo, have spoken with him, or heard him speak, you already know that he is one of the nicest and well-spoken guys in the industry.

He speaks at NHC of his fascinating journey to Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa and all of the various levels of fun encountered along the way. His engaging style of presentation makes the hour go by quite easily.

And, if you have not encountered him in the past, then all the more reason to check out Basic Brewing's podcasted version of the address. Only thing better might have been to see the pictures that Vinnie put up on the screen. Maybe they'll be on this page eventually.

p.s. There's also some video from NHC Club Night on Basic Brewing's video page also worth checking out. Grab a beer, sit back, and enjoy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Information leak at Kite & Key, something about a bunch of sixtels

I have no idea how The Brew Lounge came into possession of this list and subsequently posted it here for your consumption.

Afterall, the K&K website clearly states that the draft list will not be published until the Savage Sixtel Sunday/3rd Anniversary Party gets underway at 7 p.m.

It'll take some true savages to devour this list on Sunday. Are you up to the task? The morning after this soirée promises to be a bit rougher than the typical Monday morning.

~ 21st Amendment Hop Crisis
~ Allagash Blonde Ale
~ Bell's Batch 9000
~ Bell's Batch 10000
~ Bell's Oracle
~ Ithaca Thirteen
~ Ithaca Twelve
~ Russian River Damnation
~ Russian River Pliny The Elder
~ Weyerbacher Sixteen
~ Yards Bourbon Love Stout

Hot and Cold

As much of the country bakes in yet another day of roasting temperatures, Alan reminds us what things make look like in another 6 months or so by looking back on his 2010 Yuletide photo contest in the beer/snow category.

I've got two pictures in that bunch and, boy, what I wouldn't give right about now for 80 less degrees, a few inches of snow (why not? it's harmless...usually), and a big bottle of barrel-aged Anchor :)

It also reminds me that Christmas in July is being celebrated with a vertical Horizontal tasting on Monday at Victory Brewing in Downingtown.

In this extreme weather, remember to hydrate, check in on your neighbors (particularly the elderly), and stay as cool as possible. We'll get through this, one way or another.

Saison Brunch at Johnny Brenda's: 7/17/11

(Ten little Saisons for brunch at Johnny Brenda's)

What is a Saison? Like many styles today, definitions are being stretched and unless you're a certified judge (and judging at a competition), this shouldn't be all too disconcerting. After all, if it resembles what most generally accept as the historical style definition and recipe (because, obviously, you can't make something that more closely resembles a Russian Imperial Stout's recipe and call it an English Pale Ale) and is delightfully tasty (because, seriously, isn't that what it's really, usually, all about?), then I say "Let them drink Saison!"

Oh boy, the heat must be getting to me, because I have no idea what I just tapped out in that there paragraph above. True enough statements, I think most would agree, but what I'm really aiming to share with you here is the Saison Brunch at Johnny Brenda's last Saturday and the diverse interpretations of the wonderful style that our local brewers had on display along side brunch creations from Johnny Brenda's kitchen staff.

(Ham & Gruyère Quiche at Johnny Brenda's)

There were Saisons ranging from 4.5-8.0% ABV.

There were Saisons from the City and the suburbs. Plus, a Saison brewed collaboratively in Belgium.

Some were hoppy, some were made with Johnny Brenda's coffee, some were fruity, while others were spicy, and yet others brought out the funk in funky farmhouse ales.

Some were dark and some were light and some were colored in between.

Some highlighted aromatics produced by the yeast and others were more subtle.

There were ten in total which made for two perfect flights of five to share between the two of us.

This was our first brunch at Johnny Brenda's and we both walked away more than satisfied. Hearty plates of Eggs Benedict and Ham & Gruyère Quiche were more than enough to satisfy our hunger.

(Brunch Menu at Johnny Brenda's)

(Eggs Benedict at Johnny Brenda's)

(Saisons of every flavor and color at Johnny Brenda's Saison Brunch)

(Saisons of every flavor and color at Johnny Brenda's Saison Brunch)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: July 21 - July 27

Plenty of Philadelphia-area beer lovers will be taking the next week to prepare for the annual trek to Cooperstown and Ommegang. But, worry not all of you that will not be, there is still plenty to do in the remainder of July without beer camping 200 miles from home. Here's a look at the next seven days.

Check out the entire July 2011 calendar over here.

If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know.

