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.




Wood’ja at Nodding Head 

Ray drinking 2-Year Cask Aged Wee Heavier at Nodding Head for the Wood'ja event

Ray drinking 2-Year Cask Aged Wee Heavier at Nodding Head for the Wood'ja event.

On Saturday, Feb. 12 Ray and I decided to combine our annual Anti V-Day dinner (which is always at Nodding Head) and the brewpub’s Barrel-Aged Beers event, Wood’ja.

This was not your typical bourbon barrel event; instead, these were beers that rocked out in some funky barrels, providing attendees with something sour to think about. Nodding Head featured 3 sours and had 2 special guest beers on tap:

• Cask Two-Year-Old Wee Heavier (9.5% ABV): Strong, Scottish-style ale that has been aged in a wooden cask that once held Calvados brandy, and more recently JW Lees Harvest Ale. This ale is very dark in color, and full-bodied with a roasty character and sweet malt flavors. The menu also read “Crazy sour … not for the faint at heart.”

• Pho-Tay (7% ABV): NH’s O-Tay aged in the Phunk Barrel. This beer started  as a golden ale brewed with 84 pounds of organic buckwheat and Belgian yeast, giving it a unique spicy character. After barrel-aging, it picked up oak and brett characteristics.

• Saison De La Tete (6% ABV):A blend of a young saison, and a sour barrel aged, low alcohol, hoppy pale ale. The flavors from the brettanomyceys and oak add some punch to the slightly funky saison character.

Special Guests
• Russian River Consecration (10% ABV): A Belgian-style Dark Strong Ale aged in American oak Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. Kicking up the funk Russian River uses Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus, and adds currants to the beer while it barrel-ages. This beer was served still (though the menu did not point this out, and it should have).

• Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Grand Cru (9.2% ABV): A blend of barrel-aged Bigfoot, Celebration and Pale Ale.

Ray had the Wee Heavier and Pho-Tay, while I ordered the Consecration and Saison de la Tete. I wish Nodding Head had let attendees know that the beer  would be served still, because it was a major shock to my senses. I didn’t quite care for it (I picked up notes of nail polish remover mid-way through), but Ray liked it. Ray also has a better tolerance for high alcohol beverages, whereas my senses get shocked severely.

I found the Wee Heavier to be very interesting, and the Saison de la Tete was very balanced and refreshing. Pho-Tay surprised both of us; I had ordered O-Tay a week ago and hadn’t really cared for the finish, but Pho-Tay hit everything right on the nail.

For the Anti V-Day portion of our night, Ray ordered the Duck BLT with boursin and cranberry ail, while I had the mussels specical, which was served in a coconut curry broth. It was delicious. Ray tried his first mussel (didn’t like it), but agreed that the broth was top-notch. He ordered a cask conditioned Goldihops (very hoppy light bodied golden ale (4.75% ABV) with tons of hop flavor and aroma without high alcohol or bitterness), while I had the Belgian Chocolate Stout. The stout was excellent, but I think Flying Fish’s Exit 13 Belgian Chocolate Stout still takes the cake for me. Mmmmm chocolate!




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.




Denver 2010 — Days 5-7 

It’s actually Day 11. I’m on a plane heading back to the City of Brotherly Love and Beer, experiencing turbulence, wearing my Great Divide Hops Disciples t-shirt, sipping a Coke with too much ice. I’m listening to Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans album and trying not to rock out too hard. So it goes.

Day 5
Zebra at Denver ZooOn Sunday following GABF, Ray and I decided to take it easy. We had both sworn off alcohol until dinner, that is, until Ray ordered his first Bloody Mary from Olivéa, which has the No.1 Bloody Mary in town (good enough excuse), with breakfast. We took the day to tour the Denver Zoo, bummed that the sea otters weren’t cute-ing it up, but pleased to see the mama tiger and 4 cubs playing.

