Breweries "Visited"

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Death From Above!

Beer #81 Bombardier / Wells & Young's Brewing Company, Bedford, England

Today was one of those days where everyone who I talked to had an emergency that needed to be solved yesterday.   I won't bore you with the details, but let's just say not every emergency was solved, so I'm looking at more fun and games tomorrow.  You know what would have helped?  Air support.  Someone laying down friendly fire so I could buy some time to seek cover.   So I went ahead and called in the bombardier.

Not just any bomber, either.  I called in THE Bombardier, as in Wells Bombardier, an English bitter from Wells & Young's Brewing Co.  This has been a favorite beer of mine for some time, as Teresa's Next Door has carried this by the awesome 500ml bottle since the day they opened.  This beer pours a reddish amber in the glass, and you get hit with a rich, malt aroma when you inhale.  The taste has peppery notes, with malt and toffee sweetness, and some hop bitterness on the finish.  A fantastic session beer, Bombardier is one of my go-to beers, and may find its way to a tailgate this fall when the weather starts to cool.  For now?  It finds a home in my Top 25.  Not the most complex beer, but this isn't a contest to find the most unusual flavors crammed in a glass.  Sometimes, the best beers keep it simple and delicious.
Bombs away!
Cool history behind this beer - Charles Wells was a sailor in the British Navy who fell in love, but found out his future father-in-law wouldn't let his daughter get married, as he wasn't happy that his future son-in-law was going to be at sea most of the time.  So, Wells decided he'd get a steady, stable job: he bought a brewery.  And with that, Charles Wells Family Brewery was born in 1876.  More recently, Wells merged with another local brewery, Young's, to form the current entity.  For history buffs, Young's may be an even cooler story, as their history dates back to 1550.

Thing to Think About Today:
So, today is February 29th, the extra day in a leap year.  Leap year, you say?  I had promised earlier in this post that I was calling in air support, so let's go ahead and see what happens when LaVar leaps over the line and the bomb gets dropped in from above:

Death from above, PSU style.

Beer 81: Brooklyn Brown Ale or It’s Complicated

I’m beginning to realize that work is going to be a total pain in my balls from now until May 11.  Every time I feel like I have things under control, 15 minutes pass by and I’m drowning in to do lists once again.  Oh well, at least I have a job I love.  Seriously.  I’m spending the last hour of tomorrow testing hydrogen balloon configurations to determine which one is the most awesome.  I get paid to do this shit.  Seriously.

On to today’s beer -- Brooklyn Brown Ale out of Brooklyn, New York.  It pours a deep, dark brown with a light tan head.  It smells of biscuits and malt.  The taste is rich and complex.  The longer I drank it, the more nuanced the flavor.  It started with chocolate and roasted malts.  Then the nuttiness showed itself.  This is kind of a heavy brown ale that I don’t think I would necessarily drink year-round despite its availability.  About midway through the glass, I began picking up on a great caramel flavor that led to coffee notes.

 Like I said, it’s got some complex flavors going on.  One of my absolute favorite beers from Brooklyn is their Local 2.  It’s a Belgian strong dark ale.  I recommend you go find one.  Maybe even go find this one and let me know which one is your favorite.  I vote this one as a great wintertime beer.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

This Beer? MANEATER.

Beer #80 La Trappe Quadrupel / Brouwerij De Koningshoeven, Tilburg, The Netherlands

I swear, my dear American craft breweries, that one day we'll drink a bunch of your product. I promise this. However, if it's Tuesday, then it's another offering from Europe. This time, it's the quad from De Koningshoeven, better known as La Trappe, a brewery in Holland. This amber beer brings aromas of malt and some light citrus. The taste immediately brings a sweet taste of malt and yeast, with banana and caramel present. Bottle conditioned with roots dating back to 1884, this trappist ale weighs in at 10% ABV and definitely packs a punch.

But you ask: what's a trappist ale?

I'm glad you asked that question.  Trappist ales come from monks who brew beer to sustain their monastery and support charitable causes.  There are seven officially certified Trappist breweries, and they're serious about the designation.  De Koningshoeven had their Trappist status taken away previously, and only returned back once they proved the monks were brewing the beer, not some hired hands.

To beer geeks, the Trappist label is a big deal, although there are rumors of an eighth monastery trying to gain the status.  Part of the reason why it's a big deal is because these beers are among the best Belgium (and the Netherlands!) have to offer.  To receive this designation, you need to put in some work.  From

 “Trappist” has to satisfy a number of strict criteria proper to this logo before it may bear this name: 
  1. The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, either by the monks themselves or under their supervision.
  2. The brewery must be of secondary importance within the monastery and it should witness to the business practices proper to a monastic way of life.
  3. The brewery is not intended to be a profit-making venture.  The income covers the living expenses of the monks and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds.  Whatever remains is donated to charity for social work and to help persons in need.
  4. Trappist breweries are constantly monitored to assure the irreproachable quality of their beers.

These monks brew beer and help those in need?  I like it.

Thing to Think About Today:

Let's see.... A beer from Holland. Must mean its time for you to think about.... Hall and Oates. Get it? Holland Oates?  Yeah, that was pretty weak.  Anyway.

Anyone can suggest you listen to 80's pop sensation Hall and Oates, so I'll take it one step further and suggest you listen to a duo that decided to produce an entire album of Hall and Oates covers. Yes friends, its time for you to unwind, relax, kick back, and think about The Bird and The Bee!

Beer 80: La Trappe Quadrupel

What a day.  A  co-worker inadvertently attempted to poison me.  I am indeed sick as I suspected yesterday.  I had medicine head for a big meeting today and had to work really hard to make sense and stay awake.  How I am still awake - hell, even alive - at this point is beyond me.

Let’s start with the poisoning.  I’m allergic to artificial sweetener and spent the entire morning powering through sugar-free (or artificially sweetened) Halls cough drops.  But I didn’t know they were sugar-free until post-lunch at which point I started feeling more off than I thought I should.  I won’t bore you with the details of how I know I’m having an allergic reaction but let’s just say I left work before the numbness and blindness set in.  It was the…longest…drive…ever.  But I managed to get home, take more cold medicine and Advil and pass out on the couch.  Now I've rallied and am drinking a La Trappe Quadrupel.