Tastings and samplings
@Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/22 - Free Sampling (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples of San Diego-born beers)

@Exton Beverage, Exton, PA--- Fri. 7/22 - Friday Night Sampling (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples of Craft Beer in Cans)

Brewery promos and other such fun
@Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/22 - Sixpoint Brewery Tap Takeover (5:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG for Otis (nitro), Righteous Ale, Sehr Crisp Pilsner, Bengali Tiger IPA, Mad Scientist #4 Hibiscus Ale, Triple Sweet Action, Sweet Action, Brooklyn Invasion Pale Ale, (a special one-time limited brew for Johnny Brenda's), a Mystery Custom Brew and a firkin of Brevity Wit.)

@Kite & Key, Philadelphia, PA--- Sun. 7/24 - Savage Sixtel Sunday 3rd Anniversary Party (7:00pm; PAYG)

@Pinocchio's, Media, PA--- Fri. 7/22-Sun. 7/24 - Non-Denominational Winter Solstice in July (PAYG for Allagash Curieux, Allagash White, Anchor Christmas Ale '10, Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout '10, Brotherly Suds 2, Choklat Covered Raspberry, De Proef/Sly Fox Broederlijke Liefde, Dirty Allagash, Duck Rabbit Rabid Duck, East End Big Hop IPA (cask), Firestone Walker Double Jack DIPA, Founders Blushing Monk, Heavy Seas Plank 1, Lindemans Framboise, Port Mongo DIPA, Russian River Pliny the Elder, Scaldis Peche Mel, Southern Tier Choklat, Stoudt's Gold, Tröegs Mad Elf '10, Urban Chestnut Winged Nut, and Urban Chestnut Zwickel)

@The Drafting Room, Exton, PA--- Thu. 7/21 - 17th Anniversary Party (6:00pm; PAYG for the specially brewed Tröegs 17th Anniversary Lager and a night of other Tröegs on tap including TDR/Tröegs 16th Anniversary, Dreamweaver Wheat, Flying Mouflan, Scratch #42 (Razzmadizzle), Scratch #43 (IPA), Scratch #44 (Belgian Quad), Scratch #45 "Super Secret" IPA, Troegenator, and HopBack (cask).

Celebrating Belgian Independence
@Bella Vista Beer Distributors, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/22 - Belgian Beer Sampling (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free tasting samples of Steenbrugge Abbey Tripel, Palm Amber and Rodenbach Flemish Red Sour from Latis Imports)

@Iron Abbey, Horsham, PA--- Thu. 7/21-Sat. 7/23 - Belgium Independence Week: Hogfest (PAYG for tappings of numerous Belgian brews)

@Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 7/21 - Feestdag (12:00pm-3:00pm; PAYG as Megan from Duvel/Ommegang will be on hand with some cool stuff, like glassware, hats & keychains. Draft beer selections will include Chouffe Houblen,
Duvel Single, McChouffe, Ommegang Adoration, Ommegang Belgian Independence Day Saison, and Ommegang Triple Perfection. In bottles will be Duvel, Duvel Triple Hop, Liefmans Cuvee Brut, Liefmans Goudenband, Ommegang Belgian Pale Ale, Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence, Ommegang Triple Perfection, Ommegang Three Philosophers, and Ommegang Zuur)

@Pinocchio's, Media, PA--- Thu. 7/21 - Feastdag (PAYG for a Palm draft special and some free stuff that says Palm on it)

@Resurrection Ale House, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 7/21 - Belgian Independence Day (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG for draft line-up including Gnomegang, Houblon Chouffe, the brand new Ommegang Belgian Independence Saison, Liefmans Cuvee-Brut, Maredsous 8 and many more)

@TJ's, Paoli, PA--- Sat. 7/23 - Duvel/Ommegang's Belgian Independence Day (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for Abbey Ale, B.I.D. Spiced Saison, BPA, Hennepin, and Witte from Ommegang, Liefmans Cuvee Brut, La Chouffe, Houblon Chouffe, Duvel Single (Draft), and Maredesous Tripel)

Christmas in July
@Victory, Downingtown, PA--- Mon. 7/25 - Christmas in July (11:30am; PAYG for Vertical Vintage Tastings of '08, '09, '10 Old Horizontal barleywine)

Beer and Food
@Bethlehem Brew Works, Bethlehem, PA--- Tue. 7/26 - Coast to Coast Brew Dinner (7:00pm-9:30pm; $50 for a five-course interstate meal paired with Flying Dog In-Heat Wheat, Ommegang Rare Vos, Anchor Steam, Stout's Double IPA, and Terrapin Moo-Moo)

@Iron Hill, Maple Shade, NJ--- Wed. 7/27 - Brewmaster’s Summer Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $65 for a five-course meal paired with Belgian White, Saizanne, Kryptonite, Anvil Ale, and Cherry Porter)