Following the zoo, we headed over to the Highlands area for dinner at Root Down, a restaurant that sources at least 80% of its produce, meat and dairy locally, serves reverse osmosis water, and is just generally hip. We made a meal of small plates, thrilled with the organic carrot and red Thai soup and the carrot gnocchi with wild mushrooms and baby zucchini. I enjoyed one of the beer specials, which was Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A (Rye IPA) from He’Brew (a brand from Shmaltz). It was my only non-local beer the entire trip (aside from GABF) and was rather good. Ray enjoyed Odell’s IPA.

Day 6
Mountain Sun ChalkboardOff to Boulder! Our first stop was the Pearl Street Mall as we waited for Mountain Sun Pub to open for lunch. We poked in and out of shops, but we were mainly there for Mountain Sun. 11:30 hit and we headed in for an early lunch: I enjoyed a Resinous Rye, while Ray had the Illusion Dweller IPA. To get to the restrooms, you walk by the brewery. I highly recommend breathing in deeply on the way to the loo … it’s heavenly.

Then, it was over to Redstone Meadery, also on Pearl Street, but on the opposite end, away from the “main street” hustle and bustle. Nestled between an auto body repair shop and an oil change joint, Redstone Meadery is a gem. We just missed the noon tour, but had the chance to sample 4 Nectars, Black Raspberry, Bosenberry, Sunshine (Apricots) and Nectar of the Hops (dry hopped with Amarillo and Centennial); 6 Mountain Honey Wines, Traditional, Juniper, White Pyment, Pinot Pyment, Blueberry and Plum;  and for a nominal fee, we purchased 1 oz tastes of Redstone’s reserves, 2005 Black Raspberry, 2004 Cyser and 2003 Boysenberry, all of which were phenomenal.

As we mulled over our samples of the Reserve selections, Ray and I played a rather un-cutthroat game of Scrabble, where French, Spanish, slang and abbreviations ran wild (we also didn’t bother to keep score). 3:00 came and it was time for another meadery tour; this one we didn’t miss. It was interesting to hear about the process, and see how the owner was able to use a variety of brewing and winemaking equipment for his meads. After listening to his entire talk, we decided to skip buying the Sunshine Nectar (which we had fallen in love with at GABF and again at the tasting room) and instead purchase a bottle of the Traditional mead.

Day 7
Triceratops TrailWe originally decided to stick around town on Tuesday, opting for yet another mind-blowing breakfast at WaterCourse Foods. But then, instead of exploring more of Denver proper, we decided to head out to Golden to hike Triceratops Trail (basically a trial run before our Thursday hike to see if my knee and healing ACL was up for it) and check out the town.

The trail was a bit hidden, but definitely an interesting 1.5 mile hike. I enjoyed geeking out over dinosaur tracks, raindrop and frond imprints, and the various flora and fauna we came across. After working up an appetite, we headed into town, and upon a suggestion from one of my fellow Ladies of Craft Beer Micki, we made a beeline for Woody’s Woodfired Pizza in Golden. We shared an excellent Whiskey King pizza, and I enjoyed Dale’s Pale Ale straight from the can (my dad always said ladies drink from a glass, but he wasn’t there, so straight from the can it was!), while Ray had yet another Odell’s winner, 5 Barrel Pale Ale.

Possibly the best thing about Woody’s was the local honey they brought to the table for the crust. We were BLOWN AWAY! I wanted to make a mead with this honey, stat! I kidded with Ray about stashing the bottle in my purse; little did we know how lucky we were going to get.

While Ray was in the restroom, the general manager came over to ask me how the pizza was (it was a new addition to the menu) and compliment me on my beer selection. I told him how much I enjoyed Oskar Blues beers and how it was hard to find them on the East Coast. I also complimented him on the honey, and that’s when I found out that not only was it local, but Woody’s had invested in the beekeeper’s business in order to generate the amount of honey the restaurant would need. Awesome! Small business helping out a small business, Love it.

I told him how much we loved the honey and found out that its a blend of 2 hives in the area. Then I found out we could buy it and I was overjoyed. We didn’t buy enough to make a mead, BUT we got a bottle for ourselves and a bottle for our foodies friends who would appreciate the local gift.

