You HAVE Come a Long Way!

Now if only the rest of us could catch up!Asheville Beer Week Logo

My friend James posted this entry to kick off Asheville Beer Week, and in it, he reflects how far they have come in such a short time.

North Carolina finally popped the cap on its archaic beer laws, and the scene was set for what we have today. This past year has seen Asheville and Western North Carolina land three major craft breweries that saw what was going on in our little ol’ town and liked it. It is a testament to the brewers, beer store owners, and beer drinkers of Western North Carolina that allowed this to happen. One of the many endearing qualities that Asheville has is an emphasis on locally made and grown products, and supporting your neighbors business.

Events begin on May 24 (although I might argue that ANY day in Asheville is an event!), and wind down (again, as much as anything winds down in Asheville!) on June 3. During this 11-day event, one of the highlights is the Third Annual Beer City Festival, hosted by Asheville Brewers Alliance and showcasing the best beers brewed in the Carolinas.

If you have the opportunity, drop everything and get your mug to Asheville! If you’re already there, have a few for me, and congratulations!


2011 Harrisburg Brewers Fest

8th Annual Harrisburg Brewers Fest

June 18, 2011

The 3,500 tickets for the 8th Annual Harrisburg Brewers Fest will go on sale online or by phone (by calling the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at (717) 671-4000) on April 1, 2011 at 9:00 am.

Sales continue on May 2, 2011 as walk-up sales at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (55 South Progress Ave., Harrisburg) and Tröegs Brewing Company (800 Paxton Street, Harrisburg). Buy your $40 General Admission tickets early, because they will sell out / will not be available at the door.

Tröegs Brewing Company is teaming up with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Central Pennsylvania to put on this outdoor beer and music festival at 2nd and Locust Streets in downtown Harrisburg. (Want to get a sense of the scene? Check out photos from last year!) The event will take place on Saturday, June 18.

There will be two sessions – one starting at noon (ending at 3:30 pm) and the second starting at 5:00 pm (ending at 8:30 pm). Included in the price of the ticket are a collector’s sampling mug, unlimited samples from up to 50 breweries and live musical entertainment. There will also be food concessions available.

There is a Group Rate purchase price of $35/person for 20 or more tickets (call CFF to purchase group tickets), and there are Designated Driver tickets available for $10/person. Ticket costs are tax-deductible (General Admission Ticket: $19; Group Ticket: $14).

It’s great fun, for a great cause. Don’t miss out!

2011 Hops, Vines & Wines

Not that this awesome event needs additional ticket sales promotion, but as a reminder to those who need reminding – get ready to get your tickets!

Tickets for the 4th Annual Selinsgrove Beer and Wine Festival – Hops, Vines & Wines – to be held on July 16 from 2:00 to 6:00 pm, will only be sold online, and they go FAST!

Make sure you are ready with your computer and credit card, because on April 16 at 8:00 am EST, the sale starts and they will sell out.

Ticket prices for 2011 aren’t listed yet, but it’s pretty easy to assume things won’t be much different from last year.  Check out theweb site for all kinds of details on the festival, and check the ticket sales page between now and April 15 for updates.

The Road to Brewgrass 2009

Julie said it all so well when she talked about the night before Brewgrass Eve.  As one Ashevegas local put it last night as she stood in line to get her BrewDog tastings, “Thursday night is ‘going out night’ in Asheville”, and there was plenty to do!

Bruisin’ Ales was just the start of a great night – the Scotland brewery was well represented with Jason and Julie talking up the seven different BrewDog beers available (I think the site lists 5, and then there were two of their Paradox beers as well – smoked and unsmoked.) Everything was really good, but I was most impressed with Dogma – a 7.8% ale brewed Scottish heather honey and a blend of guarana, poppy seeds and kola nut. Five malts and both Bramling Cross and Amarillo hops contribute to the complexity of this easy-drinking ale.

From the tasting, we headed over to the Thirsty Monk for the 7 pm tapping Founder’s Canadian Breakfast Stout. Just when I keep thinking, “Enjoy this – you’ll never get it again!,” the seemingly impossible happens, and someone else is serving it! The Monk also featured a cask of New Belgium Hoptober and a keg of Ballast Point Sculpin. It was great to catch up with all of our friends who came into town for the night and enjoy these three terrific beers!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few other stops on our way to Asheville. It was enjoyable, as always, to make a stop off in Afton, VA at Blue Mountain Brewery where the Big DIPA was on tap, as well as the Nitro Ale Imperial Porter. We ended our enjoyable evening at Blue Mountain by sharing a bottle of Mandolin – a 9% Tripel named for the brewer’s wife (Mandi Lynn).We pulled in at the same time as Uncle Jedi and Purple Hat Joan (as planned!), so it was great to catch up with them over dinner.

