Breweries "Visited"

Monday, April 30, 2012

You Loved Frogger, Right?

Beer #142 Mean Manalishi Double IPA, Hoppin' Frog Brewing Company , Akron, OH

As you've clearly seen by now from Marci's post, the Mrs. is under the weather.  Thankfully, I've watched a lot of ER over the years, so therefore I'm a completely trained and skilled physician.  I've got this one under control.  For example: I need a chem panel, CBC, tox screen, cross-type and hang two liters of O neg, STAT!!!

In between rounds for my patients, tonight's beer is the Mean Manalishi from Hoppin' Frog (note: I'm pretty sure beers between rounds was allowed on ER).  This double IPA pours a cloudy amber color, with a thin but persistent white head.  Your nose is greeted immediately with the traditional hop aromas of pine and citrus.  You get hit with flavors of grapefruit, along with caramel malt and a big dose of earthy, hop bitterness.  It's definitely a beer for hop lovers only - all others, beware.

No frogs were harmed in the making of this beer.  I think.

This brewery is a small operation out of Akron, and has been in business since 2000.  While it's not on their website, the interesting Hoppin' Frog name comes from the nickname of the brewer (Frog), and the fact that things are always hoppin' at the brewery.  There you have it.

Thing to Think About Today:
If we're thinking about frogs today..... I don't have much. There's the Celebrated Jumping Frog of Caleveras County, the old mascot from the WB, and I guess, Frogger.  Yeah, Frogger sounds about right.  Let's allow the Seinfeld guys to wrap things up in style with the episode where George clings to his youth and tries to save the video game with his high score.  And now I have patients to see, lives to save, results of the CBC to review.  Until next time, people.....

Beer 142: As Reported from my Death Bed

I suppose getting sick was inevitable given the number of hours I've worked during the past seven weeks and the stress level in my world.  But holy shit.  I feel like I've been hit by an 18-wheeler.  It hurts to type.

Luckily the semi hit and run didn't occur until late last night and Sunday was a pretty fun day.  Afternoon beers at Teresa's and other hijinx.  I tried the oyster stout from Scheldebrouwerij .  It poured a deep, dark brown with a tan head.  The smell was sweet.  Caramel.  The flavor was milk chocolate, a teeny bit saline and a bit caramel.  It did not taste like oysters.  I'm not sure how I feel about that last part.  I kind of like oysters.  Per the brewery's website, the wort is pumped on oyster shells.  I can't even begin to guess what that means.

On that note, I'm going to bed.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

All In the Game, Yo

Beer #141 Greene King IPA /  Greene King Brewery, Bury St. Edmonds, England

Last night, I spent a fair amount of time furiously deleting pictures and apps from my phone, as I kept getting an error message regarding the phone running out of memory.  I'm past due to get a new phone, but I sort of like this one, even if it drives me crazy at times.  The devil you know, I suppose.

Anyway, I deleted many photos of beers, because I've been posting them here as I go along.  However, I realized I had one awesome photo hiding which needs to be shared with the world.  Behold, Pimp Cat:

Gotta keep my pimp paw strong....

For reasons I can't explain, I love this photo.  I found this cool cat on the corner of James and Spruce Streets last year, and it SCREAMS 1970's to me.  I'm not sure if a child left him out on the sidewalk or if was waiting for a trip to the landfill.  I have rules, and one of them strictly prohibits touching random stuffed animals left on the corner.  Nothing good can come of it, really.  Regardless, in my mind this cat is a boss playa, running the corner and keeping his stable in check.  With a pimp hat and matching bow tie like that, what else would be be doing?

Now that we've taken care of that utter nonsense, let's take care of today's beer.  Went with the Greene King IPA, which was on the hand pumps at Teresa's Next Door.  This beer pours a honeyed amber color in the glass with a lingering white head.  Marci described the appearance as "pretty."  It gives off light aromas of flowers and malt.  It's an easy drinking beer at 3.9% ABV, with a taste of malt and citrus with a light hop bitterness.  Not sure how this is billed as an IPA; it's definitely more of an English Bitter.  Eminently drinkable, this session beer is definitely worth a look.

See?  Pretty!

In business since 1799, this brewery has been growing in recent years by acquiring smaller entities, such as Morland (maker of Old Speckled Hen) and Bellhaven, which Marci reviewed here.  Wondering where the unusual town name of Bury St. Edmonds comes from?  It's where martyred King Edmond, later to become Saint Edmond, was buried in 869.  Allegedly, he was killed by Ivar the Boneless. Awesome nickname there, Ivar.  I'm sure this all made sense in those crazy 800's.  Anyway, now you know.

Thing to Think About Today:
We've covered a lot of ground today.  Cats living on the street, beers, martyrdom, some dude nicknamed "The Boneless."  Let's just unwind with a little cat pimp music, shall we?  Play him off, Keyboard Cat!

I'm kidding.  Real pimp cat music - from the streets.  50, where you at?

Beer 141: Uncommon Brewers Baltic Porter

Life without major work projects looming over my head is good.  The productivity of yesterday spilled into today.  House is tidied. Laundry is in progress. Groceries are being purchased as I type. Decorating project completed and I'm pretty happy with the results.

The plan was to reward myself with a trip to Teresa's Next Door for a couple beers.  I knew my review stockpile has been dwindling, but I had no idea how much so.  Imagine my surprise when I sat down to write today and there was nothing left in my beer notebook.  Luckily I had a can of Uncommon Brewers Baltic Porter in the fridge so my late afternoon plan has not been totally derailed.

This Baltic Porter poured pitch black with a full - and I mean full - tan head.  (How that beer didn't end up all over the counter is beyond me!) It has a general beer smell with hints of roasted goodness.  It's light - not what you'd expect from its looks - and very carbonated.  The taste is very strong on licorice, much more so than what other Baltic porters deliver.  You know that mouthfeel you get after eating way too much licorice?  This beer delivers that.  For me that's a good thing because I love black licorice like a fat kid loves cake.