La Trappe is brewed at one of the seven remaining Trappist monastery breweries.  It is the only one in The Netherlands.  The Quadrupel comes in at 10% ABV - evidently I continue to self-medicate.  (Also if any members of my family are reading this…don’t be alarmed.  I’m typically very responsible.)  It poured a reddish amber color and smelled sweet and of malt.  Sometimes I’ll drink a beer with a high ABV and can’t taste the alcohol.  This is NOT one of those beers.  It is all up in my taste buds.  It drinks big and thick and is sweet and finishes with a bite.

According to the La Trappe’s website, it is now aged in oak barrels and you can pick up some of the flavor that the barrel imparts.  I also noticed toffee and something fruity in the flavor.  I’d probably like this even more if I weren’t so stuffed up and feeling like crap.  With a little luck, I’m going to attempt to get twelve hours of sleep tonight and will wake up a new woman.  Cheers to that.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dancing Elephants with a Huggy Bear Cameo

Beer # 79 Delirium Tremens / Brouwerij Huyghe, Melle, Belgium

Today was a Monday, and let's leave it at that.  Marci thinks she's getting sick, we're having soup for dinner, I picked up new running shoes.  Yes, another pair of Saucony Triumphs, and no, they're not neon orange.  Let's just leave it at that and get to the bottom of a glass of beer, shall we?

And what a fine beer indeed - Delirium Tremens from the good people at Brouwerij Huyghe in (guess where?) Belgium.  Another brewery Marci has already crossed off her list, so I'm catching up here.  Before you even get to the beer, you notice the unusual opaque bottle with a pink elephant dancing gracefully on the label.  This beer pours a clear pale gold color, and while the aroma isn't overpowering, there's a light, fruit scent on the nose.  The taste brings a pleasant mix of malt, yeast, and a peppery spice on the finish.   The aroma isn't overpowering, but has a light fruit nose.  There are banana notes along the way, and a light, effervescent finish.  You barely notice the 9% ABV, which is mildly dangerous, as I could drink this beer all day.  Every day.  Which is why it's headed for my Top 25 list, people.  Also important to note, this brewery has been in operation since 1654, which astounds me with its awesomeness.

I neglected to take a picture of my beer, so here's a picture of my new shoes.  What up.

Thing to Think About Today:
Thought about making some form of Huggy Bear reference to play on the Huyghe brewery name, but that didn't seem quite right, despite how awesome Huggy Bear was on Starsky & Hutch.
Huyghe Bear?  Play on, playa.
So instead, in the spirit of the beer name, let's get delirious.  Eddie Murphy's Delirious.  Possibly the greatest comedian ever, at the absolute zenith of his career.   I mean, he did this comedy special in A RED LEATHER SUIT, with the jacked unzipped to his navel.  You can't get away with that unless you're a gigantic, glowing star.  Clearly, this isn't safe for work, unless your employer looooves profanity.


Beer 79: Ename Cuvee

I feel like I've been hit by a bus so this is going to be short and sweet.  I had the Ename Cuvee on draught at Teresa's Next Door in Wayne, Pennsylvania.  It's a Belgian strong dark ale - a style that I've been tasting quite a bit lately. 

Unfortunately this one left me kind of meh about it.  It was served in a chalice with a medium white fluffy head.  It didn't have a discernible scent, which I thought odd.  It drank on the thin, watery side and there was just nothing remarkable about it. I enjoyed it as I drank it, but there wasn't a single flavor that jumped out.  Odd.

My next move is a bowl of soup, a gallon of orange juice and a bartering session with karma to ensure I don't wake up full on sick tomorrow.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Beer 78: Blue Point Brewing’s Winter Ale or Spring is in the Air

Today wasn’t a particularly warm day but our crocus are out in full force, bock beers are starting to show up and I don’t want to wear tights to work anymore.  Ahhh…the signs of spring in Marci-land.  I also hit the gym for the first time in a very long time and realized just how out of shape I am.  So we’re going to work on remedying that situation.

Sidebar:  The highlight of today’s trip to the gym was a dude who looked like an athletic John Waters.  I couldn’t stop starting at this guy.  His lips were perfect replicas of Mr. Waters.

Sidebar II:  I read an article in New York magazine, that John Waters has taken a Polaroid picture of everyone who has come to his home since 1992.  The article was published in 2008 and since then Polaroid stopped production.  I’ve always wanted to do something a little bonkers like that…guess I’ll have to find a new medium.

But I digress.  With thoughts of spring dancing in my mind, I’ve decided it’s high time to clear out some of the winter-friendly beers lurking in the  fridge and on the beer shelf.  Today we’re going with Blue Point Brewing Company’s Winter Ale out of Long Island.  This is the first beer I’ve had from this brewery and I like it.

It poured an deep amber with a minimal head that left some lacing behind.  It smells of caramel malts and sugar.  It has a very round flavor with a couple of things hitting my palate.  Caramel, toffee and sweetness with just a little bit of hop in the finish.  As a winter warmer, it’s quite good.  Substantial in flavor and moderate ABV (7%).  I’m not sure why this one hung around so long.  Cheers!

Exclamation Points For Everyone!!!!!!!!

Beer #78 Derniere Volonte / Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel!, St. Jerome, Canada

On a lovely sunny, Sunday afternoon I'm opening a Derniere Volonte from Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel!, straight outta Canada.  This blond ale has a hazy apricot color in the glass, and you're instantly greeted by a light and sweet floral aroma.  The beer has flavors of bread, honey, with a hop bitterness throughout.  Much hoppier than the average Belgian blond, so be prepared for that if you're not a fan of hops (looking at you, Marci....) in your beer.  Derniere Volonte brings along a 6.5% ABV, and it's a nice alternative when you want some good hop flavor while still getting a subtle sweetness to your beer.

A few things to add here:
1. This beer is completely appropriate for me to drink on Sunday, as the brewery names translates to "God in Heaven!"  No word on whether God's attorneys intend to file copyright infringement suits.
2. Yes, the brewery includes an exclamation point on the end of their name!  Okay!
3. The name of the beer translates to "Last Will", so between this and the Farewell Ale from Haand last Friday, I'm clearly working on a morbid theme here.
4. In the spirit of this morbid beer theme, did you know my first paying job was working for a funeral home washing cars?  My friend's dad was the funeral home director, and paid us something like $7 or $9 per car, depending on whether we were washing a hearse, limo, minivan, Cadillac, etc.  To a 14 year old kid in the early 90's, that was an awesome job and good pay.

