Breweries "Visited"

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Today Isn't Much Better

Beer #112 #133 / Bøgedal Bryghus, Vejle, Denmark

Do you know what today needed? Some time away from the house spent with friends so I could stop being sad. Courtesy of a few good friends, we got exactly that with a trip to Victory Brewing Company for a late lunch and some sensational afternoon beers. Thank guys, much appreciated. I've already reviewed Victory but had a new brew today; their Alla Spina Novello, brewed in partnership with Mark Vetri's Alla Spina restaurant. This delicious beer is an immensely drinkable Belgian blonde. If you're at Alla Spina or Victory, please try this beer.

Today's official brewery for review is one that came on draft at Farmer's Cabinet - the Bodegal #133.  This beer poured a dark chocolate with a tan head, and had a chocolate aroma.  The flavor had notes of creamy chocolate and cherry, with a tart sourness.  Not my typical beer, but quite good.  Marci previously reviewed this brewery here in this post, and shared some great info on the brewery.  Check it out.  Only complaint - it was poured in a 7oz glass.  What's up with that, Farmer's Cabinet?

Thing to Think About Today:
Lost in the shuffle of yesterday was the fact I drank a beer from Kansas.  You may never find yourself in Kansas, and even if you do find yourself in Kansas, you may never find yourself in Topeka.  However, should you find yourself in Topeka, I encourage you to stop by Skinny's for a beer or six.  Went there with some colleagues, and we were mildly surprised to find it to be more of a speakeasy - people openly gambling on their card games (with legal tender), and 32oz cups of beer for something like $2.  No, it's not craft beer heaven, but you can find some craft beers there.  More importantly, you get to be in a real bar that is more worried about their customers having a good time than creating some pretentious experience.  Thank me later.

Beer 112 Victory

Today we met friends for lunch at Victory Brewing Company.  I got a sampler:

Donnybrook Stout:  It was a deep, dark brown in my glass and had a tan head.  It drank with a smoky roasted flavor…lots of dryness and coffee flavor.

Mad KingWeiss:  Light and refreshing.  Lots of banana and clove.  It had a creaminess.  A classic weiss.

Eclat chocolate stout:  Eclat is a phenomenal chocolate shop based in nearby West Chester, Pennsylvania.  They have great chocolates and this partnership with Victory has produced a great chocolate stout.  It smells of cocoa and has a thick tan head.  Its flavor is sweet but slightly bitter chocolate.  Lots of malt and not a lot of hop bite.

Alla Spina:  Let’s start out by admitting that we brought home a growler of Alla Spina.  Per our waitress, it translated to “straight from the tap”.  It drank with a salt undertone -- similar to a BFM dueze.  Good hop and malt balance.

St. Boisterous:  a very round lager that wasn’t too malt-y and wasn’t too hoppy.  It poured a light straw color.

This is the Alla Spina. Delicious.  I forgot to take a pic of my sampler. Sorry.  Cheers.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Rest In Peace, Old Friend

Beer #111 Velvet Rooster / Tallgrass Brewing Company, Manhattan, KS

"Why do you weep?  Did you think I was immortal?"
- Louis XIV, King of France

Spending his last days in the garden

Less than three months into the year, two things have already transpired which I assumed were never, ever going to happen.  First, the larger than life Joe Paterno passed away, which seemed like an impossibility as he continued to coach (and win) as an octogenarian.  Earlier today, our oldest dog, Flash, passed away after a short but fatal bout with cancer.  I realize Flash is over 15 years old, a long enough life for any dog, but until a sharp turn for the worse two weeks ago, it seemed that he'd just go on forever.  Two months ago, on one of those sunny January days that felt more like April, we took Flash for a four mile walk along the Schuykill River in Valley Forge Park.  We were more tired from the walk than he was.  Shortly before that, Flash worked on an engineering project in our kitchen - using the drawers as steps to get onto the counter.  Sadly, his calculations were a bit off, and he ended up pulling out one of the drawers too far, sending it and our silverware crashing to the kitchen floor.  I knew one day he'd slow down, and perhaps have back or hip problems and need help getting around.  But I never expected him to go so quickly, and from something like cancer.  This was a dog destined to go out in a blaze of glory; caught in the crossfire of a Mob shootout, stabbed in an alley fighting over the hand of a beautiful woman, fending off a grizzly bear attack, saving someone's life in a burning building.  A noble, respectable death.  Cancer never seemed like a worthy enough opponent.  I've long compared this dog to Rasputin, the Russian mystic legendary for his ability to escape assassination and continue living.  In the same vein , Flash managed to square off against all sorts of trouble that would bring down a more average dog, and yet came away from every adventure smelling like a rose.  Much to the dismay of my wallet, which had to pay for the emergency trips to the veterinarian.

The idea of owning a dog came about as many ideas in my life have come about.  Marci comes up with a big and completely crazy idea, I say no, Marci wears me down, I eventually say yes, and we execute on said idea.  Flash's arrival was no different.  Senior year of college, Marci decided we should get a dog.  We were one summer and one semester away from graduating college, and we already knew marriage was coming once we entered the real world.  We both loved animals, although I never owned a dog before.  First we tried to rescue a dog from the SPCA, but were denied due to the fact we were college students.  Next, we tried to buy a dog from someone who had taken an add out in the paper.  That approach didn't work, as we took a trip into the boonies to meet some sketchy characters selling a Jack Russell, only to have them decide they loved their dog more than they loved $100.  Very odd.

On Wednesday, May 7, 1997 we magically ended up at Bubbles Pet Shop in Altoona, PA, although how we found this place or got there I have no recollection.  This was before Google maps or GPS, after all.  We figured we were going to be in an apartment post-graduation, and decided a smaller dog with short hair would thrive best in that environment.  So, of all the dogs in the pet shop, we found three dachshund/terrier mixes from the same litter, two boys and a girl, looking cute and eager to go home.  We ended up choosing the male who seemed less high-strung, paid $136.74 (no doubt on a credit card), picked up some toys, dishes, a collar, and a leash, and walked out the door with a fuzzy red bundle of joy.  I often think about what happened to his brother and sister, and wonder if they had lives well lived.  Two years ago we saw a 13 year old female doxie/terrier mix who looked like Flash's twin at Doxie Rescue of Bucks County.  It took every ounce of self-control we had to not rescue her on the spot, because we were convinced they were related.

