Yes…I’ve Been Drinking!

Has it really been 9 months since I posted anything? Yeah – I’m sorry to say it is true. So what have I been up to, you ask?

Drinking! Of course! My personal highlights over the past 9 months are listed below, with not nearly enough time or energy to detail, but in the future perhaps I won’t fall so far behind.Shorts Fest - August 2011

We’ve taken multiple beer-cations, with the following standing out:

There have been a myriad of local changes and releases including:

We’ve also had some great tasting experiences with friends, including but not limited to:

  • a clean-out-the-cellar event in our own backyard (we didn’t make a dent)
  • a night of Bullfrog rarities from the cellars of Team D(r)INK members (YUM!)
  • the 15th Anniversary of Selin’s Grove Brewing Company, plus releases of their first Sour Red and Black IPA
  • Gueuze-a-Palooza – an amazing night of soursBullfrog - from our basements!
  • our second annual Imminent Liquidation event
  • the Hill Farmstead Mimosa release (and fabulous winter weekend in VT!)
  • a weekend in the Finger Lakes (I know you are thinking “wine country”, but guess what?!?)
  • and our first Weekend Starts on Thursday event at Backstage Brewing Co.Hill Farmstead in VtAt Russian River with Vinny and Natalie

Thanks to those who have been asking, “When are you going to post an update on your blog?” My typical response is that there are so many excellent beer bloggers out there, I’m not sure I make much of a contribution. It is your interest that brought me back, and hopefully I’ll keep it up!


Tröegs Splinter Photos

I wanted to share a few of our photos from the morning line to the evening pop of the cork! Waiting at the front of the line

Not much commentary since I wasn’t actually there for the purchase, but many thanks to MyBeerBuzz for tweeting the sales progress. I predicted it wouldn’t last past the lunch hour, and Bill posted, “As of 11:58AM today (12/16) the Splinter Series Red & Gold beers are sold out. Stay tuned for future Splinter Beers from Troegs.”

The line forms here...

Splinter Gold Commentary

Obviously we opened to Gold first. It was really nice – dry with sharp sour, cider and earthy flavors. Very drinkable!

The Pour
Splinter Gold


Splinter Gold

From Chicken Feet to Eisbock

D and I decided to have a night out together to try out a restaurant near our house, then come home to a Raspberry Eisbock.

Mitaka, located at 560 S 29th St in Harrisburg, is a Japanese restaurant that also offers an extensive menu of hot and cold Dim Sum along with an extensive menu of sushi, hibachi, miso soup and  a variety of traditional noodle soups including beef, shrimp, seafood, chicken and vegetable. The sushi was all very nicely presented, and there were several rolls on the menu that appear to be unique for this area.

Dim Sum is not the sort of thing found in Harrisburg, so we approached the menu with enthusiasm and the spirit of adventure. The Spring Roll was a simple choice, as were the Stuffed Egglants with seafood. Spicy Kani Bowl was extremely interesting and delicious – a complex mix of crab, cucumber, spicy mayonnaise and something crunchy (maybe tempura bits?)

Our only disappointment was the Phoenix Claw with Black Bean Sauce (we should have asked…I found a recipe, and anything that starts out , “Wash feet, chop off toenails…” should not be eaten by humans.) I don’t know if they were poorly prepared, or it this is just the way these things come out, but they were stinky and I could not find a piece to eat off. I stuck one in my mouth – more than once – attempting to bite something off, but I couldn’t. We were surprised and pleased that our waitress offered to replace the order with something we could eat, so we opted for the Scallion Pancakes. These were a really nice choice.

As for sushi, we enjoyed all three rolls. Smokie Roll was made with smoked salmon, mango and avocado in a tight inside-out roll. Star Roll was made with tuna, white fish, salmon, avocado and masago (roe)  in the middle of a seaweed roll. And our final choice was the Boston Red Sox Roll, which I can’t even describe, other than to say it was one of the best rolls ever. It was done with the lightest touch of tempura and spicy heat – I should have paid more attention to what was inside.