That evening, we were sleeping in Blacksburg, so we decided to check out The Cellar, which had Blacksburger Pils on tap – served in the proper glass! – and also, Shooting Creek Rebel Ale. It was a quiet night in the college town, and I’m pretty sure we closed the place.

So then it was back to the hotel, where Jim shared a growler of Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale with us! I was tired, and frantically searching for my driver’s licence (which I seem to have lost or forgotten…), but kept pulling myself out of it to enjoy this Imperial Belgian Porter brewed with chocolate malt, dark candi sugar, vanilla bean, and tangerine peel, then aged on French Oak chips. This 8.7% beer boasts chocolate, tobacco, molasses, vanilla and hints of banana and clove. It was a great finish for the night!

Finally, one more stop to boast about on our way out of Blacksburg – Vintage Cellar – where we found an amazing selection of wines and an outstanding beer selection. In the hundreds of beers there, I managed to seek out the one we thought we’d missed out on…a stray six pack of Duck-Rabbit Schwarzbier!

It’s raining in Asheville this morning, so we’re making a lazy one of it, but look forward to visiting Pisgah (just ’cause we love it!), Highland (for the special release of 2009 Tasgall Scottish Ale at 4 PM today!) and Wedge, among other things we’ll do in town on Brewgrass Eve!

NY Craft Beer Week 2009: September 11-20

NYC_Beer_Week_passport_coverA couple of weeks ago I wrapped my hands around the NYC Beer Passport and after looking it over, I am convinced this is a “must have” for anyone planning to be in New York for Beer Week or anyone new to drinking New York City.

This 160-page pocket guide contains details on everything that is happening around the city, but it’s so much more! Beer dinners, beer walks, articles on beer, an index of venues, an index of breweries (and where to find those beers) and a listing of styles that shows which beers (by style) will be found during NYC Beer Week.

82 pages are dedicated to participating bars. Each has a page, color-coded by borough, with maps, transit stops, hours, information about special features at the bar, a listing of featured beers, deals provided to passport holders, events at the bar and kitchen information. It’s a great tool for NYC Beer Week – good for deals throughout the city including event discounts – but it’s also helpful for return visits to the city. Some of the deals are available through Labor Day 2010!

During NYC Beer Week, the passport gets you $2 pints at each of the participating bars, a complimentary 8 oz pour of NY3 – the official beer of NYC Beer Week (a Farmhouse Ale brewed with local honey from each of the three brewers – Ithaca, Captain Lawrence and Southampton – which is dry-hopped with hops from Pedersen Farms) – at the Gotham Cask Festival, reduced rates on reservations for Beer Walks and the Brooklyn Brewery Scavenger Hunt, discounted entry to any of the Deconstructing Beer events or the Women in Beerspeakers panel, an additional complimentary beer at the Zagat House Specials dinners, and a souvenir glass at A Walk in the Park at Studio Square – the official closing event which boasts 40+ rare & special craft beers, the premiere of Beer Quest (soon to be found at at 4 PM and 8 PM, local foods and music.

By now, if you haven’t purchased a passport, you probably missed out on the pre-sale specials, but there is plenty to be gained by getting one of these, and you can pick them up all over the city!

Old Forge – New Hours

The deck at Old Forge Brewing in Danville, PA is open, and starting next month, there will be added hours to enjoy it! They will now be open on Tuesdays (4 PM – 12 AM) and extending Wednesday and Thursday hours to midnight.

So that’s Tuesday evenings from from 4 PM to midnight, and Wednesday through Sunday opening at 11 AM and closing ad midnight; still closed Mondays.

Still can’t get there? Check them out at Harrisburg Brewers Fest (June 20)  or at the Hops, Vines & Wines Festival in Selinsgrove (July 18).


Pilgramage to Dark Lord Day 2009

After the fiasco of last year, I considered not attending the 2009 event, but it feels like with the new “golden ticket” program, Three Floyds may have a handle on the event today. Except that it’s pushing 7 AM Central, and they haven’t posted how many bottles a ticket holder can purchase yet – cash only, $15 – I’m thinking the ATM lines are going to be the ones to worry about this year!

