Two Generals, an Elk, and a Dog in a Cog

I know the title of this post sounds a little bit like one of those Rozerem commercials, but it describes a great bit of the time I spent this weekend. Thanks to Andy & Emily for entertaining our four-legged friend so we could be free to run and entertain.

General Sutter Inn

Friday night we made it out to Lititz for the Cask Ale Friday event at General Sutter Inn. There wasn’t an extra seat to be had, and the line wrapped all around the Sutter Cafe as people waited for Ridgeway Oxfordshire Blue and Tröegs Nugget Nectar Ale.

Ridgeway Bitter is the flagship ale for the Ridgeway Brewing in Oxford, and it was a terrific example of a session beer. Low in alcohol with a crisp hop bitterness, this was a very nice treat. But I was glad that I stuck to a small glass, because the Nugget Nectar blew me away! The piney nose, the grapefruit coating and the explosive hop flavor of this imperial amber ale is always very exciting, but from the firkin it was PERFECTION.

It was a great time at the General Sutter, and once the Nectar kicked, Paul brought out some great bottle selections, including Hook Norton Double Stout. We stayed for dinner, which was also quite tasty, and then enjoyed the rest of the night hanging out with friends (which I may or may not post about later…so much to write about, so little time!)

General Lafayette Inn and Brewery

On Saturday, we attended a superb event at the General Lafayette– the 2nd Annual Stone Soup Gathering was an awesome opportunity to meet lots of BA folks, and to both share and try beers from the collections of people who appreciate beer as much as we do.

The selection was amazing, but I was most pleased during the first five minutes when DarkerTheBetter (Ed) broke out Surly Darkness. After reading the forums and watching the videos (yes, videos – these are just two of them), I never expected I’d get to try this – ever – so I was really thankful to try it first, while my palate was still clean and I had all of my sensibilities.

From 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, we tasted and talked beer.  No tasting notes, just tasting. I had more than 33 beers in 3 hours…that’s just crazy.  There was so much to try that I had to  record it all in photos. And much of it, I appreciated. Here is what I tasted (you’ll notice they are in no particular order), and later I’ll post photos of the “dead soldiers” so you can see what else I missed out on.

  • Surly Darkness (bottles numbered in the mid-100’s)
  • Dogfish Head Raison D’Extra (2003?)
  • Bar Harbor Brewing Cadillac Mountain Stout
  • Goulden CarolusGrand Cru of the Emperor (2000)
  • New Glarus Raspberry Tart
  • Three Floyd’s DarkLord (2007)
  • Westvleteren 12
  • Traquair House Ale (1982)
  • Ithaca Brewing Co. Kaffinator Double Espresso Bock (bottle #1164 of the June 2007 batch)
  • Three Floyd’s Behemoth Barleywine
  • Stone Vertical Epic (05-05-05)
  • Unibroue Terrible (2004)
  • Allagash White (Batch 9)
  • Brouwerij De Ranke Kriek
  • Lost Abbey Angel’s Share
  • Left Hand Smoked Goosinator
  • Highland Brewing Imperial Gaelic Ale (limited edition 2006) *
  • Allagash Dubble Reserve Belgian Style Ale
  • Firestone Walker Firestone 10
  • Allagash Tripel Reserve Belgian Style Ale
  • Alesmith Speedway Stout
  • Olfabrikken Wit Hvedeol
  • Hoppin’ Frog Mean Manalishi Double IPA
  • Frank’s 12-year old Spruce Ale (very nice homebrew, and we got a bottle to take home…thanks Frank!)
  • Konings Hoeven Triple Trappist
  • Alesmith Decadence
  • Selin’s Grove Brewing Olde Frosty IPA *
  • Magic Hat Thumbsucker (2000)
  • Bullfrog Brewing 10th Anniversary Bourbon-Aged Tripel *
  • Alaskan Smoked Porter (2006)

Stone Soup Line Up #1Stone Soup Line Up #2

Stone Soup Line Up #3Stone Soup Line Up #4

Luckily we had time to enjoy a nice dinner at the General Lafayette, and afterward, the five in our vehicle all did the pocket breathalyzer test. Kim won (or lost) at .02 and got to do the driving. I so very much appreciated her ability to do that!

