December 27, 2010

Good bye 2010

This will be my last post of 2010. I know this because I'm leaving for Iowa tomorrow (joining John) and won't be home until after the new year. I'm also not bringing my computer, and that makes it even more certain I won't be writing while I'm there.

This will be short and sweet because every time I start writing about the year I find myself writing about things I don't really want to put down here. No, 2010 was not what I expected, but when is life ever what you expect? When it comes down to it, the good still outweighed the bad, and I'm thankful for the experiences that I had - even the ones that didn't turn out as I would have liked. At the end of the day, that's what life is about. Trying new things and learning from them.

As for the things I'm thankful for - it's the usual list. My good health (written as I'm coughing). The fact that my oldest and dearest friends are still my oldest and dearest friends. Meeting John and the wonderful friends I've met through him, and all of the incredible people I've met (even if just via computer) through Twitter and Facebook. My amazing family and the support they've given - and are giving - me. The good beers I've tried. The fun memories I've made. The optimism of knowing that the best is still ahead of me.

Yes, 2010 certainly had it's share of bad. But I choose not to dwell on that, and let the past remain in the past where it doesn't have the power to hurt me or bring me down.

I hope you all have a wonderful end to what was hopefully a wonderful year. And if it wasn't, remember that it's almost in the past and it's in your power to leave it there.

I'm excited to try some beers I haven't had before while I'm in Iowa and Minnesota, so be sure to let me know of any you think I should try while I'm out there.

Cheers! See you next year!

December 25, 2010

Christmas Day love

I've been convalescing at my boyfriend's house. Since I'm in the middle of my move I have no furniture in myplace and even though he's not here, he's told me I'm welcome to stay. One of the reasons I'm happy to be here is his goldfish. Yes, his goldfish. Now, I had goldfish growing up but we kept them in small tanks and so they never got very big. Gustav (that's the goldfish) is so big! And he's very entertaining. When he's hungry he looks right at me and makes little fish faces. I've been told to ignore him, but I find it hard to. He also does tricks, like swimming on his back or on his side for me. What I think is my most favorite, though, is when I'm walking over to feed him. When he sees me coming, he wagshis tail like a dog. (I swear! Although it's more like an all-body wag). It's the cutest thing I've ever seen. He then swims to the top of the tank and splashes the water a bit when I'm putting the food in. I've told John (that's the boyfriend) that I think Gustav wants me to pet him, and John has implored me not to. So far I've been able to hold back, but I have to admit it's hard at times.

I'm writing all this because I've stayed in - by myself - for the past two nights and haven't done much more than watch TV - and Gustav. This is my third night in in a row. I can't remember the last time I was alone on
a Friday and Saturday night! Part of me is glad for the downtime, but I'm also starting to get the itch to get out. Now they're calling for a lot of snow tomorrow (I've heard varying reports, so am not going to quantify it at this point) and I'm afraid I might be stuck in again.

I'm going to run out in the morning and make sure I have food stuff to get me through. I've got some beers here that should take good care of me. And Gustav will undoubtedly be his usual fun self.

Here's hoping you've had a very merry Christmas full of good times with family, friends, cheer, and beer. Let me know what you did - and drank - to make it special.

December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve cold

I'm nursing quite a cold right now. It started yesterday morning and got worse throughout the day. Unfortunately I'm in the middle of moving (and that's unfortunate for more than just the reason that I'm doing it with a cold) and had to pack and move stuff all day today. I finally got home and collapsed around 5 o'clock. I could remember being sick around this time last year and writing about it so I just looked through my posts and saw it was actually New Years eve eve, and now here I am sick on Christmas Eve. I guess the good news is that my family doesn't celebrate the holiday so at least I'm not missing out on any family time. The bad news is that my boyfriend does celebrate and so his home - in Iowa - with his family and I'm literally all alone in his house right now. I've decided there's nothing lonlier than a Jewish person who lives alone and is sick on Christmas Eve. At least if I felt good I could go out and grab some Chinese food with friends like I usually do.

I'm not writing this to complain, though (I can see the look of disbelief you're shooting me right now, given how this has started). I'm writing because I'm thinking of the good beers I want to be drinking. I'm friends with so many beer people on Twitter and Facebook that seeing how much fun everyone is having is making my speedy recovery seem that much more necessary. I know tomorrow night Devil's Den is featuring the '09 and '10 Mad Elf. I wonder if I'll be up for making it to that. And then Sunday I'm supposed to go to the World Cafe Live Winterfest Beer Tasting (which I attended last year and wrote about here).

Too many good things coming up for me to play host to this cold. With that, I'm off to take more medicine and maybe even tuck myself in for the night. Let me know your suggestions for my first drink post-cold.

December 22, 2010

Holiday Cheer and beer

I can't believe that Friday is Christmas Eve. I can't believe that next Friday is New Year's Eve! Where did 2010 go?

What is an already busy time of year has turned even more so. First, I'm moving. I have to be out of my apartment by next Monday (less than a week!) as I'm leaving for Iowa on Tuesday (to spend New Years with my boyfriend and his friends, one bright spot in what is sure to be a stressful couple of weeks) and won't be back until after January 1.

Second, my sister gave birth to her first son - and the first grandchild in my immediate family - 10 weeks early. Luckily, he's doing great and she is, too. But it was a crazy time as they were trying to decide when to deliver her.

Luckily I have great friends and family and they're keeping me sane. I also have great taste in beer (if I do say so myself) and those beers have played no small part in getting me through these days. Not as a crutch, mind you, just as a reward at the end of a long day.

I had the great joy of drinking Victory's Dark Intrigue over the weekend. It was so tasty and perfect on a very cold winter's (well, at the time it was still technically fall) night. I've also gotten to enjoy De Ranke Pere Noel, which I loved, and the always-great Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre.

I hope your preparations for the holiday season have been as tasty as mine - minus the stress!

December 15, 2010

Bella Vista Night at Brady's American Pub

This Thursday, December 16th is Bella Vista Night at Brady's American Pub in Feasterville. From 7 - 9 pm you can get special prices on Maduro Brown, Holiday Cheer and Obovoid on draft and Either, Or, Three French Hens, and Yulesmith in bottles. You'll also get free glassware.

Bella Vista is a specialty beer distributor in South Philly. They have some of the best (read: my favorite) beers including those from Ballast Point, The Bruery, Bavarian Barbarian, Sixpoint, Gritty's, and Cigar City.

December 4, 2010

Winterfest Beer Tasting at World Cafe Live


'Tis the season ... for beer fests. And one of the best is being held at World Cafe Live on Sunday, December 26. Perfect timing for those that need a break from family and egg nog.

The event runs from 12 - 4 pm and features winter seasonal brews from both local and national breweries. You'll get to sample stouts, porters, and winter seasonals from breweries like Flying Dog, Left Hand, Dogfish Head, Corsendonk, Sly Fox, Flying Fish, The Bruery and many more (over 30 breweries will be represented!). Finger foods will be served and live entertainment will be provided. And don't worry about missing the game - the Eagles will be on!

I've been to this event in the past and can tell you they do a great of keeping the number of attendees down so that you're not standing in endless lines; to that end, tickets, which cost $45, are limited and can be purchased by clicking here.

So take off that sweater Aunt Mary knitted for you and come celebrate the end of fruit cake season. Happy holidays!

November 30, 2010

Randall the Enamel Animal at Tria

So I'll admit - I've read before of the famed Dogfish Head invention Randall the Enamel Animal and didn't really give it much thought (thoughts like "what is this Randall the Enamel Animal?" and "why should I care about this Randall character?" ran briefly through my mind, but it didn't go much further than that). But then the email came from Tria that I would have the chance to taste Burton Baton after it had run through Randall, and I decided I needed to know more about it.

Here's what I found.

The first Randall was built in 2002 in response to a beer showdown between west and east coast brewers called The Lupulin Slam. Although DFH originally thought they would just build the one, beer lovers and other brewers asked for a Randall of their own; today Randalls are being used as far away as New Zealand, Italy, Switzerland, and Japan.

The latest Randall - Randall 3.0 - debuted in September 2010. This is a new double barrel model that was built to reduce foam. Randall is a filter that you connect to the tap of your favorite beer. You fill the chamber with hops, and as the beer runs through the chamber, the alcohol in the beer takes the flavor from the hop oils and puts it in the beer. The result - an intensely hop flavored and smelling beer.

All of which explains why I'll be at Tria this Thursday, December 2 for the Burton Baton. The Burton Baton, in case you don't know, is a blend of an English Style Old Ale and an Imperial IPA. Both batches are brewed and fermented separately, then blended together and aged for a month in an oak tank. Sounds (and is) awesome, which is why I can't wait to try the Randall-ized version. It's sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Make sure to get there early, if you plan on coming. Event starts at 5 and the beer is sure to go fast. You'll also have the chance to meet Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head, from 5:30 - 6:30.

Cheers!

