Thursday, November 3, 2011

Open for business...

A little late on this I know... In case you live under a rock, there are two new brew openings in our area, Liquid Hero in downtown York, and T2 Troegs new brewery location in Hershey. Read my post on my tour of T2 here. In related news, I'll be making my frist trip to Victory Brewing Co on Sunday...stay tuned for the write up. And there will be a new taproom coming to downtown York soon! The Good Dog Taproom will be opening in the spring on the corner of Market and Beaver streets in downtown York. The bar will feature 30+ taps of craft beer, a bottle selection, and limited but quality food items. I toured the property a few weeks ago. Once the owners get a bit more done I'll be doing a write up on the taproom.

Liquid Hero Brewery
50 E North St
York PA 17401
Mon-Wed: Closed
Thurs-Fri: 6pm-9pm
Sat: 2pm-8pm
Sun: 12pm-5p
On Site: Growler and keg purchases.
Offsite: White Rose has American Hero & Schweet on tap / Granfalloons has Schweet

Troegs Brewing Co
200 East Hershey Park Drive
Hershey, PA 17033
717) 534-1297 x102

Tasting Room Hours
Monday - Wednesday 11am - 7pm
Thursday -Saturday 11am - 8pm

Self-Guided Brewery Tours
Monday – Saturday 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
Cost: Free

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On An Island...

Lauren and I had a long to-do list when we headed to Bermuda in September for our honeymoon. Visit the forts, the beach, eat some good food, and of course, seek out the best beer offerings on the island. At first glance, there isn't much. Carlsberg was all over the island, you could get a fresh pint of Bass at the Hog Penny (best Bass on tap I've ever had) in downtown Hamilton, and Sam Adams Boston Lager had a good presence on the island as well (usually not a huge fan, but after a week of limited selection, the hoppiness of the Boston Lager was so good, kind of like eating something mediocre when you're really hungry). But what about a brewery or craft beer?

I had been to the island before, so I knew a good place to start, North Rock Brewing Co. While production is no longer located at this location, the pub feel, great menu (best fish n chips ever), and tap selection makes North Rock one of my favorite locations on the island.

This location used to house a small 4bbl brewhouse, right in the corner of the restaurant. The beers would be served here, and at another location - The Frog and Onion Pub located on the eastern tip of the island at the Royal Naval Dockyard. Demand for the product increased, and production had to be moved. North Rock had the beer, but the Frog and Onion had the space...enter Dockyard Brewing Co.

Dockyard Brewing Co. (previously North Rock Brewing Co) is the only brewery on the island. The fact that everything has to be shipped to the island, tells me there aren't many home brewers on the island either. A few days after our stop in at North Rock, we headed to the Royal Naval Dockyard with the instructions "walk out back of the Frog and Onion, look for the door with all of the kegs stacked outside - that's Dockyard Brewing Co., ask for Rob".

We found it...Once inside we had the opportunity to meet Rob, head brewer at Dockyard Brewing Co. who was in the middle of brewing a batch. Great guy, with lots of experience, and more than happy to show us around. We learned that Rob studied to brew in Scotland, and has brewed all over the world, including Australia. Rob now finds himself brewmaster of the only brewery on the island of Bermuda. He mentioned that everything has to be shipped in, he gets his two row from the US, and all specialty malts are shipped in from Europe. Hops are shipped in from both locations depending on the type. The lineup for Dockyard consisted of: A Whale Of A Wheat, St. Davids Light, Somer's Amber Ale, Trunk Island Pale Ale, Black Anchor Porter. Do a little research on the island and you'll quickly learn all names are based on the history and geography of Bermuda. I asked Rob if he ever gets to experiment, he mentioned that the cruise ships keep the turnover rate pretty high, and most of his time is dedicated to keeping the flagship beers on tap. He did mention that when winter comes things on the island slow down, and he gets to mess around with the beautiful brewhouse he has.

So that's another Beercation in the books for us. If you ever get the chance to visit the island of Bermuda, take it. It's quite possibly my favorite place in the world. Visit the forts, the pubs, the beaches, and oh ya, stop in at the Frog and Onion...ask for Rob, he's out back by the door with all the kegs stacked up.

