R.I.P. R.P.A.

I attended a beautiful event tonight – a wake for our dear Remote Patron Authentication server. Since 2002, it has provided well for us. But every computer has it’s time. I was just so glad they were able to put it down with care, rather than allowing it to end life with a crash…

Out of respect and remembrance, we gathered at Alibis for a fine memorial dinner. Around the table, we enjoyed Ithaca Apricot Wheat, Troegenator Double Bock, Legacy Hedonism and Lion’s Pocono Pale Ale.

Only kind words were spoken for our former RPA server, and it brought back fine beer memories such as a 2001 pre-server training in Pottsville (home of Yuengling) and a 2002 technology conference in Seattle (which was fully educational, but included evening visits to Elysian, Pike, Pyramid, Red Door and the now-defunct Redhook Trollyman Pub.)

Thanks, my friends, for taking great care of our computers and for enjoying good beer!


D and Zeno’s BrewFest

The most frequently asked question of me at Dark Lord Day was, “Where’s D?” Several of the men commented that their wives wouldn’t go to DLD for them… 

Honey, I didn’t go FOR him – I went in spite of him! I went for myself (although the truth is I probably wouldn’t have gone if Heath and Kim hadn’t included me in their ride.)

Anyway, he had to work all weekend, but did get the day off on Saturday to attend Heather & Jake’s wedding. And since he was in State College, that provided an opportunity to attend Zeno’s Belgian Brew Fest, which ran from 3-8 PM on April 26.

Looking at the full list of 70 bottles and 6 taps of Flemish, Wallonian, Trappist and Farmhouse beers, it does sound like a good time!  Here is what he enjoyed:

  • De Dolle Dulle Teve
  • De Rank XX Bitter
  • Duchesse de Bourgogne
  • Gulden Draak
  • Melbourne Cherry
  • Petrus Aged Ale
  • Piraat

Am I jealous?  Absolutely not… That same night, I was drinking Hoppy Chick IPA on cask at The Livery, and I had both a Vanilla Porter and a blended glass of Rubaeus/Imperial Stout at the new Founder’s location.

The new Founders Brewing

Derek, Heath and Kim also introduced me to Culver’s that day, where we got the family-sized order of Dairyland Cheese Curds. My life is forever changed (and my cholesterol is forever high!)Yummy Curds!

Real dairy-fresh white and yellow cheddar cheese curds breaded and cooked to a gooey, cheesy golden brown. These curds are made in Wisconsin just for Culver’s!



Officer Sassy and the Dark Lord

I’m not going to waste my time and energy posting negative thoughts on Dark Lord Day 2008 – I certainly had some, but plenty of people have posted the whiny thoughts and I’ll be happy to point you there (see this post, which will link you to griping on the forums.) I can’t disagree with most of it, but I also can’t see dwelling on it. Besides – don’t I look happy?

Waiting for Dark Lord  That’s not a photo of drunk – that’s exhilaration (many thanks to Ev for the costume inspiration…after the hat exchange, my companions started calling me Officer Sassy. With a Troeg’s work shirt, a little bedazzling and a Marshall’s badge from Dark Horse, I was set!)

Overall, I had a FABULOUS time! I traveled with fun people, we stopped at some great breweries along the way out and back, and it was my pleasure to catch up with fellow beer enthusiasts in the parking lot of Three Floyd’s. It started out as a chilly day (or, as I pointed out, cellar temperature), and I was thrilled that I purchased a cozy long sleeve t-shirt from Bell’s – I needed it with that wind!

Derek, Kim and Heath

I owe a heap of thanks to Kim for being our able (read sober) driver and trip coordinator – she did a super job at both! Heath and Derek were great traveling companions, making sure we didn’t miss a single thing (well, Cereal City was a miss for now-obvious reasons, but all of the beer stops were right on!) There are a lot of terrific beer people in the world, but this was a crew I was more than happy to spend four days in the car with! 
Jim and Joan sharing Pisgah Baptista!

Uncle Jedi and Joan (aka Mrs. Jedi) get the hospitality prize for making a place for us in the line. They are always a treat to hang out with, as are the entire Free the Hops clan (not all of them are in the photo below…just the ones wearing kilts!)

Free the Hops!

Speaking of the line, a couple of bloggers mapped the beer line, and this was one of my favorite renditions. I just couldn’t get an accurate photo of it, which I estimated to be 4500 people stretched over no less than 1/2 a mile. I was so glad to get my six bottles of Dark Lord Imperial Stout, and also my allotted two bottles of Hvedegoop Wheat Wine (a surprise for D.) When we packed it all in the car, it was obvious we weren’t even going to attempt getting more.

It\'s full  Me with Officer Hall  PA Girls love beer!

Meeting Officer Hall and collecting his trading card made my day (next time, I’ll need an “Officer Sassy” card.) And I thank Aaron for introducing me to April (and April for the photo with an inebriated stranger!)

