Zymurgy Literature in Libraries

Today, as I sat in a library policy review meeting and saw “blogs” on the list of policies to be considered, I thought about a blog coming from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, where a staff member was empowered to wax poetic about his love of beer, brewing and non-fiction literature that enhances the experience.

I didn’t stumble upon this collaborative blog because I’m a librarian. I discovered it because of content in this single post. I’ll be subscribing, and checking in frequently to see if the other writers are as interesting as Wes, and then searching our collections for their recommendations.

(Oh, how I miss living in the ‘Burgh and visiting the Carnegie!)

Perhaps one day staff in my library system will be inspired, encouraged and empowered to write so passionately about our own collection and share it with the world.

* Zymurgy
* Literature

New York Craft Beer Week Tickets & Details

I received the quoted section below in an email, and also noticed a rise in hits to my blog entries on this event. September 12 is fast approaching – make plans to attend this week of extraordinary beer!

At the website, you will find the terrific dinners planned, the beers available and a full list of Neighborhood Beer Bar Crawls that finish with a keepsake glass. With a 48-page (downloadable) passport which is absolutely complete, including descriptions and maps, there is plenty of beer to be found!

Thank you again for your interest in New York Craft Beer Week!

We have an unbelievable line-up of non-stop events planned for all ten days between September 12th and 21st. Much anticipated, all event information is now updated on our website, with several more events to be added in the coming days so check back regularly.

We are proud to announce the launching of our full website where TICKETS ARE NOW AVAILABLE to all neighborhood beer bar crawls.

On each crawl, you’ll be treated to your choice of one serving of the selected Northeast craft beers at each participating bar. At the end of the night, a fresh commemorative edition glass will be provided to you to take home. Remember, every neighborhood is available for purchase every day, but act early as there are limited quantities and tickets will sell quickly.

If you happen to stop by any of the participating venues, look for free copies of our program guide, the NYC BEER PASSPORT. In the meanwhile, feel free to check out an online version downloadable from the website (wherever you put it).

Enjoy your upcoming Labor Day, and make sure you catch up with work afterwards to take full advantage of everything on offer through the city during New York Craft Beer Week 2008.

It’s pretty exciting to see this evolving!

Carnage: Taking Back the Basement in 2008

Just a few of the smaller bottles

Just a few of the smaller bottles

It was a great evening to host a party in the yard on Saturday night. People brought great food, and some even added to the beer line-up. Thanks especially to Sean for the tenderloin, Jen for the cake, Karen for the tortes, Frank for the pizza, Marcie for chocolate, David & Sara for the salad, Adam & Kate for the awesome bread and dip, Ffej & Brandi for the chips and hummus (but not for those hot, hot peppers!) – these were just a few of my favorite things!

I don’t have time to do a full report, but thought I should give a little update to those of you who are following my campaign to Take Back the Basement in 2008. I’m losing, but our guests that evening, including our guest of honor (Jerry) and our dear friend Pam, helped go through bottles of the following:

  1. Supplication (Russian River Brewing, CA)
  2. Vortex II (Pisgah Brewing, NC)
  3. The Mad Elf Ale (Tröegs Brewing, PA)
  4. Pale Ale (Tröegs Brewing, PA)
  5. Christmas Ale (Abita Brewing, LA)
  6. Light Ale (Sprecher, WI)
  7. Germania (Eder & Heylands Brauerei, Germany)
  8. Gratitude (East End Brewing, PA)
  9. Black Marlin Porter (Ballast Point Brewing, CA)
  10. Hop-15 Ale (Port Brewing Co, CA)
  11. Happy Ending (SweetWater Brewing, GA)
  12. Infusco (Rock Art Brewery, VT)
  13. Hoptimus Prime – Double IPA (Legacy Brewing, PA)
  14. Gemini (Southern Tier Brewing, NY)
  15. Crème Brulee (Southern Tier Brewing, NY)
  16. Grand Cru (AleSmith Brewing, CA)
  17. Speedway Stout (AleSmith Brewing, CA)
  18. YuleSmith Holiday Ale (AleSmith Brewing, CA)
  19. Guldenberg Belgian Abbey Beer (Brouwerij De Ranke, Belgium)
  20. Stateside IPA (Mikkeller, Denmark)
  21. TEN (Ithaca Beer, NY)
  22. Redbach (Brouwerij Rodenbach N.V., Belgium)
  23. Anniversary Ale Part Deux 2007 – Grapefruit (Short’s Brewing, MI)
  24. Brown Ale (Duck Rabbit Brewing, NC)
  25. Domaine DuPage French Style Country Ale (Two Brothers Brewing, IL)
  26. Cane & Ebel (Two Brothers Brewing, IL)
  27. Cold Mountain Winter Ale (Highland Brewing, NC)
  28. Oatmeal Porter (Highland Brewing, NC)
  29. Wisconsin Belgian Red (New Glarus Brewing, WI)
  30. Raspberry Tart (New Glarus Brewing, WI)
  31. Hearty Hop (New Glarus Brewing, WI)
  32. Berliner Weiss – Unplugged (New Glarus Brewing, WI)
  33. Rübæus (Founder’s Brewing, MI)
  34. Breakfast Stout (Founder’s Brewing, MI)
  35. Red’s Rye (Founder’s Brewing, MI)
  36. Gorch Fock (Three Floyd’s Brewing, IN)
  37. Dreadnaught (Three Floyd’s Brewing, IN)
  38. Oaked Arrogant Bastard (Stone Brewing, CA)
  39. Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier (Brauerei Weihenstephan, Germany)
  40. Phoenix Pale Ale (Sly Fox Brewing, PA)
  41. American (Pittsburgh Brewing, PA)
  42. Eleven – Triple IPA (Weyerbacher Brewing, PA)
  43. Hopslam (Bells Brewing, MI)
  44. Winter White Ale (Bells Brewing, MI)
  45. Hop-ocalypse (Clay Pipe Brewing, MD)
  46. Sterkens Dubbel Ale (Brouwerij Sterkens N.V., Belgium)
  47. Gavroche (Brasserie De Saint-Sylvestre, France)
  48. Fred (Hair of the Dog, OR)

We started with a “bobbing for beer” bucket, where there were some real winners, and some real losers. D called it “Dip & Deal,” and people were allowed to trade if they could talk someone into drinking a beer they would rather not have (someone actually drank the American which we own to use as a compost starter!) After that, we attempted to share the range of selected bottles among everyone interested.

Check out this line-up!

Check out this line-up!

The beer of the night was definitely Vortex II from Pisgah, which we compared to Speedway Stout from AleSmith, but still preferred the former.

Another top-rated beer was Crème Brulee from Southern Tier – some of us finding that it went perfectly with the torte (even dipping the torte in the beer…a bit extreme for me!) Two of my favorites were the Redbach (supplied by Karen) and the Anniversary Ale Part Deux 2007 – Grapefruit Version, which is apparently a bourbon double IPA.

But wait...there's more!

But wait...there's more!

Thanks to Brandi’s help getting the dishes and food put away, I was able to get myself out of bed and off to HersheyPark in the morning for a full day of roller coasters (where we rode in the front seat of every one!) Despite the carnage, I don’t think anyone was too bad off!

Elysian Brings 7 Labels to PA

I sat down to write tonight because I thought I had news… I discovered that Elysian Brewing has seven registered brands in Pennsylvania, and started digging just enough to learn that they are bringing beers into PA as early as next month.

And then I started to read mid-July announcements about a collaboration between New Belgium (Fort Collins, CO) and Elysian (Seattle, WA) to reciprocate brewing (the larger New Belgium sending things to Washington to brew in small batches; the smaller Elysian sending things to Colorado to brew in large batches.) I got even more excited!