No one was out of hand drunk, but as “Officer Sassy”, I took the responsibility to get everyone home safely quite seriously. And I knew I wasn’t the one to do it.  (PS – Ev, if you’re reading this, thanks for the hat!)

Officer Sassy     What’s that?!?!     The Carnage

* We brought the three starred items in the list. D kept promising something “no one has ever had,” which was mostly true. Above is a photo of our friend Frank showing his emotions over the Bullfrog 10th Anniversary Ale…

An Elk, and a Dog in a Cog

Sunday morning I had to transport a friend from the hospital in Harrisburg to her home approximately 70 miles to the north. While she thought it was an inconvenience, we looked at it as an opportunity to get D up to Elk Creek Cafe & Ale Works in Millheim. And brunch was a great time to go! We picked up my parents and headed out Rt. 45. With the fresh blanket of snow covering the mountain forest and the farmland of Penns Valley, it was a beautiful drive. We were really surprised that the owner, Tim, recognized us when we came in the door, and D enjoyed chatting with him for the first time.

At Elk Creek, we were pleased with the breakfast and lunch selections on the menu, and the addition of a seasonal beer (Olde Millheim Strong Ale) to the regular line-up. I thoroughly enjoyed the scrambled tofu, which wasn’t a fake, crunchy type of fake egg, but rather soft tofu morsels sautéed with spinach and caramelized onions. It was served with the crispiest, most lovely (and probably most fattening, but no complaints here!) potatoes and vegan bacon. D had the beef and bean chili, Pop had the cherry tomato omelet, and Fran had the eggs and bacon platter. Everyone was really loving the food, and we had an array of hand-crafted beverages: Strong Ale, Poe Paddy Porter, Elk Creek Copper Aleand Great Blue Heron Pale Ale.

Elk Creek Cafe

As I exclaimed in my last post, where else can you enjoy great beer and watch the horse-and-buggies go by? I watched 7  during the course of our lunch. We had a great waitress, the place was adequately filled with patrons and it looks like things are going really well for them. D picked up a growler of Porter to share, and we headed out with hopes of returning soon.

We dropped my parents off at home, and headed to Selin’s Grove to fill a growler with Olde Frosty for Adam, who had it at the Stone Soup event and was looking to score some more (it is that good!) Naturally we had to spend a little time there waiting for the fill and talking to friends – me with a glass of Razz Merry, and D with a glass of blended Razz Merry (1/3) and Stout (2/3). It looks like Steve has been doing well keeping the taps active – just about everything was on today, including barleywine on the handpump.

I had planned to go to a concert in the very late afternoon, but I just couldn’t sit in a car for one more mile after the weekend we just had. It was a terrific time, but I’m glad to be home with my dog and a cup of hot cinnamon spice tea.

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More Bars in More Places

Now that we’ve run out of new comedy or drama episodes on television, I’m finding that when the TV is on, I’m sometimes more interested in watching the new commercials.

Yesterday was the first time I noticed a new commercial from AT&T demonstrating the “more bars in more places” theme by traveling the United States (from Boston to Dallas) selling what appears to be beer from a start-up microbrewery. While the sales guy questions whether or not the brewer can keep up, there is a vow to celebrate the expected success (and in the background, the song I Just Want To Celebrate by Rare Earth is playing.)

I actually had to view the commercial three times to catch the product being sold. The first time, I was certain it was a commercial for beer, and I assumed it was one of the A-B “craft” beers, so I kind of ignored it. The second time I thought maybe it was for Samuel Adams, and at the end realized the commercial had more to do with the phone than the beer. Finally on the third viewing, I fully caught on to the true message. After seeing it five or six times, I’m pretty certain it is not based on a true story or true brewery.