Varga Bar Calendar Release Party

I'm not sure how things go for you, but every time I go in to Varga Bar with my boyfriend he can't stop looking at the paintings and pictures of the Varga girls. So much so that I actually did a photo shoot with the amazing Celeste Guiliano as a birthday present for him (and no, I'm not posting my pictures on this site! But I will tell you that he loved them).

Celeste and her wonderful team did what they do best - taking women and making them look just like Varga girls - for the Varga Bar 2011 calendar. And you get to reap the benefits. Next Wednesday, December 8 is the release party at Varga Bar. Drink specials and complimentary hors d'oeuvres start at 9 pm. There will also be a one-hour, complimentary open bar sometime during the night.

If seeing the models in the calendar isn't enough for you, you're in luck. Each of the girls will be introduced throughout the night, and they'll also be available for calendar signings.

So guys, bring your Sharpies. And girls, maybe you'll be inspired to do a photo shoot of your own.

November 28, 2010

For this I give thanks

It's a couple of days past the holiday, but that doesn't mean the thanks have to stop. I had a great holiday, full of good food, laughs, family, and friends. There was plenty of turkey, potatoes, green bean casserole, pies, cakes - and of course, beer.

A few weeks before the holiday my Aunt, at whose house we always celebrate the holiday, had a health scare. Well, a bit more than a scare but everything is going to be fine. And there are a few things that are happening in my life that could lead (and have led) me in to crying fits. Then I take a few minutes and realize just how fortunate I am and how good I really have it, and so I've decided to share those things I'm most thankful for.

I'm thankful for an amazing support system - my parents, my siblings, my extended family, my friends, new and old. I honestly don't know what I'd do without them.

I'm thankful for my health - because without that, everything else would be so much harder.

I'm thankful for all opportunities in front of me - I may not be exactly where I want to be and I may not know exactly where I'm going, but I do know, based on everything I've been through in the past, that I'll appreciate and trust in the journey.

There are so many other things I'm thankful for - music; books; beer; a cloudless blue sky; a dark, starry night; movies; wine; new foods to try; my car; the Phillies; a warm bed on a cold night - so many things that are such a part of our daily living that we take it for granted. I'm going to try not to do that. I'm really going to try and show thanks, in some small way, every day for the incredible people and things that surround me. Your life may not always be what you expect it to be but that doesn't mean it's not exactly what it's supposed to be.

November 24, 2010

Black Friday at Capone's

I have a tradition on Black Friday. It doesn't involve shopping (although one year I did buy a pair of Christian Louboutains. A very expensive purchase that I haven't regretted once, even though I've only worn them three times!). Unsurprisingly, it involves drinking. And my best friend. It started the way the best things do - unplanned. We went to lunch at Isaac Newton's in Newtown and had a couple of beers - including Bezelbuth, which, at almost 12% ABV, was something like the 2nd strongest beer in the world at the time. From there we moved on to the Richboro Pub, where Small Wonder was on TV. Well, that did it for us. It was officially the best drinking day ever! We knew this was something we had to replicate annually. I think I can count on one hand the number of times we haven't gotten together on Black Friday since then - and we're going back about 16 years!

This year we'll be spending the day in Philly. I think this will be our first time doing that. Mostly we've been in NYC or the Philly suburbs (we actually hired a driver to drive us around in the 'burbs last year. Hey, at least we're responsible) I'm looking forward to an incredibly good day.

Capone's in Norristown is obviously on the same pages as us. They're having their annual Black Friday beer event. Tap is 9 am, and they're running a brunch special from 10 am - 2 pm, as well as their regular menu. Feast your eyes upon this line up:

Bullfrog Old Toad "Barrel Aged Barleywine"

East End Gratitude

Victory Old Horizontal "Vintage 2006"

Bullfrog Busted Lawnmower

Bullfrog/ Bavarian Barbarian Collaboration Gothika "Schwarzbier"

Emelisse Russian Imperial Stout

Dieu du Ciel Péché Mortel Imperial Coffee Stout

Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch "Weasel"

Boulder Obivoid "On Nitrogen"

Russian River Pliny The Elder

Russian River Blind Pig

Russian River Consecration "Vintage Batch 2 "

Petrus Oak Aged Pale "Sour"

Ballast Point Sculpin

Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree "Triple IPA"

Founders Devil Dancer "Triple IPA"

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout ( KBS )

Founders Backwoods Bastard

Troegs Mad Elf "Vintage 2008"

General Lafayette Raspberry Mead Ale

Great Lakes Christmas Ale

Port Santas Little Helper

Avery Beast Grand Cru " Vintage 2009" 16.9%ABV 5.5oz pour only

Prism Red Zone ""Spiced Seasonal w/ ginger,nutmeg, allspice & maple syrup"

Spring House Kerplunk "Vintage 2009 Chocolate Stout"

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout "Vintage 2008"

Affligem Noel Christmas Ale "Vintage 2008"

Southhampton Pumpkin Ale

Terrapin Moo-Hoo Milk Chocolate Stout

Yards Brawler

I personally think this is a very good reason to skip the shopping crowds (there's always Cyber Monday to look forward to!) and start your own drinking tradition.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Beer and Holiday Dinner Pairings

I can hardly believe that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, the official start to the holiday season (although a local radio station kicked the season off on Monday, when they started playing Christmas music non-stop).

I've been reading a lot about turkey and beer pairings and have decided I'm going to bring along some beer for my holiday dinner tomorrow night. Now, my family doesn't really drink. As a matter of fact, I think they've been wondering for years where this love of beer that I have comes from. They're not exactly tee-totalers, but my mom may have a glass of wine and my dad may have a glass or two. To his credit, my dad has been trying more beers of late and often calls me when he's out with his friends to ask for my recommendation; if he can't get in touch with me, he typically falls back on his standby - Heineken (talk about wondering where the love for something comes from).

Anyway.... while you could go crazy trying to pair each different food with an appropriate beer, it makes more sense to pair the courses with a particular style to complement the foods of that course.

Appetizer
Start off with some lighter flavors. Some suggestions include Belgian lambics, like the rasberry Lindemans Framboise. You could also try a Pilsner or Lager, such as Victory Prima Pils or Brooklyn Lager. These will help stimulate the taste buds without killing them.

Main Course
Saison seems to be a good choice here. Saisons are complex. They tend to be fruity and spicy in flavor with a touch of tartness as well; this tartness helps clear the palate, which is what makes it such a nice match for the often fatty flavors of the main meal. Try Saison Duponte or Ommegang Hennepin.

Dessert
I personally could just drink a Southern Tier Pumking and call that dessert. But if you're going to actually eat yours, barleywines make a nice pairing. These are big, malty, alcohol-y beers. Try Great Divide Old Ruffian or Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale.

Of course there are many different beers that you can try and I've listed only a very few. The point is to have fun with it. Try something new - but try a beer this year! I know that's what I'll be drinking.

November 17, 2010

12% Imports & Murray Cheese at Fork and Barrel


I know I'm going to kick myself for missing this event (it can't be helped) and I don't want you to do the same. Tomorrow night Thursday, November 18th at 7 PM Fork and Barrel is presenting a rare beer and cheese pairing. Brian Ewing, Founder/President of 12 Percent Imports, will be bringing 11 new and very rare beers to be paired with 11 cheeses from Murray's in New York.


I don't know about you, but I love beer. And I love cheese. The two together are amazing. And this is sure to be an incredible event. Here's a sneak peek of just some of the beers you'll get:


* Dochter Oak-Aged Emrasse, 10% - blend of 2/3 Embrasse on cognac & 1/3 whiskey, very limited
* Emelisse Bowmore - aged Imperial Russian Stout, 12% - "probably the best beer we've ever touched", only 8 cases in the US
* Dochter Noblesse XO, 7% Belgian IPA - will be the first time pouring in the US, only 2 kegs in the US
* Hof Ten Dormal Amber - first time on draft / limited

$65 gets you in. Call Fork & Barrel at 215.848.1990 or email them at forkandbarrel@gmail.com to make your reservations.

And after, feel free to let me know the deliciousness that I missed.

November 16, 2010

Royal Tavern Sandwich Contest



Consider yourself a bit of a MacGyver (able to take a hodge podge of ingredients and create something incredible with it) when it comes to making sandwiches? If so, you won't want to miss this. One of my favorite bars in Philly, the Royal Tavern, is turning 8. To celebrate they're running a sandwich naming/stuffing contest. To enter you just need to come up with a sandwich name, ingredients, and the beer that should accompany it. Not able to get to the Royal in person? Send your entry to royalsandwichcontest@gmail.com. Winners will be up on the specials board throughout the anniversary week.

November 15, 2010

The Gravity Tap at Bridgid's opens this Saturday!


Brigid's, the original Belgian beer bar in Philly, is also home to the only gravity tap on the east coast. Not sure what a gravity tap is? In simplest terms it's an unpressurized sixtel that sits 3 stories above the bar. A tube runs through the building down to the bar where the beer comes out of the tap. Sound interesting? Want to see it in action? Then you're in luck.