Thing to Think About Today:
If we're being morbid, let's at least enjoy the ride.  No better way to do that than to encourage you to watch Zombieland, an epic tale of surviving a zombie apocalypse.  Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone (still under the radar at that point), and a hilarious Bill Murray cameo, this film is guaranteed to entertain.  If you don't love it, I'll ask Woody Harrelson to personally call and apologize.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Beer 77: Belhaven Wee Heavy Scottish Ale

It is utterly amazing how much one can accomplish when not bothered by co-workers, phones and email.  I was reminded of that today after spending a few hours in the office.  I’m heading into the upcoming week feeling prepared for a change.   That’s a nice feeling.

So nice that I picked up Gary on the way home and we hit TJ’s Everyday in Paoli for a beer and a snack.  I went with the Belhaven Wee Heavy Scottish ale.  It poured with very little head that very quickly disappeared and left behind a beer that looked somewhere between a very dark iced tea or light cola.  If the light hit it right, there were ruby highlights in there as well  It had very little carbonation.  It smelled of roasted malts, a bit sweet and somewhat earthy.  The taste was caramel, malt smoothness and no hop bite whatsoever.  It drank with a viscous mouth feel.  This is a very good beer.  The label suggests that I sip and savor it and respect it fully.  At 6.5% ABV and with all that flavor, you would be out of your mind to show it disrespect by gulping it!

The Wee Heavy come to us from Belhaven Brewery, which dates to 1719 in Scotland with some of the cellars and wells dating to the 12th century.  Nothing like a little history to go with your beer!  And, of course, it goes without saying that for the rest of the night, I’ll be dropping a “If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap” at every possible opportunity.


Don't Hassle the Hof!!!

Beer # 77 Dormaal Blond / Brouwerij Hof Ten Dormaal, Tildonk, Belgium

Today is a beautiful marriage of productivity and sloth.  I had to shop-vac water in the basement courtesy of a leak in our furnace/humidifier (fixed!), had to run out and do some grocery shopping, had to get some laundry taken care of, had to back up all our music to iCloud.  Holy crap we have a lot of, um, "borrowed" music from the Internet.  And yet, I found time to enjoy a beer, listen to said "borrowed" music, and do some reading while watching a strange weather day pass by.  There's been brilliant, blinding sunshine, brutal wind gusts, snow flurries, and most everything else in-between.  A good day to spend on the couch with a beer, no?

And today's beer is a good one, the Blond from Hof Ten Dormaal.  As you can see in the picture, this beer has an orange hue and a fluffy white head in the glass.  You can instantly smell the aroma of bread, with some citrus too.  The first sip brings flavors of yeast and hops with a persistent peppery spice.  Some funk and mild bitterness in there, in just the right dosage.  Checking in at 8% ABV, this is a really well done beer, and it will definitely find a home in the permanent rotation.

Interesting story here, as the brewery sits on a working farm.  All of the barley and hops for their beers are grown on the property, and it's clear these guys take pride in their connection to the land.

I think the fitting end to a day like today will be a glorious feast, and what goes better with beer than melted cheese and bread?  Not much, which is why I'm making fondue for dinner.  Cheers!

Thing to Think About Today:
Listen, if I'm making a David Hasselhoff pun in the post title based on the brewery's name, then I'm seeing it through to the end.  But what clip to use?  Hoff singing at the Berlin Wall in a light up jacket?  Hoff and KITT solving crimes?  This awesome public service announcement where a TALKING CAR tells kids to stay off drugs?

No, if we're drinking a Hof Blond, then we're going blond, as in top-heavy blond lifeguards.  That's right, Hoff during the glory days of Baywatch!!  Classic television here, people....

Friday, February 24, 2012

Here We Go.... Beer 76(ers).....

Beer #76 Farewell Ale / Haand Bryggeriet, Drammen, Norway

The blogger's life is a glamorous one, indeed.  Take for example my Friday evening:
1. Get movie from Redbox
2. Get dinner from McDonald's
3. Eat dinner
4. Watch movie.


To combat my lack of Friday night excitement, I'll trot out an interesting beer to get tonight moving.  I'm going with a Norwegian beer, the Farewell Ale from Haand.  The beer pours with a foamy tan head.  The aroma isn't overly powerful, but the taste has a warm and smoky roasted malt flavor and some earthy, peppery notes.  There's a thin mouthfeel, and overall the beer reminds me of a porter.

Now, I'll be the first to admit this beer probably isn't my style.  However, it's well done because the flavors don't overwhelm you, but rather pull you in slowly.  Is this an every day beer for me?  No, because I'd sooner drink a saison or an IPA, but this was a good beer.  Also, I'm glad I finally had the opportunity to cross Haand off my list; Teresa's Next Door has been pouring a variety of their winter beers, but every one I've tried (including the one Marci sampled last month) have been way, way, way too smoky or roasted or burnt.  Maybe the arrival of spring is mellowing them out?  I also wanted to try this beer after reading the story on the inspiration for its creation.  I'll let this blurb from Haand's website tell the tale:

Farewell Ale  is our interpretation of an old traditional Norwegian custom. Beer has always been an important part of the Norwegian culture and beer was always part of the important occasions in life. This was also the case when a person passed away. It was customary on all farms to have some malt at hand in case of a sudden death. Nobody was buried before the beer was ready and they could be toasted off to a good afterlife. This beer was called Gravøl (funeral ale). Our Farewell ale is a dark and flavourful beer, with lots of spicy flavours, but still easy to drink with a special flavour not often found in beer.

I love the concept: in case of death, brew beer!!!  I had a picture of this beer all shiny and new in my glass, but my awesome phone didn't save it.  Awesome.

Thing to Think About Today:
I guess I should have planned this better and offered up some Philadelphia 76ers highlights to coordinate with our 76th beer, but seeing how you've already been introduced to the Doctor and Darryl Dawkins, I should probably give that topic a break.

Ah, screw it.... sort of.

