Enjoying Flying Dog’s Brewhouse Rarities Green Tea Imperial Stout 

Flying Dog Brewhouse Rarities Green Tea Imperial StoutThanks to the generous folks at Flying Dog, I was able to try 1 of the 3 bottled Brewhouse Rarities, the 10% Green Tea Imperial Stout. The beer was released in February 2013 and follows the simple criteria that all the rarities are held to: “Too weird to live, too rare to die.”

Ray and I sat down with a 750 mL of the beer Wednesday night, and here are our thoughts:

The beer pours jet black and opaque with a fluffy mocha head that lingers. I picked up sweet chocolate notes in the aroma, while Ray found nutty and crisp notes.

There was a medium mouthfeel, and I found that the stout coated my tongue, but pleasantly (no motor oil slickishness here).

I found the Green Tea Imperial Stout to be mega chocolatey, yet still balanced. Ray noticed a lot of dark fruit and molasses, as well as chocolate.

Unfortunately, neither one of us could pick up any green tea notes.

As I let the beer warm in my glass for 15-20 minutes, I thought I dedicated a slight herbal bitterness, but it was so hard to tell. I had Ray check and recheck, because he drinks green tea regularly, while I do not. He was unable to taste any green tea.

That said, this is an excellent imperial stout. The higher ABV is obvious, but it doesn’t hit you over the head. Ray felt that this style wasn’t the one to pair with green tea—maybe a pale ale would have been better?

Either way, I’m excited to work this beer into a baked good, which I plan to feature on my baking blog, Cupcake Friday Project. Stay tuned!

Disclosure: Flying Dog provided me with two bottles of Green Tea Imperial Stout so I could review it and develop a recipe for it on Cupcake Friday Project. My opinions are my own.






ACHIEVEability’s Food for Thought 2013 Event Is a Tasty Success 

Food for Thought

Saturday night, Ray and I attended ACHIEVEability’s Food for Thought 2013. Hosted at Urban Outfitter’s GORGEOUS Philadelphia Naval Yard headquarters, it was a night full of amazing food, drinks, and charitable giving.

After looking at the list of Philadelphia restaurants and chefs participating, we were extremely excited. Our favorite dishes included:

  • Foie gras soup with rose petal garnish and pumpernickel garnish from Kevin Sbraga of Sbraga (this was our ULTIMATE favorite … so luscious and flavorful)
  • Salmon tartar with lentils and blood orange vinaigrette from Peter Woolsey of Bistrot la Minette
  • Duck foie gras meatballs (in a super tasty broth!) from Ben Puchowitz of Matyson/CHeU Noodle Bar
  • Mortadella hot dog with spicy pickles and cabbage relish from Alla Spina, paired with Yards Brewing Co.’s IPA.

Mortadella hot dog and Yards IPAThe pairing of the mortadella hot dog and the IPA was great, though I wish they had stationed the two next to each other (Shake Shack was wedged in between, which was a little confusing). After we finished sharing our half of a hot dog, Ray said, “I want more. I want another hot dog.” So that means we’ll need to finally get over to Alla Spina!

Marcie Turney of Barbuzzo, Lolita and Jamonera also had two amazing offerings at her station: her famous  salted caramel budino, as well as a small bite that was composed of bread, a fresh cheese and cured pork that she was carving right at her table (I don’t have the specifics of the dish because her table was signless and she was near the band, so we couldn’t quite hear her). It was absolutely delicious, with so many developing flavors that you didn’t want to stop chewing to swallow. Marcie always wows us, and I was glad to see her at the event, along with all the other chefs who took the time to serve guests their fantastic food.

Disclosure: ACHIEVEability gave Ray and me 2 press passes to attend the Food for Thought 2013 event.




Beer Serves America … Literally 


[Editor's Note: While AB InBev and MillerCoors are known as the main funders of the Beer Institute, I still found these numbers to be interesting and wanted to share.]