Everyone at the event in a brew-sharing mood gets a big thank you, too! I shared my Troeg’s Nugget Nectar, but kept looking for an opportunity to pop my bottle of Otto’s Double D and just never saw an opening (no offense to Otto’s, but the bottles being passed around we far superior!)

There are some additional summaries blogged here and here, and a little video coverage.

One of my favorite summaries of the event was on the Vagoscribe blog– it is both poetic and completely descriptive of the experience. There are no expressions of detestation, anger or even elation, which is kind of how I left this year’s experience (last year, I departed full of elation and urine – thanks, FFF, for the improved toilet situation this year.)

By 2:30 on Saturday, I did say, “where is the get-the-hell-out-of-here line?,” simply because the lines were so disorganized. I felt like a character in Hope for the Flowers (read pages 12-17 and you’ll understand what I mean!) – it was impossible to tell which line led to which final destination or how long it would take to get there. We decided to find food, clean bathrooms and great beer, which I will talk about in my next post…when I get to it.

Until then, I hope you, too, have found some good beer with good friends!



Pilgrimage to DarkLord Day

Just a brief note before getting a good night’s rest for DarkLord Day…  Our road trip has taken us from Harrisburg to Cleveland last night, and through Michigan and Indiana today. Stops included Great Lakes Brewing Company, Kuhnnan, Dragonmead, Dark Horse Brewing, Bell’s and Three Floyds.

They have been brief stops, but enough to enjoy many new brews, and a few old favorites.  For instance, last night I started at Great Lakes with the Grassroots Ale. At 4.8% and only 20 IBUs, it was a light, refreshing treat on a warm spring evening. The ginger and lemongrass give this beer an interesting complexity, and I remembered why I liked it so much the last time. I followed that up with a Blackout Stout, which was served in a snifter glass. In contrast to the first beer, this Russian Imperial Stout is 9% ABV and 85 IBUs. It has a rich, roasty flavor that coats the top of the mouth, but the hops come through nicely and the alcohol is subtle.

At Kuhnhen (Warren, MI), we intended to have lunch, but the menu wasn’t really appealing so we only drank. This was a strange little place – half of it is a pretty decent bar with seating for 14 and the brewing equipment all located behind and beside it; approximately 12 high wooden tables with chairs in that room. The other half looks like the wall was knocked out and a warehouse converted into a bingo hall serves as the seating area. A piano sits along the wall, boxes are stored under plastic, and the ceiling is either going up or being taken down.  Kuhnhen had 11 different taps, most served in 12-oz glasses, some available in bottles and sample glasses available for a small fee.  I had a 10-oz glass of Simcoe Silly (8.5% ABV) which was more Belgian in nature than hoppy. I’m a big fan of the Simcoe, but there was such banana in the nose, and as they describe, bubble gum flavor, to this one that I was not impressed. My 3-tablespoon sample of Tenacious Cassis (16.5%) was plenty – this is a very sweet and highly alcoholic concoction, which I later learned we have at home in bottles. And finally, the Crème Brule Java Stout in a 12-oz glass. This was the first thing Derek had, and Heath and I followed suit. It was so lovely with vanilla flavor – it made me incredibly happy!

Dragonmead (Warren, MI)was a lot of fun, and certainly a place to which I must return. Unfortunately, the fryer was out of commission, so most of the menu was unavailable, but Kim picked out a lovely roasted red pepper Jack cheese for us, served with a sleeve of crackers, which the four of us could share. I had a nice conversation with Larry Channel – one of the owners – and enjoyed the beers I had and those I tasted from my friends. Dragonmead does offer half-pint options, which was great because there were so many different types! There were approximately 37 beers on tap (12 on nitro, but nothing on either of the handpumps), and four house soda pops available as well. My beers were the Honey Porter, served on nitro (which was spot on and delicious!) and Broken Paddle IPA (which paled in comparison to their Crowning Jewels IPA; both are American IPAs, but mine was simple, while Derek’s was fragrant and full of flavor.) Dragonmead looks totally boring and industrial on the outside, but inside it is colorful with flags and awards, stained glass (made by one of the owners) and lots of locals stopping by, many maintaining their passports. We sat in front of the doors to the brewery, and because they had the back entrance open, the wind blew a constant Grape-Nut breeze of fragrant wort through the place.

We made a short stop at Tim Horton’s, and then headed of to Marshall, MI for dinner at Dark Horse Brewing Co. The place still looks very much the same – like a double-wide trailer holding a yard sale inside – but it was so much more pleasant with a new non-smoking rule. There were only five beers on tap, so I stuck with an old favorite – Crooked Tree IPA. And while the menu is simply, I really enjoyed my toasted sub, and Kim’s pizza looked terrific. Dark Horse is such a great place, so we had to go into the new gift shop across the parking lot to buy a few souvenirs.