@Kaya's Cuisine, Havertown, PA--- Wed. 7/27 - Summer Beer Dinner (7:00pm; $65 for a seven-course meal paired with Bell's Two Hearted Ale, Ayinger Celebrator Dopplebock, Unibroue La Fin Du Monde, Pretty Things Jack D'Or, North Coast Old Rasputin, Duvel, and Weyerbacher Riserva)

@White Dog Café, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/23 - Lobster & Clam Bake Street Party (7:00pm; $55 for unlimited seafood buffet and draft beer from 7pm-9pm and live music 'til midnight)

@Delaware State Fair, Harrington, DE--- Sat. 7/23 - Delaware State Fair Battle of the Brews (12:00pm-3:00pm; $5.25 admission and up)

@Keystone Homebrew Supply, Bethlehem, PA--- Wed. 7/27 - Intro to Brewing Class (6:30pm; $40)

Festivals and What-not
@City Hall, western plaza, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/22, Sat. 7/23 - Philly On Tap Walking Tours (5:00pm-7:00pm; $35 for a beer at each stop in your happy hour adventure, as well as a snack or two along the way.)

@Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/23 - Summer Ale Festival (6:30pm-10:00pm; $30/$60/$90 to eat and drink from over 30 vendors amongst the wild things)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Victory Beer BQ at Square 1682 (Hotel Palomar): 7/13/11

(Square 1682's entrance is positioned just as AIA bookstore's was)

I've had a soft spot for the Hotel Palomar since San Francisco Beer Week. Sure, they provided for my "home base" as we gallivanted around the Bay Area in search of good beer stories. Of course, if they did not deliver on their mission statement, I'd feel differently, but they hit solidly on most cylinders. The more research I've done, the more I've learned that it's a consistent hotel chain-wide experience, not just in San Francisco. After returning, I had written a short travel column about the stay over at The Washington Times.

So it stood to reason that when I got the call to stop in at Hotel Palomar's restaurant, Square 1682, in Philadelphia for a "Beer BQ", it took me no time at all to make room in the schedule.

(The main dining room on the second floor of Square 1682)

The special dinner, featuring beers by Victory Brewing, was an all-American inspired summer picnic menu. Coincidentally, renowned and accomplished chef, Guillermo Tellez makes his home on Victory's home turf, Downingtown. Tellez, who comes to Philadelphia from Mexico by way of Chicago, can be found on certain nights off at the brewery's restaurant. Tellez said that he and the Victory guys (Barchet and Covaleski) and their beers have a friendship and familiarity that made this month's feature beers and dinner an easy one.

(1st Course: Victory Lager paired with Three Bean Salad prepared with sundried tomatoes, oregano, cilantro, ranch dressing, crispy tortillas)

(2nd Course: Victory Summer Love Ale paired with Lobster & Corn Chowder prepared with Pennsylvania sweet corn custard and grilled lime corn)

The dinner was being served throughout the evening in addition to the standard a la carte menu. After making our way through a tasty bean salad and a chock full chowder of lobster and corn, we arrived at what I deemed the best pairing of the night. The HopDevil continues to be a standout beer for Victory, walking the balance between a solid malt profile and a pleasant hop bitterness to delight beer lovers of both stripes. This malt backbone in the beer provided for a perfect accompaniment for the pork meat and the barbecue sauce while the hop bitterness played a nice counterpart to the spicy slaw and sage corn bread.

And I'd be remiss in not mentioning the full ribs of meat that were prepared to the point where the tender meat practically fell off the bone and melted in our mouths. It reminded me of a similar experience on a particular night at Chifa for its Brooklyn Beer Dinner and the ribs that were paired with Dark Matter.

(3rd Course: Victory HopDevil paired with Bucks County BBQ Pork Ribs prepared with sage corn bread, spicy slaw, and tex-mex black beans)

(4th Course: Victory Golden Monkey paired with Peach & Blueberry Cobbler prepared with fresh whipped cream)

Finally, for dessert, after all the preliminaries were out of the way came what may be a new favorite dessert and beer pairing of mine that does not incorporate chocolate. The fresh fruit cobbler and the spicy/fruity/boozy Golden Monkey created a decadent delight that I now want to end every picnic with.

One thing I made note of during the dinner was how it actually related back to the menu. Too often, I find myself reading a menu laden with descriptors and ingredients for each menu item only later to be searching for where they are on the plate or buried in the food. With Tellez' Beer BQ menu, each of the four menu items was described succinctly and each of the ingredients could be abundantly and easily identified on the plate and/or on the palate. There was no searching or quizzing each other as to whether there was cilantro in the salad, the slaw was spicy, or there was lobster in the chowder.