Washington, D.C.—A new economic impact study released today shows America’s beer industry—made up of brewers, beer importers, beer distributors, brewer suppliers and retailers—directly and indirectly contributes $246.6 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

The American beer industry includes:

  • 2,851 brewing establishment
  • 3,728 distributors
  • 576,353 retailers

Jointly commissioned by the Beer Institute (BI) and the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), the Beer Serves America study shows that the industry generates more than two million American jobs, accounting for nearly $79 billion in wages and benefits and more than $246.6 billion in economic activity. The industry also contributed $49.1 billion dollars in the form of business, personal and consumption taxes in 2012.

“Beer serves America at virtually every level of the economy, from the two million employees, to the small businesses in middle class communities, and the important tax revenues at the local, state and national levels,” said Tom Long, CEO of MillerCoors and chairman of the Beer Institute. “From farmers to factory-workers, from brewery-hands to bartenders, beer puts Americans to work.”

“As independent businesses, America’s licensed beer distributors are proud to provide more than 130,000 quality jobs with solid wages and great benefits to employees in every state and congressional district across the country,” said Bob Archer, president of Blue Ridge Beverage Co., Inc. in Salem, Virginia, and chairman of NBWA.

According to the study, the beer industry directly employs nearly 1.1 million people, paying nearly $31.8 billion in wages and benefits, among brewers, distributors and retailers, such as supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants, bars and stadiums. Indirectly, the industry generates nearly $153.2 billion in economic activity in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, transportation and other sectors.

“In addition to providing quality jobs with solid wages, the independent, three-tier beer distribution system provides transparency and accountability and works to ensure alcoholic beverages are sold only to licensed retailers who in turn are responsible for selling only to adults of legal drinking age,” added NBWA President Craig Purser.  “This time-tested system, in which America’s beer distributors play a critical role, ensures that brewers of all sizes can reach a wide network of retailers and American consumers can enjoy tremendous choice and variety—13,000 different labels of beer—at a great value.”

“These numbers demonstrate that our industry continues to create quality jobs, build our economy and generate important domestic revenue in an economy that needs every job we can support,” said Joe McClain, president of the Beer Institute. “For this reason, it is important that state and federal officials consider equitable tax policies and avoid harming an industry that is so effectively aiding economic growth.”

The Beer Serves America economic impact study was conducted by John Dunham & Associates based in New York City and covers data compiled in 2012. The complete study, including state-by-state and congressional district breakdowns of economic contributions, is available at

The Beer Institute, established in 1986, is the national trade association for the brewing industry, representing both large and small brewers, as well as importers and industry suppliers. The Institute is committed to the development of sound public policy and to the values of civic duty and personal responsibility:

The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) represents the interests of 3,300 licensed, independent beer distributor operations in every state, congressional district and media market across the country. Beer distributors are committed to ensuring alcohol is provided safely and responsibly to consumers of legal drinking age through the three-tier, state-based system of alcohol regulation and distribution. To learn more about America’s Beer Distributors, visit




Yards Brewing Co. Steps It Up as Food for Thought Beer Sponsor 


On March 23, ACHIEVEability is hosting its 2013 Food for Thought fundraiser in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The night will be filled with amazing small plates from more than 25 of the top chefs and restaurants in the City of Brotherly Love, and for all you beer lovers out there, you’re not forgotten: Yards Brewing Co. is the event’s exclusive beer sponsor.

If you’re a Philly beer fan, then you know and love Yards–their beers are solid classics. Not a lot of muss and fuss, no strange ingredients, just hitting all the notes in styles ranging from pale ales to stouts and porters and a spring-time favorite, saison.

The brewery with its brewing roots in British-style ales will be pouring 2 favorites: the Philadelphia Pale Ale (a favorite of mine … so crisp!) and Brawler.

But here’s an even more exciting tidbit: If you happen to find yourself attending Food for Thought (which you really should … it’s SUCH a great cause), then don’t miss the pairing that Yards and Alla Spina have in store for you. Yards will be pairing their IPA with Alla Spina’s mortadello hotdogs, which are typically served at the restaurant with spicy pickles and cabbage relish. And we all know how well IPAs pair with spicy foods, so this is going to be a real treat.

Food for Thought

ACHIEVEability is an agency that permanently breaks the cycle of poverty for low-income, single-parent and homeless families. ACHIEVEability provides housing and supportive services so parents can pursue higher education and become self-sufficient. Everything the organization does promotes accountability for families. This year, ACHIEVEability is celebrating 31 years of helping families achieve self-sufficiency.

