Tapping Deuane

[No, Vickie – not poking Deuane. Tapping Deuane.]

It’s possible that you read my post that Deuane (the beer) was brewing at the Bullfrog. If things went as planned, today brewer Terry Hawbaker transferred Deuane to the clarification tank, where it will stay for about a week before going on nitro. 

So it looks like Deuane (the beer) will go on “officially” Friday, March 19 at 6 PM at the Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport, PA. Of course, we will all be there to support Terry on his latest creation, and the beer’s namesake on his… well… his bitter and pretentious presence.

This beer is a Double IPA, made with over 40 pounds of hops in a 10 barrel batch, and has brewed out to about 8.5 barrels after the dry hopping. It weighs in somewhere between 9.5% and 10% ABV and is reported to be “tasty”!

If you plan to come out on Friday, give me a shout here or on Facebook!  Get to town early, and visit Bavarian Barbarian to try the new 2×4 IPA (bring your own growler to take some home.) If you plan to stay in the area, the Harmonious Wail CD release party (The Vegan Zombies Lament) will start at 9 PM at the Bullfrog. Or if you’re in the mood for something different, I recommend the $5. martinis at Barrel 135 from 10 – midnight!


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

Tröegs Splinter Series Release

The first two offerings from the Tröegs Splinter Series go on sale today at 10 am in the Tröegs Tasting Room. Question is – how early are people lining up and how soon will it sell out?

This beer is being sold for $22.95 a bottle, and there is a two-bottle limit per style, per person, with only 300 bottles of each beer available, and only on sale in the tasting room.

The barrel-aged Mad Elf is being called “Splinter Red“, and the barrel-aged Scratch 3 (tripel) is being called “Splinter Gold.” Exact details are provided (copied from Tröegs Facebook page and BeerAdvocate) :

This special reserve beer lives and breathes. Captured before filtration, refermented in wood and aged in the bottle with living yeast, Splinter is an experimental series that pushes the brewing boundaries and transforms our beer in new directions.

Here are some details on each beer:

Before filtering the final batch of 2008 Mad Elf we racked some beer into bourbon barrels for six weeks of tender loving care. After bottling, we aged the beer for approximately eight months. This allows the tart cherries to push to the front. Subtle vanilla, bourbon, charred wood, coconut and toasted nut endnotes emanate from Splinter Red.

The transformation of Scratch #3-2007 to Splinter Gold has been a slow rest in oak wine barrels dosed with brettanomyces. During a two-year aging period the horsey flavors of the brett combined with the Westmalle yeast used during primary fermentation to create a complex blend of flavors. Bone-dry and 12% abv, Splinter Gold is highly carbonated.

I imagine it’s going to sell out fast, although I’ve heard speculation otherwise from the staff (silly staff!) Our buying crew is already waiting in the parking lot on this chilly Wednesday morning (but I am not among them!)

Even if you aren’t interested in buying the bottles, it might be worth your while to visit the brewery today. They will pouring samples of Mad Elf 2008 from 101 ounce bottles that have been chilling at the brewery for the past year, and tapping a keg of Scratch 21 (Naked Elf ), which  will be available for growler sales.

It’s gonna’ be a beery good day in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania!

Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with a Samichlaus

Samichlaus 1993Tomorrow is December 6, and around our house, that means celebrating St. Nicholas Day, or as we call it, Samichlaus Brew Day!

I was introduced to Samichlaus in the late 90’s, but it was introduced to America in 1986 – six years after Hürlimann Brewery (Zurich, Switzerland) first bottled it.

Samichlaus once laid claim to the Guinness Book of Records title, “Strongest Beer in the World,” as it always  weighs in at 14% ABV or above.  It was so strong in alcohol and flavor that at one point, it came in bottles slightly smaller than 12 oz. It is brewed annually on December 6, and under Hürlimann it was lagered in a cave before bottling. 

Hürlimann Brewery was acquired by Feldschlösschen, also of Switzerland, who discontinued the beer in 1996, but later reached an agreement with the Eggenberg Castle Brewery (Austria), who reintroduced it with a 1989 brew distributed in 2000. Eggenberg Castle continues to honor the tradition, brewing Samichlaus on St. Nicholas Day and allowing it to ferment for 20 or more days, lagered approximately 10 months, then bottled.