Special thanks to Rob, Dockyard Brewing Co, North Rock Restaurant, The Frog and Onion, and the beautiful island and the people of Bermuda.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

T2 (not a Terminator post)

On Sunday morning at 7:45AM while most folks were sleeping in, or attending the church of their choice, Josh and Christian of Liquid Hero, Ken (remember how badass he is?) and I were driving up I83 to Troegs new 90,000 square ft. brewery in Hershey PA - T2. We were lucky enough to be invited to a private tour of the facility with brewery manager Ed Yashinsky.

Ed showed us every square inch of the new brewery. Even though it's not a functional brewery yet, this was by far the best brewery tour I've ever been on. Once opened, the brewery will offer a truely unique experience. Guests enter the brewery up a set of cement steps in front of the large outside beer garden, and into the main tasting room - with the 100bbl brewhouse right behind the bar. Step up to the bar in the very large tasting area with 30ft ceilings for a fresh pint, and the mash tun, lauter tun, and brew kettle are literally 5ft from can almost reach out and touch it. Most important part: no glass. It's completely open, nothing seperates the brewhouse from the tasting room.

Got your beer? How about a tour? It doesn't matter what time it is, or if there is enough room on the tour, that's because there is now a fully self guided tour that you can take anytime the tasting room is open - and you can take your beer!

"Brewery goers will be able to observe the brewing process first-hand and even take a self-guided tour along a window-lined hallway for an up-close view of the brewery. Tröegs will also continue to provide guided tours of the brewhouse on designated days."
After seeing the grain storage area - with the three 30 ton storage bags - we headed up onto the brewing platform. The guys from the German company Brau Kon are busy at work, ten hour shifts six days a week - to finish up the brew house. The brew house designed in Germany, and all the parts, pipes, fittings, everything, were shipped over in crates to the US for assembly. We saw the parts laid out orderly, but everywhere in their work area. How these guys open crates of parts and assemble a brew system from the floor up is beyond me. These guys are true professionals at their craft.

The other stand out of the tour was the DreamWeaver open fermentation tanks. Two 120bbl fermenters are given their own special climate controlled room, with two 10bbl yeast collection tanks. Guests will be able to see the entire process of top cropping on the self guided tour.

"This old school fermentation technique will allow us to harvest yeast at high krausen – otherwise known as “top cropping”. As the yeast ferments and raises it will spill over the tops of fermenters sliding down into the yeast collection tanks. We’ll harvest from the collection tanks and continually use the 1st generation yeast for every batch of DreamWeaver."

After our hour+ long tour Ed and the four of us talked for awhile. With the expansion into T2, it seems that seems that Troegs is doing very well. Mad Elf comes out soon, and with it's release they will make the switch to the new brewery as fast and efficiently as possible. The plan is to be up and running in October of this year.

Thanks for the tour Ed, it was awesome, just another great example of the great folks at Troegs. Good luck to you, Chris, John, and the entire Troegs family - it's great to see how you've grown over the years.

For more info on Troegs, and T2 visit their blog.

*I didn't have my camera on me, and that is why all of the photos and rederings used in this post were found here and are the property of their owner.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Brew Day

Well I went a bit overboard on Friday night... My goal was to brew a summer ale, but I've done that before. So I thought...why not brew an imperial summer ale? I wasn't really thinking when I doubled the malts from 6lbs to 13lbs, and we ended up with an OG in the barley wine range.

Here is the recipe:

6lbs Briess Pilsen Light DME
7lbs Light LME
2lbs Belgian Aromatic Malt

1oz Sweet Dried Oranage Peel (last 15 minutes)
1oz Bitter Dried Orange Peel (;ast 15 minutes)
2oz Dried Lemon Peel (15 minutes)

1oz Saaz hops (bittering 1 hour)
1/2oz Nugget hops (bittering 1 hour)
1/2oz Saaz hops (flavoring 15 minutes)
1/4oz Nugget hops (flavoring 15 minutes)
1/2 Saaz hops (finishing 3 minutes)
1/4 Nugget hops (finishing 3 minutes)

1 pack Safale US05 ale yeast / plus a yeast slurry from Jack Longstreet

So this is a heavy are the numbers:

OG - 1.112 (1.114 with temp adjustment)
Temp - 75degrees (60 degrees with adjustment)

That leaves us with an ABV in the 10-12% rage.
So we're up there in the barleywine "oh God what have I created" region.

Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Longstreet for their brew help, wealth of brewing knowledge, and yeast slurry.

Good luck brewing!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Beer Culture - The Movie

I love beer, you probably know that by now. But it's so much more than that, I love the history of it, I love visiting the breweries, seeing the equipment and huge stainless steel tanks, I love brewing and experimenting with it, I love the good times shared over a nice pint of beer, I love all the different types of beer. Good beer, is a huge part of my life. There are tons of people out there that share this view - some of those people in Colorado decided to make a movie about it - Beer Culture The Movie.

For more info click here or here
It comes out in July, stay tuned, I'll post any local showing listing if there are any.

Another great beer movie is Beer Wars by the amazing Anat Baron. Visit the site and buy a copy, or get it on demand.

Hanging with Hank

from left, me, John Trogner (co-owner of Troegs), Hank

This is a long one folks...go fill your beer.

Well, it's the end of June and that means that my good friend, fellow home brewer, and soon to be brewery owner (more on that later) was a few weeks into his annual drive from Arizona to Pennsylvania. As always Hank brought some nice west coast selections with him (thanks dude), New Belgium 1554 & Fat Tire, Alaskan Brewing summer and amber ale, Four Peaks 8th Street Ale, and his very own home brewed mequite agave ale (had one last night, it was awesome).

So what were we going to do all day...Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we're going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don't know, I don't know if we'll have enough time...Will Ferrell is hilarious in that movie, ANYWAY we had three breweries to get to before the main event of the evening - the 14th Annual York County Micro Brew Fest, lets get started.

Our first stop was Liquid Hero Brewery in York, to see how the guys are coming along with their wall building, tile laying, wire running, welding, shop sink installing, toilet pluggin cetera. These guys have been hard at work for months inside that building, doing almost 100% of the work themselves, it's good to see they're getting close to their goal. The fermentation room and bathroom are framed out and mostly wall boarded, the tile curb for the brew area is finished. We were lucky enough to see their brand new sign that was built and delivered by Pat and Keith at Salvaging Creativity in York (these guys are good folks).

from left: Matt, Christian, Josh

After lunch at Central Market (I told Hank to go for the Roburrito, who comes to York and doesn't try a Roburrito?)with the Liquid Hero guys, Hank and I hopped on 83 and headed North to the land of the Troegenator. Troegs is in the process of opening their new brewery in Hershey, so if you haven't been to the Harrisburg location yet, get there, it will be good to see where these guys started before touring their new mammoth facility in Hershey. It's a nice facility, with a large tasting room where you can sample, or buy full pints. I had a fresh Hopback ale, it was good, obviously.

The brewery tours are almost always done by one of the Trogner brothers, Hank and I didn't make tour reservations (reservations...I know...remember the days when you could just walk in and get a tour? the good 'ol days...), but the good folks at Troegs were kind enough to squeeze us onto Johns last tour of the day. A huge thanks to John Trogner for hanging out after the tour and talking shop w/ Hank and I. Looking forward to the new brewery guys!

Running short on time we rushed over to Appalachian Brewing Company. As I've mentioned in previous posts, they have the best pretzel around. No time for one of those though, just enough time for a Hoppy Trails IPA on the hand pump. Then back in the car and back down to York for the brew fest.

The York County Heritage Trusts 14th Annual Micro Brew Fest, there it all is, moving forward I'll just refer to it as "the brewfest". This was my third time attending this brew fest, and I must say it gets better every year. They switched back to the nice glass for samples instead of the plastic mug of years past, they doubled the amount of breweries and offered 36 beers from 19 breweries, and they upped total amount of tickets from 700 to 1000 - and it still sold out. So if you want to go next year, get your tickets early.

