Breweries "Visited"

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wings and Beer: Reunited and it Feels So Good!

Beer #173 Farmhouse Lager / Crown Valley Brewing, Sainte Genevieve, MO

Had a good day today, so I'm going to celebrate a bit.  With wings!  Yes, delicious Buffalo wings.  In my younger days, when my activity level and metabolism allowed such things, wings were the cornerstone of my diet. From age 16 to age 22, I doubt a week went by without at least two wing nights included.  Spending ages 16-18 in a town where every corner had a bar, and every bar had a wing night (and didn't give a shit if some 18 year old kids hung out there), and then spending ages 18-22 in State College, where every night of the week some bar or another has a wing special, you can see how this wing addiction worked for me.  Sadly, as I look to lose weight, not gain it, wings have become a rarity in the schedule.  But not tonight, friends.  Not tonight.

What goes better with wings than beer, no?  Tonight we go with the Farmhouse Lager from Crown Valley Brewing.  A pale straw color, this beer gives you a light aroma of malt. You get a crisp, dry flavor that doesn't bring a wealth of complexity or flavors beyond basic malt and grain.  It's brewed with Vienna and Pilsner malts, which explains why it seems stuck somewhere closer to a pilsner than a more full-bodied lager.   Regardless of what you call it, this one checks in at 4.7% ABV, so I could see this at a tailgate, if you couldn't find a case of Yuengling Lager and/or wanted something a shade lighter.

Looks like beer!

Thing to Think About Today:
Just going to put this out here.  In The Program, Steve Lattimer had a good day, but celebrated slightly differently than I do.  Ah, films about college football.  Have to love 'em.


Beer 173: Organic Real Ale

What is with the label on this beer??? It's like they don't want me to consider buying it with that bizarre drawing on the label! A little online research proved that there are non-creep bottles, which leads to the question of why would you add the creep?!?

Anyway the Laverstoke Park Farm real ale is certified organic and weighs in at 5% ABV. It pours a brown tinged amber color with minimal head. It smells of beer - no distinct scents.

It tastes like beer. Beer I could get anywhere. Beer that I'm not going to remember. It is a bit too watery for me. It definitely has a light caramel sweetness from the crystal malt -- the label told me so and I'm affirming that statement. I'm also noticing honey.

I guess if this beer was free, it would be fine. But it wasn't and it's not.

Ah win some and lose some when you're trying this much new beer! Cheers!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sadly, We Didn't Try the Stickum

Beer #172 DoppelSticke / Uerige Obergärige Hausbrauerei, Düsseldorf, Germany

Today was spent mentally preparing myself for disappointment.  I find it's easier to deal with stomach punches when you're expecting them from a mile away.  Meh.

The beer for today is the Doppelsticke, from the rather unpronounceable Uerige Obergärige Hausbrauerei in Germany.  It's a dark chocolate color in the glass with a thin off white head, and your nose picks up the scent of dark fruits and molasses.  Flavors such as chocolate, bread, and caramel are present along with a strong malt profile.  There's a hop bitterness mixed in to balance out some of the sweeter flavors.  Very well done beer, if I must say so myself.
Doesn't that look good?
Big things are afoot in Düsseldorf, as this brewery is celebrating their 150th anniversary in 2012.  Congrats!  Also, this brewery produces spirits, including Stickum, which appears to be a vodka.  I'm guessing they won't be exporting that one to America, unless Lester Hayes orders up a few crates.

Thing to Think About Today:
Second day in a row I don't have something with a connection to the beer/brewery/town at the top of my mind to close out my post.  Too much work, not enough day dreaming, if you ask my opinion.

Okay, just because it's a lot of fun, let's have the Old Crow Medicine Show close out the day with Wagon Wheel.  I've always associated this song with road trips and the south - maybe thinking about road trips will spark some imagination for tomorrow.  And to all, a good night.

"I made it down the coast in seventeen hours / Pickin' me a bouquet of dogwood flowers..."

Beer 172: Uerige DoppelSticke

I'm not going to lie. I've been afraid of this beer.

Look at that fancy bottle, complicated cap, ominous label...the crazy font that took seven attempts at spelling before I finally figured it out.

This beer comes to us from Dusseldorf, Germany. Uerige has been brewing this special extra strong beer for the U.S. market since 2005. Per the website, The DoppelSticke has an astonishing 8.5% ABV. Perhaps these Germans need to visit some American breweries. Unless I'm missing something in the translation, I wouldn't call 8.5% astonishing.

It poured a dense deep chocolate brown color with a minimal tan head. The scent is caramel and herbal. I want to use organic and green to describe it, but those aren't good scent adjectives. It drinks quite rich and thick. It's sweet but sharp and hopped. There's more caramel and the flavor of 85% cocoa chocolate. (If you love really dark chocolate, you'll understand that.).

This is an intense beer and I really enjoyed it.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What do New Hampshire and Reggae Have in Common? Nothing.

Beer #171 Belgian Style Pale Ale / White Birch Brewing, Hooksett, New Hampshire

After a slow start, our summer league basketball team keeps racking up wins, even if half the team isn't showing up on a regular basis.  Hey, more touches for me, right?  I've played in this league since the day I took the job, and have never cut down the nets.  Made it to the championship game a couple of times, but walked away empty each time.  Not sure that's going to change this year unless we get some people to show up more frequently and get into the groove.  The other teams seem better this year, but maybe that's just because I'm another year older.

Tonight's beer (yay, 46% of the way done with the adventure) is the Belgian Style Pale Ale from White Birch.  Pours a hazy shade of gold, with a fluffy white head.  I'm battling allergies again today, so bear with me if this description isn't overly descriptive (or accurate).  Here goes... you pick up aromas of apples, and from the first sip you get strong fruit esters, malt, and grain.  Definitely a peppery spice, too.  You pick up the strong alcohol notes, which isn't unexpected as this beer is a solid 8.2% ABV.  I like this one, and will definitely seek out other options from this brewery.  Good stuff!