And then, digging deeper and looking for more possible links to the story, I learned that it has already been told!

For that reason, I will not repeat all of it. I even had the same QUESTION that she ended with…I’m really hoping this means New Belgium is coming soon…but I’m hoping I can answer one of hers below. She asked about the “portfolio”, an it looks like, at least for now, we can expect the following:

Four from the general line-up

  • Dragonstooth Stout
  • Perseus Porter
  • The Immortal IPA
  • The Wise ESB

And three Seasonals

  • Avatar Jasmine IPA
  • Bifröst Winter Ale
  • Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

I’ll be keeping an eye on the list to see if any are added. I assume if they are paying to register them, they are coming.

We first visited Elysian while in Seattle on a beer-cation back in the late ’90s. I went back again in 2002 while visiting town on business, and D and I returned in 2005. Obviously I’m a fan of the place, and I’m thrilled to hear we’ll soon have the opportunity to get it on the east coast.

Raspberry Beer Run

A major theme on our departure from Madison was seeking out raspberry beers – specifically New Glarus Raspberry Tart, and with the same passion, but not nearly the concern, Founder’s Rübæus.

New Glarus is busy working on an expansion project, and already brewing at the new facility, but I am speculating that they haven’t been producing Raspberry Tart lately. Even at the facility, there were apologetic signs to explain that it can not be purchased on site. This is a unique framboise – a lambic brewed with “Wisconsin farmed wheat and year old Hallertau hops” that is refermented with Brettanomyces yeast found on the Oregon-grown berries – that weighs in at 4% and is found in wax-sealed 22-ounce bombers.

D and Dain went to Steve’s Liquors to get some, but Steve’s didn’t have any. The employee at Steve’s referred them to another store, even calling ahead to confirm five cases were available (but not placing a reservation.) In the interest of kindness, our crew allowed some guys from Colorado to go first in Steve’s checkout line. Don’t you know, those “Coloradans” (we called them something different, but it’s not a nice word to use here) overheard the conversation, drove ahead, and bought ALL FIVE CASES?!?!  We just wanted a few bottles and they bought every last one… At $8. a bottle, who would have thought they would get all 5 cases right out from under us?

So we searched and searched, finally finding success in McFarland, WI – two bottles tucked in the cooler at Bob’s McFarland Liquor, and ten more after a tense search at J & B Liquor (when he figured out what we were asking for, the guy at J & B was so excited to sell so much to us, he threw in a bottle of New Glarus Belgian Red Cherry Ale!) We celebrated our finds by stopping at Culver’s for cheese curds before hitting the road to have lunch,  buy some fudge and cheese, and a take brewery tour in New Glarus.

As for Rübæus, the problem is a little different. We really didn’t look very far at first – we get this in PA, an we were planning to go to Founder’s on this trip. Our hunt for NG Raspberry Tart changed that plan, but we still felt confident we could get this along on our way. At the Great Taste, however, we learned differently. Rübæus, the brewers told us, will be removed from the line-up due to the overwhelmingly increased cost of raspberries. They are brewing a Cherry Ale (not currently described on the website, but now available at the brewery; they were available side-by-side at the Michigan Brewer’s Guild Summer Festival.)

UGH! This news broke my heart, especially because I really didn’t care for the Cherry Ale. I love the 7% beer brewed with raspberry puree, served from a bottle with the prettiest label ever (the only thing better than a Rübæus is Rübæus on tap mixed with Founder’s Imperial Stout!) Unfortunately, it just doesn’t cellar well, so while we did get a case as soon as we got home, and I will savor every bottle, it won’t last long.

This sad news came on the heels of hearing that Founder’s will also no longer brew Devil Dancer. Norman Miller shared the story with Massachusetts readers, and it’s centered around that darn hops shortage.

Well, as far as I know, there is still Raspberry Eisbock from Kuhnhenn in our cellar. If you’ve never had it, you must read the description at this blog (why not read all of the fruit beer descriptions while you’re there – they are terrific reading!)