If Tellez and Square 1682 keep up with this beer dinner format and quality while still in the under-$50 price range, we will likely see their beer dinners/events become a part of the regular calendar in Philadelphia.

(Many markings of the building's historical significance exist in its latest incarnation)

(The entrance to Hotel Palomar on 17th Street with a nod above to Ben Franklin)

(The entrance to Hotel Palomar on 17th Street with a nod above to Ben Franklin)

(The beer menu at Square 1682 demonstrates a smattering of style and geographic preferences)

(Many markings of the building's historical significance exist in its latest incarnation)

(Many markings of the building's historical significance exist in its latest incarnation)

(Square 1682's staircase to second floor dining)

(Yet another nod at Hotel Palomar to local Philadelphia and Ben Franklin)

(Hotel Palomar, one of the most pet-friendly hotel chains)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Another anniversary, another new beer at The Drafting Room

As I proclaimed TJs the best all-around beer bar/restaurant nearest to my home and one of the best in the region, for sure, The Drafting Room should be mentioned in the same league, albeit in the closer-to-my-workplace sub-category.

I was reminded of this when reviewing the customers-wanted ad for this Thursday's (7/21/11) annual anniversary bash thrown in conjunction with Tröegs Brewing. The Harrisburg brewery has once again produced the anniversary beer for The Drafting Room: 17th Anniversary Lager.

Also featured on tap beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday will be TDR/Tröegs 16th Anniversary, Dreamweaver Wheat, Flying Mouflan, Scratch #42 (Razzmadizzle), Scratch #43 (IPA), Scratch #44 (Belgian Quad), Scratch #45 "Super Secret" IPA, Troegenator, and HopBack (cask). The evening is pay as you go.

BUT WAIT, if you act now....And when I say now, I mean Sunday the 24th and Sunday the 31st. One of the county's best Sunday brunch deals just got better. For these two Sundays only, Buy One Sunday Brunch, Get One Free. I think you need the email coupon, so if you're not already signed up for their e-mail newsletter, do so now! (use this link)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kicking Happy Hour, TJs style

I've made no bones nor hid the fact that TJs is the highest quality (and my favorite) all-around beer bar and restaurant nearest to my home. It's where I can be found most often spending my craft beer dollars.

The food menu, the electronic draft boards, the staff, the ambiance, the special events, and of course the beers all factor into this proclamation.

The happy hour specials (centered around "Keg Kickers") are part of this equation as well. Each weekday from 4pm-6pm, there have always been 3-4 beers priced to move -- and to be easy on the wallet at $3 (some at $4) per glass.

Now the Main Line's best happy hour, as they say, just got better. I realized this past weekend that I had this picture (above) on my phone from a recent happy hour at TJs and it reminded me to post this little ode.

The picture lovingly shows off a personal favorite of mine, Southampton Cuvee des Fleurs, and Patty's companion Belgian ale (the brand which I can not recall). But, in the back of the picture frame it also shows that happy hour specials now included all "craft cans" available for $3 from 4pm-6pm as well as a selection of 1/2-priced food items. Select wines are also included at $5 per glass.

Today, by the way, Keg Kickers are listed as: Voodoo Bitchin Camaro, Ballast Point Tongue Buckler, Sixpoint Bills Burger Beer, and Central Waters Illumination. But, keg kickers are not guaranteed to be available during, nor last throughout, happy hour.

And if you all don't get drinking the scraps from the 'scraps' event, you might even see the likes of Sculpin, Abner, Jaded, Yang, and Lectio on the specials list soon. Doesn't seem plausible, but you never can quite tell what will show up.

Still no minors in the bar area, though. Don't even ask, and please don't complain.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ommegang BCTC '11 VIP tickets available

Like last year, I'm helping a friend off-load a couple of VIP tickets to Ommegang's BCTC event in Cooperstown, NY.

Drop a note to me if you're interested and I'll hook you two up with each other.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: July 14 - July 20

Wilmington Beer Week concludes on Saturday. Even without it, the beer calendar is bursting as always in the coming seven days across the Philly region.

Check out the entire July 2011 calendar over here.

If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know.