The Stand Outs
- mixed Rogue Chocolate Stout and Dead Guy Ale (good but still too much chocolate)

- Kind Beer is coming to PA! This great brewery from North Carolina has two great beers that are now being distributed in PA - their Belgian Red Ale and their Pale Ale.

- Duquesne Beer is back...never knew they left. Seriously though, they bought the old Rolling Rock plant in Latrobe and have began brewing again. Their only beer so far is the Prince Pilsner. Not bad, not bad at all, AND it's only $16 a case. I don't know how they do it folks, but if it didn't taste good, I wouldn't be writing about it.

- Liquid Hero was there w/ their four (FOUR!) flag ship beers on tap, American Hero, Red Horn Ale, Schweet Ale, and Hero Weizen.

The Liquid Hero guys were even kind enough to bring in the "B Squad" and let me tap off some of their brews for awhile. I gotta tell you, tapping off beers at a brew fest is a lot of fun, I almost want to open up a brewery just to tap beers at upcoming brew fests.

So it was one hell of a day. Three breweries, and a brew fest, and I felt ok the next morning - somehow. It was a great time, and I'm glad I was there for Hansk first brew fest. If you're ever in the Tucson AZ area, make sure to check out Catalina Brewing Company - ask for Hank.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Moment We've All Been Waiting For...

...New Belgium Brewery heads east.

From the article
Two of the nation's biggest craft brewers, both based in California, have revealed the details of some major expansion plans in the past couple of days, and Colorado's New Belgium Brewing, the country's third largest craft brewer, could be close behind.

New Belgium is just three to five years away from reaching capacity at its existing facility in Fort Collins, which is capable of brewing 900,000 barrels of beer each year. That fact, coupled with the company's major East Coast distribution plans for the fall, means that New Belgium needs to find a second place to make beer, says brewery spokesman Bryan Simpson.

"The goal now is to have something decided and under contract by the end of 2011, somewhere between here and the East Coast, probably closer to the coast," he says. "If you think about potential growth, there is a lot of territory out there."

The other two breweries seeking eastern expansion are Sierra Nevada, and Stone Brewing. Sierra is planning on opening a second brewing location in eastern Tennessee to service the demand of the east coast market. While Stone plans to up production by opening a new brewery in San Diego. They are also looking into opening a Stone Brewery in Germany or Belgium. Also, in case you weren't aware, rumor has it New Belgium will begin distribution in MD, VA, and DC this fall. Road trip!

The full article with more details can be found here.

Cold Is Not A Flavor

My buddy Carl at North York Beverage posted these today and I had to re post. More can be found on YouTube by searching for "Breckenridge Beers". They make some pretty good beers, stop by North York Beverage to pick some up, or check out their official site.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cannons and Kegs

Appalachian Brewing Company - Gettysburg, PA

Last night Dad and I joined Tim and Tom, both Mug Club members, for a trek out to ABC Gettysburg, a satellite location to their main brewery in Harrisburg PA. (they also have another location in Camp Hill, and a brand new location in Collegeville PA right outside of Philly) The brewery is located at the crest of Seminary Ridge right beside General Lee's Headquaters.

I always thought this was just a brewpub, I didn't learn until last night that they do indeed brew there. They have a 10bbl capacity brew system located in the lower level of the building. Another interesting fact is that they brew using 100% natural ingredients.

The beer...from left to right front row, Trail Blaze Organic Brown Ale, Hoppy Trails IPA, Susquehanna Stout, Green Tea Pilsner. Back row, Hefe Weizen, Mountain Lager, Purist Pale Ale, "Jolly Scot" Scottish Ale. The standouts were the brown ale, stout, and scottish ale. I was really looking forward to trying the Green Tea Pilser, but it just didn't have enough of anything. It was very light and had very low carbonation which gave it the mouth feel of water, with just a hint of green tea. Not what you would expect from your typical pils, it would make a great "hot day mowing the lawn" beer though.

The beer highlight of the night was their "Jolly Scot" on beer engine. Basically, instead of a regular tap, this beer is hand pumped from a container or cask in the basement or cellar of the building. This method results in a less carbonated, softer, and cellar temperature version of the beer.