Regardless, it is nice to see a start-up brewing operation as the star of a non-beer commercial.

SW PA Beer Run and Mini Tour

I don’t know that I ever blogged about our Pliny the Elder home bottling party.  In short, we used a Blichmann beer gun to bottle this favorite beer of mine…  I use the terms “our” and “we” loosely, as it was a party/project that D and I got in on late – the brainchild of some other crazies on Beer Advocate, and we were just lucky to get in on the tail end.

Well, now we are looking to bottle something different, and the first step is getting the beer. The short version of this story is that we worked out a favor and agreed to pick up a total of 7 sixtels and two cases of beer in Pittsburgh so that we now have two sixths of East End Brewing products to bottle in a few weeks – Black Strap Stout and Cherry Grisette.

A trip to Pittsburgh meant an opportunity to hang out with friends exploring breweries, brewpubs and beer bars in southwestern PA. We left Saturday morning (missing out on the release of Nugget Nectar), and arrived in Monroeville in time for lunch at Rivertowne Pour House in Monroeville.

The Rivertowne Pour House had 18 taps to choose from, making it difficult to make a choice (but they do free samples.) The food menu looked lovely, and included one of D’s favorites – Scotch Eggs – which we had with our sandwiches and salads. The guys did sample platters to try 14 of the brews, while the girls had pints (mine was a Wit made with coriander and grains of paradise, and Kim’s Blackberry Blast was made with 42 pounds of blackberries!) The beers poured from a giant “keg” set up with taps for each brew, and there was a cask ale available. Most beers had a “twin” on the menu (for instance, there was a blackberry beer and a pomegranate beer), so there were more like 9 types of beer on the menu.

Next, we headed over the East End Brewing Company for the sixtels, and stayed around for the tasting. This place in located in Wilkensburg, and it is both amusing and amazing. In a small space on a side street in an extremely non-descript building, Scott Smith is running a no-frills operation and making some fantastic products. I really enjoyed reading his website – especially the focus on environmental sustainability. We saw it in action on our visit (I think there IS a huge underground sack-race network in Pittsburgh!) and it made me feel even better about supporting his product. Richard was our host for the day, as Scott was taking some family time away, and he took really great care of us. We tasted from pint glasses, and had the following: Grisette, Cherry Grisette, Witte, Bitter End, Big Hop, Snow Melt and Black Strap Stout. We picked up bottles of Three and Gratitude. After some chatting and exploration, we headed off to the next spot.

D’s Six Pax and Dogz is always a great stop, but one of the greatest things about this trip was that we ran into East End brewer Scott Smith! After trading emails with him over this bottling project, it was nice to meet him in person. Inside D’s, we enjoyed a few pints (Ithaca Gorges Smoked Porter and Arcadia Brewing Cocoa Loco triple chocolate stout)  with dogs, and the 1919 Root Beer (even got a 1/2 gallon to go!)

We checked into our hotel, then headed of to Bocktown Beer & Grill in North Fayette, where they claim to have over 400 types of bottled of beer for sale, and they have 16 taps which rotate with specialty beers. The cooler is in nine sections, and the bar seats twelve. There are booths and table seating – a really nice place, especially considering it is in a strip mall. We tried Lagunitas Olde Gnarly Wine and Cherish Kriek Lambic, and I tried a special glass of the kriek combine with Anchor Christmas Ale (a little like a tasty cold medicine.)

From Bocktown, we headed to Sharp Edge Creek House. I’ve been to the other two locations, and this is by far my favorite (although I’d like to revisit the Beer Emporium location now that they’ve completed remodeling!) We sat upstairs and had soup, salad and sweet potato fries with our beers. D tried the Sharp Edge “Over the Edge” (a 9% Belgian IPA), and I had the East End Brewing Co. Snow Melt on cask, which is not as hoppy in the taste as the draft version.