This brewery has been open since 2009, and curiously the name of this beer is due to the color, rather than the style.  So, it's not really a Belgian Pale Ale.  Still tastes good, so whatevs.

Thing to Think About Today:
I really have nothing for you tonight with a direct correlation to the beer/brewery/home state, and it looks like the end of the world outside due to an impending thunderstorm, so in honor of crossing over 46%, let's let Toots and the Maytals finish things up with 54-46 Was My Number.  This wasn't about Toot's passing 46% of his beer challenge, but rather about a prison term he served.  Hey, I win that round.

"I said YEAH!"

Beer 171: White Birch Brewing Belgian Style Pale Ale

I'm writing this at about 7:20pm and it looks like closer to 9:00pm thanks to an impending thunderstorm. So rather than waxing poetic here, I'll be doing my own storm watch and monitoring the storm's progress.

Tonight's beer is a Belgian style pale ale from White Birch Brewing in New Hampshire. It's one of their flagship beers.

It poured a hazy apricot color, full white head, little lacing. It smells fresh. Seriously. Like a perfect spring day. (And, no, I'm not drunk already. Thank you very much.) There's also fruit in the nose. The flavor is lightly spicy and definitely has pear notes. There's a nice round malt to it and it finishes crisp. Very refreshing.

Oddly the description states that the name of the beer doesn't mean the style, it's more reflective of the look of the beer. I find that slightly odd but whatever. Overall this is a very enjoyable beer but at 8.2% ABV, it may be a little too easy to enjoy!

I'm eager to find more of their offerings. It sounds like they do a lot of with wild ales and that's pretty much beer heaven for me.

Cheers! I'm off to the Internetz!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Of Three Day Weekends, War, and Beer

Beer #170 Gold Star Lager / Tempo Beer Industries, Netanya, Israel

As all good things must come to an end, we must wrap up this fantastic long weekend.  Got another bike ride in this morning, and spent some time this afternoon drinking at the new taproom at Round Guys Brewery.  Sampled some delicious beers (including one not yet on the menu), chatted with Scott, one of the Round Guys (I've seen rounder), and brought home a growler of a fantastic sour beer with raspberry.  However, they've already been crossed off the list, so I need to sample another beer tonight.

Tonight's official beer is the Gold Star Lager from Tempo Beer in Israel.  This brew is a clear amber color, with a sweet aroma of malt.  When you take a sip, you pick up a very sweet taste, with caramel and malt dominating the palate.  This isn't a great beer, but it's not the worst thing I've drank so far by any stretch of the imagination.  Next time I'm in Israel, I'm ordering one.  This being said, I'm not sure how "craft beer" this one is; it seems like Tempo Beer is the InBev of Israel.  However, it was a rare find on shelves near us, so we're going ahead and putting it on the books.  L'chaim!

Thing to Think About Today:
I'm sure you've already taken a moment to thank those who have served in defense of our country.  I have a deep respect for those who are willing to put their lives on the line so that I can enjoy my way of life.  My father served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, and his brothers served their nation as well.  For a hot minute back in high school I kicked around the idea of West Point or the Naval Academy - great education, leadership training, tradition galore, etc.  However, I realized that I didn't have the discipline or dedication to make that a reality.  For those who did serve, allow me to say again: THANK YOU.

While I appreciate the sacrifices made by those in uniform, I wish they didn't have to make any sacrifices.  I'm no pacifist, but it seems we've been at war in the Middle East for a decade now, and that certainly seems not right.

Without getting too deep into politics or religion, two topics I have little use for, I'll leave you today with John Legend (backed by the Roots) performing a cover of I Can't Write Left Handed, a Vietnam era song by Bill Withers.  This song, in addition to being completely amazing, tells the story of a wounded Vietnam veteran back home from the war.  Yes, this video is twelve minutes long.  Yes, you should listen to every damn second.  I had the privilege of hearing Legend perform this live, and it was one of the most moving songs I've ever heard.

"Tell him I ain't gonna live, I ain't gonna live to get much older...."

Beer 170: Israel's Goldstar and (more importantly) Lansdale's Round Guys

I'm switching things up and writing about today's beer first. It's the Goldstar dark lager out of Netanya, Israel. Evidently this is the go to beer of Israel, Jordan and Egypt. I've been to two of those countries and didn't notice it. I did, however, notice Heineken. Tempo Industries, responsible for the production of Goldstar, is also a bottler of Heineken, Sam Adams, Paulaner and Newcastle in that part of the world. So i guess I'm decidedly not drinking craft beer this evening...but I guess I'm drinking something that isn't easily procured in the U.S. so it stands.

This photo makes the beer look ombré, which it wasn't at all. It is a very clear amber color with lots of carbonation and an off-white head that didn't last very long. The aroma is a sweet malt...almost caramel in nature. The flavor is sweet as well and something in the flavor reminds me of corn. It's not too malty and not too hoppy...

I don't know what to make of this one. Average? Meh? My taste buds are confused...especially since I spent the day sampling beers with Scott of Round Guys Brewery in Lansdale (PA).

I reviewed Round Guys berlinerweiss 21 beers ago.

I would order a pint of everything that I sampled today -- there were no disappointments. I guess that's what happens when the brewers are making what they like and not chasing a fad. I think I captured everything I tasted today and here's what was on the list:

- Buh-Nana Hammock Saison: Overall very good although I tend to expect a little more peppery spice from my Saison. That being said, I wouldn't kick it out of bed for eating crackers.

-Berlinerweiss: Batch #2 is way funkier than Batch #1, which is what I had on tap at Capone's for Beer #149. The shandy qualities were gone and a dry, crisp funk was there in full force. I love funky beers and sour beers and Batch #2 is delicious. Word on the street is that Batch #3 is more like the first one. That makes me love Round Guys even more. You know you are getting handcrafted beer. And when you're handcrafting, sometimes you're in for some surprises.