Flash's formal name, should anyone care to learn, is Jumpin' Jack Flash Generose, named after the 1968 Rolling Stones song.  The name seemed to fit his personality, as he was a bundle of energy.  I still remember the first night he stayed in my room.  We built a little crate area for him, piled it high with toys and blankets, and then listened to him cry half the night until we let him come sleep in the bed, where he quickly curled up into a tiny ball and fell sound asleep.  Flash always seemed the most relaxed in what we called the "mom fort" or "dad fort" - the space behind our knees when we were lounging on the couch.  He would curl up in a ball, put his snout on your knee to keep tabs on things, and eventually drift off to sleep and start snoring, completely at peace with the world.

He's finally at peace again, after two challenging weeks.  He went from being the dog who once managed to get his paws on and devour an apple pie, to being a dog in too much discomfort to eat even the smallest bit of food.  He went from being the dog who would bound outside and run laps through the yard, to being the dog who had a hard time getting up from his bed, and wasn't strong enough to walk through the yard without laying down to rest.  Right up until the very end he remained a faithful, lovable, stubborn, loyal, independent, handsome dog.  He will always hold a special place in my heart.  He was my first dog and a great friend and I loved him dearly.

Rest in peace, Flash.  You will be sorely missed.

I've alternated laughing at the memories of Flash's adventures to tearing up while writing this.  It seems pointless to stop and review a beer, but I will.  Flash was always determined - you don't manage to chew threw a plastic container to get holiday cookies, and then work to hide the ones you're too full to eat without ample determination.  I wish I had his determination, in fact.  So, in that spirit, and because I can really use a drink, here you go.

Tonight's beer is the Velvet Rooster, a Belgian tripel from Tallgrass Brewing Company. In the glass, it pours a hazy effervescent apricot. The aroma brings the scent of a peppery yeast and the flavor brings notes of grain, yeast, pepper, and sweet fruit. It's a decent choice, and well worth the effort.  Also, this beer comes in an awesome can, which is always a plus.

This was a good way to start softening the edges of today, but let's face it - I'm moving to bourbon. There's a bottle of Blanton's with my name on it, and Flash's memory to celebrate.

Thing to Think About Today:
Well, if we're eulogizing Flash, let's go ahead and put in some appropriate music.  If the Stones were responsible for this dog's name, then they're taking us home tonight.  This song always made me think of sad farewells, and today I had to say a particularly sad farewell.

"Until the next time we say goodbye,
I'll be thinking of you."

Jumpin' Jack Flash
3/12/97 - 3/30/12

Beer 111: Velvet Roosters and Velvet Dachshunds

I'm not feeling very eloquent tonight.  A few hours ago, we took Flash for his final trip to the vet.  Cancer got him.  Fuck cancer.  Fuck human cancer.  Fuck canine cancer.  I would like to think I'll be able to eventually write something meaningful about how much I love that dog.  For now, let's all remember him as the party animal he was...


I often called Flash the Velveteen Dachshund.  Ironically we had a beer called Velvet Rooster in the fridge, which seemed appropriate for tonight's review.  Velvet Rooster is a Belgian Style Triple brewed by Tallgrass Brewing Company.  I think this may be the first and possibly only beer I get my hands on from Kansas.  It poured a pale and cloudy shade of orange.  It had a light head that left a bit of lacing.  It smelled of citrus and hops.  The taste was strong on the hops for me but I still enjoyed it (a rarity for me).  It drank with mild spiciness and a fresh, green flavor.  Overall, pretty tasty.  Cheers!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Beer 110: Sprecher Abbey Triple

Holy shit snacks!  I'm turning 37 in exactly one week.  I'm older than Star Wars.  And Saturday Night Live.  I'm older than Apple, Inc. and nowhere near as successful.  Like I said...holy shit snacks.


I'm starting the birthday extravaganza with an abbey triple from Sprecher Brewing Company in Wisconsin.  It pours a cloudy copper color with a thin head.  Traces of lacing were left behind as I sipped it.  The scent is bready and fruity.  The flavor is smooth, a bit fruity, and a touch flowery with lots of spice and definite alcohol overtones (8.1% ABV).  As I'm writing this, it's starting to sound a lot like yesterday's post.  Sadly this one isn't nearly as good as the Weyerbacher.


Shortest Post Ever? Maybe.

Beer #110 HooDoo Kolsch / Uinta Brewing Company, Salt Lake City, Utah

I hereby formally apologize for any perceived lack in quality from my blog posts this week.  It just hasn't been a good week to be on my game.  However, I vow that this will change.  In the mean time, here's today's beer.

This craptacular Thursday, it's my turn to sample the HooDoo Kolsch from Uinta Brewing.  This beer pours an effervescent cloudy yellow pour with a thin head.  The aroma is light, with notes of bread and earth.  The taste brings a light malt, with a bit of a nutty taste. Yeast, dry, grassy, earthy, but nothing that overpowers the senses.  In all, it's a pretty mellow place.  Sort of like Utah, I suppose.  Marci crossed this brewery off her list earlier this month, check it out HERE.  Definitely want to try some other beers from this brewery, but as of yet I've only seen the kolsch around these parts.  Hopefully that changes soon!

Kolsch is a great summer beer, but I think I'd rank this one behind Stoudt's Karnival Kolsch.  Definitely check that one out if you're in the market for a lighter beer that still packs a lot of flavor.

Thing to Think About Today:
Look, I've never been to Utah, although I hope to change that soon.  When I think of Utah, obviously I think of Mormons, but let's not forget that other famous Utah thing:  Johnny Utah, the lead character from that "so bad it's good" movie, Point Break.  Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze?  Sign me up!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Post Where Beer and Words Happen

Beer #109 Double Crooked Tree / Dark Horse Brewing Company, Marshall, Michigan

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.   When life pelts you in the nut sack repeatedly with lemons hurled at 97mph, perhaps instead of lemonade you should just go hide in a dark room.  That is where I'm at today.