Uncommon Brewers is based in Santa Cruz.  I hope to sample some of their other offerings on our craft brew vacation, which is just around the corner.  Their beers are unfiltered and unpasteurized.  The label also suggests letting them age and experiencing their transformation over time.  I really wish I had another can of this one.  The one I'm drinking was produced on March 14, 2011 and I'd love to see what a little more time would do to it.

As I work my way through my mug, a few more flavors are becoming evident: rye bread and herbs mainly.  I'm also noticing it's dryness a lot more.  This could be my favorite of the Baltic porters I've tried so far.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Your Story Has Become Tiresome

Beer #140 Reissdorf Kolsch / Privat-Brauerei Heinrich Reissdorf, Cologne, Germany

I think the one thing keeping me alive these days is daydreaming about vacation.  We're planning on hitting the West Coast to completely immerse ourselves in beer, oysters, wine, fish tacos, and beer.  Thinking of places to visit, beers I want to try, and warm weather keeps me motivated.  If you have suggestions on places to visit in California and Oregon to get the best beers, wine, or food, please don't hesitate to share your thoughts.  Do it!

While dreaming about vacation, there's no better way to stay focused than to drink a beer.  Today I had a Reissdorf Kolsch on draft at TJ's.  Admittedly, this beer is from the western area of Germany, not the West Coast, but it still works when planning a vacation.  It pours a crystal clear gold in the glass, with virtually no head.  Aromas are of earthy grains, and the taste gives you a clean, dry flavor of grain and yeast.  It has an earthy, mineral side, but is very straight forward.  Not the best kolsch I've ever had, but it definitely helps keep the wheels turning when thinking about a trip.

Crystal clear - as evidenced by being able to read the
Great Lakes Brewery logo on the other side of the glass

This brewery dates back to 1894, and is currently being managed by the fourth generation.  Interesting read  about the history of the brewery and their recovery after World War II available on their site.

Thing to Think About Today:
There are a fair number of Americans who's only exposure to German culture came through an 80's talk show host by the name of Dieter Sprocket.  NOW IT THE TIME ON SPROCKETS WHEN WE DANCE!

Beer 140: Cigar City Brewing and an Afternoon Beer

Despite swearing that I was spending today in a coma in my pajamas, I managed to get a ridiculous number of things done.  The contractor finished up the latest round of work at our house.  I found a new little project for myself that took me to Lowe's and we swung by Ikea in search of new glassware, ended up with new lanterns and a good idea for a replacement couch.

The afternoon ended at TJ's and me finding a tasty beer from Cigar City Brewing.  Hotter than Helles is a Munich style lager.  It poured a cloudy lemon-yellow shade of beer with a thin head.  It smelled bready and grainy.  The flavor was surprisingly sweet, malt and very smooth.  I noted faint hints of orange undertones.  It was very quenching and  clean.  I could have put a few of them back.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Take Me Out to the Ballgame....

Beer #139 Big Daddy IPA / Speakeasy Ales and Lagers, San Francisco, CA

Headed to Citizens Bank Park for the first time in this young baseball season to catch a game in person.  Therefore, you get the short and sweet version today.

The Big Daddy IPA is up to bat (see what I did there?), and this beer from Speakeasy pours an amber color with a fluffy white head.  The aroma gives off notes of malt and biscuit, with some citrus in there.  The taste is quite nice - earthy, with a dry hop bitterness.  Probably not as much citrus as I would expect, but they do have some malt sweetness in there.  In all, well worth your effort.  This brewery has been churning out beers since 1997 in San Fran's Bayview section.

Speaking of San Fran, the ballpark has been carrying Anchor Steam the past few seasons - as well as other local craft brews from Victory and Philadelphia Brewing.  Hopefully that trend continues.  If you're going to charge me $43 for a beer, it better at least be a good one.

Thing to Think About Today:
If we're thinking baseball, let's just spend a moment thinking about the best baseball movie ever.  Oh yes, it's time for Major League.  Easily one of the most quotable movies of all time, which always comes in handy at baseball games.  We wear caps and sleeves at this level, son.....

Beer 139: Speakeasy Ales and the 60 Hour Work Week

Things that have frightened me today:

Not remembering anything about this morning

Nearly falling asleep on the drive home this afternoon

The way my eyeballs feel right now

After banging out the umpteenth 60+ hour work week - this week managing to do it in four days - my body is done.  Everything hurts.  My eyes don't really work.  I nearly fell asleep at the wheel at 3pm.  I don't remember seeing or talking to Gary this morning.  I'm going to bed the moment I hit publish on this post.


I'm raiding my stash of beer reviews for today's post.  This Big Daddy IPA was had at Paramour (Wayne, PA) last week.  It poured a nice shade of amber with a fluffy white head.  The smell was nice and citrusy.  The flavor was good.  I normally don't care for IPAs but this one managed to get a thumbs up from me.  It had a characteristic hop bite, but was balanced by citrus and honey and a bit of pine.  Big Daddy IPA is brewed by Speakeasy Ales and Lagers out of California.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Day I Hang Out With Smart People

Beer #138 Seson / Piccolo Birrificio, Apricale, Italy

Great success!  After forgetting how to tie a bow tie, it all came back to me.  Which makes perfect sense, as it really is pretty easy to do.  I think the issue wasn't that I'm an idiot, it's that I was working with a new bow tie, and I just wasn't used to the change yet.  Or something like that.....

And why a bow tie you ask?  Tonight is the Franklin Institute Awards ceremony!  Some of the heaviest hitters in science and technology are feted for absurdly brilliant contributions in their fields.  These awards have been given in one shape or form since 1824, so there's an amazing legacy of great thinkers and doers connected to these awards.  If you have a minute and want to see what geniuses spend their time thinking about, click on the link above to see some of the discoveries made by this year's winners.