We'll dip our toe in the water of the Sixers by suggesting you think about a local Philly guy, G-Love, who manages to pay homage to both his favorite basketball franchise and the decrepit road systems we're forced to use when navigating to and from the City of Brotherly Love.  HIT IT, G!

Charles Barkley... dissed Larry Bird!   Happy 76th, yo.

Beer 76: Petrus Aged Pale

Tonight's beer is Petrus Aged Pale, a Flanders Oud Bruin from Brouwerij Bavik in Belgium.  This is an exceptional beer.  So exceptional that I knew it was going in my top 25 the moment we started this blog. 

The photo is courtesy of my Blackberry -- a la it is craptastic.  Sorry.  Petrus pours a super bubbly golden color.  It has a small white head that disappears quickly.  The smell is indicative of the sourness that is to come with a hint of funk and barnyard.  The taste is upfront -- tart and sour. It rounds out to a searingly dry finish.  Flavors include lemon, green apple.  I don't notice any strong hop or malt flavor -- the sourness overpowers them in a very good way. 

This is a beer that I wish to sip for hours from a never-ending supply.  I've drank it during the summer and thought it is perfect.  I've had it during the fall and considered it appropriate.  I had it in February in the dead of winter and loved it.  I wish I had another one right now.


As I typed the title for this post, I realized that we've surpassed the 75 day mark.  We are 20% of the way through this challenge.  Wow.  Another realization is that with the extra beers I've accidentally reviewed, I'll have had 370 beers during the 366 day challenge.  I imagine at the rate I'm going accidentally drinking the same brewery twice, I'm going to hit 400 easily.

On that note, I bid you cheers for a happy weekend!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Which One of You Guys Wants to Be a General?

Beer # 75 Douze / Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes, Jura, Switzerland

Instead of tasting a beer from a brewery in Belgium, apparently I'll just move along and grab one from Switzerland.  Hooray for other places in Europe!

This one is another brewery Marci has already added to her collection, BFM, or Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes for those so inclined to be more formal.  Douze is a golden ale, and it pours with a golden orange hue and a foamy head.  There aroma is a light, tart citrus scent.  The taste definitely sticks with the tart citrus flavors, as there's not much malt or hops associated with this brew.  Overall, this beer lacks some backbone or complexity, but it's pretty damn tasty none the less.  Reminded me a teensy bit of an 1809 Berlinerweisse, a beer I haven't yet reviewed, although I'm very familiar with its work.  That one's coming soon enough.

Douze is French for "twelve", so it makes sense this is their special edition 12th anniversary beer - congrats to BFM on 12 years!  If you can find one of these, it's worth picking up.

Thing to Think About Today:
If we're celebrating a dozen, then let's go ahead and think about a classic film, The Dirty Dozen.  This is a legenedary WWII movie about an officer who selects 12 soldiers currently serving sentences for murder a choice: "volunteer" for a top secret suicide raid behind the lines in Germany and go free if you live, or die in prison.  Make no mistake, there's some serious star power in this movie - Lee Majors, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, Telly Savalas, and Donald Southerland.  Heavy hitters, indeed.

What does any of this have to do with beer?  I have no idea.  Just remember that it's always better to down swinging than to quit fighting - even if you're crazy.  We'll stick in two of my favorite scenes here - the first is the mnemonic exercise to remember the steps involved in the raid, the second is Southerland pretending to be a general while they complete their hush-hush training.

Donald Duck's down at the crossroads with a machine gun!

Where you from son?
    Madison City, Missouri, sir.
Nevvvver heard of it.

Beer 75: Delirium Tremens

This is how my afternoon went.  I get a call that provides information that renders the 3,000 invitations that were just delivered from the printer inaccurate. 

Me: (on phone) FUUUUUUCK. (literally bangs head on desk and yells incoherently)  I'm on speaker phone, aren't I?

Co-worker:  Yes.  That was an inopportune time for me to hit the button.

(Time elapses and this email exchange ensues.)

Me:  Sorry. My world just blew up.  Anyway, I don't know what I want for dinner.  I'm hopped up on pistachios and adrenaline.  Did you have thoughts?

Gary:  After pistachios and adrenaline, I fear anything I come up with is going to be a let down. You want to meet at Teresa's Next Door for a beer & gyro?  Or will you be leaving work too late to make dining out + coming home to blog a challenge?

Me: Sure.

Gary:  Petrus on draft at TND!  A few other new breweries (to us) as well.  SCORE.

Me:  (having already investigated Teresa's beer list as a dinner option) I wanted to try the Ename Cuvee.  

Gary:  Wheeeeee! (This photo was included.)

Given the beautiful weather today, that may be what I look like driving home. 


Beer of the day.  Why it is a de Proef Flemish Primitive wild ale called Surly Bird.  Ugh.  And we won't be reviewing this one because they also brew the Reinaert Wild Ale that I reviewed on February 4.   Well today keeps getting better and better, doesn't it?

In case you were curious, this is the basics of what I would have written about the Surly Bird.  It is a Belgian Strong Pale  Ale.  9% ABV.  Poured a straw color.  Drank slightly sweet and tasted of banana bread.  It was super dry.  Sweet upfront but finished with a bite.  Very good.

Luckily I have a bottle of Delirium Tremens.  Delirium Tremens.  DT.  Alcohol withdrawals.  The shakes.  Seriously?  This is what I opt to drink?

Anyway...this bottle always intrigued me with its opaque speckled glass and funny little elephants.  Tremens also happens to be a Belgian Strong Pale Ale that is brewed by Brouwerij Huyghe.  It poured with a thick white head that had staying power throughout the entire glass of beer.  It smelled of bread and malt sweetness with a hint of herbal odors.  The color was much more amber than this photo.  The taste.  So good.  Well balanced.  It finished with a black pepper taste and a bit of lemon. 

Really this is an awesome beer.  I'm tagging it top 25.  Cheers!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Excuse Me, Homes? What It Is?

Beer # 74 St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition / Brouwerij van Honsebrouck, Ingelmunster, Belgium

Today's dinner conversation centered around us turning our blog into a best selling book, which will then become a top grossing movie:
Gary: "I wonder if I should call Jake Gyllenhaal to make sure he's available to play me in the movie?"
Marci: "Maybe send him a tweet; he's modern. But he's not hot enough."
Gary: "Look, you want Ryan Gosling, but I don't think he's masculine enough, and let's face it, James Franco is too much of a wild card."
Marci: "George Clooney!"
Gary: "Too old, maybe he can play my dad."
Marci: "That would be too awkward when I want to bone George Clooney."