Wilmington Beer Week (a few, but not all of the events)
@Chelsea Tavern, Wilmington, DE--- Thu. 7/14 - Meet and Greet with Dogfish Head (4:00pm-5:30pm; PAYG for a meet and greet with Sam Calagione and will feature Midas Touch on tap and may even "Randall" it for the evening)
@Chelsea Tavern, Wilmington, DE--- Thu. 7/14 - Beer Week beer dinner with Dogfish Head (6:00pm-5:30pm; $59 for a five-course meal paired with 2006 Pangaea, 2009 Sah'tea, 2010 Theobroma, 2007 Chateau Jiahu, and Midas Touch)

@Deep Blue Bar and Grill, Wilmington, DE--- Sat. 7/16 - Four-course Beer Dinner with Old Dominion & Fordham Brewery (6:30pm; $60 for a beer dinner with Old Dominion & Fordham Brewery)

@Domaine Hudson, Wilmington, DE--- Thu. 7/14 - Perfect Pairings six course Beer Dinner (6:30pm; $55 for guest speaker, Bob Gera, and a six-course meal paired with 21st Amendment Hop Crisis, Allagash Confluence, North Coast Old Rasputin Anniversary Ale, Malhuer 10, De Proef 2011 Collaboration series, and Young's Chocolate Stout)

@Harry's Seafood Grill, Wilmington, DE--- Sat. 7/16 - Victory Beer Dinner (4:00pm-7:00pm; $25 for a meet and greet with the Brewmaster from Twin Lakes Brewery, plus enjoy a variety of hors d'oeuvres and sample 4 different brews.)

@Piccolina Toscana, Wilmington, DE--- Thu. 7/14-Sat. 7/16 - 3 Course Prix Fixe Dinner ($30 for a four-course meal paired with suggested beers)
@Piccolina Toscana, Wilmington, DE--- Sat. 7/16 - Beer & Cooking Class with Chef Robbie (11:30am; $35 as Chef Robbie demos some of his favorite recipes using beer from 16 Mile. Then enjoy the 3 Course lunch you just watched.)

@Union City Grille, Wilmington, DE--- Sat. 7/16 - Unibroue Tasting Dinner (6:00pm-9:00pm; $45 for a five-course meal paired with Unibroue beer)

@Washington Street Ale House, Wilmington, DE--- Fri. 7/15 - Firkin Friday (5:00pm; PAYG for special casks from Yards, Evolution, & Fordham)

Tastings, samplings, brewery promos, and other fun
@Bella Vista Beer Distributors, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/15 - Brooklyn Brewery Sampling (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free tasting samples from Brooklyn's oldest)

@Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/15 - Free Sampling (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples of Victory's beer)

@Exton Beverage, Exton, PA--- Fri. 7/15 - Friday Night Sampling (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples of Olympia's Fish Brewing)

@Goshen Beverage, West Chester, PA--- Sat. 7/16 - Free Sampling (1:00pm-3:00pm; Free tasting samples of Shock Top White and Raspberry)

@Iron Hill, Wilmington, DE--- Fri. 7/15 - Rut Returns...with Hopkowski (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG as assistant brewer Mike Rutkowski comes back to Wilmington and bringing Hopkowski!)

@Station Taproom, Downingtown, PA--- Wed. 7/20 - Keep the Pint Night (6:00pm; PAYG for Ithaca's Dark Humor, Flower Power, Twelve, Thirteen, Partly Sunny, and Ground Break)

Promos with just a bit extra
@Capone's, Norristown, PA--- Thu. 7/14-Sat. 7/16 - 3 Day Saison & IPA Event (PAYG for Ballast Point Sculpin, Bullfrog Saison Nouveau, Cigar City Table Saison, De Proef Sly Fox Collaboration Broederlijke Liefde (Brotherly Love), Dock Street Brun, Dock Street Erbe, East End Obsticle Delusion (firkin), East End Imperial Double Big Hop IPA, Firestone Walker Double Jack, Great Lakes Erie Monster DIPA, KleinBrouwerij De Glazen Toren Saison D'Erpe-Mere, Lost Abbey Carnevale, New Holland Golden Cap Saison, Port Brewing Mongo DIPA, Southampton Cuvee Des Fleurs, Stillwater Stateside Saison, Victory CBC Saison, and Voodoo Bitchin' Camaro)

@Craft Ale House, Limerick, PA--- Thu. 7/14 - Night of Hatters (5:00pm; PAYG for Black Hatter, Farmhouse Hatter, Oak Aged Hatter, Rye Hatter, and a very elusive New Holland Firkin.)