This being said, I'm bringing beer with me to my hiding spot. Specifically, the Double Crooked Tree IPA from Dark Horse Brewing Co, which was on draft at TJ's in Paoli.  What does 'double crooked tree' mean, you ask? It's their regular Crooked Tree IPA but with double the flavor and alcohol.  They aren't kidding - this beer means business and brings 12% ABV to the party.  In the glass you see an apricot color with a thick white head.  You immediately pick up a hop aroma and the taste is very hop forward, with pine and lemon flavors coming though.  There's a mellow earthiness and dryness to this beer, and you really don't notice the high ABV. Beware.  Great beer for those IPA fans out there, I'll definitely be having more of this beer in the future.

Shiny. Magnificent!

Thing to Think About Today:
Mysteriously, the 'K' key on the iPad went away while typing this post. It was replaced by the '&' key, although hitting it still gave you a 'K'. I can't explain this.  Steve Jobs, Y U PLAY GAMES?

I'm completely fried, and if the iPad wants to play games with the 'K', then let's go waaay back and think about Positive K. Who, you ask?  An old school rapper who... yeah I have no idea.  Good night, kids.

Tomorrow, I'm wearing to work the shirt/jacket thing he has on in the opening scene.  Legendary.

Beer 109: Weyerbacher’s Merry Monks

Today I was part of something pretty amazing.  I can’t say more than that because I don’t want to jinx a good thing.  But I finally feel like all this hard work may finally pay off.


To celebrate I opened a big bottle of Weyerbacher’s Belgian-style golden ale -- Merry Monks.  It poured a cloudy apricot color.  It had a full white head and was very active in the glass.  The scent is sweet and full of an undetermined fruit smell.   The taste was predominantly alcohol, which I found disappointing.  There was also a creamy doughiness to it and cloves.  It drank with a full mouthfeel - sort of creamy (have fun with that one!) - but finished dry.

While this was a perfectly fine beer to drink, I think I prefer some of Weyerbacher’s other offerings:  Verboten, Blanche and the Winter Warmer.  I’m also very intrigued by the Rapture - a sour red ale aged in pinot noir barrels.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Voodoo, Spells, and Refreshing Beer

Beer #108 Weizen Bock / Brauerei Aying, Aying, Germany

It's as though somewhere out in the world, someone has a giant voodoo doll likeness of me.  For reasons I can't explain, that person is sticking sharp pins and punching the doll frequently and without mercy.  Allow me to formally ask whoever that may be to knock it off.  I promise I'll be good.  Or bad.  Whatever you need me to do, just stop with the volume of crap being dumped on me at this time.  I totally can't deal.

Even the beer isn't helping today, which is surprising because it's a good one.  Soothing my soul with a little Weizen Bock from Ayinger.  In my trusty General Jackson Showboat glass, the beer is a hazy shade of yellow, with a foamy head (mostly due to Marci's pour, I think).  Delicious aromas of wheat and banana, and the taste combines notes of yeast, banana, clove, and bubblegum sweetness.  Really a delicious offering - both complex and easy to drink in one fell swoop.  If you're drinking some macro beer version of a wheat beer (looking at you, Blue Moon drinkers), knock that shit off and pick up a bottle of this beer.  You'll thank me later.

Drunken goat on the bottle? You know it's good.

Thing to Think About Today:
Okay, so I was only half kidding about the voodoo doll thing.  Maybe someone put a spell on me.  Actually, that must be what happened.  With that in mind, let's all think about Screamin' Jay Hawkins and this, um, classic (?) hit.  I can't figure out the first 30 seconds of this video, but I guess that's the point.  Stick with it beyond there and you'll get to hear a great version of I Put a Spell On You:

Beer 108: Ayinger Weizen-Bock

Dear Universe,

Thank you for bringing The Oatmeal into my life.  For that I am ever grateful.  Seriously grateful.  And thank you for letting me find this little ditty this morning.

It’s probably the only reason that I’m not face first in a glass of gin right now.

Love and daggers,


Despite the motherfucking Pterodactyl, sometimes life just blows.  But you know what doesn’t blow? This weizen-bock by Ayinger.  It poured a cloudy straw color with a thick white head.  It smells of bread, bananas and hops.

The taste is awesome - complex and yet smooth and easy to drink.  It tastes of cloves, honey, bananas.  It’s effervescent and finishes dry.  Quite refreshing.  Perfect for the spring weather that seems to have disappeared on us.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Christmas in March?

Beer #107 Jenlain Ambrée / Brasserie Duyck, Jenlain, France

A windy day here in the suburbs meant I had to track my trash can down from four houses away.  In the process, I noticed my neighbor had her Christmas tree lit at 6:30pm.  On March 26, mind you.  For those unfamiliar, this isn't an unusual circumstance - she more or less keeps the tree up all year, and frequently turns the multi-colored lights on throughout the year.

It drives me insane, but I'm working on that.

I guess in my simple mind, the fake pine tree with plug-in lights is specific to a certain holiday, which comes at a certain time every year.  There is an acceptable period to erect and light your tree, and there's an acceptable period for you to keep the tree up before taking down all of your decorations and storing them for another eleven months or so.  Does this woman not understand that social convention?  Is she some form of Christmas anarchist?  Or maybe she's just an old lady who likes Christmas, and I should just mind my own business.

My goal for the year is to stop letting nonsense like this bother me.  Whether or not a little old lady in my neighborhood loves Christmas to an unusual degree really doesn't impact my life, and certainly there's little I can do to change her behavior.  So, while I'm trying to let all of this just slide by, I admit some days it makes me want to call in the Delta Force and cut the power to her house.

Perhaps a beer will mellow me out, so tonight we're both sampling the Jenlain Ambrée, a farmhouse ale from Brasserie Duyck in France.  The brewery dates back to 1922 or so, and originally sold their product in recycled champagne bottles.  Out of a 750ml bottle, this ale pours a hazy dark copper with little head.  The beer gives off aromas of apple, honey, and tea and has flavors of malt, apple, caramel, subdued hops, and brewed tea.  There's a sweetness to this beer, although it has a dry finish.  Very enjoyable, and I can see myself drinking one of these in the warmer months.  You know, with my Christmas tree lit and stockings hung off my patio furniture.  Or... perhaps not....

Bling, bling!

Thing to Think About Today:
Clearly, leaving your Christmas tree up year-round is overkill.  So, with that in mind, let's all take time to think about Overkill, this one courtesy of Men At Work frontman Colin Hay.  Just a fantastic song by any measure.