So there you have it folks, we're still sticking with Jake Gyllenhaal to play me in the film adaptation of our beer adventure.  However, I'm happy to entertain other ideas, should you have any.

Recent photo of me, from some charity function or another
After back to back beers with chocolate, roasted flavors, we're going in an opposite direction with today's beer, the St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition, a lambic from Brouwerij van Honsebrouck.  It pours a hazy gold, and instantly you get a tart citrus aroma.  It's a very effervescent beer, with nice, crisp flavors of bread and lemon, with a sour element as well.  Very well done.  If you like lambics, this one is a keeper.  If you're not a fan of lambics, then you're missing out on some great beers!

Thing to Think About Today:
I realize the pronunciation on this beer is more "Sant Lou-eee" than "Saint Loo-is" but if we're even remotely thinking about St. Louis, then we should stop and ask for directions!  Particularly when in sunny East St. Louis... (warning: completely not safe for work, unless your employer is totes cool with 80's inner city stereotypes and profanity.  In which case, fire away!)

Now, I know what you're saying: "What's up with clicking a link; why didn't you just embed the video like you usually do when posting a video?"

The answer to that question can be defined as: this site host + youtube videos = occasionally a pain in the ass.  Look, just click the link, ok?  Guaranteed to be worth it.

Beer 74: Terrapin Beer Co.'s Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout

There is entirely too much work to be done at work.  I suppose it's a good thing that I have a steady gig, but I AM EXHAUSTED.  Does anyone have some cheese to go with my whine?

Tonight's beer is Terrapin Beer Company's Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout -- advertised as Wake & Bake at TJ's in Paoli (PA).  It was served in a small snifter and was black as night.  It had a medium tan head that hung around.  It was breakfast and beer all in one sitting!  It smelled strongly of coffee and caramel.  It drank with light carbonation and felt viscous.  It drank quite the opposite of the milk stouts that I'm fond of this time of year.  It tasted of roasted caramel malt and coffee.  It also had a hint of cola. 

This imperial stout has an ABV of 8.1% and it definitely provided an alcohol warmth.  I can't imagine drinking more than one of these in a sitting.  It is a heavy beer.  But sitting and sipping on one is a delightful way to spend the evening.


p.s.  I forgot to snap a photo of this one, but check out their logo. 
How cute is that?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Not Fat, Just Big-Boned Tuesday

Beer #73 Turbodog / Abita Brewing Company, Abita Springs, Louisiana

It's Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent and the close of Mardi Gras.  I've never been to New Orleans, although I have great respect for a town that completely embraces the concept of the to-go cup and eschews open container laws.  So, in keeping with a theme, we're each sampling a beer from Louisiana this evening.

My beer is the Turbodog, a brown ale from Abita.  As you can see from the picture, it's dark, almost black with some reddish tints. Strong malt aroma, and the taste is of roasted chocolate malt. Interesting that I sampled this a day after the Troegs Scratch 57, as I can see some similarities in their foundation. Not saying they're similar, just saying they probably knew some of the same people growing up.  For such a dark color beer, there's a thin mouth feel - not a very dense or heavy beer. Abita brews about 30 miles north of New Orleans, and they've been turning out brews since 1986.

Thing to Think About Today:
Listen, if we're going with a theme, we're sticking with the theme.  So go ahead and think about Dr. John, a fantastic musician I've had the privilege of seeing in person when he was on a an east coast tour a few years back.

If you're still looking for something to think about related to today's topic, I recommend you check out Treme, the David Simon HBO series that explores life in New Orleans post-Katrina, with a particularly awesome focus on music (including some Dr. John appearances).  Plus, Freamon and Bunk from The Wire play prominent roles, the former as an Mardi Gras Indian Chief, the latter as a freelance trombone player.

Beer 73: Dixie Blackened Voodoo Lager or Everyone Gets Beads

Picasso wondering, "Why me?"
Tonight me and the Army of Dachshunds are celebrating Mardi Gras with beads and beer!  I’m drinking a Dixie Blackened Voodoo lager.  The dachshunds got beads!  Oh the things they did for those beads.  
Flash's come hither look
It's always the cute little one 
you have to watch out for...

The Dixie lager poured a deep amber hue in my glass.  It had a small head that slowly left a thin layer of light tan lacing.  Dixie Brewing Company started back in 1907 in New Orleans.  After Hurricane Katrina decimated it, several attempts were made at restoring it but it appears they failed.  Check out some of the photos I found of the abandoned facility.

Sidebar:  I love the website  Such interesting stories and haunting photos.

Photos via Kris Arnold
Photo via Kris Arnold

More details on the story are hard to come by but for awhile it was brewed by Heiner Brau in Covington (LA) and now I think it’s coming out of Huber Brewery in Wisconsin.  Despite the original Dixie brewery building falling into total disrepair, it does appear that a VA hospital will be built on the site and, if the internet is to be trusted, will use the façade of the old building in the new design.

I’ve never been to New Orleans but I still feel an overwhelming sadness when I read stories about the devastation from Hurricane Katrina.  It’s a city I hope to visit one day soon and it is a city that I hope will rise again.

I realize the pendulum of emotion on this post has swung wildly from one extreme to the other.  Apologies for that…I for one did not see that coming.

Back to the beer.  It is a schwarzbier -- German for black beer.  Typically they aren’t overly roasted but get their bitterness from hops.  This one smelled of malt and maybe brown sugar.  It drank very smooth and finished with a hopped flavor.  I swear I tasted rich chocolaty flavor, which reminded me of roasted flavors associated with porters and stouts.  That shouldn’t be the case based on the definition of schwarzbier that I found.  Odd.  Reading some reviews online, many people don’t think Dixie Blacked Voodoo tastes like it did when brewed in New Orleans.  I don’t have a point of reference so I can’t judge that aspect of the beer.

Is it good?  Sure.  Would I drink more of it?  Yes.  Is it the best beer I’ve had?  No.

