Philly Beer Week – Day 1

We kicked off the 2nd Annual Philly Beer Week by stopping off at Capone’s in Norristown. We always love a visit there, and enjoyed a pint each with:

  • Philadelphia Joe Porter(5% ABV) made with 50 pounds of Peruvian coffee
  • Weyerbacher ECHO(6.8 ABV) – a rye winter IPA made with 30% rye malt, Simcoe and Centennial hops

Traveling down the Germantown Pike, we arrived in Mt. Airy where we easily found parking in the municipal lot tucked between McMenamin’s Tavernand Earth Bread + Brewery. Had we known we were going to wait so long for our companion, perhaps we would have gone to McMenamin’s – touted by author Don Russel as one of the most diverse pubs in the city. We instead sat at the bar, drinking and chatting with the bartender. He was very knowledgeable about he selections of beer and wine, and we enjoyed everything we had. We started with three beers at the bar:

  • EB+B Destiny’s Mild(3.6% ABV)
  • St. Bernardus Wit(5.5% ABV)
  • EB+B Ed Bear Stout(4.4% ABV)

We paired it with a Seed “bread” (the breads here are more pizza than flatbread, but very good none-the-less.) When our friends arrived, we were seated upstairs and shared a house beer – the EB+B Ober Spliner Pils(6.8% ABV) – which was absolutely delicious! It was more like a Belgian blonde, and I couldn’t get enough of our shared glass.

Next we wandered into Southeast Philly on a mission to attend a couple of beer events, specifically those being held at Pub on Passyunk East (P.O.P.E.) and Devil’s Den – a fairly new beer bar in the area, but both places were simply packed, so we wandered over to the South Philly Tap Room, where they were handing out glasses of New Glarus Belgian Red to the first 40 customers. There were far more than 40 people there, so there must have been some kind of code word, and we unknowingly used it. Three glasses came to our table, so we were a happy lot! In addition, we had

  • Arcadia Cocoa Loco
  • Newbold IPA on cask (Philadelphia Brewing Company)
  • Voodoo White Magic

For our last stop, we found the 1601 Bar, where it appeared they were playing “last tap standing”. There were three empty taps, and five full when we arrived, and it sounded like things were all pretty good that evening. Our friends closed the place, and saw a few more go off. Several of  us tried the Yuengling Bock (a little boring overall, but pretty bold considering the brewery!) and our friend Josh had Walt Wit (Philadelphia Brewing Company.)

It was a pretty nice night, considering our real lack of planning, and D & I ended up getting a room at the Crowne Plaza in Center City for just $50 on Priceline, so that really made things great!

We’re now on to Day 2, and I’m trying to keep up…keep checking in and we’ll see what happens!


Extreme Beer Fest – Boston, MA

On Saturday February 21, 2009 we spent our day, from 1 – 4:30 PM, at the 5th Annual Extreme Beer Fest, held at the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama. It is described as “a uniquely awesome and epic celebration of American brewers who push the boundaries of creative brewing – the original fest that helped define what “Extreme Beer” is all about.”

Breweries are hand-picked to attend this event, and are required to have knowledgeable people behind their booths, which typically means the brewers and key staff are there.  The room was lined with breweries along the perimeter, and one row down the center, leaving plenty of room for people to stand, sip and enjoy over 100 Extreme Beers from over 30 different breweries.

Naturally, I lost my tasting list in all the excitement, but here is what I can recreate of my tastings from the list provided on Beer Advocate  (alphabetically by brewer and in no particular preference order):

Allagash Brewing Co. (ME):  Bi-Curieux– Curieuxaged in barrels for 1.5-years with locally grown hops; 11.0% ABV

Bell’s Brewery (MI): Bell’s Bourbon Barrel-Aged Expedition / Double Cream Blend – A brand spanking new blended American Stout.

Cambridge Brewing Co. (MA): CaCow!– Chocolate Milk Stout brewed with milk sugar (lactose) and locally roasted cacao nibs from Taza Chocolate; 6.0% ABV

Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. (NY):  Cuvee de Castleton– American Sour in wood with Muscat grapes added; 8.0% ABV; Golden Delicious– American Tripel in apple brandy barrels; 10.0%  ABV; Little Linda’s Lixer– American Sour with cherries; 8.5% ABV

Dark Horse Brewing (MI): Whiskey Richard in Mouth with Kumquat– Belgian-style pale fermented and aged 2-years in bourbon barrels with kumquat fruit; 9% ABV

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (DE): Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right BA Select– A collaboration beer brewed by Sam Calagione, Bryan Selders, and the Alström Bros at the original RehobothBeach Dogfish Head brewpub. Brewed with maple syrup, chestnuts, green peppercorns, Korean Corn tea (Oksusu-cha), Fawcett’s Maris Otter base malt, MFP kiln coffee malt, Liberty and Vangaurd hops, and DFH’s Raison D’Etra yeast strain. 8.0% ABV.  The name is an ode to The Konami Code (cheat code) on the Nintendo Entertainment System in the 80s; submitted by BA thequeue, the winner of the collaboration naming competition.