The event is a dream for those who love the great food of Philadelphia. Attendees will be able to sample food, using sustainable VerTerra plates and flatware, from more than 25 of the top chefs and restaurants in the city. There are a lot of my favorite restaurants and chefs on the list, but I’m most excited to check out some that are new-to-me:

Jonathan Adams / Rival Bros 
Joseph Baldino / Zeppoli
Michael Deganis / Alla Spina
Dana Herbert / Desserts by Dana
Karl Isaiah / Cake Boulangerie
Ben Puchowitz / Matyson and Cheu Noodle Bar 
Kevin Sbraga / Sbraga
Sylva Senat / Tashan 

Aside from Yards being the exclusive beer sponsor, Capital Wines & Spirits is the wine and spirits sponsor for the event.

Now, on top of all the food and beverage goodness, there will be music and dancing, and an auction containing fantastic prizes, such as a romantic week for 2 in Belize.

The event is hosted at Urban Outfitters’ headquarters at the Naval Yard in Philadelphia (check the site for driving directions).

Purchase your tickets here and be prepared for a wonderful evening benefiting a great cause and a full belly!




Victory to Debut Otto in October 

Victory Brewing Co., based in Downingtown PA is a power house of a brewery. I seriously wish we lived closer so we could mull about in the mammoth brewery and restaurant and sip pints on Friday nights. But for now we have to admire from across the water.

And here’s a new reason to envy all the other PA folks who live close enough to the brewery: On Oct. 15, Victory will debut a new beer called Otto, a Belgian-style, bottle conditioned dubbel ale available in 750 ml corked bottles.

This won’t be just any dubbel—which are pretty fantastic in their own right. Otto is brewed with smoked Munich and Belgian caramel malt, German hops and Trappist yeast. The ABV will ring in at 8.1%. Yum.

According to the press release I received, co-founders Bill and Ron developed the recipe for the smoked malt dubbel based on their experience with the style during a 1987 trip to Bamberg, Germany (Note: I was 5 in 1987). The combination of the traditional smokey flavor of a rauch beer married to the Belgian caramel malt will give the beer “a perfectly harmonized final flavor,” according to Victory’s founders.

“The complimentary flavors of smoked malt and Belgian yeast seemed like an obvious combination,” said Bill. “As far as we know, no one has bothered to put them together until now.”




Appalachian Brewing Co.’s Excellent Beers and Service 

Appalachian Brewing Co.To kick off the recent Memorial Day weekend, and our roadtrip out to Ohio for two of my cousins’ graduation parties, I planned for Ray and me to have dinner and beers at Appalachian Brewing Co.’s Harrisburg location. Ray picked me up from my office that Thursday evening and we headed west … right into a horrific storm.

Luckily for us, the storm didn’t kick in until we reached the Harrisburg area, but it was awful. Visibility was nil, winds buffeted the car, and the finishing touch was the hail. We made it to the motel, only to find out they were without power, so we trekked into Harrisburg. The brewery would have power, right?

Technically ABC did have power, but the storm had knocked out the POS system, so servers had to go back to each table, retake orders and get them into the kitchen. The manager explained that they weren’t serving anymore and our faces fell. It was 8:00 pm, we didn’t know the area, and we had salivated over the menu on the way there.

I mentioned that we had driven all the way from Philly, just to visit the brewery and restaurant on our way out west. The manager paused for a moment and said, “Let me see what I can do.” After waiting a bit, he came back, got us seated and ran back into the fray of the busy dining room. Twenty minutes later he swung by our table, dismayed that no one had waited on us. “Let me get your drink order … first round is on me!” he told us. Our new friend’s name was Jeremy and he would spend the next hour giving us some of the best customer service I’ve ever received.

We both ordered the IPA on cask and were rewarded for our wait. Crisp, yet creamy, it was exactly what we needed. Jeremy came back around, took our food orders and in seemingly no time at all I had a cup of cheddar ale soup in front of me. It was rich and flavorful and I should have ordered a bowl or two. Definitely a dish I want to replicate at home.