I promise to be more upbeat tomorrow.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Beer 72: Leipziger Gose

You get short and sweet tonight, folks.  I just walked in the door  at 9pm and dinner is my number one priority.  It is followed closely by passing out wherever I land post-dinner.  And that would be from exhaustion and not a bender.  

Tonight’s beer is Leipziger Gose brewed by Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof.  Umm, yeah.  Does anyone else hear Charlie Brown’s teacher?

Gose is an old German style beer from Leipzig.  It’s an unfiltered wheat beer made with 50-60% malted wheat.  That creates a cloudy yellow color and provides a refreshing crispness and twang.  This particular one is brewed with coriander and salt.  Interestingly this is my second beer this month brewed with salt.  Evidence here.

Sorry about the craptastic cell phone photo.  All I had was Gary’s phone to snap a photo of this one.  It poured golden and slightly cloudy per the description.  It was also very bubbly, which I think aided in the refreshing quality of this beer.  It smelled strongly of malt and bread.  There were herbal notes but I couldn’t say for certain that I smelled coriander. (I know it's in my kitchen cabinet, but I'm too lazy to get up and sniff it for confirmation.)  There was definitely something interesting in the scent.  The salt wasn’t noticeable at all.  It finishes very dry.  At 4.6% ABV, I’d love to spend an afternoon with more than one of these.

Until tomorrow, kids…

Chocolate Beer + Chocolate Thunder = Interplanetary Funkmanship

Beer #72 Scratch 57 / Troegs Brewing Company, Hershey, PA

Spent the day off.... at work.  Oddly enough, and I admit this is odd, I sort of like going to the office on days off (in small doses).  I actually get work done because the phone doesn't ring, I have no meetings, and no one wants to talk to me.  I derive a measure of satisfaction from being productive, and 5 hours in the office today let me get there.  The afternoon was spent with the dogs, some chores, a workout, and.... wait for it.... beer!

Today's beer comes courtesy of a gift from a friend, who was kind enough to bestow on us a six-pack of Troegs Scratch 57, a weizenbock.  The Scratch Series is a Troegs experiment in small batch brewing, allowing them to make some really unique offerings in addition to the regular lineup.  To me, this is the essence of craft brewing - taking a risk, trying something unusual and different, being creative.

The 57 is a dark amber color in the glass, and has a sweet malt aroma on the nose.  The taste has rich cocoa notes, with hints of fruit sweetness.  It's dry with a bit of bitterness on the finish.  A bit too much of a roasted, chocolate taste for me to put in the regular rotation, but the emergence of bock beers on the shelf and on draft is definitely a positive sign that spring is coming soon.  Which is odd, as winter hasn't yet arrived here in the Philly 'burbs.  If you can find it, definitely try one.

Thing to Think About Today:
If we're drinking a chocolate beer brewed with cocoa, made by a brewery in Hershey, the chocolate capital of the world, then we might as well continue with the theme and think about the man they called "Chocolate Thunder," Mr. Darryl Dawkins.

If this man asks for a beer, I'd give him one.
Dawkins was a powerful, athletic player who jumped to the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA right out of high school and had, shall we say, a bit of a unique personality.  He was fond of giving his dunks absurd names, and claimed to hail from Planet Lovetron, where he practiced "interplanetary funkmanship."  He never quite lived up the billing of a high draft pick, but he's still a fan favorite for those who recall the glory days of the Sixers franchise (like me). 

If anyone needs me, I'll be spending the remainder of my evening drinking beers on Planet Lovetron and adding Interplanetary Funkmanship to the degrees earned section of my resume.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday: Beer, Memories, and Punching Cancer in the Face

Beer #71 Blue Sunday Sour / New Holland Brewing Company, Holland, MI

Earlier today, the final numbers for THON were released: $10.68 MILLION raised to combat pediatric cancer.  For the uninformed, THON is the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, a 46 hour dance marathon organized and executed entirely by Penn State students.  Since 1977, THON has raised more than $88M in the fight against cancer - every penny raised by college students.  Originally a fraternity/sorority fund raiser, it's grown exponentially to include students from all corners of the university.

I had the pleasure of dancing for my fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta, my sophomore year, and it's truly one of the greatest and most special things I've ever done in my life.  Being awake and on your feet for 48 hours (we did it hard core back in the day) is not an easy task, but thinking about what kids battling leukemia and other rare forms of cancer have to deal with, and seeing how much joy they get from being "celebrities" at THON is incredibly powerful.  This time of year, the memories of THON come flooding back like a tidal wave: me, Sober, Super Dave, and Bo supporting each other, making new friends, trying to pump up our fellow dancers, playing games, and spending time with our assigned family.  Sadly, I've never managed to get around to scanning in my old pictures.  Perhaps this is the impetus to buy a scanner so I can share memories of THON '95 with the world.  We raised $1.16 million, and it seemed like the largest sum of money in the history of time.  Seeing it increase ten fold in a the past decade has been incredibly rewarding.

To answer the questions you haven't yet asked, but I'm sure you will:
1. No, you don't dance the entire 48 (now 46) hours.  But you do need to be awake and on your feet.
2. You do get bathroom breaks, but they hustle you along.  No lingering.
3. Best way to get some relief is to do a handstand, with friends holding your legs so that blood can drain back to the rest of your body.
4. After being awake for 48 hours, I slept for more than 14 hours straight.  It's unbelievably taxing on the body, but compared to having cancer, it's a damn walk in the park.
5. Key highlight of THON is running down a series of mats doused in baby powder, then sliding head first to an area where a morale team gives you a quick rub down.  If there is a heaven, it will be filled with the sensation of this rub down.
6. You will have sleep deprivation induced hallucinations.  I thought there was a giant table across the middle of the floor, and I kept walking way, way out of my way to get around it.  People would be talking to me, then disappear in mid-sentence into thin air.  Your brain is scrambled during this event.
7. Another key highlight is the line dance, a simple and repetitive choreographed dance number with some music to get you pumped up and some topical events to sing about.  You start out doing it every other hour or so, and by the last hour you're doing it every 15 minutes to keep the energy high.  I still remember some of the '95 dance, but sadly not all.
8. All dancers are given a unique dancer-only shirt with their number and their name or a motivational message on the back.  I still have my shirt, and if our house ever burns down it's one of the first three things I'm grabbing.  The name I peer pressured my partner into adopting?  "DEEZ NUTZ".  What can I say, it was 1995.  It was a popular phrase.