The gravity tap can only be used in the colder months because of the distance the beer has to travel between the sixtel and the tap, and this Saturday, November 20th is the official opening! Tickets are being sold: $25 in advance and $35 at the door will get you unlimited pours of Yards beer from the gravity tap, $2 and $3 for any other Yards beers, and a food buffet. A very good deal, indeed!

The event runs from 2 - 4 PM. To buy your tickets online, click here.

November 7, 2010

Dave Matthews and rare beers on a Saturday night

A couple of months ago I heard the announcement from the Dave Matthews Band that they weren't going to be touring in 2011. The news disappointed me, to say the least. I've seen them on tour multiple times a year since 1996. I'm up to over 80 concerts at this point. I'd seen them play over the summer at the Susquehanna Center in Camden (seriously one of the best shows I'd seen in a long time. They played so many old songs it was like 1997 again!), but I wanted to see them one last time before their hiatus. I felt like had I known that when I saw them in July I wouldn't see them again until sometime well over a year later I might have done something differently. What that "thing" was, I had no idea but I felt like the show would have been that much more significant to me.

A brief history on my love affair with Dave and the boys. I first heard "Crash" when I was in college. I liked a few of his other songs, "Satellite" and "Ants Marching", but "Crash" caused me to obsess in ways I thought I reserved only for boys that didn't like me back. If I still had my college notebooks you'd be surprised that I managed to graduate; rather than taking notes, I sat in class writing the words to "Crash" over and over and over again. As I listened to more of his music, I realized that many of the songs weren't just good, they were amazing. I love how he can take an ordinary situation and write about it in a way most people would never think to do. I also love that many of his songs are about enjoying life now, because we're only here for a short time so we may as well "eat, drink, and be merry" - words I try to live by. Anyway, since that fateful beginning I have been a loyal Dave fan - even if I don't love everything he comes out with.

Having said that, you can imagine my joy when I heard that more tour dates were announced for 2010. A quick look confirmed that he would be coming through Philly, and I jumped on the fan club site, The Warehouse, to put in my request for tickets as soon the request period opened. A few weeks later I was rewarded with tickets for what would be my last show until he comes back around in 2012.

Last night was the show. It was great - very energetic, including an absolutely incredible "Two Step" to finish off the night. They also played "Christmas Song", which, while I'm a tad annoyed with the fact that I'm already seeing Christmas tree displays and Christmas cards, was exactly what I wanted to hear to get the season kicked off right.

Just as good, in my mind, was how the night started. A Ballast Point Dorado (so rare!) and some Cigar City Rye Porter (excellent!). It's only available at the brewery but some good friends brought some back after a recent trip to Florida.

So while I'll miss Dave and the gang next year, I look forward to the excitement and anticipation news of the 2012 tour is sure to bring. And I know that I'll have some good beers over the next many months to help get me through.

November 4, 2010

Foobooz 2010 Top 50 Bars in Philadelphia

Last year, shortly after I'd started this blog, I was asked by Foobooz to give my top 10 list of favorite bars in and around Philadelphia for a top 50 list that was being compiled. I was honored to be asked, and astounded when the list came out to see that I'd been one of the people thanked by name for their contribution. I'd only recently gotten in to the beer scene and, given the company I was in, I felt validated.

I was asked again this year for my list, and still felt the same excitement in being asked. The list is hot off the presses (just got posted a few minutes ago) and well worth a read-through. It sparked a lot of discussion in 2009 and is sure to do the same this year.

Although if you have comments I'd ask that you post them on Foobooz's site, I'm curious if you think any bars were left off that should be on and if there are any bars that you feel have no place being on the list.

Cheers!

October 25, 2010

Philly Tap Finder

If you're anything like me, there are days that you just have to have one particular beer. Maybe it's something you've read about. Maybe it's something you've heard about. Or maybe it's something you've had before and want to have again. Whatever the cause for the object of your obsession, if you live in Philadelphia, it just got a whole lot easier to find what you're looking for.

The recently-launched PhillyTapFinder helps you find your favorite brews by searching on name, bar, characteristic, or style. You can also pull up a list of bars in a particular neighborhood to view their entire draft list.

The site, brought to the lucky denizens of Philadelphia by husband-and-wife team Jared and Kristy, focuses on pre-selected craft beer bars around the city. This helps the two ensure that they can keep up with the often-changing tap handles in our beer-loving city and give beer-seekers an accurate tap list. Users of the site are encouraged to share their Tap Tips (updated draft lists, pictures of draft boards, etc) via email, text, or a form on the site. Tipsters will be rewarded with one point per update; 5 points earns you a bottle opener, while 30 points will get you a PhillyTapFinder t-shirt.

Don't worry if you're out on the go when a craving strikes; the site is browser friendly for the iPhone and BlackBerry.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy all that Philly has to offer (at least when it comes to quenching your thirst). Cheers!

October 20, 2010

Prism is brewing!


I'm excited to say that our first batch of beer - our fall seasonal, Red Zone - was brewed in the brewery almost 2 weeks ago and will be kegged this coming weekend. It's based on a red ale, and is done with pumpkin pie spices and maple syrup. I actually haven't had the chance to try it yet, but am looking forward to tasting it early next week.

We also brewed our porter last weekend. It's hopless and done with star anise. We'll be kegging that in the next couple of weeks, too.

Many good things to look forward to, and I'm excited to see more of our beers on tap. If you see our beer somewhere (or have somewhere you'd like to see it!) feel free to leave me a comment. I'd love to hear from you!

October 18, 2010

Red October

It's October and - for the past few years, at least - that means one thing here in Philly: The Phillies are looking to make it to the World Series.

Now, I'm not going to lie. I'm not the biggest sports fan out there. I don't know all the stats, or histories, or even - at times - the names of the players on the team. To be honest, I sometimes forget who we just beat in the NLDS (without looking, right now I know it's the Reds. Ask me tomorrow and I may forget again). But that doesn't mean that I don't love watching the games. I really, really do. Especially out at bars with all the other fans. I even have some key phrases I like to shout at the TV as I'm watching the games to make it sound like I know what I'm talking about: "Wait for your pitch!" "Shake it off!" "Good eye! Good eye!" (Okay, I'm not so sure about that last one, but I know I sometimes say it when a player gets walked.)

The point is this, it's a great time of year. And not just because of baseball. The weather is cooler. The leaves are really starting to put on their show. Maybe best of all - the beers are terrific. I'll always love my IPAs, but I love the heartier beers (and foods) that are making their way on to local menus.

So even if your team isn't still in the hunt, get out there and enjoy yourselves.

Cheers!

October 15, 2010

Farmhouse Ale Dinner at South Philadelphia Tap Room

This Sunday, the good folks at the South Philadelphia Tap Room are bringing you a Farmhouse Ale Dinner. Only $50 gets you all-you-can-eat (!!) dishes from Chef Scott Schroeder, Nick Marci and Sheri Wade (Southwark), and Gene Giuffi (Cochon). Even better, you get all-you-can drink (!!!) Farmhouse ales from Ommegang, Sly Fox, Saison Dupont, St. Feuillien, and more!

You can buy your tickets online, in person, or by calling 215.271.7787.

September 20, 2010

Great American Beer Fest Winners

This years Great American Beer Fest has come and gone. Based on the tweets and Facebook status updates, it seems a great time was had by everyone. To be honest, I tried to limit my exposure to these since I knew it would do nothing but cause extreme jealousy. But it's over and life is returning to normal for those that attended (which will hopefully include me next year!).

Although California and Colorado took home the majority of awards (56 and 42, respectively. I don't know about you, but I'm thinking I need to move out west!), PA breweries rounded out the top 5 list with 9 medals. Congratulations to Iron Hill, Troegs, Triumph, McKenzie Brew House, and Stoudt's for their wins! I'd like to send out an extra-special congratulations to Weyerbacher for their win in the Field Beer category (even though they were up against Prism!) with their Imperial Pumpkin. If you've never tried this beer, you really need to and not just because they won at GABF. It's one of my favorite pumpkin beers and I imagine I'm going to be seeing it on a lot more taps with this exciting win.

On a personal note, I heard that traffic to the Prism booth was steady on both days and that the beer was favorably received. Best of all, I understand that the guys from Lost Abbey and Russian River specifically came by to try our beers. They said that both were really good and that they liked what we were doing! These guys are responsible for some of my favorite beers, and knowing that they appreciate the work that the Prism brewers are doing was great to hear. Hopefully next year I'll be writing about our wins at GABF!

In the meantime, for a full list of this year's winners, click here.

September 15, 2010

Tears in Our Beers

The Great American Beer Fest (GABF) is upon us and sadly I'm not there. Last year I was really just starting to get in to the whole beer scene and so not attending didn't really affect me. This year is another story. So many of my Twitter and Facebook friends are there (or on their way) that I feel I may need to stay off of those two platforms until Monday or risk a disproportionate amount of jealousy. I mean, it's not like I can't enjoy a beer or two myself in my fair city.