With this trip to the Gettysburg location, it leaves only one ABC location that I have not visited (the new Collegeville location). The main brewery in Harrisburg, and the two brewpubs are all great examples of what you want from a brewery / brewpub. Great atmosphere, good food (the pretzels are the best around), and a wide variety of beers. They have something for everyone. If you are in the area of one of these locations, or are looking for something different, stop in, order the pretzels, have a beer and relax for a bit. Thanks for the invite guys, hope to do it again soon.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


In case you're unaware, that's Lauren and me with Sam Calgione, founder of Dogfish Head, pretty badass, I know. A huge thanks to Ken and Colleen for catching this one and getting us tickets to the 2nd Annual Weekend Of Compelling Ales And What Not at the Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton DE (something I hope turns into an annual trip for the four of us). Speaking of Ken and Colleen....they are also badass.

Not our first trip there, but definitely a special one. This trip was back in April, but as I'm trying to get this whole blog thing going here, I feel there are things from the past that I need to mention. We got to meet not only Sam, but also the head brewmaster Floris, both are super guys. There were also tons of special and limited released DFH beers to buy and try.

The beer...there was a first for me on this trip, Randall The Enamel Animal. This character first came on the scene when the folks at DFH wanted to take their hoppy beers even further. Think a 60 Minute is hoppy? Imagine it run through Randall full of hops...ya. I got to try three beers through Randall, Midas Touch Mojitos (Midas Touch run through mint leaves), Chicory Stout Coffee (you guessed it, Chicory Stout run through fresh coffee beans) and Namaste run through fresh lemon grass and orange peels at Sunday's brunch. All were good, the Midas Touch was the winner though. The Chicory had some unexpected sweetness to it after being run through the beans. The lemon grass and orange peels didn't add much to the Namaste, but it's a fine beer all by itself.

The hands down highlight of the weekend was Saturday night at the brew pub when Ken and I were lucky enough to hear that they had tapped another keg of Johnny Cask 75 Minute IPA. I think Ken will agree with me when I say, I have never had a beer that tasted like this. It has the hoppiness of the 60, the smoothness of the 90, and then a completely unique character that I really can't describe. Lets put it this way, if you're ever at the brew pub in Rehoboth and they have it on tap, call me, I'll be in the car driving down before I hang up the phone.

First off, in it's most basic form 75 Minute IPA is simply a blend of our 60 Minute IPA and our 90 Minute IPA. Some accounts which have both beers on tap have been serving the 75 Minute IPA blend for quite some time now. You can even make your own - just get both beers and blend away!

So what's different about the cask version? The cask version of 75 Minute IPA takes the concept to the next level! To create the cask version, we retrofitted a 15-bbl tank at the Milton brewery (we've named the tank Johnny Cask) to perfectly produce this blend. The cask-version of 75 Minute gets a special whole-leaf dry-hopping session in this tank, then gets transferred to firkins and dosed with fresh yeast and maple syrup from the ole family homestead (Red Brook Farm in western Mass.).

It was a great weekend in Milton with great friends. An extended brewery tour, some Randall experiments, some new beers, and of course...a full trunk on the way home. If you travel to the Deleware beaches this summer, stop in at Dogfish Head, you won't be disappointed.

Biergartens and Catacombs

Bube's Brewery - Mount Joy, PA

Pretty cool place you've got here Mr. Bube. Alois Bube, a German immigrant and brewer apprentice, bought the brewery in Lancaster county in 1876. The brewery brewed the typical German styled lager of the times. The beer was brewed on site and stored / fermented in the catacombs - the catacombs offered the low enough temperatures needed to ferment lagers. The building has tons of history, everything from ghost stories to exhibits of the brewing equipment of the time. Bube's Brewery is the only one of the hundreds of "lager era" breweries still standing today, and is almost compeletely intact to the original building. Restoration of the building began in 1968 and continues today. If you're in the area, I highly recommend stopping in at Bube's Brewery.