Ray ordered a beast of a meatloaf, seated on Texas toast, topped with mashed potatoes and gravy and sprinkled with fried onions. My grilled cheese with tomatoes looked positively puny next to it, but it’s exactly what I wanted to eat.

We finished out the night with a second round, Susquehanna Stout for me — so rich and chocolatey — while Ray enjoyed the Anniversary Maibock, which had a lovely honey finish.

We chatted with Jeremy some more, thanked him for getting us a table and taking care of us, and selected a 4-pack of ginger beer and a 6-pack of white birch beer for the road (both of which are delicious). We’ll definitely have to go back to visit and sample more of Appalachian Brewing’s beers, but even though the brewery opened a new location, I feel like we’d need to go back out to the Harrisburg location to show our loyalty to excellent service.




Belgium Comes to West Chester 

Ryan, Mel and Bob at Belgium Comes to West Chester

Amy told us to look like serious Beer Geeks. This is what we managed.

7:00 AM on Saturday found me curled up in my guest room bed, watching a streaming movie on Netflix. Then my phone began to buzz. Less than 6 hours later, I found myself at Iron Hill West Chester with Ryan, LeeAnne and her dad for lunch and Belgium Comes to West Chester.

There were 22 Belgian beers available to sample or order full glasses; for samples, you could pay $2 per 4 oz pour, or you could order a flight. We made the decision to order flights 1 & 2 (listed below).

1. Iron Hill Maple Shade, NJ: Flemish Red Ale
2. Iron Hill North Wales, PA: Sour Dubbel
3. Iron Hill Media, PA: Wee Funky
4. Iron Hill West Chester, PA: Saison
5. Iron Hill Wilmington, DE: Quadrupel
6. Sly Fox Brewing, Royersford, PA: Ichor
7. New Holland Brewing, New Holland, MI: Black Tulip Tripel
8. Stewart’s Brewing Co., Bear, DE: Stumblin’ Monk
9. Troeg’s Brewing Co., Harrisburg, PA: Scratch 34
10. Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co., Roseland, VA: Dark Abby
11. Yards Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA: Trubbel de Yards
12. Stoudt’s Brewing Co., Adamstown, PA: Tripel
13. Nodding Head, Philadelphia, PA: Rudy’s Kung Fu Grip
14. Flying Fish Brewing Co., Cherry Hill, NJ: Exit 4 Hoppy Tripel

I’ve had the beers from Flying Fish, Nodding Head and Stoudts and was pleased to see them again. I was absolutely blown away by Iron Hill Wilmington’s Quad. Typically, I find quads to be too strong for me, but this beer somehow hid its 11.8% ABV. I enjoyed the chocolate meets caramel maltiness as well as the dark stone fruit notes. I could have ordered a full glass, it was so delicious.

The table favorite was New Holland’s Black Tulip Tripel. BTT was smooth with hints of clove and esters. The program listed Michigan beet sugar as an ingredient, which I found interesting.

Prior to BC•WC, I hadn’t heard of Devil’s Backbone Brewing; I found their Dark Abby to be a party of plums and bananas, and quite good. They list Appalachian sorghum syrup as an ingredient for “extra sexiness.” The beer is also fermented with 2 Belgian yeast strains and finished with red wine yeast for dryness. Very interesting.

As for the beers we missed, they were:

Victory Brewing Co., Downington, PA: Golden Monkey
Cambridge Brewing Co., Cambridge MA: Tripel Threat
Dogfish Head, Rehoboth, DE: Red & White
Ithaca Beer Co., Ithaca, NY: Brute
Harpoon Brewing Co., Boston, MA: Frites & Geeks
Brooklyn Brewing Co., Brooklyn, NY: Sorachi Ace Saison
Brooklyn Brewing Co., Brooklyn, NY: Local One
Manayunk Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA: Yunker’s Nocturnum

I’ve had the offerings from Victory, DFH and Ithaca (Gold Medal Baby!), but would have liked to have sampled Tripel Threat from Cambridge (they blew me away at GABF) and Frites & Geeks from Harpoon.