To that end, some great minds on Twitter (@beerforthedaddy and @thedailypint) started discussing having a virtual toast for those of left behind on the fun happening in CO. It started off as a joke, but quickly caught on. I love the idea and plan on partaking. If you'd like to, too, here are the details:

When:
Thursday Sept. 16th at 7:30 PM EST
Saturday Sept. 18th at 8:30 PM EST

To join in, just check in on Twitter with the beer you're drinking and the hashtags #noGABF4us and #tearsinourbeerstoast.

Cheers!

August 30, 2010

Philly Beer (and beyond) Tweetup

When I started writing this blog just over a year ago, I also joined Twitter. I quickly started following - and being followed by - a number of people as interested in beer as I am. Some are homebrewers, some are sales reps, some are bloggers, others just enjoy good beer. Regardless of where their interest (and future passions) lie, we all share a common bond in our love for craft brews.

So after a few months of tweeting back and forth, a few of us decided to (gasp!) meet in person. Needless to say, it was a huge amount of fun and we quickly decided to get more people together. The first "official" Philly Beer Tweetup took place at the end of April and was a huge success. (Okay, a lot of that was personal success in that I met the person I'm now dating there). Regardless, it was a fun day at Varga Bar in Philly, and we knew it was something we wanted to do again. Unfortunately, it took us several months to pull it together, but pull it together we did (or rather, Sarah did) and this past Saturday night saw around 20 Philly beer tweeps - plus one from Florida and two from New York - at Victory Brewing in Dowingtown.

It was a great night, with many fun brews consumed and lots of good food. Most importantly, there was a lot of great conversation - both beer and non-beer related. (For instance, I learned about the free (!) MapQuest app for my iPhone that saved me money on having to go out and buy a GPS unit for my car. Yes, the Maps app that comes with the phone is great, but the MapQuest app talks to you. Much easier than reading directions).

However, I digress.

There are a lot of fun pictures from the night, some of which are here and others that can be found at our resident photographer, Stephen's, Picasa Gallery. And then there's this cool video that Mike shot by putting his camera on the giant Lazy Susan in the center of our table. If you go to Victory and are at the Brewer's Table (as we were) I highly suggest you shoot a video like this yourself.

I'm definitely looking forward to another fun night with this great group of people - and others that I have yet to meet - soon!

August 17, 2010

My 10 in '10 - an update

I was thinking the other day that we're half way through August. Which means we're over half way through the year. I remember a bright-eyed blogger with the same name as me who wrote her resolutions for the new year in early January. I remember her saying she believed in the power of words, and wanting to make sure there was a chance she would accomplish all that she set out to do before she put it down in writing.

Alas, we're half way through the year and I can say that pretty sure I'm not quite half way through those resolutions. There's one that I'm just not going to be able to accomplish (I ran Broad Street, but most definitely did not set a PR). So I'm going to take a quick stock and see what I think I can do - and what I have done - before the end of the year.

Let's take a quick look at what I said I was going to do, and after, I'll write the chances of it happening:

1. Shoot some webcasts and post them: Okay, I don't have a video camera but I'm sure I have a friend or friends that do that would let me borrow one. There's a chance I'll get this done.

2. Blog more consistently: Since my typical lag between posts has been averaging about a month, I'm going to say that up until now I've fallen extremely short of this goal. But I can do better between now and the end of the year.

3. Volunteer: Well, I did do one day of volunteering. I helped out with the Reading Olympics. And I was very hung over when I did so. I give myself extra credit for that. However, there's more volunteering that could happen before the end of the year.

4. Travel: This one isn't looking so good. I'm hoping I can squeeze a trip in before the end of the year, but so far the farthest I've been from Philly since the new year is Jersey and that's just not the cool destination I had in mind (sorry, Jersey-ans!).

5. Take more advantage of what Philly has to offer: I feel pretty good about this one. I've been to the museum twice. I've gone to places I hadn't previously been to (and not just bars). I've participated in events I hadn't participated in before. Yes, I feel good about this one.

6. Learn how to do more with my Mac: Um, definitely not doing well with this one. But I'm confident I can do something - make a video or learn PhotoShop, something! - before 2011.

7. Spend more time with family and friends: Hmm. I think this one is going pretty well. I've been trying to not spend as much time on my phone when I'm out with friends, but I can say that having recently bought the iPhone (after having a BlackBerry for so many years) is not going to make this one any easier.

8. Run a 1/2 marathon and Broad Street and set a PR in both: As mentioned above, I ran Broad Street but didn't do well at all. There were extenuating circumstances that kept me from training as much as I should have, so we'll just leave it at that. Not sure if I'll get a 1/2 marathon in, but I'm hoping.

9. Try new beers: Yes, I've done this! Just recently I tried a strong ale that I was sure I was going to hate and realized I actually really, really liked it. I've also tried a couple of sours that have confirmed I don't quite like those. During Philly Beer Week I tried a number of Belgian beers that were quite delicious. And I'm sure I'm not done trying new ones quite yet.

10. Figure out what I can do in the beer industry: Well, I've got this one done! I even wrote "Work for a brewery?" and that's exactly what I'm doing. Plus I'm writing for some beer-related sites in addition to writing here.

Okay, so maybe I'm not in as bad a position as I thought I was . Still, it makes me feel good to go back and assess where I am and what I need to do for the rest of the year to make me feel like 2010 turned out the way I wanted it to when it was just starting.

July 27, 2010

Founders Devil Dancer


A beer review. It's only been - what? Two months or so since I wrote one? The thing is, I've said this before. I'm not so much reviewing beers as I am writing about their tastes. So if you haven't tried a beer and are wondering what it tastes like, you could easily check my blog and see. Of course I'm saying all this in justification of writing about a beer other than the ones I'm selling. It may sound defensive, but it's actually just explanation.

Founders is one of my favorite breweries. I really like the beers of theirs that I've had. Recently someone told me I had to try the Devil Dancer. It's a triple IPA, and it came so highly recommended that as soon as I saw it was available at Hawthorne's, I was there buying a bottle.

The pour is a amber orange. The smell is that of hops - piney and citrusy - which shouldn't be surprising given that it's dry-hopped with 10 hop varieties for 26 days. There are undertones of alcohol, as well, and some sweetness. What came through for me in the taste was a lot of the alcohol (the ABV is 12%, after all) and I think that's why I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have liked. I've had other big beers that don't taste as boozy as this one does. Although the taste was overwhelmingly that of alcohol, I also got some malt sweetness. It just didn't seem to balance it out as much as some other beers I've had.
This is definitely a bitter beer. While I usually don't mind bitterness, that, along with the big alcohol bite, resulted in my not enjoying it as much as I have other Founders beers I've had.

Devil Dancer is a seasonal beer. I may not consider it one of my go-to beers, but I've heard so much about it recently I knew it was something I wanted to try. A lot of other people really like this beer (see above: it came highly recommended) and you may want to grab a pint (or bottle) if you see it while you're out.

July 23, 2010

I'm a beer rep!

Sigh. I feel somewhat defeated when I sign in here and see how long it's been since I've posted anything. Over a month? There's just no excuse. But I'll make excuses anyway. Part of the reason is that I'm lazy (and honest!). Part is that I've been thinking I want to change up what I write about. Still write about beer (of course!) but in a different way. And I guess that's where I've been getting hung up.

Regardless, I'm writing right now with some great news. When I left my job as a marketing director back in the fall - 10 long months ago - I said I wanted to work in the beer industry. I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do, but had an idea I would like to be a rep for a brewery. I started going out (well, I continued going out) and making friends with the people who worked in the industry. I didn't do it to get a job - I did it because they're cool people and I enjoyed hanging out with them. And, of course, I hoped that one day an opportunity would present itself.

That day came a couple of weeks ago. A guy, Rob DeMaria, that I met at an event at the Grey Lodge Pub in February who is opening a new brewery based out of Lansdale contacted me because he was looking for a sales rep. We met a couple of times, talked about the opportunity, and I decided it was the right choice for me. I am officially the first sales person for Prism Beer, and (I believe) the first employee! I'm so super excited about this. It's what I've been saying I wanted to do for months. The beer is really good. And I get to spend my days talking about something I really do enjoy. As they say, do something you love and you'll never work a day again in your life. So here's to me not ever working again.

June 12, 2010

Philly Beer Week 2010 - Days 5 - 8

Beer Week is drawing to a close, although there are still 2 good days left. What a week it's been! Yesterday was one of the best for me, but I'll get there in a minute.

After staying in Monday night, I was ready to go again on Tuesday. I started with a great event at Smokin' Bettys - Broads & Brews. It featured women owners and brewers from Stoudt's, Dock Street, Flying Fish, and Philadelphia Brewing Company. It was really interesting to meet all these great women, drink their beer (of course), and be able to talk to them about their start in the business.

From there I went to Zavino's Wine Bar (where they also serve beer). Although not part of PBW, I did drink some Dogfish Head. Ended the night at Varga Bar. I know I said before I'd write down all the beers that I had so I could correctly identify them, but I didn't do that at Varga and I honestly can't remember what I drank. I can, however, remember what I sang - a very mumbled version of "Wonderwall" and a very good version of "The Scientist". Suffice it to say it was a very fun night.