- Himbeer: The berlinerweiss with raspberry syrup. Berlinerweiss enthusiasts add either raspberry or woodruff syrup to round out the sour twang of the berlinerweiss. I was in the woodruff camp but am willing to spend some time in the raspberry camp now. There is also something to be said for an unadulterated berlinerweiss. This one went from awesome to super awesome with a little syrup!

- Original Slacker Ale: OK this is where i should have taken better notes. It's an English session beer. Noticeable roasted malt. Easy drinking but very flavorful. Good stuff.

Then we went off-script with a sneak peek taste of the Saison aged in apple brandy barrels -- the Saison de Pomme. If you see this out at Philly Beer Week, get it. I would have gotten a growler of it had I not been committed to this blog. There were notes of apple, hints of brandy and every so often a little cinnamon. Was that my brain playing tricks on me?

We wrapped up with two beers that I normally don't seek IPA and a pale ale. Both the Blackback IPA and the Lansdale Pale Ale were impressive. Strong hops but not punch-you-in-the-teeth hoppy. Both were smooth and quite good with the Lansdale Pale Ale coming in with a crisp, clean finish.

If you're still reading at this point, I owe you a beer. Thanks for sticking with me. Now go get yourself some Round Guys!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Good Weekend? Oh, Indeed....

Beer #169 Daddy Fat Stacks / Roy Pitz Brewing Company, Chambersburg, PA

Couldn't be happier with how today turned out.  Managed to get a good ride on the bike, spent a few hours drinking and listening to music at Chaddsford Winery, went to the dog park with the hounds, and walked to our local ice cream parlor for dessert.  I may be a simple man, but today was near perfect.  And I get one more day off tomorrow?  Oh, INDEED.

Thanks, Omar.  I'll take it from here.

The beer for today is the Daddy Fat Stacks from Roy Pitz Brewery, which calls Chambersburg home.  This one came on draft at Paramour, and I continue to be impressed with their efforts to get some interesting and unusual brews on their beer list.  This particular draft shows off a deep amber color, with a fluffy head that dissipates.  Your nose picks up the aroma of malt, and when you drink it, you get flavors of malt up front, with toffee and caramel in the middle, with a hop bitterness on the finish.  Very dry, this beer grew on me as I worked my way through the glass.  Definitely more malt than I would expect from an IPA, but the balance of malt sweetness and hop bitterness works well here.

This brewery has been in operation since 2008, and from a quick glance at their website, their distribution network looks to be strictly within Pennsylvania.  However, I expect you'll start to see them expand their markets soon enough.  Neither of the two brewers are named "Roy" or "Pitz", so your guess is as good as mine regarding the origin of the brewery name.  Maybe if we ask nicely, they'll tell us the story.

Thing to Think About Today:
If yesterday's closing thought was about a wish for a crazy summer, let's keep the theme going one more day.  What's crazier than the fact that LFO (remember them?) actually managed to have a one-hit wonder back in the 90's?  Let's close out Sunday afternoon with their *cough* hit single, Summer Girls:

"I like girls who wear Abercrombie & Fitch"

Seriously, these guys managed 15 minutes of fame with hard hitting lyrics like that?  Where's my record deal?

Beer 169: Revolution Cider and a Cure for a Case of the Mondays

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how to avoid a case of the Mondays...long weekend and no work on Monday! It is so Sunday Funday in our household.

- 15 mile bike ride
- Blueberry pancakes
- Shopping for some vacation clothes
- Live music and BBQ at a local winery (I'm an equal opportunity imbiber!)

Who knows what else is in store for us today -- all I know is that I'm relaxed and happy and I need that!

To celebrate I found a local cider to try out! As much as I enjoy craft beer, I also love fruit-forward brewed beverages...lambics, ciders, shandies.

This one caught my eye thanks to its off-kilter label. Revolution Cider is brewed right here in Philadelphia. I don't know how I've managed to only encounter it now. It pours a very hazy pale straw color. The carbonation is the point I felt compelled to take the following video of it.

YouTube Video

It's still going strong well after pouring it! The flavor of this cider is perfect. Tart, crisp apples. No cloying sweetness here. (Yes, I'm talking to you, Doc's Cider.) There is even just a hint of earthy funk to it that I absolutely love.

But do I give it a top 25? For now, yes...yes I do! Cheers!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Summer Needs Some Bobcat Goldthwait!

Beer #168 Wildflower Wheat / Otter Creek Brewing Company/Wolaver's, Middlebury, VT

Yes, the summer is upon us.  Mother Nature has offered up a hot and humid day to unofficially launch the summer season, and I'm incredibly thankful it (plus a three day weekend) is here.  The sun was out this afternoon for our bike ride down the Schuykill River Trail, and some clouds are moving in now to I'm sure dump rain on us, but hopefully we can get some food on the grill before that happens.

The beer for the day is the Wildflower Wheat from Wolaver's.  You get a clear gold color in the glass, and your nose picks up aromas of grain and honey.  When you drink it, you find a nice balance of honey, wheat, and sweetness.  The honey is really well done here.  Per the bottle, it's also brewed with chamomile, and after reading that I could find that flavor as well.  Great, easy drinking option for a muggy summer day.  For those who are more environmentally conscious, this beer is USDA certified organic.  For those who like drinking in a parking lot, I can see this 4.25% ABV option being a summer tailgate beer.

Vermont Tourism Board should pay me some
cash for this beer & pint glass combo!

For those who are curious, Wolaver's is part of the Otter Creek Brewing Company, although I wasn't able to quickly dig up information on how Wolaver's (born in 1997) came into the Otter Creek family.  I think (stressing: think) Otter Creek started Wolaver's as an experiment in organic beer, and then based on the success brought them under the bigger umbrella.  If someone knows the story and cares to share, feel free!

Thing to Think About Today:
To launch the summer, let's all think back to an under-the-radar summer classic from back in the 80's, One Crazy Summer.  Starring John Cusack, Bobcat Goldthwait, the dude who played Booger in Revenge of the Nerds, Jeremy Piven, and a young Demi Moore, this movie tells the tale of some underachievers who band together to help save a beautiful girl's grandfather's house from greedy developers.  If you're not familiar with this one, definitely check it out on a rainy summer day.  Hilarity ensues, as it always does.  It always does....