I’ve now got plenty of raspberry beers to get me through the summer…

Great Taste of the Midwest

The 22nd Annual Great Taste of the Midwest is now a few days behind us, so we’ve had time to reflect on the remarkable selection of breweries represented and the beers we consumed (as well as the unfortunate misses.) It was a perfectly organized event in a beautiful location, and the only real complaint our traveling group had was that we couldn’t take it all in during the allotted five hours.

With the crowd limited to 5000, and learning that only 25% of the mail-order lottery tickets were fulfilled, I continue to be amazed that we, and our out-of-town friends, all got tickets. It was convenient to stay miles away from the festival since shuttle buses were organized from points around the city. We were able to walk to a shuttle stop and travel to Olin-Turville Park.

Members of the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild donned beige work shirts and, in a polite manner, herded us into the well-organized line which serpentined around the park grounds. Soon after, more MHTG volunteers arrived trading our tickets for wrist bands (which conveniently displayed the phone number for the cab company) and we obtained the ~60 page booklet and map listing all of the information needed to make it around the festival (the program and other printed materials are available to download in PDF.) The people in line were polite, and there was enough shade and grass to make the wait tolerable.

Great Taste of the Midwest

Great Taste of the Midwest

When the crowd started to move, we were once again herded through the line where we picked up our heavy-bottomed glass, sized to accommodate our 2-oz pours, and the quest for the best beers began.

Five large tents housed 120 brewer’s booths, and smaller tents were set up for vendors, food pairings, demonstrations and a Real Ale tent. The Real Ale tent was a great set-up. There were around 25 kegs lined up on either side of the tent, in rows stacked two kegs high, and covered with bags of ice to keep them at a reasonable temperature. There were signs above the kegs, and lists on the tables, so we could order by number. The MHTG volunteers would find the tap and pour from the firkin. In retrospect, I could have spent my whole day right there.

We went to the Real Ale tent for Kuhnhenn’s Crème Brulee Java Stout, but missed out by mere seconds. We did, however, enjoy Surly’s Tea Bag Furious (while we stared aghast at Surly Darkness draining out at a slow pour from an open tap.) Another one I enjoyed – and apparently my companions did not – was M and D Peanut Butter Brown from the Orland Park Rock Bottom.

I hang out with a fun crowd!

The food tents offered lots of snack choices: liverwurst and cheese sandwiches, subs of all kinds, kabobs, brats, dogs, burgers and pizza. And coolers were allowed, so we could bring our own food and water. Earlier in the day, Uncle Jedi took Brandi and I to the farmer’s market at the capital building and to Trader Joe’s, so I had cheese curds, beef stick and pretzel slims to enjoy between beers.

I hang out with a fun crowd!

People had chairs set up in the shade, and acoustic musical groups played throughout the park (the accordion ladies even let me try my hand at the squeezebox – I don’t have that talent!) Port-o-potties were plentiful, but I was also pleased to find real flushables in the park. With the Madison skyline in view, and breezes off Lake Monona, it was a perfect spot to spend the day.

It was a wonderful day and there was no way to keep a list of all of the beers, but here are a few of my favorites:

  • Piece (Chicago, IL) – Cameltoe
  • Blind Tiger (Topeka, KS) – Java Porter
  • Founder’s (Grand Rapids, MI) – Cherry Ale
  • The Livery (Benton Harbor, MI) – Impeche
  • Short’s (Bellaire, MI) – Cup-a-Joe Coffee Creme Stout, Anniversary Ale 2008 (a double IPA with seven varieties of hops in seven hop additions at 8.5%ABV and 100 IBUs, this was probably my favorite of the festival!) and Nicie Spicie
  • Surly (Brooklyn Center, MN) – Coffee Bender and Tea Bagged Furious (on cask)
  • Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams; Cinncinnati, OH) – Blackberry Witbier (I say this in comparison to the Coffee Stout; samples of each were available to be voted upon for the 2008 Brewmaster’s Selection)
  • Central Waters (Amherst, WI) – Brewhouse Coffee Stout
  • Viking (Dallas, WI) – Hot Chocolate (chocolate stout made with cocoa, milk sugar and a dash of cayenne pepper)