What could be better than local, delicious honey? Local, delicious BEER. A short drive took us to what looked like a house—it wasn’t. It was Golden City Brewing, proudly hailed as the “Second Largest Brewery in Golden” (the first is Coors. Yuck). We sampled tastes of everything on tap, missing out on the Evolution IPA and Mad Molly’s Brown Ale that had been cleared out by GABF, and selected a pint of Legendary Red for Ray—their most popular—and a snifter of Cuvee #1, a bourbon barrel stout.

Game of Sorry! at Golden City BrewingWe grabbed the travel edition of Sorry!, pulled up a table in the shade of the patio and settled into our beers. We were wowed by what we had in front of us, and after a lot of back and forth, I finally kicked Ray’s butt in Sorry! GCB was a real gem, and it was nice to see that even on a Tuesday afternoon between 2:30 and 5, the place could draw a crowd with pints and pitchers, and even a few well-behaved dogs.

Finishing our beers, it was back to Denver to rest and hit Euclid Hall for a late night supper. I was excited to visit, reviewing their menu online and considering the options. Unfortunately, it didn’t do it for us. Euclid Hall is not only a pub, but a rather well-known building. According to the website, Euclid Hall was built in 1883 as a house for Dr. Byron Albertus Wheeler, Euclid Hall has been home to the Masons, the Colorado Women’s Relief Corps, The Cootie Club, Maudie’s Flea Market and is even rumored to have once been the very fancy headquarters of a brothel catering to government officials, law enforcement and members of the media. The decor is cool, but the big screen TVs boasting a variety of sporting events and the schizo music selection were major turn offs.

The prices on their list of “special” beer bottles was outlandish, and their regular bottle list had a pretty hefty markup. We stuck with drafts to keep our wallets a little less squeezed; I opted for Ska Brewing’s Buster Nut Brown and Ray has Boulevard Brewing’s Tank #7, a farmhouse ale. We tried poutine for the first time, which was pretty good, and noshed on sandwiches. While the service was good and the food was perfectly fine, we found ourselves disappointed. It was as if Euclid Hall wanted to be both Tria and The Dive Bar at the same time, but it just didn’t work for us. That said, we definitely want to give Euclid Hall a second chance the next time we’re in Denver.




Denver Beer Drinkin’ 

I’m sure you’ve been dying to know what I was drinking the entire time in Denver, so here I provide you with a bit of photographic evidence to start off your Monday morning. (Note: Most of these beers are the ones I ordered … I don’t necessarily have pictures of everything Ray drank, so use your imagination). I also avoided showing duplicates.

Wynkoop's King Tut's Gold

King Tut's Gold, "Imperial Egyptian Ale" from Wynkoop

Wynkoop's London Calling IPA

London Calling IPA from Wynkoop

Wynkoop's Silverback Porter

Silverback Porter from Wynkoop

Great Divide Beer Samples

8 wonderful samples from Great Divide: Top row (l-r) Yeti Imperial Stout; Claymore Scotch Ale, Rumble Oak Aged IPA, Denver Pale Ale; Bottom row (l-r) Smoked Baltic Porter, Hercules DIPA, Hoss Rye Lager, Samurai Rice Ale

New Belgium 1554

1554, "An Enlightened Black Ale" from New Belgium

Avery's Ellie's Brown Ale

Ellie's Brown Ale from Avery

Ska Brewing's Modus Hoperandi

Modus Hoperandi from Ska Brewing

Dry Dock Brewing's U-Boat

U-Boat Hefeweizen from Dry Dock Brewing

Ska Brewing's Steel Toe stout

Steel Toe Stout from Ska Brewing

He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A

Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A from He'Brew (Shmaltz Brewing)

Mountain Sun Pub's Resinous Rye

Resinous Rye from Mountain Sun Pub

Oskar Blues' Dale's Pale Ale

Dale's Pale Ale from Oskar Blues

Cuvee #1 and Legendary Red from Golden City Brewing

Cuvee #1 (stout aged in bourbon barrel) and Legendary Red from Golden City Brewing

Ska Brewing Buster Nut Brown and Boulevard's Tank 7

Buster Nut Brown from Ska Brewing and Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale from Boulevard Brewing