I sincerely hope you all have one crazy summer, starting today.

Beer 168: Wolaver's and Meat in the Air

This is a dog who smells barbecue. He's been trotting back and forth across the deck, nostrils flaring, trying to figure out where the grill smell is coming from. Then he dropped a turd that could peel paint off the house. I guess that's payback for serving kibble and not grilled steak for dinner.

Today I'm drinking a Wildflower Wheat from Wolaver's Fine Organic Ales. Wolaver's merged with Otter Creek Brewing Company back in 1997 so I guess I inadvertently crossed two breweries off my list today.

The Wildflower Wheat poured a hazy deep gold with a small white head. It smells of wheat and malt. It's brewed with pure organic Vermont honey and chamomile and approved USDA organic if you're into that sort of thing.

There are hints of honey in the taste along with a smooth malt and wheat flavor and a bit of lemon. It drinks cleaner and crisper than a hefeweizen. I'll give it a very good rating, but not top 25.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Gettin' Down on Friday

Beer #167 White Ale / Williamsburg AleWerks, Williamsburg, VA

And we come to the end of the week, at long last.  I'm mildly embarrassed by how little work I did today, but sometimes you need a day like that on the schedule.  Good for the soul.  I did book the last hotel rooms for our upcoming West Coast beer/oyster/beer/fish tacos/wine/beer vacation.  I guess I did some "work" after all!

The beer to kick off the holiday weekend is the White Ale from Williamsburg AleWerks.  In the glass, you get a clear pale gold, with a barely there white head.  The aroma is very light, but you get a hint of fruit.  When you drink it, you get a spicy note, along with wheat and grass.  Finishes very dry.  While the spice gave it some character, this wasn't the best witbier I've ever come across.

In business since 2006, this brewery claims to be the only craft brewery in Williamsburg.  Craft brewery, as opposed to that other guy who brews in Williamsburg.  Enough typing and words, as the sun is shining and it's time to unwind.  I also just remembered that Teresa's added some outdoor seating.  To the bar!

Thing to Think About Today:
It's Friday, and quite frankly I don't need to say much more than that.  However, I'll let Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, and the Roots (plus some special guests) tell you a bit more about Friday (skip ahead 40 seconds.  Just do it):

Enjoy the weekend, my friends. 

Beer 167: Williamsburg White Ale and an Empty Tank

I got nothing for you today. I seriously need this long weekend to recharge, find my creativity and get back in it. I haven't been feeling it lately. That probably partly due to my impending vacation but I also think I'm a little burnt out. Big things are afoot at work and I've got to pull my shit together.


The Williamsburg Alewerks White Ale poured a bright straw color and no head. I couldn't pinpoint anything discernible about its smell. The taste was floral, mineral and wheat...not too much citrus. I'm not wild about it.

Happy long weekend! Here's to good weather and even better beer!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Axe Murderer, Whoever You Are....

Beer #166 Edel-Weisse / Weisses Brauhaus G. Schneider and Sohn, Kelheim, Germany

Had the day off today, which was a nice way to spend the day (obviously).  Went to lunch with Mom & Dad, got some maintenance on the car taken care of, drove through a brutal rainstorm on my way home, and then tried to relax on the deck.  Tried?  Well, the kids who live next door were playing their favorite game: scream like you just saw a demon from the underworld murder your parents with a chainsaw.

I get that kids like to make noise.  Heck, I still like to make a bunch of noise.  But these tykes don't seem to be playing any game, they don't seem to be chasing each other, they... just seem to scream at an ear piercing octave.  Now that I think about it, I did hear what I thought was someone running a lawn mower earlier.  Maybe I should go knock on the door to make sure everyone is safe.

In other news, I sewed a missing button back onto a shirt.  Oh yeah, you best believe I'm a Renaissance man who can sew a button.  That serial killer comes over here, he's getting stabbed in the eye with my sewing needle.

Tonight's beer, the Edel-weisse from Schneider, came on draft at TJ's.  In the giant glass, it pours a hazy pale yellow, with a lingering thick white head.  The aroma gives you a sweet malt and wheat aroma, and the taste has notes of banana, clove, caramel malt, and wheat.  There's a creamy sort of feel to the finish.  Quite good, and you should make sure to order one if it's still on tap.  Enjoy!

"Like a Colussus, and we petty men"

Thing to Think About Today:
If the screaming kids/axe murderer situation wasn't bad enough, driving through a monsoon certainly didn't help my day.  Today's driving rain brought the always pleasant combination of people either driving 25mph or 85mph on the turnpike, neither of which particularly work very well.  So, let's leave things with a song from the 90's about well-mannered drivers!  Geggy Tah, the floor is yours for Whoever You Are:

Beer 166: Hoppin' Frog Turbo Frog

Bag of dicks! That pretty sums up how my day went. I spent 10 minutes at my desk, walked out for the first of four meetings at 8:55am and didn't get back until 4pm, then worked like a dog for 2 hours. I've been reduced to a whiny, cranky mess. Like I said...bag of dicks!

Thankfully I have a fridge full of good beer and a summer shandy that was created for a funky humid day like today. The Hoppin' Frog Turbo Shandy poured a mellow straw color, lots of carbonation and zero head.

It tastes like an Orangina and a light lager had a baby and named it Turbo Shandy. The nose is light malt and citrus and those notes carry through to the flavor. This shandy is light and flavorful...lots of citrus ( I taste mostly orange) and smooth malt. There is also a noticeable spice. It weighs in at 7% ABV.