Flying Dog Brewery (MD): Whiskey Barrel-Aged Gonzo– Gonzo Imperial Porter aged in whiskey barrels; 9.5% ABV

Foothills Brewing (NC): Pappy Van Winkle Seeing Double IPA– Barrel-aged DIPA; 9.5% ABV; Seeing Double IPA– American Double India Pale Ale; 9.5% ABV; Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout– Imperial Stout; 9.75% ABV

Founders Brewing Co. (MI): Canadian Breakfast Stout– Maple barrel-aged Chocolate Coffee Stout; 8.3% ABV

Haverhill Brewery / The Tap (MA): Leatherlips– Our famous ridiculously hoppysession-IPA brewed with an incredible amount of Centennial and Chinook hops. Hop heads only; 5.0% ABV; Peruvian Cacao Porter– Robust American Porter brewed with raw organic cacao from Peru and Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla beans for a great dark chocolate flavor; 5.8% ABV; Tangaweizen– Spicy Hefeweizen brewed with real ginger and traditional ginger beer yeasts including a lactobaciilis strain.

Magic Hat Brewing Co. (VT): Bergamot Bitter– English Ordinary Bitter with bergamot added during conditioning, most famously used in Earl Gray tea and in the practice of Calabrian witchcraft; 4.5% ABV; Hibiscus Pomegranate Beer– This crisp, hibiscus ale is brewed with agave nectar, pomegranate juice, and the red petals of the hibiscus flower; 5.0% ABV; Wild Ginger Ale– Real California ginger is added during primary fermentation and then once again after fermentation is complete. In English taverns in the nineteenth century, would put out small containers of ground ginger, for people to sprinkle into their beer (the origin of ginger ale); 5.0% ABV.

Short’s Brewing Co. (MI): Cup-A-Joe Coffee Cream Stout– American Double / Imperial Stout and then some; 7.5% ABV; S’more Stout– American Stout and then some; 6.5% ABV; Peanut Butter & Jelly – a blend of Soft Parade(Fruit Rye Beer; 7.8% ABV) and Uber Goober Oatmeal Stout(6.5% ABV)

Sixpoint Craft Ale (NY): Gorilla Warfare – Coffee infused Porter; 8.5% ABV

Smuttynose Brewing Co. (NH): Oak Aged Hanami– Tart cherry ale aged for 9 months in a Jack Daniels Barrel; 5.4% ABV

Southern Tier Brewing Co. (NY): Choklat– Imperial Stout made using dark and bittersweet Belgian chocolate; 10.0% ABV

The Lost Abbey (CA): Phunky Duck– A single barrel from their Duck Duck Gooze program, which will eventually release Duck Duck Gooze(a blended sour ale with 1, 2 and 3 year old beer) in 2009. Phunky Duck was brewed as the back bone for this blend; 7.0% ABV

Three Floyd’s Brewing Co. (IN): Oatgoop– Oatwine; 9.5% ABV; Dwarven Hammer– an American Alt Beer brewed with three types of coffee – Santuario, Heliconias, Colombia – from Intelligentsia; 6.0% ABV

Tröegs Brewing Co. (PA): Barrel-aged Mad Elf– Strong Belgian Dark Ale; 11.0% ABV; Scratch Beer #18

Weyerbacher Brewing Co. (PA): Twelve (2007)– Ryewine; 10.2% ABV

Thank goodness for the 2-oz marker on the glass, keeping me from getting any happier than I already was by the end of this event!

Robert Burns Dinner at Sly Fox

On Friday, January 23, D and I were pleased to participate in our first Robbie Burns Birthday Bash. From the Sly Fox website:

Sly Fox’s seventh annual celebration of the birthday of Scotland’s greatest poet, Robert Burns, has its roots in the Burns Suppers which are held in his native country around the same time. These began in the late 18th century to mark the anniversary of his death but were eventually changed to January 25, the date of his birth. The Sly Fox party is held each January on the Friday nearest that date.

The Burns Birthday Bash attracts many fans of Burns’ poetry and Americans of Scottish descent from all around the region as well as beer fans who’ve waited anxiously for the release of our Gang Aft Agley Scotch Ale on that night.