Odell's Classic Sampler

Odell's Classic Sampler: (l-r) Easy Street Wheat, Levity Amber Ale, 5 Barrel Pale Ale, 90 Schilling Ale, IPA, Cutthroat Porter

Odell's Pilot Sampler

Odell's Pilot Sampler Part 1 (l-r): Snowriders Ale, Curry Wheat, Hast la Muerte

Odell's Pilot Sampler Part 2

Odell's Pilot Sampler Part 2 (l-r): Isolation Ale, Nitro Cutthroat Porter, The Wanderer

Odell's Bourbon Barrel Stout

Boubon Barrel Stout from Odell Brewing

New Belgiums Ranger IPA

Ranger IPA from New Belgium

New Belgium's Hoptober

Hoptober from New Belgium

New Belgium's Mothership Wit

Mothership Wit from New Belgium

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

Great Divide Wild Raspberry

Wild Raspberry from Great Divide

Great Divide DPA

Denver Pale Ale from Great Divide

Boulder Mojo IPA

Mojo IPA from Boulder

What isn’t pictured above: Rogues Double Chocolate Stout (I had that Friday night at Freshcraft and was too busy talking to remember to snap a photo) and all 90+ beers from GABF. Cheers!




GABF 2010 — The Beers 

Great American Beer Festival 2010The Great American Beer Festival: 3 days, 450 breweries, 2,000 beers. And when it came to beers that were judged, we’re talking about 3 medal types,  79 categories, 519 competing breweries, 133 judges from across the globe and 3,601 beers judged. Hot damn!

We attended the Saturday afternoon members-only session, which gave us the opportunity to mingle with fellow AHA members for 4 hours. You do no consume 2,000 beers in 4 hours; this is why many people buy multiple session tickets, but we felt one was enough.

Below is a list of beers Ray and I tried (alpha by brewery name); some breweries wowed us enough to try all their offerings, but usually we managed 2 per brewery visited. And we skipped any beer we have had previously.

