Breweries "Visited"

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tastes Better Than It Sounds

Beer #295 Hochzeitsbier Von 1810 / Brauerei Hofstetten Krammer, St. Martin, Austria

Good day yesterday, as the Nittany Lions crushed Illinois to start off Big Ten play on the right foot.  Good day today as I got caught up on some work that needed to be done this afternoon, and now I'm officially in relaxation mode.

I'll celebrate by reviewing the Hochzeitsbier Von 1810, a beer from Brauerei Hofstetten Krammer in Austria.  This one was on tap at TJ's, and poured with a dark gold color.  Your nose picks up aromas of caramel and malt, and the taste is filled with a measured hop bitterness, sweet malt, bread, and a bit of spiciness as well.  Nice beer to sit on a fall afternoon and watch football with, and at 6.3% ABV you can do exactly that.  Definitely one I would order again without too much thought.  Kudos to the guys at TJ's for keeping some great new beers and breweries rolling in..... only seventy days left in the 365 challenge!

Austria, where you at?
This brewery can trace it's roots way, way back, all the way back to 1449.  The Google translation of the history page from their website suggests brewery ownership changed hands in 1847.  That's some straight up old for you old school people.

Thing to Think About Today:
Hey, you guys know how I like to make some really interesting connection from he brewery or beer to your thing to think about for the day?  Yeah, this isn't one of those days.  This song popped into my head this afternoon, and is now quite certainly rolling around in there, so perhaps it will roll through yours as well.  Yes, it was featured in an Apple ad.  That's where you heard this before, but that doesn't mean you can't listen again, right?

Beer 295: Nils Oscar Barleywine

I suppose on a beautiful fall Sunday during which I ended up working all day, it's perfectly fitting to end it with a beer that kind of sucks.

The Nils Oscar Company's Swedish barleywine style ale is brewed in Sweden. At 10.4% ABV and in a style that I generally enjoy, I had high hopes for this one. No such luck. It poured a clear, reddish brown ale with a minimal tan head. It smelled sweet like rum raisin bread.

Then it went totally south. The flavor was very smokey. The taste was overwhelmingly booze-laden. Surprisingly so. As a point of reference, I had more than a few sips of Dogfish Head's World Wide Stout on Friday night and the 18% ABV was smooth and well disguised. So it is possible to have a high ABV that isn't so assertive. Back to Nils Oscar...other notable flavors included molasses and caramel, but there was also an underlying acidity. To top it all off, as I got to the halfway point and it began to warm a bit, a weird chalkiness became more apparent.

This beer is just blech in my book. Cheers.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Beer 294: Asahi Karakuchi and All Things Japanese

Last evening's outing could best be described as a Japanese bender. Excellent sushi, sake, Rogue's Morimoto beer, Asahi Super Dry and a hooker. It wasn't my party's hooker thankfully. Also Rogue's Morimoto beer is fantastic but that's not why I'm here today.

Yes, more washed out, blue photos! The Asahi Breweries' Karakuchi or super dry was a lovely surprise from our dinner companions. It's getting very challenging for us to find new the odds are pretty slim for a friend to pick a new to us beer. Congrats, Chrissy. Great beer choices!

This one is a Japanese rice lager with a 5% ABV. It is a decidedly average, mass produced beer that reminded us of Heineken. There was nothing remarkable about the flavor...just tasted like beer. Not too malty. Not too hoppy. But it did have body and wasn't a watery mess. This is an average beer.

On the other hand, you should go find a Rogue Morimoto Soba ale. Now that is a delicious beer. I'm sorry I didn't take notes on that one. I was trying not to be the weird girl who writes beer notes at the table during dinner.


You Have a Giant Can

Beer #294 Asahi Super Dry / Asahi Breweries, Tokyo, Japan

Game day, so let's blog bright and early in the morning!  Do the Lions run their win streak to three games by kicking off Big Ten  play with a vicious beat down of Illinois?  Time will tell, of course.  After a hectic September with three home games, it's nice to spend a weekend not driving anywhere.  Go State.

Before we get there, it's time for a beer review.  Part of any sushi adventure requires proper beverages, and last night our friends called an audible from the usual wine and brought some dinner specific brews: Morimoto Soba Ale from Rogue (delicious!) and two cans of Asahi Super Dry - which is my beer for the day.  This rice lager from Japan pours a clear gold color with a white head, and is an easy drinking beer with notes of grain and a light sweetness from the rice.  You hitting Bluefin (or whatever other less awesome sushi places are out there) for dinner?  Throw some Asahi in to go along with your sake.  Do it.

Highlight of the night?  I mean, other than when the table next to us was occupied by a guy and the woman he was renting for the evening?  And also other than some truly amazing sushi?  The fact that Asahi comes in awesomely giant 33oz cans of beer.  Some may call a 33oz can of beer unnecessary, but I just call that being efficient.
Who doesn't like huge handful of a big ol' can?
As Asahi is the largest brewery in Japan, we're certainly pushing the envelope of our craft brew-only mission, but it's a new beer to us, comes from a rather faraway land, and isn't something you usually find.  My advice: Deal with it.

Seriously, deal with it.

Thing to Think About Today:
I'm stretching it here, but if it's a day to think about fish and the Pacific Ocean, I think I'm dropping in some Sublime and their supremely mellow Badfish.

Sublime was easily the soundtrack for the summer of 1997, which I spent in State College.  This was beyond a doubt the best summer of my life, as I worked a bit, but mostly hung out every day and night with my best friends in my favorite town on earth.  When they get around to building time machines, I'm setting the dial on mine back to May of 1997.  By the time I got into Sublime (thanks to Marci for that), their lead singer, Bradley Nowell, had already passed away of a drug overdose, thus abruptly ending their incredibly bright future as a group. But then a funny thing happened - people just keep listening to the limited number of albums Sublime had already put out, and their legend continued to grow.  I mean, how many times this summer - sixteen years after Nowell died - did you hear songs like Santeria, What I Got, or Wrong Way on the radio?  How I managed not to include Sublime in this space somewhere during a summer beer review is a mystery for the ages, but I'll make up for that now.  Let's all unwind, take a deep breath, close our eyes (only when done reading this, please), and spend some time on a peaceful Saturday morning dreaming of sunny days spent surrounded by your favorite friends.  You're welcome for the free smile I just brought to your face.