"I can't get to sleep, I think about the implications"

Beer 107: Jenlain or Sounds of Silence

One of the unexpected outcomes of getting rid of cable is the inability to put the television on for background noise.  I never enjoyed being in a quiet space before -- something about it set me on edge.  I’d listen for the most minute noises and become convinced of imminent disaster.  Having the television babbling on in the room rid me of those fears.

And then I rid myself of cable and learned to appreciate a quiet room.  I could hear myself think -- granted I didn’t always like the thoughts rattling around in there.  But there I was, left to my own devices, thinking -- mulling things over, if you will -- and it wasn’t as scary as I originally suspected.  I feel calmer and more focused.  And the silence has spilled over into other areas -- my commute home, for example.

I’ve had several mind-bendingly frenetic weeks at work and it’s not going to let up until at least mid-May.  Today on the drive home, the radio was turned off and the window was opened up a bit.  The sound of the road under my tires and the wind rushing past was therapeutic.  I think I’ll make it after all now that my head’s clear.


Speaking of clearing things out, we’ve had some beer hanging around the fridge for a while.  Tonight’s beer is a great example.  It showed up weeks and weeks ago and has moved around the fridge like a vagrant in a public park.  I don’t know what I was waiting for but now’s the time to make my move.

Jenlain comes to us from France -- Brasserie Duyck to be exact.  It is a biere de garde.  The color is copper with a thin off-white head.  It has a bright fruit nose.  The tasted was malt sweetness and nice hop finish.  There was a touch of honey to the flavor and the alcohol was very discernible (7.5% ABV, which isn’t crazy at all but this one has pronounced alcohol presence).  If I had a top 50, it would make the list.  Cheers!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Barksdales, Bunk, Bubbles, and Barleywine

Beer #106 Heavy Seas Barleywine / Clipper City Brewing Company, Baltimore MD

Good productive Sunday - made my wife breakfast, wrestled with the dog to give him his eye drops, went to the gym, and hit the grocery store.  Need to pause here for a second, as I saw the cops take a guy out of Wegmans in handcuffs, which I found both sad and hilarious.  Shoplifting?  Stolen credit card?  Can't say, but he got a free perp walk through the front of the store.  That guy definitely isn't enjoying the rest of this sunny Sunday afternoon, like I am.  Dinner is in the oven, and at long last a beer is in my glass.

Tonight Marci and I are both drinking the Heavy Seas Barleywine from Clipper City.  This one is part of their Mutiny Fleet, a series of limited edition releases.  It pours a dark mahogany with ruby hues and a sparse tan head.  Your nose picks up aromas of rich malts and.... maybe leather?  The taste gives off notes of toffee, raisins, candi sugar, and roasted malt with a buttery sort of undertone.  It checks in at 10% ABV which is definitely noticeable.  Solid beer, and I would definitely like to see how this beer changes with aging in the cellar (we had the 2011 vintage).
Thing to Think About Today:
Finally, after 105 days and with a Baltimore beer up to bat, it's time for you think about the GREATEST television program in the HISTORY of television: The Wire.  That isn't hyperbole or a random adjective here; this show is by far and away the best programming I've ever seen in my life.  Marci and I have both sprinkled in some Wire quotes here and there, but now is the time we think about it in earnest.

Created by David Simon and Ed Burns and shown on HBO from '02 - '08, The Wire showed life in Baltimore from many perspectives, focusing on one main theme each season (the drug trade, the docks, the police/City Hall, the schools, and the print media).  The writers/creators had an amazing ability to make every character both loveable and deplorable, often at the same time.  Good guys did bad things, bad guys did good things, friends became enemies, enemies.... well they formed a co-op but mostly stayed enemies.  Characters were woven in and out across the seasons, and you saw them evolve (or not) over time while life around them largely stayed the same due to the dysfunctional systems of local politics and street life.  With a few exceptions, most of the actors were relative unknowns, but were near flawless in their character portrayals.

You are doing yourself a terrible disservice by not watching the show.  Fix that by adding it to your Netflix queue, and see what all of the fuss is about.  You'll be glad you did.  Check this NSFW clip for a too-quick look at what you're missing:

"And I keeps one in the chamber, in case you ponderin'...."

Beer 106: Heavy Seas Barleywine or Happy Endings

On my way home today I decided to treat myself to a manicure.  My new go to place gets major bonus points because their manicures include a back rub while your nails are drying.  For a back rub fiend like myself, this is major.  So there I sat this afternoon, nails freshly polished, enjoying my back rub when the clasp on my bra pops open.  All I could think is, “Isn’t this how some porn movies start?”  Key piece of information, the manicurist was a dude.  Alas I did not find out if this was the nail salon that provided happy endings.  I just pretended to sneeze and then developed some really bad posture.


To ease my awkwardness, I’m breaking open a barleywine style ale from Clipper City Brewing Company.  The Heavy Seas Mutiny Fleet Below Decks is from the 2011 mutiny collection.  Beer from this collection is described as among their biggest and boldest beers, brewed in small batches and designed for aging like a fine wine.  Three plus months of aging is all this one got.

Below Decks poured a lovely mahogany color with a tan thin head. A good swirl brought out lots of carbonation and a rich, sweet smell redolent of molasses.  It drank with lightness and was full of flavor.  It is rich and somewhat buttery with hints of dark fruits.  It finishes with some spice and a solid alcohol warmth.  Even more intriguing than the straight up Below Decks is that there are versions aged in cabernet barrels or oak bourbon barrels.  Perhaps the beer gods will smile on me and send one to Wegman’s for me to discover!

So is the Below Deck the right thing to be drinking on such a fine spring day?  Probably not.  But this is a very enjoyable beer and I’ll take it when I can get it.  That day just so happens to be today.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Beer 105: HooDoo Kolsch or DJ Marci G

On my travels today a new-to-me mash-up of LL Cool J’s Rock the Bells and The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony came on.  It included some significant scratching which reminded me out of nowhere of my one meager attempt at a DJ career.  It was back in the mid- to late-80s and I made my debut scratching on my dad’s prized turntable.  Evidently one cannot just up and start scratching on any ol’ turntable and those fancy pants needles are really expensive.  It sounded like shit.  I ruined a record.  I also found out how expensive a replacement needle was.  I blame it on Run DMC or maybe Chaka Khan or was it Herbie Hancock?