  1. Mo’TCHO Risin (21st Amendment)
  2. Back in Black (21st Amendment)
  3. Volksbier (Bear Republic Brewing Co.)
  4. Cuvee de Bubba (Bear Republic Brewing Co.)
  5. Le Contrebassiste (Bell’s Brewery)
  6. Bison Organic Chocolate Stout (Bison Brewing Co.)
  7. Bison Organic IPA (Bison Brewing Co.)
  8. Bad Knees (Cambridge Brewing Co.)
  9. CaCow! (Cambridge Brewing Co.) This was my first beer of the fest and it completely blew me away with it’s amazing chocolatey goodness. A strong rival to the pint of Rogue’s Double Chocolate Stout that I had Friday evening.
  10. Arquebus (Cambridge Brewing Co.)
  11. The Colonel (Cambridge Brewing Co.)
  12. 1919 choc Beer (Choc Beer Co.)
  13. Signature Dubbel (Choc Beer Co.)
  14. Signature Quad (Choc Beer Co.)
  15. Shillelagh Stout (Cooper Canyon Brewery)
  16. Tamarillo (Dogfish Head)
  17. GraintoGlass (Dogfish Head)
  18. Canadian Breakfast Stout (Founders Brewing Co.) Woo-hoo whiskey!
  19. Devil Dancer (Founders Brewing Co.)
  20. Ad Astra Ale (Free State Brewing Co.)
  21. Stormwatch Ale (Free State Brewing Co.)
  22. Matilda (Goose Island Beer Co.)
  23. Bourbon Country Brand Coffee Stout (Goose Island Beer Co.) BRONZE MEDAL
  24. Colette (Great Divide Brewing Co.) SILVER MEDAL
  25. Hades (Great Divide Brewing Co.)
  26. Belgica (Great Divide Brewing Co.)
  27. Aged Hibernation (Great Divide Brewing Co.)
  28. Glockenspiel (Great Lakes Brewing Co.) A tasty weizenbock
  29. Rye of the Tiger (Great Lakes Brewing Co.) A rye IPA, possibly my new favorite style.
  30. Bourbon Barrel Stout (Green Flash Brewing Co.)
  31. Le Freak (Green Flash Brewing Co.)
  32. Maggie (Grumpy Troll Brewery, Restaurant & Pizzeria) Okay, so I had to try a beer that has the same name as my parents’ rambunctious yellow lab. Maggie is a double ESB that impressed both of us.
  33. Iroquois Wheat Beer (Horseheads Brewing)
  34. Horseheads IPA (Horseheads Brewing)
  35. Hot-Jala-Heim Beer (Horseheads Brewing) I picked this beer up, but after finding the flavor to be too peppery for my tastes, I passed it along to Ray, who LOVED it. He found there to be a lot of chile aroma in the nose and a nice slow burn.
  36. Blanche de Hill (Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant)
  37. The Cannibal (Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant)
  38. LeBleu (Ithaca Beer Co.)
  39. Super Friends (Ithaca Beer Co.) Collaboration beer with Brewery Ommegang, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., Flying Fish Brewing Co., Southampton Publick House and Valley Brewing Co., producing an American IPA fermented solely with Brett.
  40. Wee Heavy (Mad Fox Brewing Co.)
  41. Rauch E. Balboa (Manayunk Brewing Co.)
  42. Tritessa (McKenzie Brew House)
  43. La Folie Sour Brown Ale (New Belgium Brewing Co.)
  44. Imperial Berliner-Style Ale (New Belgium Brewing Co.)
  45. Garden State Stout (New Jersey Beer Co.) Ray was pleasantly surprised by this beer from North Jersey, his old stomping grounds.
  46. Tread Lightly Ale (New Planet Beer Co.)
  47. 3R Raspberry Ale (New Planet Beer Co.) BRONZE MEDAL
  48. Green Menace IPA (North by Northwest Restaurant & Brewery)
  49. Espresso Imperial Stout (North by Northwest Restaurant & Brewery)
  50. Bourbon Barrel Stout (Odell Brewing Co.)
  51. Friek (Odell Brewing Co.)
  52. Woodcut #4 (Odell Brewing Co.)
  53. Deconstruction (Odell Brewing Co.)
  54. Coconut Porter (Pagosa Brewing Co.) The coconut comes out immediately in the nose, and better yet, it follows through for the entire time it’s in your mouth. It also tastes like real, fresh coconut, not some plasticky extract. Ray and I were both pleasantly surprised. This would make an excellent stout float. SILVER MEDAL
  55. Soaker’s Stout (Pagosa Brewing Co.)
  56. Poor Richard’s Ale (Pagosa Brewing Co.)
  57. Milk Stout (Portsmouth Brewery)
  58. Rye Not (Portsmouth Brewery)
  59. Whipper Snapper (Portsmouth Brewery)
  60. Gose (Portsmouth Brewery)
  61. Bitto Honey IPA (Prism Brewing Co.)
  62. Tea Party Pale Ale (Prism Brewing Co.) Ray tried to joke with the volunteer about the unfortunate name of this beer (brewed with tea), but got the surly response of “Not my beer” in return. Oh well.
  63. Ugly Pug (Rahr & Sons Brewery)
  64. Superfly Dunkel Rye (Ram Restaurant & Brewery)
  65. Sunshine Nectar (Redstone Meadery) A lovely session mead made with apricots. Bright and smooth.
  66. Nectar of Hops (Redstone Meadery) Yes that’s right, this is a session mead made with hops. The flavor is mellow and slightly sweet, and the hop flavor shines.
  67. Black Raspberry Nectar (Redstone Meadery) Lovely purpley-pink and slightly tart.
  68. Simcoe IPA (Rock Bottom Breweries)
  69. XXXX IPA (Shipyard Brewing Co.)
  70. Smashed Pumpkin Ale (Shipyard Brewing Co.) My first pumpkin of the fest … really knocked it out of the park with the nose and flavor.
  71. Cherry Bomb (Strange Brewing Co.)
  72. Cherry Kriek (Strange Brewing Co.)
  73. Buffalo Sweat (Tall Grass Brewing Co.)
  74. Oasis (Tall Grass Brewing Co.)
  75. Munsterfest (Three Floyds Brewing Co.) BRONZE MEDAL
  76. Bin ich schwarz genug fur dich? (Three Floyds Brewing Co.) This takes the cake for funkiest name. A decent Schwarzbier.
  77. Butthead Bock (Tommyknocker Brewery)
  78. Maple Nut Brown Ale (Tommyknocker Brewery)
  79. TPS Report (Trinity Brewing Co).
  80. The Flavor (Trinity Brewing Co.)
  81. Old Growth (Trinity Brewing Co.)
  82. Stop Making Sense (Trinity Brewing Co.)
  83. Jewish Rye Beer (Triumph Brewing Co. of Princeton) Possibly the BEST rye we’ve ever had. It tasted like someone put a fresh-baked slice of rye bread in the glass. SO GOOD.
  84. Flying Mouflan (Troegs Brewery) GOLD MEDAL
  85. Northstar Imperial Porter (Twisted Pine Brewing Co.)
  86. Big Shot Espresso Stout (Twisted Pine Brewing Co.) BRONZE MEDAL
  87. Fifteen (Weyerbacher Brewing Co.)
  88. Lima (Weyerbacher Brewing Co.)
  89. Jormungandr’s Revenge (Pro-Am competition entry between Dogfish Head and homebrewers Kyle Kernozek and Michelle Dickey)
  90. Red Velvet (Pro-Am competition entry between Eagle Rock Brewery and homebrewer Donny Hummel) GOLD MEDAL
  91. Ryed Hard and Put Away Wet (Pro-Am competition entry between Rockyeard Brewing Co. and homebrewer Adam Glasser) SILVER MEDAL