When we got home, we decided to share a bottle of Kuhnhenn Raspberry Eisbock (2007). This beautiful beer weighs in at 11.9% ABV, and comes in a 187 ml bottle – see the size comparison with a standard 12-oz beer below.

Eisbock - tiny bottle

The back of the bottle states, “Real raspberries abound in this chocolate caramel after dinner treat,” and I’m not sure I could describe it much better than that. The mysterious dark liquid in a tiny green bottle dipped in red wax with a homemade label gives this bottle a sense of mystery.

There is a really fruity nose to this beverage, and flavors of raspberry, molasses and milk chocolate abound. It lingers in the mouth as if I just ate a box of fruited chocolates. The appearance hovers between cough syrup and port as it swirls in the glass, and particulate matter is obvious. We shared the 6.3 oz bottle which was both a blessing and a disappointment. The sweetness and alcohol burn are more than I need in a small glass of beer, but the flavor and aroma are so pleasing, it leaves me wanting more – unlike the chicken feet.

At Home with the Hollands

Many thanks to Scott and Vickie for hosting us during Philly Beer Week, and for breaking out some great things to share! Six of us sat around last night until the wee hours of the morning enjoying:

and perhaps more (I started to fade around 1:30 AM…)

Despite the short sleep we got, it was a great time with Fejj, Brandi and our hosts. And with a great breakfast by D (bagels, smoked salmon, omlettes, scrapple, fruit, yogurt and cappuccino by Scott!) we were able to start the day right.

Now on our second night, who knows what the end could be. But for now, we’re enjoying:

It’s hard to say if this is the end for us tonight, but I’ll try to keep it all posted.

HopFest and StoutFest

Two private tasting parties yielded a great weekend beer list! Some of the things we pulled out were pretty amazing, and our party hosts provided an outstanding setting for tasting.

The HopFest

On Friday night, a small group of us gathered to share growlers. Hops were out in full force to make up this list.

We started with Rock Bottom Sub Zero IPA, which Ffej and Brandi picked up earlier in the day at King of Prussia. It’s a Simcoe-hop-based IPA, and had a really nice balance of piney and citrusy hop flavors. As one of the Brewmaster’s specials, it doesn’t appear on the website, but reviews can be read at Beer Advocate.

Next it was Pure Hoppiness from Alpine Beer Company. Alpine uses hops in the boil, runs it through a  hopback, and also dry-hops this Double IPA. This was a brighter, sweeter IPA. Both Ffej and D mentioned tropical and citrus fruit overtones; I thought the pine-sap sweetness and light malt flavors were in perfect harmony.

For our third offering, we opened a growler of Surly Grit 16. This is a Double IPA which was released as a growler-only special in recognition of loyal customers during the last days in which Surly was allowed to sell growlers due to current MN law. (In 2008, Surly sold over 3500 barrels of beer; MN law only allows off-sale licenses for breweries producing less than 3500 barrels. They can’t get the license in 2009 without cutting production, so no more growler sales, no more Darkness Day, and no more SurlyFest until/unless the law is changed.)

30 bbls of 16 Grit were brewed, but a couple were sucked up during the dry-hopping process. 901 growlers were sold on the first day.  16 Grit was kettle hopped with Warrior, Amarillo and Glacier hops, then dry-hopped twice with Glacier and Amarillo. It came out to 9% ABV (110 IBUs), and the folks at Surly described it as well balanced, caramel-oat malt flavors and huge orange lemon aroma finishing with a pithy bitterness.

D and I had a growler lined up for ourselves, but it slipped away. Luckily, Dain was able to score one and kind enough to share it. (There is a video of someone – not us – enjoying a growler…it picks up after minute #2.) It was a real treat just to get a glass.

Finally, we had Hopsickle Triple IPA from Moylan’s, which D picked up in a swingtopbottle. Brewed withTomahawk, Cascade and Centennial hops, this is a potent beverage with incredible hop stickiness.