While wasn't slinging glowing praise for it, I certainly think it is delicious. Cheers!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

SweetWater, Sweetchuck, Sweet Music

Beer #165 Festive Ale / SweetWater Brewing Company, Atlanta, GA

One of the luxuries we treat ourselves to is a cleaning service.  Oddly, our cleaning ladies rearrange everything in our house when they work.  The furniture tends to stay where it was, but everything else (picture frames, dog beds, decorations, candles, kitchen items) are always in a new spot when we get home.  Do they do it to prove they cleaned and picked things up to do it, or do they do it because our feng shui is crazy out of whack?

Next up in the series of beers and breweries is the Festive Ale from SweetWater Brewing out of Atlanta.  Festive ale, as in winter and Christmas?  Yeah, that festive ale.  SweetWater only distributes to limited cities in the southeast, and we acquired this through a gift from someone who got it from someone in North Carolina.  I think that's the chain of custody; I didn't ask many questions.  However, December in Georgia is probably about the same temperature as May in Pennsylvania, so it works.  It pours a black color in the glass, with a thin off white head.  Your nose picks up malt and dark fruit aromas, and the taste gives you roasted malt, spices (cinnamon?), and some coffee bitterness.  Those who know me I'm not wild about beers that verge into coffee/burnt/roasted flavors, but this one is okay in my book.  Probably better enjoyed in actual winter, but we'll worry about that come next December.

It's a picture of a fish on the label. My phone SUCKS.

This brewery has a fun story behind it - two roommates at the University of Colorado fall in love with craft beer, start working jobs in the industry to get experience, and after a few years end up opening up shop in the ATL.  Doors open in 1997, and they've managed to carve out a niche for themselves ever since.

Thing to Think About Today:
As much as I wanted to play on the brewery name and make a Sweetchuck joke - Sweetchuck was the hilariously nerdy cop in the Police Academy series - it didn't seem to fit.  So, on to some music about Georgia.  Oddly, the state of Georgia finds itself into the titles of way more songs than it probably warrants.  Let's go with one of the best, and let Gladys Knight and the Pips bring us home on the Midnight Train to Georgia:

Beer 165: A Hooker, a Blonde and a Style Icon

I recently read a quote by Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine) in which she said, "My face isn't right for them" in reference to casual, street clothes. For those who don't know, Florence is renowned for her avant garde clothes choices. No pattern is too wild. No cut too bizarre. I adore her.

I've secretly felt the same way about regular clothes. Not for me. I'd much prefer to be dressed to the nines. Only when I'm waxing poetic in my closet about my sartorial choices, no one is around to validate me. Thanks, Florence. You totally helped me feel my own normal.


So we covered my style on to the Hooker and blonde. (Watch what I'm about to do!)

Hooker Blonde Ale poured a deep straw color with little to no head. It isn't clear at all and kind of looks unfiltered. The smell was grains and citrus with floral notes. The taste was sweet with a hopped finish. It's a very drinkable 5.1% ABV. I'm just not sure if I want to drink it.

I'm also slightly confused because the bottle calls it a blonde ale but their website refers to it as a cream ale. Whatevs. Another one knocked off the list!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bernardus, Sixtus, Boondock

Beer #164 St. Bernardus Tripel / Brouwerij St. Bernardus, Watou, Belgium

Today was a bit of a blur, as I managed to do a great job of adding things to my to-do list, but a very suspect job of crossing anything off.  Plus, I ate far too many Twizzlers for my own good during a four hour afternoon meeting.  Stupid Twizzlers.

Enough whining, more talking about beer.  Tonight's choice is the Tripel from Saint Bernardus, which pours a hazy apricot in the glass with a persistent thin head.  The aroma is light, with fruit and malt up front.  The taste is quite good, with notes of banana, clove, malt, candi sugar sweetness, and a subtle, tiny bit of bitterness on the finish.  Very, very well done.  Exactly what you would want or expect from a Belgian tripel.  I highly, highly recommend this beer, and will give it a home in the Top 25!
If you're a frequent reader or beer geek, you're likely familiar with the Trappist breweries, world renowned monks who brew beer within their abbeys.  Despite the name, this brewery does not qualify as Trappist. However, they're as close to Trappist as anyone else is going to come, as they were under contract for sixty years to brew for Sint Sixtus, a Trappist brewery who produces one of the most sought after beers in the world, Westvleteren.  It's only sold in Belgium at the brewery, so don't expect it to be on the shelf at your grocery store any time soon.  However, it's rumored that the recipes used at Saint Bernadus are the same as those used at Saint Sixtus, so.......

Thing to Think About Today:
With St. Bernardus brewing sensational beer, possibly based on the recipes of St. Sixtus, we're dealing with a lot of Saints here.  So, let's add to the list and close with one of the more enjoyable and more violent films I've seen lately, Boondock Saints.  Two brothers make it their mission to rid the city of Boston of evil, even if that means breaking the law themselves.  Many, many, many rounds of ammunition end up being spent in the process.  Check it (and the sequel) out if you're in the mood for a great movie this weekend.  Pair with a great beer for double the fun.

Beer 164: Schneider Weisse Mein Grunes

I cannot get enough of this song.

I actually can't get enough of this band.  I'm kicking myself for missing their free show at World Cafe Live last Friday.  Ugh.


Tonight's review is actually the beer that got me out of the house late Thursday. It also led to Blog Named Brew kicking ass at Quizzo and taking home a sweet gift certificate to TJ's Everyday -- the site of our Quizzo massacre!

The Schneider Weisse Mein Grunes - advertised as Schneider Edel-Weisse - is an awesome beer...definitely worth putting pants on and venturing out of the house on a school-night for.  It's very drinkable at 6.2% ABV.  It poured a hazy straw color with a thick white head.  A little lacing was left behind as I drank it.  The smell was kind of nutty.  The taste was bananas, creamy and nutty.  Wheat and cloves were also apparent.  It has a good spice and just enough hop.

This is a hefeweizen with character.  And I think it has enough character to make it into my top 25!  Cheers!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Does That Make Me Crazy?

Beer #163 Seven Gates Pale Ale / Spring House Brewing Company, Conestoga, PA

Tonight's beer is another brewery from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Spring House Brewing Company. I sampled their Seven Gates Pale Ale mostly because it came as a friendly donation to the blog from a fellow beer geek.  Unique donations always welcome, and we're happy to trade for some of the ever growing supply of already sampled beers in our fridge/garage.

