Troegenator wins the Gold!

Just a quick note to congratulate the hometown brewery… 

Tröegs Brewing Company just won Gold at the 2010 World Beer Cup with Troegenator Double Bock in the category “Traditional German-Style Bock”.

As a note of interest, Troegenator was the most-requested beverage by librarian-tasters at a Tröegs event in October, 2009. We’re a smart lot with a discriminating palate!

For a complete list of winners, visit the World Beer Cup site.


It’s Over for Zima

Some of my friends who are reading know that my feline companion of fifteen years, Zima, was not doing so well in late September / early October and, frankly, I was a little scared he might not be with us to see the new year.  Thanks to a terrific veterinarian, who takes a holistic approach to pet care, he’s gaining weight and performing as sprightly as I expect from my old friend.

At the same time, the powers at MillerCoors were plotting ways to announce the demise of my kitty’s namesake. Yes, as much as D likes to deny it, his wife named the cat after a malt beverage.

Zima - the Cat
Zima – the Cat

It was an inebriated moment in 1993 on the night just before getting the kitten “fixed”, and there was that bottle of clear, sparkling beverage sitting on the bar at The Old Corner Hotel. The rippled glass with a distinctive and, compared to other bottled beverages in the bar, distinguished silver and metalic blue label got my mind churning.

Zima - the Beverage

Zima - the Beverage

While I really didn’t want to name my cat anything, the vet would insist he have a name. And there it was before me. He’s a Russian Blue, and Zima is a Russian word (well, actually, I knew it was Polish and assumed it might be the same.) The beverage Zima has a silver and blue label, my youthful Russian Blue kitten was a beautiful silver grey. My brain made connections, and the cat was named right there in the bar.

Jump ahead 15 years, and found myself with a sick cat named Zima. And the Associated Press released the news on October 20, ten days after Zima, the beverage, was officially pulled from the MillerCoors line-up. Judging from my Zima the cat’s health in the last two weeks, I think he will be with us for quite some time. For those who enjoyed the beverage, you’re not so lucky. If you find it, buy it, because it isn’t coming back.

Beer Goggles for your Gmail

My passions for beer and technology collide!

Jon Perlow at Google is looking out for those of us who enjoy alcoholic beverages – especially the ones who imbibe to the extreme and then get grand ideas of contacting people by email – with the introduction of Mail Goggles.  To help prevent the sending of emails that look so good after a few drinks, but make everything so bad the next morning, Google Labs is testing this option, designed to stupefy the intoxicated emailer using basic math problems.

Gmail Goggles

Gmail Goggles

I haven’t tried this service out yet.  My alcohol intake has been limited, and it’s only available by default late night on the weekends (Jon says, “the time you’re most likely to need it” – obviously he doesn’t know my friends!), so I can’t speak from personal experience. But it appears that Gmail users can adjust when it’s active by day of the week and time frame, and also request more difficult questions.

Seems like a nice control for those who can not control themselves.

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

Homebrewing Librarians and a Book Recommendation

I haven’t met her yet, but after writing about “the Carolyns“, WordPress recommended a 2006 blog posting to me which highlights Kira Barnes, another beer drinking librarian, who also happens to be female. And she homebrews just like me (although I feel like I’ve slacked off in that department lately.) That was fun to learn. She joins the ranks of beer drinking librarians with me, the other Carolyn, Lew and Mark. Any other serious BDL’s out there? (Dane – how is the MLS coming along?)

Now, I call this a book recommendation, but I haven’t actually read it. I did ask the Simpson Public Library to purchase it, since they seem to have the best beer literature selection in the capital area. And they said yes!

The book is being published in early fall, and it is called Red, White and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey by Brian Yaeger. It looks like it is basically conversations and observation on 14 breweries and pubs across the country, starting with Yuengling. (PS – thanks, Elise, for thinking of me when you saw it, and yes, I wish I would have thought to write it first…)

This will add to their collection, which includes 300 Beers to Try Before You Die and The Essential Reference of Domestic Brewers and Their Bottled Brands (known in the industry as DBBB.)

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.

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!

Firkin Friday at Market Cross

Nugget Nectar on Firkin Friday at Market Cross

In fitting with my plan to attend at least four Tröeg’s Nugget Nectarfirkin tappings this year, I gathered a bunch of coworkers on Friday night and we headed down to the Market Cross Pub to enjoy the third of my targeted four.