This list doesn’t include the 2 beers we had from the Colorado Guild table (not listed in the program), but still, 90+ beers in 4 hours time. Wow. And a lot were medal winners (medals were announced starting at 1:30, so as winners were announced, suddenly those kegs were sucked dry).

Triumph Brewing Co.'s Jewish Rye

We were floored by Jewish Rye from Princeton's Triumph (NJ represent!)

We saw a lot of ryes out there, which were fantastic. The sours were out in full force, with someone asking me “Are sours the new thing?” I’ve been on the sour bus for a solid 3+ years now, but I do think they are uncharted territory for some.

However, I have to mention Trinity Brewing: Almost all of their beers tasted the of the same sourness. And not in a good way. I actually began feeling sick to my stomach, and we were only 30 minutes into the fest at that point. Ray and I feel that something let loose through that brewery, rendering the same off, highly-acetic flavor in their offerings. It was a shame. But in better news, Ithaca Beer’s Brute took gold for the American-style sour, which made me happy. They’re a great brewery.

Cambridge Brewing Co. wowed us, as well as their neighbor at the next table, Portsmouth Brewery. And Odells…nicely done with your offerings!

Ray declared GABF better than SAVOR 2010, and in some cases I have to agree with him. SAVOR did not bring its A-game this year, which definitely brings it down a notch. Also, the space was a bit tighter than GABF, and open space is always a good thing to have at a fest. Nevertheless, we had a great time and will be back for the GABF’s 30th anniversary in 2011.




Denver 2010 — Days 1 & 2 

As Ray snores gently beside me in bed, I thought I’d check in from Denver. We touched down Wednesday a little after 10 AM MT, wrangled our rental car and headed into the city to our budget hotel. They let us check in early (bonus!) and the room is small and tidy, with a decent AC and good water pressure (good enough for me).

Yesterday we parked the car in an affordable lot (almost unheard of in Philly) and headed straight to Wynkoop for lunch and a few pints. We sat at the bar and enjoyed salads: I had a smoked chicken salad with mango and hearts of palm, while Ray dined on a Buffalo taco salad in a crisp and non-greasy taco bowl. The food was excellent, as always at Wynkoop, and we had some phenomenal beers.