You can learn more about Samichlaus from a couple of places on the web:

I’m looking forward to sharing  one of my last few bottles of the 1993 Samichlaus (acquired in Bloomsburg, PA) tomorrow with D. Happy St. Nicholas Day!

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 beerquest.tv) 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!

Neil Strine for President

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

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

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

Random Links on Hops Shortage

Because everyone else is talking about it, I feel like I should, too. Just some random finds:

DuClaw patrons received a letter from David Benfield, President, and Jim Wagner, Brewmaster concerning the future of Venom Pale Ale. This is an excerpt:

As you have probably already noticed, our beer prices increased in January. A combination of low grain supplies and a worldwide hop shortage (that has left many varieties of hops completely unavailable) has lead to an industry wide price increase for beer. When grain prices double and hop prices triple, beer prices must follow.The hops shortage has had other sobering effects (no pun intended) on the brewing industry as a whole and DuClaw specifically. The hops used in the recipe for Venom are simply no longer available. Rather than offer you a pint of something called Venom, that looks similar but tastes nothing like your favorite APA, we’ve decided to pull it from the lineup until the hops are once again available. This wasn’t an easy decision. In fact, we’re angry about it. Angry enough to raise some hell…

COMING SOON: HELLRAZER, our new American-style India Pale Ale. HELLRAZER boasts a light amber color, citrus aroma, smooth hoppy finish, and devilish 6.2% abv. This new IPA will more than fill the void for you hop heads out there during Venom’s absence, but we promise, Venom will return with the hops.

It will be interesting to see how different places handle this in the upcoming year(s).

A restaurant that I really wish I’d known about when we were in San Diego did a great post about the shortage and rising prices of beer in general. Except for the sausage, I think I would have loved this place. 

And finally, let me end by repeating the good news. The Samuel Adams® Hop Sharing Program is offering 20,000 pounds at cost to brewers who need them. What a generous offer by Boston Beer Company founder Jim Koch.

Holiday Ales in PA

As the crisp air of autumn begins to fall upon Pennsylvania, the mind wanders to beers of the season. 

On Friday, and again today, D and I made it to Selin’s Grove Brewing Company for the annual tasting of Pumpkin Ale.  The ’07 version was made in a bigger batch than any previous, so the spices came out a bit differently – much stronger than ’06 – but certainly not in a bad way.  Cinnamon is the primary essence that comes through on the nose.  A nitrogen pour gives this ale a creamy head, and a smooth mouthfeel.  It’s reminiscent of the creaminess of pumpkin pie (or the whipped cream on top!)  It has a beautiful dark copper hue and is a real treat for the season.

Now, just because the batch was bigger, don’t think you can delay your visit!  When we arrived today with a table of 8, Derek got the first pour and Ellen got a half…it looked as if the rest of us might be out of luck.  But Steve came through and put on another within minutes.  That’s three kegs of it kicked already, and they are dissuading people from filling growlers (because of the nitro), so this is going fast by the pint.

The Hop Nouveau was still on as of today, and there are many things to look forward to: Saint Fillin’s Scotch Ale in November, and in December, Kriek and Old Frosty IPA (the only thing better than the regular IPA!)

Back at home tonight, we gathered at Scott’s house to brew the second of our two Christmas ales (the first – made with cinnamon, fresh ginger and orange zest – was brewed on a camping trip at Watkin’s Glen; this second one is made with star anise and honey.)  As we brewed, he popped the cap on one of our ’07 pumpkin ales.  Scott and I agreed our ’06 was a really good pumpkin ale (sort of a pumpkin IPA.)  Our ‘o7 has a wonderful aroma.  It’s still a little young; it’s thick and has a biting tingle right now, but with a little mellowing from age, it should be good.

Also worth mentioning…  Troeg’s released Mad Elf in 12-oz bottles last Monday and will release it in jeraboams before the end of the month.  Otto’s is serving Five Year Ale – a sweet and spicy ale that comes in around 10.5% – and, on cask, the deliciously smooth and light Arthur’s Amarillo Pale Ale (not holiday related, but worth mentioning since I’ve had about 5 glasses of it this week!)