Friends gather at Market Cross Pub for Firkin Friday

In contrast to the crowded tables and line wrapped around the room at General Sutter, Market Cross had plenty of tables available, and later in the evening several empty seats at the bar. That was nice, because Market Cross is usually so packed that it’s almost uncomfortable.

The Nugget Nectar was served in 20-oz glasses, and we all started with one – several of us had two by the end of the night. Additional beers enjoyed at our table were Ace Perry Cider (bottle) and Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (draft.)

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

We enjoyed some great food, too: excellent soups (garlic French onion and tomato basil bisque), fish and chips, beef pastie, Beef ‘n Guinness, salads…  Everyone was quite satisfied with the food and the beers. 

Many thanks to Barbara, Eric, Dick, Mary Sue, Karen and Dave for coming out!

Just Missed St. Nick (and other Pittsburgh news)

On November 10, the first forum postings on St. Nick’s Brewer’s Reserve began to appear on Beer Advocate.  I tried to pick this up at Penn Brewing on November 9 – my last day in the city – and was told it wasn’t available yet.  Missed by one day?!?!  I even explained that I was from out of town…  It comes in 750 ml bottles that are corked and foiled, a red velvet bag, and described as a barleywine.  But, sadly, I don’t have one.

Also missed – Quadzilla (Cherry Quad) at Church Brew Works – but not nearly as disappointing since there is a bottle in our basement.  They also said “coming soon.”  Not soon enough!

But the trip wasn’t a full disappointment.   There was the work side…a professionally fulfilling and extremely educational experience (which I will blog about elsewhere!) and then there was the beer side.

My co-workers were honestly excited about stopping at D’s Six Pax & Dogz in Swissvale, where we explored (and purchased from) the Beer Cave and had a happy hour pint with an appetizer.  Around the table, we had Left Hand Milk Stout, Magner’s Irish Cider, Great Divide Fresh Hop, and “I’m sorry, I can’t remember” Pale Ale.  I ate a Veggie Dog, and it was delicious in a hot-dog sort of way.

We had dinner one night at Church Brew Works where we drank Ichabod’s Revenge (Pumpkin Stout), ThunderHop IPA (11th Anniversary Ale) and Pious Monk Dunkel.  All of the dinners were terrific:

  • I had Asian marinated tofu tossed with crispy seared oriental vegetables served atop a bed of bamboo rice, and coworkers had
  • grilled center cut pork chop served with an Asiago risotto cake, grilled plum tomatoes and balsamic reduction,
  • buffalo and wild mushroom loaf with garlic mashed potatoes, and
  • chargrilled salmon with a tahini and fresh dill rub served with chargrilled vegetables and fried leeks. 

Pumpkin cheesecake and frozen yogurt (made in conjunction with Dave & Andy’s) made for happy endings!  We also enjoyed observing the anticipation of election results for (winner) Patrick Dowd as his supporters gathered at Church Brewing.

A huge surprise was The Library on E. Carson Street. 

                          The Library - Street Sign   The Library Menu

We went there based on the website (self-promotion), and can say they are right on the mark!  The atmosphere was perfect – Golden Book Encyclopedias for our beer menu, a card catalog in the corner – and the tap and bottle list were satisfying (Chris and I had a Mojo Hazed & Infused, one person had Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout on draft, and another had a bottle of Avery Karma.)  For dinner,

  • the people on either side of me had The Fisherman and His Wife – pretzel crusted salmon served atop fingerling potatoes and a mustard cream sauce;
  • I had what they described as striped bass fillet seared and served with crab meat, vanilla cream sauce, and asparagus risotto (but I never saw or tasted the crab and maybe tasted vanilla cream sauce in the risotto – not really obvious);
  • also at our table was Tyler Durden –ribeye steak topped with gorgonzola accompanied by rosemary redskin smash and Julius Caesar – a Caesar salad. 

Another night we went out to Morton’s Steak House (on the vendor’s dime!) where the wine was served in Riedel stemware, the filet mignon was as bigger than my fist, and the desserts were outstanding.  Unfortunately, they have every domestic beer you can imagine, but nothing in the realm of microbrews (to their credit, they do not mention beer on the website or menu.)  The staff were so gracious – that had to be my favorite part – but, of course, I didn’t see the bill.  I’m sure they got paid well to be so nice!