Most importantly, Marci is the driving force behind this gala!  I'm sure we'll be linking some pictures over the next few days, but trust me when I say this is a tremendous event and attendees will spend the next 12 months of the year raving about the ceremony and dinner.  Kudos, Marci for a job incredibly well done.  You are awesome at what you do!

What better way to celebrate than with beer, no?  Today's beer is the Seson from Piccolo Birrificio in Italy.  This saison pours a clear gold with no head.  There are aromas of wheat and grapes, and when you drink it you pick up a light citrus and grain taste, with subtle notes of pepper, oak and grape.  At 6% ABV, this is an easier drinking beer, and definitely worth your efforts should you find it on draft or in a bottle.  Marci has previously crossed this brewery (and beer) off her list - you can read about that here.  The brewery website doesn't appear to be up and running yet, which is unfortunate, as I do enjoy reading about the history and the story behind each brewer.  Maybe next time.

Thing to Think About Today:
In the spirit of science and some of the greatest minds of our generation, let's stop to think about science.  Specifically, Weird Science.  Yes, another classic 80's comedy - this one involving two nerds who create a supermodel.  As you can expect, hilarity ensues.

Sadly, our heroes did not pick up a Franklin Award medal for their efforts here, but they still have time to continue advancing the field of "supermodel creation."  Good luck, guys.

Beer 138: Corsendonk Pater and Geniuses

Tonight The Franklin Institute is honoring nine men and women with the uber-prestigious Franklin Institute Medals.  These nine pioneers of science, technology and business are joining the ranks of past Franklin Institute Medalists.  That list is anyone and everyone worth a damn in science and technology.  Marie and Pierre Curie, Thomas Edison, Stephen Hawking, Orville Wright, Bill Gates, Paul MacCready, Fred Smith, Herb Kelleher.

This year’s winners run the gamut from science I couldn’t even begin to pretend to understand (black holes, anyone?) to paleoclimatologists who are leading the conversation about global warming, from the man who figured out how to make super huge telescopes that allow us to see millions and billions of years into the universe’s past to the man who runs Cisco.  Oh yeah, him. I read recently Cisco impacts something like 90% of all Internet communication.  These individuals have vision, fortitude, intelligence and curiosity that is awe-inspiring.

It’s every year around this time that I feel a strange mix of emotions.  It starts with feeling incredibly dumb because when you’re hanging around with people who figured out how to take the twinkle out of stars for a clearer understanding of the universe, it’s hard not to feel inadequate.  But then inspiration strikes.  No, I’m not going back to school to get an astrophysics degree or jumping ship to the next up-and-coming tech start up.  It’s inspiration to be goddamn good at what I do.  (The funny thing is that I’m writing that as I pick tree pollen out of my beer.)

There’s no sense in living if you’re not passionate about something.  Be passionate about your work, your hobby, your second career.  Don’t settle.  Don’t be happy with average.  Don’t miss out on opportunities to be different, to do differently.  Of course you should also always pick the tree pollen out of your beer.

What beer am I picking tree pollen out of?  A Corsendonk Pater dubbel ale.  Corsendonk is brewed and bottled in Belgium.  The Pater poured a deep, dark ruby in my glass.  It had a thick, fluffy head that slowly faded.  It smells of roasted grains and raisins.  The flavor is dark fruit, just slightly roasted/smoky.  It is refreshing, quenching and satisfying.  Good stuff.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Life in the Coal Mine

Beer #137 Christooffel Nobel / Brouwerij Sint Christoffel, Roermond, The Netherlands

Today was difficult.  Tomorrow, I'm going in to work on my day off.  Which isn't a big deal, as I'll be at work again on Saturday.  And the Saturday after that.  Good times, good times.

I swear I'm not a whiner.  Hard work is part of the deal, it's what you do to get ahead - and I do a lot of it. But there are days where the light at the end of the tunnel is very clearly just the train.

On to the beer, an unusual triple lager from Brouwerij Sint Christoffel.  This beer pours a dark amber in the glass with very little head.  You pick up aromas of sweet malt and fruit, maybe figs?  The taste has notes of malt, light lemon, and molasses.  I swear I picked up a tea flavor in one sip, but it disappeared and I couldn't quite find it again.  It has a dry, clean finish with some mild bitterness.  Interesting, and not what I'd usually drink on a given day, but certainly not a bad beer.

This brewery is a relative newcomer, opening their doors in 1986.  They named themselves for the patron saint of their home city, who also happens to be the patron saint of travelers.  Now you know.

Thing to Think About Today:
The completely awesome Allen Toussaint singing Working in the Coal Mine?  Yeah, I'm just going to leave this here.  It sums things up these days.

Beer 137: Christoffel Nobel or Mmm, Beer, Good

Based on looks alone, I feel badly about providing a "" kind of post.  But that's unfortunately the way this one is going to play out.  

Christoffel Nobel is a dry-hopped triple lager.  It's from the Netherlands.  8.7% ABV.  It's an interesting cloudy, deep copper color.  Pretty much no head.  It smells of raisins.  Strongly.  

The flavor reminds me of earth, black tea, molasses. There is lots of black pepper and hops.  It drinks like it has a much higher ABV -- lots of warm alcohol in my belly. This beer is definitely intriguing.  At first I was all, "It's too hoppy."  Then as I reached the midway point, it's totally growing on me.  This beer is complicated and I am exhausted.  I surrender, Christoffel Nobel.  I surrender.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Contemplating a Clip On Tie.....

Beer #136 Grande Réserve / Bières de Chimay, Baileux, Belgium

For the life of me today, I can not remember how to tie a bow tie.  I don't do it often, but will be doing it this week for a black tie event.  And all of the stupid videos and helpful diagrams on the internet are not helping one bit.  I'm close, just not all the way there.  I'll keep at it, but it's not going as fast as it should.  This is cutting into my beer drinking time...