"Lord knows I'm weak / won't somebody get me off of this reef?"

Friday, September 28, 2012

Seriously: More Sweden!

Beer #293 Nils Oscar Barleywine / The Nils Oscar Company, Nyköping, Sweden

I had the pleasure of working from home two days this week courtesy of my cold, but unfortunately being sick caused me to not be as productive as I would have liked, so today was a busy day in the office, followed by a very good post-work happy hour, and then a very good dinner at Bluefin to unwind.  I would be remiss if I did not share the fact that we saw a guy there on a "date" with a prostitute.  Oh, it wasn't just a woman in a low-cut tight outfit (although that's what she had on); they clearly gave off the vibe of two strangers who were exchanging money for sex.  But why go to dinner?  Trying to impress her with..... your fondness for good sushi?  Strange days indeed, people.  At least we've finally reached the weekend!  Although I'll be in the office on Sunday trying to catch up on what I missed courtesy of "working" from home this week.  Can't win them all.

Tonight's beer is a barley wine from Nils Oscar, a brewery in Sweden - yes, another beer from Sweden.  This beer has a clear amber color with wispy white head.  The aroma is of stone fruits, and the taste is mellow, with notes of honey and raisins and a clean finish.  This barley wine isn't terribly complex, but by the same token it isn't terrible.  Just not as good as it could have been.  In my mind, barley wines are made for cool nights sitting outside, and for my hard earned dollar (in the office this Sunday!), there are better barley wines to be found.

This brewery is named for the grandfather of the founder of this brewery; Mr. Oscar lived in the United States for a number of years and studied in Chicago before returning back to Sweden to run his family's farm in the late 1800's.  Now you know!

Thing to Think About Today:
So, ABBA, Roxette.... I guess the third most popular band from Sweden might be Ace of Base?  Might be, and that would be a good pick, but I'm going to surprise everyone here and drop The Cardigans on you!  Yes, they're Swedish.  And, for further surprise purposes, I won't even drop their mega-hit song Love Fool, I'm going with My Favourite Game, a much rougher and dare I say sexier sound than what you expected from a band who put out Love Fool to the world.  Weekend, here we come!

"I had a vision that I could turn you right....."

Beer 293: Dock Street Collaboration and Cross-Eyed Editing

I am blind from editing things today. Reports, agendas, tables of content, annual reports, donor profiles.  I've also been typing with such fervor that my finger joints ache.  If you find a typo in what I'm about to write, forgive me. I'm currently cross-eyed and exhausted.  It also seems that I forgot that I'm 37 and went to a concert on a school night last night.  What was I thinking???

Will I ever take a photo in public
that doesn't suck?
Les Biere des Amis is a collaborations between Dock Street Brewing Company and Daniel Thiriez.  Thiriez is the owner and brewer at Brasserie Thiriez in France and is renowned for his Saisons and biere de gardes.  Two beer styles that I thorougly enjoy.  Supposedly -- if one were to believe the internetz - this collaboration is the first between a U.S. and French brewery in America. 

This "beer of friends" has an ABV of 4.5%. It pours a slightly hazy golden ale with a minimal white head.  It didn't have a noticable aroma for me.  First sip made me think crisp and refreshing.  Further sampling revealed wheat, good balance of malts and hops with just enough hop to make it interesting, and grass.  I could have also sworn that there was a hint of salinity to it. It almost reminded me of this gose or perhaps this one. Not in style but with that faint taste of salt the lends an interesting twist to a beer. 

This is a good beer.  Cheers!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Beer 292: Spring House Brewing

While you're reading this, me and Mr. Blog Named Brew are rocking out at the David Byrne/St. Vincent show at the Tower Theater.  You all need to check out their new album -- it is AWESOME! Quirky, full of horns and just plain fun to listen to...

And what better beer to go with fun, quirky music than a big fruity quad.  At 10.8% ABV, the Cosmic Monster from Spring House Brewing Company is not for the faint of heart. From Spring House's website, it is a rustic belgian style strong ale that is balanced with a generous addition of fresh fruit. 

Interesting...back to back fruit beers for Marci.  Where did the hops go?!?!  

The Cosmic Monster is fermented with real pureed blackberries and then aged over fresh raspberries. It poured a deep mahogany color and had lots of berries in the nose.  You can definitely smell the blackberries more so than the raspberries.  The booze was not appratent and I imagine that you could get in a lot of trouble drinking this quad.  The flavor was lots of fruit, malt and hops. Very well balanced and easy to drink.  The mix of strong malts and fruit flavors also make it quite refreshing.  Sort of the opposite reaction that quads usually have with me.

This is a great beer.  Cheers! 

Photo #1 of Cosmic Monster
Photo #2. Better or worse?

Rare Beer and Great Music Day

Beer #292 Raspberry Tart / New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, WI

I'm definitely beating The Cold, but he's not going down without a fight.  Later this evening, I'll be having an awesome time watching David Byrne do his thing on stage!  Yes, the former front man for the Talking Heads has kicked off a new tour, and we're catching the only (I think) Philly date.  He's sharing the stage with St. Vincent, who I'm admittedly not all that familiar with, but honestly - if David Byrne was on stage with a tree sloth who played the bongos I'd buy a ticket.