Morton’s Menu

Other misses on this trip (which I’ve experienced, but wanted to share with the coworkers):

Between a busy, busy conference and the great beers we found while we were out, there was no need to bring in the cooler (I don’t recall having a break, other than one hour which we used to visit Saks 5th Avenue where they served cookies and cappuccino – ahh, to have a real department store!)

Are You Experienced?

The Flying Mouflan Experience (a.k.a. Tröegs 10th Anniversary Scratch Beer Fest) was billed as “a joyous day of brewery mayhem featuring live music and for the first time ever, the opportunity to enjoy all the Scratch Beers in one place at one time,” and it did not disappoint!

Troeg’s Poster

I moved to the area almost 10 years ago and have been waiting for something like this – a festival at the Tröegs brewery – and it was orchestrated so well.  Tickets sold for $10 in advance ($20 at the door), and I believe they limited it to 800.   Parking was free, easy to locate and plentiful.  The weather was cooperative (rain would have made this a completely different experience!)

The crowd size really was perfect for the limited space, and although the beer lines were a bit long, there were plenty of friends to chat with, and we quickly caught on that more than one beer per person could be had when you reached the front!

Tröegs employees and volunteers were pouring the full line-up of 2007 offerings:

  • year-round beers
    • Tröegs Pale Ale (5.4% ABV; 45 IBUs)
    • HopBack Amber(5.6% ABV; 55 IBUs)
    • Rugged Trail Ale(4.4% ABV; 28 IBUs)
    • Troegenator Double Bock (8.2% ABV; 25 IBUs)
    • DreamWeaver Wheat (4.8% ABV; 15 IBUs)
  • all four seasonal brands
    • Nugget Nectar (7.5% ABV; over 90 IBUs) 
    • Sunshine Pils (5.3% ABV; 45 IBUs) 
    • Dead Reckoning Porter (5.8% ABV; 53 IBUs)
    • The Mad Elf (11% ABV; 15 IBUs)
  • Naked Elf(limited brewing; ABV varies (6.8% – 8.5%); IBUs unknown)
  • and all five 2007 Scratch Beers
    • Scratch Beer #1– a hybrid California Common Beer (5% ABV; 35 IBUs)
    • Scratch Beer #2– a hoppy porter (5.9% ABV; 55 IBUs)
    • Scratch Beer #3– a Belgian style triple (9.5% or 10.1% (depending what you read); 28 IBUs)
    • Scratch Beer #4– inspired by barleywine, but really more like a double IPA; dubbed The Flying Mouflan (9.3% ABV; over 100 IBUs)
    • Scratch Beer #5 – released on the day of the festival; Imperial Oatmeal Stout

I’m a big fan of Naked Elf, and the Scratch Beer #5 was well worth the hype!  I especially enjoyed getting to do side-by-side comparisons of Nugget Nectar and Scratch Beer #4 (this is, I believe, the best beer they ever made!)  And it was really nice to revisit Scratch #3.  I forgot how much I enjoyed that one.

There was plenty of great food for purchase, but disappointingly, I saw nothing vegetarian-friendly.  I especially enjoyed the Mad Elf ice cream featuring vanilla ice cream with Belgian chocolate chips, dark cherries and Mad Elf sauce, and brought to us by Handel’s.

Crowd Shot

The bands were all really good; I was too busy chatting with friends and making new ones instead of paying attention to who was playing at which times, but it was great music for the day.  The pre-event posted line-up was:

  • God Bless Our Mobile Home (12:30-1:15 p.m.)
  • Suburban Transit (1:45-2:30 p.m.)
  • Julian Fist (3:00-3:45 p.m.)
  • Frog Holler (4:30-6:00 p.m.)
  • Mecca Bodega (6:30- 8:00 p.m.)

There were plenty of BA people there (we did a group photo which I hope someone posts!), and I was surprised to run into several friends from my hometown area.  I was most excited because my friend B-Susan came along (another librarian who loves beer!)  Instead of leaving at 2PM with D, we ended up staying until 6 PM (when it finally got too chilly to hang outside.)

Hopefully they raised a significant amount for the Harrisburg River Rescue.  I know I didn’t spend much more than my initial ticket purchase, cases of Scratch #5 to take home and a t-shirt.  Between the samples inside the brewery tasting room and using the tickets for 4-oz samples outside (a few extras from friends), I was thrilled with the amount and variety I got to enjoy.

Chris and John Trogner pulled off a great one, and I hope it isn’t ten more years until we can do it again!