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.