Tonight's beer is the blue label from Chimay, one of the most well known and readily available Trappist beers.  The blue label signifies their Grand Reserve, a strong dark ale.  It pours a dark mahogany color with a a persistent off-white head in the glass.  Your nose picks up aromas of plums and sweet malt, and the taste has a very clean, dry, rich malt flavor.  You get notes of stone fruits, yeast, caramel, and spice.  Very complex and delicious, this amazing brew checks in at 9% ABV.

If you find yourself in a bar with Chimay and aren't sure which variety to order, don't fret.  They're all delicious.  Brewed by the Cisterian Monks of Chimay since 1862, this beer is on the cusp of the Top 25.  Find it, drink it.

Thing to Think About Today:
If I'm thinking about rocking the tuxedo, then let's all stop and think about the man who does it best.  Bond.  James Bond.

Beer 136: Chimay, Hippo, Silent Bob

Today was a good but odd day.  It started with me getting passed by a pick up truck on my morning commute.  Not all that odd until you realize there was a very large ceramic (?) hippo riding in the back of the truck.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to take a photo of a hippo in a pick up truck while hurtling down the highway?  Here’s proof…it’s the best of the ones I managed to take.
The driver had to know how crazy this looked, right?

Then I did this at work:
I want everything in my world to have neon accents.
The day closed with a Silent Bob sighting at CVS.  It was at that point I learned I don’t take photos well in a sneaky manner either.  The dude gave me the finger.  And I didn’t get a photo of that either.  Ugh.


Tonight I’m drinking a Chimay Grande Reserve.  It’s a Belgian strong dark ale weighing in at 9% ABV.  It poured an opaque brown in the glass with a fluffy tan head.  The smell is caramel and malt.  The taste is really well balanced.  There isn’t a particular flavor that yells, “Hey notice me! This beer tastes like raisins.”  It is very smooth. The higher ABV is evident but not overwhelming.  I definitely recommend savoring the Grande Reserve and not chugging it.  High carbonation keeps it light.  This is probably my favorite of the Chimay beers out there.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Of Tiki Idols and Conch Shells

Beer #135 Longboard Lager / Kona Brewing Company, Kailua Kona, Hawaii

Tonight's beer is the Longboard Lager from Kona Brewing Company in Hawaii, which means this beer has been on quite a journey to reach my front door.  This pale lager shows of a crystal clear gold with very little if any head.  It gives off a slightly sweet grain aroma, and the flavor brings notes of grain and malt.  This is a very refreshing, smooth, easy drinking beer.  It's described as a lager, but in my mind, it drinks more like a pilsner.  Marci tried a sip and exclaimed, "I can drink that all day."

My parents went to Hawaii,
and all they got me was this shitty camera phone pic

I've visited a fair number of breweries in my day, and to some degree when you see one, you see them all.  The process to make beer is what it is.  However, this is DEFINITELY a brewery I'd love to visit in person, for obvious reasons.

Thing to Think About Today:
Hawaii is a land of rich cultural heritage.  With that being said, allow me to suggest we all think about a perhaps not entire accurate look into Hawaiian culture courtesy of The Brady Bunch.  Yes, it's a three part episode where the Bunch heads to Hawaii for vacation, and crazy things ensue.  You know, tiki idols, surfing accidents, crazy archaeologists, sacred burial grounds.  I'm sure it all made sense in the 70's.

Beer 135: Butternuts Beer and Ale and WTF

Day 1 of the biggest week ever is done.  All I could think of one the way home is a cold refreshing beer.  Long story short, I find myself walking around the house demanding to know why the fuck would you print farmhouse ale on a can of stout?  Why?  Why would you do that to me? Why Butternuts, why?

So now you know I’m having a stout tonight.  It is the Butternuts Beer and Ale stout to be exact.  Seriously.  It says farmhouse ale on the front of the can.  And no, the fun cow on the label wasn’t a tip off.  And Gary assures me all the damn cans read farmhouse ale.  I’m shaking my fist at you, Butternuts.

The Moo Thunder stout poured a deep, dark and rich shade of brown with a cocoa color head.  It smells great.  Strong roasted aromas of coffee.  It drinks thin but with lots of character.  Flavors of cola and coffee dominating up front and finishing with burnt coffee.  The burnt taste is a bit much every once in awhile and it can morph into bitter pretty quickly -- not what I expect from a milk stout.  Beer Advocate rates it as exceptional.  I’d give it a surprisingly good.  If it were a bit creamier and a little sweeter, I could definitely get onboard with exceptional.  Cheers!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Too Tired to Type

Beer #134 Rye Pale Ale / Terrapin Beer Company, Athens, Georgia

This weekend was a lot of fun, but exhausting.  The weather cooperated, and I got to spend some quality time with both old friends and new friends.  I'm running on fumes right now, so I'll keep this brief and conserve what energy I have left.

Tonight's beer is the Rye Pale Ale from Terrapin, which I had on draft at Paramour.  It pours a dark gold with a white head that lingers and gives off a citrus and floral aroma.  The taste has flavors of mild hop bitterness and grain, but it doesn't overpower you.  There's a grapefruit note in there as well.  This beer is mellow, and quite enjoyable.  If you see this one in your travels, drink it.

Shiny, happy beers

Thing to Think About Today:
If we're thinking of Athens, Georgia, we're thinking about some of the music that's come out of that town.  Most notably, R.E.M.  One of the most important bands in the late 80's and early 90's, they recently broke up. Which sucks, because they're a great band.  We caught them live during their last tour, and had a blast.  Just a great show.  R.E.M. made an appearance in this space earlier (Pop Song 89 for our 89th beer), but nothing says we can't break out another example.  Take it away.....

Beer 134: On Dancers and Sam Smith Cider

I took in a little culture today -- the matinee performance of BalletX‘s spring series.  If you haven’t heard of BalletX and live in Philadelphia, please get yourself some tickets to their July performance.  This is not your mother’s ballet.  It’s edgy and innovative and inspirational.  The dancing is athletic, graceful, energizing and, on more than one occasion, moved me to tears.  BalletX is a tiny operation and being a regular patron really makes me feel like I’m part of their family.  Oh and an added bonus, I’ve found some very awesome music as a result of being there.  My second recommendation of the evening, check out Beirut.