What better way to celebrate a great accomplishment than with a great beer?  Today we break open a Blue Sunday Sour from New Holland.  It shows off a burgundy hue in the glass, and the aroma is of fruit and mild vinegar. Tart and sour, right up front, with the taste of stone fruit and some malt notes. There's a crisp effervescence, and the oak aging lends a dry finish.  This is complex and wonderful, with just the right amount of alcohol at 8.7% ABV.  This is by means a beer for everyone, but if you EVER see one available in a bar near you, I implore you to at least try it.  This beer has officially landed in my coveted Top 25.  Blue Sunday Sour was named for the "blue laws" of Michigan which did not allow beer sales on Sundays.  It's also a cellar beer, which means we can age this for a few years, sort of like wine.  Although, something tells me Marci might drink our entire supply of two cases long before then....

Thing to Think About Today:
Please think of others.  Someone out there has it worse than you do, and they can use your help.  Whether it's donating money to THON (or anywhere else), donating blood, or volunteering, I encourage you all to think about trying to give back this year.  It feels good, and it's the right thing to do.  If you need a little motivation, watch this:

Beer 71: Sour Beer Bonanza

For the past year, I’ve been on the lookout for New Holland Brewing Company’s Blue Sunday Sour.  Yesterday morning I hit the jackpot and am now in possession of TWO (yes, two) cases of it.  The Blue Sunday Sour is part of New Holland’s cellar series and is heritage-blended from their library of barrel-soured beers.  I’ve only ever had one bottle of it and I have clung to that memory for an entire year.  It became my great white whale…ever elusive, haunting me.  Sure I was nervous that I just spent a ridiculous amount of money on beer that may not live up to my recollection.  Would the 2012 edition be as good as the one I had?

Silly me.  After popping one open moments ago, I knew I made a good decision.  It poured into my tulip glass a garnet hue.  Very little head that left just a hint of lacing around the edge of the beer’s surface.  There is oak in the nose along with balsamic vinegar with a nuance of sour cherry.  The balsamic carries over to the taste along with the subtle cherry notes.  There’s malt and oak flavors and it pinches your tongue in exactly the way a good sour ale should.  It leaves my mouth feeling all tingly and finishes dry.  At 8.5% ABV and knowing that I’ve got to make it until February 2013, one bottle will be all I need for today.

Alas this review doesn't count, as I crossed New Holland off the list with my review of Dragon's Milk found here.

Yesterday while out with friends, I had a Monk’s Flemish Sour Ale.  This review doesn’t count either since it is brewed by Brouwerij van Steenberge and I crossed that one off the list at Teresa’s Next Door when I tasted the Klokke Roeland.  I would describe the Monk’s as sweeter, slightly thicker drinking than the New Holland.  The balsamic flavor is the first taste that hits you.  It’s big and bold.  More dark cherry flavor, too.  While the Monk’s is good, I prefer the more nuanced flavors of New Holland.

So onto the actual review for tonight.  LoverBeer Madamin.  Described as a Flemish sour out of Italy, I figured I couldn’t go wrong.  Sorry for the subpar photo.  I only had the Blackberry with me.  The LoverBeer smelled of fruity sourness.  Not too much funk.  It tasted of sour cherry and oak/red wine.  There was another fruit flavor hiding in there…maybe plum?  It definitely had the typical sour characteristics but it also was a bit too watery for me.

And there you go.  The Three Little Bears review of sour ales.  One is too bold, one is too watery and one is just right.  On that note, I leave you with some lazy-ass dachshunds snoozing post-walk in the sun:


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Write Drunk, Edit Sober

Beer #70 Kinder Downfall / Buxton Brewery, Buxton, England

Big start to the weekend.  Early morning Delta Force mission to procure two cases of a beer Marci has been chasing for a year (which I hope to sample tomorrow), a visit with some potbellied pigs (seriously), a day of drinking in at TJ's and Teresa's Next Door, takeout Chinese for dinner.  I mean, that's all a man can ask for right there.  Missed a chance to hit dinner with some dear friends due to a sick child, but that happens when you have kids I suppose.

For today's beer update, I'm throwing out Kinder Downfall, a golden ale from Buxton Brewery. It pours a copper color in the glass with a light, light aroma of bitter hops. There's a mild flavor of hops, with some floral notes as well (lavender?) and a slight touch of citrus. At 4.3% ABV, this is a session beer, so not terribly complex, but it has decent flavor with a bit of bite. If forced to choose between this and Coniston Bluebird Bitter, I'm taking the Buxton. Odd fact for the day: this beer is named after a waterfall in Derbyshire. Now you know.

Thing to Think About Today: 
Ernest Hemingway once said, "Write drunk; edit sober."  Papa was a far better writer than I am, and it's Saturday night and I've spent the day enjoying some great beers with some great friends.  So why don't we let the Bay City Rollers carry it home from here.  We'll edit later:


Beer 70: La Choulette Sans Culottes

Today started out great and has only gotten better.  Earlier this week, I heard back from New Holland Brewing Company  and got confirmation that my great white whale left for the East Coast on February 1.  A little phone research and I discovered a delivery of about 20 cases to Shangy’s in Emmaus (beer Mecca, thank you very much).  Every morning since Tuesday, I’d call the lovely woman who works the register at Shangy’s to confirm that it was still in stock.  This morning we hit the road around 8:30am and the trip resulted in this:

It’s a minor miracle that I didn’t make Gary drive us home while I hid in the backseat drinking.  I’ve decided to save my first one until tomorrow.  We had a few more errands to run and managed to find ourselves at a rescue pig placement awareness event.  I love pigs!  If I didn’t rescue dachshunds, I’d probably have one of these guys running around the house!

Up next is a little day-drinking with friends from West Chester.  Rock on with your bad self, Saturday!