Tut's Royal Gold—WynkoopI started with Tut’s Royal Gold, an “Imperial Egyptian Ale” that is unfiltered, made with pale malts, honey, and a blend on ancient Egyptian grains and spices, like chamomile. The flavor was outstanding, and the beer was in honor of the visiting King Tut exhibit. Ray started with the Harvest Ale and loved it, but was further blown away by the Orville Belgian-style ale. He described it as plummy and a tad sour … it really knocked it out of the park for him. I had the London Calling IPA next, and then we shared a pint of the Silverback Porter on handpump (25% of all sales of Silverback goes toward gorilla preservation).

Great Divide Brewing Co.We wandered the 16th Street mall a bit, then headed over to the mecca that is Great Divide. We shared a table with a Ph.D. student (I think her name was Claire) and talked about homebrewing and living in Denver. 8 samples, 4 pints and one food-truck wood-grilled pizza later, it was time to go back to the hotel and pass out, of course, not without watching the first half of The Fifth Element first.

Snooze An A.M. EateryThursday was welcomed with an outstanding breakfast at Snooze, best breakfast joint in town. They have an excellent system for doing 1/2 orders, so I had a 1/2 order of the Backyard BBQ Benny, which was housemade corn bread topped with slow-cooked Niman Ranch BBQ beef, poached egg, smoked cheddar hollandaise and diced pickles, and a single Machu Picchu pancake: quinoa and cornmeal with fresh blueberries, sunflower seeds, agave nectar drizzle and whipped butter. De-lish.

Ray dined on the Bella Benny, containing thin slices of prosciutto, brie cheese, and perfectly poached eggs on a house made English muffin, topped with cream cheese hollandaise, balsamic glaze and arugula, and ordered 1 pancake of the day, which was in honor of GABF. The pancake was wheat based, and had a Tripel syrup infused with orange. You could really taste the beer in the syrup, bravo!

Jonesy's Eat BarWe then walked all over the Cheesman Park neighborhood, took a nap in the park, swung on swings, made note of various apartment buildings, made friends with a baby squirrel, and basically had a great time during such a beautiful day. We came back, showered, then had an amazing meal at Jonesy’s Eat Bar, a few more beers, toured the North Capitol Hill neighborhood, then came back to the hotel with the full intention of going out to meet some fellow beer bloggers at Uptown Brothers, but that didn’t happen, and that’s okay.




Denver & GABF or BUST! 

Denver Colorado Beer Facts

Ray received an email from Jake, one of the minds behind the very amusing graphic you see above. Jake explained that the graphic was created out of Colorado state pride and to commemorate the upcoming Great American Beer Festival, and would be honored if we shared it. So why the heck not?

Today we get on a plane for the Mile-High City and have a semi-busy schedule for the first few days leading up to the AHA members-only session of GABF that we’ll be attending on Saturday afternoon. We’re looking forward to visiting Great Divide’s tap room again, where this time we’ll be able to enjoy some food from Appaloosa Grill that uses some of GD’s amazing beers in the dish. Reading the menu makes my mouth water.

There are a ton of events throughout the entire city that I’m sure we’ll trip upon, but Friday morning is reserved for a very special event. Ray and I will be attending the Ladies of Craft Beer Beer for Boobs Brunch at newly opened Freshcraft. I’m excited to meet some of my fellow LadiesOCB face-to-face, and am even happier to see 50% of each ticket go toward breast cancer awareness. Aside from a stellar buffet, deals on pints and a great crowd, the sold-out brunch will feature special guest Sebbie Buehler—the face of Rogue’s Chocolate Stout. She will be presenting as an exclusive keg of Double Chocolate Stout to be tapped. Excitement!

Then after GABF, Ray and I have an entire week to play in Denver and the surrounding areas. We plan on going back to Boulder, possibly making it up to Fort Collins, and basically checking out all of Denver’s nooks and crannies (Thomas English Muffin style!), as we discover more about the city that wowed us on our honeymoon last year and convinced us it should be our new home.




Pouring for the First Time — Geraghty’s Fall Beer and Food Festival 

Sly Fox logoTomorrow I will be representing Sly Fox at Geraghty’s Fall Beer and Food Festival in Burlington, NJ. How freakin’ awesome is that? Immensely awesome.