The bottle lost its label so I didn't
bother with it for the photo.
And when it’s a rainy day and you’re feeling cultured and slightly Parisian and facing the biggest week of the year, you’re going to want a Samuel Smith Organic Cider.  Or maybe that’s just me.

Sam Smith Cider pours a bright and golden with lots of  bubbles.  No head.  It smells of slightly boozy apples.  The flavor is light , tart and slightly sweet but not overly sweet.  (I’m looking at you, Woodchuck Cider!)  It finishes crisp and dry and begs you to take another sip.  This is one of my go-to beverages for fall football tailgates.  Among other favorites from Samuel Smith are the Nut Brown Ale, Oatmeal Stout and the Taddy Porter.

Plus it’s organic for Earth Day!  Cheers!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Seriously, Mother Nature. SERIOUSLY?

Beer #133 Titan IPA / Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver, Colorado

Well past one third of the way done with this 'beer from a different craft brewery every day for a year' project.  A lot of great beers and breweries down, many still to come.  Today is the Blue White game, the Penn State spring football scrimmage open to the public.  This is significant because it's the first "game" without Joe Paterno since the 60's, but more importantly it's the first chance to tailgate since last November.  For reasons I can't necessarily explain well, I love tailgating.  Something about a giant outdoor party with some of your closest friends brings great joy to my heart.  I don't do many things well in life, but I do tailgate like a champion.  Hopefully today's effort kicks off a good summer of tailgates.

Really, you can't talk about tailgating without talking about beer.  Some good craft brews (and yes, a few macro brews) in the cooler ready for the day.  With beer in mind, today's beer is the Titan IPA from Great Divide, another great Colorado brewery.  This one came on draft at TJ's, as they continue to rotate some really interesting options on their taps.  In the glass, this IPA shows off a copper color with a foamy white head.  The aroma gives off pine and citrus, and there is a solid hop bitterness here, with floral, citrus notes culminating in a dry, clean finish.  The citrus isn't overpowering here, there's an earthiness here that is more prevalent that other IPAs.  Don't get me wrong; this isn't a bad thing.  This beer is definitely worth your effort and deserves a try if you find it near you.  Great Divide labels this beer as "assertive" and "aromatic."  Correct on both counts.

If you squint, it looks like a beer.

Thing to Think About Today:
Weather forecast for today's Penn State Blue-White spring practice game is rain.  Quite frankly, this causes significant problems to someone who dreams of tailgating.  Which I do.  Figures that we've had summer-like weather all week, so once Saturday comes we get rain.  Tailgating in the rain isn't impossible, but it does cause some logistical issues.  So, Blind Melon, let them all know what we think today:

Ah, the 90's.  Everything was better in the 90's.

Beer 133: Paulaner Salvator and What Do You Want to Do With Your Life?

I bought myself this journal almost a year ago.  It lists a question a day  and there is space to write a brief thought on that day for five years in a row.  As I approach a full year of journaling in this very brief way, my eagerness to see how my answers changes throughout the years is definitely growing.

Today's question:  What do you want to say when someone asks, "What do you do?"  Today's answer:  I own my own business.  Now I have 365 days to make that come true.


Tonight's beer is the Paulaner Salvator -- reviewed by Gary yesterday.  I seriously cannot get that GIF out of my brain.  Anyway Salvator is a doppel bock.  It poured an unusual color - a light reddish brown shade.  It didn't have a head and was very still in the glass.  The smell was sweet, malt and reminded me of iced tea.  Tea was the first thing I thought of when tasting it.  Maybe that's all mind over matter?  If was very effervescent and finished with just a hint of hoppiness.  It drank with a richness but wasn't heavy.  Overall a nice beer that I wouldn't turn down if I encountered it again.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Beer 132: Estrella Damm, Chicken and Malt Liquor

Today I flirted with my maximum caffeine and sugar intake limit.  My heart is not happy.  I've also been rapping to myself, "I live a life filled with awards and caffeine" a la Ludacris.  It would probably be less stressful if it were Luda's life filled with chicken and malt liquor.  He seems pretty chill.  Plus he has rims on his skates.

And now onto the beer.  Tonight I shall tell you about Estrella Damm.  Damm is right.  I poured it, went to take a photo and then forgot it on the shelf.  Then I remembered it, moved it to the kitchen and forgot it again.  After remembering it a second time, I took a sip and all it elicited was a hearty, "That's ok."  Perhaps my subconscious was telling me not to bother. 

The Estrella Damm is brewed in Spain.  The color was golden. The head off-white.  It is low on hop flavor and definitely has lots of malt smoothness.  Kind of grain flavored.  But it also has a strange metallic taste.  No distinct smell.  For a beer recipe as old as this one, I expected a lot more.  Instead I got nothing but disappointment. 

After writing this, I checked out what had to say about it.  The masses agree with me.  I'm off to Paramour to check out their offerings for the evening.  Hopefully I'll have something good to report tomorrow.


Tear Away Pants, Beer, Weekend. Boom.

Beer #132 Salvator / Paulaner Brauerei, Munich, Germany

Went in the office for a key meeting this morning, then headed for the hills to kickoff a long, and hopefully awesome weekend.  Here's an action shot of me transitioning from work to weekend:

Thankfully I wore my tear-away suit today so I could make a quick change and be ready to roll.  Not sure why I decided to wear a headband, but it seems to work.  Let's do this!

With the weekend comes beer, and today's is the Salvator from Paulaner.  I grabbed this one off the shelf at Whole Foods mostly because we occasionally call our dog Salinger "Salvatore" when he's being very grouchy.  I really don't know why.  Anyway, this double bock pours an amber color with very little head, and gives off aromas of honey and sweet malt.  The taste is a mellow mix of honey, malt, stone fruits and spice.  A decent beer, although it could have had a bit more backbone.  A bit more oomph.