On to the beer, which pours a clear copper color with a wispy, thin white head.  You pick up aromas of malt and biscuit up front, and the taste delivers flavors of light citrus, caramel, malt, and floral hops.  Probably not as hoppy as I was expecting, but in all a nice, mellow, easy drinking ale.  It checks in at 5.7% ABV, and if you see it, you should drink it.  Plus it has some awesome label art, with what appears to be a creepy, burning haunted house.  Why is that, you ask?

Creepy asylum? Check. Good beer? Check.

There's an old legend in south central Pennsylvania about a mental asylum set deep in the dense forest to keep the criminally insane away from the rest of society.  The asylum and its residents were kept behind seven gates, until a massive fire broke out and, well... let's just say their souls may still haunt the woods.  Other variations of the folktale state that anyone who passes through all seven gates will go directly to Hell.  So, if anyone is looking for a cost effective vacation that doesn't include jacked up airline fees, there you go!

Thing to Think About Today:
This beer honors a legend about crazy people in the woods, so let's relax and enjoy this beer with Ray LaMontagne (who hangs out in the woods) and his take on Gnarls Barkley's Crazy.

"There was something so pleasant about that place...."

Beer 163: Tommyknocker Saison

Vacation is an evil temptress. That is all.

In anticipation of this year's vacation, I'm harkening back to the past two summers and fantastically relaxing vacations spent high in the mountains of Colorado. Colorado is a land of awesome scenery and amazing craft brews.

One of my favorite breweries out there has to be Tommyknocker Brewery. Located in a tiny, blink and you miss it town of Idaho Springs, it serves up some fantastic beer. It also serves one of the best samplers I've ever encountered. (I'm looking at you, west coast!)

The Nice Saison is indeed nice. It pours a light shade of amber, lots of carbonation but no head. The aroma is just a bit funky -- not strong at all. It's citrus and bright, tart and tangy...I'd call it a gateway Saison.

What else do I like from Tommyknocker? The Butthead Bock, Imperial Nut Brown Ale, Tundraberry...pretty much everything. Ok, not their IPA. But everything else is awesome. Their kitchen also makes a burrito bigger than my head but sadly I don't have a photo of that.

Until tomorrow, when I'm one day closer to vacation...cheers

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Prism, PRISM, and Other Things

Beer #162 Bitto Honey / Prism Brewing Company, North Wales, PA

Announcement:  Working in the yard SUCKS.

That is all.

Tonight's beer is Bitto Honey from nearby Prism Brewing Company.  In the glass, this beer shows off a rich amber color, and gives you a sweet aroma of honey and malt.  Can't lie - I wasn't too excited after my first sip, but this beer gradually grew on me.  When you drink it, you pick up notes of pine, lemon, and honey, and it finishes with heavy, earthy hop bitterness.  It checks in at 6.7% ABV, about what you'd expect from an IPA.

Not a bad option if you're looking for something a bit different from your typical IPA.  The label features an angry bee chomping on some hops.  Maybe he needs to mellow out with a beer.

This brewery is a newcomer on the scene, in business since 2009.  The name makes me think back to the days of the PRISM channel, which was a premium cable channel (which we got for free!) in the Philly region showing movies, and more importantly, crazy amounts of sports.  I spent countless hours as a kid glued to the tv watching Dr. J and the Sixers, the Flyers, the Phillies, and WWF wrestling on PRISM back in the day.  PRISM sort of morphed into Comcast SportsNet through some acquisitions, but somehow it's just not as good as it used to be.  This story has absolutely nothing to do with Prism Brewing, I'm just wandering my way down memory lane here.  As my thanks to you for sticking with this, I'll share the meaning behind the PRISM acronym: Philadelphia Regional In-Home Sports and Movies.  Now you know.

Thing to Think About Today:
If we're thinking about honey, let's go ahead and close out our Sunday evening on a mellow, relaxing note with some Tupelo Honey, courtesy of Van Morrison.   Hope you had a good weekend, hope to see you back here during the week.

"She's an angel, of the first degree..."

Beer 162: Push for Drama and a Local Brew

I'm slightly afraid of today's beer...what with the giant hop and angry honey bee and all.
But one should always take chances. Look what it got the folks in this video!

I'm actually jealous that something like this has never happened to me. Perhaps the U.S. is too litigious for it to ever happen here. I'll continue to dream that my trip to Belgium will provide such an opportunity.

Now onto the beer...

See what I mean about the label?

The Bitto Honey IPA from Prism Brewing Company poured a hazy chestnut color and a thick tan head.
The hop aroma was hidden beneath the strong smell of honey. That's a plus in my book! It is hop dominant and clearly an IPA. The hop flavor/tingle/burn continues long after I swallow. That being said, the honey malt is noticeable -- I probably couldn't drink this otherwise.

Overall I'm pretty pleased with this choice. Cheers!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Make Love to the Camera

Beer #161 Hefeweizen / Lake Placid Craft Brewing Company, Lake Placid, NY

Big day today in our world: new camera arrived at the house last night, and we spent the morning learning how to use the features.  We opted for a Nikon 5100, and so far it seems to be a good addition to our household.  This was a must get, as our old point & click camera takes relatively crappy photos.  Needed to up our game before our June beer vacation, and I think we're now well prepared for some great pictures.

Sitting on the deck on a sunny afternoon, I'm enjoying a Hefeweizen from Lake Placid.  It pours with a clear,  gold hue, and gives off aromas of yeast.  There are flavors of fruit, grain, and yeast, and a dry, peppery note shines through.  A nice relaxing beer as we get ready to make dinner (grilled shrimp), but could stand a little more complexity perhaps.  This being said, my allergies are kicking into high gear, so take any aroma/flavor notes with a grain of salt.