We were so glad David and Sarah were able to score a table, as the beer and Burn’s fans, many of them garbed in kilts, crowded into Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville to hear the band and partake of the haggis. Poetry readings and piping pulled the whole night together.

There was a long line-up of beer, but most notable were the 2009 Gang Aft Agley and Burns Scottish Ale on the handpumps and on draft. Also, a keg of 2007 Gang Aft Agley was on draft. The Piping of the Haggis was quite a sight to see, and I even broke my personal rules and tasted it (just between me and the entire blogosphere, I kinda’ liked it! – sort of a pate quality to this haggis!)

My favorite part of the night was when the band played Whiskey in the Jar (a favorite of mine from Off Kilter – an Epcot house band) and Charley on the MTA (a favorite of mine from camp!)

I’ll post photos later if I get a chance, but right now I need to get to bed…

Brewgrass Festival – 2008

The thing about this festival is that it is so much MORE than a festival.

Yes, a huge part of being here is attending the Great Smokies Craft Brewers Brewgrass Festivalon the grounds of the Martin Luther King, Jr. ballfield, with (as parsed out by Anne Fitten Glenn at Mountain XPress) 40 craft breweries, more than 200 beers and 5 musical acts all spread over a 7 hour period. There are 3,500 people in attendance, with plenty of security and port-a-potties. And the breweries of western North Carolina are certainly the big draw.

But also on this weekend, there is a release event for Highland Brewing Company. Since 2006, Highland has been releasing an imperial version of one of their regular brews at Asheville’s Brewgrass Festival, and then selling it on Sunday at the brewery. In 2006, it was Imperial Gaelic Ale, followed by Imperial Kashmir IPA in 2007. This year Imperial Black Mocha Stout is the beer, which we tasted (and tasted, and tasted, yesterday) and it is worth standing in line for today!

The brewery describes it as a “hearty stout, rich with coffee and chocolate notes, blending the velvety sweetness of specialty grains with the creaminess of a strong stout.” It will be sold in 22 oz. bottles, at $8 per bottle, and this year there are no limits on the number of purchases. They produced 476 cases, and we’re hoping to score two.

In addition to these two events, there are people and things all over town. Most of it very casusal, and some of it extremely well planned. For instance, Bruisin’ Ales held a special Friday night tasting from 5-8 PM, where Devin, the Dogfish Head rep, served up five brews by DFH including 60-Minute IPA which was run through Randall (with basil, mint and coffee), Festina Peche, Aprihop and Black & Blue. The $4 entry fee went to Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway. That 60-minute through the Randall was just outstanding – full of fresh, herbal goodness and topped off with a mild coffee tang – and perfect with the berries Julie prepared on the side.

With less planning, we had fun times running around town. We found ourselves all over (but certainly not everywhere) – gatherings at The Thirsty Monk, Barleys Taproom and the new Wedge Brewing Company, a private Westy 12 tasting at John & Melissa’s house, and an evening with the brewers at the soon-to-be-open Craggie Brewing Company. We even found time on Friday to run down to Greenville for lunch at Blue Ridge Brewing Company and a “hike” to Caesar’s Head State Park for birds and a benchmark.

And then there was the festival… Beer of the day? Well, one of the leading favorites was Rye Knot Brown Ale from Coast Brewing Company. Valdez at Pisgah was certainly a leader (and we finally got our tie-dye t-shirts!), and so was Sexual Chocolate at Foothills. Crazy Train from Depot Street was a favorite among the lighter brews, and of course, Devin was there with the 60-minute through the Randall again. If there were bad beers there, I was smart enough to miss them. We did miss Heintzelmanchen – if they were there, we never saw them.

There is no time for proofreading or posting photos right now because we need to get checked out and off to Highland, but hopefully I’ll have time to do that soon – check back, okay?

Sexy Glasses at NY Craft Beer Week

Sexy Glass!

Sexy Glass!

And it’s not too late to get yours! From an email:

Tickets for each of the nine neighborhood bar crawls are still available. If you don’t get a chance to purchase them online prior to 7pm the night before your intended crawl, don’t worry you can still buy them on the day of at each of the following locations with all of the tickets specific to their neighborhood. All tickets pre-purchased online will also be available at these same bars for Will-Call pick-up.