Beerlass and Sly Fox Beer Slinger Extraordinaire Suzanne Woods put out the call for help this morning and I jumped on it. The chance to pour at a fest? Excellent. For Sly Fox? Too cool. At a new pub that’s a 9-minute drive from my place? How could I NOT volunteer?

I’ll be pouring 2 of Sly Fox’s top notch brews (to be revealed later), and alongside me will be beers from the following breweries:

Blue Point
Cricket Hill
Flying Dog
Flying Fish
Long Trail
Magic Hat
New Jersey Brewery




Ellicottville Brewing Co.—A Return to B’flo 

In mid-August, I took off to Buffalo, thrilled with the prospect of leaving work and Philly behind.The plan was to spend a long weekend with one of my best friends Rach and her husband Dave in East Aurora, a picturesque town outside of Buffalo.

Last May, Ray and I took a similar trip to Buffalo, hitting up the Flying Bison Brewery and Pearl Street Grill & Brewery with Rach. But this trip was less about beer and more about relaxation and eating copious amounts of Bison French Onion chip dip. Nonetheless, aside from the Boris the Spider Chai Oatmeal Stout I shipped up ahead of my arrival, there would be more beer in this 3-day trip (of course).

EBC—Ellicottville Brewing Co.On Sunday, Rach, Dave and I headed out to Ellicottville, a quaint town south of Buffalo. The main area is full of pubs and shops, but we were there for one thing: EBC—Ellicottville Brewing Co., home of EVL, the brewery’s flagship amber ale that is so popular you can find EVL hats throughout the various shops in town.

We stopped in for lunch at Ellicotville Brewing Co. and were simply blown away by the food, as well as the beer. Our server was friendly and answered my questions about some of the beers. “I’m a homebrewer,” I said apologetically somewhere in between my barrage of questions. He smiled. While Dave went with a pint of Black Jack Oatmeal Stout and the Shepherd’s Pie (highly recommended by our server), Rach and I shared a sampler of beers and each ordered burgers (mine had brie and apricot preserves and was cooked perfectly!).

Sampler of beers from EBC I liked EBC’s sampler system. You could pick the imperial beers+2 (which we did), or another combo (I think maybe seasonals+2).

In our sampler there was the following:

Raspberry Beret (7% ABV): blonde ale brewed with English and German hops & 80 lbs of raspberries. This beer surprised me because you could really taste the fruit, unlike a lot of raspberry wheats out there, which are just too light for my tastes.

Catt County Cuvee (8.5% ABV): strong blonde aged on American oak for 6 months. Surprisingly smooth. Server told me the same beer is aging in Cabernet barrels, and I think he mentioned Bourbon barrels. From the website: ... the Catt Co. starts out slightly sweet and malty then fades into an awesome array of flavors such as green banana, citrus and vanilla all thanks to the oak. The finish is surprisingly dry thanks to the tannins in the wood, which helps to keep this unsuspectingly high alcohol beer easy to sip on.

I was really hesitant with Catt County because of the oak, but I actually really enjoyed it.EBC Pantius Droppus Imperial Pale Ale

• Pantius Droppus (10.6% ABV): imperial pale ale dry hopped with Cascade and topped with a wicked name. The balance of sweet and hoppy was well done, and it’s an obvious a crowd favorite.

• Hop Bomb (8.8% ABV): Possibly my favorite of the day. Who doesn’t love a pale ale that’s run through a hopback full of Simcoe? According to EBC’s website, this Pale Ale uses copious amounts of Canadian Malts and West Coast Hops in the Kettle then is hopbacked through whole leaf Simcoe and finished with our “Hop Bomb” process which recirculates the finished brew through whole leaf hops 3 days giving it an amazingly fresh flavor and aroma.

• Project 50: a spicy wit that I can’t remember much about. It was a bit of a letdown, compared to the other EBC offerings.

Nut Brown (5.4% ABV): very roasty and nutty; this appeared to be Rach’s favorite.

All in all, the trip to EBC was a fantastic idea. We left with full bellies and 2 growlers—always a good sign.