Sunday brunch was at Red Star, which I’ve already discussed because of the awesome experience, and following that, we visited Johnstown Brewing Company. It’s been a few years since I visited JBC, and under brewer Sean Hallisey, there are some exciting things happening. I remembered bland beers that all tasted pretty much the same. I found eight different taps, and we tried three of them in pints (two additional tasters.) Everything had nice flavor and aroma. We talked to the brewer for a bit, and things are really looking up for JBC as Sean continues to create. We had the Jinglebell Wiezenbock, Imperial Stout, and Pale Ale in pints, and little tastes of Cherry Wheat (made with sweet cherries) and Ole Tripel Reserve (which had a distinctive green apple flavor.)

Our final trip of the weekend was the Jean Bonnet Tavernnear Bedford. This was a water stop for me – the tap list is always filled with a nice selection of PA beers, but nothing new for me, and I had plenty of great beer this weekend. I tasted the Yards Thomas Jefferson Ale and the Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA; I admired the lacing on Storm King Imperial Stout. This is just such a cozy and charming space to be – especially on a chilly January day.

So now it is time for sleeping – no time to post photos today, but maybe very soon. What a fun weekend of travel and tasting with friends and a few great finds!

Red Star Sunday Brunch

You wouldn’t know it from their website, but the most fabulous brunch in southwestern PA is held on Sundays from 10 AM – 4 PM at Red Star Brewery & Grille in Greensburg.  And naturally, we were visiting for the beer, which has been brewed on location since late 1998.  

We were doing some beer traveling this weekend, which I hope to write about soon, but Red Star was a clear highlight of the trip simply because we didn’t arrive with expectations of such wonderful fare! We were somewhat overwhelmed by what we found.

Red Star opens at 10 AM on Sunday, and today there was not a single customer in the place at that hour, so we “geek toured” the facility – taking photos of the beer menu, the bar, the trapeze artists swinging from the ceiling, the old train station benches, the brewing equipment…  We were seated, and then explored the brunch options without asking the price. In a beautiful facility, with so many freshly prepared options, we expected to pay a large price.

Instead, we were pleasantly surprised. For $14.99 we found a chef creating sushi rolls to our specifications (spicy tuna, smoked salmon with cream cheese, and crab), a Belgian waffle station with a variety of toppings, a made-to-order pasta and omelette station with a wide variety of “add ins”, a carving station with ham and savory cheese side dish, bacon, home fried potatoes, poached salmon and ratatouille, fresh fruit and a variety of desserts including beautiful cakes and cups of chocolate mousse. Additionally, eggs Benedict and banana nut bread were brought to our table.

Everything tasted terrific, and for a buffet situation, it was all beautifully presented. But of all the choices, I was most blown away by the eggs Benedict. The poached egg was so very fluffy that hidden under the hollandaise sauce (the most savory and delectable hollandaise sauce ever!), the egg looked like a dollop of sour cream! Oh my, was it rich. I was glad D and I shared one. The sushi was also impressive. Who would have thought we would find sushi for brunch in Greensburg?!? It was made exactly to order, and such a treat.

And with this lovely meal, we were able to order craft brewed beers after 11 AM. I was glad to see they had 10-oz glasses on the menu, and treated myself the Canvasback American Pale Ale, which is served on nitrogen (tiny bubbles go better with breakfast!) D had two fun and interesting beers – the Christmas Ale (Dark Wheat) and Santa’s Little Helper Barleywine (2007). The 2001 Barleywine was listed on the board, but it was bumped by Voodoo’s Child – a spiced Munich dunkel – which Heath tried (it was so smooth and creamy, I had to walk up to the bar just to make sure it wasn’t really on nitrogen.) Also at our table for tasting was Iron Horse Irish Dry Stout. All of the beers were good, but the Christmas Ale definitely won for “most interesting.” It had a rootbeer barrel aroma, and the flavors of fruit (cherry, cranberry and orange) and clove spice. This was Red Star’s first attempt at a Christmas Ale, and they stated it was modeled after no other. Fabulous job!