  1. Upper West Side Crawl – Dive Bar
  2. Midtown Crawl – Heartland
  3. West Village Crawl – Chelsea Brewing Company
  4. East Village Crawl – Jimmy’s no. 43 Open at Noon Everyday!
  5. Lower East Side Crawl – Puck Fair Please Pick Up Tickets Before 7pm
  6. Greenpoint Crawl – The Diamond
  7. Williamsburg Crawl – South 4th Bar & Cafe
  8. Downtown Brooklyn Crawl – Waterfront Ale House
  9. Park Slope Crawl – Beer Table

 If you’re more interested in staying put in one place rather than exploring the best of a neighborhood, then be sure to check out the Manhattan Cask Ale Festival taking place Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Noon to Midnight. A great selection of cask ales will be available all at once until they kick, so there will surely be something to everyone’s liking.

NY Craft Beer Week commemorative event glassware will be also be sold at the Chelsea Brewing Co. during the Cask Ale Festival. Each glass can be purchased for $3 allowing you the chance to enjoy the diverse selection of cask ales from more manageable serving sizes. Holding a full 8 oz pour, the glasses give the opportunity to sample twice the number of beers and breweries at the event as one would through full pints. Not to mention a nifty keepsake to take home with you if you don’t already have one from one of the crawls.

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!

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…

It’s a Small, Small World

Nope – this isn’t a post about Disney World. It’s a late posting about our trip to Montreal.

I am constantly energized by the number of women involved in beer culture.  In a realm dominated by men, thus primarily marketed to them, it is natural to assume there aren’t many women with a high level of appreciation for craft brewed beers. In my world, however, this isn’t true.

We regularly do private beer tastings with a few other couples, and unless we ladies have to do the driving, you won’t see Kim, Brandi, Sara, Kate or I miss out on any of the offerings.  When we visit Asheville, I’m always glad to see Julie, Michelle and Melissa keeping right up with the men (as an owner of Bruisin’ Ales – one of the most lovely bottle shops ever – Julie is a beerlebrity!) At various festivals, we’ve run into strong beer-drinking women like Cornelia and Joan, and on our trip to Montreal, we spent lots of time tasting (and at times, pubcrawling) with Laura and Beth who are avid consumers of beer. Not to mention my mother, my sister and my friend Barbara – an emerging craft beer drinker. I really could go on naming proud female beer enthusiasts, but I won’t.

What I want to write about tonight is the fabulous meeting I had at Mondial de la Bière this year with a particular beer connoisseur. I was chatting with Cornelia (who I had only met that weekend), and suddenly she said, “Have you ever met the OTHER Carolyn, the beer-drinking librarian?” Of course I had not, so as soon as she located “the other Carolyn,” she made a point of getting us together. 


Carolyns / Librarians / Beer Travelers

Not only do we share a name and a love for the fermented beverage, but we also share a love for libraries. It was great fun to meet her and talk about our two passions. Doing a little searching on her and her son Ben, on staff at Defiant Brewing Co., I learned that she also considers herself a “beer traveler.” The world feels a little bit brighter knowing I’m not alone!

Interestingly, MSNBC reports that in ancient Peru, women did all of the brewing and consumed equally.

Charity Beer Drinking

Over the period of a week in late June, we were on the road drinking beer to support charitable causes – a beer festival, a pub crawl and a special beer on the menu were the impetus for our travels.

On June 21, Tröegs Brewery teamed up with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Central Pennsylvania to put on the annual Harrisburg Brewers Fest® – an outdoor beer and music festival downtown. There were two sessions to reduce the crowds of people filling Locust and Third streets and a special VIP session, complete with gift bags.

The festival was advertised with 35 breweries. We know that some didn’t show up, but there was no lack of beverage to be tried. D had to work, and I had a child’s birthday party to attend, so we worked very hard to stick to just the things that were new to us and/or special beers. And with the small plastic sample mugs, it was easy to remain sober.

We had a few favorites from the day, including Lovitz Lager – a watermelon lager from Roy Pitz Brewing Company, Coconut Stout from Church Brew Works, Lichtenhainer – a sour, smoked Berliner Weissbier brewed as a collaboration between Marzoni’s and East End Brewing Company and is based on an obscure German style, Barrel-aged Beekeeper (part of the bottle-conditioned collection at Bullfrog Brewery, and previous to aging, known as the Beesting Saison) and a firkin of Scratch #12-2008, an English-style IPA from Tröegs.

It was good, clean fun in downtown Harrisburg. Live bands played, including one that we really like at the early session (Herbie), and people were generally polite. I picked up an Otto’s tattoo, which finally wore off last weekend, and my favorite tshotshke was the heavy-duty bottle opener from Straub.