Today's beer is the Raspberry Tart from New Glarus Brewing, out of Wisconsin.  This beer was a great gift from a fellow beer geek and member of our PSU tailgate squad.  Great gift, you see, because New Glarus really doesn't ship outside of Wisconsin, their home state.  They recommend you pour this beer into a champagne glass, and once you do you'll find a dull ruby color and no head.  There's a pleasant raspberry aroma, and the taste is tart and sweet, with fantastic real fruit flavor.  A bit of carbonation, but maybe not as much as you expect from something in a champagne glass.  Really amazing beer, and I'm quite pleased I was able to cross this brewery off the list!!
Pretty, and pretty damn tasty!
New Glarus was founded in 1993 by a husband and wife duo, and they're still going strong in the world of craft beer.  For my Philly people who are all jealous because we got this rare beer and you didn't, inexplicably you can sample it this weekend too!  Hawthorne's Cafe is hosting a fundraiser for the Pennsylvania Society for the Protection of Animals on Sunday, and will be pouring not only New Glarus but also Tyranena (also rare around here) as part of their dinner that night.  Check the details here.  Help animals in need AND drink great, hard to find beer?  No brainer.  Get on that, people.

Thing to Think About Today:
While thinking about raspberry beer, I realized I've already used Raspberry Beret in this space back in May - even though Prince is being a total jerk and yanked the video down from YouTube.  Dick.  So instead, let's go ahead and think about David Bryne (also not a newcomer to this space).  I've come to realize that I'm completely drawn to music that appeals to smart people.  Call me a snob, but music that tells a story, or has depth to it, or feels like artwork, or simply makes you think is far more appealing to me than.... well I won't name names here and hurt anyone's feelings.  Obviously, the Talking Heads fit my criteria of "smart music" perfectly.

It seems the playlist tonight will feature most everything from Byrne & St. Vincent's new album, Love This Giant, along with songs from St. Vincent's past work and Byrne's incredibly good solo work. And, it appears there will be some classic Talking Heads in there, which is always a treat.  CAN.  NOT.  WAIT!  I don't expect to hear And She Was tonight, and I love it so I'll go ahead and drop it in here so we can all enjoy.  Have a good night, folks!

Oh, and if David Byrne does a cover of Raspberry Beret, I'll quite definitely die from over stimulation.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Toys, Drugs, and Beer

Beer #291 Hoptimus Prime / Ruckus Brewing Company, Wilkes-Barre, PA

Day two of Gary vs. The Cold, and I think I'm starting to move ahead on the scoreboard.  Cough is getting better, feeling like a human again, and I think I'm returning to the real world tomorrow.  Take that, stupid cold!  Helping out today was a healthy dose of psuedoephedrine, which as everyone who watches Breaking Bad knows is the stuff that can be used to produce methamphetamine.  Sadly, I need mine for good, so I won't be able to cook with the 0.72 grams of psuedo I bought today (daily limit allowed: 3.6 grams).  The guys at Vamonos Pest will have to hold down the meth lab fort without me today, I suppose.
Sorry guys,  can't work today.  I'm sick.
What better way to celebrate feeling better than with a beer?  On deck is the Hoptimus Prime, a cleverly named double IPA from Ruckus Brewing Company, hailing from good old Wilkes-Barre, PA.  It pours with a dull copper color and thin white head, and you pick up a big grapefruit aroma.  There's a big pine and citrus hop taste, but a good bit of malt in there as well to balance things out.  It has a bitter finish and a healthy 9% ABV, for those of you keeping score at home.  And remember: alcohol kills germs!
Not sure if this beer turns into a jet or a dump truck or what.
Ruckus Brewing officially started when Legacy Brewing Company went out of business not too long ago.  The company that was doing the marketing for Legacy, Ruckus Marketing, ended up stepping in and taking over operations.  And here we are.

Thing to Think About Today:
The name of this beer is a play on a name from the cartoon/toy/movie franchise, Transformers.  You see, Optimus Prime is the leader of the Autobots, and was a robot who transformed into an 18-wheeler to fight Megatron, chief bad guy in charge of the Decepticons.  I had some of these toys as a kid, but never got too far into them beyond watching on Saturday mornings.  I was more of a G.I. Joe kind of kid.

Instead of just showing a clip from the cartoon or the recent movies starring Shia LaBeouf, I'm going to pull a 180 and suggest we stop and think about another line of robots who turned into something else:  The Gobots.  Ah, yes the Gobots: the junior varsity version of 'toy robot that turn into a vehicle' that Tonka produced to compete with Hasbro's much cooler Transformer.  Yes, I had some Gobots as a kid, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.  They sucked when compared to Transformers, which is why the film Transformers 4 is in production and Gobots collect dust in people's basements.  I suppose the message for the day is that it's cool to be nice to everyone, even the Gobots of the world.  It's okay to root for the underdog every now again, even in the land of children's toys.  Stay healthy, people.

Beer 291: Gamble Mill Tavern...a Hidden Gem

Behold the awesomeness that is the Victorian Secret raspberry wheat ale from the Gamble Mill Tavern

I would vote the Gamble Mill one of the central  Pennsylvania's best kept secrets.  I had no idea it was so good. Not only were the beers delicious, the food was quite good as well.  Gary rates his experience here. 

The Victorian Secret is named after Bellefonte, Pennsylvania -- the town where Gamble Mill is located, which is oft referred to as Pennsylvania's Victorian secret. It's brewed with a combination of wheat and barley, fermented with the tavern's house yeast and finished off with pureed raspberries.

I wasn't picking up much in the way of scent -- just a tiny bit of raspberry in the nose. Darn ragweed allergies are always getting in the way.  There were tons of raspberry in the flavor and there was absolutely nothing artificial about it. I hate, hate, hate when non-natural flavors are used to approximate a particular flavor.  If you want it to taste like raspberries, you've got to use real raspberries and the Gamble Mill's brewer totally gets that.  The flavor of fruit was balanced nicely by wheat.  It poured an ever so slightly pink-tinged hazelnut color, which isn't showing up very well in my photo.  Overall I was very impressed by Gamble Mill's offerings and by this one in particular.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beer 290: Ruckus Brewing and Not a Nurturing Bone To Be Found

I had a fantastic post brewing (ha!) in my brain all afternoon, but got derailed when I had to step in and make chicken soup tonight. If you've spent any amount of time with me, you know I don't cook. You also probably know I don't have that mothering instinct. This is the one day every 24 months that Gary gets sick so I've gotten called up the kitchen league. There is something resembling chicken soup simmering on the stove and I've lost all motivation for creative writing.

