Feb

16

2011

Calling All Food & Drink Bloggers! 

Wynkoop's King Tut's GoldAre you a food and/or drink blogger? Do you reside within the Philadelphia Metro area? Do you like other food and/or drink bloggers?

If you answered yes, then contact me via email at

melomel82 at gmail dot com

I’m helping Wendy of La Phemme Phoodie find all you interested folks so we can plan a blogger meetup. You game?

Feb

14

2011

How Mel Fell in Love with Craft Beer 

This morning, the lovely Suz, or Beerlass as many know her, put out the call on Twitter for stories on how some of the IPA beer clubbers fell into love with craft beer (a propro for Valentine’s Day, right?) So I jumped on her request and sent her a little something of a short, silly story.

Check it out and feel the love.

Jan

24

2011

Beer on a Boat, Otherwise known as a Brew Cruise 

Holland America MS EurodamWe’ve been back from the JoCo Cruise Crazy (which was AWESOME by the way! Check out our photos!) and are recovering from what many have termed the phrase to be “cruise crud.” Like con crud, but, you know, cruisey.

I loved how Jonathan Coulton and his gang of talented comedians and musicians came up with this idea of a geek cruise (which, are actually REAL) and I was wondering why more breweries don’t get together to pull something like this off. I searched for Brew Cruise and Brewery Cruise on Google and saw a few hits, but nothing akin to what JoCo pulled off.

I think a handful of breweries could totally pull together an event (maybe a river cruise instead of ocean to keep out of international law issues) that lasts several days, on a boat, with their beers. It wouldn’t have to be beer all the time, but there could be various talks throughout the day, Q&As, guided tastings, etc. And I think it would sell like crazy.

So Dogfish Head, Stone, Brooklyn Brewery … let’s get on this!

Jan

3

2011

JoCo Cruise Crazy! 

Joco Cruise CrazyTo properly kick off the New Year, Ray and I are currently in the waters of Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, on our Joco Cruise Crazy cruise. “What the hell is that?” you ask. Well, it’s a 6-day Western Caribbean cruise, making ports of call in the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands … and it’s full of wonderfully geeky music and comedy performances from Jonathan Coulton, John Hodgman, Wil Wheaton, Paul and Storm, Bill Corbett & Kevin Murphy from Rifftrax, Molly Lewis, Mike Phirman, Stephen “Stepto” Toulouse, John Roderick and Peter Sagal.

Wow right?

Jonathan CoultonSo, we’re taking a week off, but don’t worry, I have a Session post for Friday all queued up, and you won’t want to miss it. The only bummer of this cruise is that we’re not going to spend our mortgage on alcohol (it’s always so expensive on cruises), so I don’t think we’ll have any interesting craft beer stories for when we return. But who knows?

And while we’re gone, check out the genius who is Jonathan Coulton. I expect you all to be able to recite the lyrics to “Code Monkey” and “RE: Your Brains” by the time I get back.

Dec

30

2010

Homebrewing 2010 — A Year in Retrospect 

Ray and Mel at GABF

Ray and Mel at GABF 2010

Another year winds down, but instead of wondering where the year went, I’m glad to see 2010 scoot its butt out the door. I’m ready to welcome 2011 and all it has to offer.

2010 was a quieter year for our homebrewing. Our wedding was in November 2009, so we took time off from brewing for that. Surprisingly, we only brewed twice in 2010: the Extra Fancy Brown Ale (which we have yet to review) and the  Bee Sting Ale, one of our favorite recipes from 2009. We also had friends over for a brew day, so they could experience what goes into making our favorite fermented beverage. We had an awesome time, and once we got the Bee Sting into the bottle and carbonated (yes, it took us 3.5 months to get the damn thing bottled), we knew we had a winner on our hands.

So why did we homebrew less? There were a number of factors.

I’m also a firm believer in not forcing myself to do something when I’m not feeling up to it. And in the earlier part of the year, I just wasn’t feeling like homebrewing and writing about it. But the spring arrived, we brewed the brown ale, then summer came, we brewed the Bee Sting, and as Ray got more and more involved with his first game, he had less time. So, it was up to me to take the reins of Bathtub Brewery, and I think it’s worked well.