Our waiter, whose name I didn’t pick up, was terrific. He was attentive, but not overbearing. He was interested in knowing about our beer travels, but not nosey. Even when the place started to get busy, he kept an eye on our emptying plates and glasses. We really relaxed and enjoyed this meal (and it was all we needed to eat the remainder of the day!)

Advocate for Six-Pack Sales in PA

I stopped paying attention to this issue with the crazy holidays, so thanks to Lew Bryson for putting up a post about the ammendment to House Bill 606.  His post, as always, is comprehensive, but if not convincing enough for you to act, read on at Beer Advocate, Beeryard News and my childhood local paper.

If you support the amendment to House Bill 606, you need to contact your legislators, and let them know you support the ammendment as written, which allows the sale of six-packs at beer distributors. Make it clear that a limit to 12-, 15-, or 18-pack sales is not acceptable.

Please – help me take back the basement – advocate for six-pack sales in PA!

New Beer Near the Susquehanna River

Most of my life, I’ve lived within close proximity to the Susquehanna River, so it is interesting to me that so many new places are opening up within minutes of the river.  Here is a rundown of what I’ve been hearing about lately:

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Lancaster opened November 28. This is the seventh facility for Iron Hill. Located at 781 Harrisburg Pike, Lancaster, PA  17603

Spring House Brewing Company in Connestoga (nice report in Bar Fly, and reported on the tenpints blog, which says it is open; very interesting article in York Sunday News about the operation.) Located at 2519 Main Street, Conestoga, PA 17516

Bavarian Barbarian Brewing Companyin Williamsport opened December 28. I’m not sure when I’ll get to Williamsport again to check this place out, but my uncle thinks brewer Mike Hiller is a former student of his, so he’d like to check it out (I’m hoping to get a full report!) Located at 429 W. 3rd St, Williamsport, PA 17701

I learned the following from an article on Billtown Live

  • The Horde Room (tasting room) will be open from 2-6 PM, Tuesdays through Thursdays, and 2-8 PM on Fridays & Saturdays for beer purchasing. Beer enthusiasts can enjoy a tour of the brewery, led by head brewer, Mike Hiller, every Saturday at 4 and 6 PM. 
  • Hammerin’ Ale and Headbangerz Brown Ale are two of the five beers the Barbarian will brew year-round. In the spring, the Barbarian will release either the Square Feet Wheat Ale or the Weldspatter IPA (the choice of which beer to be released next will be left up to the people – a voting and comment system will be installed on the website.) The winning beer will be released in the early spring and the next beer will be released in the summer. Steel Drivin’ Stout will be released in the fall of 2008.
  • The phone number is 570-322-5050.

Lancaster Brewing Company in Harrisburg opened in the very last days of December 2007 (while we were on vacation.)  We visited for dinner on Tuesday, January 2, and were thrilled to learn it is a completely non-smoking facility, as is the Lancaster location now. Located at 469 Eisenhower Blvd, Harrisburg, PA 17111

Thoughts on our visit:

  • First impression is that this location isn’t quite ready for the public yet. There is no outside signage visible from the road, and the building, which is very attractive (in a plain and simple sort of way) may not be obvious to people coming from out of town. I hope that will change.
  • The bar and restaurant areas are very nice – I like the dim lighting and the dark wood and brick interior – but the bar seems very “stiff”. While I’m sure we will go there with friends, hang out and be as loud as we want to be, it reminds me a bit of a hotel bar where quiet is the expectation. I hope that isn’t the case.
  • Our waitress needs to learn how to greet customers at a brewpub. After welcoming us, she said, “Can I get you a cocktail?” A what?!?! Beer, please. (She was, otherwise, a great waitress.)
  • The menu is lovely. It’s not a cheap restaurant, but the prices are fair. There is a nice mix of appetizer bites, pizzas, burgers and full entrees. My meal (seared tuna salad) was big enough to share with D, who ordered soup and an appetizer.
  • We can’t take our vegetarian friends to LBC Harrisburg at this time. Even the squash soup was made with chicken stock; a garden salad and two pizzas were the only veggie options I observed. Perhaps they can add a non-meat burger (spent grain, walnut & barley or otherwise), a tofu selection or even a great big vegetable salad?
  • Mug Club – will there be one? We hope so.
  • Pints only. This was a disappointment. They do offer a sampler tray of 5-oz glasses, but I’m always looking for an opportunity to buy just one 10-oz or 12-oz glass at a time. That way I can drink more styles with less consumption.
  • Beers are currently being shipped from Lancaster (brewing facility at Harrisburg has yet to be constructed.) They offered almost any LBC beer a person could want. I know this isn’t a complete list, but I recall that they had Hop Hog IPA, Amish Four Grain, Strawberry Wheat, Milk Stout, Fest Beer Amber Lager, Winter Warmer and probably three or four more.
  • The management staff seemed very interested in making sure customers were satisfied (they didn’t come to our table, which is fine, because we were generally satisfied!) I think that’s a good sign.

LBC Harrisburg, is practically in our back yard, so I’m hoping it is successful and becomes a place we frequent.

Appalachian Brewing Company in Lancaster – still waiting for one or more locations to come through.

One Guy Brewing in Berwick had a soft opening yesterday (beer has been available at B.F. J’Eats since late December; grand opening TBA.) Probably the best information available is on Lew Bryson’s blog(read the comments – it gets more and more interesting as the days pass.) Located at 328 W. Front St., Berwick, PA 18603

A friend of ours made a visit yesterday, and learned the following:

  • There are four beers currently on tap.  Number 1 (the first One Guy beer ever brewed; a  golden lager), Dark Lager, Peach Wheat and Rauch Bock.
  • There are two glass sizes to choose from. A small glass (perhaps 10-oz?) ranged from $2.25-2.75. Shaker “pints” were $3-3.50. Growlers were $4.01+tax for the glass, and the fills were $7.50-10.

He reported that the beers were “spot on excellent,” so this sounds like a place that needs to get on our schedule!

One Final VICTORY for Heavyweight

Both running on very little sleep these days, D and I arrived early at the “One Final VICTORY for Heavyweight” event at The Drafting Room in Exton with an expectation that there would be a line of people.  

At that hour (just after 11 AM), there were only a few people inside, and they weren’t serving beer or food, so we scored a good table. Thank goodness, because the room filled quickly, and the event became standing room only for many. We had an enjoyable time drinking some excellent brews with a table of friends, and talking to acquaintances who passed by, and got home in time for D to get a full nap before work.

This was the official release for Victory’s Baltic Thunder, and also a last(?) opportunity to get a selection of Heavyweight products in bottles (750 ml bottles for $14.95.)  Baltic Thunder was on tap, but also available in bottles for $7.95 (Ouch! It was only $34/case at Victory, so we were really thankful that Kim made the beer run to Downingtown!)

Event signage     Drafting Room Drafts     Bottles at Drafting Room   Peche?

[Perhaps it was the alcohol, but we were particularly amused by the Lindeman’s Pêche description, which went something like, “flavored with fresh raspberries to complement the tartness.” Ooops! Who’s the editor?]

We asked for our Heavyweight bottles just a little too late, missing out on Black Ocean (a schwartzbier.) Friends at our table bought and shared a bottle of Slice of Bread (a pungent and sour rye), which also ran out before we could get one to take home. Our table did obtain the last two bottles of Jakeldricka which we shared (a spiced herb ale, which I didn’t love, however, I went into this one with a bad attitude after reading descriptions like smokey, bacon bits, boiled cabbage and freshly chopped wood.) I believe this is the one that had a “lava lamp” quality to it, in that thick waves of sediment rolled through the glass during the entire time we were drinking it. D brought home a bottle each of Biere D’Art and Doug’s Colonial Ale.