And I'm 100% certain that I've made the best possible choice in not having children. Commanding someone to be done being sick with a deadline is probably frowned upon in parenting circles. Rest assured, Gary assures me he'll be fine tomorrow. Thank god...otherwise we'd be having cookies or pie for dinner. Now baking is an area in which I excel!

While I wait for the soup to soup, I'll tell you about the Hoptimus Prime double IPA from Ruckus Brewing.

It poured a nice amber color with a white head. It smells sweetly hopped with underlying malt. The flavor is fruit and hops...sweet caramel, some peach, a bit of black tea. I'm also noticing a bit of biscuit when I take a good long sniff of it. It finishes with a strong hop bitterness but rounds out nicely at the very end.

The brewer makes Hoptimus Prime with five kinds of hops and then dry hops for two weeks. Exactly the over the top hop use that I like and am really beginning to love. This is a great beer.


Let's Be Friends

Beer #290 Les Biere des Amis / Dock Street Brewing Company,  Philadelphia, PA

Creeping up on 80% of the 365 challenge completed, so I decided to celebrate by waking up today with a cold.  Hey, can't win them all, right?  Thankfully, I am able to work from home today, thus avoiding dirty looks from everyone in the office when I coughed on them repeatedly.

For our beer today, I'll take one off the shelf and review Les Biere des Amis, a saison which I had on draft at TJ's last evening.  For those of you who aren't fluent in French like me, that translates to 'The Beer of Friends', and I'm really not fluent in French, but like to pretend I am.  Regardless, this is a collaboration between Dock Street and Brasserie Thiriez in France.  As it was brewed in Philly, I'm giving Dock Street the credit for our list.  This beer has a pale yellow hue with a thin white head.  The aroma is tart lemon, and the taste is slightly tart, with some earthy grain notes and a bit of citrus before you hit a clean, dry finish.  Eminently drinkable at 4.5% ABV, I highly encourage you to seek out this limited release beer.

Why can't we be friends, why can't we be friends.....
Per Dock Street's website, this is the first collaboration with a French brewery on American soil.  Not sure who exactly is keeping track of that, but if they say so, I'll believe them.

Thing to Think About Today:
If we're discussing beer of friends, it probably makes sense to take a moment and think about Friends, one of the funniest sitcoms of the twenty years.  Running from 1994 to 2004 (or to think of it another way, almost all of my twenties), the show explored the intertwined relationships of six people living in New York.  In the process, it became one of the most popular sitcoms ever, earning award after award.  The cast was older than we were, yet we could completely relate to the love stories, the madcap antics, and the continually clever writing.

Below is a clip of highlights, and there are some good ones in there.  But just watching this made me realize there are so many other great episodes out there that aren't included: the prom video scene, Ross and Monica's dance routine, Joey on $25,000 Pyramid, Chandler dating Janice..... the list goes on and on and on.  Might be time to get the season disks on Netflix and hunker down for a Friends marathon this weekend.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Worth It.

Beer #289 Worthington's Red Shield / William Worthington's Brewery, Burton Upon Trent, England

Wrapping up some writing, then heading to TJ's to cross a few more beers (and maybe ciders) off the list.  Need to make hay while the sun shines!  Today's beer is Worthington's Red Shield, a blonde ale from Worthington's Brewery (more on that later).  This one was drank out of a purple plastic cup, so not much on the color.  The aroma was of grain and barley, and there's a good, easy flavor of grain, yeast, and hop bitterness.  Fairly mellow beer all around.

I almost didn't have a photo to share, as it was trapped in my old phone.  Did I mention I had good news on that front?  My photos, which mysteriously disappeared from my dying phone, returned back to the phone the next day in an equally mysterious manner.  Spooky, and it's not even Halloween.  The good news is the nice people at Verizon can copy the pictures over to the new SIM card, so I think I'll be fine, and I emailed a few photos of beer and Flash over before I switched to a new phone.  I apologize for all of my cursing last Friday.  As a professional beer blogger, I need to hold myself to a higher standard of writing excellence.  One that doesn't rely on any goddamn curses to tell my tale.

Shields up!
History class may be a bit fuzzy today.  This brewery traces its roots back to 1761, when William Worthington opened the doors.  It merged with rival Bass in 1927, and then was later spun off and purchased by Molson Coors in 2000.  The brewery is more famous for their White Shield brew, an IPA that ranks as the third most popular ale in England in terms of sales.  It's been brewed at a succession of other breweries after the original brewery closed in 1965, although it appears they've re-opened a new brewery in the same town as the original, Burton Upon Trent.  In the header, I've attributed this beer to William Worthington's, although I've also seen references to Museum Brewing Company and White Shield Brewery.  If you have the full story, please let me know, as I clearly don't, and neither does the internet.

Thing to Think About Today:
I need to get my hustle on and get some dinner, so let's go ahead and take an obvious cue; Red Shield beer (apparently) gets you thinking about Red Red Wine by UB40.  1980's, go ahead and sing us to sleep tonight.....

Beer 289: Brew Kettle and Holy Cow!

For whatever reason, typing the number 289 today struck me in a "Wow I've been at this for almost a year now" kind of way. There's just two months left. Holy cow! What am I going to do with myself after beer 365?

For now I'm going to drink this Old 21 imperial India pale ale from The Brew Kettle Production Works in Strongsville, Ohio.

It has an ABV of 9%. It poured with a thin off-white head on a bright, clear amber color ale. It has a very fruity hop aroma with a little grapefruit.

The taste is terrific. It has a very full mouthfeel...very round. It's tart and a little bitter with a light sweetness...maybe even a bit of caramel flavor and finished with a big hop kick at the end. This is a great beer. Cheers!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cider and Sweden

Beer #288 Rekorderlig / Åbro Bryggeri, Vimmerby, Sweden

It's a somewhat lazy day here, as we're back home and recovering from the weekend.  Went out and did some shopping today, picked up take out for dinner, and now it's time to blog.