Tonight I’m drinking a kolsch style ale from Uinta Brewing Company out of Salt Lake City, Utah.  If anyone cares, it was bottled on October 28, 2011 and is brewed with renewable wind and solar energy.  The HooDoo ale poured a golden straw color with a thin head that is leaving some serious lacing behind.

The smell is full of grain and slightly sweet smelling.  The taste is smooth -- grains, malt, very mild hop.  It’s ever so slightly sweet.  If I was the kind of woman who cut the grass on a hot summer day, I would probably be quite happy to grab one of these afterwards.  But since I’m more of a make-my-husband-do-it or hire-someone-else kind of gal, then I’ll probably just relax with one of these on a hot day and appreciate the lack of hard labor in my life.

You daily dose of knowledge revolves around funny words like Uinta and hoodoo.  A hoodoo is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of a basin or badland located in dry, hot areas.  Hoodoos can reach hieghts exceeding that of a ten-story building.  Why did Uinta opt for hoodoo for the name of this kolsch?  Nowhere in the world are hoodoos more abundant than in Utah and specifically Bryce Canyon National Park.  And for your second bit of knowledge -- Uinta is the mountain range located in northeastern Utah.


Put Down the Tween Reading and Grab a Beer

Beer #105 Schiehallion / Harviestoun Brewery, Alva, Scotland

The world is agog with the Hunger Games movie.  For those living under a rock, it's based on a book (written for tweens, people.  For freaking TWEENS) set in a post-apocalyptic world where kids from around the country are entered into a tournament to kill each other.

I can't understand the current fascination adults have for books written for 13 year olds.  I guess as a society people don't want to be challenged with more difficult topics or more obtuse writing?  Seriously, put down the kiddie books and grab Philip Roth or some Hemingway or some... I don't know, anyone who writes for adults.

However, if these kids are seeded in 64-kid tournament where I can fill out a bracket, then I'm a little more on board.  Also, I can get on board if the winner of the Hunger Games then goes on to compete in the Kumite, the underground fighting tournament in Bloodsport.  Watch out for Chong Li  kids, he doesn't fight fair.  WHAT?  Two Bloodsport references in two days?  YES.

And what goes better with sanctioned child-on-child violence than a cold, delicious brew?  Beer!  Today's beer is the Schiehallion (prounounced "she-ha-li-on"), a lager from Harviestoun Brewery.  Had this on draft at The Farmer's Cabinet, one of the best beer bars in Philly.  Great static beer list, and some really unique rotating drafts.  Plus, excellent house beers as well.  Can't beat it.

Anyway, this one gives off a pale straw color in the glass, and has a light aroma of hops and citrus.  This refreshing beer has great flavors of grapefruit, grass, and malt with a bit of sweetness.  There's an even balance of hops throughout, with a nice dry finish.  Definitely not the average lager, and definitely worth a try.  In case you were wondering, Schiehallion is well known mountain in Scotland, and serves as inspiration for this lager.  Knowledge!

Grainy Loch Ness Monster quality photo? Check!
Thing to Think About Today:
I guess I should probably just be happy that people read books instead of just stare at reality TV, even if the books are geared towards kids in middle school.  That aside, the "humans hunting humans" genre has been done before and done well, although admittedly having kids do the killing is a nice touch.  On this lazy Saturday, let's all spend some time thinking about one of the best books and films in this genre: The Running Man.

Written by Stephen King (not for tweens, hooray!) and made into a movie in '87, The Running Man is set in a futuristic dystopian society, and stars a man who competes on a game show for his life.  The book and the movie diverge greatly, although both are fine in their own right.  Let's stick with the movie version, and let  Arnold Schwarzenegger fight for his life against the stalkers.  I'll be back!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Post Where Nothing Makes Sense

Beer #104 Cold Front / Ithaca Brewing Company, Ithaca, NY

Another long week comes to a close, but at least that means it's Friday.  Weather is good, dinner is Chinese take-out, and I get to sleep in tomorrow.  Which really means 7am, but the lack of having something to do first thing in the morning is wonderful in my world.  Marci has threatened that a hang over might be in order for Sunday morning, however, tonight seems quiet.  We'll see.  The night is young.

Tonight's beer is the Cold Front, a  Belgian styled brown ale from Ithaca Beer Company which came on draft at The Side Bar in West Chester, PA.  Great beer list, for those looking for somewhere to drink good beers.  This one pours a mahogany color in the glass, and has aromas of roasted malt.  When you take a sip, you get candi sugar, toffee, and roasted malt, with a bitterness on the end.  Tried this because it was the only Ithaca on draft and I was eager to sample something from Ithaca, but quite honestly it was a little too roasted, a little too coffee flavored for my delicate taste buds.  I think their red ale, Cascazilla, might be more my speed.  However, if you're in the market for roasted, give this one a shot.

Neglected to snag a picture of said beer, so I'll just leave this here:
Bloodsport gif?  Always mesmerizing, if rarely relevant.
You're welcome.

Thing to Think About Today:
Look, you know I love to connect your thing to think about to the beer, the town the brewery is in, something, anything.  I've spent way too many brain cells this week thinking about work, so my creative genius is running low and I couldn't make any "Ithaca is Gorges" jokes be funny.  Crap, I mean I just dropped a Bloodsport gif in this post for NO reason.  So, if you're thinking of something for no reason, we might as well drift out to the West Coast and let Young MC kick off the weekend with juuuust the right groove:

Thinking that hang over might sound like a good idea after all....

Beer 104: Singha Lager Beer

Tonight we drink a beer from Thailand out of  an insanely old Budweiser glass.  (Do not hate on that glass.)

Singha Lager Beer poured with a super fizzy, gone-in-an-instant head.  It continued to bubble straight through the initial pour, during dinner and now while I’m writing.  The bubbles are making it quite refreshing to drink.  The smell is cereal and general beer scent.  The flavor is surprisingly sweet -- honey, sweet malt, a bit of hop that leaves a little tingling on the tip of my tongue.

Prepare for some knowledge.  The lion character on the bottle is the Singha -- a mystical lion found in ancient Thai and Hindu stories.  It is the most powerful of all creatures.  I like that.  The bottle itself is produced by a subsidiary of Boonrawd (the brewer of this beer).  Nice vertical integration.