@The Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/15 - Dogfish Head 10 Taps o' Fun (6:00pm-11:00pm; PAYG for Dogfish Head's Burton Baton, Festina Peche, Midas Touch, Red & White, Robert Johnson Hellhound, Palo Santo, Sah'tea, Theobroma, Worldwide Stout, 60 Minute IPA)

@The Institute, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/16 - Tröegs Tap Take-Over featuring Buffalo Wings (12:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for insane & unusual wings. The sprinkler room will be out for the day & on hand for the day to show you how to really eat a wing will be wing-eating champ El Wingador.)

@TJ's, Paoli, PA--- Sat. 7/16 - Better than Leftovers (4:00pm-11:00pm; PAYG for Ballast Point (Navigator, Tongue Buckler, Sculpin), Boulder Bourbon Barrel Aged Mojo Risin, Bruery Mischief, Cigar City Hillsborough Dry Stout, Central Waters Illumination DIPA, Coronado (Hoppy Lager, Black Pearle), Dark Horse (Raspberry Black Ice, Shake Mocha Porter), Evil Twin Yang, Hill Farmstead (Double Citra, Abner, Edward), Sixpoint Bill's Burger Bar Beer, Stillwater/Brewer's Art Debutante, Stillwater (Existent, Jaded), St. Somewhere Lectio Davina, Sprecher Black IPA, 't Gaverhopke Extra, Voodoo (Bitchin' Camaro, Pilzilla, Black Strap firkin, Williamsburg Bourbon Barrel Porter)

Learn to Homebrew it yourself
@Keystone Homebrew Supply, Montgomeryville, PA--- Fri. 7/15, Wed. 7/20 - Intro to Brewing Class (6:30pm; $40 for this class geared toward the first-time brewer that will explain the basic equipment needed to homebrew and how it works. Participants will get hands-on experience brewing, bottling, and tasting homebrew.)

Beer and food, naturally
@Biba Wine Bar, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/16 - Sustainable Saturday: Zip Code Honey with Local Cheese and Beer (2:00pm-3:00pm; $20 to pair great beers with local cheese and urban honey (from zip codes 19143, 19129 and 19147) courtesy of Urban Apiaries.)

@Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/16 - Saison Brunch (11:00am; PAYG for a brunch menu to pair a la carte with Stillwater Stateside Saison, Sixpoint Harbinger Saison, McKennzie Saison Vautour, McKenzie Houblonette, Manayunk Biere de Mars, Brew Works Monkey Wrench, Broederlijke Liefde "Brotherly Love", Sly Fox Grisette, Dock Street Saison Erbe, and Dock Street Saison Brun)

@Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, Lancaster, PA--- Sun. 7/17 - Food & Spirits Festival (2:00pm-7:00pm; $45/$55/$60 for an outdoor gathering of local restaurants, vineyards, microbreweries, art galleries and more)

@Old City, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/16 - Craft Beer and Artisanal Cheese Tour (3:30pm-5:30pm; $49 for 8 stellar beers, 4 amazing cheeses, and great fun facts and tips)

@The Shambles, Philadelphia, PA--- Sat. 7/16 - Good Food, Good Beer & the Rest is History (6:00pm-9:00pm; $25/$30 for all-you-can-eat-and-drink local food and beer from Philadelphia Brewing, Earth Bread + Brewery, Stoudt's, and Victory and food demonstrations all to benefit Slow Food Philadelphia and Farm to City)

@Wegmans, Malvern, PA--- Thu. 7/14 - Beer & Food of Summer Tour ($30 for great eats and brews at 6 stations along with live music by the Jason Farley Band)

"Christmas" Beer in July
@Iron Abbey, Horsham, PA--- Fri. 7/15 - Christmas in July (5:00pm; PAYG Avec Les Bons Voeux, Affligem Noël, Tröegs Mad Elf, and Gouden Carolus)

Special Events with audience participation
@City Hall, western plaza, Philadelphia, PA--- Fri. 7/15, Sat. 7/16 - Philly On Tap Walking Tours (5:00pm-7:00pm; $35 for a beer at each stop in your happy hour adventure, as well as a snack or two along the way.)

@The Institute, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 7/14 - Harry Potter Quizzo Movie Release Party (8:00pm-11:00pm; PAYG for a special Harry Potter Quizzo edition)

Pickups in Limerick, PA--- Sun. 7/17 - Craft Beer Bus Tour, Philadelphia (12:00pm-4:00pm; $50 for tours of two different micro-breweries for a V.I.P. behind the scenes look at their brewing operation but our third stop is to Weak Knee Brewing Supplies store)

@The Field House, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 7/14 - A Philadelphia Ale & Arts Walking Adventure (5:30pm-8:00pm; $35 to learn about 10 iconic murals, 4 provided beers, and the history of the bars involved, including Philadelphia’s oldest McGillin’s Olde Ale House, the very cool graffiti bar at Sampan, and Philly favorite, The Field House)

@World Café Live, Philadelphia, PA--- Thu. 7/14 - A Philadelphia Ale & Arts Trolley Adventure (5:30pm-8:00pm; $35 a pre-tour beer and a soft pretzel. Then, join a guide and weave through Philadelphia to learn the stories that bring the murals come to life. Plus, a stop at Yards Brewery.)