Damn I love my phone.

Another European beer, another ancient brewery.  Paulaner can trace roots back to 1634, when monks in Munich first started brewing beer to bridge the fasting of Lent.  Salvator was the original beer produced, and it still uses the same recipe to this day.

Thing to Think About Today:
Enough reading, let's all start enjoying this weekend.  How about we think on a song that would be great to play with the windows rolled down and the stereo cranked way, way up?  The Heavy, the floor is yours:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Second Prize is a Set of Steak Knives

Beer #131  Pietra / Brasserie Pietra, Furiani , France

Today is a day for getting my hustle on, so we'll keep it simple and stick to the facts.  Tonight's is the Pietra from Brasserie Pietra, and comes courtesy of Teresa's Next Door.  Well, maybe courtesy isn't exactly the right word, as I did pay for the beer.  In the pint glass, this lager poured an amber color with no noticeable head.  It gave off a sweet aroma, and had flavors of honey and malt, with a bit of a nutty, earthy taste.  Maybe a little lemon sneaking in there somewhere with some hops.  In all, not a bad beer.  Probably not one I'm going to go out of my way to find again, but worth a try.

I did take a picture of this beer, but I've come to realize that when my battery is low, the camera app switches into 'save energy by taking shitty pictures' mode, so I won't even bother posting that nonsense today.  Marci has also crossed this beer/brewery from her list, and her take on the matter (and a photo!) can be found here.

Thing to Think About Today:
If I'm working hard at work today, then we need to stop and think about this amazing scene from Glengarry Glen Ross, as Alec Baldwin works to motivate the gang in an unusual (and completely not safe for work) way.  I felt a little like Alec today.... confident.  Good at what I do.  Now put that coffee down while you watch this video.  Coffee is for closers ONLY.

"First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado.  Anybody want to see second prize?  Second prize is a set of steak knives.  Third prize is you're fired."

Beer 131: Thirsty Dogs and Ceramic Dogs

Today’s productivity was brought to us by a free cupcake and high-test coffee.  In exactly one week, the hardest part of my year will be behind me.  It makes me happy and sad -- mostly happy.  You know what else makes me happy?  That ceramic dachshund sitting on my desk.  We talk.  He has opinions. Especially about my obsessive list writing.  Whatevs.


Last night TJ’s in Paoli saved my beer drinking butt with a new-to-me brewery:  Thirsty Dog out of Akron, Ohio.  I tried the Siberian Night Imperial Stout - the granddaddy of imperial stouts per their website.  All their beers have fun dog-related names but I couldn’t find a backstory on why.  But anything related to dogs is good for me so off we go.

This imperial stout poured pitch black with a full cocoa color head that fizzled away.  It was everything I’d want in an imperial stout -- coffee, roasted malts, some caramel.  It also came with just a hint of smokiness.  Quite honestly, it was perfect for the rainy night.  I did find it to be heavier than a lot of the other stouts I’ve had recently.  It had a full, creamy feeling in my mouth (go ahead, laugh).  Does it make it into my top 25, no. But I bet it could be in the top 50.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spell Check Just Blew Up

Beer #130 Kristall Weissbier / Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan, Freising, Germany

In what might go down as the longest brewery name on record, Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan gives us tonight's beer, their Kristall Weissbier.  As I'm sure you already guessed, the brewery name translates to Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan.  Just rolls off the tongue when you say it in German, though.  This classic wheat beer pours an effervescent pale yellow, and gives off faint aromas of bread and bananas.  It's highly carbonated, and there are flavors of clove, banana, yeast, and a sweet malt.  If you look up weissbier in the dictionary, you might find this as an example.  Very drinkable at 5.4% ABV, definitely be on the lookout for this beer during your summer drinking months.

Crooked photo. What do you want, I was drinking.

Clearly, a brewery advertising itself as the oldest brewery in the world has a story to tell.  This one begins in 725, when Saint Corbinian and twelve companions founded a Benedictine Monastery in Germany.  However, it took them until 1040 to get their license to officially brew beer, although it seems brewing was taking place before the license was issued.  The monastery was destroyed and rebuilt numerous times, until the monks were muscled out in 1803 by a secular government.  I don't know if this is officially the oldest brewery in the world or not, but when you're going back almost 1,300 years, you've earned a little poetic license.

Thing to Think About Today:
While beer is obviously a phenomenal export from Germany, let's spend some time thinking of another phenomenal German export: the dachshund.

You may be aware of this breed's tendency to be noble, fearless, loyal, loving, and stubborn.  But were you aware of their fondness for international diplomacy?  Check out this art project featuring a United Nations staffed by doxies.  Seems more likely to solve world peace than the actual U.N., actually.

Beer 130: Weihenstaphan and Farting Cats

Go visit The Oatmeal right now.  He is pure genius.

Fart humor rules. So do fart propelled cats.


Tonight I shall tell you about Weihenstephan's crystal wheat beer.  It poured a clear, crisp golden color with a full wispy head.  I should have taken some video of the carbonation - this beer is crazy active.  The smell and flavor of this beer is exactly what one would expect from a filtered hefeweizen -- light on the bananas, cloves, crisp hops and biscuit flavor. This is a solid beer. 

Interesting note about this particular brewery.  Gary brought this beer home a few night's ago and I declared it invalid because I swore we already drank a beer from the "world's oldest brewery". I checked their website but nothing was familiar?  Was I duped by another brewery purporting to be the world's oldest brewery?  Was this false advertising? 

In fact, no, I drank a beer that was a partnership between this brewer and Sam Adams.  Remember the Infinium?  Sadly I do.  Blech.  Lucky for me, this one had no Sam Adams influence. 