Boonrawd is the first and only brewery in Thailand to be granted the Royal Permission.  It happened in 1939 and is an extremely rare achievement for any Thai company.  The Royal Permission is granted to a company that has a good and righteous name, produces quality products and services, and is a good representation of the kingdom internationally.  The sign of the Royal Permission is the Garuda -- the winged figure on the upper label of the bottle.

Feel smarter?  So do I.

In the immortal words of Ludacris…I bang cock in Bangkok.  And with that, I bid you a fond farewell.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Yo Momma So Fat.....

Beer #103 Fatty Boombalatty / Furthermore Beer, Spring Green, WI

Good news on the home front today, as Flash has returned from the vet.  He's doing much better - had two teeth pulled, and is now home and resting comfortably.  Poor old guy.  Picking him up from the vet caused me to miss my basketball game, but considering we lost by *50* last time out, perhaps a week off might do some good.  Playing last week certainly didn't help!

Today's offering is the Fatty Boombalatty, an oddly named yet tasty beer from Furthermore.  Had this beer on draft at Paramour in Wayne, which is a pretty decent spot to unwind and enjoy a drink or two.  In the glass, this version on a Belgian white shows off a cloudy gold color, with a thin white head.  There's a faint citrus aroma, and you get flavors of bread, pepper, orange, and clove, with just a bit of bitterness.  In my notes, I added "thirst quenching" and "very drinkable."  Good to know as warmer weather continues to linger here in the suburbs, but keep in mind that Fatty carries a 7.2% ABV along for the ride.  Definitely check this one out.

Thing to Think About Today:
These days, it's near impossible to hear a popular song that doesn't have multiple stars adding a "guest" verse.  I guess the thought is the more name brand stars you can add on a song, the greater the chance someone will  buy it?  Personally, it doesn't make any sense to me, but I'm old school.  So old, I can remember when rap/rock collaborations were new and completely genre bending.  There have been some great ones along the way - Run-DMC + Aerosmith and R.E.M. + KRS-One, off the top of my head.

I'm not sure if this one is great, awful, somewhere in-between, or all of the above.  It's magical, that much I know.  Without further adieu, if we're thinking about a beer named after a fat joke, we're thinking about the Fat Boys + the Beach Boys!!!!  Perfect song with summer just around the corner....

RIP, Buff Love, aka "the Human Beatbox".  The good ones always leave us too soon.....

Beer 103: Southampton Imperial Porter

I can only describe the past few weeks at work as utterly insane.  And it's not even crunch time yet.  I can't imagine the level of insanity that April is going to bring.  Hopefully there is some respite come May...otherwise I don't know if I can continue at this pace.  /sigh


Tonight I'm drinking Southampton Publick House's imperial porter.  Southampton comes to us from New York and this particular beer is inspired by Baltic porters of centuries past.  

This imperial porter poured a deep dark brown and was very bubbly.  It had a thin, slightly off-white head.  The smell was full of sweet roasted malted.  The taste was remarkably light and refreshing.  It closed with a nice hope bite.  Overall it was smooth, not too roasted, a bit smokey and pretty easy to drink.  Very nice, indeed.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Beer 102: Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold

Tonight we're drinking a Great Lakes Brewing Company Dortmunder Gold on draught.  It was procured at TJ's in Paoli.  I love that place!  It is a German style lager.  As the name promises, it poured a beautiful golden color.  It had a light white head and lots of carbonation.  It smelled of sweet malt and had a general beer aroma.  The flavor was malty sweet with a strong hop finish.  There were also hints of biscuits and some honey/fruit notes.  Dortmunder Gold drinks with lots of body and I think it would be a great tailgate beer.

Evidently TJ's is a very dark bar...
Is anyone else curious about the origins of the beer's name?  I learned from Beer Advocate that Dortmunder style lager was made popular in the 19th century in Dortmund, Germany.  It is a pale golden lager that exhibits a clean character with notes of biscuity malts.  (Score one for me!)  Its bitterness is akin to a German pilsner with an aromatic aroma and overall dry tone.

If you're curious what Gary thought about this one, you're in luck.  He reviewed it late last year.  And seriously what else could I possibly say after that Cleveland tourism video?


Biere de Mars Blackmon

Beer #102 Biere de Mars / Southampton Publick House, Southampton, New York

Cut out of work early to take Flash to the vet.  The old man has been battling what we suspected was an infected abscess tooth issue, and that seems to now be confirmed.  So, he's headed to the vet tomorrow to get a tooth pulled.  Poor guy is clearly in a lot of discomfort right now.  Definitely not feeling himself.

So, I'm now catching up on everything I missed today and enjoying a nice seasonal beer, the Biere de Mars from Southampton.  It poured a clear, pale amber in the glass, and gave off aromas of malt, bread, and apple.  When you drink this, you get flavors of bread, lemon, and honey with a persistent malt presence and some mild bitterness.

A Biere de Mars (beer for March) is a form of Biere de garde (beer for keeping).  Meaning, it's a farmhouse ale produced in a style originally created for farm workers in France.  If you really want to learn more, click here for some deeper detail on the topic.

The brewery at Southampton has been cranking out beers since 1996, but the property has been a restaurant since the 1800's, serving the likes of Babe Ruth and Gary Cooper.  Stop by if you're in town.

Thing to Think About Today:
If we're thinking about Biere de Mars, allow me to suggest we also think about Mars... Blackmon!  Yes, Spike Lee's alter-ego who appeared on the scene as Michael Jordan was moving from being a sensational basketball player to becoming (with Nike's help) one of the most recognizable - and marketable - figures in the world.  Quick spin through some of their more memorable commercials to get us all in the right Mars frame of mind.

I will pay a medium sized fortune for anyone who can get me a version of the 'MARS' belt buckle worn by Spike/Mars.  Help me people.  Do it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday: Shirts, Steak, Strong Dark Ale

Beer #101 Ename Cuvee / Brouwerij Roman, Oudenaarde, Belgium

Getting my hustle on tonight, which includes shopping for window pane plaid button down dress shirts (because that's pretty much all I wear) and hitting a steak house for dinner (shout out to my team for hooking me up at Christmas this year!).