At the Harrisburg Brewers Fest®, we learned about the Bavarian Ramble – a fundraiser organized by Mike Hiller, Chief Barbarian at Bavarian Barbarian Brewing Company, to support the Uptown Music Collective. Since we planned to be in the area for the weekend of June 28 anyway, we decided to join in on the ramble around downtown Williamsport.

For a $10 donation, we received 5-10% discounts off food and beverages at The Pub, Rumrunners, Franco’s and the 4th Street Grille and Ale House. The evening ended with a private party at the Bavarian Barbarian Brewing Company where we were treated to a terrific performance by students from the Collective.

We met up with Mike at The Pub – one of my college hang-outs. This complete dive bar for college kids has transformed into a pretty nice little place. In addition to Bavarian Barbarian beers, there were several other very decent brews on tap, and a sizable bottle selection (for Williamsport) behind a large, beautiful honey-toned bar. I couldn’t get over the cleanliness of this place in comparison to my days of hanging there. Even the bathroom was clean and bright, and while I didn’t check it out, I understand there is outdoor courtyard seating.

Rumrunners is a Caribbean-themed restaurant with a huge selection of shelf drinks. I had only been in this building once, and it was so dark I couldn’t see my own hand. Now it is bright and cheery, and the menu looks serviceable. We ate at Franco’s out of nostalgia, but were thrilled to find Tröegs Nugget Nectar on cask there. I enjoyed a wonderful fresh gazpacho and an artichoke and olive salad with balsamic vinegar. We shared the chicken liver and toast appetizer, and D had a pesto with garlic pasta dish. With our discount, it was amazingly inexpensive, and as always, the staff at Franco’s made us feel welcome.

We managed to get a hotel downtown on Priceline, so it wasn’t expensive to stay downtown, walking to all of the Ramble locations, and we got a ride home from the party at Bavarian Barbarian. Kira and Mike were such wonderful hosts, and the guys in the band were so professional. It was a really nice night out for a really good cause, and also a good opportunity to let me stroll down memory lane a bit (I love Bullfrog Brewing dearly, but I miss exploring all of the other wonderful food opportunities in Williamsport.)

We ended our weekend with scenic drives through the mountains, taking Rt. 445 from Lamar to Millheim, and then driving a back road north of Winkleblech and Sharpback Mountains as a long way to Selinsgrove. In addition to a nice little hike, we stopped at the breweries (Elk Creek Cafe and Selin’s Grove, respectively.) At Elk Creek, we were drinking Old Bertha’s Red 99 – a beer created to support the Millheim Fire Company which has been assisting in the community for 99 years. 50-cents from each pint sold goes to the fire company, so we were happy to help (AND it was a good beer to go with my brunch!)

What a great week of drinking beer for the benefit of others!

NYC Craft Beer Week: September 12-21, 2008

While in Montreal, I learned terrific news about New York City Craft Beer Week – a ten-day event that makes craft beer, with all of its ties to food and the New York community, the focus.  New York State and the surrounding area have some of the best beers on the planet, and New York City’s local bars are culinary destinations. NYC Craft Beer Week will put the spotlight on this.

The events will start off on Friday, September 12th, with the New York Beer Festival at South Street Seaport’s Pier 16 & 17 exhibiting the beers of over 100 breweries and live music performances. 

Over the course of the next six days, visitors to New York City can participate in a series of bar crawls and beer dinners:

  • Starting Saturday, September 13th, neighborhood bar crawls will feature the best of the city’s bar establishments. Participants can purchase a single ticket for each neighborhood, which allows for one serving of beer from a selection of three local beers at each participating bar, and participants will find unique selections throughout.
  • Beer pairing dinnerswill start Sunday, September 14th and occur each night through Thursday, September 18th. The dinners will be prix fixe in design with a separate beer served alongside each course, and either an aperitif or digestif beer served at a partnering local bar, with all beers for each particular dinner coming from a single New York state brewery.

From Friday, September 19th to Sunday, September 21st, New York City Craft Beer Week will conclude with a cask ale festival featuring a collection of unfiltered, naturally-carbonated beers presented traditionally at cellar temperature. 

The entire week’s events will be specially presented in a NYC Beer Passport, a program guide of what’s on offer, as well as a veritable beer centered travel guide to the city with detailed maps of all the venues taking part in the week’s events coupled with information as to how those venues are participating. Participants can collect stamps as they move between venues, with the passport serving as a keepsake memento of the week.

This and more will be available on a website (look for the link here soon!) Advance tickets for events will be available from the website, and events will be searchable by date, venue, cost, brewery, beer name and beer style. Sponsorship and advertising opportunities will also be listed on the site.

Save the dates – this is going to be fun!!