Do not be alarmed: this was still taken with my camera phone

Interesting story here, the demand for Lake Placid's beers far outpaced their supply, so they've entered into a contract arrangement with nearby Matt Brewing Company, producers of Saranac beer.  Nothing like a little cooperation to keep the wheels of commerce turning.

Thing to Think About Today:
I thought about the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics, but it's way too nice outside to think about hockey.  Instead, we'll celebrate our new camera with Spoon's great song, I Turn My Camera On, because that's what we did this morning:

Beer 161: Lake Placid Brewing

Today's trip to Wegman's delivered six new breweries. Among them Lake Placid Brewing Company's hefeweizen.

It poured hazy but not cloudy, not much head. It smelled generally of beer...nothing in the way of banana or clove. The flavor is kind of meh as well. If I drink a big mouthful and savor it and think really hard, I can find a hint of the classic hefeweizen flavors. I should not have to work so hard.

Would I be pissed if I ordered this at a bar? Not if it were reasonably priced. Would I order/buy it again? No.

There are many, many better hefeweizens out there. You could read about some of the ones we've had here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Seashells and Balloons

Beer #160 Viven Ale / Brouwerij Van Viven, Sijsele, Belgium

Today was a good day, but I'd be remiss if I didn't let everyone know last night was a great night.  Marci spotted a beer we wanted to try at TJ's in Paoli, so we headed there for an evening out on the town.  Little did we know, it was Quizzo night.  At first, we weren't going to play, as I assumed we were in for one beer and then headed out.  I mean, I'm an old man and I need my beauty sleep.  But Marci wanted to stay, and we ended up playing, and (to no one's surprise) we ended up mopping the floor with the competition.  Oh, that's right: FIRST PLACE for Blog Named Brew.  Started out slow, we absolutely poured it on in the middle rounds, and courtesy of some strategy we took the lead into the last round, and then cut down the nets when it was all said and done.  Former Marquette basketball coach and announcer Al McGuire had a phrase for the euphoria of victory and enjoyment of the little things in life; he called it "seashells and balloons."  A random moment of joy that occasionally sneaks up on you and brings a huge smile to your face.  After walking away with the first place prize (a generous gift certificate for TJ's) on a night I didn't expect to leave the house, I completely understand seashells and balloons.

The beer of champions you ask?  Why not try the Imperial IPA from Brouwerij Van Viven.  This beer has an amber hue, and gives off light citrus and hop aromas.  The taste is lemon and orange, with a nice hop bitterness, a little malt, and an almost creamy texture.  Really nice combination of flavors without anything overpowering.  Definitely worth a sample if you find it.

Thing to Think About Today:
Thought about dropping some We Are the Champions on you, but let's instead celebrate a sunny, fantastic Friday the right way.  Everyone who challenged us last night found out that This is How We Do It, and quite frankly it's a great song to kick start your weekend:

"This is how we do it/South Cental (Berwyn) does it like nobody does...."

Beer 160: St. Bernardus

The Wish Daisy shop on Etsy is an
amazing and sparkly place.
Dear Internetz,

     If you truly love me, you will make this green glitter hippo live in my home. 



What could possibly go better with a green glitter hippo than a St. Bernardus Tripel? This tripel poured a hazy apricot color with a thick white head.  There was a steady stream of tiny bubbles dancing throughout the glass and a steady lacing as I made my way to the bottom. 

The smell reminded me of fresh apples, cloves and there was some sweetness to it.  The flavor was hop forward with a mild sweetness and a bread-like yeast taste.  The experience drinking it was interesting -- as it started thin but finished with a creamy feeling.  Despite that creamy sensation, I would say that it was a crisp drink.   The alcohol was apparent but not harsh at 8% ABV. Quite an enjoyable beer to drink. 


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Today We Visit the Farm

Beer #159 Organic Real Ale / Laverstoke Park Farm, Overton, England

Now well past 40% of the way through this project and still going strong!  Still finding (mostly) great beers, really interesting breweries, and having fun along the way.  Today is another first, as we've drank beer from plenty of of brewing companies, brouwerijs, and brasseries.  However, this is our first farm - specifically, Laverstoke Park Farm and their Organic Real Ale.

This beer pours a light amber color in the glass with a very thin white head.  On the nose, wheat and grass stand out, and when you drink this you pick up light notes of caramel, biscuit, grass, and malt.  You pick up some hop flavors, but as is typical with English pale ales, it's fairly subdued.  An easy drinking beer at 5% ABV, this one will be good for the spring and summer months.  All of the hops and barley are grown on site (which is pretty cool in my book) and as the name certainly implies, this beer has been certified organic by all of the people who do such certifications.  Admittedly, I'm usually not too concerned about whether a beer is certified organic or not, as most of the craft brewers have such a close connection to their suppliers that I feel confident they wouldn't use anything but the best hops, grains, barley, etc. available.

Child Abuse is bad! Drinking is Good!

My only tiny complaint?  The artwork on the label looks more like a public service announcement on preventing child abuse. I prefer something a bit, I don't know, less drawn by toddlers.  Unless they're doing what cigarette companies did back in the day: make their product seem cool to kids too young to buy it, with the hope they develop a brand affinity ahead of time.  In that case, carry on.

Thing to Think About Today:
I love that this farm is working to grow their own raw materials and then brew a tasty beer.  If we're thinking about farms and great produce, then we should spend a moment and think about Three Springs Fruit Farm, near Gettysburg, PA.  Really awesome people who are committed to sustainability and great produce.  Frequent readers will note that I'm always fascinated by breweries with long histories.  We get that here, as these guys are the seventh generation to run the farm.  If you're in the greater Philly/Baltimore/Harrisburg triangle, click HERE and make sure to check out when they're coming to market near you.  Or visit their site to learn more about agriculture than you knew was possible.

Is there a connection to beer, you ask?  Definitely.  We've been lucky enough to sample some hard ciders from Ben's private reserve.  Awesome stuff, and maybe if we all ask nicely they'll start brewing and selling to the public....!