Wednesday was pretty devoid of any PBW festivities. I went to a BYO for dinner and had a Sierra Nevada Torpedo. After dinner went to McGillin's, which was the ending point for a bar crawl with local brewers that had been going on. I hadn't gone on the bar crawl, but was glad enough to be there when we were able to get pitchers of the Flying Fish Exit 6 (easily one of the favorite beers I got to try earlier in the week). Was there for the Flyers game, which while a great game, ultimately ended in a Flyers loss and the end of their Stanley Cup run. Still, made for a good evening.

I took Thursday off. Needed time to recharge my batteries. It was well worth it when I was able to go for a run Friday morning and get an early start.

As I mentioned earlier, Friday was a great day and I got to try some really different beers. I went to Monk's for their Belgian brewers lunch. I tried the St. Bernardus Abt 12, Abbaye Val-Dieu Grand Cru, and Brasserie des Rocs Grand Cru. All very different than what I typically drink and all very good. It was really interesting to meet the brewers, too. I love everyone from Belgium that I've met and it makes me more anxious to get there ASAP.

From Monk's, I went to Jose Pistolas for their Weyerbacher lunch (having not eaten at Monk's, it was time for some food). I had the Weyerbacher Verboten (loved!) and the Saison.

After I had my fill of chips and tacos, I headed over to Hawthorne's for a Brewdog meet-the-brewer event. What an event it turned out to be! I got to try two of the most extreme beers out there - the Tactical Nautical Penguin, which comes in at a whopping 32% ABV and the Sink the Bismarck, which comes in at... wait for it... 41% ABV!! I think this may be the strongest beer in the world. I only had a taste of each, but believe me, that's all I needed. I got to also try the Tokyo, which seemed fairly tame at just 18.2%, and the Punk IPA, whose 6% ABV hardly seems worth mentioning. Incredible beers from an incredible brewer.

The day didn't end there. Up next was Supper. Not a PBW event, but great happy hour specials got my attention. 1/2 priced apps (selected ones) and a 1/2 priced featured beer, which yesterday was the SlyFox Pikeland Pils. After a couple of those, headed over to Good Dog, where there was a kick-the-firkin (I think it was a firkin) competition being held. It was a SlyFox bitter vs. a Southampton beer (I don't remember which it was since I didn't have one, but I think that was a bitter as well). I believe my friend got the last SlyFox pour, handing them the win.

Whew! What a Friday! Actually, I wound up going to Continental after for some food, and then my night was officially over.

On tap today? Devil's Den at noon for the Franziskaner/Spaten lunch. Then off to watch the USA in the World Cup. Not sure what - if anything - will come after that, but it's a beautiful day here in Philly and I can only imagine fun times ahead.

June 7, 2010

Philly Beer Week 2010 - so far


Philly Beer Week kicked off last Friday. The name is a bit misleading in that it's actually 13 days, which only makes it better in my mind.
I've been looking forward to this week for a while now. Last year Beer Week was in March, and I was just getting in to beer so didn't make it to many events. I actually think I only went to one or two. I also know I wasn't trying anything new and exciting.

Not so this year. I went to Opening Tap, which is where the picture is from. Unfortunately I got there late, so missed the actual ceremonial tapping with the Hammer of Glory that I'm holding in my hand in the picture. Maybe next year. I had a great time walking around trying a bunch of beers from local brewers. Saturday saw me at Varga Bar for their block party. I was drinking Great Lakes Holy Moses White Ale and Oskar Blues Gordon. I have to admit there were numerous other bars - and beers - after Varga, but because I didn't write the beers down, I don't know what they were.
*embarrassed* but that's just the way it goes sometimes.

Sunday I went to Tria where I had Hoevebrouwers Koekelaring. I'd never heard of it, and certainly can't pronounce it, but damn it was good! Best part was I got to talk with the brewers, a husband and wife team who brew in their home (the picture on the front of the Koekelaring is of their house). Super friendly and definitely know what they're doing when it comes to brewing beer.

From Tria I went to Good Dog for some Magic Hat Blind Faith, which was quite good. I ended the night at City Tap House with Deschutes. It was the first time Deschutes was available in Philadelphia, and the Hop Henge and Mirror Pond Pale Ale were both fantastic. Really looking forward to more of these beers in our area.

Tonight is Monday, and I'm taking a break. There are around 1,000 events taking place over the 13 days and I knew there was no way I would come close to making them all. Obviously. I'll be hitting up a few more tomorrow and will update the blog towards the end of the week with all the fabulous brews I got to try (since I'll be writing them down from here on out).

May 4, 2010

Founders Nemesis


I know, I know. It's been over a month since my last post. I don't even have a good excuse. Because believe me, I've been drinking plenty of good beers. Right now I'm at home, watching one of my favorite shows (Golden Girls. And if you haven't heard, Betty White is hosting SNL this Saturday. You better believe I'll be watching!), and drinking a Founders Nemesis. I'm having such a good night I wanted to write about it. So here I am.

I picked up the Nemesis a couple of months ago. I knew it was a rare find. Here's why: it's part of a limited-release beer series, of which the 2009 release is the first. Each year's release will be limited, and in whichever style head brewer Jeremy Kosmicki chooses.

The 2009 Nemesis is a maple bourbon barrel aged wheat wine. It comes in at 12% ABV (good thing I'm just having this one). The beer was aged for 9 months in barrels that were in the brewery's storage space 80 feet underground in a gypsum mine.

I have to say when I read the description I wasn't sure I would like it (maybe why I've waited so long to try it?), but it's far exceeded my expectations, and is only getting better as it's getting warmer.
The pour is a nice, hazy orange. The smell is of bourbon, maple, caramel, and vanilla. There's some fruitiness, and a lot of booze, which had me worried. I should have known better than to worry, though. Founders knows what they're doing, and I've never tasted a beer of theirs that I didn't like. Nemesis proves no different. The taste is smooth - a touch of bitterness, and a nice sweet, fruit taste as well. The alcohol is present in a burning sensation, but isn't overwhelming at all. As with the nose, maple and caramel are in there, too.

Overall I think this is a complex beer. It's a sipper, but a sipper that I want to more than sip. It's really, really smooth and delicious. It may not be to everyone's taste. Believe me, I get that. But I have to say I already can't wait to taste the 2010 release.

March 19, 2010

Port Brewing Wipeout IPA


If someone were to ask me my definition of heaven, right now I'd say I'm living it. It's an absolutely gorgeous Friday afternoon. I'm watching the basketball games on TV (even though I'm not doing quite as well in my pool as I would like) and I'm going to write about an incredible beer I had the other night. Plus, I have plans tonight that include a pedicure and then meeting the head brewer of one of my favorite breweries, Ballast Point. Do Fridays get better than this??

That all being said, let's get to the focus of this post - the Port Brewing Wipeout IPA. For those of you living in the Philly area, you've probably heard that Dave Ansill is now the executive chef at Ladder 15. If that weren't enough to make you run right over there, they also just relaunched their beer menu and have some incredible craft brews both on tap and by the bottle. It was at the launch party of this new menu that I got to try the Wipeout.

Wipeout IPA is everything that I love in an IPA. The pour is a golden orange. The smell is perfect with the hops (citrusy, piney) coming through strongest and some slightly sweet malts in the background. The taste is wonderful! It starts off a little bitter, but not overwhelmingly so. It's a great balance between the hoppy tastes (so, so good) and malt, making it very drinkable. The relatively low - 7% ABV - adds to the drinkability. I think this is a good IPA for someone who is wary of extreme bitterness to try (although one guy I was talking to that tasted it found it to be too hoppy. I should point out that his choice of beer that night was a Corona so maybe he's not the best person to use as a point of reference. In his defense - in case he reads this! - I got him to try a Left Hand Polestar Pilsner and he loved it.).

While not exactly a grail beer like Pliny the Younger was, this is a beer I've been excited to try and it didn't disappoint. Definitely looking forward to lots more of it!

March 17, 2010

Hello again

I knew it had been a while since I'd posted, but seeing that it's been over two weeks makes me feel a bit ashamed. However, I think there comes a point in everyone's life where they (should) take some time to assess where they're at and where they're going. I did this back in the summer, when I made the decision to leave my job because I was so unhappy. And I did it a couple of weeks ago when I realized just how often I was going out and how often I was drinking. I guess that's one of the dangers of writing about beer!

I've always been a big drinker, ever since I had my first taste of beer back in college (and it was Natty Light! Eww!). Over the years, the drink - and quality - may have changed, but the quantity really hasn't. It's not something that I'm alone in struggling with - I've talked to others who write about beer who admit that at times it's overwhelming, especially living in Philly. There are so many beer events going on nightly, and there are so many great beers we want to try. Even Lew Bryson recently said on Facebook that he was "writing a column about how folks who drink craft beer are not immune to drinking too much of it...and thinking about what we can do about it". This wall post sparked a number of comments, so I guess it really is something people think about. (I'm interested in reading the article when it comes out.)

