October 17, 2011

Midwest Road Trippin'

This past weekend was a great one. Last Wednesday John and I went out to the Midwest - Iowa and Minnesota. I mentioned in a post last year that John is from Iowa. His parents recently moved back to the East coast, and we knew we wouldn't have many reasons to go back to Iowa, at least not on a regular basis. A friend's wedding in Minneapolis provided us just the opportunity we needed.

We flew in to Minneapolis, and drove down to Ames, where John went to college at The Iowa State University (as I was told more than once is the proper name). An incredible downpour forced us to hole up in Cafe Beaudlaire for hours - just like John used to do when he was in school. He got to show me around campus the next day, under a beautiful fall sky. It was so much fun walking around with him, having him point out to me all the places that helped him become the man I love today.

We spent the night in Des Moines, where I was able to find more than one place that served up some great craft beers. El Bait Shop, was a great place to spend a few hours - they have 105 taps! And I think their bottle/can list is even larger. One of the revelations I came across was Peace Tree Brewing, out of Knoxville, IA. I had a couple different beers - the Hop Wrangler, Hop Sutra, and Red Rambler. All were delicious. Right now it's only distributed in Iowa, but I'm going to start lobbying the guys to distribute here in PA. Try the beer, and you'll be lobbying with me.

The Hop Sutra is a fabulous double IPA. You have to try this beer! I wanted to drink it all day long, but it's a big beer and we had many things to do that afternoon. I had the Hop Wrangler at The Gas Lamp, where we went to see one of guys from the band The Nadas, performing solo.

Thursday had us heading back to Minneapolis. While there I had the Surly Furious. Talk about delicious! Extremely easy to drink. Another one that needs to be here in Philly.

I won't lie, though. One of the best parts of the trip was the awesome ride we got. John was able to upgrade us to a premium car for free. You can see our sweet ride at the top of the screen. That's right - we got to tool around the Midwest in a baby blue Crown Vic. Life doesn't get much better than that.

September 23, 2011

The most wonderful time of the year


Today is the first day of autumn. My favorite time of year! The leaves change colors, the air gets cooler, sweaters come out. It's also Oktoberfest - and more importantly, to me - pumpkin beer time. I know some people complain about the fact that pumpkin beers are available at the beginning of September, saying it's too early. I don't feel that way at all. Bring them out in July and I'd be happy!

A couple of years ago, someone told me about Southern Tier Pumking, saying it was one of the best beers they'd ever tried. I had one and couldn't believe how good it was. It's become an all-time seasonal favorite for me. I think I have about 5 bottles waiting in the fridge right now. And one that I'm cellaring for next year, to try against the 2012 batch.

Last week at Hawthorne's I bought a bunch of pumpkin beers, so that I could try some new ones and enjoy some old favorites. It was quite the haul and I've been enjoying them nightly.

The ones that have really stuck out to me include Brooklyn Brewery Post Road, Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, Fegley's Devious Imperial Pumpkin, and Uinta's Punk'n. and the Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

Luckily, the season is far from over. So if you've been waiting for the right time to try a new beer, now is it! And if you have a recommendation on a beer I should try, I'd love to hear it.

September 21, 2011

It's a little dusty in here

Hard to believe, but it's been just over 8 months - 8 months!! - since the last time I posted anything. Where did the time go? I wish I could say that I was backpacking through Europe, or studying with Tibetan Monks, or even gestating a baby (hey, it's been almost long enough), but none of that is the case. Somehow I just got out of the habit of writing. Life took over my life. Or something like that. I do see that I started to write three posts (they were saved as drafts, and never published. One was pretty good, and I question why I never hit the "publish post" button. I didn't do it now because it was a seasonal piece and would have made no sense. The other two were just a couple of lines along the vein of "I can't believe how long it's been since I've written!") but even the last of those was back in April.

If I'm honest with myself, I know that some of it was that I lost the focus of what I wanted this blog to be about. Judging by the name alone, I'd say beer. And probably Philly. But I didn't want to just write reviews - not that there's anything wrong with that, but there are so many people out there who do it - some well and others, well... - that I wasn't sure what was setting me apart from everyone else. People have told me they like my reviews because I just write about what I taste and smell. I don't use terms that only someone with an advanced degree in beerology can understand. But I wanted this to be more. When I started this blog a little over two years ago, I had big dreams of being THE beer girl in Philly. I did some online research and didn't really see anyone that was filling that niche in the area. What I learned is that my online searching skills needed some serious work, because there are a ton of girls (women, if you prefer) who love beer in and around the Philly area. Some of them have made careers of this, and one in particular has made quite the name for herself. I felt like I couldn't compare, and maybe I also felt like if I couldn't be best, I didn't want to be in it at all.

