Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 Year-end Clearout Special

These last couple of years have been, well, something else. So much so that as I was putting the wraps on my ten-year-commemorative postings the other day, I decided to clean up the many dozens of unpublished drafts of material that I'd begun throughout the years but never ultimately shared with you. Many involved pictures, many others were news events and/or op-ed style responses to the news.

Some don't matter anymore and have therefore been deleted in an effort to begin 2016 with zero previously unpublished material. The rest I'm including in random order below as a laundry list of things you may find interesting that were stewing around in my draft folder for way too long — some bits since 2008!

Now, with this piece of the deck cleared, I can begin 2016 clean and fresh and ready to get this ship writed [sic] in the Year of the Return of the Independent Beer Blog.

Pyramid Beers. They sent me some in 2009. I drank them. I liked them. The Haywire especially. I probably did some social posting about it and lo-and-behold, they later win a Gold medal for it at the Great American Beer Festival. Something similar happened last year with Four Seasons in western Pa. and their Dark Side Oatmeal Stout winning a GABF silver medal. I do what I can...

In the Aughts' middle years, I found myself in Texas (esp. Dallas metro area) quite a bit. I've long known of the Flying Saucer chain of nearly 20 beer bars across the south from other cities where I've stumbled in and out of. This was my first visit to the Addison, Tex. location. Some pictures if you please...

February of 2008 found me in northern California (as do many Februaries as my travel log will testify) and at the 20th anniversary party of Celebrator Magazine. As the handful of pictures below suggest, it was a splendid time. The rest of the photos can be found over at Picasa via this link. Below, you'll see The Trappist in Oakland, only recently opened at that time. In my unfinished posting, I described it as a new Belgian bar in an unlikely place (Oakland, which at the time was beginning to pull increasingly more habitants over from skyrocketing real estate of San Francisco) with a high ceiling, yet cozy feel and a small, but great list of beers. They're still doing it well eight years later.

Ah yes, Pittsburgh. Every year sees me there at least once for work, hockey, running, or beer. Well, let's be honest, beer is included in every trip. In 2008, you may recall a Flyers/Penguins playoff series. I negotiated a little wager of beer from brewers and bar owners between the two cities and, well, I needed to make the cross-state trip to pay up. The settlement was made at the rather new Bocktown Beer & Grill in Robinson Township, near the Pittsburgh airport. It still exists (along with its sister location in Monaca) as one of the beer destinations in the Pittsburgh region. The first four pictures below are from Bocktown and the last seven from the Creekside location of the Sharp Edge Beer Emporium.

Back to Dallas again. This time, a handful of pictures from the Dallas location - est. 1992 - of the Ginger Man mini-chain of beer bars. No longer associated with the NYC and Conn. ones, this one in the McKinney section of the Big D is one of six in Texas. One of my favorite bar settings/atmospheres. A comfortable two-story homey feel inside a likewise comfortable backyard. At the time, there was a bartender named Courtney Love; I made her show me her driver's license to prove it.

Then there's the pride of Victory and Chester County, Richard Ruch, Amish Rob, and Co., at the center of this Oktoberfest-themed video.

And while on the topic of videos, there's this short episode that I'd forgotten completely about that I stumbled upon live at Monk's Cafe in Philly back in 2010.

Keeping with the lighter theme of things, yes let's please do remember TO NOT BE A DOUCHE. I'm pretty much on board with 100% of all of these and even throughout my entire book researching, writing, promoting, and selling have always endeavored to keep them in mind. Yet, there does seem to be a disturbingly growing minority of them.

From 2010 at Brauhaus Schmitz on South Street in Philly, this German-themed beer dinner with owner Matthias Trum of Aecht Schlenkerla still ranks as one of my favorite and most informative beer dinners ever attended. Pictures here via this link and video below of a very engaged Trum.

Love was in the air at McKenzie Brew House?

Ray Deter passed away in 2011. He was central to the success of dba in NYC and New Orleans where the beer, wine, tequila, and whiskey were way ahead of the curve. I'd copied down Tom Peters' (Monk's Cafe) sentiments that he'd posted on the website while Deter was still in the hospital. Perfect words for a man that certainly left his mark on the world of great beverages...