I didn't become a teetotaler for those couple of weeks, but I did stop going out nightly and tried to only go out once or twice a week. I also skipped a number of beer events I really wanted to go to (it helped that I had a stomach bug for a weekend, so had to miss some events). I have to say, I feel better about things than I did a couple of weeks ago and am ready to go out again.

I'm not saying this to be preachy. Everyone has different feelings about how much is too much. I'd just gotten to a point where I felt I was drinking too much too often. I'm proud to say I went out last night - to a craft beer menu launch at a restaurant - and had 3 beers in about 3 hours. I went out Saturday night and had 3.5 beers over 4 hours. Those are really good numbers for me, and ones I hope to continue with.

Sorry that my first post in a couple of weeks is about something that some people may not want to read about. But I wanted to be honest about why I'd been away, and what my thoughts have been. It's ironic that I'm posting this on St. Patty's Day, a day that I've typically devoted to drinking and celebrating my non-Irishness. I'll still be going out tonight and celebrating. It will just be with a couple of less beers than I've celebrated with in the past.

Slainte!

PS. Tomorrow I get back to beer reviews. I had the Port Brewing Wipeout last night, loved it, and can't wait to write about it!



March 2, 2010

Pliny the Younger


Since getting in to craft beer over the past year, there are some beers that I constantly hear about. Pliny the Younger is one of them. It started over the summer when I wrote about Pliny the Elder. I received comments that if I liked Elder I had to search out the Younger. At the time I didn't realize just how rare Younger is. Actually, I never really gave much thought to the distribution or availability of any beer since those I was used to drinking (Miller Lite, Amstel Lite, etc) were available anywhere, anytime. I'm much smarter about things now.

Anyway, yesterday was a banner day for this beer drinker. Philly has been lucky enough to receive a number of kegs of the Younger. I know it's been tapped at a couple of places, and it kicks within minutes. I learned that a keg was going to be tapped at 11:30 Monday morning at Monk's Cafe. I'd heard that there would be a line, but I figured it was a Monday morning, people had to work, it wouldn't be too bad. Work seemed to be an afterthought for the folks who were lined up by the time I got there, a little after 11 am. The line wasn't too bad, though, and the doors opened promptly at 11:30. People piled in to the small front bar. It was packed, but the crowd was composed. All waited patiently for their chance to order a beer. And patience paid off when I was handed my first (and what would be my only) glass of the elusive Younger.

I was a bit worried that the beer wouldn't live up to my expectations. After all, this is the top-rated beer in the world! I'm happy to say it was all that I hoped it would be and more, starting with the pour. A beautiful golden, amber. And the smell - ah, the smell. An amazing hop smell that had me sniffing over and over again. Citrus, pine, it was all there. And the taste followed. Grapefruit, pine, and some sweet malt coming through to balance it all out. This is a big beer (11% ABV) but it is so well balanced that it's extremely drinkable - almost dangerously so. Funny side note, I was talking to a guy standing next to me and asked what he thought the ABV was. His answer? "Probably about 5 or 6%". I almost laughed out loud. Maybe I did laugh out loud. Really? A sessionable DIPA? Ha!

I was about 1/2 way through my beer when word went 'round the bar that the keg had kicked (about 30 to 40 minutes after it was tapped). I didn't think I was going to have another one (it was, after all, such a big beer) and I was so glad that I'd gotten my first taste. There are other events featuring the Younger throughout the next few weeks, so I'm hopeful to get another taste before it's all gone.

Another interesting note - it wasn't just the Younger that was tapped that morning, and that wasn't the only beer that brought the crowd. There was also Supplication, Temptation, and Consecration (barrel-aged sours) that had people swooning, and those all kicked before the Blind Pig or Pliny the Elder, which was fine with me since I had a Blind Pig to follow up the Younger. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Russian River does no wrong!

February 26, 2010

Three Sheets to the Wind

Luckily, that title doesn't describe how I got last night. Rather, it was a celebration of Ballast Point beers at Sidecar Bar (and is also the name of Ballast Point's barleywine).

Regular readers of my blog know how much I love Ballast Point. Big Eye, Sculpin, Dorado - some of my favorite beers. Last night I got to try a few others, including the Three Sheets, Victory at Sea, and Sea Monster. I also had some great food: fish fry (I forgot how much I loved fried shrimp), mahi mahi tacos, and a margherita pizza. Sounds like I ate a ton, but all were shared around the table.

Three Sheets to the Wind is a barleywine, but it tasted unlike any other barleywine I've had before. It actually tasted more like an IPA. It had a very bitter finish. The other barleywines I've had have been much sweeter, more fruity. This was good, just not what I was expecting.

Victory at Sea is a coffee vanilla imperial porter. It's 10% but doesn't really taste that strong due to the nice balance between roasty coffee tastes, vanilla, and caramel malts. I really liked this one.

The Sea Monster Stout is (duh) a stout. A really, really good stout. Nice, thick, chocolatey, roasty goodness. I actually have a 22 oz bottle of this just waiting for me to drink it at home. Today would be a perfect day for it - snow on the ground, some snow still falling.

Sidecar Bar has a lot of great events coming up, so be sure to check out their site.

February 25, 2010

Port Brewing Shark Attack Double Red Ale

Monday night was a good one at Memphis Taproom. Tomme Arther, head brewer at Port Brewing and Lost Abbey was on site. Sadly, I didn't get to meet him (it was packed and he was swarmed) but I did get to try a couple of great beers.

I had the Lost Abbey Carnavale, but literally only a taste. It was really delicious - a saison ale that was slightly spicy, slightly citrusy. I need to find it so I can have a real drink of it. I also had a taste of the Port Brewing Mongo, a double IPA that was quite good.

The beer I decided to focus on that night was the Port Brewing Shark Attack Double Red Ale. It poured a deep, dark red. The smell was nice and hoppy, but mixed with some sweet malt as well. The taste was sweet from the malts without much of a hop bite. There was also the taste of some dried fruit, and it wasn't overly bitter. It's a pretty drinkable big beer - 9% ABV - but the alcohol does come through a bit more when the beer warms, making it somewhat less enjoyable (unless you like that big alcohol taste). I think this is one worth trying.

I would like to point out that the other two Lost Abbey/Port Brewing beers I've had were not really to my liking, so I'm excited to find and write about the Carnavale. I'd also like to get my hands on some Wipeout IPA and Hop 15, because I've heard nothing but good things about both.

February 20, 2010

To remain a vegetarian or not, that is the question


This post is not beer related. Well, it's somewhat related to beer. You'll see what I mean.

I've been a vegetarian for almost 6 years. I guess pescatarian, or vegaquarian, since I do eat fish. Lots of fish. I don't eat meat - no chicken, no turkey, no pork, beef, duck, rabbit. I don't drink milk, but I do eat cheese and on occasion, ice cream. I'm a selective vegetarian, I guess.

I choose to eat this way because I've never been a huge fan of meat. One of my earliest memories is of me spitting my meat in to my napkin at dinner because I didn't want to eat it. When I finally was old enough to make decisions about what I was going to eat, I stopped eating red meat and pork, but continued with chicken and turkey. Then a few years back I decided to do the Atkins diet and jumped back on the meat wagon in a big way. I ate meat at every meal and little to no carbs. That didn't last very long. I read a book - Skinny Bitch - that opened my eyes to the way animals were treated prior to being slaughtered, and that was it. I was back to not eating meat, only this time I threw turkey and chicken in there with pork and beef.

Here I am 6 years later. Over the years I've eaten a piece (bite) of steak here and there. But lately I've been feeling this urge for a burger. Or a whole steak. I feel like as I'm expanding my palette through my love of craft beers and good wines, I'm missing out on some really wonderful tastes. I'm not talking about things like McDonald's hamburgers (which I can say I've never eaten) or Kentucky Fried Chicken. I'm talking about delicacies. Great burgers (which there is no lack of in Philly). Rare steaks. Maybe try some pork belly. Or quail. Even rabbit. The other day at lunch I had half a trotter - yes, a deep fried pig foot. It was good, even though I felt a bit guilty as I ate it. I also had some braised short rib that I thought was fantastic.

My resolve is wavering. I've felt good over the past few years proclaiming myself a vegaquarian. But now I think I'm ready to proclaim myself a food adventurer, willing and wanting to try new things. At least in small portions.

February 16, 2010

Eisenbahn Defumada


Was meeting a friend for lunch at Chifa today. We were supposed to meet at noon. I got there just before then, at just about the same time I got a text from her saying that she had to push it back to 12:15. Since I was already there, I decided to go in and have myself a drink. I don't always drink at noon on a weekday, but I justified it with thoughts of Mardi Gras (which made me think of when I actually would to go out drinking all day on Mardi Gras and some of the crazy, crazy times I've had. But that's another post. For another blog. That I would only write anonymously.)

Anyway, I decided to try something completely different (for me) - a smoked lager. It was called Eisenbahn Defumada, but some research shows that it also goes by Eisenbahn Rauchbier. It's brewed by Cervejaria Sudbrack Ltda in Brazil. No matter it's name, it was a tasty beer.