Iron Hill West Chester's Gerardus Maximus

Iron Hill West Chester's Gerardus Maximus

To draw the afternoon to a close, I ordered one of West Chester’s specials, Gerardus Maximus, a bold hoppy red ale that danced along the lines of imperial in regard to ABV. I found it refreshing and a nice way to cut through the sweetness of the Belgian samplers.

The lovely Amy Strauss also ran around and snagged so many excellent photos for West Chester Dish. Check them out!

P.S. Do you know how many times I typed “Wester Chester” while writing this post? A lot.




Revisiting Ommegang’s Three Philosophers 

Brewery OmmegangI think it’s safe to say that Brewery Ommegang is one of my and Ray’s favorite breweries. Almost all their beers have hit it out of the park for us, from Hennepin, a Farmhouse Saison to Cup O Kyndness, a Belgian-inspired Scotch Ale. But of course, there will always be one that is exceptionally near and dear to us: Three Philosophers, a quadrupel created by blending 98% of the ale with 2% of a Belgian Kriek.

Brewery Ommegang's Three Philosophers and Mel's engagement ringThis is a beer I grew fond of, so, when Ray decided I was going to be his forever-lady, he picked up a 2007 bottle of the Cooperstown brew and proposed to me on Aug. 22, 2008.

To celebrate the engagement months later, my Uncle Larry and Aunt Susan gave us two bottles of Three Philosophers, bottled in 2008. Ray and I quickly decided to cellar the brews. One would be opened shortly after the wedding in November 2009, and the second would be opened right around our first wedding anniversary in November 2010.

Brewery Ommegang's Three Philosophers Ideally, we would have had the beer on our anniversary, but our plans were to go to Blackfish in Conshohocken—an amazing seafood BYOB—and we figured a quadrupel would overpower almost anything we ordered. Instead, we had it a few nights later with pan-seared filet mignon and roasted brussel sprouts. So good.

The bottle aged well. Dark stone fruit was evident, and the alcohol was very mellow. The cherries were present, but tended to play second fiddle to stronger plum notes. The aging definitely smoothed out the beer, and we both found it quite enjoyable.

I highly recommend this sort of practice—buying a couple of bottles to celebrate an occasion, leaving one to cellar and open over an anniversary. It would have been an excellent experiment if my uncle and aunt had given us three bottles: the last could have been saved for our fifth or even tenth anniversary!




Denver 2010 — Days 9-11 

More than two months later, and I’m still trying to wrap up our Denver trip—yes, it was that epic.

Oskar Blue Sampler

Oskar Blue Sampler. Top (l-r): ODB Barleywine; Velvet Elvis; Some High Grade Smoke; Columbian Supreme; Ten Fidy. Bottom (l-r) Priscilla Wheat; Hoppy Seconds; Redbeard's Love; Gubna Imperial IPA; S-bus Imperial Brown

After visiting New Belgium on Day 8, we headed over to Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids and Solids. We enjoyed 2 sampler trays filled with beers that don’t tend to make it into cans—these were draft specialties. The ODB Barleywine was intense, and I remember being fairly impressed with Some High Grade Smoke, especially since I’m not much of a smoked beer kind of gal (maybe someday). The imperial Redbeard’s Love was very caramely and S-bus Imperial Brown was my first exposure to the offbeat style, and I liked it.

Day 9
Once again we hit up WaterCourse Foods for breakfast, because, simply put, the food there is mind-blowingly phenomenal. Get on a plane NOW and eat there. Your stomach will thank you.

After a 6+ mile hike at Elk Meadow in Evergreen, Co., we met up with my fellow Lady of Craft Beer Micki at Great Divide. And, unfortunately, it was between these two activities that I found out that my beloved Clark’s Ale House was closing—making me a sad panda that could only be cheered up with excellent GD brews.

Day 10
Friday saw us head to Snooze for a light breakfast (1/2 orders of Bennys and coffee only for us). Our plan for the day was to go neighborhood hunting, nap in the park, have lunch at SAME Cafe, and basically just play it by ear.

We found that the neighborhood just south of the state capitol seemed to be our best bet, even with a street full of apartment complexes called Poets’ Row (I’m such a geek). I discovered a cool hair salon sporting posters for Roller Derby and discovered WaterCourse Bakery’s location, so I knew this would be a perfect spot to settle down in a few years (hair salons and bakeries … my only requirements).