I must make a special note here to say that we were pleased to see Troeg’s Nugget Nectar on tap at The Old Corner Hotel in Williamsport on Saturday night. Unfortunately, the staff there don’t seem to know what a great beer they’ve got (it doesn’t even have a unique tap handle.) But we did!

The StoutFest

Our friends David and Sarah hosted a Sunday stout tasting as an opportunity to clear out their beer cellar a little bit. It was a really fun event because they organized the afternoon as a blind tasting. We started with the line-up of five Coffee Stouts and one lone doppelbock, followed by 16 Imperial Stouts. I know this sounds like a lot, but the servings were very small with such a nice group of people doing the tasting.

David masked the bottles well, and poured a small amount for each person, and then we were asked to rate the beer on a scale of 1 to 10, as well as name the beer (it was a multiple choice test.) What an interesting experiment – a test of our own senses and perceptions. When the real names of the beers were revealed at the end, many of us were surprised at our guesses as well as our ratings.

Finally, the scores were averaged, and we were all sent a copy of the scored results. Here they are, scored from highest to lowest:

Coffee Stouts

  1. Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast (1st bottling); Overall score of 7.73
  2. Pisgah Valdez; Overall score of 7.5
  3. Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel Péché Mortel; Overall score of 7.32
  4. Alesmith Speedway Stout; Overall score of 7.08
  5. Ithaca Kaffinator; Overall score of 6.7
  6. Deschutes Black Butte XX; Overall score of 6.25
  7. Mikkeller Black Hole; Overall score of 4.93

Imperial Stouts

  1. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2008 ;Overall Score of 9.0
  2. Foothills Sexual Chocolate; Overall score of 7.63
  3. Amager Bryghus Hr. Frederiksen; Overall score of 7.44
  4. (tie) Hoppin’ Frog B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout (2007); Overall score of 7.08  and Pennichuck Pozharnik Whiskey Barrel Aged Brewers Reserve; Overall score of 7.08 (more higher marks)
  5. Three Floyds Dark Lord (2007); Overall score of 7.04
  6. (tie) Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2008  Overall score of 7.0 and Deschutes The Abyss (2006); Overall score of 7.0 (more higher marks)
  7. Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout; Overall score of 6.73
  8. (tie) Stoudt’s Barrel Aged Fat Dog (2008 whiskey); Overall score of 6.54 and Oskar Blues Ten FIDY; Overall score of 6.54 (more higher marks)
  9. Left Hand Imperial Stout; Overall score of 6.42
  10. Highland Imperial Black Mocha Stout; Overall score of 6.23
  11. Odell Imperial Stout; Overall score of 6.12
  12. Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout (2007); Overall score of 6.08
  13. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout 2008  Overall score of 6.0

At some point I may go back and add links to these, but it’s another one of those nights where I stayed up too late.

Many, many thanks to our hosts for providing such a nice selection of beers, an interesting event and great food and coffee (fresh from Costa Rica!)

Catching up with December

Between a real breakdown in our home technology (i.e. we needed a new computer) and technology overload at work (i.e. I’ve been working overtime on a project at work), I’ve had time to do some beer traveling, but no time to write about it. The work project lives on, but I’m now the proud owner of an Acer Aspire One in pink, so I have reliable and speedy Internet access at home again. Maybe I’ll be a better blogger…or at least write more frequently.

So there is a lot to catch up on, and I hardly know where to start.