I'll dip into a cider for today's selection and go with the Rekorderlig, specifically the strawberry lime cider, which is brewed by Åbro Bryggeri in Sweden.  I'd suggest you get one to try, but you can't, as they don't ship to America.  Ah, behold the power of being an internationally renowned beer blogger - you get things from foreign countries!  This cider pours a bright pink color with a bubbly head.  You get a big strawberry aroma, and the flavor is sweet with fresh strawberry taste.  This was highly carbonated, and if I didn't know any better, I would say I was drinking a strawberry flavored champagne, rather than a cider.  Very interesting, and very glad our dear friend brought one of these home from the U.K. for us!
No, that's not a strawberry soda. 
The brewery has been in business since 1999, and they recommend drinking this cider over ice or with a strawberry as a garnish.  Probably won't be doing either of those, really.

Thing to Think About Today:
This is the second brew from Sweden that I've reviewed, which means I really can't drop another ABBA video in here, regardless of how much I want to.  You know who else was from Sweden and was awesome?  Roxette!  Time to close the weekend by going on a Joyride.....

"Hello, you fool, I love you...."

Beer 288: Rivertown Brewing and The Week's Inspiration

“She wasn't doing a thing that I could see, except standing there, leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.” J.D. Salinger
You don't always have to be seen doing great things. Sometimes it's better to simply deliver and watch folks enjoy it. I may not be holding the universe together this week, but I am going to make magic happen.
The Rivertown Brewing Company Hop Bomber pale ale is brewed in Ohio and found its way to my house thanks to one of Gary's beer geek friends. Thank you!

It is an American pale ale that poured with a big, thick ecru head. It was fluffy and left a fun little island of foam floating in my glass. The Hop Bomber smelled a little woody and I swear I also smelled cinnamon. The taste is smooth with a solid hop presence. I expected to be punched in the taste buds with a name like Hop Bomber but luckily that wasn't the case at all. There were hints of orange and a good amount of malt presence for balance. It had a slightly
metallic finish and I found it to be a good beer.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bombs Away!

Beer #287 Hop Bomber / Rivertown Brewing Company, Cincinnati, OH

Tailgate day!  Lions vs. the Owls of Temple, and I sincerely hope for two things: we keep the win streak going, and the rain holds off.  Sometimes it can be fun to tailgate in the rain, but not always.

We'll keep it brief today, for obvious reasons.  Today's beer is the Hop Bomber pale ale from Rivertown Brewing, out of Cincinnati.  Two beers in a row from Ohio, but only because this is the second of my gift beers.  It pours with a bright copper color and big, fluffy head.  The aroma is full of piney hops, and the taste has a stronger than expected malt backbone, with a good blast of grapefruit and a nice bitter finish.  What I found interesting was that hidden under there was some hints of cocoa, definitely not the standard for a pale ale.  Solid choice!
Bombs away...
Thing to Think About Today:
If this is the Hop Bomber, it's time for some Outkast and Bombs Over Baghdad!  Great song to get fired up for a tailgate!

Beer 287: Super Special Rekorderlig Cider

I'm checking in from the tailgate this morning with a special delivery cider straight from the U.K. Rekorderlig strawberry lime cider is made in Sweden and not available in the U.S. yet. Many thanks to my friend Liz for smuggling it for me!

It pours a bright pink color and has a strong aroma of macerated strawberries. The flavor is totally summertime. A little off target considering the brisk and rather chilly breeze blowing through the tailgate currently. It's sweet but the hint of lime helps stop it from being cloying.

Rekorderlig was first created in 1999 in Vimmerby, Sweden, where it is still brewed today by Åbro Bryggeri. I'd say go get one for yourself...but that's one heck of a beer run! Cheers!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Beer 286: Rock Art Barley Wine Ale

I'm taking a brief break from a whirlwind of activity trying to get out of dodge to tell you about Vermont's Rock Art Brewery and their barley wine ale.

The Ridge Runner has an ABV of 7.5%. It poured a lovely mahogany color with a small, pale tan head that disappeared fairly quickly. It left an edge of thin head in the glass. The smell is rich...full of dark fruit and syrup. It drinks with a thin feel and I was surprised by the amount of hop in it. I also expected a much denser brew considering it was a barley wine, but I'm pleasantly surprised by it. There is some caramel to the flavor and it's a nice well balanced beer.

I'd give it a good rating. Cheers!

The Post With Parentheses

Beer #286 Old 21 Imperial IPA / The Brew Kettle, Strongsville, OH

It's a hustle day today - started off in the city for a Red Cross awards ceremony (we didn't win), hit the Beer Yard (one of the better beer distributors you'll find in the Philly burbs) to stock up for the tailgate, and now I'm eating lunch (thanks, Whole Foods!) and writing about beer.

Today I'm going with the Old 21 Imperial IPA from The Brew Kettle.  This one came as a gift from a friend  (thanks, Pat!) who picked up a few lesser known beers during a recent trip to Ohio (boo, Ohio!).  In the glass, this one is a clear copper color, with a thin white head.  Your nose picks up a strong citrus aroma, and the taste gives classic pine and lemon flavors, although there's a bit more sweetness than I was expecting from.  This is one of the easier drinking double IPAs you'll find, but it does pack a strong 9.5% ABV.  Great beer for a Friday where I'm relaxing at home with lunch rather than working.  Cheers, people.
Typical Friday
This brewery started up in 1995, and they spend a lot of time helping home brewers get started.   That works.