"Ray is a beer pioneer…dba was one of the first real beer bars on the East Coast....I remember sitting on dba's back patio one early Fall evening a few years ago with Ray, Dennis and beer writer, Michael Jackson. We were discussing jazz, beer, wine, and of course, talking some smack about Philly vs New York as the better beer town. Ray has always been delusional in thinking that New York has it going on beer-wise. Michael and I felt that Philly was the ultimate beer town in the US....Ray is the consummate host. He makes everyone feel at home, from the casual beer drinker to the most obsessive beer geek....Ray was beer before beer was cool."

This was weird. But maybe nothing compared to the litigation looniness of today.

This, on the other hand, was fun and informative. Iron Hill only had nine locations and Bob Barrar was not yet at 2SP Brewing Company.

These were enlightening quotes from 16 Mile Brewing Company in Georgetown, Del. circa 2012. I should check back now, four years later, and see how they match up with what I learned and captured in my book...
"We are bold sessionable ales with a strong local feel....They are all English in heritage but with a America craft beer style. We are going to do two very interesting things that really set us apart. One is a whole series of beers for charity, one a year round brand the others will be limited edition....We have a stage for political speakers, live small bands, chefs, to even farmers a soap showcase to talk and people to learn. We are asking people to come in and unplug and talk with others and learn....We even have kitchen prep area so gourmet chef can come by and prepare killer foods for guests....The goal of this brewery is to really just me a local beer for people living within around a hundred miles of us, and that is it. We do not even want to go to Philly, DC, or even in Baltimore where we are we want to be small there so we can be big in the other markets."

In 2013, I was attempting to get caught up — sort of like I'm trying to do again here. Here are some links back to The "Intro", Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, and Part VIII.

I had at least four more installments focused on other parts of the country that I never got around to. You'll find them scattered around this posting — Dallas; Pittsburgh; NYC, Washington DC; etc.

Oh, right. Speaking of Washington, DC. This was in the time roughly of 2009-2010...

(White House portico)

(WH from Pa Ave)

(Straffe Hendrik at Brasserie Beck)

(Antigoon made for BB by Brouwerij De Musketiers)

(Troubador at Brasserie Beck)

(Antigoon...made for BB by Brouwerij De Musketiers)


(Fried mac and cheese egg rolls at ChurchKey)

How about Virginia? Yes, Virginia. Back in 2012, I "discovered" Hardywood Park on edge of Richmond and VCU's campus. Not sure I ever shared with you and am not going back to check. Here are a few pictures that begin to show off this very special East Coast brewery with what should be a very promising future.

Let's also not leave out Providence, RI. Not sure I've praised Julians (est. 1994) in print, certainly to many of you in person, but these pictures come from 2010 and Julians continues to still represent as well as ever today. If I had pictures, I'd also share my love for Track 84, just across the street and down a short almost alley-like road from the airport. Alas, though, not only are my pictures nonexistent, this last summer also saw them close. Bummer and a loss for the local beer scene for sure.

I began to take on the craft vs. crafty debate across many paragraphs and pages, but then wasn't satisfied that it really mattered enough to me. This was the hub-bub of 2012 and showcased the pains of growing in an industry segment like this one. And if I couldn't get it to matter enough to me, I wasn't going to share it with you. But, here are a few words that I salvaged...

"They've made a list (and presumably checked it twice) and cited the naughty list of those that are not craft brewers....Fact is, or at least I believe that most will take this as fact, even some of our darling micro-est of microbreweries look anything like a "hand-crafted" brewery when you step into their the sense of what happens when Boston Beer, Dogfish Head, Victory, New Belgium, or any of the others beginning butting up against the BA-defined six million barrel threshold? (Which, by the way, used to be only 15,000 barrels. Recall those quaint, old days?)....As the aging "craft" brewing industry begins to look at succession plans, not to mention as more of the "macros" want to buy into the "craft" segment and their big money is too much for some to turn down, regardless of how true to the original recipes and mission statements the "craft" brewer remains....I've taken a lot of words here (hopefully) to point out that this is all beyond inside baseball for most and silly to many. Some predict that if the beer geeks grab a hold of this, the damage could be worse than predicted....What does craft really mean anyway? What does it mean to you?"

Well, that seems as good a place as any to end. My draft folder is cleaned out and I'm ready to begin 2016 anew and without the ghosts of draft posts past.

That was fun for me and a bit healthy going through that cleanse and purge! Have you enjoyed any of this or has this all left you rather (un)comfortably numb?!

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