On to the beer -- today we start with a La Choulette Sans Culottes.  It is a French biere de garde.  It poured a rich golden color with no head.  I could smell the malt sweetness right away and there were bread-like undertones.  It had medium carbonation.  The taste was very smooth and balanced and had hints of tea flavor.  At 7% ABV, I wouldn’t quite call it a session beer, but I could definitely spend an afternoon drinking a few of these.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Fanfare for the Uncommon Man

Beer #69 Golden State Ale / Uncommon Brewers, Santa Cruz, CA

And so we come to another Friday.  Courtesy of many folks kicking off a long weekend (big shout out to the Presidents!), it was a quiet day which enabled me to get some work done.  Some, not all, and now we head into a weekend filled with beer, food, wine, beer, Fellini's, and apparently some snow on Sunday.  Note to self: buy all the bread in Chester County, and attempt to corner the market on milk.

Tonight's beer comes courtesy of the ever changing and increasingly impressive take out selection from Whole Foods.  Well, Whole Foods and Uncommon Brewers.  The beer comes in a 16oz can, and it pours a clear, effervescent gold with  a thick head.  According to the can, it's organic.... so I have that going for me, which is nice.  There's a pleasing citrus nose, and the taste brings a combination of mild hops and a light citrus of lemon and orange.  There's a bit of sweetness in there, and it ends up with a nice, clean finish.  Could definitely see this as a tailgate beer, especially with the nice 6.4% ABV you don't really notice. That, and the 16oz can makes a nice statement.  Well done, Uncommon.
Hooray for crappy camera phone pics!  And beer!
Per their website, they have something in the works called "Bacon Brown Ale."  For their sake, that better have some real bacon in it, otherwise I'll be very sad.

Thing to Think About Today:
Uncommon, you say?  I suggest you think about something truly and completely uncommon.  This came up on the iPod today on my way home, and for some reason kicked the weekend off just right.

Enjoy the weekend, my peoples.  And I think it's going to be a long, long time....

Beer 69: Brouwerij Kerkom Blossom Bink or TGIF

Yet another extremely long week is in the books and the weekend is beckoning bright and early tomorrow morning.  I have located my great white whale and hope to have it on the hook by 10am tomorrow.  I’m not risking jinxing the mission and will hopefully be telling you all about it at some point this weekend.

Today was random.  I dumped the entire contents of a filing cabinet into either a shred bin or recycling bin and then shoved said filing cabinet out into the hall for someone to haul away.  My office feels huge and I actually feel lighter.  I’m now on the hunt for an inexpensive but comfortable chair to tuck into that corner.  It will be my editing chair or my editing/napping chair depending on the document.

I also started the day getting passed by Snoop from The Wire.  Gary asked if I saw her coming out of Home Depot.  I think she was on the way to help Chris disappear some bodies in the vacants.  

Sidebar:  If you’re not watching The Wire, please, for the love of god, do yourself a favor and get on that.  You are missing out on amazing television program and some fantastic cultural references.  

Tonight we’re drinking Brouwerij Kerkom Blossom Bink.  Hailing from Belgium, it is a fruit beer made with pear syrup and honey.  The story on the label mentions the brewery is nearby renowned cherry orchards so I’m really unsure why this one features pear but whatever.  Those crazy Belgians!  It poured hazy mahogany in my glass.  

Sidebar 2:  One day Gary and I were driving home on Route 422 and I’m checking out the scenery and say, “What the hell is mah-hoag-gany and more?”  Silence envelopes the car.  I repeat, “What’s mah-hoag-gany?”  Gary nearly wrecks the car laughing at me.  Evidently despite 30-odd years on earth, I forgot how to pronounce mahogany.  Now every time we drive past the Mahogany and More store, it get mispronounced very loudly in fits of giggles.  

Back to the task at hand…it poured with a thin head that quickly left an off-white ring around the glass.  It definitely smelled of pears in beer.  Definitely different but appealing.  The taste was sweet and hoppy…like an alcoholic pear.  I’d describe the flavor as bracing with a good roundness from the malt with a kick in the tongue from the hops.  It was pretty good.  

Tomorrow’s adventure continues with day-drinking with friends from West Chester.  Follow me on Twitter (@TailgateNinja) if you’re interested in where I’ll be and perhaps want to join in the festivities.  


Thursday, February 16, 2012

John Wayne Gacy, Marlo Stanfield, Count Chocula: America's Most Wanted

Beer #68 Cereal Killer / Arcadia Ales, Battle Creek, MI

America has a morbid fascination with two things: serial killers and breakfast cereal.  Oh sure, I can look up a bunch of stats on the proliferation of crime dramas on tv and the millions of boxes of cereal purchased each year.  However, we're in the middle of re-watching The Wire (season 5!), so I'm not going to spend my time looking up those stats.  I'll be re-checking in on Marlo's beef with Prop Joe and his efforts to bring Omar out of retirement.   You want to talk about serial killers, start with Marlo.

If I must talk about serial killers, then it makes sense one of my beers from last weekend is Cereal Killer from Arcadia Ales, a barleywine ale on tap at Jose Pistola's.  It pours a dark brown in the glass (I guess; it was dark in the bar) and has a malty aroma.  The taste has flavors of malt and bread with a hint of sweetness, with some toffee hiding in the background.  Maybe a hint of chocolate.  You can definitely taste the alcohol in this one.  A decent beer, but probably not what I was in the mood for, particularly with Mexican food on the way.  So, it wasn't the best choice I've ever made, but it's definitely worth a try if you're a barleywine fan.  I'd drink another one.

Arcadia seems to be redesigning their website, so not much info there.  However, from some other sources, people seem to suggest letting it age for a while.  I had it on draft, so no dice there.  I'm going to go ahead and assume that the beer name is an homage to Battle Creek, which also serves as home to Kellogg's world headquarters.

Thing to Think About Today:
Count me as someone who finds the psychology of serial killers a very interesting topic.  However, it's a bit morbid to think about serial killers, so let's go ahead and think about cereal, shall we?  If we're thinking cereal, we're starting and ending the conversation with the best cereal EVER:

Not sure why they only sell this during Halloween season, but rest assured I get multiple boxes each year to satisfy my craving.

BONUS ROUND:  Everyone knows Frankenberry, Count Chocula, and Boo Berry.  But do you know there were two other monster cereals in existence back in the 80's?  Fame and fortune to the first person to correctly identify the two other monster cereals which no longer haunt the mornings.

If you don't know, I'll save you the time from searching google: Answer can be found here.