It poured a dark, clear amber. "Rauch" is German for "smoke" and the smoke was evident in the smell, but wasn't overpowering. Malty sweetness was there, too. The taste wasn't surprising given the smell - there were smoked flavors, and sweet caramel malt. It was very crisp. And it has a low ABV - 6.3%. I can't say I loved it, but I'm really not a huge fan of lagers. However, I found this to be more drinkable than other lagers, I think because the smokiness made it a little more interesting than the lagers I'm used to drinking.

February 12, 2010

A Beer Brainstorm - Left Hand Fade to Black


Last week I posted a guest review from fellow beer blogger Josh who writes at LostintheBeerAisle.com. He mentioned that he'd previously done a "beer-brainstorm" with another beer blogger, and it sounded fun to me. So we chose a beer, a date, and a time. Last night it all came together and below is the repost of what Josh put on his site from our session. As Josh so rightfully points out, this was a hell of a lot more fun than drinking/reviewing alone - thank you, Josh!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Left Hand Fade to Black

Tonight I'm posting my second ever chat-based beer brainstorm. Tonight my co-reviewer is Helene, which you may recall runs PhillyBeerGirl.blogspot.com. Doing this kind of review is 100 times more fun than drinking and reviewing alone! Many thanks to Helene!!!

PhillyBeerGirl: hey
@Lost_in_Beer: Howdy
@Lost_in_Beer: Have you warmed the beer at all?
PhillyBeerGirl: I didn't really - I grabbed it out of the fridge just about 5 minutes or so ago
PhillyBeerGirl: how about you?
@Lost_in_Beer: only a few minutes more...maybe 10-15
@Lost_in_Beer: I've never had this before...have you?
PhillyBeerGirl: Nope - I'm excited though, because people seem to really love it
PhillyBeerGirl: What do you get when you smell it?
PhillyBeerGirl: I'm getting coffee, toffee, maybe some caramel
@Lost_in_Beer: I've got a crazy confession about the aroma
@Lost_in_Beer: The last two beers I've had were toffee flavored. Both times (this one included) I smell olives
@Lost_in_Beer: It's creepy
@Lost_in_Beer: I'm 99% sure that my nose interprets toffee oddly
PhillyBeerGirl: Are you smelling the burnt smell, too?
@Lost_in_Beer: Nope, none of that action
@Lost_in_Beer: i think I'm picking up the coffee aroma you mentioned though
@Lost_in_Beer: Much head on your pour?
PhillyBeerGirl: No, not really
PhillyBeerGirl: Yours?
@Lost_in_Beer: Ditto
@Lost_in_Beer: Not even 1 finger
@Lost_in_Beer: The pour was a little syrupy looking
PhillyBeerGirl: I completely agree - was thinking the same thing when I poured it
PhillyBeerGirl: Although now that it's been sitting in my glass for a few minutes, it doesn't look as thick as I'd originally thought
@Lost_in_Beer: I just tasted this puppy though
PhillyBeerGirl: Okay, I'm going in for the taste now
@Lost_in_Beer: Totally coffee
PhillyBeerGirl: Oh yeah, but some sweetness, too
PhillyBeerGirl: And definitely bitter
@Lost_in_Beer: yeah, interesting mix of bitter & sweet. Initially I think it's fairly well balanced
PhillyBeerGirl: I think so, too
@Lost_in_Beer: And although I didn't get burnt smell, I do think it's definitely smokey tasting
PhillyBeerGirl: It's a pretty strong beer - 8.5% - and I think you can taste some of that
PhillyBeerGirl: Not overwhelmingly - but maybe just a hint of it like a little alcohol at the end
@Lost_in_Beer: Thus far, you think it meets the hype you heard?
PhillyBeerGirl: I do think it lives up to the hype
PhillyBeerGirl: It's really drinkable and like you said nicely balanced between bitter and sweet
PhillyBeerGirl: Getting anything more as the beer warms a bit?
@Lost_in_Beer: I was about to say that the character isn't changing much
@Lost_in_Beer: Which honestly surprises me with a beer this dark
@Lost_in_Beer: not complaining....
PhillyBeerGirl: I feel like I'm getting some fruit flavors - maybe plum?
@Lost_in_Beer: Could be some dark fruit in there. If anything the beer gets slightly sweeter as it warms.
@Lost_in_Beer: Your opinion on carbonation / mouth feel?
PhillyBeerGirl: Yeah, maybe a little less bitter
PhillyBeerGirl: Not too heavily carbonated
@Lost_in_Beer: agreed
PhillyBeerGirl: But definitely not flat
@Lost_in_Beer: Yeah...not as syrupy as the pour appeared
PhillyBeerGirl: Yes! Like I said, when I first started to pour I thought it was going to be very syrupy
PhillyBeerGirl: And then seeing it in the glass and tasting it - it doesn't really go with what I thought I'd get from that first pour
@Lost_in_Beer: Have you ever had a super flat, thick beer?
PhillyBeerGirl: Um, I don't think I have
PhillyBeerGirl: I don't know that I'd really like that
@Lost_in_Beer: I had one once. I think it was Sam Adams Triple Bock.
@Lost_in_Beer: Straight down the drain
PhillyBeerGirl: It was that good, huh?
@Lost_in_Beer: hehe
@Lost_in_Beer: Tasted like it looked: black sludge
@Lost_in_Beer: Nothing like this beer :)
PhillyBeerGirl: Do you like beers that are bourbon-barrel aged?
@Lost_in_Beer: HELL YES
PhillyBeerGirl: You should try Port Brewing Older Viscosity
PhillyBeerGirl: Or Lost Abbey Angel Share
PhillyBeerGirl: You'd probably love them both
@Lost_in_Beer: I'll add them to my shopping list on the site
@Lost_in_Beer: See if I can get them here
@Lost_in_Beer: Any final thoughts on the Fade to Black?
PhillyBeerGirl: I would definitely buy it again and recommend it
PhillyBeerGirl: I think it's a solid brew
@Lost_in_Beer: Ditto
@Lost_in_Beer: Dark roasted malts and coffee deliciousness
@Lost_in_Beer: Perfectly balanced
@Lost_in_Beer: That's how I would sum it up
PhillyBeerGirl: We're in agreement then
PhillyBeerGirl: This was really fun!
@Lost_in_Beer: I love doing these
@Lost_in_Beer: So much more fun then drinking alone
PhillyBeerGirl: Totally agreed on that, too!
@Lost_in_Beer: Tonight I would have been stuck watching Oprah with the wife while reviewing :)
PhillyBeerGirl: haha - I'm glad I could save you from that (although I do love me some Oprah!)
@Lost_in_Beer: I'll be honest...it isn't that bad
@Lost_in_Beer: Unless it's one of those sappy-make-you-cry shows
@Lost_in_Beer: Then I tap out...
@Lost_in_Beer: (mostly because I'm a sap and I cry b/c of that stuff)
@Lost_in_Beer: LOL
PhillyBeerGirl: make sure you leave that in when you post this
@Lost_in_Beer: hehe...maybe
@Lost_in_Beer: Anyhow...I should eat before I end up in a booze coma on the couch
@Lost_in_Beer: Thanks again for doing this
PhillyBeerGirl: Have a great night! And thanks!
@Lost_in_Beer: Have a good evening Helene

February 9, 2010

Cane and Ebel Rye Beer


Wanted to try something different the other night. I saw the Cane and Ebel Rye beer on the menu and figured that fit the bill (plus it came strongly recommended by the bartender). The beer is brewed by Two Brothers Brewing, in Warrenville, IL and was described as being brewed with rye and Thai palm sugar. Sounded good to me!

And good it definitely was. It was actually beyond just good - pretty damn great, if you must know. I could tell from the smell alone I would like it. It had that citrusy smell I love so well, as well as some spicy rye. The taste is delicious - rye spiciness balanced by grapefruit and orange from the hops. It's full-flavored and wonderful. It's a bit of a bigger beer - 7% ABV - but it's so smooth you'll never know it.

I seem to be a fan of the rye beers. I've had the Founders Reds Rye and these both are topping my list of favorites. Now I want to try more. I think I've mentioned before that some of my friends find the bitterness of the IPAs that I love so well to be too much. I think these rye beers are the perfect answer - they provide that hoppy taste (and some moderate bitterness) but are smoothed out well by the spicy/graininess of the rye. Definitely a must try!

February 7, 2010

Snowpocalypse Bar Crawl



Yesterday was another big storm in Philly. Total snowfall amount in the city? 28.5 inches! That's just crazy.

Had a really fun afternoon, as my followers/friends on Twitter/Facebook know. I've started using foursquare to "check in" when I go places and the updates are sent to those two sites. I looked at my facebook page today and have to admit, it was somewhat obnoxious! Between the hours of 2 pm and 12 am I went to the Royal Tavern, Tria, Good Dog, Jose Pistolas, Bar, McGillins, and finally Varga Bar. Got around by walking, which is some good mileage. Especially in the snow. I guess that's why my legs hurt as bad as they did this morning!