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Take All the Damm Pictures You Want

Beer #129 Estrella Damm / Damm S.A., Barcelona, Spain

It's late, you don't really care what I have to say about things, and I'm tired.  But not too tired to read out on today's beer/brewery.  I'm drinking an Estrella Damm, from Damm S.A., a brewery in Spain.  It pours a clear pale gold in the glass with a wispy white head.  It gives off aromas of grain and grass, and has a clean, somewhat sweet but uncomplicated flavor.  It tastes like beer, which I guess a good thing when drinking a pilsner.  Grains, barley.  Really, I wish I had more for you, but this beer is what it is.  If you're looking for something other than a Miller Lite, grab an Estrella Damm.

Okay, pause for a Damm second.  I can't talk about the Damm beer any longer without referencing this amazing scene from National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation:

This brewery dates back to 1872, when August Kuentzman Damm emigrated to Spain and started brewing beer.  If you didn't know, estrella translates to star.  Another interesting fact about this brewery is they've partnered with Ferran Adrià, the head chef at El Bulli, to collaborate on a special brew.  This is a big deal, as El Bulli is universally regarded as one of the (if not THE) best restaurants in the world.

Thing to Think About Today:
I've already got you thinking about some classic 80's movies (and no, Vegas Vacation isn't one, but the first two Vacation movies are legendary).  So I'll change course completely and get you thinking about the other thing going through my head when I think about this beer (besides the dam tour).  Onyx.  Onyx?  Yes, those angry early 90's rappers and their quasi-hit song, Slam.  Rhymes with Damm?  Don't act like you don't remember this one....

DAMM!  (doo doo do, doo doo do)

Now, are there any dam questions?

Beer 129: Piccolo, huh, Sucka?

My brain is fried and I have the most random thoughts rattling around in the ashes.  I spent all day reviewing and approving print materials.  Are all the words spelled correctly?  Are the ads crisp? Did any names fall off the donor and committee lists?  Are the pages laid out correctly?  Is the color right?  Is this gold gold enough or is it too yellow-tinged?

No pressure.  It's only a $7,000 mistake if there are typos.
As I started to type the name of tonight’s beer, Neneh Cherry’s Buffalo Stance leapt into what was left of my brain and now IT WON’T GO AWAY.  Hence the piccolo, huh, sucka?  Admit it.  You know exactly what I’m writing about.

Now on to the actual beer review.  The Piccolo Saison is from Piccolo Birrificio (Italy).  It was fruity and earthy and incredibly fizzy.  The color was hazy straw and had a medium head.  It had a biscuity twang but left a very odd taste behind.  As I worked my way through the glass, every once in awhile I’d get some very subtle hints of grape.

Cheers, suckas...

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's Time to Get Things Started...

Beer #128 Contessa / Birra Amiata, Arcidosso, Italy

I regret to report that I spent this sunny, warm afternoon working on the one thing I hate more than anything else in the world: yard work.  Yes, instead of sipping a beer, reading a book, getting started on some writing, going for a run, taking the dogs for a walk, or seven billion other things, I was cutting the grass.  I know some people enjoy it, although for the life of me I don't understand why.  I end up filthy and covered in bug bites, my allergies start raging, and for what?  Two weeks later, you have to do it all over again.  Seems pointless.  Anyone have a goat they can lend me?  If you think I'm kidding, I'm not.  Goats are the answer.

Washing away the dirt from today's yard work will be the Contessa, a pale ale  from Birra Amiata.  This one came on draft at Teresa's Next Door, and showed off a copper color in the glass.  My first reaction was that it if you closed your eyes, it tasted exactly like a pale ale you'd get from a California brewery.  There are aromas of citrus and pine, and the taste brings you a floral, piney hop bitterness.  Not too bitter though, this one definitely doesn't overpower.  Very tasty beer, nice and mellow.  There's obviously an interesting story behind the name on this beer, and quite frankly it's probably easier for you to just read it here.

Who has two thumbs and loves crappy photos from my phone?

Thing to Think About Today:
Clearly, getting out the weed whacker put me into a bit of a bad mood earlier today.  No worries, a little beer and some evening entertainment will fix that.  And tonight, we're watching Jason Segel's 2011 reboot of the Muppets franchise.  Yes, it's a kids movie.  No, I don't care.  Back in the day, the Muppet Show had great music and famous comedians, and was an absolute cornerstone of my childhood.  I mean, I still hear the Swedish Chef in my head every time I read words from European languages.  Therefore, I'll let Statler and Waldorf have the last word today:

It's time to light the lights.....

Beer 128: Antigoon and Insane in da Membrane

All day today I kept trying to think of something clever to write for my post.  I knew I was reviewing the Antigoon I drank last night and I knew that Gary covered the story behind this beer pretty thoroughly yesterday

Wait! Let me add a crack.  It's not fully authentic. 

Beer and guns.  Stay classy.
So I decided to share a couple of photos -- specifically photos of me with props. That thought immediately morphed into Insane in the Brain by Cypress Hill embedding itself in my brain.  So I have that going for me.

What's with me and weapons?


The Antigoon poured a hazy golden straw color.  It had a white head that disappeared pretty quickly.  The smell was strong - wheat and bananas.  The taste was spicy, slightly hoppy, full of banana and bread flavors, a little earthy. A good beer overall.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Of Beer and Taxes

Beer #127 Antigoon / Brouwerij de Musketiers, Ursel, Belgium

Spent the day finishing my taxes instead of just enjoying tons of beautiful spring sunshine.  I get that I need to pay my share, but man it hurts to see the amount I fork over to Uncle Sam staring at me from the page.  I wonder if I can deduct the cost of beers purchased as a business expense for this blog?  Or, I wonder if I can establish beer as a religion and gain a tax exempt status for my "house of worship," sort of like a liquid Rastafarianism?  Lawyers, accountants - get at me on this one.  Curious to hear your thoughts on creative beer related ways to lessen my tax burden next year.

And speaking of beer, I know we have another 238 beers/breweries to cross off the list, but I feel safe in stating the Antigoon from Brouwerij de Musketiers has without a doubt the most unusual label.  It's basically a giant with his arm cut off at the elbow, a river of blood washing his severed hand away.  Whaaat?  Clearly this beer means serious, violent business.