Ray’s still here. He does all the tastings with me and sometimes even pops in with a video. And that works. We’re still a homebrewing team — I just do the writing now.

On top of that, I joined the Ladies of Craft Beer as a contributor, offering reviews of craft beer, homebrewing advice, cooking/baking with beer recipes and an occasional opinion piece now and then. It feels good to be part of a community of women teaching other women about craft beer.

Though 2010 may have been a quiet year for our homebrewing, it was anything but quiet in regard to the beer festivals we attended. We kicked the year off with the High Street Grill Winterfest, which was unfortunately crowded, cold and too short. But our friends Ryan and LeeAnne came with us and we had fun nonetheless.

In May, we made it back to one of our favorite fests, the The Brandywine Valley’s Craft Brewers Festival at Iron Hill in Media. The fest was great as always, and Ray even managed to get video of me snagging a sample of one of the two rare beers Iron Hill Media poured into the frenzied crowd (for the record, I managed to snag samples of both).

In June, we attended SAVOR with Ryan in tow. The beers were excellent, the food was meh, and now we have to decide if the festival is worth its $95 ticket price for 2011.

July saw us stumbling into the Royal Stumble with Ryan, LeeAnne and a whole horde of revelers. As always, the Stumble was excellent, and topped off by a few roller derby bouts.

In August, we sent a bottle of our Barleywine with the Dish Trip crew to have it delivered to Charlie at Harpoon Brewery in Boston. Apparently he liked it, a lot.

September was our busy month. Before leaving for Denver, I represented Sly Fox at Geraghty’s Fall Beer and Food Fest, seeing first hand what it was like to be behind the table at a fest. Then we hopped on a plane and did a crapload of amazing things in Denver, including attending our first GABF. Wow wow wow!

Earlier this month, Ray and I attended a Philly Food Bloggers Potluck, where we chatted with Amanda Hesser about homebewing, served her, Dave from Victory Beer and some of the guests our beer. To say our homebrews were well-received is an understatement.

Huh. Looking at this mammoth post, I guess you could say that we didn’t have that quiet of a year. We may have scaled back on our brewing, but we were out in full force participating in the craft beer community.

As for 2011, we already have a Dubbel on the docket — now we just need to write the recipe. We may never get back to brewing monthly, but I think we will get back to brewing when the creativity strikes. That’s not a bad thing.

Happy New Year!

Dec

27

2010

Merry Beermas! 

Trying to get everyone to focus for a group photo was like herding cats.

Look at the camera goddammit!

What are you doing Amy? LeeAnne, Mel and Ryan have it pulled together at least.

What's so funny Ryan?

FINALLY! Merry Christmas everyone!

This Christmas, Ray and I joined our friends Ryan and LeeAnne at their quaint Philly row home for a Christmas night of noshes and craft beer.

Joined by the effervescent Amy, her boyfriend Bob and his brother Tim, we feasted upon soup and stew and meat and cheese boards, stuffed dates, tzatziki-filled cucumber cups, cookies and more. An excellent night had by all as we often filled our glasses and laughed ourselves silly while playing Cranium. We couldn’t have asked for a better end to our family and friend-packed Christmas celebrations. We hope you all had a merry and beer-filled time as well.

Photos courtesy of Amy’s camera and Tim’s photo-snapping skills

Dec

13

2010

Homebrews & Cupcakes for NYT Potluck With Amanda Hesser 

Amanda Hesser and The Essential New York Times Cook Book

Courtesy of Epicurious.com

This past Wednesday night, Ray and I attended The Essential New York Times Cookbook Philly Food Blogger Potluck and Book Signing, hosted by NYT food columnist and food52 founder Amanda Hesser, Audra Wolfe of Doris and Jilly Cook, Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars and Victory Brewing. Attendees were encouraged to bring their favorite dish from the NYT, whether it be the paper, a cookbook, or even the newest cookbook.