And in the category of, “How did I miss that?!?!” are the following:

  • Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery – Mango Mama
  • Flossmoor Station – oh, just about everything! – Organic Woody in the Woods, Sarge, Killer Kowalski
  • Goose Island – Juliet
  • Three Floyds – Vanilla Bean Barrel-aged Dark Lord
  • Free State – Lemon Grass Rye
  • White Winter – Plum Mead and Blueberry Yum

It’s taken me days to get this post up, so I don’t imagine I’ll find time to talk about the Surly event we attended at Alchemy (brought to us by The Beer Spot) or the Bell’s event at Maduro, but I may find time to talk about the trip home…

Destination Madison – Already Behind

It’s only day 2, and I just can’t keep up.  Drink beer or blog – those are my choices, and I choose beer.

So for those who care, let me just tell you where we’ve been, and not elaborate on how much tremendous fun we are having (or how horrible the traffic has been.)  We are heading into Madison tonight, but our day went something like this:

  • Liquor Stop distributor in Highland, IN was our first stop for bottles of Three Floyd’s and other things we can’t get in PA (I also got a good deal on Chateau St. Jean CabSav – 2003)
  • Piece in Chicago for awesome (AWESOME!) beer and pizza
  • Lakefront in Milwaukee for a tour and tasting (where I got to be “Shirley” (of Laverne and…), and we got lots of free beer and a pint glass!); you can take your own tour at their site
  • and now we are sitting at Tyranena, using the wi-fi and enjoying Scurvy IPA

Tonight we will end up in Madison, where there are many, many special release parties all over town, 105 breweries represented at the festival tomorrow, and more parties in town again tomorrow night.  Hooray for a town with fabulous public transportation!

I’ll write when I can, but don’t hold your breath!

Michigan Breweries – Far East and Far West

Circumstances created a delay in our leaving PA until Thursday morning, so we arrived in Eastern Michigan (Warren, which is north of Detroit) later in the day than we had hoped – but that was a good thing, as we forgot that Dragonmead doesn’t open on weekdays before 3 PM. It’s great that Dragonmead can offer half-pints and creative in-house sodas, so our driver could be conservative while the rest of us enjoyed as many as we could of the 35 or so craft brewed beers.

Three of us had sampler trays with the potential of knocking out half of the inventory. I don’t recall having this option on my first visit We received a card with five blank spaces where we could choose our beers. And when she filled them, they fit perfectly into a little wooden stand in an arc arrangement around a raised Dragonmead seal. The card slid perfectly into the back of the wooden stand to remind us which five we had chosen from the massive wall of taps.

I apparently chose wisely, as I really enjoyed all five of my selections. I had small sips from Brandi’s tray and Dain’s as well, and can’t say that anything was less than good, but I loved my selections:

  • Andromeda Heather Ale – 4.6% ABV, and much darker in color than I anticipated and host to an array of herbal notes
  • Woody’s Perfect Porter – 5.0% ABV and served on nitro; this English-style Brown Porter was perfect, as stated in the name; mild and hinting of chocolate
  • Crown Jewel’s IPA – 7.0% ABV; a beer I had on my last visit and found highly favorable
  • Juggernaut Double Red – 8.0%; If we understood correctly, this was their greatest mistake – a blended recipe of the Crown Jewels and Final Absolution (a Belgian ale), and it was the best beer of the lot.
  • Reverend Fred’s Oatmeal Stout – 5.5% ABV and served on nitro.