The merch shop was our first stop at Bell’s in Kalamazoo, MI. We stocked up on t-shirts before going in for a beer. I was really excited to find Wild One – a Belgian-style fruited beer made especially for Eccentric Day. They have a few extra barrels left over, and will roll them out periodically. I was glad this was one of the days! Wild One comes in at 6% ABV, and is served in 12-oz glasses for $4 and 16-oz glasses for $5. It was very similar to the Kriek made by Selin’s Grove Brewing, but lighter in flavor and lacking the color – this was more of a dark amber with an orange aura. Most beers at Bell’s are available in 12, 16 and 20-oz pours, but we all had smalls. Derek got the Poolside– a cherry wheat that was outstanding (this is saying a lot coming from me – I don’t generally care for the cherry wheats!) It was 5% ABV, which is a little high for a session beer, but I could see myself drinking lots of it on a hot summer day. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t stay, because a funk/fusion band called Spare Parts was playing – three keyboards, a bass guitar, drums, trumpet and simple vocals – and I was enjoying watching the bass player. But we needed to get to Indiana in reasonable time.

So here we are…  we made it to Three Floyd’s, and all of the excitement for Dark Lord Day is building.  We won’t get in the door tomorrow, I am sure, so I was glad to get in tonight for a Topless Wytch Baltic Porter. It was rich with coffee and chocolate, and a nice way to end the night. I need to get some sleep now so I can sample like crazy tomorrow at the festival and still have the strength to enjoy The Livery and Founders in it’s new location.

Zeno’s Cask Ale Festival

The notes in my Palm T|X said the following from our April 4-6 trip to State College, PA:

We’re sitting here having such a relaxing time at Zeno’s. 


All the stresses of work and home are just melting away, as we enjoy day two of the Cask Ale Weekend (I guess it was a long weekend, as it started yesterday!)  We arrived just in time for the AAA Blues Band to start playing, and very quickly, D and I were thinking the same thing…we miss KClingers!  Not enough to end the boycott…they screwed us so royally…but we both pined a bit for the old days when we used to drink good beer and listen to great music in the company of friends.


I swiftly reminded D that we are drinking MUCH BETTER beer, right now, and quite frankly, we have better beer IN OUR OWN BASEMENT then we can get at KClingers.  We can go home, pop in a CD from a band that Bill has banned or one that has broken up (Danny Morris?!?! Where are you now?!?) But we won’t. Because we are here and the experience is wonderful.

Those were notes from the first night, and on Saturday, we met up with a bunch of friends from all over the state (first at Otto’s for lunch, and then on to Zeno’s for the night.)  Here are the beers we had – Zeno’s was kind enough to offer a pitcher price, so our crowd of, like, 10 people, were able to order pitchers and share…

  • Big Black Voodoo Daddy
  • Otto’s Red Mo
  • Otto’s Nugget IPA
  • Otto’s Double Double D IPA
  • Otto’s Jolly Roger Imperial Stout
  • Ithaca Nut Brown
  • Ithaca 10th Anniversary Ale
  • Cricket Hill Best Bitter
  • Weyerbacher Double Simcoe
  • Sly Fox Seamus Red Ale
  • Troeg’s Hopback
  • Troeg’s Mt. Hood Red (which is really Troeg’s Pale Ale dry hopped with Mt. Hood Hops)
  • Bell’s Java Stout
  • Bell’s Two Hearted IPA
  • East End Fat Gary Nut Brown
  • Weyerbacher Double Simcoe
  • East End Gratitude
  • Lancaster Rare Cock Bock
  • Legacy Hedonism American Strong Ale

Besides our usual cast of characters, it was fun to hang out with Matt Allyn and his wife (from Voodoo Brewery), Scott from East End Brewing, and the Ithaca Brewing rep (sorry – I don’t have your card right here and I’ve forgotten the name…)

 New Friends at Voodoo   Fat Gary\'s Nut Brown Ale   (thanks to Tim for being the photographer!)


Is this a good time to mention that on Friday I stopping in at Troeg’s for a taste of Scratch 11, dry hopped with Cascade hops, from a firkin? Mmmmm, mmmmm…tasty!

Countdown to Dark Lord Day

I know…it’s been ages since I’ve posted – that trip to Minneapolis ended with a conference for work, and I’ve been swamped with library stuff ever since.  That’s not to say there hasn’t been some great beer in my life – just no time to write about it!

In Wisconsin, we went to a fabulous beer bar called Maduro, from which I hope to someday post my notes, and had a really good time hanging out with Steve – a fellow collector and Beer Advocate – at his house. My only disappointment was that I missed out on a cask of Surly Darkness later that week, but work took priority.

I did make it to State College for Zeno’s Cask Festival (see next post) before heading off to another conference, where I was again terribly busy.  But during that time, I did get over to Rustico in Arlington, VA for a glass of Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special 30 Reserve on Cask!  At $12 for an 8-oz glass, this black, smooth, smokey and chocolaty treat was so very worth it! And I spent a night out with an old friend at Sweetwater Tavern & Brewery in Merrifield, VA – that was fun.

So no links in this post, or the next, because I’m just shooting this off to let the world know I’m alive and haven’t given up on the blog or enjoying a lovely brew from time to time.  With Dark Lord Day coming up, and a very full agenda of stops along the way, I hope to be much better with keeping up!