Beer 159: Timmermans Framboise

And with the close of the business day, I've realized that the post-April events lull is over.  Not just over.  Taken out back and had the crap kicked out of it. Or maybe that's just the way I feel.  Oy.


Today we're drinking a Timmermans Framboise Lambic.

Sidebar: I am a crazy person. Not quite 24 hours ago, I declare raspberry to be the worst fruit flavor on earth.  About 23 1/2 hours ago, I opened a raspberry honey ale.  Now I'm reviewing a raspberry lambic.  Honestly I couldn't even begin to guess what is wrong with me.

Anyway Timmermans falls under the umbrella of Martin's Finest Beer Selection. Joining Timmermans are Magner's, Guiness and Red Stripe.  While I haven't yet reviewed any of those beers, I'm going to rule them still eligible for blog review since they are all originally their own brewery with long histories and maintain their own labels, marketing, etc.

This framboise lambic was poured into my Petrus glass. It's a reddish brown beverage with an ever-so-slightly pink head. The scent reminds me of raspberry yogurt -- fruit and a slight sourness. The flavor is sweet and tart and strong on raspberry. Slightly sour raspberries are clearly the way for the raspberry to win my love.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bad Beer, Good Music

Beer #158 Honey Raspberry Ale / Spanish Peaks Brewing Company, Parts Unknown

Busy day that ended up with a happy hour.  Every day should end with a happy hour, if you ask my opinion.

Today's beer is the Honey Raspberry Ale from Spanish Peaks.  Or, possibly from Black Dog Ales, but more on that in a second.  In the glass, this beer pours a chestnut brown with a thin head.  The aroma gives you notes of raspberry, but an artificial raspberry.  The flavor is.... yeah, not great.  Thin, with notes of soap and something that's supposed to be honey, but isn't.  And someone dumped a barrel of "Raspberry Flavor" in this one somewhere along the way, but not in a good way.  I had such high hopes for this beer, as it features a dog on the label.  Bad dog, I suppose.

The bottle says Spanish Peaks Brewing Company, which was founded in Bozeman, Montana in 1991.  The website says Spanish Peaks, but all of the branding (including the URL) is Black Dog Ales.  The website cites their headquarters as Polson, MT and Denver, CO.  There's a copyright mark on the site for Stamford, CT.  On the bottle, the beer is brewed in Sarasota Springs, NY.  I read a review elsewhere that had a bottled brewed in Wisconsin.  And elsewhere on the web, you find California as the home base.  Seriously, this is some Dora the Explorer type shit right here.  I'm sure if I spent enough time, I can figure out the story behind this brewery - for example, maybe it's in the Witness Protection Program.  Anyway, the beer wasn't great so I really don't care.

At least it looks nice.....
The dog on the label belonged to the brewer, and passed away back in 2005 at the age of 14.  This brewery actively supports the American Humane Society, so, now I sort of feel bad that I trashed this beer.  I'm sure they're very good people.  Crud.

Thing to Think About Today:
In honor of a brewery that seems to be from, well, everywhere all at once, let's have Johnny Cash take us home with his version of I've Been Everywhere.  I'm actually surprised it took this long to get The Man in Black to make an appearance, but here we are:

"Of travel I've had my share, man/ I've been everywhere."

Beer 158: Spanish Peaks Honey Raspberry Ale

After moments earlier declaring that raspberry is the worst fruit flavor on earth, I crack open a Spanish Peaks Honey Raspberry Ale.

Spanish Peaks was founded in Bozeman (MO) and is now operated out of California but is brewed at Olde Saratoga Brewing in Saratoga Springs (NY), which is owned by Mendocino Brewing that may or may not be in Saratoga Springs. Umm. Yeah.

For all that effort, I wish I was getting a better beer. In my raspberry bashing defense, I will go on record to say that I tend to like fruit beers because they aren't overly fruit-flavored.

This one poured a hazy chestnut color with a tan head. Lots of bubbles and it definitely smells of raspberry and honey...lots of honey. The flavor isn't good. Kind of soapy, finishes with an off-putting bitterness. It's gross.

Maybe it's the use of all-natural raspberry extract. Would actual berries have been better? Who knows. I'm not sticking around to find out.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's a League Rule - Cups and Supporters

Beer #157  Saison D'Erpe-Mere / Kleinbrouwerij de Glazen Toren, Erpe-Mere, Belgium

After much debate over the weather, I spent today with some co-workers and friends at the Phillies game today.  Unlike last time, they managed to pull out a win and are inching closer to the .500 mark.  Not the banner start people were hoping for, but what can you do.  Interesting note - there are definitely some decent local pours at Citizens Bank Park, such as Victory and Philadelphia Brewing Company.  However there is now a beer tent in left field that seems to have some better taps, including Leffe Blonde.  I can't fathom how expensive that one is, as a 12oz Victory draft will run you $8.75.  Hey, expensive good beer is better than no good beer, I suppose.

Back home, tonight's beer is another saison, this one from Kleinbrouwerij de Glazen Toren.  This one pours a hazy pale yellow in the glass, and presents an aroma of spice, fruits, and grain.  When you take a sip, you pick up flavors of yeast, sweet malt, and a light citrus.  This beer has a very dry finish, with a mineral taste to it.  Not a bad saison by any stretch, but perhaps more earthy than I was expecting.

Open since 2004, this brewery wraps each of their beers in paper.  Definitely classes the place up, although we didn't take any pictures of it before pouring.  Our bad.

Thing to Think About Today:
For my first appearance at a baseball game this year, I trotted out a link to the greatest baseball movie of all time.  This time around, I'll drop the second greatest baseball movie of all time, The Bad News Bears.  Basically, a Little League team of misfits bands together around a misfit coach to be awesome (well, awesome-ish, really).  And while the rival Yankees are sponsored by Denny's, the Bears are sponsored by... Chico's Bail Bonds.  What's not to love?

Obviously, we're talking about the 1976 version of The Bad News Bears, the first in the original trilogy - let's all agree the remake never happened.