Festivals and Charities
@downtown Selinsgrove, PA--- Sat. 7/16 - Selinsgrove Beer & Wine Festival (2:00pm-6:00pm; $10/$45 for superb micro & craft brews, fine regional wineries, true tasting event, entertainment, and great food vendors)

@Iron Hill, Maple Shade, NJ--- Sat. 7/16 - 2nd Anniversary Party (12:00pm-5:00pm; PAYG for the release of our anniversary beer, Second Rising — a double IPA — and also on tap, a firkin of Christmas in July, a Bourbon Strong Ale. Complimentary appetizers and a raffle for Mug Club members.)

@PJ's Pour House, Westmont, NJ--- Sat. 7/16 - Pour-a-palooza (12:00pm-4:00pm; $35/$40 for 30 breweries, live music, outdoor tents, cool misters, limited t-shirts, and more)

@Reading Phillies Stadium, Reading, PA--- Sat. 7/16 - Pints for Pups (5:00pm-9:00pm; $20/$40/$50/$75 for an evening of great beer, food, and live music)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wilmington Beer Week: Domaine Hudson's Belgian Beer Tasting, 7/10/11

Note: For more about Wilmington Beer Week, a mini wrap-up of a Belgian Beer Tasting at Domaine Hudson's, and pictures, head over to The Washington Times Communities section, where I filed a column.

On almost-a-whim, we took a lovely drive to Wilmington last Sunday. It was the second day of its inaugural Beer Week and I figured if there'd be any day I stood a shot from July 9-16 of taking in an event, it would be that particular Sunday.

We saw on the event schedule that there was a nice looking $25 Belgian Beer Tasting event at Domaine Hudson, on the northern edge of downtown. I like the idea of checking out places that don't automatically sound like the typical beer spots to see how they approach beer and beer events.

Tom Hudson, owner of Domaine Hudson, got into the restaurant business around six years ago after toiling at the desk as a CPA for twenty-odd years. Big into wine, he ventured into beer nearly two years ago.

Now he and ten or so other restaurant-focused establishments banded together for Wilmington Beer Week from July 9-16. Some might ask, as did I, where one of the city's originals — Iron Hill — was in the mix of WBW (doesn't quite flow off the tongue like PBW, y'think?). The answer only matters based on whom you speak with, but suffice to say that this was WBW's first crack at a Beer Week and we may be able to better judge the long-term viability after a second year under its belt. My own personal opinion says that Wilmington Beer Week can not truly be Wilmington without Iron Hill included.

In any case, firkin pourings, beer dinners, celebrity spotting (he of Calagione fame, e.g.), classes, and meet 'n' greets are ruling the 24-event week thirty miles south of Philly.

That's enough, go read the rest and check out the other pictures over at The Washington Times Communities section where I filed the rest of the story.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Drink beer, have sex or Don't drink beer and live?

Medical research is so confusing these days. Probably why it's best to practice the best medicine, balance and moderation.

Beer lovers more likely to have sex on first date

but, lest ye get too excited,

Drinking may cause cancer

Friday, July 08, 2011

A little drive to Toronto

Did I tell you the one about how back in May Patty and I drove to Toronto? Probably not to many of you, and definitely not on these "pages".

See, it was a mostly personal trip, not so much a Brew Lounge trip. Though, where Beaumont and Bryan are involved, there are sure to be many fine brews. And for new discoveries along the way, I'd be derelict in my duties if I did not report back to you some new recommendations.

It may not be the timeliest of postings, but daggumit it's gonna be posted. Come to think of it, Beaumont is involved in the most delinquent Brew Lounge posting of all-time, last October's Rhine River cruise through Europe.

We drove north with in-person birthday wishes and a couple of growlers and six-packs from Sly Fox in tow for Steve. If I'm gonna miss the Bock Festival at Sly Fox, then Bock must travel shotgun. Plus, when they heard where I was headed, they insisted I take some extra with me.

This is just a short posting of some of the places we stopped along the way. Not full reviews, mind you, rather brief mentions of places you may wish to check out when traveling through New York State or north of the border in Toronto.