I love the city during a snowstorm. First, there are almost no cars on the road. It's so quiet and peaceful, especially when the snow is still coming down. Everyone walks in the middle of the street, and it really looks like a scene from a movie where we're the only survivors of some horrific event (think zombie or alient attack). And everyone is so friendly! I had the same experience in December during another storm (a mere 23.2 inch snowfall with that one). Something about weather disasters that makes us all like each other, I guess.

Got to experience some great beers yesterday, too. I won't list them all (mostly because I don't want to recount all that I drank) but really enjoyed the Dogfish Head World Wide Stout (nice, big 18% beer that didn't really taste that big), Stone IPA, and the Southern Tier Chocolate Stout.

It was a fun day spent having a great time with great friends! Now you'll excuse me while I try to dig my car out from under all this mess.

February 6, 2010

Intercourse Blue Ball Porter


Okay, let's get the elephant in the room out of the way - the name of the brewery (Intercourse) and the beer (Blue Ball Porter). Those not living in the Philadelphia area may not be aware that there is a town out in "Amish country" called Intercourse. Blue Ball, Bird-in-Hand, and Paradise are other nearby towns - and Paradise Pale Ale is another beer in Intercourse's line up.

Since we're in the midst of another major snowstorm (as of 12:45 pm there is close to 20" on the ground, maybe even more?) I thought I'd try the porter rather than the Pale Ale. I'll save that for another day.

I like this porter. Other people may feel differently, because there is the taste of blueberries mixed with the smokiness that you'd expect in a porter. For me it works. It pours a deep, dark brown. You definitely get the smoky malts in the smell, as well as the hint of blueberries. The taste is the same - smoke flavors mixed with some sweet from the blueberries. I don't usually like fruit-flavored beers, but I guess that the smokiness balances it out, making it drinkable to me. It's low ABV - 5.2% - adds to its drinkability.

Intercourse is a newish brewery, started in June 2008. Originally the plan was to brew in Intercourse but it turns out that's a dry town (the 12-year old boy I never was has some things he'd like to say about that) so the beers are being brewed in Wilkes Barre. Distribution is limited to Philly and the surrounding areas for now, so it will likely be hard for those not in the area to find one. However, if you do, I think it's worth giving it a try.

February 3, 2010

St. Peter's Organic English Ale - a guest review


As I mentioned last week, I provided a guest review at www.lostinthebeeraisle. If you missed it, you can read it here. This week, Josh from Lost guest reviews for me. This is the first guest reviewer I've had, and I'm looking forward to doing this more. Read on for Josh's review.

Josh (a.k.a. Lost) from the state of Massachusetts is the author of LostintheBeerAisle.com. Although he’s enjoyed craft beer for a number of years, he only recently got serious about drinking and reviewing beer as a hobby. Josh created LostintheBeerAisle with the intent of creating an unintimidating and welcoming place for craft beer fans of all knowledge levels to come and discuss beer.

As I start this review of St. Peter’s Organic English Ale, I have to reflect on how good life has been lately. A new position at work. A raise. My MBA class is going well. Seats are filling up for the Boston Craft Beer tweetup that I’m planning, and I’ve already secured some excellent door prizes. LostintheBeerAisle has been very blessed with a recent influx of guest reviews, and finally, this week has marked the first time I’ve been asked to do a guest review for someone else’s site! Many thanks to Helene for inviting me to post on her blog.

I’ve had tonight’s beer in my fridge for a number of weeks. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to crack it open. For whatever reason, tonight seemed like the right time. St. Peters is out of Suffolk, Eastern England. This is the first time I’ve tried any of their beers.
The beer is a straight-up amber color. It poured with minimal head: 1 finger at best. Zilch in the lacing department. Given the dry air, my sniffer is still fairly dysfunctional. What I do pick up is some malty sweetness.

I let the beer warm up for a good 15 minutes. In part because I was booting up the PC and taking the pictures, but also in part because I had a hunch that the flavors would pop a lot better if this one was warm. I feel like I was right with my assumption. Cold, the beer is relatively characterless. Warm, it’s a different story. The taste starts malty like the aroma. Hops slowly turn the taste bitter, finishing with a hopiness that is obviously present, but not overwhelming.

This is definitely a beer I could picture drinking at the bar while I watched a hockey or baseball game. It goes down pretty easy, but isn’t boring at all. And l can’t forget to give credit for the beer being organic! Dear St. Peter’s: Consider my hat tipped. Love, Lost.

January 31, 2010

I was a guest reviewer!

One of the best parts about writing this blog (and going out to try all the beers I try) is the cool people I've met that I otherwise probably wouldn't have ever come across. The craft beer scene is exploding and the people involved in it are - from what I can tell - extremely open and welcoming. We all have the same goal: get people out of their comfort zone of the mass produced beers and get them to try some of the amazing varieties that are available.

I'm on twitter and follow (way too) many people involved one way or another with craft beers. Brewers, bars, bloggers. You name it (and if it starts with a "b") I'm following. So when I saw that a fellow blogger at lostinthebeeraisle.com was looking for guest reviewers, I responded immediately.

Check out my review of Breckenridge Oatmeal Stout on his blog here.

And check back here next week for his guest review on my blog. We're also going to do a virtual beer tasting together sometime in the next couple of weeks, which he'll then post. I'll put the link to that up once we've completed it.

Have I mentioned how much fun I'm having with this all? I'm a lucky, lucky beergirl!

January 29, 2010

Stone Levitation Ale


Stone Brewing is one that seems incapable of putting out a bad beer. I've liked everyone I've had, all varieties (porters, IPA, strong ales). Their IPA was #7 on my top 10 IPA list.

Levitation is another hit. It's a great session beer at 4.4% ABV, which is unusual from Stone. Stone beers tend to have a higher ABV than this one. It pours a clear, dark amber. Nice smell of hops - citrus, pine. And the same comes through in the taste, backed by some caramel malts. It's bitter, but not not that biting bitter that I get from some of my favorite IPAs. Actually, this is the beer I've been turning to when I want to continue drinking but need a break from some of the bigger tastes I usually go for.

I don't think this is a very complex beer and not overwhelmingly one way or the other, which is probably why I'm not writing as much as I usually would. Having said that, it's a very good, very smooth, very drinkable beer that is well worth trying.

January 27, 2010

Port Brewing Older Viscosity


One of these days I'm really going to remove myself from Tria's email list. That email is to my eyes like the music of the pied piper was to the ears of the rats (and, I guess, the children). Every time I get one I find myself at Tria post-haste. It happened again this past Monday. I was ready (very ready, after the long Sunday night I had) to spend my night on the sofa in front of the TV. But when I saw that they were tapping a keg of Older Viscosity I knew I wanted to get there to try it.

Older Viscosity is the Old Viscosity (for those of you familiar with it) made stronger by six months spent in bourbon barrels. This is a big beer - 12% ABV - that tastes like a big beer. I took a seat at the bar next to a man who was drinking one, and I honestly thought it was wine he had, given how it looked in the glass.

The pour is an inky black. I could overwhelmingly smell the bourbon along with hints of chocolate, vanilla, and some dark fruits. I was a bit apprehensive to taste it. And for me, that apprehension turned out to be the right feeling. As I mentioned above, this tastes like a big beer. It's definitely a sipper, and if you're going to have one, you're likely going to have only one.

There's a lot of bourbon in the taste. But, much like the aroma, you also get chocolate, oak, vanilla, and brown sugar. Definitely not my cup of beer, but others seem to really like it. From what I can tell, if you're a fan of this type of beer this is one you'll want to try. It reminded me of the Lost Abbey Angel's Share. Interestingly, Port Brewing and Lost Abbey are brewed by and at Port Brewing Company, and are both overseen by the same head brewer. I want to try some of their other varities, because I think I'd really enjoy them and then wouldn't feel so badly about not liking the two that I have written about!

January 21, 2010

Emilisse Royal Imperial Stout


When I heard that I could among the first people in the country (!) to taste a Dutch beer that was recently imported in to Philly, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. Forget that I could tell I was getting sick and should probably stay home to get better. Some things are worth getting sick for.

The Emilisse Royal Imperial Stout turns out to be one of them. It's a big, roasty, toasty stout imported by 12 Percent Imports. It pours a deep, dark brown, and looks thick and creamy in the glass. The aroma is of coffee, chocolate, roasty malts. Like the last beer I wrote about, this is a strong one - 11% ABV - that hides its alcohol well. Chocolate, coffee, and molasses are the predominant tastes.

I like that this is a big beer that doesn't necessarily taste like a big beer. It's almost deceiving that the alcohol is hidden as well as it is. But as the saying goes - caveat emptor. Buyer beware. Always good to ask the question about what you're drinking so you don't pay the price the next day.

My understanding is that there will only be 10 kegs of this imported to the US. So it's definitely going to be hard to find. If you see it, you should grab one. And not just for the bragging rights.