When you pour it in the glass, it doesn't look like a monster.  Instead, you get an effervescent hazy apricot with a white head that lingers as you drink.  Your nose picks up light aromas of malt and bread, and the taste has a sweet flavor of bread and banana.  There's a little funky bitterness in there as well.  In all, not overly complex, but a very good beer.  If you're in D.C. or if you can find a Total Wine and Spirits near you, pick one of these up.

Lend you a hand?

Antigoon was initially commissioned for a Brasserie Becks, a restaurant in Washington D.C., although this beer is now available in limited distribution.  There's no mention of it on the brewery website - they only have their Troubadour line of beers listed.  Because I know you're wondering, the inspiration for the beer name and artwork was Druon Antigoon, a mythical giant from Antwerp who guarded a bridge and cut off the hand of travelers who couldn't pay the toll.  Guess they didn't have EZ-Pass.  Well, he did that up until the day a Roman soldier cut off Antigoon's hand and threw it in the river, thus ending what was I'm sure a huge problem for morning commuters.  I guess people have never enjoyed paying taxes, likely never will.

Thing to Think About Today:
So many things to think about!  Mythical road rage giants, taxes, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  Very busy day.  If this beer is Antigoon, let's go ahead and think about The Goonies.  Will the Truffle Shuffle ever stop being funny?  I doubt it.

Hopefully you're all getting an income tax refund.  Use it to buy beer!

Beer 127: 16 Mile Amber Sun Ale

It is April 15.  I’m sitting outside and it’s about 80 degrees.  This weather cannot be beat.  Of course, I’m wearing SPF 50 and hiding under an umbrella because how else do you cultivate the glow-in-the-dark look that I rock?

You know what’s perfect to sip on a day like today?  16 Mile Brewing Company’s Amber Sun Ale.  16 Mile is brewed and bottled in Georgetown, Delaware and was recommended very emphatically by a good friend when I first started writing back in December.  (Sorry it’s taken me four months to get around to trying it, Brad!)

It poured a deep amber hue with a slightly off white head that’s leaving some nice lacing.  The ABV is 6.1%.  I have nothing to write about the scent.  Neighbor was out cutting the grass earlier and I can barely breathe at this point.  Hello grass allergies!  The taste is solid.  Lightly roasted malts, just the tiniest hint of hop bitterness.  A bit bready.  It’s creamy, but not heavy at all.  Very easy drinking.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Beer 126: Good Music and Monk's Wit = Success

Secret to my success today?  Awesome music and the thought of good beer.  A sampling of what I was rocking out to today while trying to get prepared for my biggest event of the year included:

Back it Up by Caro Emerald
Darkest Street by Fitz & The Tantrums
Good Things by Aloe Blacc
Hotel Song by Regina Spektor
You’re a Wolf by Sea Wolf

The good beer is up next and will hopefully involve a stop at TJ's in Paoli.  I've pre-reviewed their tap list and have four options from among the 26 available.  Sometimes A Blog Named Brew makes drinking beer a bit challenging. 
While I have a moment, I'm cranking out today's beer review, which comes courtesy of Paramour.  For a hotel bar, I am impressed with the beer selection here.  The tap list changes very regularly and they have a fantastic porch off the bar that is perfect for beer drinking and people watching. 
Monk's Wit made it to Wayne (PA) all the way from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert's Abbey Beverage Company in Abiquiu, New Mexico.  Go check out the Monastery's website for more information here -- it is quite an interesting little operation. 
It poured a slightly hazy straw color with very little head.  It was very carbonated, which lent a refreshing characteristic to the Monk's Wit.  The scent was strong on oranges.  The flavor started off with lots of citrus, orange, and then the hops took over leading to a more lemon dominant flavor.  My notes also indicate "very bove" -- seriously I need to start sharing my chicken scratch notes with you.  Translating them is half the fun of writing posts!

International Diplomacy: Me & The Maharaja

Beer #126 The Maharaja / Avery Brewing Company, Boulder, CO

What a glorious day!  I won't waste a lot of time talking about it, mostly because I'm trying to enjoy it more than I'm trying to write about it.  I will say that it's nice to sit out on the deck with the laptop and combine the two.

As part of my uber-productive morning, I hit up Whole Foods for lunch.  Couldn't stop in without checking the beer section, and one of my purchases was The Maharaja, an Imperial IPA from Avery Brewing.  Your bit of worldly knowledge for the day: the title Maharaja comes from the Sanskrit words for "Great King."

This beer shows off an amber hue in the glass with a white head that mostly dissipates.  The aroma is heavenly mix of pine and citrus; smells just like what you'd expect from a great IPA.  The taste has just the right amount of hop bitterness, with notes of grapefruit, pine, and a more prevalent than expected malt sweetness.  If you love hops or IPAs, you really must try this beer - it's fairly amazing.  At 10.4% ABV and a 22oz bottle, thankfully I'm in no rush to do much else this sunny, warm afternoon.

Imperial IPA, meet my Imperial pint glass

I'm a big fan of Colorado brews, yet I've never really added many Avery beers to my rotation.  Well, that changes as of today - can't wait to check out some of their other offerings.  This beer is part of Avery's Dictator Series, which is an exploration of beers using traditional methods.  In addition to the the Maharaja, there's the Kaiser and the Czar.  I eagerly await the Kim Jong-il version, because he was all sorts of batshit crazy, and who doesn't love that?

Thing to Think About Today:
It's nice out, I'm drinking, the dogs are snoozing in their dog bed on the deck.  It's Saturday!  If you didn't know that yet, I'll go ahead and let Ludacris tell you more about it in this (unfortunately) safe for work version of Saturday.  No one better to spend a sunny day drinking with than Luda!

"How you gonna act like I don't push 'Lacs?  Black Eldorado, fifth wheel on baaaaack."