The beer...from left to right: Oatmeal Stout, Maibock, Pre Prohibition Pilsner, Brown Ale, Belgian Triple. The Maibock was the winner of the bunch, I'm a bit biased towards this style, but it was pretty good. The Pre Prohibition Pils was "very hopped" according to the staff, but the hop flavor didn't even match that of Sierra Nevada Pale. The Belgian Triple was a bit too sweet, and didn't have the body to carry it. I'm pretty tough on beers, don't read that and think they were all bad. They were all fine examples of good session beers (except for the Triple @ 10%ABV).

If you're in the Lancaster area, make the short drive to Mount Joy and stop in at Bube's Brewery. They offere everything from good beer, to dinner in the catacombs or biergarten, and live music in their original restored Bottling Works.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beercation 2010

Nine states, six beer stores, two breweries, one beer garden, and one really full trunk on the way home - it was a good trip. Almost a full year late, I know, I had to post something to get this thing going though...

Our 16 hour drive to our first stop in Atlanta GA was really only interupted by two things, bathroom breaks, and beer stores (we fit a breakfast in there too, but only because we saw the place on the way to beer store). You really don't have to drive too far before the wonder that is Fat Tire Ale (New Belgium Brewing Co) presents itself. I've heard word that it's coming to PA as soon as this fall...would make a great Christmas present. Buying beer in a grocery store is still odd to me, but in the southern states almost everywhere except PA, that is how it's done. Selection is limited, but there were a few things that needed to get picked up, mostly Fat Tire and and New Belgiums summer ale Skinny Dip.

We made two great stops in Atlanta GA. One was at 5 Seasons Brewing Company. They have several locations in Atlanta, we chose The Westside (on the western side of town, very clever)because of it's proximity to Hop City (more on that to come). Good beer selection, good food, Lauren had the fish tacos, she said they were awesome. The one problem quality I found in mostly all of the southern beers was how watery / light they were. I guess it makes sense, it's hot down there, and a Thomas Creek "Up The Creek Extreme IPA" isn't always the best option. 5 Seasons had some legitimate beers though. The best by far was their Quinte55ence:

A Belgian Quintuple--if there was such a thing. A celebration of the opening of 5 Seasons-North.

There are 5 malts, 5 hops, 5 of this, 5 of that 25 of these things and 25 of those things over there. It is a BIG beer.

Very rich, very complex. But don’t be scared of it—or maybe you should.

They also had this badass fire truck.

Then we walked next door to Hop City. I've never seen anything like this in my life. I've been in specialty beer stores before, big ones, but nothing like this. I think we were in there for about an hour. They have the finest bottle selection of regional micros and belgian beers I have ever seen. Shelves and shelves and shelves of bottles of beer, literally.

It was not until our way home that we stopped in at Blue Mountain Brewery, the brewery highlight of the trip. Most breweries offer a nice bar, the trendy chalkboard w/ the beer list, visible fermenters etc, but not acres of land with a huge hop garden, all backdropped by the Blue Mountains of Virginia.

I was a bit dissapointed to learn that their hops are only used in one of their beers, their Full Nelson:

Bursting with local hop flavor, our flagship Virginia Pale Ale features our own farm-grown Cascade variety hops as one of the key ingredients. A strong malt backbone gives this ale a rich taste and vibrant copper color, while the generous addition of hops contribute a pronounced bitterness and floral, citrus aroma.

We were lucky enough to be able to pick up some of their very tasty Mandolin Artisanal Ale:

A pale beer born of a single malt. Balance derived from whole-flower hops. Created from water drawn deep beneath the feet of the world’s oldest mountains. Flavor driven by a faithful dedication to excess. All brought to life by yeast from a holy place. Great beer is a riddle that does not need to be solved! Available as long as each batch lasts, March-July.

This was a great gem of a brewery that luckily Lauren saw a brochure for in the hotel lobby. Great food there, good people, and the best view from a brewery porch that I've ever seen.

I still have several beers from this trip that have been aging this past year. I'm sure one upcoming summer night Lauren and I will crack open a bottle or two, look at some pictures, and almost in a way take the whole trip again. And isn't that what it's all about folks?.