That means you get the facts tonight.  And the fact is your beer for today is Ename Cuvee, a Belgian strong dark ale from Brouwerij Roman, which was on draft at Teresa's Next Door.  It pours a cloudy sort of amber, and has a faint malt aroma on the nose.  The taste has notes of bread and malt sweetness, with floral notes around the edges.  Not the greatest strong dark ale ever; I was expecting much more complexity and flavor from this one.  This being said, we have a bottle of another variety (Adriaen Brouwer) from this brouwerij, which we'll drink and see if it's any better.  Brouwerij of course means "brewery" to those not fluent in Dutch, like I am.  Marci also sampled this beer, check that out HERE.

Interesting fact: this brewery lives in the same hometown as Brouwerij Liefmans, which was beer #99.  Shout out to all my Oudenaarde peoples!

I had a picture of this beer, which comes in a Ename labeled glass at Teresa's, but my camera didn't save the picture.  Which seems odd.  So instead you get a picture of Flash enjoying nature in the yard.  He's not doing well this week, so hopefully some sunny weather will lift his spirits.
Chillin', chillin', mindin' my business...

Thing to Think About Today:
I have nothing to relate to the number of this post, the beer or brewery, or my evening destinations.  So, here's the song that was playing on the iPod when I drove home - Franz Ferdinand with some great summer weather and windows down driving music.  Turn it up.  Go ahead, you've earned it.

It's always better on holiday
So much better on holiday
That's why we only work when...
We need the money!

Beer 101: Liefman Oud Bruin 2010 or The Worst Post Ever

I have precisely one minute and 37 seconds in which to post today's.  Apologies in advance for typos, nonsense and general disappointment. 

Tonight we drink the Liefmans Goudenband -- an oud bruin bottled in 2010.  It poured a chestnut color with ruby highlights.  It seemed on the flat side as I poured it and there wasn't a discernible head to speak of.  There was a thin ring of beige froth around the edge of the glass that left some lacing down the glass.  It smelled of mild vinegar.  The taste was tart, green, and a bit roasty -- kind of reminded me of sitting next to a hickory fire.  This is an unusual beer and quite tasty. 


Monday, March 19, 2012

100 Beers and Runnin'.....

Beer #100 Garde Dog / Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD

Dear 99 Bottles of Beer song,
We're now on beer 100... and counting.  Your jaunty lyrics mean nothing to me now, as you're in my rear view mirror.
Warmest regards,

With the 100th beer we've hit a milestone of some sort, although mathematically we're just shy of 28% completed.  I meant to do this last week, and Marci meant to do it today, so here's my better late than never (idea stolen from Marci) look at what breweries/beers have earned a spot in the Top 25.  In no particular order (for now):
Brouwerij van Steenberge / Trippel van de Garre
Brouwerij Rodenbach / Grand Cru
Anchorage Brewing Company / Bitter Monk
Brasserie Fantome / Fantome Saison
Oskar Blues Brewery / Dale's Pale Ale
Brouwerij Verhaeghe / Duchess du Bourgogne
New Holland Brewing Company / Blue Sunday Sour
Brouwerij Huyghe / Delirium Tremens
Wells and Young's Brewing Company / Bombardier

So that makes nine beers in the running... if you made me pick, I'd say the best beer so far was the Bitter Monk.  However, drinking 365 beers from 365 breweries is a marathon, not a sprint.  Plenty of game yet to play.  Click on the 'Top 25' tag on the right menu if you want to catch up on any of the Top 25 candidates to date.

Tonight is another beer drank outside (shout out to Mother Nature!) on the deck, the Garde Dog from Flying Dog Brewery.  This Biere de Garde pours a hazy shade of yellow, with a thick white head (my overzealous pour didn't help matters).  On the nose you get the light scent of grassy malt.  A friendly 5.5% ABV helps this beer go down easy, with flavors of malt, lemon, grass, and light peppery spice.  There's a note of bitterness in there to round things out.  Spring is upon us people, and if you want a way to get into a summery vibe, try this beer.  Trust me.

Thing to Think About Today:
I was tempted to drop NWA's 100 Miles and Runnin in here, but I prefer to not dwell on the days when Ice Cube left the group.  So instead I give you something less offensive - Guard Dog, an Oscar nominated animated short by the great Bill Plympton, starring a precocious pup who wants nothing more than a job as a  guard dog, despite his glaring lack of skill in that department.

The embedded vid is just a clip, the link below takes you to the entire video.  Please do yourself a favor and watch the entire four minute video:

Beer 100: AleSmith Horny Devil

Tonight's post is going to be short and sweet.  I had big plans to do a review of what's in the running for my Top 25 list in honor of the 100th post, but things are a bit crazy.  Perhaps tomorrow...


AleSmith's Horny Devil poured a slightly cloudy apricot in my glass.  It smelled of fruit -- reminded me of green apples and grapes.  While it didn't pour with much of a head, it did have lots of carbonation as I drank it.  It kind of reminded me of champagne in that sense.  The hops were very low key.  The flavor had lots of banana, spice and I even thought of maple syrup at one point.  It packs a punch at 11% ABV, but the alcohol level isn't that noticeable. Kind of dangerous for such a delicious beer. 

If you're interested, check out what Gary had to say about this one here.

This photo lies about the beer's color.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Got 99 Problems But a Beer Ain't One

Beer #99 Goudenband / Brouwerij Liefmans, Oudenaarde, Belgium

Hopefully you all celebrated St. Patrick's Day responsibly, and you're not too hungover to function on this sunny Sunday.  Or, if not, hopefully you're working on some hair of the dog as a hangover cure.  Regardless, the march towards 365 beers from 365 different breweries continues, and we're moving on.  Survive and advance (unlike Marci's pick for tournament winner, Georgetown).

I drank today's beer outside, as we're enjoying late-spring weather here in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  Listen, I get we're totally murdering our planet with trash and excessive consumption and fossil fuels and whatnot.  However, if the trade-off is we get no snow during the winter and 70 degree weather in mid-March, I might get on board with this whole global warming thing.  Drinking outside, one of my favorite hobbies in the world, only happens when the weather cooperates!  Soon enough, I'll have beach front property and then the party will really get started.

Today's beer is a oud bruin from Brouwerij Liefmans.  In the glass, it's a shade somewhere between mahogany and chestnut, with a thin light tan head after the pour.  The aroma has sour, vinegar, and malt readily noticeable.  With the first sip, you can pick up the tart flavor you'd expect from a beer like this, but there's a more pronounced malt flavor than I expected.  Not in a bad way, however.  There are earthy notes and hints of cherry and and caramelized sugars as well.