Thing to Think About Today:
Because I'm a little high strung about things lately (see my phone post from yesterday), and because I spent the morning with the great people of the Red Cross, here's some Otis REDding (see what I did there?) to mellow us out on a sunny and warm Friday afternoon.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Post Where I Curse A Great Deal

Beer #285  Žatec / Žatecký Pivovar, ŽaŽatec, Czechoslovokia

The weekend has officially begun!  Tailgate groceries have been purchased, some blog beers have been acquired, pot of chili is on the stove, and by this time tomorrow I'll be back in Happy Valley for another great weekend.  While I'm dreaming of State College, I'm unfortunately dealing with ridiculous issues on the home front.  We have a water filter/ice maker on our freezer door, and lately it's been doing this awesome trick where even when you pull your glass away after pouring water, the water continues to pour out at the same rate.  You realize you can either try to drink from the glass while it's being filled (you won't win that game) or just move the glass away and get some paper towels, as the freezer eventually has a good laugh and shuts off the water.  So I can deal with that.  However, my piece of shit yet indestructible cell phone has decided to officially crap its pants and not remember anything.  All of my pictures on the phone, including some of the last pictures I took of Flash before he passed away, are now erased.  I really, really wanted those pictures.  FUCK.  DAMN YOU PHONE.  FUUUUCCCK.  I was holding off on getting a new phone because I didn't want to deal with getting a new phone.  So much for that.  FUCK.

Enough of that shit; I feel like it's time to kick off the weekend the way any red blooded American would - with a beer from Czechoslovakia!  Er, well that's how I'm starting the weekend, anyway, as I'm trying the Žatec, a dark lager from Žatecký Pivovar. This one has a dark ruby color (almost black, really) with a fluffy off white head.  There's a nice malt aroma, and the flavor is lightly toasted malt, caramel, touch of bitterness.  Not what I was expecting, but this is a good beer. Seems to fit in with a cool, autumn night.

Here's where the picture of my beer would have been.  No dice.  Instead, here's a picture of my thoughts on electronic devices right now:
Fuck you, phone. Er, fax machine.
Thing to Think About Today:
I need to calm down, because I'm livid right now.  If we're drinking a Czech beer, we need to stop and Check the Rhyme.  Tribe Called Quest, please smooth things over for me?

Nope, still furious.

Beer 285: St. Peter's Old Style Porter, Doubt and Confusion

Let me give you a little insight into what's been happening in my head for the past 48 hours. I've been freaking out about an event I'm planning in early October. I'm building a freaking party venue in the middle of a very large, grass field. I now know a nice restroom trailer will cost $3,600. A fancy tent upwards of $30,000. I'm helping plan electric hook ups and substations. Huh? I'm terrified I'll have to drive the garden cart. I know my building like the back of my hand. I am going to be so very far away from my building that night...
Then my friend Amanda tweets this message this morning...perfectly summing up my head space: Currently floating in that unnamed place between brief flickers of confidence, overwhelming inadequacy + all consuming self-doubt.
My brief flickers of confidence included a strong desire for someone to buy me this Oscar de la Renta dress...

...because I would rock that dress. And I promise I'll smile when I wear it!
Tonight's beer is the Old Style Porter from St. Peter's Brewery. I admit I was first attracted to it because of the cool bottle.

It's that yellow green glass that I usually associate with wine bottles. That paired with the fact that it was a porter pretty much guaranteed that it was coming home with me. It poured almost black with only the faintest bit of light infiltrating at the edges where a deep brown cola color was revealed. Its head was very thick and dense and tan. It's brewed in Suffolk, England at a site that dates back to 1280!
It smells of chocolate cream, licorice and toast. The taste is anise, vanilla and has a slight hop bite. At 5.1% ABV, it was very easy and enjoyable to drink. This is a very good beer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

If You Can't Rock Me....

Beer #284 Ridge Runner / Rock Art Brewery, Morrisville, VT

I'm writing this in the middle of making dinner on the grill; might as well enjoy this sensational weather while we can, right?  Nothing too fancy, just some burgers and sweet potatoes on the grill, along with a beer.  Nothing beats fall weather, my friends.  Nothing.

Oh, a beer you say?  We'll keep with the autumn evening theme and drink a Ridge Runner, a barley wine from Rock Art Brewery in Vermont.  This beer has a dark mahogany color with virtually no head.  Your nose picks up aromas of figs and raisins, and the taste is full of malt and stone fruits, with some sweetness and hints of leather, with a very crisp finish.  This is a little thinner than your average barley wine, but it doesn't detract from the flavor.  It clocks a 7.5% ABV, making it one of the more drinkable barley wines out there in the marketplace.

Admittedly, I assumed this brewery was from the Southwest when I picked up the bottle, due to the Kokopelli character front and center on the label.  However, the name and image are an homage to the scenery the brewery owners would see on hikes in the Colorado desert.  Hey, whatever inspires people to make good beer works just fine in my book.

Thing to Think About Today:
In the spirit of Rock Art, I present for your consideration some Smashing Pumpkins and the always wonderful Cherub Rock, a song that never fails to make me think of college.  We'll go with an acoustic version, to keep it super grunge-y.

"Who wants....honey?"

Beer 284: Zatec Zatecky Pivovar

Does anyone else hear the Swedish chef when reading the title of this post? Oh, just me. Ok.

The Zatecky Pivovar is a dark lager beer from Zatec in the Czech Republic.

I am very curious about the code on the label: 97 17 09. What does that mean?

The Zatec poured out looking like a cola with a full tan head. It smells of malt and chocolate. There's also some grains in the smell. The taste is fig, coffee and it has a nice roasted character. It reminds me of a light stout. It's a good beer. Very nice for this autumnal weather we're having lately. Cheers!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Port of Call

Beer #283 Old Style Porter / St. Peter's Brewery, Bungay, England

I wish I had more time to write, I might have something interesting to say.  Unfortunately, it's already 9pm and this is the first time I've stopped moving since I woke up today.  Let's just get into it, shall we?

The beer for the evening is the Old Style Porter from St. Peter's Brewery.  In your glass you see a black color beer, with some mahogany hues and a nearly non-existent off-white head.  The aroma is pleasing, with lightly toasted malts and some chocolate.  The taste is loaded with a toasted malt flavor, but it's not overly bitter or burnt. There's a thin mouth feel, with hints of chocolate and caramel malt.  Not a bad beer, even though I never would claim to be a big fan of porters.  This particular one checks in at a relaxed 5.1% ABV.