  • I have more Pennsylvania Brewery Roadtrips up my sleeve, which are a special tribute to my sister.
  • There was a fast-paced and fabulous “Dark Side of Michigan” trip over the Black Friday weekend which I didn’t even mention on here (but I will in another post!), where we visited many great Michigan breweries.
  • We got to try out Old Forge Brewing in Danville, not just once, but twice, and we finally made it to Spring House Brewery in Connestoga.
  • There are a few Iron Hill and Sly Fox stories to be told. Among them, a gathering of 31 librarians at Sly Fox in Royersford, a cask ale festival at Iron Hill in Newark and the Sly Fox IPA Project in Phoenixville.
  • We combined the Iron Hill trip with a visit to a great beer bar called Quotations (where I had Pumking on nitro!) and the new Earth Bread + Brewery (where I didn’t mean to downplay the beer, but loved the McManis Viognier 2007.)
  • Brass Rail Beverage finally opened the deli, where great beers are constantly rotating on the five taps, and the bottle selection is outstanding for this area (the website does not reflect the awesomeness of the store.)
  • For the first time in 11 years, Appalachian Brewing Company brewed a beer that I could recommend to a friend.
  • Our friend Julie stopped in unexpectedly turning a growler sharing evening into a full-blown tasting night, and that same weekend we attended “Firkin Winter Solstice Sunday” at Selin’s Grove Brewing to help them celebrate their 12th Anniversary.
  • And then there has been the past week which has afforded many opportunities for sharing and tasting good beer.

I think I’ll start with the Appalachian Brewing Company beer, since it appears to be an anomaly that isn’t even acknowledged by the website. I was visiting the Abbey Bar at ABC on December 13 for the Herbie Christmas show, and my friend Brandi offered me a sip of her beer, saying, “Have you tried THIS? It’s called Batch 666 and it’s really good!” This was not a beer available on their board – it was only advertised on a single poster behind the bar – and to this day, has not appeared on the website nor have they responded to email inquiries about it. It was delicious! Labeled by the bartender as a Winter Warmer, my five acquaintances who had it all agreed it was more like a dark lager, Munich dunkle lager or dopplebock. It was medium dark in color and had a light body, but carried strong coffee, caramel and chocolate aromas. There was a hint of citrus hops and strong roasted malt flavors. It was a seriously well done beverage. I hope they will tell the world more about it, and continue to produce it, because it is seriously the first really great thing they’ve produced since I first started going there in 1997.

The weekend of December 19 was a fun one for us. It was the Harrisburg Christmas Bird Count weekend, so we were in the area, and decided to spend a quiet Friday night at home, joined by Brandi and Ffej, to share some recently acquired growlers. D made dinner, which we had just sat down to when the phone rang. It was a most unexpected call from our friend Julie of Bruisin’ Ales fame, whose flight was diverted to Harrisburg because of ice. How fortuitous, since we didn’t think we’d get to see her at all during the holidays. We opened growlers of Cape Cod Berry Merry Holiday Ale – an amber infused with cranberry, orange and cloves – and Spring House Two Front Teeth Holiday Ale– a Saison withsubtle cherry; but this was just the start. It was a fun night with the opening of multiple bottles:

  • Bullfrog Beekeeper
  • Green Flash Le Freak
  • Midnight Sun Sockeye Red IPA
  • Russian River Pliny the Elder
  • Three Floyds Moloko Milk Stout
  • Pisgah Valdez
  • Great Lakes Barrel-aged Blackout Stout, and
  • a 2005 bottle of Stouts Old Abominable Barleywine.

And the most fun was hanging out with good friends, sharing stories and listening to music. It was a late night, especially with an early-morning bird count ahead of us, but worth losing a little sleep!

This week of Christmas has also been delightful for many reasons, but since this is a beer blog, I’ll focus on that. First, our Christmas surprise – Spoetzl Shiner Holiday Cheer– which we shared on Christmas Eve. This is a Dunkelweizen made with Texas peaches and roasted pecans, and it was quite delightful! Unfortunately, it ended up being spilled during an exhuberant gesture, and we lost most of it, but it was great while it lasted.

The night before Christmas Eve, we enjoyed a growler of Roy Pitz Truly Honest Ale with D’s family, which was part of the growler-fill half-price sale on December 22. For Christmas day, we cracked two of our homebrewed beers – the NyQuAle, which became drainpour (the other bottles will sit for a few years before we try it again), and our COW Stout (Chocolate Oatmeal stout on toasted Walnuts during secondary fermentation.) We also opened the traditional Harvey’s Christmas Ale.