Asheville Brewing and 51 Grill (Asheville, NC)

When we parted ways from the Bier Garden, I could have easily gone back to the hotel and collapsed, but D wanted to stop by the Asheville Brewing Company (the downtown location) to see if we could catch up with Mark at the Drinking Liberally meeting.  We sure did, and we also had a chance to try some beers we hadn’t had at the Pizza & Brewing location. 

I had a pint of the Red Light IPA – a sweeter, less hoppy beer than the Shiva – and D had a Houdini ESP.  The beers, of course, were very nice.  The appearance of the downtown pub is much more toned down than the eclectic Pizza & Brewing location.  The food menu is extremely limited, but it is a temporary condition until they get a kitchen. We enjoyed a hummus plate with chips and vegetables and some peanuts while talking to Mark, and also meeting Danny Kean – the Traveling Piano guy.

But I was still hungry, and a little beered out, so we took the advice of a local and headed out to the 51 Grill for some late-night munchies.  (Actually, we went straight to the Chili’s on Tunnel Road in hopes that Highland Brewing Company’s Cold Mountain would still be on tap, but it wasn’t…so we sought out the local recommendation for food.) 

Yes, it is connected to an Exxon, and we almost didn’t go inside.  But the 51 Grill is open until 4 AM, it’s non-smoking, and we were hungry.  This is one of the cleanest places in town (rated 100% for cleanliness, as did both Asheville Brewing locations), and has a nice menu of sandwiches.  I ordered a whole wheat veggie wrap, which contained warmed vegetables and a creamy garlic sauce.  D had a grilled corned beef sandwich.  He found a descent beer on tap a Highlands Gaelic, but I opted for the water.  As we were told, it didn’t look like much, but it was great!

Barley’s Taproom (Asheville, NC)

We had some time to kill before we could get into our hotel, so we headed downtown to Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria.  It was easy to find parking in the lot just down the hill, which has designated spaces for the public, and a ticket machine to pay for the space with coins, dollars or credit card.  Barley’s is in a 1920’s appliance store – a large open space on the first floor with beautiful old wood, and a terrific large bar.  There are 45 taps total (25 taps on the main level; an additional 20 in the smoky upstairs billiard area), and there are only a few repeats. Barley’s charges no cover for music, and is non-smoking until 10:00 PM. 

We had a very friendly staff member at the bar, who allowed us small tastes of a few things before making our choices, and when we ordered our glasses, we enjoyed the following:

Catawba Valley Whiskey Brown (7% ABV; from Glen Alpine, NC), which had the obvious flavor of whisky coming through, but I also tasted “tootsie roll” and cinnamon, and found it was a reminiscent of Old Chub.  This brown ale is barrel-aged in Tennessee whiskey barrels for six months and cask conditioned for secondary fermentation, then blended with younger beer.

Vortex 1 I3PA from Pisgah Brewing Company (10.8% ABV; 133 IBUs – served in a 10 oz glass), which had the nose of Tang (instant orange beverage), and a nice dry flavor.  There was not a hint of citrus/grapefruit to this beer, made with Chinook and Nugget hops (one pound of dry hops per barrel.)

Catawba Valley Firewater IPA (5.6% ABV), which I don’t recall having much to say about other than, “Hmmm…that’s good.”  It had a memorable copper color and flavor that would make it “almost” a session beer were it not for the alcohol content; it had five varieties of malt and six hop additions.

While finishing off our pints, we overheard a couple asking for “the new beer store”, which we quickly determined was Bruisin’ Ales.  We gave them directions (just down the street), and I shared my digital photos so they would know what to look for.  When they left, we noticed that Nate Merchant (of Hart Distributing) was sitting at the bar doing some work, and we invited him to come down.  It was great to chat with him for just a few minutes and learn about the import, premium and craft brewed beers that can be found in North Carolina, as well as the process of getting them there.  We really appreciated the time he took to explain it all – with the changing laws from state to state, and so many tricks to the industry, it’s sometimes difficult to make sense of it all.