I’m (voluntarily) stuck in Philadelphia, so I missed out on the pre-DLD festivities, but the text messages and Facebook updates sounded like everyone is having a great time.

Can’t wait to be there!

Philly Beer Week – Day 3

The events of Philly Beer Week are too numerous to account for everything there is to do, or everything we would want to do. But two events stuck out for us on day 3, and they involved a fairly new brewery that has started distributing in PA, and some classic breweries from the northern regions of Pennsylvania.

After a hearty breakfast, we headed over to Capone’sin Norristown for a meet the brewer event with Patrick Rue of The Brueryin Orange County, CA. This small craft brewery is located in Orange County, CA and the name comes from a fusion of the word “brewery” and the family name “Rue”. They create unfiltered, non-pasteurized beers that are made with a unique combination of ingredients and only bottle conditioned.

We enjoyed samples of three beers, and purchased glasses of the others:

  • White Orchard– a Belgian-style witbier spiced with coriander, citrus peel and lavender. The brewery also reports that a spicy, fruity yeast strain is used to add complexity, and rolled oats are added for a silky texture (5.7% ABV)
  • Black Orchard– a Belgian-style black wheat beer brewed with chamomile, coriander and citrus peel (5.7% ABV)
  • Saison de Lente– a spring saison that the website describes as hoppy and light; fermented with brettanomyces and house yeast from the beginning of fermentation (6.5% ABV )
  • Saison Rue– a farmhouse ale brewed with malted rye. It is described by the brewer as having spicy, fruity yeast notes, biscuit-like malt backbone, and a slight citrus hop character (8.5% ABV)
  • Hottenroth Berliner Weisse– a tart German-style Berliner Weisse fermented with lactobacillus and brettanomyces for a traditional sour quality (3.1% ABV)

Next, it was back to Memphis Tap Room to make sure everyone got a chance at the Dorado. Unfortunately for us (but not the lucky people who were part of the event) there was a vintage beer event going on, so we couldn’t get any food service. Their food and pourings looked extremely interesting. We did enjoy our pints, and brought a few of our own snacks out to hold us over.

Our next stop was the Grey Lodge Public House where Lew Bryson and Scoats were hosting a full line-up of beers that don’t normally appear in the Philadelphia marketshare. Lew gave a nice speech including a brief history of the brewery business, and some current updates on the brewing scene in State College, Williamsport, Berwick and Wilkes-Barre. The beers included:

  • Bavarian Barbarian Square Feet Wheat Dunkelweizen
  • Bullfrog Beesting
  • Elk Creek Belgian Strong
  • One Guy Atomic Punk IPA
  • Stegmaier Holiday Warmer – spice holiday ale aged in Chardonnay barrels
  • Stegmaier Porter
  • Yuengling Bock Beer – a new beer to the PA market

Our next stop was Teresa’s Next Door. Our friends were attending the New Holland Beers from the Vaultevent, and highly recommended going there for dinner. Teresa’s was a terrific choice for a satisfying and interesting meal.  We started with a trio of lovely cheeses, bread and fruit – all at half-price on a Sunday. I had the Crocus & Cream mussels made with saffron, diced tomato, white wine, shallot and cream paired with the very best wood-roasted green asparagus that I’ve ever had. D had the Cassoulet, made with white beans, duck confit, veal sausage, and chicken.

The beer choice was Duval Green on it’s US debut, only on draft. I would take the time to talk about it, but the rest of my party is itching to get back to Philly Beer Week (day 4) events, and it’s already been said.

Philly Beer Week – Night 2

It was a short night around the world, but especially for those of us beer traveling in Philadelphia.

Memphis Tap Room is a fabulous example of a the Philly corner beer bar, and the owners make sure that the beer list is always outstanding. There are at least eleven taps, each with a superb draft available, and this week –  to make it more special – they are doing a “No Repeat Beer Week”. When one kegs kicks, they replace it with something new, with the attempt to go through about 100 different beer. They are featuring Belgians, lagers, black beers (including porters and stouts), American IPAs, hop monsters, session beers, cask ale and beers “in a league of their own”!

On Saturday afternoon we had such a great time there, that we’ve returned on Sunday (it also has free wi-fi, so a great place to blog!) On Saturday, a tap kicked while we were there, and at our request, Brendan replaced it with Ballast Point Dorado (a double IPA at 9.6% ABV) – one of our favorites in this category. D and I also enjoyed the beef pasties (which were more like pulled beef empanadas) and fried okra. We’ve returned today for our friends to get Dorado, and right now I’m taking in an Avery Ale to the Chief (Imperial IPA; 8.75% ABV).