The day after Christmas we started our “Golden Triangle of Beer” tour (encompassing Selinsgrove, State College and Williamsport).  On Friday, we drove up to Bavarian Barbarian Brewing to taste, and buy growlers of, First Snow Ale. This is my favorite brew from this place so far. It is described as a smooth, dark winter warmer with caramel and chocolate notes, and weighs in at 7.5% ABV. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger flavor this beer, which has the same flavors I savor in my homemade molassasginger cookies. Mike hit the nail on the head with this one! After getting a second growler for my cousin, we headed off to Danvilleto have dinner with Ffej and Brandi at Old Forge Brewing Company. This was our second visit since they opened, and things were hopping! The place was pretty full, but we found a table upstairs. The same four beers were on – nothing new yet – so I had the T-Rail Pale Alealong the spicy carrot ginger soup and veggie quesedilla. Old Forge beer still has room to grow, but the food, atmosphere and service are right on. I’ve got faith things are going to get even better, and this place will stay on our agenda.

Later that night, at a party with our friends Jason and Megan, we cracked our second Roy Pitz growler – the Daddy Fat Sacs Imperial IPA. Several other good beers were brought out, including my first beer from Copper Kettle Brewing – the Celebration Wheat – and Brouwerij de Molen 1914 Porter.

On Saturday, D had another Christmas Bird Count and I had a lie-in, but we met up for lunch with my parents at Selin’s Grove Brewing Company. My parents had not had the IPAsince it was reformulated to be a bit more citrusy, and D got himself the 2008 Saint Fillian’s Wee Heavy. From there, D and I headed north, back to Bavarian Barbarianto get more growlers filled with First Snow Ale for family members, and later met up with Heath and Kim for dinner at Bullfrog Brewery. It was during that visit that we learned of the Sunday night Pub Club potluck dinner. Since it was already our plan to be in Williamsport for a Christmas Bird Count the next day, and the wrap-up was at the Bullfrog, we were perfectly placed to attend, and so we did. We’ve always been out of state during this time, so we were unaware of this annual event where members supply the food and Bullfrog supplies the beer.

This year, Terry broke out preview bottles of a few coming attractions:

  • Beesting Saison
  • Houblonium P38
  • Barrel-aged Old Toad Barleywine
  • Barrel-aged Wolfsblood Scotch Ale
  • Saison Noire

Also, we were able to get 2005 Old Toad Barleywine on tap, Bruggetown Blonde, and my favorite – Edgar IPA.

It’s worth mentioning that during the bird count, we did stop in at the Valley Inn for a taste of Abbey Wright Brewing Company’s Vanilla Latte Stout. This is a 5.8% ABVale brewed with five pounds of Grigg’s dark roast coffee and vanilla beans. It was served on nitrogen, and overall, a very good beer. Not too sweet, and very creamy. Unfortunately we observed the same as previous visits – there are no other Valley Inn patrons drinking Abbey Wright beers, and the staff don’t know anything about it (one staff member said to another, “I thought the stout would taste more like the IPA!”) Ugh.

To finish out the triangle, today we decided to drive over to Otto’s Pub & Brewery. I enjoyed a glass of Appel Trippel, and D had the Winter Warmer, both of which were served in 12-oz goblets.  The trippel weighs in at 9.5% ABV and is a tasty drink. There is virtually no hop profile, and the apple is subtle beneath the malty, honey flavors. The winter warmer is 11.5% ABV, and it is spicy and tart with sour cherries.

So that’s what we’ve been up to… I hope to get details and photos of the Michigan trip up this week, and will make a New Year’s Resolution to be better with the blog. It will probably last as long as my diet, but I’ll try!

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!