So why am I writing now? Maybe it's because the format of Facebook changed today, making me less enthused about spending hours on there every night and I need something else to fill my time. Maybe it's because I've missed the creative outlet that writing this blog afforded me. Maybe it was my conversation with John where I told him I need a hobby, preferably a cheap/free one, and he brought up my writing. Whatever the reason, I fired up the old computer and sat down to write this post. I'm not sure where it's going to go. I'm not sure I'm how often I'll write. And I'm seriously not sure exactly what I'll be writing about. For now, though, it felt good to blow some of the cobwebs out of the way and just tap fingers against keyboard without it being work-related, or on Facebook, or for an email.

Hopefully I still have some followers who will be happy to read something from me. And if you've missed me, hopefully you'll stick with me as I figure this out.

January 17, 2011

Brewing my own beer

I believe I wrote last year about my first foray in to home brewing. It's been far too long since I last did that, and I'm excited to give it a try again. John bought me all the ingredients we'll need to brew our own IPA. Now we just need the equipment. There's a couple of home brew stores I'm going to check out and I'll be looking online, too.

If there's a particular site/store you swear by, please let me know. I need all the help I can get right now (since the last time I did this I was at someone else's house and they had everything we needed).

I'm going to follow the recipe that the guy at the store gave us, since I haven't done this before. I'm also looking for some good recipes that you've tried before. Obviously I'd like to get to a point where I brew without following someone else's recipe but I don't want to throw good money away by messing something up the first few times I do this.

I'll write about how things are going, once we finally get started!

January 8, 2011

New year, new job

I think I've alluded more than once to the fact that there have been some changes in my life recently. Among the biggest is that I'm now working for DrinkPhilly.com, an awesome online resource for drink specials and happy hours in Philadelphia. There's also tons of great content, including drink reviews (not just beer!), bar/restaurant reviews, lifestyle and culture articles, and some great videos. I'm doing ad sales for them and am really happy to work with the great group of guys that I now get to work with.

I'm not sure that I've ever mentioned this, but up until about a year and a half ago I was a marketing director in charge of online advertising for pharmaceutical clients. I wasn't happy in that career, even though it was very lucrative and sounded good when I told people what I did. One of the best decisions for my sanity was walking away from something I didn't love.

For me, 2011 means embracing the fact that I'm out of that old world and have entered a new one. I've interviewed for numerous jobs that were in the same vein as what I'd been doing before and it never seemed to pan out. I'm finally taking the message that I left that career for a reason and it's okay to do something else. I'm also going to allow myself to believe that I can make money doing something that I love - even if the thing I love is beer (not that my job is about that exactly). What's not to love? I get to go out and talk to really cool people about something I believe in - something that keeps getting better, and more recognition, every day (the site has been exploding lately!). I also get to talk to my clients about their business needs and come up with solutions to help their business grow. I think there's a lot I can do in this position, and the best part is that the guys I work with want me to grow and shape it.

If you love drinking (and who doesn't?) be sure to check out the Drink Philly site. You're sure to find something good!


January 6, 2011

Some Philly Favorites of 2010

Happy new year everyone!

I hope your holidays were as wonderful as mine. I finally got over my cold and joined John in the great Midwest. I met some wonderful new people, saw some old friends, visited a part of the country I'd never been to before, and got to try some great new beers. A terrific end to 2010 and a perfect beginning to 2011.

One of these days I'm going to have some real time to sit down and compile my end-of-year list. I'd like to write about my favorite beers, moments, songs, movies, etc from last year.

That day, however, is not today. I do have some intersting information to share, though, thanks to my good friends at PhillyTapFinder.com. Launched in September of last year, PhillyTapFinder.com is a great way for you to find out where your favorite beers are being served. As a matter of fact, I did a write up on the site that you can read here.

But back to the interesting information. Jared, the President of PTF, looked at the most popular beer and bar searches from the launch of the site through the end of the year. Below are his findings.

Top 5 beer searches:
1. Russian River Pliny the Elder (a favorite of mine whose review you can read here)
2. Troegs Mad Elf
3. Southern Tier Pumking (probably my favorite pumpkin beer. You can read what I had to say about it here)
4. Russian River Blind Pig (another one I've reviewed)
5. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

All great brews! Obviously some of them are seasonal, and so the list is expected to change, but it's fun to see nonetheless.

The top 3 neighborhoods were Rittenhouse, Art Museum/Fairmount, and South Philly.

The top 3 beer styles were IPAs (YES!), porters/stouts, and sours/wild fermented ales.

Finally, the top 5 bars searched were:
1. Kraftwork
2. Devil's Den
3. Monk's
4. Eulogy

Probably no real surprises to anyone, and again, it will be interesting to see the difference at the end of 2011 when the site will have been live for over a year.

In the meantime, don't forget to check PhillyTapFinder.com (from your computer or mobile device) when you want to find your favorite beer on tap.