This brewery, from the Suffolk countryside, has been in operation since 1996.  Their distinctively shaped bottle is based on an old gin bottle from colonial America.  In fact, the old bottle has a connection to an inn on the Delaware River, on the New Jersey side.  Now you know!

Thing to Think About Today:
Okay, so we're talking drinking a porter today.  It's late, I'm tired, I'n not into religion to tie in St. Peter's, so therefore I can't think of anything more appropriate than Johnny Cash's rendition of Hey Porter.  Time for bed, kids.

Beer 283: Cisco Brewers Island Reserve

It's official. I've self-diagnosed thanks to the nice folks over at Chow Bella.

I prefer geek to snob, but I clearly have a problem.

What I don't have a problem with is the tripel from Cisco Brewer's Island Reserve series. Island Reserve allows Cisco to experiment a bit and this one is a winner in my book.

Brewed in Nantucket, the tripel poured a bright orange hue with a thick white head. Lots of nice sticky lacing was left behind as I made my way to the bottom of the glass. It had lots of fruit aromas with some biscuit and plums that followed through in the flavor. There was also a good amount of sweetness in the taste as well as a faint booziness. The only thing I didn't really enjoy is the very prickly carbonation. I wanted it to drink a little smoother.

But overall this is a great beer. Cheers!

Monday, September 17, 2012

More Swedish than IKEA

Beer #282  Mazarin / Omnipollo, Stockholm, Sweden

Hey Marci, guess who the dogs love more?  Um, I think it was the guy who made them grilled chicken for dinner, that's who.  Yes, occasionally we spoil the hounds to a ridiculous degree a small bit.  What can I say, they're furry children, really.  And unlike when your kids misbehave, we can put these guys in their crate for a time out.

While the dogs are eating their dinner, I'll go ahead and review tonight's beer, the Mazarin, an American Pale Ale from Omnipollo, which is the brewery name for two gypsy brewers operating out of Sweden.  This one was on draft at TJ's, and it has a bright amber color in the glass.  There's a light aroma, and the flavor gives you subtle hop flavors with plenty of lemon, and a nice, mild bitterness throughout.  This is a really nice beer, and it's very drinkable.

What's I've found interesting this year has been the increasing number of European breweries crafting American style beers, such as this one.  It's long been the other way around, so I enjoy seeing the different perspectives on beers like APAs.  I definitely intend to try some additional beers from Omnipollo as I find them, as this one was on the mark.

Thing to Think About Today:
Wanted to add in the great song Submarines of Stockholm from AC Newman in honor of Omnipollo's home city, but couldn't find much on YouTube, so we'll skip it.  Instead, let's take the easy out here and drop in the greatest gift to the world Sweden has ever given - yep, we're going with ABBA!  Nothing would quite get the 1997 sorority sisters of PSU dancing during happy hour at the Gingerbread Man like some Dancing Queen.  Here we go....

"Dancing Queen, feel the beat from the tambourine..."

Beer 282: Three Things and a Red Shield

Three things to chew on this lovely Monday evening.

1. The Lion Sleeps Tonight is one of the greatest pick-me-up songs ever. I was ready to come home and slip into a coma. The song came on and I may make it to 9:00 p.m.

2. Littering has become a crime to be punished by death in my world. Pick it up, you lazy fuck. And yes, I am yelling at you from my car.

3. The acorn apocalypse has begun. Do not come to my home. You've been warned.

And now for the Red Shield. Worthington's Red Shield is brewed by Museum Brewing Company / White Shield Brewery in Burton-on-Trent, England. It looks like Molson Coors may own it now but the brewery has a history dating back to 1744. I'll allow it.

The Red Shield is labeled as a blonde ale but I thought it had many triple characteristics. It was well balanced between the malts and hops. It was a little bread-like and had lots of caramel flavor. I drank it out of a solo cup so I can't judge the color but it did have a big, thick head. The ABV is too low for a tripel (4.2%) and it didn't have any booziness in the flavor.

I think the Red Shield is a good beer. Cheers!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Back on Track

Beer #281 Pig Iron India Pale Ale / The Gamble Mill Microbrewery, Bellefonte, PA

Finally, our long national nightmare is over - Penn State won a football game again!  Solid effort on the field, huge effort in the parking lot at the tailgate, and order has again been restored to the universe.  Not happy to see Navy lose, as it's completely impossible to root against those young men.  Onward and upward.

I think what helped PSU get some additional good karma on their side was drinking some fantastic beer on Friday night.  We're very fortunate to have great friends who recently moved to Bellefonte, and we're even more fortunate that they're a block away from The Gamble Mill, a restaurant and brewery I'm now completely in love with.  My first beer of the night was the Pig Iron IPA, named for a type of iron that was produced in the area.  In the glass, you see an bright amber color, and your nose instantly picks up a big grapefruit aroma.  You get the traditional IPA flavors of pine and citrus, with just the right dose of hop bitterness.  This beer is fantastic and would feel right at home among some of the San Diego beers I've sampled this year.  If you love West Coast IPA and their big grapefruit and citrus flavors, you need to find this beer.  Why?  Because I'm making a bold call and moving this beer in to my Top 25 for the year!

Top 25!
I also sampled two other beers on draft, the Big Spring Tripel Belgian Ale (named for the nearby natural springs) and the J. Rose Pale Ale (named for a local famous jockey).  Both delightful, although only the J. Rose sat still long enough to get a picture taken:
Almost gone....
The microbrewery at Gamble Mill started up in 2010, and their website indicates they're hoping to start adding barrel aging and wild fermentations, which is absolutely music to my ears.  At the moment, Gamble Mill is only distributing in Centre County, so you may need to make a road trip to sample this beer.  It will be worth it, trust me.

Thing to Think About Today:
In the spirit of the Gamble Mill, we need to end this post with some Kenny Rogers.  It's time for The Gambler, folks!  Fitting, as this song always makes me think of Penn State.  One, for the awesome Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurant that used to live on North Atherton Street, and two for the fact it was routinely played on repeat in my house, particularly during our five day spring party.  Good times, good times.