Whiskey Older than Me

Let me state right upfront that I’m not suggesting I am old, nor that I am a whiskey drinker. It’s not something I have much experience with, other than tossing out all of the Wild Turkey my grandfather stashed around his trailer and a tour of Jim Beam (no tasting allowed!) with my grandmother. Maybe a few shots here and there over the years, and a bottle of Maker’s Mark unopened in my basement, but truly very little experience.

On the 5th of July, we celebrated my cousin Jim’s engagement with a long-standing tradition of passing a bottle of Crown Royal Special Reserve, and I was surprised at how very wonderful I thought it was. It was the first time I had a whiskey drink that I really found appealing.

Relaying this story to my friends, Brandi spoke up and told the story of how she acquired a 51-year old bottle of Crown Royal. It was stored in an appropriate place, and she recently gained ownership of it (I won’t tell the story, but suffice to say, don’t cross this girl – she’s got a feisty side!)

Now, if you do a search on Crown Royal from 1957, the advice seems to be “drink it!”

And at Ffej of July – an annual party with food, bands and beer (and featuring Herbie) – she broke it out! It was amazing how beautiful and smooth this was. And most amazing that it was older than all of us.

I’ll stick to beer and wine, but I won’t shy away if this opportunity ever presents itself again!

Charity Beer Drinking Photos

Last night I didn’t have the photos ready, but they really tell part of the story, so I couldn’t skip them!  First, two from the Harrisburg Brew Fest on June 21:



Ffej and I finished off what was left after the Watermelon Lager kicked! (above)

Bavarian Booth

Bavarian Booth

D and I stopped by to say hello to Mike (far right) at the Bavarian Barbarian booth, and he told us about the Barbarian Ramble…we started modifying our next-weekend plans right away!

Barbarian Ramble

Barbarian Ramble

The promotional posters were really attractive. Mike took that photo of downtown Williamsport!


We set out on foot for the Bavarian Ramble on June 28 in Williamsport, PA.
Stop #1 - The Pub

Stop #1 - The Pub

Stop #2 - Rumrunners

Stop #2 - Rumrunners

Stop #3 - Franco\'s

Stop #3 - Francos

The Band at Bavarian Barbarian Brewing

The Band at Bavarian Barbarian Brewing

A group of guys from the Uptown Music Collective made their debut as a band at the post pub-crawl party.

Mondial de la Bière – Long (very long) Report

Reflecting on Mondial de la Bière, after three days of tasting (and one more morning to go!) I have determined that this may be the best beer festival I’ve ever attended. Unfortunately I don’t have the means to share photos, but I do have a little (okay – a lot) – to say.

Montreal is a great city.  We haven’t seen as much of it as I’d like, what I’ve experienced leaves me wanting more. The pubs are fabulous and plentiful.  There is a wealth of culture here – the diversity is outstanding.  It is clean, trendy, attractive and eclectic.  And the festival – our raison d’être – is c’est magnifique!  These are just a few of the things I’ve listed:


  1. five days of tasting – you don’t have to pack it all into one day or a four-hour session; doors open at 11 AM each day, close at 10 PM and participants have in/out privileges
  2. taste as much or as little as you like – buy as many tickets as you care to, and taste as many beers as you like; very few of the breweries seemed to run out of any particular beer (we missed out on a rhubarb beer, but that’s about it!)
  3. BYO-glass is acceptable as long as it is 12-oz or less
  4. friendly folks running the booths – willing to talk and share
  5. open door – come and go as you like (well, if you get there late and there is a crowd, they do make a line out the door…)
  6. tasting areas that are both outdoor and indoor (under a glass ceiling so it feels kind of like outdoor); Windsor Station and Courtyard is a wonderful place for a festival
  7. the French pavilion, which included 16 exhibitors, 13 of which are microbreweries and one of which was Thiriez (a brewery we fell in love with after Chris and Jen treated us to a bottle at Ebenezer’s Pub in Lovell, ME)
  8. outstanding restroom facilities – ample, clean, spacious and fully functional (complete with a hook on the door designed just for my mug!)