Lunch at SAME (So All May Eat) Cafe was delicious and meaningful (read more about it on MelBee Says …) and reading and napping in Cheeseman Park was delightful.

Great Divide Yeti and Wild Raspberry

Great Divide Yeti and Wild Raspberry soon became one as I mixed the two samples to become the Wild Raspberry Yeti.

Ray called for Happy Hour at Great Divide, so we hoofed it over there, and we enjoyed a few samples and pints and our books. There was an excellent vegetarian food truck doing their thing right outside the patio, but we resisted the temptation and held out for WaterCourse (yes again!) and their delicious pastas for dinner.

Day 11 saw us checking out, dropping off the rental car and heading to the airport. But before we shimmied through security, there had to be breakfast, and once last beer at Boulder Beer in the airport. I enjoyed a Mojo IPA with the same southwestern chicken salad that I had a year ago, while Ray enjoyed a Planet Porter with a burger.

And then it was off to our gate to head back to Philly. Every time we leave Denver it gets a little bit harder, but one day the tables will turn and we’ll be leaving the Mile High City to go on vacation and not the other way around.




New Belgium Brewing — Denver 2010 Day 8 Part II 

The Abbey, New Belgium Brewery's "Beer"-stream trailer

The Abbey, the Beer-Stream trailer that was once commissioned to travel, sharing the wonders of New Belgium beers.

It may have been a month since I wrote about Odell Brewing and more like 2 months since we were actually at the mecca that is New Belgium Brewing, but our time spent there still seems pretty fresh in my mind. I mean, how does one forget about a 90-minute brewery tour?

We were greeted first by the classic Airstream trailer in the parking lot, and then headed straight into the Liquid Center. We checked in, got a nifty stamp on our hands and snagged our first samples, pre-tour. I had the Ranger IPA—so crisp and hoppy and full of resiny goodness. Our tour guide Seth (who is epically awesome and the tour guide to have while at New Belgium) had us gather around and enjoy the first of many samples to come (the Abbey ale … so caramely!) and told the story of how New Belgium was born out of Kim and Jeff’s basement and then grew into the current space.

New Belgium tourguide Seth and a tray of empties

Seth, our tour guide at New Belgium, was super cool and highly knowledgable.

Then it was time to head upstairs, where you can see the tops of the kettles and the beautiful mosaics that surround them. It was at the upstairs bar that Seth decided to make an “employee-owner” decision to have each of us pour our own samples from the tap (to save on labor, as he put it).

He taught us the perfect way to pour (just enough head so you get to experience the aroma appropriately) and let us have at it. I poured a perfect sample of Hoptober, the fall seasonal. Ray followed and managed to kick the keg of 1554 (a Belgian black ale). He gave it another shot, this time kicking the keg of La Folie, the sour brown. The third time was the charm and he finally managed a decent pour of Ranger IPA.

We peered in on the cellaring area, saw the lab where we waved at a bunch of the folks behind keeping the NB yeast healthy and then made our way over to the bottling/packaging facility, lovingly called the Thunder Dome, where we had yet another sample, this time Mothership Wit.

New Belgium Brewery Fat Tire Diorama

Throughout the brewery, New Belgium has dioramas like this one for Fat Tire Amber Ale.

From there, we headed back to the main building, headed up the stairs by accounting so that we could have the honor of coming back down—via a large metal curly slide. Seth suggested curling up to avoid any abrasions from the metal and riding on the left butt cheek. I tried my best while sliding down in a dress, but still managed to nail my knee pretty well. Two months later, and I still have a dark spot on my knee the size of a quarter.

We finished up in a room Seth has set aside for us with two final samples: Ranger and 1554. Seth regaled us with the story behind 1554 (watch the video!) and then sent us on our way to hang out in the Liquid Center.

Overall, it was an amazing tour, with much more than just walking around and trying samples. Seth explained all about the brewery’s environmental philosophies and more, which are just mind-blowingly awesome (and I’m not even going to try to cover it all—just read about it here).

Definitely reserve spots on the tour if you find you’re in Fort Collins. Great beer. Great time. Great social and environmental responsibility. Who could ask for more?