Bottles of Heavyweight             “Lava Lamp”

On draft, also from Heavyweight, we had Perkuno’s Hammer (2006)– a Baltic porter brewed collaboratively with Lew Bryson (who defined it as, “a train wreck between a doublebock and an imperial stout,”) – and at our table (but not tasted by us), the Lunacy (2006) – a Belgian-Style golden ale.  As far as I know, no one at our table attempted the Baltus O.V.S. (2006), which was labeled “OXIDIZED – DRINK AT YOUR OWN RISK!”

I particularly enjoyed the Seven Threads Symposium Ale.  This dark brew was a blend of 8 locally-crafted ales, served only in 10-oz glasses for $2.95. D and I decided to share one glass, and I have to say I monopolized that glass!  Here is the description they provided:

Blended for 2005 Craft Brewers Conference in Philadelphia, this amalgamation consists of Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale, Flying Fish Porter, Independence Oatmeal Stout (RIP), Iron Hill Pig Iron Porter, Nodding Head Grog, Stoudt’s Fat Dog Stout, Victory Storm King and Yard’s IPA…

I’ll have to see if D took any notes on it…I was too busy trying to maintain possession of it to write anything down!

Don’t worry about D not getting any beer, though! He started the day with Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA, of which I got no more than a single sip.

Everything else we drank was from Victory, and my favorite of the list was the cask-conditioned Hop Wallop. The 8.5% ABV was masked by the smooth drinkability. I enjoyed it so much and was disappointed that I’d only ordered a 10-oz, but in terms of minimizing the alcohol and calorie consumption, it was a good idea. We also had the Harvest Ale (2007), and as mentioned earlier, the Baltic Thunder.

I know it sounds like a lot, but we did stick to the 10-oz glasses, and did lots of sharing, so with lunch and a couple cups of coffee, it really wasn’t overwhelming at all.

                        Crowd shot

This was my first trip to The Drafting Room, where there are 14 rotating taps, one cask-conditioned hand pump, and over 100 bottled beers. I especially like that the menu features “tapped on” dates (the website does, too, but it’s all out of date!) The food menu was also excellent. I really enjoyed my Moroccan salad, and the other plates looked yummy, too. And I like that they never add more than $10 to the PA sales price of a wine. This is a great place to meet with good friends for a good beer!

Desert Birding and Babe’s

On New Year’s Eve day, we took a wonderful hike with Bob and Dianne in Carrizo and Dead Indian Canyons where we were thrilled to observe a beautiful male Desert Bighorn Sheep (aka Peninsular Bighorn Sheep) for quite a long time, and we climbed up a small waterfall in the canyon to take lunch a hidden oasis.  This was the last day to hike the canyon before it closes for the breeding season, so we were lucky to have such a beautiful day.

                         Desert Bighorn Sheep               D in Joshua Tree

After our hike, we dined and tasted beer at Babe’s B-B-Que Grill before returning home to relax. We needed to get to bed early because January 1 was the Joshua Tree Christmas Bird Count. At Babe’s, D had two beers which I may comment more on later. I opted out of beer and just tasted his, as I didn’t think there could be anything “that great” after our trip to San Diego.

It was cold in Joshua Tree today, and a little windy, but it is mostly the dry conditions that accounted for the lack of bird life. We had a nice time, exploring the park, but we didn’t add a lot of species to the list.  Birds included:

  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • Raven
  • Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
  • Greater Roadrunner
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  • Golden Eagle
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • White-throated Swift
  • Rock Wren
  • California Thrasher
  • Gambel’s Quail
  • Phainopepla
  • Black-throated Sparrow
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Western Scrub Jay
  • Red-tailed Hawk

Now for the long red-eye flight home…