  1. five days of tasting where you can taste as much or as little as you like – we like, so we spent a lot of cash!

So what have we had?  Well, we made it a point to taste all of the award winning beers and as many of the 15 anniversary mashes created just for the festival. 

  • Awards were given to twelve breweries for a variety of beers. Among them, I particularly enjoyed Aphrodisiaque from Dieu du Ciel – a stout that tasted rich in chocolate and vanilla (kind of like a stout milkshake.)
  • For the 15th anniversary, Mondial dela Bière has teamed with places such as À la fût (creators of La Survivante), Brutopia (creators of African ale Nigerian Nectar), Dieu du Ciel (creators of Double Triple), Broue Pub Brouhaha (creators of Special B) and La Barberie (creators of Sangri-Bière.)

My favorite brewery of the festival? That honor goes to Hopfenstark.  They are cool guys with great vision and beer integrity. They work hard to make a perfect product, and won’t compromise for popularity.  The Baltic Porter De L’Ancier With Maple Syrup was by far one of the best beers at the festival, and they carried an impressive number of saisons: Station 10 (a sour beer which won a platinum medal!), Saison Station 16 (rye beer) and Saison Station 55(bitter and hoppy.)

Some of the more distinctive beers were La Carotte from Microbrasserie du Lievre (a beer brewed with carrot), Viotlette (made with Aizelles (?) and violets) and Verte (made with Denepi) both from Mont Blanc and Juliette from Brasserie Uberach.

In addition to plenty of beer, we have made plenty of new friends and enjoyed spending time with friend who are not so new to our lives. 

  • Our Thursday night table at Dieu du Ciel grew from four to fourteen as friends came and left. With sixteen of their own beers on tap, and all of them right on, it was hard to make a choice!
  • On Friday evening, we had a great cookout on the deck, which just happens to straddle the property of our friend Josh (party host) AND the bed and breakfast where we are staying. Several of the attendees were MontreAlers, and it was great fun to meet them.  Josh bought a wide selection of cheeses and beers (mostly from Vermont), and D brought a large selection of beers from our cellar. One of the stars that night was Stonecutter Scotch Alefrom Renaissance Brewing Company in Marlborough, NZ.
  • Saturday morning started with a trip to Metro Joanette – a grocery store where we found an awesome beer selection, which I hope to write about it a later post because of our À l’Abri de la Tempête find…
  • Saturday afternoon we left the festival with Beth, Jim, Mark and Matt, and we met up with Cornelia and Ray, forming an impromptu pub crawl!  We started out at the microbrewery L’Amer à Boire for Czech lager and stout, then moved down the street to Le Saint Bock, where they brewed their own beers and served plenty of other products on draft and in a wide array of bottles. Next we went to Le Cheval Blanc for a quick visit before taking a cab all the way down to Vices & Versa where 29 Canadian beers were available (and none of them Molson!) I particularly enjoyed Postcolonial IPAfrom Hopfenstark and Hoppy – an IPA from Brasseurs et frères.
  • Tired of all the same food at every single pub (nachos, chips, frittes, pizza and pannini), D and I found a nice little Peruvian restaurant called Chicho, where we had a great meal before returning to Josh’s apartment to dig back into the bottle tasting
    • My pick of the night was Rock Art Double IPA;
    • Josh chose Green Flash Imperial IPA as his favorite;
    • Troy liked the Otto’s Double D IPA and the Smuttynose Wheat Wine quite a bit, but his pick of the night was the 2007 Dark Lord Imperial Stout (even in comparison to the 2008 Dark Lord);
    • D was most impressed by the 2005 Bushwakker Wheat Wine (which we are calling a “double import”, since it traveled from Saskatewan to PA for cellaring, and now to Quebec.

Obviously I have a lot to say about this trip, and really, I could keep going, but it’s seriously time for bed.  I’m going to slack on the links for tonight, and sign off.