I selected a Devil’s Food Cake cupcake recipe to reflect my baking blog, MelBee Says…, but decided that I needed something to reflect Bathtub and my writings for the Ladies of Craft Beer. After checking with lovely PR gal extraordinaire Katarina that I wouldn’t be stepping on Victory’s toes, I decided to bring some of our homebrews.

A six-pack of this year’s Bee Sting and a bomber each of the Barleywine and Ginpel traveled alongside the cupcakes. And suffice to say, I think the homebrews were a bigger hit.

The first shocker of the night was when Amanda came over to chat a bit—I did my best to keep my cool, sipping Storm King and devouring Derek’s Sesame Noodles topped with peanuts. We discussed the dish, Ray’s peanut allergy, and then somehow got onto the topic of beer and homebrews. Ray and I chattered at her about the joys of homebrewing and she seemed genuinely interested, asking questions.

We also met Dave, online media guru for Victory, and got to talking about homebrewing and craft beer in general. It wasn’t long before bottles of Bee Sting were cracked open, red silo cups were partially filled and our own mini tasting began as other food bloggers, unaware of the huddle by the beer table, ate myriad NYT dishes and traded blog URLs. Dave was blown away by the Bee Sting, as was our newly-made homebrewing friend Christina. A few other party-goers became wise to the growing group of people around the drinks table and more cups were passed around.

Ray then cracked open the Ginpel. Our friend Jen requested that it’s aroma be made into a perfume. Others complimented the nose, and Ray realized that the bomber seemed more mellow than the 12 oz bottle we had shared for our tasting earlier in the week. More cups were passed around.
Tweet from Amanda Hesser Victory Beer Dave Tweet At one point, someone shepherded Amanda over, and a sample of Bee Sting was poured for her. She liked it, and even said so later on Twitter(!)

Dave also gave our homebrews a shoutout via Twitter the next day, but what he said before the end of the evening still rings in my ears. After trying the Barleywine and beginning to pack up his table, he told Ray and me that we had it in us to go pro. He complimented our skill and noted our passion for beer. I was probably grinning like an idiot, but it felt so good to be paid such a high compliment. What a night!

Nov

10

2010

Mel of Bathtub Brewery Is a Woman in Beer 

Mel in the Bathtub Brewery

Mel, literally in the Bathtub Brewery

Hopefully you’ve been keeping track of all the great stuff over on the Ladies of Craft Beer website, where it seems I’ve been doing most of my writing (I haven’t forgotten you!). We’ve got some great beer reviews, homebrewing tips, opinion pieces and more. On top of ALL of that (and that’s a lot!), Stevie, founder and big cheese over at LadiesOCB has started a Women in Beer Series.

Stevie has reached out to all the LadiesOCB contributors, as well as a number of women in the thick of the craft beer industry. I think it’ll be a really exciting series, and yesterday I was featured! Talk about excitement.

So head over to the LadiesOCB website and check it out for yourselves.

Sep

10

2010

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:

Allagash
Blue Point
Boulder
Cricket Hill
Erie
Flying Dog
Flying Fish
Hacker-Pschorr
Harpoon
Lagunitas
Lancaster
Long Trail
Magic Hat
New Jersey Brewery
Palm
Riverhorse
Smuttynose
Southampton
Spaten
Terrapin
Troegs
Weyerbacher
Victory
Yards

Sep

2

2010

New from the Ladies of Craft Beer — Unibroues Quelque Chose 

Ladies of Craft BeerYou like Unibroue right? Who doesn’t? The Québécois brewery puts out some excellent beers: Maudite, La Fin du Monde, Trois Pistoles, and my newest fave, Quelque Chose.

Read more about this sweet-and-sour ale brewed with cherries (and can be aged until 2025!) in my latest post for the Ladies of Craft Beer!

Keep you eye on LadiesOCB because there are a LOT of fantastic things in the works! I’m really glad I have an opportunity to join the lovely ladies writing in that space—but fear not, I’ll still be over at BB writing away!