Another ancient brewery, Liefmans has roots back to 1679.  The Goudenband is a mixture of aged and younger beers to maximize the flavors.  If you would have told college me 15 years ago that I'd be drinking beer with an aroma of vinegar, I would have been horrified.  And 15 years ago, I thought Milwaukee's Best was a pretty solid beer choice! Yet somehow, it works as a grown up.

Thing to Think About Today:
If given the choice, would you rather have 99 red balloons or 99 problems?  I say: why do we have to choose?  We can have BOTH!

In the spirit of our 99th beer today, let's have Jay-Z and Nena come together and share tales from Cold War Germany and the mean streets of NYC.  Or something like that.  Just listen, trust me.  It works.

You and me and a little dachshund.....

Beer 99: Atwater Brewery Blond Ale or Spring is Here!

Tonight you are getting lucky!  You get two posts for the price of one.  Gary led me astray at Wegman’s and told me that I hadn’t reviewed Magic Hat yet.  Their Vinyl was sitting there on the beer shelf, giving me the eye so I brought it home and the review is below.  But that isn’t tonight’s review.  Tonight I review Atwater Brewery’s Dirty Blonde -- a blond ale.  

It poured a crisp clear straw color in my glass.  It smells very mild -- lots of general beer scent.  I’ll blame that on my allergies.  The head was big and fluffy and shortlived.  If anyone remembers the blond ale I drank a few nights ago, this is nothing like that one.  It’s light and refreshing at 4.5% ABV albeit slightly on the thin side.  It drinks with hints of lemon citrus flavor and finishes with wheat notes.  I could see drinking a few of these at a Phillies game or PSU’s Blue-White game.  

And now onto tonight’s original post:

Last night we caught up with longtime friends and I spent way too much time talking beer as if I know what I’m talking about.  For whatever reason, it is still mildly frightening when someone heeds my opinion on beer and takes my blog with them when shopping for themselves.  I should not have this kind of influence!

But sitting outside until late in the evening last night combined with today’s beautiful weather has me thinking thoughts of spring and that has influenced my choice of beer this evening.  I went with Magic Hat’s spring seasonal -- Vinyl

It poured a fine amber in my glass with a thin, slightly off-white head.  My allergies are killing my sense of smell so the best I could do on that front is that it smells like lager.  The taste is uncomplicated.  Good balance between the malts and hops and it does finish with stronger hop notes.  There are definitely fruit notes - maybe plums?  Overall it is perfect for sitting on my deck, writing this post, rocking out to My Hoopty and crushing strangers in Words with Friends.  Cheers!

p.s.  Magic Hat hails from Burlington, Vermont - an insanely fun town.  It’s where a few of us ran a relay marathon a few years back under the team name The Sweat Hogs.  We had awesome matching t-shirts (with logos, of course) and coordinating headbands and wristbands.  

Eat at the sushi restaurant on Church Street (it was awesome, but I can’t remember the name of anything ever)
Run along Lake Champlain
Drink craft beer at many of their fine establishments

Run up Battery Street

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Beer 98: Madrugada Obscura

Jolly Pumpkin makes some awesome beer.  One of my all time favorites is the Madrugada Obscura - a sour stout!  I don't have a photo.  Sorry.

It pours black as night with a thick cocoa color head.  It smells like a Flanders red ale.  But even better - a medley of sour dark fruits.  The taste has full roasted malt flavor along with bitter hops.  It's chocolate-tinged coffee with a full sourness.  I fnd it to be very carbonated and refreshing to drink.  The look of this beer would make you think heavy to drink, but it is quite the opposite.  Top 25?  Hell yeah.

Another highlight from Jolly Pumpkin's arsenal:  Bam Biere.  See what Gary has to say about it here.

Since I don't have a photo, I leave you with this thought on St. Patrick's Day...never, ever do this to yourself or your child.  I will find you and be forced to slap some sense into you.


Happy Holiday, Beer Drinkers!

Beer #98 Munich-Style Golden Lager / Thomas Hooker Brewing Company, Bloomfield, CT

Today we come to what can be considered one of the High Holy days of drinking, St. Patrick's Day.  Everyone throws on some green and goes out to get soused all day- sounds like my kind of event!  Truth be told and maybe I'm an old man, but I haven't ventured out to drink with the masses on St. Pat's in ages.  I guess because I can (and often do) go out and drink on a regular basis, I don't need to try and cram it all in to one afternoon.  I'm not a huge fan of amateur hour, really.  However, I can certainly appreciate those who celebrate today with some beers and wish everyone a safe and happy day!

It goes without saying I'm having some drinks today.  Sure, I suppose I could have found an Irish beer for this post, but I like to keep everyone on their toes.  Instead, today's beer is the Munich from Thomas Hooker, a brewery in Connecticut.  This Helles style lager was on draft at TJ's in Paoli, a great local beer spot.  It pours a clear gold color with a wispy white head.  There's nothing overpowering about the aroma; there's a very subtle yeast and hops aroma.  The taste has malt and sweet fruit notes, with a earthy nuttiness.  Very clean, dry finish with just a hint of bitterness at the end.  Very refreshing, and fits in well with the warm weather we have today.

This brewery was named for Rev. Thomas Hooker, the man who invented prostitution a colonial leader and founder of the settlement that would become Hartford.  His direct descendants include Willliam Taft and Aaron Burr.  Kickin' it old school!

Thing to Think About Today:
In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day, allow me to suggest we all think about the most significant contribution to modern society made by the Irish:  the Shamrock Shake!
Shamrock Shakes IS back! Grammar aren't.
Seriously, if there's anyone in America not familiar with the seasonal appearance of this delicious and refreshing mint milkshake, you may have spent the past 25+ years living under a rock.  Congrats on finding the internet today, though!  This shake is as much a sign of spring for me as robins, flowers, filing my taxes, and March Madness.  Once the Shamrock Shake gets here, you know the warm days of summer are just around the corner.  Like many wonderful things, this is a fleeting experience - before you know it, the Shamrock Shake will be a distant memory as we wait through winter for next spring.  Act fast, supplies are limited.