From Memphis Tap Room, we crossed town to 44th and Spruce to meet up with friends at Local 44. To be expected because of the shared ownership with Memphis Tap Room, this is also a great corner pub with an outstanding tap list.

I was ready for a coffee, but not long after, ordered a Bear Republic Racer 5 on cask along with the shared order of plantain-encrusted fish tacos (I can’t get enough of these!) Local 44 was packed with people, so we were lucky to have a table. And Leigh, being her usual personable self, took time out to chat with us and give us advice on a few things to do while we’re in town, as well as put in a plug for her event next Sunday, which I’m not sure I can miss. From the website:

One BIG Afternoon of Russian River Beers on Tap

Be here at 11:30am on Sunday, March 15 for the tapping of more Russian River beer that we’ve ever seen in one place, outside of Santa Rosa.

We’ll be pouring both Plinys, Blind Pig, Consecration, Damnation and Salvation. All at once. We’ve got a limited amount of each, when they’re gone, they’re gone!

It was a great time, but we needed to move on, so we headed over to Dock Street Brewing in West Philly for a few beers and cannoli. It was a great night to sit outside and enjoy the warmer weather before heading to the ‘burbs (Paoli) to find Scott and Vickie at TJ’s Drinkery and head back to their house for a great (late) night of bottle tasting. This long night would have been fine, were it not for a combination of Daylight Savings Time and early-bird D going out to the grocery store, only to lock himself out! He woke us all up trying to get back in, and attempted to make up for it by cooking a super breakfast.

Obviously we’re having a great time taking in the Philly Beer Week experience. Still hoping I can keep up with recording all of the fun!

Philly Beer Week – Day 2

It’s Day 2 of Philly Beer Week, and I can honestly say I am BLOWN AWAY by the hospitality of this city.

D and I woke up from our cushy accommodations at the Crowne Plaza (we were fortunate to get this, as we were scheduled to stay on an air bed on the floor of an apartment that no longer became available…), and we headed out to meet Ffej and Brandi at Johnny Brenda’sin Fishtown. There was a stout brunch being held (advertised as 10 stouts, but with the cask, it was really 11!)  We had a terrific meal – my oyster stew and grilled asparagus were outstanding! – and a series of fabulous stouts.

I started with Dock Street Satellite Stout (which was a great substitute for my morning cup of coffee!) and a Philadephia Brewing Company Shackamaximum Stout (which was a beautiful stout that tasted like it was infused with Nestle Quick!) I also tasted from D’s O’Reiley’s Irish Stout and Yard’s Love Stout. We really enjoyed ourselves there – the windows were open to let the fresh warm “spring” air in, and the food was really enjoyable along with the excellent collection of stouts.

Next we headed to Mephis Tap Room(which is where I’m blogging from, but might not complete my notes…), and passed by a vacant lot on Frankford Street. I just happened to look over and see Philadelphia Brewing Company stenciled on a brick industrial building that looked just about ready to topple over.

We decided to go around the block – just to check it out – and found that the “toppled over” area was a very nice courtyard, and the brewing company was just beginning a three-hour first anniversary celebration! We walked right in before the crowd really gathered, and found that a person could enjoy all of the free beer and food they cared for!

The courtyard, downstairs bottling line, upstairs brewing area and taproom were all outlets for beer (although there was a special line for the one-ticket-per-person Shackamaximum Stout). Around the bottling area was a full buffet of pizza, soft pretzels, chili, rice, cheese, pepperoni and ring bologna. And out in the courtyard, the Choptank Osyter Companywas shucking the biggest, sweetest farm-raised Chesapeake oysters I’ve ever had (YUMMMM!) There was a really fun band in the taproom, too. What a TREAT to stumble upon! We are really thankful to the Philadelphia Brewing Company for throwing such a great party – it just might be the treat of the week.

So now we’re sitting in the Memphis Tap Room – one of the best beer bars in the city and sister to our other favorite place, Local 44. We came in “just because”, but are so pleased that we stayed. It is No Repeat Beer Week, and Brendan did us a real favor by putting on Ballast Point Dorado.

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to stop here because…well, I’ve been enjoying the beers AND our food just came… More soon???