Beer 281: Crispin Hard Cider

What a weekend. Great tailgate. Great Penn State football game. Great weather. The mornings feel like football weather and that makes me so very happy.

What doesn't make me happy? I am an old woman and absolutely EXHAUSTED by the tomfoolery of the weekend. As in the kids in the yard next door didn't wake me up even with all their ridiculous screaming. Why must kids scream on the top of their lungs over everything? Shut up.

You know what would be perfect on a day like today? Crispin Cider Company's Artisanal Reserve Honey Crisp hard cider. It's described on the label as smooth and crisp with organic honey (6.5% ABV). It poured the palest of yellows with a medium carbonation. It smells of fresh green earth and, obviously, apples.

The flavor is light, tart apple with hints of honey. It finishes semidry with a nice tartness. This is one of the better ciders I've had -- decidedly not sugary sweet with a good amount of tartness. Perfect for the early fall weather.

Now I'm going to go yell at kids to get off my lawn. Cheers!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Time to Sink Navy

Beer #280 Oatmeal Stout / Telegraph Brewing Company, Santa Barbara, CA

Another fall Saturday, another day spent cheering on PSU.  Let's hope that they keep getting better and get that first win of the season against Navy today.  Once that monkey is off their backs, they'll be just fine.

Beer for the day actually comes from the West Coast, although I didn't get to sample it when we were out there in June.  It's the Oatmeal Stout from Telegraph Brewing.  No, I don't usually reach for stouts when I order, but this was on draft at TJ's, and we're getting to the point where I can't pass up new breweries, regardless of what they're making.  This beer has a black hue with a thin tan ring.  The aroma is of toasted malt, and the flavor has a touch of cocoa and sweetness to balance out the toasted malt flavor.  Not a bad beer by any stretch, just not something I typically drink.

Thing to Think About Today:
The last football film in our series is the legendary Remember the Titans, the story of forced integration in a Virginia high school and the impact to their football team and fans.  Denzel Washington is at his best as Coach Boone, pulling his team together to work first as teammates, and then as friends.  Huge cast of stars in this film, all who do a great job playing their roles.  If you don't get goosebumps watching this film, you may not be alive.

"We will be PERFECT in every aspect of the game."

Beer 280: Diamond Knot Brewing Company

Today's beer was enjoyed with a good friend...Tailgate Cheetah. Who is Tailgate Cheetah, you ask. He is an adventurer...

He has a need for speed...

Sometimes he flirts with danger!

He likes to dj our tailgate. He has pretty good taste in music although sometimes it's a bit too cat-centric for me...Cat Stevens, Cat Power, Faster Pussycat, Pussy Riot.

He is a feline for all seasons!

He likes to woo the ladies...with romantic boat rides!

He loves to tailgate, but loves PSU football even more. He doesn't sit in the stands. He sits on the sideline.

He has excellent taste in beer.

Lucky for me he shares...

The Brown Ale from Diamond Knot Brewery poured a hazy brown with a thick tan head. Safety first at the tailgate so no glasses and no good photos of the beer. It was nutty and nice and malty. Very easy to drink with a 6% ABV. There was a bit of chocolate in the flavor as it warmed up a bit. I also noted some toasted bread and caramel. Overall a good beer.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Beer 279: Neshaminy Creek Brewing

I must have been giddy with thoughts of a four day work week because that's the only explanation that I could come up with that would result in my thinking that a date night at the end of a twelve hour work day made sense. But I held true to my invitation to Gary and was rewarded with some nice conversation and a great beer.

The Tribute Tripel from Neshaminy Creek Brewing ended up being the perfect way to end the work week and welcome Gary back from a week of business travel.

Sorry for this photo. I was outside with only my Blackberry and this was my third and best attempt. Weighing in at a solid 9.3% ABV, this beer did pack a wallop. But it was a well disguised wallop. (Sidebar: It is incredibly difficult to type when having one's legs massaged.)

The beer poured a reddish amber with a thick white head and was served in an appropriate glass that our waitress felt the need to explain...even after I said I'm a beer geek and totally get it. We were at the same bar at which we've been marveling at their pours of everything into an imperial pint glass. Everything...including the big beers. Dangerous and tasty all at the same time. And yes, there was some relief and disappointment in the glassware.

There was lots of Belgian candi sugar in the aroma and flavor. There was also a nice amount of caramel with boozy fruit. It finished with a nice pepper spice and dryness. This is an excellent beer especially considering that Neshaminy Creek has only been brewing for 100 days. If I didn't read it on their website, I would not have believed it myself.


Back to State College!

Beer #279  6th Generation Stock Ale / Susquehanna Brewing Company, Pittston, PA

I have three hours worth of things to do, and one hour to do them.  GO!  I was in State College yesterday, back home last night, and now back on the road again.  Can you get frequent flyer miles for driving?  Maybe?

Another day, another Pennsylvania beer - this time, the from Susquehanna Brewing out of Pittston.  This pale ale has a light copper color and a thin, lingering head.  There is a light aroma of barley, and the flavor has a nutty presence, with a bit of malt sweetness, and a hop bitterness on the finish.

This brewery has been in business since 2010, but they have family ties back to the old Stegmaier Brewery, which opened for business in 1857.  This has nothing to do with anything, but the first thought that popped into my head when I saw where they were from was the fact that we (Hazleton Area HS) used to give their basketball team absurdly savage beatings on the hardwood.  Ah, the good old days of the Wyoming Valley Conference....

Thing to Think About Today:
The short version: pro football star goes to prison, gets blackmailed into playing on the prisoner football team (aka, "The Mean Machine"), is encouraged to throw the game, but then rallies his troops to win a game for the ages against the guards.  Of course I'm talking about The Longest Yard, starring Burt Reynolds.  Yes they remade this movie starring Adam Sandler, no I've never seen that version.  Why mess with a good thing?