Just when you do the border-crossing thing, don't ask the crossing guard if he really does know Steve Beaumont. Seriously. Long story. A funny and long story. Don't ask, unless you buy me a beer and ask nicely.

Cole's in Buffalo, NY — An ad in the Ale Street News (I'm pretty sure that's where the idea came from) took us to this nice Irish-style spot north of downtown just off the Buffalo State College campus. It's been around since 1934 and boasts a lot of taps and a quality bottle menu to boot. Lamb burger and an IPA (called 'The Kind') from nearby 3 Heads Brewing in Rochester, NY satisfied me for the last leg of our drive to Toronto.

The Burger Bar in Toronto, ON - We were barely in town an hour and we were whisked away to The Burger Bar in the city's Kensington Market neighborhood near the University. My how this neighborhood has developed since we were last there nearly 10 years ago.

Steve introduced us to owner Brock Shepherd who was in the process of launching his own brewery, Kensington Brewing Company. At the time (don't know if status has changed since then), his Augusta Ale and Extra Hoppy were being contract-brewed somewhere outside of the city but with plans, if I recall correctly (everything from this trip is going off memory--fortunately, mine's usually pretty solid) to eventually set up shop in the back of the restaurant.

Beers were solid, as were the small bites that we enjoyed pre-dinner, and are recommended for your keen beer goggles to seek out when in Toronto. Not sure how wide the distribution may ever become, so simply head to The Burger Bar instead of traipsing around town hoping to find it. Plus, if the restaurant isn't to your liking, there are plenty of other options up and down Augusta Avenue.

Bar Volo in Toronto, ON - Before heading off to dinner, we made a stop around the corner, or around the University, from The Burger Bar. Bar Volo appears to be making waves in downtown Toronto. Big waves. Owner Ralph Morana is serving up some of the most interesting beers from eastern Canada, particularly (of course, hopefully) Ontario.

On this particular early Friday evening in mid-Spring, there was a healthy crossover of happy hour-goers as well as early birds getting a start on the evening. Morana made sure that we continued our progressive dinner across town with a plate of appetizing snacks and some beers that he found interesting, including some of his own from his 1-bbl system in the back. Yes, that's right. Another bar owner with a license to brew and sell on-premise.

His brewing endeavor goes by the name House Ales. Morana often gets together with local professional and home brewers to create highly sought-after beers that are licensed for on-premise consumption.

They also take up a spot on the Ontario Cask Ale Trail, something I found very intriguing as Morana serves many of his house-made beer in this fashion, cask-conditioned that is. Morana played quite the gracious host and makes Bar Volo an automatic stop during our next visit to Toronto.

beerbistro in Toronto, ON - At this point of the evening, it was time for a proper sitdown dinner. Beaumont is a minority partner in beerbistro and I've only eaten of Chef/Owner Brian Morin's creations at Monk's Café in Philly. So it became a near-given that we drop in for our dinner and last stop of the night. It was certainly the most upscale environment of the evening of our three stops and, given its location, was quite obvious that we were as "downtown" as we'd been all day/night. The Financial District, Theater District, and all things tourist dominate the areas adjacent to beerbistro.

With a bottle of Cantillon St. Lamvinus to get things started, we were off to quite a fine dinner. Morin stopped by to chat for a bit and then let us attack our plates of food from the seasonally-changed dinner menu. The beer menu is smartly organized into groupings that help simplify (or complicate, depending upon your perspective, I suppose) the selection process from a large beer list. Categories include: Appetizing, Bold, Contemplative, Crisp, Fruity, Quenching, Robust, Satisfying, Smoky, Sociable, Soothing, Spicy, Unpredictable, and even recommended "Beer for (both red and white) Wine Lovers".

Empire Brewing Company in Syracuse, NY - Syracuse was almost exactly half way along the drive home for us. It was too late to stop in Ithaca, so we figured to stop in at Blue Tusk in Syracuse in its Armory Square neighborhood to grab some barbecue and great beers.

But, alas, they are closed on Sundays so we walked across the street to Empire Brewing Company. They're big on sustainability and what-not and brew up a wide spectrum of flavors and aromas to please a wide swatch of patrons.

We know Empire from Ommegang's annual Belgium Comes to Cooperstown. Last year, the brewery's White Aphro (Belgian Wit) and Sub-Terranian (Belgian Farmhouse/Tripel) impressed. The service on this particular Sunday was prompt, friendly, and educated (in the ways of beer). We got what we needed in the form of some burgers and beers before heading out for the second four-hour leg of journey.

All in a weekend's work play for The Brew Lounge.