I didn’t write down things that I tasted from Dain’s tray or either of the things Deuane had, but Brandi’s selections were:

  • Kaiser’s Kolsch – 4.6% ABV
  • Erik the Red (Irish-style amber ale) – 4.5% ABV
  • Wench Water (Belgian pale ale) – 5.2% ABV
  • Bill’s Witbier – 4.9% ABV
  • Redwing Raspberry Wheat – 4.7% ABV

(and yes, Ffej, Brandi tried the Crown Jewels and really liked it!!)

After a leisurely visit there, we took off across town for Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. On my last visit, I thought it looked a lot like a bingo hall, and was hopeful renovations were taking place. Improvements are being made – flooring, paint and a beautiful ceiling, and obviously larger restroom facilities are being installed. The bingo tables are gone, and there are many more high bar tables. A local played at the piano with his buddy drumming up business for him. Basically, if we could hum a few bars, he could play it – just about anything (except Blackbird by the Beatles.) And he wouldn’t accept tips or let us buy him a beer. Apparently he just loves the music.

It didn’t take much for me at Kuhnhenn. A six-ounce glass of Tenacious Cassis at 16.5% ABV was all I could handle. The black and red current beverage was sweet, tart, thick and (obviously) high in alcohol. It paired perfectly with the dried tomato and basil goat cheese that Brandi chose, and with those powerful flavors, I didn’t desire a second beer.

Other beers around the table included American IPA (a boring name, but an awesome beer – fabulous aroma and full balanced sweet hops flavoring; 6.5%), Strawberry Panty Dropper (5%), Loonie Kuhnie Pale Ale (consumed in honor of Dain’s wife, Jill; 5.8%), and Simcoe Silly (a golden ale with sweet hops flavor; 8.5%).

We stayed way too long, eating popcorn, cheese and crackers, talking to the owners and singing with “piano man”, but eventually got on the road around 7:30 PM. We waved to Dark Horse at the Marshall exit, and to Bell’s at the K-Zoo exit, and grumbled at the traffic build up where the highway closed, but making our own detour, we arrived in Benton Harbor before The Livery closed (whew!)

Mikey G. was our bartender, and he was a lot of fun, to say the least! He took great care of us, even without the offering of cask ale (they closed those lines just before we arrived.) I loved the Double Paw IPA (8%), which I was able to get in a 10-oz glass, and the 555 IPA (6.5%), which D and I shared in a pint. We also enjoyed Hoppelbock (10%), Kilt Tilter Scotch Ale (9% – the last drops from the cask), Paris Roubaix (5.5%) and Barrel Aged Apple Cider (6% – we compared this to the Crown Royal!)

Hopefully we will get a chance to stop back in on our way home for a growler fill. The Livery is such a great place…

Mo’s Place has a Website

I don’t know when it happened, but Mo’s Place in Beaver, Kansas now has their own website.  WordPress reports statistics back to me, and our report from Mo’s Place Grill and Brewpub is one of the most visited on this blog.

Located in an unincorporated town of about 30 people, Len and Linda Moeder live the dream of owning their own business.  They’ve operated the restaurant since 1999, and in 2004 they obtained a microbrewery license and became a brewpub.  In 2006, when we visited, they were brewing on a half-barrel system and had quite a following among the locals.

In addition to owning the restaurant/pub and a house nearby, they bought the defunct bank – the only building in town with a basement – to use for beer storage.  And it’s not just the tiny brewing system that makes this place unique.  Where else can you find “gizzards” on the appetizer menu?

Neil Strine for President

The only relation this has to the enjoyment of craft beers is that I spent a good bit of my formative drinking years enjoying them with this man – Neil Strine – whose Presidential aspirations have taken him further than I ever imagined. I don’t mean to stray into the political, but this video is too amazing not to share.

Congratulations, Neil! I’m sure you’ll win the popular vote.  Especially with members of the Society for the Promotion of Camels in America.  

I wish I could have embedded the video, but the clicking on the link will take you to it, and the website will tell you all you need to know about this outstanding candidate.